Saturday, October 30, 2010

Find Your Polling Place Here!

In 2008, almost 2 million Americans failed to vote simply because they didn't know where to go. Now, thanks to a free online polling place locator developed by Google, you don't have to get caught short in 2010. Just type in your home address below and find out where your polling place is!

Friday, October 29, 2010

You Have The Power. Volunteer. VOTE

OK folks, talk is cheap, it's time for action.

It's not just enough for each of us to go to the polls next Tuesday. We've got to make sure that each and every person we know understands the stakes of this election.

So talk to your friends, your family. Heck, even talk to a few of your enemies. Because this is bigger than any of us. Aggressive get-out-the-vote campaigns is how we'll win this on Tuesday.

Don't believe the polls. Don't believe the pundits. Be the change that you seek.

Below is a complete list of what you need to know to volunteer and VOTE in Southern California.


If you're voting absentee and haven't sent it in yet, your ballot must be received by election day. RECEIVED, not sent. If you have any doubt your ballot won't be received by Tuesday, you can bring it to any polling place in your county on election day and drop it off.

If you've already sent in your absentee ballot and want to know if it's been received, the LA County registrars office has this handy online tool to track your ballot!

If you're voting on Tuesday and aren't sure where your polling place is, Google Maps has a great site where you type in your home address to find out. Not only will it give you an address, it will give you directions to get there as well!

Still not sure about who and what to vote for? Check out our handy voter guide!


OFA is holding phone banks and canvassing events all over California. To find the one closest to you, click on this link!

Gavin Newsom for Lieutenant Governor
1801 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 720
Los Angeles, CA 90067-5901
8AM to 8PM
Office Telephone: 323-331-1881

Kamala Harris Campaign Office - LA HQ
5442 Crenshaw Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
volunteer coordinator Alida Garcia -

NO on Prop 23
2202 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
volunteer coordinator - Alex Epstein (310) 591-7421

7374 Beverly Blvd.
LA, CA 90036
volunteer coordinator - Bryce Carter (310) 591-7270

OFA SoCal Headquarters (Culver City, CA)
6700 Centinela Ave.
Culver City, CA 90230

CDP West LA Campaign Headquarters
3916 Sepulveda Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90230
Lucy Hincapie - volunteer coordinator (951)255-6948

Democratic Headquarters
1311 Sartori Ave.
Torrance, CA 90501

Southbay CDP Democratic Headquarters
603D East University Drive,
Carson, CA 90745
The corner of Avalon Blvd and University Dr.
Email or
Telephone 310-421-VOTE for more information

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Alan Grayson, Targeted By Palin and Beck, Needs Our Help

Progressive champion Alan Grayson needs our help. Take 10 minutes to make 10 phone calls to help get out the vote for him in Florida.

Recent polling has Grayson down 7 points to candidate Dan Webster, a misogynist tea-bagger who would force victims of rape to give birth to their rapist's baby.

And now Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are salivating at the chance to bring Grayson down. Beck devoted a significant portion of his Friday radio-show interview with Sarah Palin to rile up the tea party base in Florida.

"Sarah," one of Beck's co-hosts said, in a playful intro to the discussion. "It's okay if the republicans lose every seat in the senate and the house except for one, as long as that one is Alan Grayson."
Folks, we can't give Beck and Palin the satisfaction. Grayson still has a very good chance of winning if he can turn out the vote on November 2nd. Which is where you come in.

The Grayson campaign has a handy online calling tool you can use from home. Please, take 10 minutes to make 10 phone calls for Grayson.

If you need a reminder of what we'll all lose if Grayson loses, take a moment to look at this video. We need this man in Congress. We need him to fight for us.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

President Obama: It Gets Better

An accompanying blog post by Brian Bond of the White House Office of Public Engagement may be even better than the video from the President. A gay man, Bond writes about his own struggles as a teen

Recently, several young people have taken their own lives after being bullied for being gay – or perceived as being gay – by their peers. Their deaths are shocking and heartbreaking tragedies. No one should have to endure relentless harassment or tormenting. No one should ever feel so alone or desperate that they feel they have nowhere to turn. We each share a responsibility to protect our young people. And we also have an obligation to set an example of respect and kindness, regardless of our differences.

This is personal to me. When I was a young adult, I faced the jokes and taunting that too many of our youth face today, and I considered suicide as a way out. But I was fortunate. One of my co-workers recognized that I was hurting, and I soon confided in her. She cared enough to push me to seek help. She saved my life. I will always be grateful for her compassion and support – the same compassion and support that so many kids need today.

In the wake of these terrible tragedies, thousands of Americans have come together to share their stories of hope and encouragement for LGBT youth who are struggling as part of the It Gets Better Project. Their messages are simple: no matter how difficult or hopeless life may seem when you’re a young person who’s been tormented by your peers or feels like you don’t fit in: life will get better.

President Obama is committed to ending bullying, harassment and discrimination in all its forms in our schools and communities. That’s why he recorded this message.

They're Voting

George W. Bush. Extreme right-wing talk show hosts. Homophobes. Racists. They're all voting. Turn off the Hate. Get out the Vote.

State Senator Jenny Oropeza Dies At Age 53

The LA Times is reporting State Senator Jenny Oropeza is dead at age 53.

The announcement of Oropeza's death came in an e-mail from Senate President Darrell Steinberg to colleagues Thursday.

Oropeza had been absent from her job for months and missed this month's budget vote. She is on the November ballot for another four-year term. Her name will remain on the ballot and if she is reelected, a special election will be called to fill the vacancy.

"In the course of this legislative session, the Senate has faced incredible challenges, and more than its share of sadness," Steinberg wrote. "Let us take a moment of our time, in remembering Jenny, to reflect on our Capitol family, our friendships, and our importance to each other as colleagues."

In October, the Times reported Oropeza had been diagnosed with a blood clot in her abdomen in May. The Sacramento Bee reported she had battled liver cancer during her time in the Assembly.

According to, Oropeza spokesman Ray Sotero said details were expected to be released later today. He said Oropeza had experienced difficulty breathing for much of Wednesday and died at the hospital after 9 p.m. Wednesday evening.

Oropeza, the chair of the powerful Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee, was elected to the Assembly in 2000 and to the Senate in 2006. Her district stretched from El Segundo to parts of WestLA and included the beach cities of Torrance, Redondo, Hermosa, Manhattan Beach, Playa del Rey, Marina del Rey and Venice.

During her tenure in the Assembly, Oropeza served as chair of the Budget Committee -- a major position as the state approached an unprecedented fiscal crisis.

Before coming to Sacramento, Oropeza was elected the first Latina member of the Long Beach City Council in 1994, and was relected in 1998. In a 2007 special election, Oropeza ran for the 37th Congressional District vacancy created by the death of Juanita Millender-McDonald, but Oropeza lost in the primary to Laura Richardson.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fired Up! Ready To Go! Join President Obama at USC on Friday.

On Thursday, Sarah Palin kicked of a 3-day California tour to rally the party crazy faithful to get out the vote on November 2nd.

Blogging on Facebook, Palin wrote:

"California is at a major crossroad in this election, and the eyes of the nation are on this state."
Venice For Change is in complete agreement. California is at a major crossroads. Which is why the GOP sent their big gun out west, and why we all need to go out there and kick the Tea Party to the curb.

The GOP may have a failed half-term governor from Alaska to fire up the lawn chair crowd, but we have President Obama, who will be rallying the troops this Friday at USC. The event is open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis. Doors open at 10am.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Your Friendly, Neighborhood CA Voter Guide




Lt. Governor

Attorney General

Secretary of State



Insurance Commissioner

Superintendent of Public Instruction

State Supreme Court
TANI CANTIL-SAKAUYE - no recommendation
(he voted to uphold the state's ban on marriage equality)
( only justice to vote to overturn Prop 8 at the State Supreme Court)

Congress - CD36
Congress - CD33
Congress - CD30

State Assembly - 53d AD
State Assembly - 47d AD

State Senator - 28th SD
State Senator - 26th SD

State Board of Equalization (4th district)
Jerome E. Horton

Superior Court No. 117

LA County Assessor

Our good friends at the Courage Campaign have created a progressive voter guide help you sort through the confusing Proposition ballot maze. You can download and share that guide by going to this link.


Don't know where you're polling place is? Go to THIS LINK to find out!

To request an absentee ballot, go to this link to download and print a request form. Fill the form out, then mail it to your county election office.The ballot request form must arrive at the county election office by October 26th. If you don't think it will arrive in the mail in time, you can deliver it in person.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Your Progressive California Proposition Voter Guide

The helpful folks at the Courage Campaign have produced a handy voter guide for the nine propositions which will be on the ballot November 2nd. Feel free to download the guide and bring it with you to the polls!

PROP 19: Tax & regulate cannabis
Ends prohibition, allowing Californians over age 21 to legally possess and grow small amounts of cannabis. Permits local governments to decide whether to license and tax the sale of cannabis. Enables legislature to provide further regulations, while maintaining drug-free schools and workplaces. Will reduce prison costs and end failed war on drugs. More information:

PROP 20: Congressional redistricting
Placed on the ballot by a wealthy right-wing activist, this would give the power to draw Congressional district boundaries to an unelected commission, intended to reduce the number of House seats held by Democrats. Strongly opposed by most progressive organizations. More information:

PROP 21: Save state parks
Keeps all state parks open, addresses maintenance backlog, and allows Californians to access all state parks and state beaches free of charge. Paid for by an increase of $18 per year in the vehicle registration fee, raising $500 million to ensure the long-term survival of our state parks. More information:

PROP 22: Local government funds
Well-intentioned but flawed proposal to address financial problems of local governments. Gives cities and counties an immediate payment of over $1 billion, forcing further cuts to public schools and other vital public services.
More information:

PROP 23: Dirty energy proposition
Funded by two Texas oil companies — Valero and Tesoro — Prop 23 would effectively repeal California's global warming law, gutting our clean energy economy, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs, and stopping us from addressing climate change. More information:

PROP 24: Close corporate tax loopholes
In 2008 and 2009, Republicans leveraged the 2/3rds rule to force the creation of corporate tax loopholes that add $2 billion a year to the state's budget deficit. Closing these loopholes will help put teachers back in the classroom and restore health care services to Californians in need. More information:

PROP 25: Majority vote budget
Provides badly needed reforms by eliminating the 2/3rds rule to pass a budget in the state legislature, depriving right-wingers of their power to delay the budget. Would help prevent the most cruel budget cuts and enable the passage of more progressive budget solutions. More information:

PROP 26: Polluter protection
Funded largely by right-wing corporations, this would require a 2/3rds vote of the legislature to impose a fee, making it impossible to force polluters to pay their cleanup costs. Prop 26 also undermines the implementation of the global warming law.

PROP 27: Redistricting commission
Voters created a commission to redraw the state legislative district boundaries by passing Prop 11 in 2008. Prop 27 would eliminate that commission. Courage Campaign members were evenly split on this proposition, but Venice For Change is recommending a no vote.

Venice Car Wash Included in Suit Filed By Jerry Brown for "Worker Exploitation"

From the AG Office:

LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today filed a $6.6 million lawsuit against eight car washes owned by members of the Sikder family -- proprietors of the Hollywood restaurant named Koi -- after an investigation revealed a "widespread pattern of worker exploitation," unpaid wages and illegal business practices.

"While Koi served up yellowtail tartare and Kobe beef carpaccio to Hollywood celebrities, the restaurant's owners routinely denied wages, breaks and overtime pay to workers at their unlicensed car washes," Brown said. "Today's lawsuit seeks to end this widespread pattern of worker exploitation."

Brown's lawsuit caps a five-month investigation of eight Sikder-owned car washes in Fair Oaks, Folsom, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Santa Monica, San Ramon and Venice.

Investigators interviewed more than 80 workers and found the car washes routinely denied workers minimum wage and overtime, failed to pay wages owed to those who quit or were terminated, denied rest and meal breaks, and created false records of time worked.

The car washes required employees to report to work hours early and be available, unpaid, until business picked up. When workers were paid, many received paychecks that could not be cashed because of insufficient company funds. Additionally, the car washes operated for years without licenses from the Labor Commissioner, which are required under California law.

Brown's lawsuit, which alleges that defendants violated California Business & Professions Code section 17200 and Labor Code sections 203 and 203.1, seeks $6.6 million to pay back lost wages and civil penalties, and an injunction to prevent the defendants from committing similar violations in the future.

Sergio Diaz-Esquivel and Juvenal Diaz-Esquivel worked for the Sikders' Wash & Go Hand Wash in Irvine during 2005 and 2006. They quit because of the poor working conditions. They worked seven days per week and were not paid for all the hours they worked, nor paid the overtime wages due to them. After they quit, Wash & Go Hand Wash continued to refuse to pay them, which forced the workers to go to the Labor Commissioner. In August, 2007, they obtained judgments totaling $14,708.24, including penalties for the car wash's willful failure to pay them their wages. The car wash still has not paid them.

The car washes also owe more than $1.8 million in unpaid taxes, according to recorded liens.

In addition to their car wash businesses, members of the Sikder family own and operate Koi, a high-end Japanese restaurant with locations in West Hollywood, New York, Las Vegas and Bangkok. The restaurants gross millions of dollars annually and are regularly featured in gossip magazines and on television shows, including HBO's "Entourage," because of their celebrity clientele.

The eight car washes named in today's lawsuit are:

- Bonus Car Wash located at 2800 Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica
- Crown Valley Car Wash located at 25991 Crown Valley Parkway in Laguna Niguel
- Gold Rush Auto Spa located at 7620 Folsom-Auburn Blvd. in Folsom
- Gold Rush Auto Spa II located at 4350 Sunrise Blvd. in Fair Oaks
- Laguna Hills Union 76 Station [Car Wash] located at 24795 Alicia Parkway in Laguna Hills
- Marina Car Wash located at 2305 Lincoln Blvd. in Venice
- Sponges Car Wash located at 2061 Camino Ramon in San Ramon
- Wash & Go Hand Wash (also known as Wash & Go Hand Carwash Corp and Irvine Auto Spa) located at 3080 Main St. in Irvine

Today's lawsuit follows another suit filed late last year by the Attorney General against Los Angeles-based Auto Spa Express Car Wash, which forced employees to work nearly 60-hour weeks without overtime, ignored minimum wage laws, and denied injured employees' their workers' compensation benefits.

California's 1,500 car washes employ a total of 28,000 workers per month, according to recent California Employment Development Department figures. One third of these car washes are unlicensed, according to a 2008 report by the state Labor Commissioner, and have not posted a bond to ensure payment of wages, as required by law.

From Facebook Joke To Republican Nightmare. Firefighters Watch As House Burn

Last year, in the heat of the health care reform fight when it seemed you couldn't turn around without a Republican screaming "SOCIALISM!!!!' at the drop of a hat, some enterprising soul created a joke Facebook group, 1 Million Strong Against our SOCIALIST Fire Departments

This year the joke is on us.

OBION COUNTY, Tenn. - Imagine your home catches fire but the local fire department won't respond, then watches it burn. That's exactly what happened to a local family tonight.
A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, home burned to the ground.

The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn't do anything to stop his house from burning.

Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay.

The mayor said if homeowners don't pay, they're out of luck.

This fire went on for hours because garden hoses just wouldn't put it out. It wasn't until that fire spread to a neighbor's property, that anyone would respond.

Turns out, the neighbor had paid the fee.

"I thought they'd come out and put it out, even if you hadn't paid your $75, but I was wrong," said Gene Cranick.

Because of that, not much is left of Cranick's house.

They called 911 several times, and initially the South Fulton Fire Department would not come.
The Cranicks told 9-1-1 they would pay firefighters, whatever the cost, to stop the fire before it spread to their house.

"When I called I told them that. My grandson had already called there and he thought that when I got here I could get something done, I couldn't," Paulette Cranick.

It was only when a neighbor's field caught fire, a neighbor who had paid the county fire service fee, that the department responded. Gene Cranick asked the fire chief to make an exception and save his home, the chief wouldn't.

We asked him why.

He wouldn't talk to us and called police to have us escorted off the property. Police never came but firefighters quickly left the scene. Meanwhile, the Cranick home continued to burn.

We asked the mayor of South Fulton if the chief could have made an exception.

"Anybody that's not in the city of South Fulton, it's a service we offer, either they accept it or they don't," Mayor David Crocker said.

Friends and neighbors said it's a cruel and dangerous city policy but the Cranicks don't blame the firefighters themselves. They blame the people in charge.

"They're doing their job," Paulette Cranick said of the firefighters. "They're doing what they are told to do. It's not their fault."

To give you an idea of just how intense the feelings got in this situation, soon after the fire department returned to the station, the Obion County Sheriff's Department said someone went there and assaulted one of the firefighters.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I got my absentee ballot in the mail today. Did you get yours?

I got my absentee ballot in the mail today. Did you get yours?

WHAT!? You're not registered to vote yet!? You don't vote absentee!?

Well, you're in luck. You have until October 18th to register to vote and until October 26 to apply for an absentee ballot.

To register to vote, go to this link to download and print a registration form. Fill in the form, then mail it to your county election office. To find the mailing address for your county, go to this link. The registration form must arrive at the county election office by October 18th. If you don't think it will arrive in the mail in time, you can deliver it in person.

To request an absentee ballot, go to this link to download and print a request form. Fill the form out, then mail it to your county election office. The ballot request form must arrive at the county election office by October 26th. If you don't think it will arrive in the mail in time, you can deliver it in person.

I'm Voting Republican

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Meet Robert W_____________

If you live in Venice, you deal with RV's. Anywhere from 250-300 RV's have taken up residence in the 1 square-mile area between Rose Ave. to Washington Blvd, and Walgrove Ave. to the beach. It's an issue almost as old as Venice itself.

But as the economy has worsened and other neighborhoods push their homeless away from their own communities, Venice has seen a huge uptick in the homeless and people who live in their RVs.

Last month, when an RV owner was caught dumping raw sewage on a Venice street, the situation reached the boiling point, culminating in an explosive Town Hall meeting called by Councilman Rosendahl to address the issue. Like most contentious meetings in Venice, there was an awful lot of shouting, but at least a plan was offered to help at least some people get out of their RVs and into permanent housing.

This morning, the issue exploded again. This time literally. At 9 AM, an RV caught fire in a bank parking lot just off of Lincoln Blvd., where it had been parked overnight. The fire was so intense, it melted the plastic off of a nearby vehicle and seriously damaged a wood fence that separated the lot from a residential property.

Since the fire was near my house, I went over to see what happened and to take some photos. This is what I found:

Behind Chase bank at the corner of Lincoln and Millwood.

The vehicle next to the RV and a wood fence were heavily damaged in the fire.

The self-identified owner, Robert W_______ told fire investigators at the scene the blaze started inside the camper due to faulty wiring. Robert claimed he had only bought the camper the day before, although reports from neighbors place the vehicle in the area for the last several weeks months.

The fire was so intense, it partially melted the vehicle parked 10 feet away.

A parking sign was also heavily damaged.

The RV was an old Econoline model.

A partially burned book.

Thankfully, the propane tanks remained intact.

A curious neighbor inspects the damage.

While we were there, another RV pulled up to the scene.

There was at least one small child in the RV.

Fire inspectors talk to a witness who was there when the blaze started.

Self-styled homeless "activist" Peggy Kennedy documents the scene. Peggy has been a fixture in the Venice homeless community for years, but social service agencies won't work with her since she often advices her "clients" to turn down help if it means entering programs with rules and fixed schedules. When I first arrived, she was telling anyone who would listen that the fire was likely arson, claiming RV residents had been threatened in the past. However, the owner of the RV quickly contradicted her, stating unequivocally the fire started inside the van.

Robert W_________ talks to fire inspectors.

Robert gets a hug from a waitress who worked next door. He escaped in just his shorts, but someone from the Methodist Church down the street gave him a clean shirt and a pair of shoes. Everything else he owned burned up in the van. The woman handed him a small wad of cash, her tips from the day before.

All that was left of Robert's ID, a partially burned passport. When asked for his address, Robert told them he used an address on Hampton, St. Joseph's Center. Asked if he had someplace to go, he said no, that's why he had the camper.

A few final thoughts about what I saw today. I'm the first to admit I'm deeply conflicted about this issue. I felt for Robert, and was thankful he escaped uninjured, and that no one else was hurt. This was someone who appeared to just want to be left alone. He wasn't looking for a beach "lifestyle", he wasn't militant or political or strung out on drugs. Yesterday he had next to nothing. Today he had less.

But as a resident, I'm grateful that van wasn't parked anywhere near my home. And there are hundreds of fire traps like this all over Venice. Many parked on narrow residential streets.

That we live in a country where people are reduced to living in their vehicles is a tragedy. That the city and county haven't found a way to get these people off the streets and into permanent housing is worse. That we have self-styled "activists" like Peggy Kennedy who use the homeless to score political points, while at the same time we have major social service organizations in Venice that seem to provide the homeless little more than a PO Box, is insane.