25 Years Ago, LA Went Up in Flames. Can It Happen Again?

The 1992's riots devastated Los Angeles. After the three-day ordeal, 55 people got killed, nearly 2,000 were injured, and more than 12,000 people were arrested. Moreover, there was approximately a $1 billion loss in the destruction of properties. The National Guard, military troops, and riots-trained federal officers came to L.A. to restore order. The city's institutions collapsed. It was a war zone.

In balance, 1992 was a great year. Voters in California sent two women to the U.S. Senate, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxe, and Bill Clinton became president. Unfortunately, here in L.A., riots broke out after the acquittal of four white police officers accused of beating black driver Rodney King after a high-speed pursuit.

I have been reading articles and watched a couple of documentaries about the LA riots 25 years ago. Los Angeles is still mired with abject poverty in many communities, a profound lack of affordable housing, homelessness, crime, and underperforming schools. Angelenos have utterly lost hope in their civic leaders and institutions. Our civic leaders still use optimism to lift our spirits and to communicate a message of hope. Although I have to say optimism can't be disconnected from the facts on the ground.

The riots in Los Angeles on April 29, 1992, had a tremendous impact on me. I was young and was trying to find direction in my life. I was an immigrant, and I had come to L.A. back in the 1980s when I was sixteen years old. The riots forced me to engage in some soul-searching. I felt helpless and hopeless. I didn't know much. I could not understand the monumental struggles facing the different communities in this great city. I couldn't connect the dots of what had happened in this city that day. I quickly realized that I couldn't just be a bystander anymore. I immediately endeavored to educate myself on the struggles of this community. I was majoring in business in college for my undergraduate degree. But I began reading books on public policy, history, power, philosophy, religion, and political economy. I wanted to learn as much as possible to understand things better.

Witnessing all the irrational violence and destruction was hard. It was difficult for me to fathom that people would destroy their communities out of anger. It saddened me to see many communities going up in flames, people looting businesses, and some people beating up other people for no reason. It was utter anarchy that day in Los Angeles.

Furthermore, I had difficulty comprehending how such destruction of one's community could be condoned by many out of sympathy. Then, I read Dr. King's writing and speeches. Dr. King advocated for militant, powerful, massive, non-violence direct action. He thought that it was the only way that radical change could be brought into an unjust and racist society. Nonetheless, as he delved into his moral reasoning, he conceded that he couldn't condemn the riots that had been taking place in many cities during his struggles for social and economic justice. Dr. King saw the destruction of communities due to the "intolerable conditions that existed in society. He viewed the riots as the language of the unheard. Dr. King appears to have made an exception here and argued that said destruction was necessary and morally justified.

The violence on that sunny day in April of 1992 led me to conclude that we, indeed, are one people of many communities with different backgrounds. And regardless of our differences, everyone must be treated with dignity and respect.  Moreover, for communities to be peaceful, we must understand that everyone living in our communities has a voice. And that we must do whatever we can to make sure that all voices are heard. No voice can't be expunged from the narratives of power because this silent voice will somehow find its way to be heard. Dr. King was right, "the riots can be the language of the unheard" when they are being oppressed.

After the riots were over in Los Angeles in 1992 and order was restored, the voices of reason emerged. This city engaged in a vigorous conversation. They looked into what led to such violence and how leaders in this city could become more responsive in creating a more fair community.  Promises were made, and many still argue that our civic leaders have not created the conditions for a more equitable and just community.

When experts examined the Watts and the LA riots of 1965 and 1992, they identified common themes that led these two cities to flames. Today's challenges are no different from those in those years of desperation. Yes, we currently have a challenge in distributing wealth in this community. There is no secret that Los Angeles is home to both abject poverty and unprecedented excess. We have a "new Gilded Age" of obscene wealth perpetuated by the new economic order of a "gig" economy. Few individuals are becoming billionaires, and everyone else makes starvation wages. There is also a profound lack of civic engagement. People in communities of color are not civic-minded and don't care about who govern them. They do not vote. It seems like the steam is pressing against the engine cap again. LA's leaders take note.

Thank you for reading.

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Works Used.

Castaneda, Ruben. "25  Years After the Riots: The Washington Post's Ruben Castaneda Recalls a Near-Suicide Mission." LA. Weekly. 18 April 2017. Print.

Florida, Richard. "L.A. and New York are expensive, but they're not about to become creative deserts." Los Angeles Times 14 April 2017. Web. 20 April 2017. 

Halloway, Kali. "9 MLK Quotes the Mainstream Media Won't Cite." Alternate.org. 16 Dec 2015. Web. 21 April 2017.

"The Lost Tapes-The LA Riots." Smithsonianchannel.com. Web. 20 April 2017.

Photos credits:  Photos were downloaded from websites password-protected from one of the colleges where I teach pays.


Save the Republic-Defend the Truth !

In light of how our political leaders are currently dealing with the truth in our political dialogues, I looked up its definition.   Webster's dictionary defines "truth" as "Fidelity, Constancy," "sincerity in action, character, and utterance."  Many Americans see how the "truth" as they understand it, is being under attack by the current Trump's administration.  This is neither hysteria nor hyperbole. Often we see the President and his subordinates talking to media organizations and making serious claims with no supporting evidence.  This administration is radically changing this country's civic landscape.  Our public space has become a public entertainment space where everything is infantilized.  There is an utter disregard for evidence, truth, and civility.

Anybody with some basic understanding of the structure of civil societies knows that for these societies to function they must be premised on the very simple conviction that a thing called "truth" actually exists and that it can be substantiated. We have certain disciplines that have managed to develop some rigorous process that allows the truth to rise. Whether it is in medicine, law, politics, business, or even journalism, these disciplines have established certain checks within their systems that search for the truth. I am not sure about "politics" anymore.

I recently read a piece in the editorial pages that said how the Oxford Dictionaries website, an organization that monitors new words being used or invented in this world. They choose one every year. They chose “post-truth” as its 2016 word of the year. Sadly, they looked as to how candidate Trump manipulated the truth and got away with it. The man, while campaigning,  literally said many things that were not factually correct and still managed to become President of this country. His presidential campaign was filled with lies and he reacted angrily whenever he was being called out. Well known fact-checkers in major newspapers constantly evaluated candidate Trump’s claims in his speeches and they repeatedly pointed out that just a little over 50% of his allegations were truthful. His supporters didn't care.

Here is how "post-truth" was defined by Oxford Dictionary: “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” If this is not the end of the Republic, it certainly is the beginning of the end the intellectual class in this country argues.

The Greeks gave us democracy, but it wasn't a very inclusive one. They left out a whole bunch of people whom they thought were a threat to freedom if they were given citizenship rights.  Yes, the “illegal aliens,” the productive class-those who did physical work to make a living and the property-less.  They were not part of the political community. These excluded people, the Greeks argued, lacked the ability to competently participate in the community affairs. They couldn't deliberate and were not able to tell the difference between fact and opinion and they could easily be persuaded by leaders who could appeal to their emotions.  Citizenship’s rights were only given to those who have the ability to deliberate the affairs of the state with the objective of finding the truth in the process. Yes, freedom heavily relies on good citizenship, and those who were privileged to be part of the political community must have had the faculties to question leaders, argue the complexities of proposed policies, able to research claims made by other citizens, etc. The truth was out there, and it could only be found through the conversation those lucky enough to be called citizens held with each other in the political community. A commitment to the truth was vital to advance the collective interest in the “polis.”

There have been times in which President Trump has looked into cameras and with a straight face made claims that were totally disconnected from the facts on the grounds.  This led people to question whether their president is able to tell when he lies. Now, it is fair to say that this country has always had political leaders who lied to advance their self-interest. There is that story, “Washington couldn’t tell a lie, Nixon, couldn’t tell the truth, and Bill Clinton couldn’t tell the difference.” Nevertheless, any fair-minded pundit out there would attest that Trump’s lies have reached a deeper level, a level of near insanity.  He appears to be genetically unable to distinguish between his own reality and collective reality. Trump angrily claimed that his crowds at the inauguration were a lot bigger than they were being reported. Then, he provided no evidence when he made the horrific accusation that former President Obama had bugged him.

Everyone thought that once the election was over, the man would stop and that he would finally pivot. Nope. He immediately doubled down and made silly claims that he had won the electoral college in a landslide and that millions had voted illegally.  Trump's advisors followed suit, Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway in one of the Sunday’s political shows presented silly and false claims as “alternative facts.” The journalist conducting the interview almost fell off his chair after hearing such stupidity coming from a senior advisor to the leader of the free world.
The current state of the Republic is not sustainable.  Indeed, this thing will not work if the truth is not taking seriously. Since governments were established, truth in politics has always been vital for any political arrangement that values freedom. The truth is autonomous and doesn’t care whether those in a position of power validate it or if the masses like it. Fortunately, it needs no validation and it doesn’t care about popularity. But the truth has to be searched and honored by people and they must commit themselves to find it. It might take some time, but eventually, the truth prevails.

If we think about it, one might argue, the truth is a public good, just like a freeway or a park.  A public good that benefits everyone.  If we realize this, then we should all become activists for truth in politics and do whatever we can to mobilize people for a "pro-truth movement."  As a pundit so eloquently stated it while being interviewed on one of the political talk shows. "Without truth, we don’t have trust. Without trust, we don’t have the rule of law. Without the rule of law, we don’t have democracy.”  Yes, let's fight for the truth, this country deserves no less.

Thank you for reading
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Works used.

Malone, Matt. "Alternative Facts and the Coming Constitutional Crisis." America, vol. 216, no. 3, 06 Feb. 2017.

Rodgers, Daniel. T. "When Truth Becomes a Commodity." Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 63, no. 20, 20 Jan. 2017.

Tsipursky, Gleb. "Towards a Post-Lies Future: Fighting "Alternative Facts" and "Post-Truth" Politics." Humanist, vol. 77, no. 2, Mar/Apr2017.

"Truth." Def. 1a. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Ninth ed. 1988. Print.

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Photos credits:  Photos were taken from a website with password protected that one of the colleges where I teach pays.
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These women were warned, they were given an explanation and no, they didn't persist, at least not this time

People who run elections in the county government will make the final results available soon. "Provisional and late-arriving mail-in ballots are still to be counted." Not sure if there is still hope but it is being reported that there are at least 13,000 ballots in this race that are uncounted.  The second-place candidate Robert Lee Ahn leads third-place candidate, Maria Cabildo by almost 3,000 votes.  There might still be hope for this woman who finished third place.  That will surely be a nightmare for the establishment's candidate if he has to battle it out with this woman who has a real progressive record of accomplishments.

It is somewhat difficult to fathom what really happened Tuesday in the 34th Congressional District's race. I am deeply disappointed because I really was looking forward to seeing a woman winning this thing.  Indeed.  I was stunned seeing many very competent women running and not one making it to the runoff.  So much for this district being progressive, really voters in this district voted for a no vision establishment's candidate and a former Republican Korean American candidate?   This is the district that rejected the establishment presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.  I just hope that these women stay put and run for other offices. After election night, I have heard  candidates uttering the usual platitudes when one loses an election. “this thing is not over," “this just started,” I am not going anywhere” etc.,  Maria Cabildo, Sara Garcia, Wendy Carrillo and Vanessa Aramayo should  continue on this fight for an opportunity to lead. Yes, I would like to see them running for school boards, city council seats, the Assembly or State Senate and yes Gomez or whoever wins in June should be challenged next year.

Many have sliced and diced the results since Wednesday morning. Some have been making the silly argument that it was a fierce fight between the Berniecrats and Clinton's people. Nonsense, none of that took place.  It was just a very low turnout and that usually greatly benefits candidates who are being backed by establishment institutions and candidates who are able to organize their ethnic group.

Yes, the Korea American candidate who was on nobody's radar until the night of the election ran a successful absentee voter program for his campaign and he made it to the runoff.  Indeed, Robert Lee Ahn must have devoted the adequate resources needed for an absentee voter program. According to the LA Times, “Korean Americans, in particular, were outperforming in early returns: They makeup just 6% of voters in the district but had cast 35% of ballots as of Monday.” And on this very same evening, “17,458 voters” in the district, had their ballots mailed in. This is huge, while some of the candidates were making cute videos this guy was busy making sure the new people whom he had registered to vote had sent their ballots the week before the election. Future candidates take note.

When we talk about the establishment's candidate, we usually solely focus on the individual who has been tapped to run. And yes, he is the one who has been going along, getting along and who might have been waiting for his turn patiently. Jimmy Gomez was clearly not the establishment's first choice. As some of you might remember, he stepped in after John Perez decided he couldn't do it this time around. It is consequential to understand what the establishment entails. Yes, it is not just the candidate, there are also establishment voters and establishment institutions that engage in this game that makes sure that said candidate who has been tapped is actually elected. To disrupt such a corrosive system that just serves those connected to the status quo requires resources, strategic thinking, innovation, and thoughtful candidates.

We always have the should’ve, the could’ve, and the would’ve after elections. Yes, maybe women running in this race could have made the effort of having met outside the debates and see if they could have been more strategic. For starters, they might have coalesced behind one woman and to go to war against the establishment candidate, as one of my friends on Facebook alluded to the night of the election.  No candidate made a real effort to go after the influence of the establishment voters either.  Yes, no candidate was agitating, educating and organizing new voters. Establishment voters’ influence can be diluted by registering new voters. Obama allocated substantial resources in registering new voters back in 2007 when he was battling out with Hillary Clinton. Hadn’t he done that, he would have been defeated easily?

The profound lack of inclusiveness and fairness in the democratic party should be a source of concerned for all of us who would like to see new voices and new opportunities being afforded to those who can. We need to have a robust conversation in the democratic party and demand profound structural changes. If that is not possible then maybe it is time for us to come up with a new party where our own people have a real chance to be heard. The lip services that these so-called leaders keep giving us should no longer be acceptable. Yes, Rome is burning and these leaders in the democratic party keep doing the same “finger democracy” that has been done for too long.

There must be some sort of moratorium in this democratic party here in LA.  No man should be allowed to run for public office until we achieve a critical mass of women serving in public offices.   Those of you who argue that we shouldn't be focusing on gender should know that we have very talented women out there, who are eager to serve.  If you think women and talent don't go together, you are either asleep, disconnected from reality or you simply don't like women.

Finally, Robert Lee Ahn faces some serious challenges that will require some extraordinary uphill climbs.  I don't see a former Republican forming the needed coalitions to beat Gomez.  His message and base is so limited and has no chance to expand.  He will certainly be crushed in June.

Thank you for reading.

Chamba Sanchez
4/6/2017 ___________________________________________________________________________

Sources used

Mai-Due, Christine.  "Ahn and Gomez appear headed to a runoff in L.A.'s congressional race." Los Angeles Times 5 April 5, 2017. Web. Accessed April 5, 2017.

Mai-Due, Christine and Javier Panzar. "Korean Americans have his back, but Robert Lee Ahn will need more to become L.A.'s next congressman."  Los Angeles Times 6 April 2017.  Web. Accessed. April 6, 2017.

Mai-Due, Christine.  "As polls opened, thousands of 34th Congressional District voters had already cast ballots." Los Angeles Times 4 April 2017.  Web.accessed April 6, 2017.

 


High Crimes and Misdemeanors

It has not even been a hundred days yet since President Trump was inaugurated and chaos appears to be the new order in Washington.  As Democrats see all the chaos that Trump constantly engages day in and day out,  they scream at top of their lungs "impeachment."

Americans are not only stressed but they are also pessimistic about their futures. Surely, Democrats and progressives who despise this man are constantly anxious about Trump's executive orders, his tweets and his daily encounters with the media.  People are still puzzled as to how “a billionaire demagogue” managed to win the presidency even as he broke forty years of tradition with others before him in making his tax returns public. Tax returns give backgrounds of presidents’ wealth and they can be used to see if there is a conflict of interest when presidents make decisions on behalf of the public interest. Furthermore, Democrats are really in a hole, as all three branches of governments are controlled by the Republicans, some of them don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Indeed, they feel not only helpless but also hopeless as they see Trump assaulting the truth, our institutions and the rule of law.

Democrats in Washington literally have been expunged from the conversations on policy decisions.  Policy conversations currently taking place are within the party's different factions that emerged in the last decade. Although I have to say that, at times, it seems like there might some sort of dissent among these factions as they stunningly failed to repeal Obamacare-a signature promise of both Trump and many members of the GOP in Congress to voters.

Going back to impeachment, are there any merits for impeaching the current president, or a better question do we want to put the country to another crisis like the one this country went through back in the 1990s when President Clinton was impeached? Yes, if Trump engages in criminal activity then the sky is the limit and Americans should make the needed sacrifices to preserve the republic. Nonetheless, to pursue an impeachment for purely political reasons will further divide this country.  It might also be the last nail of the coffin of this little democracy that we still have left.

Nevertheless, progressives and others who utterly dislike this president are arguing that it is only a matter of time for this president to be impeached. Legal scholars, pundits, ethics officials, and this president’s critics see many things that Trump does that might fall under those magic four words in the Constitution: “High crimes and misdemeanors.”  Most of his critics believe that once his financial resources and documentation begin to unravel more people will join the chorus of those calling for impeachment.

President Trump’s problems, at the very least, started with financial conflicts with his responsibility as president and his family business. Then, we have that “Emoluments clause” in the Constitution that nobody even knew these were English words. This deals with “foreign financial corruption.” And there are even calls for “treason.” Yes, Democrats are appalled about this President's cozy relationship with the Russians and allegations that Trump's top lieutenants have knowledge of Russia’s efforts to manipulate the outcome of last year’s presidential election.

On Russia’s ties and the Trump’s people, FBI director, James Comey dropped a bombshell when he told Congress recently that the FBI has been investigating Trump’s and his campaign operation since July 2016. That was a consequential revelation that prompted Democratic leaders to ask to suspend the confirmation hearings for the current nominee for the Supreme Court until that investigation is finalized.  And within days, Michael Flynn was asking for immunity if he testifies before federal and congressional investigators in their probe of the Russian meddling in the presidential elections last year.  This is the same guy who told reporters last year that those who asked for immunity must be guilty of something.

But how can impeachment take place? The process itself is laid out in is the Constitution, the House of Representatives are vested with the power for impeachment.  "Art. I, Sec. 2, Cl. 5: The House of Representatives ... shall have the sole Power of Impeachment. Here the House of Representatives acts as a prosecutor. And, according to Art. I, Sec. 3, Cl. 6 & 7: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no person shall be convicted without Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present." In a nutshell, members of the House prosecute the case against Presidents and The US Senate acts as a jury in a trial. This takes place in the US Senate and Senators hear and examine evidence being presented by House of Representatives members. The Supreme Court chief justice presides the trial.

The Framers were deeply concerned about the abuse of power and they distributed the power among the different branches and make each branch autonomous and gave each one real power to check one another.  All these fall under the ideals of "Separation of Power" and "Checks and Balances" among the different branches.  Currently, the "Checks and Balances" appears to be somewhat more difficult to be realized as both houses of congress are being c0ntroled by the President's party.

For an investigation to take place, The Republican-run Congress must be willing to do it. Since they control both houses in congress. There might be a couple of reasons why Republicans in Congress might not take action into investigating Trump's questionable decisions.  The first one is pure preservation, Republicans are keenly aware that Trump has a very well-organized and strong base that supports him and defends him for whatever this man does. Republicans in Congress know that they will hear from these people if they call for an investigation. Second, Republicans relish having Trump in the White House.  They have been busy in rolling back many of the regulations that Obama was able to put in place. They are breaking up many federal rules that will help Wall Street, the energy industry, and weakening rules dealing with background checks for those people who buy guns.

It is also important to point out that the rules for filibustering legislation were changed by Democrats in 2013. Most legislation just requires simple majorities, only Supreme Court appointments can be filibustered.  However, since the US Senate is being controlled by Republicans, they can use what is known as the "nuclear option" and they can change those rules too. We will see this week if they decide to take the option as they will decide the fate of the nominee for the Supreme Court this coming Friday.  Yes, democrats are really screwed.  And there is not a clear plan of action as to how they can claw their way back to relevance.

But, do Democrats really want to impeach Trump?  Democrats know that if they are successful in impeaching Trump they will get Vice-President, Mike Pence.   Then, they struggle with that option, Democrats and all those who dislike Trump see the Vice-President as the real evil.

Thank you for reading.

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Sources cited

Colleen Shalby, Colleen. “Timeline: What we know about the events leading to Michael Flynn's resignation.” Los Angeles Times 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 1 April 2017.

Feldman, Noah. “Trump's Wiretap Tweets Raise Risk of Impeachment.” Bloomberg View 6 March 2017. Web. 20 March 2017.

He, Alan. “GOP Rep. Darrell Issa backtracks on call for Trump special prosecutor.” CBSNEWS.com 27 Feb. 2017. Web. 15 March 2017.

Hennessey, Susan., Helen Kelin Muerillo. “The Law of Leaks.” Lawfare 15 Feb. 2017. Web. 1 April 2017.

Mascaro, Lisa. “With Trump in the limelight, Congress has been quietly working to undo Obama-era regulations.” Los Angeles Times 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 March 2017.

Willis, Jay. “How to Impeach a U.S. President (Say, Donald Trump), Explained.” GQ.Com 20 Jan. 2017. Web. 30 March 2017.

 

 


Three Weeks of Chaos Under Trump

We all thought that the Trump’s administration was going to be chaotic.  But, no one thought it was going to start from the very minute that man sat on the chair behind the desk in that oval office. It has been a very intense three weeks since President Trump took over. And at the beginning of the fourth week, the Nacional Security Advisor, Michael Flynn resigned over an allegation that Flynn held conversations with the Russian intelligent people during the presidential campaign. This took place while the Russians were allegedly trying to help Trump to win the presidency. Tensions are palpable and many people are concerned about the constitutionality of some of the actions taken by the new administration. Evidently, Mr. Trump is still in campaign mode, the only coalitions he sees are those formed with people who voted for him. Whatever happened to that political maxim that in the primaries the presidential candidates solely focus on the party’s voters, it is understood in the political firmament that during the major’s elections, the candidates focus on the nation’s voters.  Once a candidate wins the presidency, this candidate focuses on the citizens of the world.  this man is still with primaries' voters.

On day one, President Trump started rolling out executive orders and presidential memorandums. Yes, from Mexico to Russia to oil pipelines to ban refugees from seven Muslim countries.”  On this very first day, he signed an order that would start the process of dismantling Obamacare. Then, he picked up a fight with Mexico and made the business community very nervous as Mexico is the second-largest trading partner of the US.  On the issue of immigration, Trump also signed an order to remove undocumented people with "criminal records."  He also signed an order on what is known as "sanctuary" cities.  This order would allow the President to use his discretion to cut off federal funds to those cities in the nation that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration law.

He didn't stop there, he also signed an order known as "Travel Ban."  This order was not clear and might not have been properly vetted hence it created much confusion and chaos at many airports. This said order was later overturned by the courts.

In these three weeks, Mr. Trump also managed to nominated Judge, Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. Most conservative pundits argue that this man has a brilliant legal mind and he follows judicial precedent and that "he resides in the mainstream of American jurisprudence.” His background is being looked at and we will soon find out.  This will surely be a contentious confirmation hearing. Democratic voters want their Democratic Senators to engage in an all-out war on this nomination. There will clearly be political wounds on display in this contentious confirmation hearings.  Democratic Senators still remember last year when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for this Supreme Court and he was denied a hearing by Republicans.

Two groups have risen in these three weeks, group one is being called "the faithful" and the other one is being called the "resistors."  The former thinks that Mr. Trump’s actions in these past three weeks were long overdue and they are delighted to see a candidate finally fulfilling promises made while campaigning. In addition, they defend him against all of those who have concerns about the constitutionality of his actions. The latter is being guided by left-wing Democrats who utterly dislike Trump with a passion.  They reject everything Trump does and they are eagerly waiting for the day when this man is impeached or removed from office.  These progressives see the end of the Republic as we know it with this man in the White House. And they are making urgent calls for actions. Indeed, they want people to roll up their sleeves and engage in more militant activism, one that could mirror the activism of the 1960s. Yes, they are asking progressives in this country to become some sort of Berkeley’s radicals, the ones that sacrificed a lot trying to make this society a more inclusive one. People in the 60s didn’t ask why to bother if it doesn’t affect me they just dived into the fights for social justice because they knew it would somehow make their communities a better place to live, these Democrats claim. These progressives see Trump as a threat to all the social gains made in the last 50 years and they are going to war with him.   Trump may not be able to forge peace in the Middle East, but he is doing wonders for uniting progressive activists. Literally, there have been marches every weekend since inauguration day.

On a more positive note, it is notable that President Trump has not reversed the executive order done by then-President Obama which provided temporary relief to those who were brought to this country illegally as children. Yes, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals also known as DACA has survived these three weeks. Second, at the very least, the man has begun to understand the limitations of the executive power and that this country has three coequal branches of government. Three, Americans have gotten to know how decisions are made in this administration and who leads these decisions. For example, Steve Bannon wields a lot more power than anybody would have thought, This Machiavellian man appears to have his fingerprints on most of Trump’s decisions.

Finally, the fourth week started with the resignation of Michael Flynn and it was followed by a bombshell  dropped by the NY Times on Valentine's day that confirmed that Trump's aids "had repeated contacts" with Russian intelligence officials in the year before an election."   Progressives are calling for an independent investigation.  Now, Republicans who control both houses of Congress will have to make a decision whether they are Republicans or Americans first.

Thank you for reading.

 

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Sources Consulted.
Alcindor, Yamiche. “Liberal Activists Join Forces Against a Common Foe: Trump.” New York Times 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

Ford, Matt. “Trump Nominates Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court.” Atlantic 31 Jan. 2017. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.

Shalby, Colleen and Melissa Leu. “Here’s everything you need to know about Trump's first week in office.” Los Angeles Times 28 Jan. 2017. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.

Schmidt, Michael S., Mark Mazzetti, and Matt Apuzzo. “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence.” New York Times 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

Zapotosky, Matt., Robert Barnes and Brian Murphy. “Former top diplomats, tech giants blast immigration order as court showdown looms.” Washington Post 6 Feb. 2017. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.


Measure S Might shake things up at City Hall !

The biggest fight in the March's election will not be about all these folks from city hall facing challengers. There is no serious campaign being mounted by any challenger against the mayor or any council-member who is up for re-election. Most of these politicians will be returning back to their offices after the election.  The looming fight though, in the next eight weeks leading up to March, will be about Measure S.

According to the Measure S website [www.voteyesons.org], the measure will basically impose a two-year moratorium on mega construction projects that require changes in city planning rules.  There is an exception for projects aiming at building affordable housing units. The measure is backed by Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and a longtime maverick in gay activist circles. He argues that “mega-developments” are changing the character of this city and are destroying neighborhoods after neighborhoods by displacing poor residents.  Mr. Weinstein appears to have an apocalyptic message about the dire consequences of letting developers determining how to build in Los Angeles.  He clearly has the resources to make his voice boom through the rooms and halls of the city hall.  Michael Weinstein has been dubbed as the "biggest political spender in the 2016 elections." He has been likened to big political spenders to the caliber of George Soros, Kock brothers, and even the NRA. This is interesting because his organization is a well-financed non-profit with millions to burn in electoral politics. And, just in 2016, this foundation spent $22 million on two statewide measures. Michael Weinstein is well known in political circles and in in the halls of powers at city hall, county board and Sacramento.

In light of the current voters’ dissatisfaction with political elites, it would be interesting to see if this man leading this powerful non-profit organization is able to make the case to Angelenos that the current "City Hall’s pay-to-play culture" is no longer sustainable and that power must be taken away from developers.   Michael Weinstein has literally declared war to politicians at city hall.  He has forced conversations about political contributions and he is exposing council-members and the mayor's cozy relationships with rich and powerful developers in Los Angeles. He hopes that Angelenos will revolt just as voters did last year when they voted to elect Trump for President.  Voters just wanted Trump to blow up the system. They wanted radical change.   They wanted something new, they didn't care if the cure was worse than the disease.

Labor, developers, businesses, and anti-gentrification forces they are all sharpening their political knives for this fight. Yes, Labor and the Business community have joined forces to defeat this measure. Millions will be spent and those defending the status quo have already started scaring voters. Indeed, lawsuits have been filed and these groups are battling it out in courts.  "The sky will fall, jobs will be killed, the economy will tank and poor people will be the real victims because stopping the constructions of fancy housing is not good for the poor," the forces against this Measure are screaming at top of their lungs. Their logic here is that if we keep building at one point supply will surpass demand.  Then, the poor will start getting the housing they can afford. The problem with that is that it is the very same argument that has been made by developers for the last 10 years.  And, poor people and people of color kept moving to the desert, a place they have found affordable.  Labor, being led by construction workers’ unions, has had many opportunities to ask for housing the poor but they have just gone along with developers. They just wanted those construction jobs to keep coming. In November last year, Labor swung and missed with Measure JJJ. They collaborated with developers to sell this measure to voters and it passed. Said measure was nothing more than about cosmetic changes and really didn’t do much or will not do much to alleviate the housing crisis poor people are facing in this city.

In politics, timing is everything pundits tell us. Indeed, many Angelenos have grown cynical as they have seen nothing but very small incremental changes being made about the crisis dealing with affordable housing in this city. They see this “pay to play culture” at city hall and see that this city is truly a city of developers, by developers and for developers.  Rarely is the week that goes by without the media publishing articles about the political contributions given to the Mayor and City council-Members by developers trying to get exceptions from city land-use laws to build projects worth millions. Disturbingly, sometimes checks were issued to these city political leaders while projects were being under consideration.

It is also sick and ridiculous how these real estate people endeavor to find ways to give political contributions to these politicians.  Developer, Samuel Leung, for example, cut checks for friends, relatives, and associates so these checks could be channeled to politicians in City Hall. Then, billionaire and powerful developer, Rick Caruso and other powerful organizations with projects being considered gave large checks to the mayor’s non-profit organization and his pet project, “Measure M.”  To add insult to injury these politicians have the audacity to tell Angelinos that all these political contributions play no role in their decisions when approving these developments.  All development projects are solely evaluated on the “merits,” these politicians from the city hall tell us. Laughable.  So far, I am leaning to vote "Yes" on this Measure.

Thank you for reading.

____________________________________________________________________________

Sources used. 

Aron, Hillel. “L.A.'s Biggest Spender in the 2016 Election Is a Nonprofit With Millions to Spare.” LA Weekly 5 Nov.  2016. Web. Accessed Jan. 9, 2017. <http://www.laweekly.com/news/las-biggest-spender-in-the-2016-election-is-a-nonprofit-with-millions-to-spare-7575242>.

“City Hall’s pay-to-play culture.” Editorial. Los Angeles Times 6 Jan. 2017, A12. Print

Dembosky, April. “From Maverick AIDS Activist To Porn Cop: The Man Behind Proposition 60.” npr.org 2nd Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed Jan. 10, 2017. <http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/11/02/500039336/from-maverick-aids-activist-to-porn-cop-the-man-behind-proposition-60>.

Lopez, Steve. "When it comes to political donations in L.A., what's legal can be worse than what's not." Los Angeles Times 11 Jan. 2017. Web. Accessed Jan.12. <http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-0111-lopez-campaign-donations-20170110-story.html>.

Platin, Dick. “A Must for LA in 2017: More Hard-Hitting Investigative Reporting.” CityWatch 29 Dec. 2016. Web. Accessed Jan. 11, 2017. <http://www.citywatchla.com/index.php/los-angeles/12362-a-must-for-la-in-2017-more-hard-hitting-investigative-reporting>.


Say No to The Olympics in 2024! LA Can't Afford Them

I still fondly remember the 1984's Olympic games hosted here in Los Angeles. I had been living in LA for three years.  I was young and green and I felt welcomed in this awesome city. Hence, I immediately endeavored to weave myself into the fabric of this very diverse and awesome community.  I managed to understand the forces that were at play in this great city. Indeed, LA's economic, environmental, social, cultural and political forces all manifested themselves in a beautiful struggle.

I am making my case in this piece that our city shouldn't be bidding for these games.  As you all know, The US Olympic Committee (USOC) has named Los Angeles as the US bid city for hosting the 2024 games after Boston dropped out.  Los Angeles is currently facing daunting problems and I am concerned about the potential financial burden that hosting these games might bring to our city.

Everywhere I turn, I hear the same arguments that LA hosted the games very successfully in 1984. They go on and tell you that the weather was awesome, the competition was fear, the festivities were great for our city, and that the games elevated LA to the world stage. All that is true.

What is not being said is that all the success achieved didn't just fall off the sky. The two men responsible for said success: Mayor Tom Bradley and local businessman Peter Ueberroth, Both men provided the vision needed for this major worldwide event.  Clearly, LA doesn't currently have the leadership of this caliber anymore.
It is important to point out that in 1984, Mayor Bradley and Businessman Peter Ueberroth called for a "budget-conscious" in hosting these games. They were keenly aware of the profound financial failures that the city of Montreal had encountered in 1976. They told Angelinos that what had happened in Montreal was not going to happen here in LA. The City of Montreal was held liable for $1.5 billion, the costs exceeded the projected revenues and the city had to pay for the debt. That had meaningful negative implications in the quality of life of the city of Montreal.

These two LA’s leaders bluntly told the Olympic games’ people that LA was happy to host the games. But, the city was not going to be held responsible for any cost overruns(this term is used when costs exceed revenues). It was a "take it or leave it" proposition. People from the Olympic Games were not happy to hear such proposition and they initially balked. But in the end, Los Angeles was finally relieved from any financial responsibility. And, the rest was history-the 1984's Olympic Games were an utter success. That was also the only time in history that a city had actually made a dime out of these games. This is not the case now. Mayor Garcetti is bidding for these games and Los Angeles will be responsible for any debt in the event that the projected revenues don't pan out.

Los Angeles, our leaders have been telling us lately, is the best city in the world. It is not just a city of promise but "a city of tremendous innovation and resilience. Our city is the capital of the pacific and we do things well on the international stage. Los Angeles was cut to host this Olympic games-we did it successfully in 1932 and 1984. And, we should be able to do it one more time.” While I wholeheartedly agree with all these adjectives being used here to describe this great city, I join the chorus of others in this city who persuasively argues that the mayor’s optimism that LA will make a profit in hosting these games in 2024 is disconnected to the reality on the ground.

Some background here. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) selected Boston last winter to host games. Yes, many Bostonians were elated and were looking forward to witnessing these games in 2024. Nevertheless, After carefully examination by civically engaged citizens and other powerful civic groups, Boston's mayor decided not to host the games this past July. They projected that unexpected costs were going to exceed revenues-Boston was not willing to take any risk. Immediately after Boston withdrew, the USOC looked at Los Angeles as the best city to host these games. They reached to Mayor Garcetti and urged the LA mayor to bid for these games. The application's deadline was mid-September the IOC will make announce it in the summer of the next what country will host the games.

The table below is a screenshot taken from the LA24 Bid book presented by the mayor GAMES BUDGET (August 2015)

A quick look at the table above, we can see that the mayor is presenting a proposed contract for total costs of $4.666.2 with the USOC and IOC. The $1.700.0 billion at the far top right is a projection being made by the mayor of the investments made by private organizations. For example, to radically renovate the Coliseum will cost at least $500 million, according to many people familiar with this type of renovation. This will be a sort of private investment needed for this thing to work. USC will have to cough up all the money to convert this stadium into a modern Olympic center. Thus, the overall cost for these games will be at least $5.8 billion [$4.116.2 + $1.7.00] that will not include the contingency and the insurance premium above. The mayor is forcefully arguing that LA will not be liable for anything because after all numbers are computed Los Angeles will actually make $161.1 [net position above] million after broadcast rights, sponsorships, and ticket revenues are brought in. It is interesting that very same projections were made in the Winter Games in Vancouver and in the 2012 Summer Games in London. These two cities encountered major problems in finishing these construction projects

Two problems with the Mayor's projections above. First, most cities tend to find problems with private investments, when private money doesn't come in, cities are liable. Second, the mayor's revenue projections are very small. $161 million out of $4.6 billion is a very small margin and doesn't give enough room to adjust. What if there were a worldwide catastrophe or a worldwide recession and people are unable to travel and attend these games. LA will be liable for all cost overruns. That means the money will have to come from the general fund to cover these costs. Can we afford to take money out of our public safety programs or to eliminate other vital programs needed int this city? Of course not.

The Mayor's people argue that it makes a lot of sense to host the Olympic Games of 2024 here in our city. For starters, these people claim that LA has the venues and the infrastructure in place. Nothing can go wrong, security is ready to protect athletes and people, all logistics have been figured out and tested-we will succeed. It is not that easy. Hosting these games requires tremendous efforts from all the different sectors that comprise a city. At least seven years are needed to make sure all centers needed are built or fixed.

In light of the intractable problems facing Los Angeles, can we honestly say that we can host these games? I say no. We have a housing crisis, crime in South Central Los Angeles doesn’t stop, a profound lack of civic engagement among our citizens, and the city still struggles with a faltering and de-industrialized economy that has left many without good jobs. And, we can't ignore the Grand Canyon-size gap between rich and poor in Los Angeles.

The greatness of our city should not be measured by how many Olympic games we host or how many states of the art stadiums and arenas we build. But how we can help those who have lost hope and live in misery in Los Angeles.

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year to all of you...


Who Should Replace Xavier Becerra ?

The race to replace Congressional Representative, Xavier Becerra, is getting interesting. It truly is refreshing to see a bunch of new enthusiastic candidates running for this seat.  The finger democracy being used by not very thoughtful people within "establishment" has not worked. We need to encourage more competent people to run. We have been governed by the very same people last two decades.  They all start at the Assembly, then they move to the State Senate. Once they are termed out in both houses, then they come to LA to run for the city council.  Then, they move to the Board of Supervisors or Congress. We need to break this vicious cycle.  We need new leaders.  Indeed, we need a new more in-depth level of thinking for solving the daunting problems facing people in our communities.

It is also great to see four women running for this seat, and there is potential for more to join the race.  I have been making the case that we need more competent women in elected offices. So far, ten candidates have officially declared that they will be making their case to voters in this district as to why they should be allowed to go to Washington.

This might not longer apply to presidential candidates, but determining whether an individual is ready to represent the collective interest adequately, said a candidate must not only understand the nuances of representation but also she/he must have an innate intellectual understanding of justice. If no candidate never entertained these concepts while doing community work or in his profession, said candidate might not be competent.  From The Republic of Plato, there has always been this quest for justice, and it was a complicated concept to understand.  However, the definition, at least, how I understood it, was at heart to the virtue of the individual, the order of society, as well as individual rights in contrast to the claims of the general social order."  As a member of congress, a member gets tremendous opportunities to be part of the vital conversations of the day, dealing with international affairs, businesses more specifically the financial markets, and domestic policies that must focus on the challenges facing Americans today. Competent candidates must have the ability to elevate themselves above all these noises and make decisions about what is for the best interest of everyone.

The three E's of every election that most political strategists always talk about when assessing candidates are the following:  Enthusiasm, excitement, and electability. A candidate must have the ability to generate enthusiasm and excitement among his/her supporters if he/she wants to get elected. Moreover, sometimes, it is a daunting task to accomplish such an endeavor if the candidate lacks adequate resources. Electability is also paramount; most people will open their wallets only to those who can form coalitions and have a chance to get elected.

A candidate who claims that he/she wants to go to Washington because he/she wants to take on Trump, this candidate has not either deeply thought about what the position entails or might just unintentionally be pandering to fear to communities of color. The real challenge for the winner in this race will not be Trump, but the Democratic leadership that is resisting change in light of the profound challenges facing the party. Yes, these leaders have yet to come to terms that the ground has shifted beneath them and that the status quo is no longer acceptable. Whoever wins this thing will be reporting to yes, Nancy Pelosi right after he/she introduces herself to Speaker Ryan.

In most political races, there are always first-tier and second-tier candidates. Not in this congressional race. Former Speaker, John Perez who was the first to declare and then had to drop out because health issues, might have been the only first-tier candidate in this race. Most of the candidates, who have declared that they will be running to replace Becerra, have been involved in some activism, but most of them have not held elected offices. Some of them have worked in the labor movement, and some have worked for non-profit organizations.

Here is the list of candidates so far, according to the Los Angeles Times as of Dec. 22nd 2016:  Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles); Wendy Carrillo, a Democratic labor activist; Kenneth Mejia, a Green Party candidate who ran earlier this year as a write-in Democratic  candidate against Becerra; Sara Hernandez, former staffer for Councilman Jose Huizar and a Democrat; Arturo Carmona, a Democrat and former top deputy for the Bernie Sanders campaign; Yolie Flores, a former LAUSD board member and a Democrat; Alejandra Campoverdi, Former White House staffer and former LA Times employee; Karl Siganporia, a Republican who previously explored a congressional run as a Democrat; Raymond Meza, a Democrat and labor organizer with SEIU Local 721; Steven Mac, a Democrat and felony prosecutor for Los Angeles County.

Assessing for what I have seen and read so far about the candidates, I can venture to say that Wendy Carrillo has generated enthusiasm, and she also has animated women and young people. She has a compelling life story and has excelled both academically and professionally. Although she will soon have to pivot and she will have to start offering more concrete goals as what she plans to do if she gets elected.

Sara Hernandez appears to have a more refined message dealing with leadership.  Moreover, she must since she runs the Coro Foundation, a center for leadership development for public affairs here in LA. [In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I spent a year with this foundation as a Coro fellow in 2001-2002].  She comes across somewhat arrogant, though.   In the first week, when she was toying with the idea of running-she told her friends that she was considering to run and she raised about $150,000.00. Now that is power.  She will have adequate resources to make her case to voters in this district.  She is connected to all these Coro's people and to Councilman Jose Huizar.

Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez will claim to have the experience and establishment connections. He also has a legislative record where the competition can look at and use against him. As the establishment candidate, he should have the resources to make his case to the voters in this district too. Jimmy Gomez is getting all the endorsements of those holding public office, both the Mayor and Supervisor Solis have endorsed the Assemblyman. It is interesting to see if the political winds have finally arrived here in LA. The winner of this race should not be the candidates who form coalitions of politicians but the one who brings community people together and can organize an army of unpaid volunteers.

Arturo Carmona has worked with immigrant non-profit organizations.  He also had a gig with Bernie Sanders during the primaries. I was taken aback when I read one of the posts on his Facebook page recently.  "They rigged the primary against Bernie and then lost the election to an unapologetic misogynist billionaire." He posted on his Facebook.  Really, "they rigged the primary against Bernie"? Why does he want to revive the battles of the primaries between Hillary and Sanders?  He is being ill-advised or needs better advisors. Why even go there? There is still glass on the wounds as some people, who might be part of this district,  still blame Sanders’ supporters for Hillary’s loss.

Alejandra Campoverdi is a former White House staffer, and she also used to work for the LA Times. She has done journalistic work with the immigration issue with Jose Antonio Vargas. She has also worked or currently works for Univision. She appears to be doing very well in her profession, and it is not clear why she is running for this seat. She might be connected at the highest levels of the political establishment in Washington but might not be familiar with the different interests fighting for resources in this district.

Finally, Yolie Flores is a former LAUSD board member and I don’t know who the rest of the candidates are and why they are running.  I did google them and couldn't find enough information.   I will follow this race as well as other local races that will be taking place the coming year

Thank you for reading.

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References.

Bernal, Rafael. "Race to replace Becerra gets crowded." The Hill. 18, Dec. 2016. Web. Accessed 29, Dec. 2016. <http://thehill.com/latino/310834-race-to-replace-becerra-gets-crowded>.

Braun, Aryn. "California Assemblyman Racking Up Endorsements to Replace Becerra."  Roll Call. 15, Dec. 2016. Web. Accessed 30 Dec,2 016. <http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/becerras-seat-still-up-for-grabs

Mai-Duc, Christine. “Former White House aide, also a former L.A. Times employee, joins candidates vying to succeed Xavier Becerra.” Los Angeles Times. 22, Dec. 2016. Web. Accessed 27, Dec. 2016. <http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-alejandra-campoverdi-congressional-1482367860-htmlstory.html>.

Myers, John. "Former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez decides against running for Rep. Xavier Becerra's congressional seat." Los Angeles Times.  10, Dec. 2016. Web. Accessed 29, Dec. 2016. <http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-john-p-rez-decides-against-running-for-1481390443-htmlstory.html>.

The Republicans of Plato. Intro. and notes by Francis MacDonald Cornford. Oxford:  Oxford UP, 1968. Print.

 


The end of the Democratic Party as we know it?

“Crisis,” according to Webster’s Dictionary, “is the turning point….the decisive moment.” This is the challenge for the democratic party, endeavoring to find opportunities in these trying times. It will require courage, vision, and action. So far, the actions were taken after the election telegraph a message that this party is not moving towards that direction. Democrats have been playing a counterproductive blaming game, "the FBI director killed our momentum with emails inquiry,"  "The Russian tipped the scaled for Trump by releasing Podesta's emails," "The Electoral College is anti-democratic," etc.

The party of FDR finds itself in its worst governing position ever.-starting next year, Democrats will control “ 31 legislative chambers and 15 governorships. Moreover, at the federal level in all three branches, Democrats are in the minority as Republicans will have a chance to tip the scale in the supreme court by adding a new conservative justice.  There are profound problems of leadership, vision, and complacency. The decision of the Senate Democratic leadership to change the rules of the filibuster back in 2013 was insane.  They might have thought that they were going to be in power forever.  Now, the President-elect can nominate whomever he pleases to the different essential departments in the executive branch, and there is nothing that the Democrats can do to stop him.  At least, they had the wisdom of not changing the rules for Supreme Court justices'  nominations.

I vividly remember the day before the presidential election, pundits and experts in the political firmament were writing obituaries for the Republican Party.  "Republicans are on the road of perdition," some of them said, "They have ignored minorities, and the party will not win presidential elections with just old white voters," others argued.  Yes, how can the Republicans win voters in a rapidly changing America, when they refuse to realign the party’ vision to the contours of a more pluralistic society, many voters asked themselves.  It was the Republican Party that was on the brink of collapsing we all thought. Now, it is the Democratic Party that is having a soul-searching, and its future looks bleak if nothing is immediately changed.

Should the election of Trump be read as a firm rejection of what the Democratic Party stands for? That is, the belief that America as a community is best when it is more inclusive and where those who work hard and play by the rules can do whatever their talent allows them to do to move up on the economic ladder. The latter is what leaders in the democratic party have failed to understand, or at least they have ignored. People in this country are working harder than ever, and yet they are still not able to provide for their families. Overall, the party of FDR has always focused on the message of fairness for everyone willing to work hard.

Nevertheless, focusing solely on fairness is naive or lacks a profound understanding of the problem. There is no fairness without opportunity. Indeed, workers in this country are unable to provide for their families in this “Uber” or “Wal-Mart” economy. This new economy gives no opportunity for workers to provide for their families sufficiently. This new “gig” economy, as it is often called, creates tremendous opportunities but it created tremendous challenges for workers in this country.

Economic mobility virtually does not exist in America, and most workers feel that Democrats have abandoned them. Many workers believe that democrats have gotten too close to corporate power, and they no longer fight the unchecked corporate greed.  Sanders pounded Hillary with this claim in the primaries.  Ironically, workers starving for opportunities embraced an economic message coming from a billionaire presidential candidate who sleeps on a golden bed and rides on a golden elevator and who shows no signs of eloquence or ability to articulate a complete policy thought.  Latinos also feel disappointed as President Obama promised comprehensive immigration reform and gave them comprehensive immigration enforcement instead.

The structural problems of leadership in the democratic party are deep and broad. When rational beings are in a hole, they stop digging. It appears that the Democrats are asking for a bigger shovel. One would think that the Democrats would have engaged in a search for new leadership with more innovating ideas. No. They recently elected Nancy Pelosi as the minority leader for the House of Representatives for the next two years.  Democrats needed strong, clear-eyed leadership with new progressive policy ideas that could animate the rank and file. Everyone thought Democrats were going to shake up and refocused. Instead, they re-elected Pelosi.  A nod to continuity at a time when continuity was not warranted.

These problems are also at the local levels. In the State of California, California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton, an old guy who has been there forever. He is on his way out, and the guy who will replace him is Chair of the Los Angeles CountyDemocratic Party, Eric C. Bauman, another guy who has also been there forever. There is no leadership development at this party.  The democratic party in California also needs to have an internal revolution. What they have in place is not sustainable; that game blatantly being played of going along, getting along, and wait for your term has to stop.

The process of reassessing what happened in this past presidential election must be robust, and Democrats must have the courage to make the needed changes to get back in the game.  To go aggressively after the uneducated white voters and continue overlooking the needs of minorities in their party will be suicidal.   Hillary lost because many Latino and Blacks voters stayed home. One might argue that Trump’s approach to Blacks and Latinos in that speech on a hot day in Ohio sometime in August in which he told them point-blank. “‘What do you have to lose?” might have worked. Trump told these two groups, “you live in poverty in neighborhoods that are more dangerous than war zones.

Furthermore, these cities have been running for Democrats. Give me a chance.” Latinos and Blacks might not have had the courage to vote for this man and might just have decided to stay home, which might have been equated with voting for him, specifically in those states where that Hillary lost by thin margins.

The time has come for a new generation of leadership, and for the Democratic Party, it cannot come soon enough.

Thank you for reading.

___________________________________________________________

Sources Consulted

"Crisis." Entry 1 and 2. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 9th ed. 1988. Print.

Johnson, Jenna. “Donald Trump to African American and Hispanic voters: ‘What do you have to lose? Washington Post. 22, August 2016. We. Accessed 22, Dec. 2016. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/08/22/donald-trump-to-african-american-and-hispanic-voters-what-do-you-have-to-lose/?utm_term=.e01378110442>.

Martin, Jonathan and Alexander Burns. “Democrats at Crossroads: Win Back Working-Class Whites, or Let Them Go?” New York Times. 15, Dec 2016. Web. Accessed 15, Dec. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/15/us/politics/democrats-joe-biden-hillary-clinton.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur>.

Opinions. “Cory Booker, Zephyr Teachout and more on the Democrats’ future.” Washington Post. 18, Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 20 Dec. 2016. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/cory-booker-zephyr-teachout-and-more-on-the-democrats-future/2016/11/18/5e20a65e-ace2-11e6-977a-1030f822fc35_story.html?utm_term=.0b1d85f65caf>.


Declare Los Angeles a “Sanctuary City.”

I was taken aback a couple of weeks ago when Mayor Garcetti was quoted in LA Times saying that he avoids using the phrase ‘sanctuary city,’ because “it’s ‘ill-defined.” In addition, he told the Times, “we cooperate all the time with federal immigration officials when there are criminals that are in our midst and need to be deported.” This came right after Mayor Garcetti held a brief conversation with the President-Elect, Trump. I was mystified that advocates for undocumented immigrants in this city because they either said very little or didn’t say anything at all.  Really, one of the most progressive cities in America might not be a "sanctuary city"?   So, if the mayor and other civic leaders in this city know that this city might technically not be a “sanctuary city” why not start the process right away and officially declare Los Angeles a “sanctuary city”? I remember very vividly when a week after Trump got elected many council members and the mayor appeared on TV or issued statements and defiantly told Trump that the LA was going to protect its immigrants. I thought our civic leaders were showing spine when they made those statements since "LA is slated to receive $500 million from the federal government this fiscal year plus $23 million for federal housing.”

Any data about the demographics show that Los Angeles has approximately 1. 5 million foreign-born people, 850,000 of these foreign borns are undocumented. The outcome of the recent presidential election will test our LA civic leaders’ resolve in protecting our undocumented immigrants. President-Elect Trump took a hard line against undocumented immigrants while campaigning for the White House. It was his signature issue and he promised to go after cities that would not cooperate with immigration authorities in deporting undocumented immigrants. Reince Priebus who has been chosen to serve as Trump’s chief staff also told CNN that “a city that ignores federal laws and still wants the federal government to help them is an inconsistent position.”

Among leaders in progressive cities in this country, New York City's Mayor, Bill de Blasio stands out as being very vocal and defiant to the President-Elect Trump in protecting his city’s undocumented residents. Bill de Blasio point black told the President-elect Trump that he was not going to back away from policies that protect immigrants living illegally in his city, even if that means cuts to his city’s budget.

Unlike Los Angeles, Mayors in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Chicago have also sent strong messages to the President-Elect that they will fight back any effort to deport undocumented immigrants, while calling their cities “sanctuary cities,” San Francisco has taken it to a new level in defending its undocumented immigrants-they have enacted policies that specifically avoid cooperating with federal authorities.  The city of San Francisco has enacted a policy into law called “Due Process for All.” An ordinance that prohibits local enforcement agencies from holding undocumented immigrants for ICE.  No undocumented or legal immigrant with no violent felonies on their records or are being accused of any felony charges are reported to ICE. Why doesn’t LA has something like this? It is not enough to have the Chief Back telling us that we will not cooperate with ICE.  How will we know that this is being carried out as promised?

The death of Kate Steinle in 2015 who was shot and killed in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant and repeat felon who had been deported many times in the past gave ammunition to the anti-immigration forces and candidate Trump while he was campaigning not just about “illegal immigration’ but also about the purpose of sanctuary cities in this country.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-54-51-pmBut what exactly constitutes a sanctuary jurisdiction? It is not clear what this legal or political definition is but it is the term used to describe cities, counties or states in this country that go to great lengths to protect non-criminal undocumented immigrants from being deported. These cities accomplish this goal by limiting or utterly refusing to cooperate with federal authorities in charge of enforcing immigration policies in this country. Some cities specifically enact policies into ordinances that mandate protection of undocumented immigrants others cities just have their civic leaders to pledge that protection. The main goal for sanctuary cities is to make sure that undocumented immigrants report crimes, look for medical care when needed, and that they enroll their children in school without the fear that they will be reported to federal authorities for being undocumented in this country.

Cities that do not protect undocumented immigrants and “Immigration Detainers”  The Immigration Customs Enforcement-ICE has a set of categories of violation of laws in which undocumented immigrants who have been arrested could be subject to deportation.  Misdemeanors and traffic violations might be part of these categories. Once a red flag has been raised by the local law enforcement agency when an undocumented individual has been arrested then ICE makes an official request. The police department holding the undocumented individual lets ICE knows before releasing said, individual.  ICE then arrange a time to pick up the undocumented person and starts the deportation process. The constitutionality of this process has been questioned by some legal scholars who argue that these individuals’ due process rights might be in violation since ICE might not have arrest warrants for these individuals. In addition, these “detainers” are issued when individuals are just accused of committing a crime.  Undocumented individuals might eventually be found not guilty or charges might be dropped for lack of evidence.  This is problematic, undocumented individuals just need to be accused of a crime to subject to deportation.  These are very profound violations of these individuals’ constitutional rights.  And these detainers can also be used for legal immigrants.

Civic Leaders in Los Angeles can do better and they should declare this city a "sanctuary city" as soon as possible.   LA should also mirror what the city of San Francisco is doing protecting its undocumented immigrants.  Sanctuary cities are about protecting law-abiding undocumented hardworking immigrants who are an integral part of the fabric of many cities in this nation. Sanctuary cities are not what the anti-immigration forces argue, these cities do not provide “additional privileges, not available to citizens and legal immigrants, to criminal "aliens."

 

Thank you for reading.

 

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Works Cited

Carcamo, Cindy, Kate Mather and Dakota Smith. “Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration leaves a lot unanswered for sanctuary cities like L.A.” Los Angeles Times, 15 Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 4 Dec. 2016. <http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-sanctuary-cities-20161114-story.html>.

Feldman, Noah. “Sanctuary Cities Are Safe, Thanks to Conservatives.” Bloomberg View. 29 Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 5 Dec. 2016. <https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-11-29/sanctuary-cities-are-safe-thanks-to-conservatives>.

“Immigration Detainers: A Comprehensive Look,” American Immigration Council. 17 Feb. 2010. Web. Accessed 5 Dec. 2016

Lee, Ye Hee Michelle. “What exactly are ‘sanctuary cities’ in immigration policy?” Washington Post, 7 Sept. 2016. Web. Accessed 6 Dec. 2016. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/09/07/what-exactly-are-sanctuary-cities-in-immigration-policy/?utm_term=.effd5ffdca3f>.

Smith, Morgan and Jay Root. “Jails Refused to Hold Thousands of Immigrants for Feds.” Texas Tribune, 15 Jan. 2016. Web. Accessed 5 Dec. 2016. <https://www.texastribune.org/2016/01/15/34-texas-counties-declined-hold-deportable-immigra/>.

Valverde, Miriam. “New York City mayor says the president can't defund sanctuary cities 'across the board.” Politifact, 18 Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 5th Dec. 2016. <http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/dec/01/bill-de-blasio/new-york-city-mayor-says-president-cant-defund-san/>.

“What are sanctuary cities? “ Economist Explains, 22nd Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 4 Dec. 2016. <http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2016/11/economist-explains-13>.