By Ann Nye and Fraser Perkins
Our first ever virtual picnic began with the acknowledgement of two memorable quotes from John Lewis, who passed on July 17th, two days before our picnic.
— If you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something about it.
— Get in good trouble, necessary trouble.
Outgoing PV Dems President, Rascha Hall, gave the welcome for our Virtual Picnic and honored the lost civil rights activists with these words, “We’ve lost a giant, but we’ve also lost another civil rights activist, CT Vivian, and his name has gotten lost because of the magnitude of John’s name.”
Chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP), Mark Gonzalez, said we need to “continue the legacy of John Lewis by voting.” LACDP has expanded voter registration drives and naturalization ceremonies and Gonzalez stressed that since 2016 “we went from 2.6 million Democrats to 2.9 million Democrats and 90% of our endorsed candidates have won their election or made it to runoffs due in part to all of you at the local level.” Gonzalez reminded us that all of LACDP meetings are open to the public and can be found at www.lacdp.org/meetings and announced LACDP will be launching their Candidates on Candidates series July 30th and details are at www.lacdp.org/lacdppresents. “We’re 106 days from election day, folks,” said Gonzalez and “we know that absentee mailers will be going out to every voter and we need to make sure every voter knows how to return their ballot. … Let’s keep the Blue Wave strong.”
Assemblymember Christy Smith, Democratic candidate for the 25th Congressional District (CD), said “we are completely undeterred by the results of the May Special Election” and how COVID-19 changed how we run our ground campaigns. Smith told us how Hillary Clinton won this district in 2016, and really began its transition from an historically Republican district to what she said is “a solidly blue-purple district.” She added that her district contains 7% more registered Democrats than Republicans, but everyone’s help is needed to get Democrats out to vote. Smith ended by saying, “With vote by mail, we need to change the voter’s mindset to think of this as a process [Oct 5th to Nov 3rd] and not just focus on election day.” Check out her website to volunteer, www.christyforcongress.org/.
Congresswoman Nanette Barragán is defending her 44th Congressional seat in November and thanked our club for helping during her successful campaigns in 2013 for a seat on the Hermosa Beach City Council, and in 2018 for her current position. Barragán was talking to us from Washington D.C. as she gets ready for two weeks of votes on appropriation bills. Barragán said, “I had the honor of serving with John Lewis and walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with him.” Barragán highlighted the Moving Forward bill, a Democrat-passed House infrastructure bill, which included two of her proposals; one to “green” the ports and the other to invest more money in under-served and urban areas to provide more green spaces. Almost two months ago, Barragán said, “we passed the Heroes Act to put money into the pockets of local governments so they can help provide services to all of you.” “The House Democrats are doing the work and they (the Republicans) are sitting on the Senate side with no action.” In the August stretch, Barragán says, we’re expecting the Senate to finally negotiate for COVID funding. “We need to take back the Senate,” Barragán asserted, “… we need to elect Christy Smith … and we need to win my election … and we need to get everyone counted on the census.” “The one upside of this virtual picnic,” laughed Barragán, “is I didn’t have to yell across a lawn and hear people say we can’t hear you.” To help in Barragán’s re-election campaign, visit her website, barraganforcongress.com.
In response to a question about DHS police deployed against protesters in Portland, Barragán, who sits on the Homeland Security Committee said, “This administration is used to going rogue and they are doing it again with the use of Homeland Security … the reality is we have to get in any language in appropriation bills to prevent money from being used in this way.”
In another question about the census, Barragán responded that Trump’s latest tactic to sign an Executive Order to not count undocumented people is a “tactic to get people to not bother to fill out the census if I’m not going to be counted.” And to add more confusion, she just found out there is another arm of the census calling families and talking to children to see if they are a victim of abuse. Barragán says this has nothing to do with the census counting part, but it is adding fear in the process.
Congressman Harley Rouda, representing CD 48, beat 15-term incumbent Dana Rohrabacher back in 2018 and needs our support in the November election to keep OC BLUE. Since he was flying back to D.C. today, he spoke to us via a pre-recorded video, and was happy to acknowledge when he was running in 2017, “PV Democrats were one of my first and earliest supporters and your volunteering helped flip this seat in 2018 and will help us keep it in 2020.” Rouda feels his re-election may be even tougher since his opponent is an advisor to Trump and is charged with leading OC’s COVID-19 response. “Even though my opponent’s leadership is terrible, ” says Rouda, “she’s raising millions of dollars from the RNC.” After the video, Alyssa Napuri, Congressman Rouda’s Campaign Manager for the 2020 re-election, joined us to take questions. Alyssa said “the campaign is mainly focused with phone and text banking for volunteers, unless you live in Orange County where they have one designated person in a neighborhood that puts sticky notes on people’s doors to invite them to virtual events.” To help in Harley’s re-election, visit his website, harleyforcongress.com.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, representing the 4th District, recalled “what an honor to have served in Congress with John Lewis.” Hahn related two great memories she had about John Lewis: One was about joining Lewis on his civil rights pilgrimage where he takes members of Congress to Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham Alabama to “learn about the real history of this country.” The one she attended was on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, where President Obama “gave one of his greatest speeches.” The second was in 2016 as democrats took over the House chambers when Paul Ryan was speaker, and staged an all-night sit-in to get the Republicans to schedule a vote on “common-sense gun legislation. … We never did get the vote, but I was able to take a stand with John Lewis, by sitting down in the House. … He was the original Black Lives Matter.” At the county level, Supervisor Hahn says, “we’re looking at criminal justice reform, tearing down the central jail, re-aligning money away from law enforcement, and instead investing it in alternatives to incarceration.” Janice said they’re expecting a sweeping motion by Mark Ridley Thomas to evaluate the role of racism in county government. She stated COVID-19 is going in the wrong direction and we’ve had trouble opening businesses when so many people stopped following the rules of wearing masks and physically distancing and businesses like restaurants were not implementing protocols, which added to the spike in cases. While school districts are closed for in-person learning, Janice is suggesting county parks and libraries as alternative sites for distant classroom learning for children whose parents have to go back to work or don’t have proper wifi. In closing, Janice reminded us that it’s been 60 years since JFK’s “New Frontier” speech that he gave at the Memorial Coliseum when he accepted the Democratic Nomination for President on July 15, 1960, where one of his great lines were, “we need leadership not salesmanship.”
In response to a question about enforcing people to wear masks, Janice said the county mandates mask wearing and has cited restaurants for not enforcing mask wearing, but she thinks, “we’re getting to a point where we will need to enforce this.” And, we have lots of sites where the county provides free COVID tests.
Rolling Hills Estates City Council Member Judy Mitchell started her talk saying she’s not running this year after serving 5 terms on the city council (since 1999). As a member of both the CA Air Resources Board (CARB) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Board, Mitchell noted “there is a relationship between the pandemic and air quality. … We still, in California, have the worst air quality in the nation and it’s particularly bad here in the South Coast and San Joaquin Valley.” Focused on reducing the pollution from trucks, she said the CARB passed the Advanced Clean Truck Rule on July 25th with the expectation that by 2045 all trucks sold will be zero admission. This as well as other regulations are necessary to reduce our emissions to meet the Federal Clean Air Act deadline. The boats that dock at our ports will need to reduce their emissions, too, Mitchell said. The “Air Boards and Districts are being tasked to look at air pollution from the ground up. Each year certain communities with severe air pollution are chosen to be focused on. … We have five communities we’re focused on … and they are all environmental justice communities that suffer severe impacts from pollution.” Mitchell said when she’s off the city council at the end of the year, she will not be eligible to retain her seats on the SCAQMD or CARB.
Palos Verdes Estates City Council Members Kenny Kao and Sandy Davidson are both serving their first terms on the city council. Kenny Kao began his talk commending Judy Mitchell for her years of service with RHE, saying “everybody on the entire Peninsula and beyond are going to miss Judy and her service.” He continued that PVE is in the process of rebuilding their staff and just appointed a new City Manager, Laura Guglielmo, and said, “she has a lot of hiring to do.” Kao also acknowledged interim Police Chief Dan Drieling’s touching interactions with the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests about a month ago adjacent to PVE City Hall. In his discussions with Chief Drieling, they discussed the 8 Can’t Wait guidelines and he says, “our police force is already doing a lot of the 8 Can’t Wait things.” Sandy Davidson had a shout-out to Rascha saying she “taught his son trigonometry.” Rascha does remember him and thinks Joan (Davidson’s wife) was on the school board at that time. Davidson announced that he is running for a second city council term in November. Davidson was congratulatory to Asm Muratsuchi, Senator Allen, and Rep Lieu for keeping in touch with residents about COVID and the affordable housing issues. “In PVE,” says Davidson, “our top priority is health and personal safety” and I’m “proud to support our police force and applaud all the first responders.” Davidson also had a lot to say about bills in the CA legislature that he feels are focused on increasing housing density vs affordable housing and wants the city to keep control over local zoning.
Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District Board Member Megan Crawford explained how schools have received guidelines and health protocols to follow when schools re-open. Because we’re in LA County, our school district is on the COVID monitoring list and cannot re-open until it’s off the list for 14 days. Crawford said Palos Verdes parents have two options – distance learning, or a hybrid model with 50% in person on campus and 50% online. Parents would have to commit to one of the options for a whole semester. PVPUSD has purchased an online curriculum for K-12 grades (that is meant to be taught online) to overcome the “crisis-type” online teaching they had to do in the Spring when schools shut down, saying, “What happened in Spring won’t happen in the Fall.” In the hybrid option, the students may be on campus 2 days a week. Check the PVPUSD website for more information www.pvpusd.net.
In answer to a question on what was her experience teaching remotely, Crawford said, “We didn’t sign up to teach remotely, we all want to be in the classroom with students.” She believes distance learning is the safest option at this point until we get the virus under control. The hope is that this new online curriculum and planning will make it much better than it was and standardize the teaching for both the teachers and students. Crawford said, “this doesn’t replace any instruction in person. We all know students learn best in the classroom.”
State Senator Ben Allen, representing the 26th Senate District, remarked that “this is a great way to hear from all the different leaders from every level of government.” He noted that Crawford used to work in his office and now has to grapple with school openings during a pandemic and distance learning. The COVID crisis forced the state legislature to go on a quarantine recess in March and then returned with masks and distancing to pass the budget, and recently due to a COVID outbreak among some legislators, they weren’t able to return to session and they are now in a holding pattern for a few weeks. As a result, legislators have been asked to reduce their bill packages and prioritize their bills. Some people believe remote voting will jeopardize or add complexities to passing bills in terms of transparency. Allen said his office has helped many people who have had trouble with their unemployment benefits and the Employment Development Department (EDD) and encourages folks to call his legislative office at 310-318-6994 if they need assistance. As Janice Hahn said, LA County pushed vote by mail and now, Allen said, “the state has enacted vote by mail, too, and everyone should be getting a vote by mail ballot, though we will still keep the vote centers for those who don’t feel vote by mail (VBM) is an option.” He said there were high levels of confidence for VBM by everyone (Dems and Reps), but with the President talking against VBM, they’re shooting themselves in the foot. One of the main bills Allen is passionate about is his bill to get rid of PFAS chemicals, the foam used by firefighters and he’s happy that finally the firefighters are on board with his bill, which promotes alternatives to PFAS. (The Devil We Know – on Netflix – talks about the danger of these cancerous chemicals getting into our water). And finally, Allen exclaimed, “someone we’re going to miss in public office is Judy Mitchell … who has been such a fantastic leader … for the local Peninsula community but also region wide with her Air Board work.”
Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, representing District 66, joined the chorus of people who thanked Judy Mitchell and Janice Hahn “who were the two lone voices who fought to eliminate the hydrofluoric acid (HFC) from the Torrance Refinery.” To protect vulnerable communities, Muratsuchi introduced AB 345 establishing stricter set-backs for oil drilling and refining near homes and parks. Muratsuchi said opposition to proposed oil drilling in Hermosa Beach by activists like Dency Nelson inspired the original impetus for AB 345, which faces stiff opposition from Big Oil and unions representing refinery workers. [PV Dems recently supported VISION’s coalition letter to CA Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins in support of Muratsuchi’s bill, AB 345]. Muratsuchi is working with Senator Allen to pass AB 353 to close down the AES Redondo Beach Power Plant, which spews both particulates and nitrogen oxides over the South Bay, when it is powered up during periods of high energy demand. “Its impact on the marine environment,” Muratsuchi said, “was the original reason it was slated to close this year.” The operating permit for the plant has been extended for at least another year as a “peaker plant” to provide electrical grid reliability. Muratsuchi said, “he and Ben will be testifying at an upcoming water board hearing this week and we are going to keep fighting to shut down this plant so we can move forward in building a beautiful park for all to enjoy.” Muratsuchi is also working to get broadband funding to close the digital divide and supports online learning. Faced with the same dilemma as a lot of parents, Muratsuchi concluded he and his wife “are discussing whether their 6th grader will opt for hybrid learning or distance learning.”
Congressman Ted Lieu, representing Congressional District 33, administered the oath of office for the new PV Democrats Board Members before addressing the audience.
Ann Nye introduced the new board members,
|President Emeritus||Rascha Hall|
|1st Vice President||Connie Sullivan|
|2nd Vice President||Ann Nye|
|Recording Secretary||Asha Shahed|
|Corresponding Secretary||Arline Korb|
|Newsletter Editor||Fraser Perkins|
|Web Master||Reggie Jue|
Because COVID and the Hero’s Act had been covered earlier, Rep. Lieu wanted to address one issue and that was about what was happening in Portland, Oregon where “these random federal units are showing up and arresting people and putting them into unmarked cars. We saw this happen in D.C. also….The reason this is happening is the US Marshals, under current law, can pretty much deputize anyone they want to go do different missions.” In D.C. Lieu said, “they deputized a Bureau of Prisons Unit that was out there doing crowd control.” This week, Lieu said he “will be announcing legislation to restrict US Marshals from doing this unless the Governor of the state requests that help.” Lieu’s Judicial Committee joined with the Homeland Security and Committee on Oversight to send a letter to both the IG’s of DHS and the Dept of Justice to investigate this practice. “Good news,” says Rep Lieu, is the DCCC expanded a number of targets for flipping the House — an additional six seats.” That’s because Donald Trump’s low approval ratings are dragging down other areas. The expanded battlefield has widened to include Alaska, Texas and Montana.
In answering a question about mutual aid, Lieu said the broader question is how we prevent systemic and structural racism. We clearly need additional investments in areas like criminal justice, healthcare and education so people of color are not left behind and they don’t suffer discrimination. Lieu said with the pandemic we’ve seen an increase of hate crimes against Asian Americans. He concluded that the first thing is to acknowledge the problem and then fight back in the courts and with legislation.
Palos Verdes Library District Board of Trustees President Kay Cooperman Jue and fellow Trustees Board Member Rosa Easton, are members of a five-member elected board that supervises the library’s top executives, approves the district’s budget and sets district policy. Jue said our library district was formed before there were cities on the Peninsula and unlike other libraries, our libraries are run by a separate entity independent of city government(s) and we receive a small portion of local property taxes. Easton is a first-year trustee and said the library is still closed but curb-side pickups are available and library membership and online services have increased during the pandemic. You can even donate books at the Peninsula Library at certain designated times. Jue concluded by saying two Library Trustee seats are open for re-election in November and encourages folks to apply — check out the library website for information, www.pvld.org/.
At the end of the meeting we acknowledged elected officials who attended our meeting:
Sergio Carrillo, CDP Regional Director and LACDP Vice Chair
Harold C. Williams, Vice President of the West Basin Municipal Water District, and member of PV Democrats; he assured us that our water is COVID-19 free.
Mark Henderson, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Gardena, and member of PV Democrats; he is married to Nichelle Henderson, who is a candidate for Seat 5 on the Los Angeles Community College District Board.
Steve Zuckerman, Rolling Hills Estate City Council; he reminded us that RHE is also having an election. Connie mentioned that Debbie Stegura is a candidate for the Rolling Hills Estates City Council.
Kathy Bradford thanked the speakers, attendees, Ann Nye for assembling the program, Reggie Jue as webmaster and host, and Carol Moeller for helping with the co-hosting. She asked everyone to join us at our next regular meeting on August 16th at 2:30 pm where the topic is on the Supreme Court 2019-2020 decisions.
LACDP Chair Mark Gonzalez, Assemblymember Christy Smith, Congressmember Nanette Barragán, Congressmember Harley Rouda, LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn, and RHE City Councilmember Judy Mitchell address the PV Democrats
PVE Councilmember Kenny Kao, PVE Councilmember Sandy Davidson, PVPUSD Board Member Megan Crawford, CA State Senator Ben Allen, CA State Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, US Congressmember Ted Lieu, PV Library District Board of Trustees Kay Cooperman Jue, and PV Library District Board of Trustees Rosa Kwon Easton address the PV Democrats