Democratic Club Overwhelmingly Endorses Meghan Sahli-Wells, Thomas Small, Daniel Lee for Council
Los Angeles Democratic Party Endorses Sahli-Wells, Small, Lee the Previous Night
The Culver City Democratic Club overwhelmingly endorsed candidates Meghan Sahli-Wells, Thomas Small and Daniel Lee for the three open seats on the Culver City Council. The endorsement, voted by Club members, immediately followed a forum during which all Democratic candidates responded to questions about their experience and perspectives.
The previous evening, the Los Angeles Democratic Party endorsed the same candidates, Meghan Sahli-Wells, Thomas Small and Daniel Lee, for the Council seats.
“These Democratic candidates are a unifying force for our city. This is the reason we should find them so compelling to vote for April 12th, “ Khin Khin Gyi, president of the Culver City Democratic Club, said.
"Culver City Democrats look to us to provide the information they need to vote for the best candidates,” Darryl Cherness, a past president of the Club, said. “We take this responsibility very seriously. We are very pleased to endorse Meghan Sahli-Wells, Thomas Small and Daniel Lee for City Council this April.”
Council member Meghan Sahli-Wells , who was raised in Culver City and graduated from UCLA, is the only incumbent in the race. She was elected in 2012 and has been endorsed by all four of her fellow councilpersons.
Meghan Sahli-Wells and her husband, Karim Sahli, a small business owner, are the parents of two sons who attend Culver City Middle School.
During her first term, Sahli-Wells’s strong voice, collaboration and key votes contributed to saving the homeless and rental assistance programs, creating the Finance Advisory Committee, banning plastic bags, restoring arts funding, creating affordable housing, expanding bicycle infrastructure, and protecting the City’s billboard ban.
The list of her priorities is long. Among them are collaborating with the school district (CCUSD), addressing mansionization and airplane noise, investing in critical new infrastructure, attracting new businesses, maintaining high quality City services, and protecting health and safety with stringent oil drilling regulations. She advocates creating a comprehensive community plan for the City, further streamlining city services, supporting Fire Department and Police Department efforts to prepare for natural and man-made disasters, designing streets safe for all users, and providing high-speed Internet connectivity to Culver City businesses, schools and residents by installing a municipal fiber network.
Councilperson Sahli-Wells serves on a number of city committees and coalitions: as chair of the School Board and City Council Liaison Committee, chair of the Sustainability Committee, member of the Oil Drilling Subcommittee, member of the LAX Overflight Working Group, and member of the Culver City Ready Coalition, a county disaster resilience project.
Thomas Small, a graduate of Yale University, is a commissioner on the Culver City Cultural Affairs Commission. He and his wife, Joanna Brody, are the parents of twins who attend Linwood E. Howe Elementary School. She is PTA president. Mr. Small, who is fluent in Spanish, volunteers in the school’s Spanish enrichment program, which his wife co-founded. He also coaches AYSO soccer.
As a commissioner, Thomas Small initiated and moderated “Architecture Talks,” a series of public conversations among the City’s residents, business persons, and world-renowned Culver City architects. He initiated the artist and poet laureate program in advance of the City’s centennial. He brought the City’s first international film festival to Culver City and awarded $48,000 in grants to Culver City performing arts organizations.
Thomas Small is an expert in the fields of architecture and urban planning. He points to the nine new developments already underway locally and emphasizes the importance of the City requiring green open space, innovative transportation alternatives, sustainable design and environmental building practices, walkability and bikeability. The transportation alternatives will mitigate traffic congestion, and the sustainable design will result improved parking. All these features will make these developments work for Culver City residents, Mr. Small says.
Thomas Small is committed to nurturing and encouraging creative businesses and the innovation, media, design, digital and internet economies that have much potential to bring additional revenue to Culver City.
Thomas Small is an environmentalist. At UCLA he taught Sustainability for Organizational change, and he advocates an environmental sustainability master plan to be developed jointly by Culver City and the school district.
Daniel Lee is a 13-year resident with a master’s degree in social welfare from UCLA. He credits his grandmother, who participated with Dr. Martin Luther King in the Montgomery bus boycott, for his desire to be of service and his own social justice perspective. He has served on the Culver City Martin Luther King Celebration Committee for the past five years, planning its citywide celebration of the iconic Civil Rights leader.
Much of Mr. Lee’s local effort has been with youth. A filmmaker and actor, he has volunteered with El Rincon Elementary School students in an artists and communication program for several years. He also developed a Civil Rights curriculum that he implemented at the Teen Center to increase young people’s understanding of their country’s history.
Daniel Lee has placed the environment and the health of residents at the center of his agenda. Chief among his concerns is the Inglewood Oil Field. As an environmental fellow with Liberty Hill Foundation, he worked with area organizations toward a Los Angeles City fracking ban. He and other Culver City residents also met with State Assemblyperson Sebastian Ridley-Thomas to advocate for a state environmental bill, SB 350.
As the only renter among the candidates, Mr. Lee intends to focus on affordability, homelessness, enacting a city minimum wage and making the City work for all residents.
Daniel Lee has been a key grassroots organizer in Los Angeles' "Money out, Voters In" initiative, and Move to Amend Los Angeles. He was asked to join Move to Amend’s national board and since then has travelled across the country, educating audiences about their Constitutional rights.
"We need people on the council who can support Meghan Sahli-Wells and her important work in sustainability, transportation and social justice,” Democratic Club member Rick Tuttle said. “We believe that Thomas Small and Daniel Lee can help increase the quality of life for all of us in Culver City."
For more information about the candidates, access their websites: Vote4Meghan.com, Thomas4CulverCity.org, and DanielWayneLee.com.
The Culver City Democratic Club has been active in local, state and national politics since 1953.
The Culver City Democratic Club has been a vital force in electing candidates to local office, as well as to state and national positions. Many members of Culver City’s City Council have been members of the Club, including four of the five current Councilmembers.
The Culver City Democratic Club and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party are chartered under the California State Democratic party to represent the voices of Democrats in Culver City and the Los Angeles area.
The Culver City Democratic Club meets every second Wednesday night at the Veterans Memorial Complex Rotunda Room. For more information, go to www.culvercitydemocraticclub.org, phone 310 398 5328, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail the CCDC at PO Box 4254, Culver City CA 90231.
This was the week that started with our realization that we were dealing with the worst air pollution disaster in history with regard to the Porter Ranch gas storage facility in Aliso Canyon that belonged to Southern California Gas Company. According to the January 24th edition of the L.A. Times, one failed well at the Aliso Canyon facility released more greenhouse gases than any other facility in California over the three months since October 23rd.
Stephen Conley, the U.C. Davis scientist who has been flying his single engine pollution-detecting airplane over Porter Ranch found that in November of 2015, methane levels registered at 50 parts per million, twenty times bigger than what he had measured before. According to the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 17.9 million kilograms of methane was leaking in early November. However, by January 21 of this year, the cumulative amount of methane registered 84 million kilograms. In relatable terms, this would be roughly analogous to 2.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide or more greenhouse gas than 440,000 cars emit in a year. The geographical extent of the billowing plumes of methane gas seen on FLUOR images reach as far away as Orange County and San Clemente Island, according to Riley Duren, NASA‟s researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge.
By Tuesday, January 26th The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) sued Southern California Gas Co. accusing the company of negligence that extended to the design, construction, operation and inspection of one of the wells at the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility that forced thousands to leave their homes. The lawsuit alleges that the gas company had violated air quality regulations and state law for each day that the well, SS-25, continues to leak and faults the utility for a sluggish response to a regional public health threat. The suit seeks up to $250,000 in civil penalties for each day that a specific violation has occurred. According to KPCC, this can amount up to $25 million dollars. All of this came after an abatement order by a special board of the AQMD on the previous Saturday, January 23rd. This board mandated a 1) permanent shut down of the damaged well, SS-25, 2) to establish a leak detection system, and 3) to conduct an independent health study. By Thursday, January 28th, our state Senate had voted to shut down the Aliso Canyon facility permanently.
As an environmental activist and a physician, I am glad that I testified at the AQMD hearing on Saturday, January 16th warning the board about the health hazards of methane, hydrogen sulfide and benzene that were discovered in the air surrounding the residential area. I was also honored to be a Sierra Club spokesperson and interviewed with Al Jazeera America and KABC-7 on Thursday, January 28th. This is in essence my Valentine‟s Day present to the residents of Porter Ranch, Granada Hills that we stand with them shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with them as we face this environmental disaster together.
The following Resolution in support of retention of Dr Charles Lester on the California Coastal Commission was passed by the Executive Board on 1/29/2016. More information on the imminent need of this resolution is available in this LA Times article: The coastline belongs to all Californians—but maybe not for long
Whereas, the 1976 California Coastal Preservation Act states that, “the California coastal zone is a distinct and valuable natural resource of vital and enduring interest to all the people and exists as a delicately balanced ecosystem,” that “the permanent protection of the state's natural and scenic resources is a paramount concern to present and future residents of the state and nation,” and sets as a goal to “Protect, maintain, and where feasible, enhance and restore the overall quality of the coastal zone environment and its natural and artificial resources.”
Whereas, throughout the forty-year tenure of the Coastal Act, every public opinion poll conducted concludes overwhelming support for the Coastal Commission’s role in upholding the Coastal Act, and during Dr. Charles Lester’s tenure as Executive Director of the Commission since September 2011 his leadership has led to great accomplishments, including a Sea Level Rise planning document, the largest budget augmentation in 15 years, greater public transparency and accessibility, and new authority to preserve and enhance public access for all coastal visitors.
Whereas, the commission will consider termination of Dr. Lester, but no cause or justification has been given, and recent newspaper articles cite knowledgeable sources that this attempt to fire Dr. Lester would result in significant impairment and harm to the decades-long success of protecting California’s majestic coastline.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Culver City Democratic Club Executive Committee adamantly opposes any and all attempts to fire Dr. Charles Lester from his tenure as Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission and strongly supports his long and enduring tenure as Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission.
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that resolution will be transmitted to the following: Governor Jerry Brown, Speaker Toni Atkins, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, Dr. Charles Lester, Executive Director, California Coastal Commission, and Steve Kinsey, Chair, California Coastal Commission.
Twenty sixteen marks our President Obama’s last year in office. I feel rather sad as it seems like his historical and amazing tenure as our first Chief Executive of color flew by so fast. But I also feel wistful as I remember that historic night in 2008, sitting inside a Los Angeles-area restaurant/nightclub with my friends and about 100-plus other people watching the election returns. As Barack Obama’s photo flashed on the television screen with the words, “44th President of the United States,” the crowd erupted in cheers and jubilation. The crowd kept screaming as the newly-elected President and his family stepped onto the stage and waved to adoring fans. It was indeed an incredible night.
Fast forward through nearly eight years filled with incredible achievements on the economy, healthcare reform and foreign policy, but also much social unrest and ugly racial tension. For this November’s Presidential election, I have as much trepidation as I did on Election Night 2008. I must confess that back then, I wasn’t sure America was going to actually elect a black President up until the very moment Pennsylvania was called for Mr. Obama. I feared very much the specter of another reactionary GOP presidency in the form of John McCain, along with his fundamentalist lightweight running mate, Sarah Palin. But those two are practically progressives when it comes to what the Republicans are offering up as presidential candidates today.
People are now openly talking about the “F-word” - fascism - as possibly taking root in America. But, thanks to the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, people are also talking more about “democratic socialism” and democratic socialist policies like universal health care, free college for all, a living wage and paid family leave. Sanders would be the “first” openly socialist President if he wins. And people are also talking about the possibility of having the first female Chief Executive in Hillary Clinton. A woman as the most powerful leader in the world would have a tremendous cultural effect in how the contributions of women to our society are perceived.
All these tantalizing “firsts” are great, but I want to caution my fellow Democrats and progressive friends into putting too much expectation onto the one person they hope wins the Presidency. I saw this with President Obama: supporters who had unrealistically high expectations of how much he could achieve in office, and who were disappointed when he couldn’t deliver everything they wanted. I see these same unrealistic expectations among my fellow Democrats and progressives today. I think it is the unique culture of American individualism, as well as the fact that the United States elects its executive and legislature separately (as opposed to most parliamentary governments), that drives this desire to put all of one’s hopes for fundamental change onto one person. I think it’s why Congressional, “off-year” elections - which are just as important - don’t get the same attention as they should. The President, at the nation’s founding, was envisioned as an “elected king” - a national figurehead. But, to get back to Civics 101, the President is by law a co-equal partner with the Congress and the Supreme Court. The President can’t do much without Congress’ cooperation and the Supreme Court’s blessing. I think too often many people forget that. And so, they think that the President can change everything. They think that the President affects their lives the most (when in truth, it’s their local City Council that does). So whether our new President in November is Hillary, Bernie or even Martin O’Malley - and we do hope it’s one of those three - please cut him or her a bit of slack. Because a Democratic President also needs a progressive Democratic Congress to make the kinds of policies we liberals want to see to make America a kinder, gentler place to live.