Even in the weird, weird world of final-hour indie City Council candidates, Robert Wideman is a real gem.
Not to be confused with that SEO-friendly Robert Wideman currently serving a life sentence in Pennsylvania, of "FREE AN INNOCENT MAN!!!" fame, the Robert Wideman of Long Beach City Council candidacy is a Herman Cain-loving, illegal immigration-hating, red-blooded "Tea Party Patriot/Republican." (Also, just FYI, he likes smooth jazz, and "some hip-hop." Probably Hi-Caliber, as we don't know of any other Republican rappers.)
Which would explain the contentious issue at the core of his campaign:
"Stop AB 131," helmed by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, seeks to repeal the second half of the California DREAM Act, signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September. The bill would allow illegal immigrants attending college to be considered in-state residents, and therefore open the state's dwindling financial-aid coffers to alien applicants.
Wideman won't stand for that. He has set up his very own petition-signing table outside the Choices Cafe in Long Beach, and will stop by this Saturday to host "a signature gathering party" in the name of yanking all those grubby illegal-immigrant paws off taxpayer dollars that could be going to perfectly needy kids whose parents didn't force them over the border in search of the American dream. Or something like that.
We'll just let "Stop AB 131" explain:
How much will it cost?
Estimates depend on how many students apply, but a range of $15 million to $40 million per year in new scholarship grants is likely.
Why is AB 131 a bad idea?
1. We don't have the resources. We're putting millions into this, with no payoff for the state. We literally don't have the money.
2. This is an opportunity tax on students who must now pay more, wait for the classes they need and graduate in 5-6 years instead of four.
3. AB 131 is irresponsible and unfair. It adds entitlements in an economic crisis. Even children of U.S. Military servicemen and women do not get this benefit!
Huh? Since when were the children of U.S. Military servicemen and women not allowed access to financial aid? We're confused.
Anyway, back to Wideman. Unconventional, to announce one's non-incumbent candidacy
barely one week five months before election day -- but unconventional he is. [Update: The Long Beach Council election is in April, not November.] The local pol is currently serving as Long Beach Chair to the Herman Cain campaign, and seems to have a bit in common with his national counterpart, going by his "Biography" section on Facebook. (Mostly just the last part, actually, in bold, which sounds a little like something Cain might say, re: those redonkulous harassment allegations):
Robert was Born in Compton, Both parents worked for the County of Los Angeles. He has two brothers and two sisters; from Compton the family moved to Carson, where he attended Banning High School. After completing High School he fathered a child at an early age, and joined the work force to provide for his family. As life would have it both of his parents, and a sister passed before he would turn twenty! Robert has experienced many perils in his life; scarred but not beaten; he has turned his life around and is now known by many in the Long Beach Area as a volunteer-aholic.
The Long Beach Post acknowledged Wideman's candidacy on Tuesday -- he's hoping to take District 6 of the port city on his conservative crusade. So here's to a proud "patriot" in a sea of L.A County liberals. And if there's anywhere in the county he might have a shot, it may just be Long Beach, whose stonerific Snoop Dogg reputation is a far cry from the rather staunch politics up at City Hall.
As for the "Stop AB 131" camp: Pick on someone your own size, why don'tcha. Want to talk about "perils in life"? Because no one has seen more of those than the kids on the losing end of your us vs. them shtick. (OK, rant over. Carry on.)
Update: Wideman gave us a call back this afternoon to discuss the evil effects of illegal immigration on his community, and the U.S. as a whole.
"While Americans are suffering from this invasion, blacks are suffering the most," he says. "It's an atrocity."
Do go on.
"Take a 22-year-old going into college, trying to get an education for himself," he says. "He's trying to get a job at McDonalds, at Burger King, and there are more Latinos working there than anyone else. The Latinos are taking over the job market."
Wideman says the epidemic then spreads to the college classroom, where he estimates off-hand that 35 percent of students are "unregistered" (aka, undocumented) yet are getting "priority" over native Americans.
He later tells us no to quote him on the 35 percent thing, but maintains it's still a "large percentage." We're thinking he might be confusing Latinos in general with Latinos sin papeles, but there's not really any use arguing about systemic racial profiling at this point in a man's candidacy, is there.
"It's my passion," says Wideman.