Culver City Democratic Club Official web site of the Culver City Democratic Club Fri, 03 Jul 2015 20:05:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 President’s Message by Sylvia Moore, July 2015 Fri, 03 Jul 2015 20:02:12 +0000

sylvia_photoThe close of June has seen a stunning series of events for President Obama, our Democratic Party and the American people. The last few weeks were marked by farce, horrific tragedy and soaring triumph. And we seem to be on the verge of a serious and long-needed national conversation about the impact of race and racism on our society.

Let’s start with the triumphs. The U.S. Supreme Court handed President Obama his first victory this session by, once again, upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. After dozens of tries, the GOP failed in its latest attempt at stripping millions of Americans of their health coverage. Next, the high Court majority thwarted a right wing attempt to gut the Fair Housing Act by affirming the doctrine of ― “disparate impact,” meaning that people suing over racial discrimination don’t have to prove racist intent, but only that the offending behavior had a racially discriminatory effect. And finally, love won out over bigotry as the Court upheld and expanded the fundamental right of gay and lesbian couples across America to wed.

But for every step forward in human rights, it seems we take three steps backward when it comes to race in America. We seem no closer to stopping the epidemic of police violence against unarmed black and brown people, even when the victims are innocent children simply trying to go to a swim party. And just when we thought it couldn’t get worse, it got worse. A young man addicted to the high of white supremacy and drunk on hatred of black people, walked into a Charleston, South Carolina, church with a gun and slaughtered eight parishioners and their pastor, who was also a popular state legislator. The national conversation had suddenly moved from questions of racial identity surrounding the bizarre story of the Spokane, Wash., NAACP leader, who for years had posed as a black woman, to a discussion of racial violence and racist symbols.

Black people in Charleston were immediately exhorted to forgive the alleged killer, and family members of the victims did so publicly within two days of the tragedy. But I know from reading many commentaries in online publications and on social media, that many other black Americans do not forgive and are tired of the constant pleas for black people to ―turn the other cheek‖ when it comes to racist violence. To not call this act of violence a terrorist attack — which it most certainly was — not only disrespects black people, but it’s also hypocritical. Whenever an act of gun violence is committed by someone who is Muslim, it is immediately deemed a terrorist attack and Muslims are unfairly lumped together for collective accountability. But when an act of gun violence is committed by a white American, the go-to explanations are “lone wolf,” “hate crime,” and/or “mental illness” – never terrorism. This, despite the fact that according to a recent study by law enforcement experts, right-wing, anti-government extremists have been involved in many more deadly terror attacks in the U.S. than jihadists.

That the Charleston massacre took place at a church famously known for its civil rights activism is telling. South Carolina was the first southern state to secede during the Civil War, and old feelings die hard. For decades, a majority of the state’s legislature had defiantly rebuffed calls to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of their capitol. However, it looks like the flag might not be there much longer. Unfortunately, it may have taken the lives of nine innocent people to finally shame South Carolina officials towards getting rid of that symbol of slavery, racism, violence and outright theft. But removing symbols is easy. Dismantling America’s institutionalized racism is a much harder task.

]]> 0 Former CCDC Recording Secretary David Weisman Has Died Thu, 18 Jun 2015 20:02:44 +0000

David Weisman, longtime member of the Culver City Democratic Club, who survived a complex of health problems in recent years, died on May 27, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. He was 88 years old.

An environmental engineer, “he kept track of the cleanliness of the ocean,” his widow, Ruth, explained.

Full obituary at The Front Page Online.

]]> 0 President’s Message by Sylvia Moore, June 2015 Wed, 03 Jun 2015 20:03:36 +0000 sylvia_photoWhen most people think of ways to improve public safety, the idea that typically comes to mind is increasing the number of police in our communities.

But as policing as an institution is coming under increased scrutiny in light of widespread media coverage of controversial police shootings of unarmed people, many are questioning the wisdom of hiring more police as the preferred solution to fighting crime. I agree.

In fact, the best crime fighting weapon is to decrease inequality and increase trust in our society. The most equal societies have the least social ills and have the most trust among their citizens, according to a book I have read and recommend, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality is Better for Everyone by British researchers Kate Pickett and Richard G. Wilkinson. It makes a ton of sense. Give marginalized people access to high quality education, good jobs, better pay, and a generous social safety net, and they won’t be so desperate that they turn to crime to survive.

So, a more equal society is a safer society. The more people feel economically safe and secure, the less likely they are to fear their neighbors and want to buy guns for protection. It’s no wonder that the United States is the most unequal of the advanced democracies and has the most guns per capita and the highest level of gun violence.

A culture that prizes profits over the well-being of people is ultimately self-defeating. A society that views certain of its members with suspicion and treats them as less than human, rather than as full citizens, is self- defeating. And a country that allows a small number of its population hoard a disproportionate share of the wealth at the expense of the majority population, is self- defeating. These are the ingredients that contribute to a less safe society.

How do we end inequality and make the U.S. a safer country? Changing attitudes and culture is key. First, we should view all our fellow citizens as human beings, with the same right to a dignified well-being as we would have for ourselves. Next, we should regard all work as having value and deserving of a just compensation; the labor of the domestic worker is as important as that of the CEO. Then, we should value the public sphere as much as we do the private; our public institutions and our public spaces deserve our support and enough resources to thrive. Next, we must end draconian punishments for petty offenses; leave the quality of life issues for civilians to deal with creatively, and leave our police to handle the truly violent elements. Finally, we must break down the barriers to political participation that keep the less affluent and the less connected away from influencing public policy. America has to practice real democracy, not simply preach about it. We have come at a crossroads and we have a choice. If we pay attention to world history, a widening divide between the haves and have-nots only ends in one way, and it’s not pretty. Instead, let’s take the other path, the one toward broad societal prosperity, healthier and safer communities. ]]> 0 President’s Message by Sylvia Moore, May 2015 Thu, 21 May 2015 20:40:16 +0000 sylvia_photoPresidential election season is officially underway, and the next Chief Executive – hopefully, a Democrat – will have to deal with an economy that, while recovering, is still less than stellar. March‟s jobs report was underwhelming: the federal government stated only 126,000 jobs were created after a year- long streak of monthly job figures north of 200,000. Meanwhile, the situation of the long-term unemployed – people out of work 27 weeks or more – has only slightly improved. Although the numbers in that group have dropped, 2.6 million people are still long-term unemployed, far higher than before the Great Recession began. That‟s a lot of wasted potential.

Despite all the rhetoric coming from the media and politicians asserting that the U.S. economy is on the upswing, many of our citizens are not feeling it. Wages are still stagnant for those who are working. Most of the gains made from the recovery have gone to the very richest. And the official employment numbers don‟t tell the whole story. For instance, the labor force participation rate is 62.7% – the lowest figure in nearly 40 years. Many people are either working part-time and want a full-time job, or have simply given up trying to find a job at all. They are not counted in the official unemployment rate of 5.5%. (Neither are people in prison, for that matter).

I can certainly attest to the problem of long-term unemployment, because I have been suffering bouts of unemployment for years, even before the 2008 financial crash (remember George W. Bush‟s “jobless recovery?”). For four blissful months last year, I had a full-time job on a state Senate campaign. Since that campaign ended last June, I have yet to land another job, despite continuing to send out resumes and leveraging my network of friends and acquaintances. There are others I know in the same situation. Unfortunately, the stigma of being unemployed for so long runs so deep in our society that some employers are openly discriminating against people who show long gaps in their employment histories. Then add to that difficulty, the unique challenges that certain groups – women, people of color, the disabled, people over 50 – have when trying to land jobs. For example, blacks, who still face rampant employment discrimination, don‟t have the same access as whites to the kinds of social networks that connect people to the best and highest paying jobs within the “hidden job market.” Decades of institutionalized racism and residential segregation have limited blacks‟ access to good employment opportunities.

Despite these challenges within American employment, the problem of long-term unemployment is getting little attention, aside from political fights over the length of time for unemployment benefits. I feel that those of us who are still unemployed and want to work are being left to twist in the wind. “Fighting for $15” minimum wage and talking up the “plight of working families” are great issues, but what about the folks who can only dream of getting a wage at all? This is where the government must come in. When the market fails, it is the government that must become “the employer of last resort.”

Democrats once trumpeted that principle from the days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who established the famed Works Progress Administration that put thousands to work during the Great Depression. But, today, our party seems too timid to promote “muscular government,” and won‟t effectively push back against the ridiculous idea that “government doesn‟t create jobs (tell any civil servant that they aren‟t actually doing a „job‟).” That timidity is the result of 40 years of American society being bombarded with bad right-wing economic theories and policies. The WPA was a successful program, and so was another federal jobs program in the 1970s, called the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act. CETA trained unemployed people and provided them with jobs in civil service. Other countries have similar programs. CCDC member Darryl Cherness told me about CETA. Eventually, CETA and a subsequent successor were repealed in the 1990s. But we need such a program again. The recalcitrant Republican Congress likely won‟t implement it, so our California state Legislature should. ]]> 0 President’s Message by Sylvia Moore, April 2015 Wed, 01 Apr 2015 19:06:04 +0000 April 22 is Earth Day!

sylvia_photoThis February, I was pleased to attend the Green Venice Expo at Mark Twain Middle School, an event organized by our area neighbors, the Venice Neighborhood Council. The day was filled with informative talks about waste and consumption, recycling, eating locally, and sustainable living. Transition Culver City was one of the many local environmental groups who set up information tables for the public. Luxury electric car brand Tesla Motors even brought in one of its famed Model S sedans to display, and I briefly got to sit inside!

Doing small things like buying energy efficient light bulbs, painting your rooftop white, or reusing containers makes many of us feel good. Yet, when it comes to sustainability on a grand scale, America still lags behind the rest of the world. For example, France just passed a law requiring the rooftops of all new buildings in commercial areas to be covered in plants or solar panels. Green rooftops lower temperatures and reduce energy consumption, as the vegetation absorbs carbon dioxide. I also read that an architecture firm has proposed designing a system of bike paths in London to be built above existing rail lines. If achieved, the project would be quite an amazing innovation, perhaps even surpassing the extensive bike path network that impressed me on a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, a few years ago. Canada’s largest grocery retailer is going to start selling “ugly produce” at discounted prices as a way to cut down on food waste. Germany and Denmark are leading the way in solar and wind power, with the latter country, according to the Sierra Club, aiming to be free of fossil fuels by 2050.

America certainly has wind turbine and solar energy projects, but if we are to really combat climate change, our country must treat the problem as a top priority and build solutions into public policy. That means counteracting the oil and gas industry lobby’s influence, and demanding that representatives and political candidates who take campaign money from the industry, cease doing so. It means demanding the mainstream media stop treating climate change as a debate, start relegating deniers to the fringe where they belong, and stop misinforming the public on the issue. It means stopping Republicans from derailing green projects and enacting stupid policies like prohibiting public officials from mentioning the words, “climate change” (see Florida’s Rick Scott).

Fortunately, President Obama and his administration are taking climate change very seriously. In February, the environmental community cheered when Mr. Obama vetoed the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would have had devastating impacts, while only creating a minuscule number of jobs. Years of work and protests by environmental activists, led by, pushed Mr. Obama to do the right thing. GOP Senators were unable to overturn his veto. It was a great day for the environment. While Mr. Obama is leading the way on the federal level, here in Culver City, Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells is leading the way locally. The Mayor, whom I call The “Green Mayor” for her tireless advocacy of biking and sustainable living, will speak at our April General Meeting. April is her last month as Mayor before the City Council rotates the position, so come with your questions about Culver City issues!

]]> 0 We still need ACA 2.0: “Medicare for All” Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:36:27 +0000 by Sylvia Moore

At the March 11 General Meeting, the Culver City Democratic Club voted in favor of joining the AllCare Alliance movement for universal health care. I’m very happy that the membership decided to join this important coalition of community and progressive organizations. The Alliance’s goal is to get a publicly-financed healthcare program established in California based on “Medicare for All.” There was no time to share my personal story with the membership at the meeting, so I share it here now. Last year, I injured my hand in a car accident. I briefly had employment for a few months, and got a silver health plan, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). I was eventually able to get surgery for my hand. But, the ACA just isn’t good enough. It was a first step, and only a step. The accident was in February 2014, and because of CoveredCA website hiccups, I didn’t get my coverage until May 2014 (I started the application process in December 2013, and restarted it in March 2014 because of the new job).

It was not easy for me to find a surgeon because of the limited networks of ACA/Covered California plans. Even with my silver plan, I still had to pay high out of pocket costs for an MRI ($400), and co-pays for my primary care doctor ($55 a visit), and specialist visits ($65 a visit). At the time, my job didn’t pay a whole lot. When that job ended, I paid premiums and costs out of savings I accumulated. I did, however, get some of these medical costs reimbursed from my auto insurer. I’m unemployed again and was eventually forced out of my silver plan, and put into the MediCal application process. Unfortunately, I could not locate a physical therapist who would take MediCal. I delayed possibly effective treatment trying to locate a PT who would take MediCal. For the PT I chose, my mother (who’s helping me out) ended up paying $75 out of pocket (this was a discount!) for each visit.

My thumb has improved, but not enough where I have restored range of motion. I am going back to the surgeon, this time, uninsured. He does not take MediCal. The visit will cost $250. I may need more surgery, and if I don’t get employment with health benefits soon, I shudder to think how much more surgery will cost. I will have to try to get all of these costs reimbursed by the other driver’s insurer (I was not at fault). My auto insurer will not pay out for most of the out of pocket costs. Granted, this is not a life or death situation, but since I am a writer, having a bum hand is potentially career-affecting.

For some Californians on MediCal, they still have problems finding a doctor because of low-reimbursement rates. We have a two-tier health system in this country: a pretty good one for the affluent, employed and middle class, and a lesser quality one with harder or no access for the unemployed and low income. To me, that is unfair. When so many of us are still struggling to land jobs in a difficult economy, especially jobs with good health coverage, when wages are stagnant for many, having employment and/or access to a good income stream shouldn’t determine the kind of coverage you get or whether you get coverage at all. That is unfair. In my opinion, health coverage must be decoupled from employment/income level. Health care is a right and should be paid for through taxation. Everyone accepts that public schools, police and fire are paid through taxation – why not health care?

If we had a universal system like Canada, Japan or Europe, I would have been able to seek treatment immediately or fairly soon after my accident at little to no cost. I would have been able to see any specialist no matter my employment/income situation. I wouldn’t be “churning” in and out of MediCal/the private system and have my care interrupted because of bouts of unemployment. So, for those who have been lucky enough to have had continuous employment and generous health benefits most of your life, and consider the ACA to be the best we can do, please consider my experience and that of other people – particularly freelancers – who routinely experience bouts of unemployment. I have a good friend who is a freelance artist who is also experiencing coverage affordability issues despite the ACA.

I know President Obama and Congressional Democrats did as much as they could in getting some sort of improvement to our healthcare system passed. The ACA was what we got under the difficult circumstances at the time. But, we STILL need a publicly financed health system that covers everyone. Four million Californians will remain uninsured even when the ACA is fully implemented. What about them? This is where the states and the AllCare Alliance come in. California can lead the way to passing a truly universal healthcare system based on the ones in Canada, Japan, Europe, based on Medicare for All. California can be a model for the rest of the country. I’m imploring our state Democratic legislators, and Gov. Brown to support this effort.

]]> 0 Former CCDC Recording Secretary Cecilia Guttenberg Has Died Tue, 31 Mar 2015 17:52:45 +0000 by Diane Rosenberg

Beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother Cecilia Guttenberg passed away peacefully in her sleep at home on Friday March 20, 2015. She was 83 years old.

She was buried Tuesday morning, March 24, 2015, at Hillside Cemetery.

Her energy, passion and enthusiasm informed her life and all those around her.

Born July 15, 1931, Ms. Guttenberg was a dedicated educator for many years in the Culver City Unified School District.

Her students benefited greatly from both her knowledge and her caring.

Committed to political activism, she served over the years in several different capacities on the board of the Culver City Democratic Club.

An avid bridge player, she used her skill as a Life Master to teach others the game.

Most importantly, Ms. Guttenberg poured her love and energy into her three children, 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Though she is gone from this world, she lives on through them.

]]> 0 Former CCDC President Lee Sanders Fondly Remembered Tue, 10 Mar 2015 20:36:26 +0000 by Diane Rosenberg

On Sunday February 1st, Herb and I drove to Ojai to attend Lee Sanders’ memorial service which was given by his school alumni. Lee’s sister, brother-in-law and many of his lifelong friends and associates attended as well.

Everyone had many good things to say about Lee and it was clear he was well liked in the community.

Lee Sanders

Apparently Lee was very fond of being President of the Culver City Democratic Club. Giving Lee the plaque honoring his service to the Club was one of the best things we could have done for him. When he was in the hospice the only thing that he held on to and kept close to him was the plaque that the Club presented to him at our August General Meeting.

]]> 0 March 3rd, 2015 Election Results Thu, 05 Mar 2015 07:42:51 +0000 Congrats to Culver City Democratic Club endorsed LACCD Board candidates Andra Hoffman, Sydney Kamlager, Scott Svonkin and Mike Fong!

The following results of the March 3rd election are from LA City’s final bulletin from March 4th @ 1:32AM. Culver City voting precincts have been included in the overall LA City results so we won’t know how Culver City voted until the full results are released later in March. We do know who won and what the turnout has been.

All of the Culver City Democratic Club endorsed candidates for the LA Community College Board of Trustees were elected.

Voter turnout was 8.62% within the City of LA and 5.49% outside the City of LA. 54% of all voters used Vote-by-Mail.

LACCD Board of Trustees Results:

Seat #1: Winner -Andra Hoffman 34.79%

Andra Hoffman is leading over Francesca Vega 34.79% (61,307) vs 34.48% (60,762). Vega outperformed Hoffman in cities outside LA by 352 votes but Hoffman picked up 897 more votes in LA City to lead by 545. Final ballot counting is to be done by March 13th.

Seat #3: Winner – Sydney Kamlager 50.07%

Former District Director for Holly Mitchell, Sydney Kamlager won against 3 challengers in every city but Rolling Hills (where 3rd place finisher Essavi had a mere 8 more votes.) Kamlager won over 50% of Los Angeles and West Hollywood.

Seat #7: Winner – Scott Svonkin 61.24%

Challenger Steve Schulte won 3 cities but was 592 votes short of winning out of town. Incumbant Scott Svonkin dominated with 62% of the vote in Los Angeles to handily win.

Seat #9: Winner – Mike Fong 57.49%

3rd place finisher Joyce Garcia made a very strong rally in South cities Bell, Commerce, Cudahay and Huntington Park but failed to capture majority elsewhere. Winner Mike Fong had the race’s highest margin of victory – he collected 36% more votes than 2nd place finisher John C Burke.

Other races of interest:

Hermosa Beach upheld their ban on Oil Drilling by voting “NO on Measure O” by a Four-to-One Margin. Close to 60% of voters turned out to vote.

LA had 2 charter Amendments seeking to consolidate LA City and LAUSD elections to even number years- Both passed:

Amendment 1: LA City elections – 76.93%

Amendment 2: LAUSD elections – 76.46%

In LA Council races incumbents* had no problem being re-elected and Social Justice Organizer Marqueece Harris-Dawson in District 8 was the only newcomer to win a seat outright.  With 50% of the vote was needed to win, District 4 will have a run-off May 19th as none of the 14 candidate received over 16% of the vote. District 4 second place finishers David Ryu and Tomas O’Grady are separated by 61 votes.

LA Council Districts:
District 2: Paul Krekorian* 75%
District 4: Run-off: Carolyn Ramsay vs ?
District 6: Nury Martinez* 61%
District 8: Marqueece Harris-Dawson 61%
District 10: Herb Wesson* 64%
District 12: Mitchell Englander* 100%
District 14: Jose Huizar* 66%

]]> 0 President’s Message by Sylvia Moore, March 2015 Wed, 04 Mar 2015 21:21:14 +0000


Housing in Los Angeles County is now unaffordable even for those residents in the middle class. One needs to make at least $33/hour to afford the average basic apartment at about $1,700/month in L.A. County, according to a recent report by researchers at USC. Yet, the minimum wage is only $9/hour. So buying a house at that income level is pretty much out of reach.

Over at UCLA, researchers concluded that Los Angeles is the nation’s least affordable rental market, due to lower median incomes, compared with San Francisco and New York City, and the scarcity of federally- subsidized and rent-controlled housing. The Great Recession worsened L.A. County’s affordable housing shortage, as people who lost their homes in the financial crash turned to rentals. Unfortunately, the problem of unaffordable housing only exacerbates wealth inequality.

Culver City is one of the most desirable places to live in California, with its tree-lined streets, walkable downtown, and many venues for fine eating and entertainment. Though I do not live in Culver City – I spend a great deal of time and money as a visitor – I am aware that it is a struggle for some residents to pay for living in such a wonderful place, as it is in the rest of L.A. County. The issue of rising rents in Culver City came up at a recent city council meeting. At the March 11 General Meeting, we will continue the discussion of rental housing in Culver City with a forum on tenants’ rights that I’m sure will be highly informative. The concerns of middle-class homeowners are given a lot of attention in the mainstream media and in Democratic Party discourse, but we also need to pay attention to the interests of renters as well.

In addition to the tenants’ rights panel, we will have a short presentation from the AllCare Alliance about what’s next in the movement to achieve universal health coverage in the wake of the Affordable Care Act. Although the ACA has dramatically reduced the number of uninsured Americans, 4 million Californians will remain without coverage even after the law is fully implemented. Even though the rate of premium increases has slowed somewhat, many Americans still struggle to pay medical bills. And some of those newly covered – either under expanded Medicaid or ACA- subsidized plans – have trouble finding doctors who will treat them because of these health plans’ low reimbursement rates. Personally, as one of those people who had an ACA-subsidized plan once, still had a hard time finding a doctor, and still has out-of- pocket medical bills – I prefer Medicare for All.

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