When I learned that eighty years ago at the Berlin Olympics of 1936, Jesse Owens won four Olympic gold medals in the face of Hitler’s rhetoric, I became to appreciate his courage in the face of adversity and oppression. He won gold medals in the 100 and 200 meter sprint, relay and long jump. That piqued my interest in Black History month and compelled me to read further.
Of the 44 people who set out from Spanish Colonial Mexico to establish a pueblo between the missions in San Gabriel and Santa Barbara in February 1781, 26 were of African descent. They had descended from the estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Africans brought to New Spain by the Spanish as slaves and laborers in the 1500s and 1600s. They were free subjects of New Spain by 1700 and had integrated with the local Indian tribes and mestizo population and helped to colonize Alta (North) California. The 11 families that arrived here on September 4, 1781 are commemorated on a plaque near the gazebo in El Pueblo de Los Angeles.
In the next century, Bridget “Biddy” Mason walked to California from Mississippi behind her master’s wagon. Although she was born a slave, she went to court and won her freedom in 1856. After saving her wages from jobs as a midwife and nurse to buy property near 4th and Spring streets in downtown L.A., she established “Biddy Mason’s Place” that would serve as a daycare center and orphanage. In 1872, Mason founded the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles with 11 other people.
In 1940, Tom Bradley was sworn in as one of the 100 black officers on the 4,000 member LAPD force. After leaving the force, Bradley went to law school and became active in politics. He joined the Crenshaw Democratic Club and later became the club’s president.
By 1963, Bradley was the first African-American elected to the Los Angeles City Council representing the Crenshaw district. In 1969, he ran for mayor but lost to conservative Sam Yorty. Bradley ran for mayor again in 1973 and won, serving in that capacity until 1993, thus becoming the first African-American mayor of Los Angeles.
Although Ryan Coogler is best known for his directorial work in “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed” films, he is also known for co- founding Blackout for Human Rights. This is comprised of a network of filmmakers, entertainers and everyman pooling their resources to address human rights violations in the US. In 2014, the group spearheaded Blackout Black Friday, a national call to boycott Black Friday shopping following the racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo. Notable members of Blackout include Ava DuVernay, Jesse Williams, Nate Parker, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and David Oyelowo.
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.