Let me start out by noting that we have a new Ventura County Democratic Party Chair; John Griffin was elected Chair at the Ventura County Democratic Central Committee (VCDCC) meeting on April 25, without opposition. John is a lawyer and a long-time member of the VCDCC, who teaches at CSUCI’s Martin V. Smith School of Business and Economics, and has served as President of the CSUCI faculty union. Congratulations and thank you for your leadership, John!
The 2017 Spring Fling
This past Saturday, we had a highly successful 2017 Spring Fling with many of our Club members in attendance (more than two tables worth). Senators Hannah-Beth Jackson and Henry Stern, and Assembly Member Monique Limon inspired us with their enthusiasm and their commitment to our California ideals, including resistance to Administration policies emanating from Washington. I think it was Henry who suggested that our President might be a bit like Lord Voldemort, “the-one-not-to-be-named,” since many speakers found ways to avoid mentioning the President’s name directly. The Secretary of the California Democratic Party, Daraka Larimore-Hall, spoke forcefully about our shared values, whether we supported Hillary or Bernie last year. Then, we were all moved by the personal story of a Dreamer, Martha Zavala-Perez, who was Congresswoman Julia Brownley's guest to the State of the Union address. Martha did not know she was a Dreamer until her parents confided in her as she was completing her college application. She certainly raised our awareness about the many challenges facing the immigrant community. This served as the backdrop for a push to support Kevin de Leon’s SB-54, the California Values Act. And the Spring Fling program gave our Club an opportunity to place an advertisement celebrating our twenty-fifth anniversary as a Club with a salute to our active founding members, Sharon Hillbrant and Lenna Reyes!
The First Hundred Days
We have just passed that popular standard for Presidents, the First Hundred Days. That great Democrat, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, set a high bar for the first Hundred Days through sustained actions to pull us out of the Depression; he signed fifteen major bills that set the foundation for the New Deal. Fortunately, the Administration of the-one-not-to be-named has not had too much to trumpet about so far, with its major attempt at legislation, Ryancare, going down to summary defeat. Unfortunately, the Republican majorities in Washington still have plenty of time left on the clock to push their regressive agenda.
The Administration and the Destruction of the Environment
Unfortunately, the environment is one area where the new Administration can and has been wielding its Executive Order pen freely during the First Hundred Days, notwithstanding that 61 percent of voters disapprove of President’s handling of the environment (twice as many as voters as those who approve). It is tilting the playing field away from science, health and air quality, the rapidly growing and good job-creating renewable energy sector, international cooperation in combatting climate change, and in favor of the fossil fuel industry, including parts of it that are Canadian. In his rush to push the XL Pipeline, it seems like another thing the President didn’t know is that a lot of the steel pipe that is used in pipelines isn’t made in the U.S. His climate change skeptic EPA Chief lost little time overturning the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which would have closed our dirtiest power plants, and offering up plans to cut the EPA budget by one-third and staff by 3,000. One commentator likened this to firing one-third of the cops on the beat. Not to mention the Administration denigrating the Paris Climate Agreement, rolling back mileage and emission standards for automobiles, and opening up offshore sites for drilling. (Since some of these are along our California shores, Hannah-Beth Jackson has already introduced legislation to block any such oil from being transported, processed, or utilized in California.)
People and a Party that don’t believe in science, also don’t know about the costs of one-to-six feet of sea level rise over the next eighty years. Many Republicans want to cut health care costs, but evidently not by reducing the costs of emission and pollution-related disease. They want to ignore the costs of emissions-related health problems, even though, in addition to science, there is also proven history. I still remember coughing during the smoggy Los Angeles summers in the 60's and 70's ... and then witnessing the dramatic cleansing of the air in the 80's and 90's through air pollution control devices, catalytic converters, and lower emission gasoline. Of course, one of the reasons the Chinese are today so actively tackling air quality and the environment, despite the cost, is because the pall of smog around all of China’s major cities has made every Chinese citizen (and tourist) fully aware of what has happened to their air quality.
The Chinese took the extraordinary measure of shutting down industry in Hangzhou for weeks before the G-20 meeting in Hangzhou last year, and did similar things for the Beijing Olympics, so that the international world would not see a picture of cities whose air is dominated by industrial pollution. But the Chinese are also using the Paris Accord to move in a positive direction to position themselves for the future. An editorial in the VC Reporter recently reminded us that China is investing heavily in renewable energy, and employs 3.5 million workers, half of the global total, and four times the number of clean energy jobs that we have in the U.S. By the time China’s carbon emissions peak by 2030 or earlier in accord with its Paris accord commitments, China will have created many, many more clean energy jobs. (But the new Administration calls the Clean Power Plan a job killer.) To be out of work is one of the worst things anyone can experience, and we need to be real about that, but wouldn’t it be better and cheaper to offer new opportunities and training to Mitch McConnell and Joe Manchin’s 7,000 remaining Kentucky coal miners, than trying to prop up unhealthy declining industries longer? And wouldn’t it be better for us to be chasing positions of leadership in industries and policies of the future as well as joining the world community in helping to set the framework and standards for the future so our companies and people can remain on the cutting edge.
Our Upcoming Meeting
I look forward to seeing you all this Thursday, when we will hear from two women police officers in the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Commander Cheryl Wade and Deputy Laura Sedillos. They will share their experiences in law enforcement from a female perspective.