Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu Resigns Amid Federal Investigation Related To The Sale Of Angel Stadium

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu has resigned amid an FBI’s corruption probe related to the sale of Angel Stadium.

His resignation takes effect at midnight Tuesday.

The resignation comes as it was revealed last week that the mayor was the subject of a probe by the FBI, which alleged in a search warrant affidavit that he had fed insider information to Angels executives in the stadium deal and arranged to have a helicopter bought registered in Arizona so he could save money on taxes.

The FBI alleges that Sidhu was hoping to get a $1 million-dollar campaign donation from the team. That never happened and the FBI says the Angels were unaware of the scheme, but this has been building for a while now.

“A fair and thorough investigation will prove that Mayor Harry Sidhu did not leak secret information in the hopes of a later political campaign contribution,” Sidhu’s Attorney Paul S. Meyer said in a statement. “His unwavering goal form the start has been to keep the Angels in Anaheim, so that this vibrant social and economic relationship would continue…

“Mayor Harry Sidhu has has always, as his foremost priority, acted in the best interests of the City of Anaheim, and he does so today. In order to continue to act in the best interests of Anaheim and allow this great City to move forward without distraction, Harry Sidhu has resigned from his post as Mayor effective May 24, 2022.”

This comes as last week, three Anaheim City Council members called on Mayor Sidhu to resign amid the FBI corruption probe into his involvement in the proposed sale of Angel Stadium to team owner Arte Moreno.

Source: ABC7

CalOptima Abruptly Fires Entire Legal Team As Concerns Mount Over Agency’s Direction — Orange County’s Health Care Plan For Poor And Disabled Residents Is Drawing Scrutiny, With High Turnover Among Agency Leaders

The board for CalOptima, which provides publicly funded health coverage for nearly 900,000 needy Orange County residents, abruptly fired its entire in-house legal team of attorneys and support staff late last week. Some had been with the agency for more than 20 years, according to records.

The agency instead will rely on a contract with Sacramento firm Kennaday Leavitt for legal services.

The board approved a $1 million contract with that firm in November, for two outside attorneys to support CalOptima’s nine-member legal team, whose salaries totaled roughly $1.5 million. The agency said at the time that additional help was needed as demands for legal services increased. CalOptima now says the decision during a closed session meeting Thursday night to fire the in-house team was about “improved efficiency.”

The move comes amid increasing concerns about how the agency is operating under the direction of its board chair, Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do, with substantial turnover in key positions over the past two years while salary levels for newly created or replacement positions have jumped significantly.

The agency’s chief medical officer, executive director of quality initiatives, communications director and other key staff members all have left in recent months. The last chief executive officer stayed only a year, with an interim CEO in his place. And the salary for that job jumped in September from a minimum of $400,000 to at least $560,000.

Do could not be reached for comment Monday.

A CalOptima spokesperson didn’t respond to a request about these concerns or additional information on the legal team’s departure. She instead emailed a statement that said: “CalOptima has taken action to utilize external legal resources to improve efficiency of the agency in support of its mission and to better serve our members.”

CalOptima is the health care insurer for poor and disabled O.C. residents, a majority who qualify for Medi-Cal coverage. The agency has an annual budget of $3.7 billion and operates under the direction of an eight-member board of directors.

The board started discussing the idea of contracting for outside legal services in late 2020. Do led an ad hoc committee that formed Dec. 3, 2020, to consider getting help to “address the substantial and increasing demand for legal services.”

During its Sept. 2 meeting, the eight-member board unanimously voted to request proposals from outside law firms to “augment, and integrate with, the legal services currently provided by the agency’s employed and contracted lawyers,” according to a board report.

Two months later, at the Nov. 4 meeting, the board approved using up to $1.05 million in reserves to contract for a year with Kennaday Leavitt, which has attorneys specializing in health care law, for general counsel to “work with internal lawyers.” The contract includes two additional one-year extension options and covers two full-time attorneys at $70,000 per month plus up to $210,000 in business expenses.

When the request for proposals went out, it included a requirement that the firm must have its main office in the Southern California area. But that requirement was dropped when the committee came back to the board with a recommendation to contract with Kennaday Leavitt, with veteran healthcare attorney James Novello in the top post.

During the Dec. 20 meeting, the board met behind closed doors to discuss Kennaday Leavitt’s job performance. Then, on Thursday, Feb. 3, the agenda listed a closed-door session to discuss “public employee discipline/dismissal/release.” Following that meeting, a clerk reported the board had “approved the closed session item.” The Register learned all seven in-house attorneys plus a supporting paralegal and office staff member were let go.

Supervisor Doug Chaffee, who said he recently moved from alternate to full board member and has only attended a couple CalOptima meetings, said the process of changing the legal staff started before his tenure. But he said the current interim CEO, Michael Hunn, reviewed the situation “and concluded that it was not very efficient,” Chaffee said, so Hunn asked the board to “make an organizational change” to exclusively use the new outside counsel.

Chaffee said the dismissed legal staff will receive severance packages per the agency’s policy, but he didn’t have details on the amount. As to using a contracted firm instead of in-house staff for legal services, he said, “I think there is a cost savings; time will tell exactly how much.”

In recent years CalOptima has weathered its share of criticism. In 2013, the county’s Grand Jury raised flags about a wave of CalOptima staff departures and issues with leadership.

The agency seemed to have course-corrected, with little controversy for several years. But since Do took the helm of the agency, some local healthcare officials have started to criticize recent changes.

In December, a past chairman of CalOptima’s board raised concerns with the recent appointment of Do’s deputy chief of staff to a newly created position at the agency, pointing to the staffer’s lack of experience in the healthcare industry and starting salary of $282,000, the Voice of OC reported.

The month before that, the Hospital Association of Southern California expressed dismay that a majority of the OC Board of Supervisors ignored its recommendation on whom to appoint to a vacant CalOptima board seat, picking someone from Los Angeles County instead of someone with local experience, according to another Voice of OC story.

Source: OC Register

NASM Certified Personal Trainer Brian Kranz Of Red Fitness (Irvine CA) Follows, Hurls Racist Remarks At Asian Woman; Says Recording Him Won’t Do Anything And ‘Thanks For Bringing COVID To My Country’

A woman shopping in Orange County, California has become the latest target of anti-Asian racism amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The incident, which was caught on video, reportedly occurred outside a Sephora store at The Market Place in Tustin and Irvine.

In the video posted on Instagram and Reddit, a man can be seen hurling anti-Asian racial slurs while a female companion sarcastically says “bye” to the camera.

The man has since reportedly been identified as Brian Kranz, a fitness instructor in Irvine, California who runs Red Fitness. His female partner—who is seen smirking throughout the incident and even smugly taunts the victim with a “bye”—has been identified as Janelle Hinshaw.

The Asian woman reportedly recalled how the incident started inside the store after the staff asked the pair to wear face masks.

“These people were standing after me in the line at Sephora. They didn’t have masks on before the staff requested so. But then [they] refused to keep social distancing from me. Sephora staff was doing a good job directing me to stand in another line,” a Nextdoor user, who claims to be the woman behind the camera, wrote.

The woman eventually finished shopping and returned to her car. That’s when Kranz followed and began making racist remarks.

“Why don’t you stay at home? Are you that dumb? You want to photograph me?” he says before charging toward the woman, who then retreats in her car.

“Exactly! Get in your car, stupid g**k. Go back to f**king [unintelligible].”

Brian Kranz returns to his Jeep and continues his tirade before driving away.

“Are you really that stupid? You know that recording doesn’t do anything,” he tells the woman. “Stay home. And thanks for giving my country COVID. Have a great day.”

Kranz is a trainer licensed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and many on social media called for his license to be revoked. Many also tagged Hinshaw’s current masters’ program at Azusa Pacific University to revoke her license as a psychologist working with teens.

Given both Kranz and Hinshaw’s work requires working with the public at large, it was of concern to many how they would treat their clients of Asian descent. 

The backlash has been immense. After reportedly deactivating their LinkedIn and Instagram pages, they faced backlash on other platforms. 

Source: The Daily Dot, NextShark

Korean American entrepreneur Sophia Chang Told by Prudential Employee James Hilbrant to ‘Go Back to Wuhan’ While Having Lunch at Bluewater Grill in Newport Beach

The man who told Korean American entrepreneur Sophia Chang to “go back to Wuhan” while out having lunch with her sister has been allegedly identified as James Hilbrant of Orange County, California.

According to his LinkedIn page, Hilbrant works as a “financial professional” for Prudential Advisors and can “provide assistance on a range of financial issues-from evaluating insurance needs to helping clients grow their assets.” On Tuesday, Sept. 15, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles associated with Hilbrant were deactivated.

The incident happened at Bluewater Grill in Newport Beach, California over the weekend when Chang was having lunch with her sister. Hilbrant made eye contact with Chang while he was heading to the bathroom and allegedly told her to “go back to Wuhan.”

“Once he returned, we asked him why he would say that and he goes ‘I don’t speak Chinese, I don’t know what you’re talking about,’” Chang said in her Instagram post. “I’m so disgusted. If you see people practicing this sort of behavior. REPORT THEM.”

Hilbrant was reportedly asked by a staff member to leave the restaurant but didn’t leave immediately.

“I believe he personally knew the waitress who was serving him, because she gave him a hug before they left,”Chang said. “They were chatting for a bit so it took awhile for them to leave.”

In a statement posted on Instagram, Bluewater Grill said they “immediately addressed the situation with the customer and asked them to leave.”

“We understand that some feel there was a lack of urgency in removing this patron from the premises,” the statement continued, “However, the safety of all our customers and staff is our utmost concern and we wanted to make sure this situation did not escalate and become hostile.”

Bluewater Grill continued to note that it took the customer 10 minutes before he could pay for his bill and leave the premises as well as the hug that happened between him and one of the staff.

“Within 10 minutes the person paid their bill and left the premises. There is also mention of the customer hugging our employee, and we would like to make it clear that this was unsolicited and occurred before our employee was made aware of the situation.”

“After the patron left, we made sure that our guests were comfortable and well taken care of. The patron in question is no longer welcome at Bluewater Grill.”

Bluewater Grill, which has been in business for 24 years, said they pride themselves “on our customer service, diverse staff and commitment to a safe environment free of racism or harassment.”

“We do not condone prejudice or racism in any form. This includes remarks made by customers which we cannot control. We take matters like this seriously and are disgusted that any guest would be subjected to an insensitive remark by another guest.”

Prudential Advisors told NextShark, “Prudential has zero tolerance for discrimination and takes these allegations very seriously. This matter will be investigated to the fullest extent possible and appropriate action will be taken, as warranted.”

Source: NextShark

Loose Leaf Boba Company comes to Orange County (Santa Ana 4th Street Market) – Soft Opening now through 9/11, Grand Opening 9/12 with half off deals

A lineup you won’t want to miss out on! We are so excited to welcome Loose Leaf Boba to the market, their boba is made with real ingredients and they have a culturally inspired menu that’ll keep you coming back for more. Their “Soft Opening” hours are happening now through September 11th. Visit them 7 days a week from 12pm-8pm. September 12th will be @looseleafboba GRAND OPENING day where 100% of profits from that day will go towards Feeding America. To top it off, they will also be having a Chinese Lion Dance Show, first 100 people get 1 free Original Milk Tea or Thai Tea or 1/2 off any other drink, next 50 guests can get any drink 1/2 off, and so many more deals so stay tuned!

TikTok/YouTube stars Alan & Alex Stokes (Stokes Twins) charged with felony after fake Irvine bank robbery pranks that led to police responses at Metropolis Apartments & UC Irvine

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Two 23-year old twins face criminal charges for a prank in which authorities say they staged a fake bank robbery in Irvine that resulted in a police response, including officers holding an unsuspecting Uber driver at gunpoint.

Alan and Alex Stokes, 23, of Irvine each were charged with a felony count of false imprisonment and a misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors allege that around 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 15, 2019, the brothers – dressed in black, wearing ski masks and carrying duffel bags full of cash – pretended like they had just robbed a bank, while their videographer filmed them.

According to the DA’s office, the brothers ordered an Uber, but the driver – who was unaware of the alleged prank – refused to drive them anywhere. A bystander, believing the two men had robbed a bank and were trying to carjack the driver, called 911.

Irvine officers ordered the Uber driver out of the car at gunpoint, then released him after determining he hadn’t committed a crime. The officers let the Stokes brothers go with a warning, according to the DA’s office.

Prosecutors allege that four hours later the brothers carried out a similar prank on the UC Irvine campus, and officers once again responded to reports of a bank being robbed. The men left before officers arrived.

Source: OC Register

In Orange County, Coronavirus-Related Racism Toward Asians Leads To Calls For Action

OC is home to Little Saigon, Little India and — Taiwanese bakery buffs will note — the first U.S. location of 85°C which opened in Irvine.

But in the weeks since the pandemic hit California, anti-Asian incidents have made some in the community feel straight-up unwelcome, and led to a demand for action at the top levels of county government.

More than 200 people signed a letter that was sent to the Orange County Board of Supervisors Wednesday, calling on it to pass a resolution “denouncing the discrimination and hate crimes directed against Asian Americans in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Source: LAist