Approved by the Culver City Democratic Club:
RESOLUTION CALLING FOR THE RELEASE OF COUNTY INCARCERATION DIVERSION FUNDS
Whereas, California is reducing its prison and jail populations as a result of the implementation of AB 109 and Proposition 47. This has increased the need for services for those returning home from incarceration;
Whereas, in March 2015 Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved a $30 million program to divert the mentally ill from incarceration and into community based treatment programs. This amount has recently been increased to $30 million;
Whereas, the diversion funding allocation has been tied to the release of the DA Jackie Lacey Crime Justice Mental Health Task Force report on mental health diversion from incarceration, which has no funding timetable;
Therefore be it resolved that the Culver City Democratic Club urges the LA County Democratic Party lobby the BOS to expedite the process for releasing these funds to community and faith based organizations that deliver services to the formerly incarcerated;
Be it further resolved that the Culver City Democratic Club urges the LA County Democratic Party lobby city, county, state and federal officials to develop an interagency approach in partnership with community and faith based organizations to streamline the service delivery process for incarceration diversion.
The Culver City Democratic Club supports SCA 5, Reforming Inequities in Commercial Property Tax Annual Reassessment of Commercial Properties sponsored by State Senators Holly Mitchell and Loni Hancock, and its efforts to eliminate inequalities, loopholes and negative economic impacts of the current acquisition-value assessment system for commercial and industrial properties. Known as the Property Tax Fairness amendment, it would finally make California’s property tax code fair by assessing commercial and industrial properties at their market value, after a phase-in period. It would also provide significant tax relief for businesses, protect homeowners and renters from any changes to their property tax status, and create strict new accountability measures for new revenues.
SCA 5 would assess commercial properties at their fair market value, provide tax relief for businesses and protect homeowners and renters
“This legislation will address structural flaws in the commercial property side of Prop. 13 that have allowed a minority group of wealthy corporations and commercial property owners to dramatically lower their tax bills and shift that responsibility onto homeowners and renters,” said Senator Hancock. “Our homeowners are now being asked to pay the vast majority – 72% – of property taxes, while the commercial side pays only 28%. In 1978 when Prop. 13 passed, each paid about 50%. That’s not fair, and it has strained the community services our residents rely on.”
A few months ago, I got into an argument on Twitter with a right winger over voting and taxes. I was watching MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry’s show and one segment was about felon disfranchisement. I posed this question to my Twitter followers: "Should people who have paid their debt to society still be taxed if they aren’t allowed to vote?" This question immediately attracted said right winger, who answered, "Yes." We got into a short back-and-forth, which I won’t elaborate here, but the crux of his belief was that if a person didn’t want their rights taken away, they shouldn’t commit a crime. Never mind that many people, black Americans especially, have been railroaded by our criminal justice system. Whatever happened to "no taxation without representation?"
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, but the celebrations are tempered by the United States Supreme Court’s recent gutting of the landmark legislation. Despite what the majority of the justices in that case would have us believe, racism in the electoral process is still alive and well in America. Felon disfranchisement, which disproportionately impacts Americans of color, is one problem that is at the forefront of the current movement for voting rights. States have different laws regarding incarcerated people and voting, with the most draconian disfranchising for life people convicted of felonies, to the most lenient that allow people in prison to vote in all elections. California is in the middle, restoring voting rights to the formerly incarcerated after they have completed their sentence and parole.
Voting rights advocates tend to frame disfranchisement in moral terms: that it’s undemocratic to exclude people from participating in our democracy. But, getting back to my Twitter argument with the right winger, I wanted to frame the issue in terms I thought conservatives would understand: would they sympathize with an apparent anti-tax argument when it came to the formerly incarcerated? At least that right winger didn’t, and I can’t say I’m surprised. Because I posed the question to expose what, I think, was a big reason behind felon disfranchisement laws: to ensure that black Americans have little to no say in how our country’s resources - through taxes - are distributed. The right winger didn’t say anything about race, but he didn’t have to.
Ultimately, voting is about deciding if, when and how much to tax ourselves, where and on whom those dollars are spent. Racism is about animosity toward other groups, but it's also about economics — keeping disfavored groups at an economic disadvantage relative to one’s own group. What better way to take resources away from blacks and the poor, and redistribute them to whites and the affluent, by making certain behaviors criminal felonies, disproportionately targeting and arresting members of marginalized groups for those behaviors, and passing laws taking away those groups’ voting rights after conviction? Now, this may sound to some like tin-foil hat conspiracy theory, but it's no coincidence that the era of the Drug War, mass incarceration, and the right-wing anti-tax revolt began not long after President Lyndon Johnson signed the set of civil rights laws guaranteeing black Americans’ equal participation in U.S. democracy.
The 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.