Thursday, March 6, 2008

Little Saigon San Jose by Jade Pham

A very good friend of mine wrote this open letter regarding the turmoil over the naming of the 1 mile strip of commercial property on Story Road between Hwy 101 and Senter Road. I thought it was worth distributing so we can all have a better perspective of what goes on in the valley:

Hello Everyone:

These past few months, I have followed the Little Saigon controversy closely in San Jose. For the neophyte, this appears to be an issue of naming a business zone in San Jose. But lack of city leadership has turned this into so much more than that. It has become an issue of holding public officials accountable for their words and actions and after last night's council vote, it has become an issue of our city government's deliberate refusal to listen to the pleas of their constituents.

Cut through the rumors and conjecture, the facts are these - several months ago, amid public pressure, Councilwoman Madison Nguyen held a public forum at Yerba Buena Highschool. When attendees urged her to forego her original plans of naming the zone "Viet Nam Business Town,"
she responded by saying it didn't matter what she or anyone in that room wanted. She instead said that the city of San Jose would conduct a survey in that area and poll the residents & business owners - THE RESULTS OF THIS SURVEY would most influence the naming of this zone.
Flash forward a few months, the city-conducted survey resulted with Little Saigon being the clear favorite with "Saigon Business District"
being eighth and dead last. As a matter of fact, every survey conducted thus far - while not unanimous - has Little Saigon soaring above all others. Councilwoman Nguyen later held a press meeting, declaring "Saigon Business District" as the proposed name and led the City Council to a November 20th, 8-3 vote in favor of SBD.

After deafening public outcry and countless demonstrations by thousands of Vietnamese people in support of Little Saigon, last night, the city council voted to rescind the Saigon Business District.
But instead of ending the matter by listening to the hundreds of people who spent hours in line to voice their support for Little Saigon, by a 7-4 vote, the city council voted to leave the naming of a zone to the business owners of that area. They then issued apologies for mishandling this issue and urged reconciliation and peace. Madison said she wanted to put this issue behind her and move on to more serious and pressing city issues.

Where I stand – while Little Saigon isn't the clear choice for every Vietnamese American in San Jose (initially, it wasn't mine either), it is the overwhelming majority choice. If by now you can't admit this, you're feigning ignorance. At any of the previous City Council meetings these past few months, you can't feign deafness to the growing chants of Little Saigon. Nor can you claim blindness to the hundreds of signs made out of Sharpies on the back of discarded calendars or the paper-clipping of support tags on people's shirts all in support of ONE name – Little Saigon.

This is no longer simply a "Vietnamese issue" but an American issue - it's about being heard by your government and having a say. It's about holding a city official responsible when she publicly outlines a process of naming a district and then unilaterally dismissing this process when the results are not to her liking. Breaking promises, ignoring and then urging people to move past the issue on to more "important issues" is dismissive and is the equivalent of a child who steals and then tells her parents they should focus on more important things like paying their taxes.

I urge you to forward this email to everyone you know so that they will be better informed about this situation should they ever wonder, "What's the big deal about Little Saigon?" If this email has awakened your sense of right and wrong, I implore you to flood the San Jose council with emails and phone calls expressing your disgust and disappointment with their deliberate refusal to acknowledge the Vietnamese people of San Jose and with their easy acceptance of the corruption of the democratic process. If you are half as incensed as I am and downright unwilling to believe that there is a city in America that not only allows their city council member to lie but then supports her afterwards, then forward this email to your city officials, flood their phone lines with your position, stand next to me at the rallies and voice your will at Tuesday's council meetings. I will be honored to shake your hand.

It's time we show our city officials that we are organized, we are passionate and we will not go away.

Jade Pham

Chuck Reed 408.535.4800
Forrest Williams 408.535.4902
Sam Liccardo 408.535.4903
Nora Campos 408.535.4905
Madison Nguyen 408.535.4907
Judy Chirco 408.535.4909
Nancy Pyle 408.535.4910

Pete Constant 408.535.4901
Kansen Chu 408.535.4904
Pierluigi Oliverio 408.535.4906
Vice Mayor David D Cortese 408.535.4908

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