Signgate 2 in District 7

Like most people paying attention to the District 7 council race, Fly was surprised that the runoff between councilmember Madison Nguyen and Republican furniture-store owner Minh Duong ended up being a squeaker. After the revelations about the Chamber-endorsed Duong’s pile of bad debts and financial screwups, Fly was expecting that District 7 residents would re-elect the increasingly independent Nguyen by a landslide. Not so.

During the campaign, Nguyen’s camp complained about the rampant vandalism of her campaign signs by Duong supporters. Way before a certain sweatpants-wearing councilman was “busted” (set up?) pulling up illegal lawn signs, Fly got a tip that prominent Vietnamese American activist and lawyer Michael Luu was spotted doing the same on McLaughlin Avenue. “I saw a young guy who was trying to untie the campaign sign of Madison Nguyen from a wire fence at the corner of that intersection,” wrote the tipper.

When poll results rolled in on the evening of Nov. 2, the business backed-Duong and SBLC-supported Nguyen were neck and neck. At one point it appeared possible that Nguyen would be beat by a “business candidate” who was widely known to have a personal history of financial defaults, debts, foreclosures and tax violations (oh yeah, and being thrown off the Small Business Development Commission). Nguyen eventually pulled ahead, retaining her seat with 54.25 percent of the vote—but not before admitting to Fly that even she “didn’t think it was going to be this close.”

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.


  1. Madison did a better job on the ground—in the neighborhoods within her district. Minh drove a van around to build name recognition.  Madison had the streets lined with her signs and in some spots, very energetic sign wavers on Tully Road.
    Madison had a message and the support from the community. Minh was just not good enough of a candidate to beat this tested politician.
    When are we going to see candidates that can take on, in Sam L’s words, ” the machine”? Pellgram and now Minh, come on. Is this the best we have?

    • We’re all asking ourselves the same thing. For all the whining the business lobby has done over the last several decades, this is the best you got? You’re better off keeping your mouths shut.

  2. a really big deal was made out of the vandalism done to a few of Madison’s signs. Such a big deal that all detectives in SJPD’s Assaults unit were ordered to drop what they were doing and dedicate their combined resources to investigate.

    Fly, are you aware of this? Who ordered this? was it the Mayor, Madison or some other council person? Maybe the Chief of Police just put his people on the case out of some sense of duty? What was the cost to the taxpayer?

    Funny how when a councilperson’s signs are defaced it becomes a big deal but when a Councilperson is caught outright stealing a campaign sign from a campaign he opposes its just “picking up litter.”

    • Campaign operatives have been stealing campaign signs since the beginning of representative governments.

      It’s laughable that all the leftist populists suddenly become incensed at this violation of “free speech” and “property rights”.

      Where were they when the govenment imposed McCain-Feingold, The Fairness Doctrine, The Kelo decision, eminent domain, urban renewal, etc, etc.

      • “Where were they when the govenment imposed McCain-Feingold, The Fairness Doctrine, The Kelo decision, eminent domain, urban renewal, etc, etc. “

        Where were they when the SS, I mean TSA, decided to grope everyone who didn’t want to go through a full body x-ray machine?  When the dentist’s assistant does a little x-ray of your teeth, she covers your body with a lead blanket and leaves the room.  This machine bombards your entire body with x-rays for up to 30 seconds.  How safe can it really be.

        • Your reference to “SS” is foolish and offensive. Whatever one thinks of the methods of TSA they are in no way close to anything perpetrated by the Nazi’s. To imply that lessens the horrors suffered by innocents at the hand of the Nazi’s.

        • Oh, Really?

          Incremental “CONDITIONING”… always ends up BAD.
          “On arrival at the ”Cottage,” they were told to undress. At first they went calmly into the rooms where they were supposed to be disinfected. But some of them showed signs of alarm, and spoke of death by suffocation and of annihilation. A sort of panic set in at once. Immediately all the Jews still outside were pushed into the chambers, and the doors were screwed shut. With subsequent transports the difficult individuals were picked out early on and most carefully supervised. At the first signs of unrest, those responsible were unobtrusively led behind the building and killed with a small-calibre gun that was inaudible to the others. ”
          (From the testimony of Rudolph Hess, Commandant of Auschwitz)

        • Hoss, not Hess.

          Rudolf Hess was in a British prison the entire time Auschwitz was in operation.  Rudolf Hoss was the Commandant of Auschwitz.

      • Nothing in the law provides a defense or exception to theft if the theif is a council member, “campaign operative” or when item stolen is a campaign sign. it doesn’t matter if this has been going on since teh “beginnning of representative governments. What PierLuigi did was dispicable and not defensible.

        But that wasn’t the point. The point is that the council puled out all the stops by demanding the police investigate the damage to one of their own’s signs. Then they disparaged those same police for responding to a 911 call from someone reporting Pier was stealing a sign.

        The mayor, constant and oliverio along with this blog and the mercury news called the police “union thugs” and said the whole Oliverio event was harassment,  then accused the police of trying to intimidate the voters. 

        Give it a rest? I’m not tired yet.

    • It would have been better and smarter if Oliverio hadn’t done what he did, but there is a real distinction between removing signs illegally posted on public land, and removing/defacing signs that are lawfully posted.  Its a little silly to pretend one doesn’t see that.  Illegally posted signs basically ARE litter.  I was sorely tempted to trash the ones (“No on Measures V & W”) illegally posted in Jeffrey Fontana Park.

      Surely postings signs illegally is no better than tearing down illegally posted signs?  But Olivero’s critics don’t seem to care about the laws governing how signs may not be posted, only the far more ambiguous one Oliverio may or may not have been in violation of when he removed unlawfully posted signs.

      Of course, if Oliverio removed lawfully posted signs, I’d be happy to see him removed from the City Council.  But there doesn’t seem to be any evidence for that.

      • ” Illegally posted signs basically ARE litter.”

        Actually, ALL these BS political signs are litter.  But there are voters out there who actually guage whom to vote for by how many signs one candidate has out there versus another candidate.  But The Warren Court protected all this as “speech”, and those rulings have stuck.  If it’s any consolation, it’s much worse in Europe, and they don’t even have a First Amendment.

        The Founding Fathers were suspicious of the general public when it came to voting.  They were right.

  3. How could Pierluigi Oliverio being caught stealing lawn signs possibly be a setup? How do you get setup to steal lawn signs? As if someone knew which route he’d be driving that morning, stuck an illegal sign in the public right of way and staked out the location to catch him in the act?

    The notion is so ridiculous, it’s as if a 22-year old girl wrote this article.

  4. I find it interesting that yard signs are such a big deal.  The removal of, whether legal or illegal, such signs is an on-going happening on political campaigns.  But the fact of the matter is that campaigns are neither won or lost based on the placement or removal of such signs.  As we saw with the recent gubernatorial campaign, the amount a candidate puts their name in front of the voters’ faces matters far less than how much voters trust (relatively speaking) a candidate.  So, how about it…let’s get off this fixation with who does what with yard signs or how many there are.