By Rascha Hall —
This is my final President’s Report and what a year it has been. Of course, the biggest news of the year is the current coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown. We were all set in March to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. The Palos Verdes Library had planned a march, as well as other activities, to celebrate the occasion. Approximately two days before the planned march on March 14th, the event was cancelled. Several states went into lockdown. We were advised to stay at home and wear a mask if we did need to venture out. Social gatherings were advised to be no more than 10 people and even then, we were advised to maintain “social distancing,” allowing for a distance of 6 feet between participants. Restaurant dining, bars, gyms, barbers, hair and nail salons, and all other non-essential businesses closed their doors. Hospitals were overwhelmed with patients, many filling ever waning ICU beds and needing ventilators which were in short supply. Birthday parties, anniversaries, graduations, and religious services were all done “virtually.” We’ve all become Zoom experts. Our March meeting was postponed. April, May, and June meetings were held “virtually” using Zoom. To date, more than 130,00 people have died from Covid-19. I hope you are staying safe during this trying time.
The other “major” event of the year was the protest demonstrations held over a period of at least three weeks in response to the horrific murder of George Floyd; a murder we witnessed over and over again on television. There have been other police murders which have also been captured on video. The protests led to some random violence, but for the most part, they were peaceful. Some police also participated in the protests. I refer you to the pictures published in our June newsletter which showed the PVE police kneeling along with protesters during that first weekend after the murder video went viral. While many of the protesters wore masks and tried to maintain social distancing, together with so many people gathered together at the newly opened beaches over Memorial Day weekend, the events sparked a new rise in coronavirus cases!
Through all of this, the current occupant of the White House has refused to acknowledge the severity of the situation. He first said it was five people, then fifteen people, then that it would be gone by April. He now tells us that 99% of the cases are harmless. And he continues to sow racial division over the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.
Meanwhile, life goes on. Throughout this year, before the pandemic closed our in-person meetings and after, our 2nd Vice President, Ann Nye, has brought us many interesting programs. Each program has had a theme. August saw our annual review of select Supreme Court decisions moderated by our very own Superior Court Judge, Tom Long. In September, we had “Make A Difference” with our former 2nd VP, Gary Boston, speaking for Sister District, Jacki Bacharach, Executive Director of South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG), speaking about the effort to bring high speed internet to the South Bay, and a speaker from LAANE, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, informing us of the plight of the port truck drivers. In October, we heard about the question of desalinization under the theme, “What Water Will You Drink.” November saw us get ahead of the game with “Over Policing and California Democrats’ Next Steps.” January’s theme was “January and Beyond.” We heard from Sara Deen, elected delegate for Assembly District 66, about the plight of Muslims in the Trump era; Linda Sun, candidate for Superior Court Judge, and former Palos Verdes Democrats president, Tony Hale, who brought us up to speed on highlights from the CADEM (California Democratic Party) convention. February saw a look at “Historic Moments.” We heard from a speaker representing the League of Women Voters who told us about Schools and Communities First, a ballot initiative for November, and from Mark Gonzalez, chair of LACDP (Los Angeles County Democratic Party). The March meeting was cancelled and the program was postponed until June. In April, State Senator Ben Allen, chair of the State Senate Environmental Quality Committee, and Rolling Hills Estates City Councilman Steve Zuckerman brought us up to date how the state and RHE are tackling the problem of climate change. In May, Congressman Ted Lieu, who represents us in the 33rd Congressional District highlighted the efforts of the 116th Congress in passing legislation to combat the Covid-19 health and economic crises. Following his presentation, he answered questions from the “virtual” audience. June’s theme of “Homelessness is a State Emergency” had us hear from the Managing Director of Abundant Housing LA, Leonora Cramner, and Grace Farwell from SBCCOG who told us about their work with Harbor Interfaith in tackling the problem of homelessness. State Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi from the 66th AD told us about the efforts of the State Assembly and his concerns about the Covid-19 impacts. State Senator Ben Allen from State Senate District 26 also participated in the discussion.
That brings us full circle to our upcoming “virtual” picnic on July 19th. You will need to supply your own lunch but our 2nd VP and Program Director, Ann Nye, has a fantastic line-up of guest speakers, including Christy Smith who is hoping to retake the 25th CD (Congressional District), as well as current Congresspersons, Nanette Barragan, and Ted Lieu and LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn. In addition, there will be local council persons from PVE and RHE, Mark Gonzalez from LACDP, and PV Library Board and PV School Board representatives. Interspersed with our speakers will be some topical entertainment that we are sure you will enjoy. Be sure to respond to your email “Blast” and register to attend our “virtual” picnic.
A few other events of the past year that deserve mention. Who can forget the fabulous turnout of the youth of the world in September, led by Greta Thunberg a 16 year old Swedish girl, to protest against and ask their elders to fight climate change. We saw electoral upsets with Kentucky and Louisiana voting in Democratic governors, and with the help of Sister District (and our own former president Lynn Bommer), Virginia turned BLUE. Meanwhile Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, Republicans from San Diego and New York who were re-elected in 2018 despite being under indictment changed their pleas from not guilty to guilty and resigned from office. One of my favorites is the birth of the Lincoln Project, a group of Conservative Republicans, who are producing television ads to fight the election of Donald Trump in support of Joe Biden.
And now a teaser for the future; Join us in August, “virtually,” when our own Superior Court Judge, Tom Long, will again review some of the past year’s Supreme Court decisions, some of which surprised and delighted us.
Before leaving, I would like to thank the Board of Directors and the membership for their support over the last two years. I’m not going anywhere; I just have those coveted two words following my name: Past President. Don’t forget to renew your membership!
And as Bugs Bunny would say, “That’s All For Now, Folks!”