Little Saigon controversy lives on


Eighteen Little Saigon banners will hang along Story Road. It's one of San Jose's busiest Vietnamese shopping regions. The sign maker, Hung Nguyen, fled Vietnam in 1989.

"We keep the Little Saigon in my heart, so Saigon is still the name," says Nguyen.

The Little Saigon name was at the center of months of passionate debate. Some in the Vietnamese community say it is the only phrase that recognizes their heritage while denouncing communist rule.

The Council's first elected Vietnamese American supported a compromise name "Saigon Business District".

Even though the Little Saigon signs are going up soon, the recall effort against Councilwomen Madison Nguyen is moving forward.

Some Vietnamese Americans say they felt betrayed by Nguyen even before the Little Saigon dispute.

"She happens to be a Vietnamese American Councilmember who comes to us only after the fact. The name Little Saigon is just the last drop in the water," says recall supporter Barry Do.

Recall supporters turned in more than 5,000 signatures. Less than 3,200 valid signatures from Nguyen's district are needed to force a costly special election, probably in March.

"We're estimating anywhere between $300,000 and $500,000 for the cost of the election," says Dennis Hawkins, Assistant City Clerk.

Councilwoman Nguyen says the recall effort is an unnecessary waste of time and money, but says she will aggressively fight what she calls a campaign of intimidation.

"It's very disappointing, but at the same time, I think that this represents a very small group of people in the Vietnamese American community."

The Little Saigon banners go up as early as October 5th. A week later, the city will know if the controversy lives on in a special election.

For more on this, check out Karina's Back Story.

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