March 11, 2014
State Senator Ted Lieu is running for Henry Waxman's District 33 seat in Congress, opposed by about 8 other Democrats and 5 from other parties. Senator Lieu won 73% of the votes in a Democratic Party pre- endorsement meeting. For a good example of his work in Sacramento, he has authored SB 1272, which would put on the statewide ballot for November 2014 the following proposition: "Shall the Voters adopt a resolution that there should be limits on political campaign spending and that corporations should not have the constitutional rights of human beings and instruct California elected officials and legislative representatives to promote that policy through amendments to the United States Constitution?" This has already been endorsed by the Los Angeles City Council. The argument for it will be presented to our March 12 meeting by Michele Sutter, co- founder of M.O.V.I. (Money Out, Voters In) Our meeting agenda will also include discussion of the California Democratic Party Convention, held March 7 to 9 at the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Bonaventure Hotel. I expect our members who attend shall bring back to our meeting copies of endorsement lists of candidates and propositions and resolutions, as well as personal reminiscences of the meeting and listening to our party leaders. We can use that information to help us make our Club's endorsements. For more help with our choices for the June 3rd Primary Election, our neighbors in the West L.A. Democratic Club have invited us to two candidates' forums, at a location TBD near Culver City. On Saturday, April 5th, from 10 am to 3 pm, we can hear candidates for Congressional District 33 (Waxman's seat), State Senate District 26 (Ted Lieu's seat), and Los Angeles County Supervisor (Zev Yaroslavsky's seat). On Saturday, May 3rd, from 10 am to 3 pm, there will be appearances by candidates for California state offices, and Los Angeles County (Assessor, Sheriff, and some Judgeships). After hearing the above, and studying the Propositions, our Culver City Club may choose to make endorsements at our meetings on April 9th and May 14th. I expect the choices will be easy for most State offices, except Secretary of State (Derek Cressman, Alex Padilla, Leland Yee), Controller (John A. Perez, Betty Yee), and Supervisor of Public Instruction (Tom Torlakson, Marshall Tuck). The County offices will be hotly contested, since no incumbents are running. Other contested primaries will include Congressional Districts 31 (to replace Republican Gary G. Miller) and 35 (to replace Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod), and Assembly District 62 (six Democrats are running to replace Steven Bradford). There has been much written lately about Democrats losing their 2/3 majority in the State Senate, because Ron Calderon and Rod Wright will be absent from voting. This will not be nearly as big a problem as when a 1/3 minority blocked the Democrats' state budget, and they had to make a deal with Abel Maldonado, who was then hounded out of office by furious Republicans. The deal was to put before the voters the winning Proposition that the top two vote- getters advance to the run-off election, regardless of party affiliation. I think that makes parties weaker, which is not good. Our Club should discuss the practical effect of this on elections, and also the effect of the new process for redistricting. I also remember that Calderon and Wright were among the six Democratic Senators who chose to kill S.B. 810 (Leno), a single- payer healthcare bill that would save the state billions, while providing every Californian with guaranteed, quality healthcare. The other Democratic Senators who didn't vote for this were: Lou Correa, Alex Padilla, Michael Rubio and Juan Vargas. All received big contributions from insurance companies and "Big Pharma".
How Does Our Club Fit Into The Democratic Party? We have heard the jokes about Democrats not being an "organized party." It is our responsibility to take that criticism seriously. I have learned, from the lead front page article in the New York Times of January 24, that Priorities USA Action, the largest Democratic "super PAC", which helped re-elect President Obama, is now formally aligning itself with Hillary Rodham Clinton. The move is perhaps the earliest ever start to big-dollar fund- raising in support of a non-incumbent presidential candidate. Now that 2016 is settled, we can consider the importance of the 2014 Congressional elections. We could lose our slim but powerful majority in the U.S. Senate; and we cannot win a majority of Congress: the experts tell us that only about 40 seats will be contested, the rest are locked in by gerrymandering. California's Congressional delegation will lose by retirement of our most effective progressive representatives, George Miller of Northern California and Henry Waxman of West Los Angeles' coastal District 33. Both are from the Watergate class of 1974. Waxman's award-worthy achievements are legendary and numerous, and are getting a belated review in the popular media. His career disproves the foolish claims that Congress cannot function. Where do such legendary careers begin? That is where you and I and our Club come in. Waxman was an activist and organizer before he ran for office, campaigning for Adlai Stevenson, founding the UCLA Young Democrats, and then the powerful Berman-Waxman machine, with Howard Berman and Michael Berman. Our Club has recognized and endorsed activists and organizers, such as Karen Bass, Holly Mitchell, and Meghan Sahli- Wells, and they have grown and proven themselves qualified for office beyond Culver City, while maintaining their local ties. Every time a politician speaks to our Club, we can speak back about our concerns and issues, and help her to do her job as our representative. The above thoughts suggest that our in-person attendance, meeting and possibly endorsing candidates for Culver City Council, may be our most important political activity, along with actually working to inform other Democrats about those we endorse. The California Democratic Party seems to be under-funded, under- staffed, and not too well organized. Most of us don't even know when or where they meet. But I may be proven wrong about that at the Statewide Convention in Los Angeles, March 7th to 9th. They will be endorsing for the June 3rd primary, voting on resolutions, and creating a party platform that endorsed candidates are supposed to stand on. Some of our members will be delegates; all of us can attend as observers. For schedule and location, try www.cadems.org. Pre- endorsement meetings are already being held in the party's 20 districts. Region 12 is near us, including Henry Waxman's CD 33. Culver City is in Region 14, which includes Karen Bass' CD 37. Next month, I'll write about the best news sources for political activists; send me your suggestions!
Happy New Year 2014 Get ready for an eventful New Year: Midterm elections will change some faces in Congress; U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by year's end; Sports fans await the Winter Olympics in Russia and the World Cup from Brazil. Here in Culver City we will have a City Council election in the new year. Last year at this time, we as a nation were grieving the death of 20 children and 6 adults at a school shooting in Connecticut. Our federal legislators proved they were cowards when they later refused to pass a bill which would require the registration of every gun sold in this country. On December 15 the pageant of death played itself out again as our ultimate gift to the NRA. A student at a high school in Colorado, near infamous Columbine, walked into the school he attended and shot at a few people , hitting two, before he shot and killed himself. I'm happy to have served two terms as your President of the Culver City Democratic Club. I plan to play a significant role continuing to inform our members, involving the community, and pushing forward a strong agenda at all levels; local, state, national and international. I hope to continue to provide the foundation for the important work that will need to be done over the next year, to elect good candidates to our city council, state legislature, and congress. I look forward to the presidential election in 2016. I hope we will continue to recruit new members and convert independents back into the Democratic Party. My wish is that we will continue to make the Club more diverse and youthful through better use of social networking. It is critical that we get every Democrat registered to vote and to the polls if we are to take our country back and help Democrats retain their seats in all levels of government. Many other important local and state wide races and propositions will be on future ballots, and with the much publicized, energized Republican base at work, we need to be sure we're all doing our part to help that people's interests are first. Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season and in the New Year!
Happy Holidays The Holiday Season is upon us as another year comes to a close. For me, the holiday season is a time of reflection. I'm most grateful for my friends, family and the Culver City Democratic Club members - the people who have supported me on my journey as President of the Club. As I give thanks for my many blessings, I'm aware of the many poor people that we have in this country. Just as the holiday season begins, when the thoughts and actions of some focus on compassion for others, we could be about to witness the government's forcing the poor to go hungry, the product of political horse- trading in Washington that has erased a critical portion of the already meager subsidy the federal food stamp program provides the more than 47 million Americans who receive it. It's a virtual certainty more cuts in the program will be made. Further cuts increase the threat that millions of men, women and children will, in years to come, endure not only hunger but also a host of health and health- related problems that the combination of hunger and poverty will produce or intensify. This is the quagmire a nation with a huge surplus of food must find its way out of. As usual when it comes to federal aid to poor and working poor Americans, the issue isn't really the actual availability of funds for aid. The issue is politics and the deepening showdown in the nation between compassion and callousness. But it's also a matter of the House Republican majority's refusal to recognize that the food stamp program is a bulwark against the social and economic catastrophe widespread hunger in America would produce. On Nov. 1, Congress allowed to expire without replacement a temporary boost in the food-stamp budget provided by funds from the 2009 economic stimulus package. The expiration reduced the monthly allotment food stamp recipients get by $11 for a one-person household and by $36 monthly for a family of four. The increase had been the government's response to the need of the program (its formal name is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program or SNAP) to cope with the sharp rise in the numbers of Americans needing aid to buy food. That increase was driven overwhelmingly by the Great Recession's erasing more than 8 million jobs from the nation's workplace. As joblessness grew, so did the numbers of people seeking food stamps. As a result, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the program's budget ballooned from $35 billion in 2007 to $80 billion now as its enrollment swelled from 26 million to its current level of one out of every seven Americans. Earlier this year, a majority of Republicans in the GOP dominated House of Representatives, chanting their call of fiscal responsibility, approved as part of the farm bill Congress is considering a provision that would cut $40 billion from SNAP over 10 years. The SNAP provision in the Democratic controlled Senate version of the bill differs significantly. It proposes a $4 billion reduction. The House proposal would deny benefits to 3.8 million people next year and an average of 3 million each succeeding year, according to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities (CBPP), a nonpartisan think tank, and usher in a situation of social catastrophe akin to that of some Third World countries. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, most SNAP recipients work, but at low- wage jobs that after paying for their rent and such other necessities as transportation, leave them out of enough money to buy enough food to eat. In 2007, half of all food stamp users lived in the suburbs, according to an analysis of census data by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. Now, it's 55 percent. More than 900,000 of those enrolled are veterans. The 21 million children in households that get food stamps constitute a quarter of all American children. In other words, food stamp recipients are ordinary Americans who deserve our compassion and government aid because they have contributed, are contributing, or regarding the children, have the potential to contribute to the larger society. In that regard, the ounce of prevention of funding the nation's food stamp program at a level that properly responds to the need is the far wiser course to follow. May The Peace And Love Of The Season Fill Your Heart This Christmas - Season's Greetings To All