Friday, December 14, 2012

God Forbid We Talk About Gun Control

Young children wait outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin

As I write this, AP is reporting 27 people were killed - 18 of them children - by one or more heavily armed gunmen who entered their Newtown, Connecticut Elementary school and began firing at students and school facilty.

But God forbid we talk about gun control.

If these reports hold, twice as many will have died today than in Columbine 13 years ago. In the interim, Americans now own over 300 million guns - one for nearly every man, woman, child and baby in this country.

But God forbid we talk about gun control. 

Eight states now allow firearms in bars. In Missouri it's even legal to carry a gun while intoxicated, and fire it, if acting in "self-defense." Kansas lets you carry concealed weapons in grade schools, and Louisiana allows them in houses of worship. Virginia repealed a law requiring handgun vendors to submit sales records and ordered the records they already had destroyed.

But God forbid we talk about gun control.

What's it going to take folks? What's it going to take to make our cowardly politicians stand up to the NRA and to gun manufacturers who profit off the death of young children?

If a classroom full of dead kids won't shock our country into action, I don't know what will. Or does a gunman have to shove a semi-automatic pistol up the uterus of a pregnant woman and pull the trigger before that happens?

The President responds.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Protesters Deliver Over 21K Signatures Demanding Villaraigosa Resign From Fix the Debt


In a sign that progressive push-back against Los Angeles Mayor Villariagosa's membership in the right-wing "Fix The Debt" lobbying group isn't abating, activists from MoveOn.org and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee delivered over 21,000 signatures to LA City Hall this afternoon demanding Villariagosa resign from the group's steering committee.

"They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," said Richard Eskow, a blogger for the Campaign for America's Future.

"The primary agenda for these folks is to lower taxes for millionaires, billionaires and corporations," he said.

In a scathing Huffington Post article about the Campaign To Fix the Debt's agenda, Eskow was even more blunt, "Let's be clear: This crowd doesn't really care about deficits. It never has. It's an anti-tax group which pursues its goals by fighting to downsize government programs and "reform" the Internal Revenue code.  Its natural allies are the Republican Party, the nation's mega-corporations, and billionaires."

Angela Garcia Combs with petitions
Besides MoveOn.org and the PCCC, the Calfornia-based Courage Campaign has also called on Villaraigosa to resign from the group.

"The so-called 'Campaign to Fix the Debt' is nothing more than a front group to protect tax cuts for the wealthy while balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and elderly," said founder Rick Jacobs.  "The fact that Mayor Villaragosa, or any other Democrat that claims to want to protect Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, would join this effort is nothing short of shameful....Mayor Villaragosa should resign immediately."

Last week, Villaraigosa defended his decision to join fix the debt. "I am a Democrat and a progressive, but you know what? The country is evenly divided.  They won too," Villaraigosa told CNN, referring to Republican lawmakers.

Angela Garcia Combs, a native Angeleno and former volunteer for the Mayor who started the petition, said she decided to deliver the signatures today after staff from Villaraigosa's office told her it would take at least three months to schedule an appointment.

She promised today's action wouldn't be the end of it. "Any Politician that calls themselves a Democrat, Progressive, Centrist, Bipartisan, we are putting you on notice too. We are coming after you if you join this group," said Combs.

"Joining the Steering committee of Fix the Debt is like saying I'm joining the steering committee of the Titanic to help all those poor people in the water."

On Facebook, Villaraigosa again defended his membership in Fix the Debt, attempting to clarify his position on so-called 'entitlement reform'.

"Let me be very clear: I oppose the privatization of Social Security. I oppose turning Medicare into voucher care," said Villaraigosa. "I oppose dismantling Medicaid. I support letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the top 2%."

However, a spokesman for the Mayor's office told KPCC Villaraigosa was open to raising the retirement age for Social Security and other federal benefits.



More photos from today's action below the fold.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Courage Campaign Calls On Villaraigosa To Resign From Fix The Debt



As the petition calling on Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to resign from Fix the Debt approaches 13,000 signatures, progressive organizations in California are starting to weigh in.

Most notably, the 750,000-member California Courage Campaign announced this afternoon they would be joining in the effort to pressure Villaraigosa to distance himself from the right-wing lobbying group.

"The so-called 'Campaign to Fix the Debt' is nothing more than a front group to protect tax cuts for the wealthy while balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and elderly," said founder Rick Jacobs in a press release this afternoon.  "The fact that Mayor Villaragosa, or any other Democrat that claims to want to protect Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, would join this effort is nothing short of shameful. Villaragosa should spend his time focusing on the needs of Los Angeles not working as a front man for corporate CEOs looking to protect their tax cuts. Mayor Villaragosa should resign immediately."

Despite intense media scrutiny, Villaraigosa seemed unfazed by the efforts.

"I am a Democrat and a progressive, but you know what? The country is evenly divided.  They won too," Villaraigosa told CNN, referring to Republican lawmakers

Watch the video.

CA Teetering On the Edge of The Fiscal Cliff: Garamendi and Villaraigosa Offer Starkly Different Visions

When it comes to the co-called Fiscal Cliff, the approach of two California Progressive Politicians couldn't be more different.

While Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa continues to defend his association with the right-wing lobbying group Campaign To Fix the Debt, CA Congressman John Garamendi had a far stronger message for our most vulnerable Californians.

"I'm not willing to solve the fiscal cliff by throwing seniors over the cliff."

In an op-ed published at Calitics, Garamendi strongly defended the social safety net and made no bones about how it's Republicans who want to use the current budget negotiations in DC to shred it.

I want to vote for a comprehensive bipartisan plan to address the fiscal cliff. I'm willing to take a tough vote. I'm willing to make sacrifices. I'm willing to feel the heat. But I'm not willing to solve the fiscal cliff by throwing seniors over the cliff. I draw the line at cutting benefits in Medicare and Social Security.

This week, House Republicans unveiled their fiscal cliff counter-proposal. While they continue to call for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, they propose offsetting this cost by gutting Medicare benefits, including raising the age of Medicare eligibility to 67. I won't go there. As California's Insurance Commissioner for eight years, I know this would be horrible policy, throwing millions of seniors into the rapacious hands of an insurance industry interested only in profits for its shareholders.

Medicare is a promise we made to seniors more than four decades ago. When President Johnson signed Medicare into law, one in three seniors lived in poverty. Half of seniors had no health coverage at all. Today, less than one in ten seniors live in poverty and almost all have guaranteed access to affordable coverage. With medical expenses as high as they are, that's a remarkable improvement, and we have Medicare and Social Security principally to thank for it.

Contrast this with Villaraigosa, who told CNN "I am a Democrat and a progressive, but you know what? The country is evenly divided. They won too," Villaraigosa said. "We've got to work together."

The petition to demand Villaraigosa step down from the Campaign to Fix The Debt is up to 11, 545 signatures as of noon today. If you haven't already signed it, go to this link.




Wednesday, December 5, 2012

BREAKING: Villaraigosa Defends Membership In "Fix the Debt" As Online Petition Calling On Him To Resign Reaches Over 8K Signatures

Tonight LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa defended his decision to join The Campaign to Fix the Debt even as an online petition demanding he resign from its steering committee reached over 8,000 signatures.

"As a progressive Democrat, I joined the Campaign to Fix the Debt because Democrats and Republicans need to come together to find a balanced approach to our fiscal future," Villaraigosa said in a statement to the LA Times. "There are tough decisions ahead and the only way that we are going to find long-term solutions is by stepping out of our ideological boxes and reaching out to a broader coalition to get something done"

The Institute for Policy Studies has called Fix the Debt a 'Trojan Horse for massive corporate tax breaks'.  Scott Klinger, who wrote the IPS report critical of the lobby group said, "They're simply taking advantage of the so-called 'fiscal cliff' to push the same old agenda of more corporate tax breaks while shifting costs onto the poor and elderly."

Founded by deficit hawks Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson (co-chairs of Erksine/Bowles 2010 deficit-reduction commission) the Campaign to Fix the Debt claims to be a "bipartisan" interest group, yet touts the very Republican "core principles" of keeping tax rates low for the wealthy while slashing Social Security and Medicare.


Klinger's report paints a stark picture of what Villaraigosa has signed up to defend:
  • Make permanent the Bush tax cuts for the top 2%.
  • Cut corporate tax rates and shifting to a “territorial tax system” that would permanently exempt from U.S. taxes all offshore income earned by U.S. corporations.
  • “Reforming” earned-benefit programs by raising the retirement age and means-testing Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security benefits.
In only 24 hours, over 8,000 people have signed on to a petition begun by a former Villaraigosa campaign volunteer demanding he resign.

"As somebody who volunteered and knocked on doors to help elect for Mayor Villaraigosa, I feel disappointed and betrayed, " states Angela Garcia Combs in the petition. "As former chair of the Democratic National Convention, it is inappropriate that Villaraigosa use his position to help this corporate backed group gut Social Security and Medicare, which many of us will need someday."

The politically ambitious Villaraigosa is termed out of office in 2013, and has made noises he wants to run for Governor of California in 2014.

But by signing on as a progressive "beard" for corporate interests, he'll be on the wrong side of the "core principles" of another interest group. Namely the coalition of working Californians, public sector unions, and progressive organizations fighting for economic justice who've traditionally backed Villaraigosa.

The LA Weekly immediately picked up on Villaraigosa's hypocrisy when they ran with the story yesterday afternoon.
Set aside for the moment the balls required for Villaraigosa to pretend to be a deficit hawk. His handling of L.A.'s municipal finances is a matter of record.

Let's instead look more closely at the "balanced approach" advocated by Fix the Debt, especially its "pro-growth" tax reform ideas. What counts as "pro-growth"? Well, any reform that "broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues, and reduces the deficit."

Wait wait wait, go back. Lowers rates? Is this a deficit-cutting plan or a tax-cutting plan? Let's turn it over to Paul Krugman
That last part makes no sense in terms of the group's ostensible mission, but makes perfect sense if you look at the array of big corporations, from Goldman Sachs to the UnitedHealth Group, that are involved in the effort and would benefit from tax cuts. Hey, sacrifice is for the little people.

In the same vein, Matt Yglesias argues at Slate that Fix the Debt is not really that concerned about fixing the debt: "What they believe in, instead, is the overwhelming importance of rate-cutting tax reform and reduced spending on retirement programs."

You'd think that Antonio Villaraigosa, an ostensible liberal, would want to pay attention to those voices. Evidently not.

Perhaps he will if we all shout a bit louder.  Click on this link to sign the petition

Backlash Against Villaraigosa and "Fix The Debt" Reaches Critical Mass

After "Venice For Change" broke the story that "progressive" Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would be joining the Campaign to Fix the Debt - a high-profile lobbying group whose "core principles" include keeping tax rates low for the wealthy while slashing Social Security and Medicare - backlash over Villaraigosa's involvement seems to be reaching the boiling point.

In less than 24 hours, over 5,000 Angelenos have signed on to a petition begun by a former Villaraigosa campaign volunteer demanding he resign.

"As somebody who volunteered and knocked on doors to help elect for Mayor Villaraigosa, I feel disappointed and betrayed, " states Angela Garcia Combs in the petition. "As former chair of the Democratic National Convention, it is inappropriate that Villaraigosa use his position to help this corporate backed group gut Social Security and Medicare, which many of us will need someday."

(You can sign the petition here.)

The Institute for Policy Studies has called Fix the Debt a 'Trojan Horse for massive corporate tax breaks'.  Scott Klinger, who wrote the IPS report critical of the lobby group said, "They're simply taking advantage of the so-called 'fiscal cliff' to push the same old agenda of more corporate tax breaks while shifting costs onto the poor and elderly."

The LA Weekly immediately picked up on Villaraigosa's hypocrisy when they ran with the story yesterday afternoon.
Set aside for the moment the balls required for Villaraigosa to pretend to be a deficit hawk. His handling of L.A.'s municipal finances is a matter of record.

Let's instead look more closely at the "balanced approach" advocated by Fix the Debt, especially its "pro-growth" tax reform ideas. What counts as "pro-growth"? Well, any reform that "broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues, and reduces the deficit."

Wait wait wait, go back. Lowers rates? Is this a deficit-cutting plan or a tax-cutting plan? Let's turn it over to Paul Krugman
 
That last part makes no sense in terms of the group's ostensible mission, but makes perfect sense if you look at the array of big corporations, from Goldman Sachs to the UnitedHealth Group, that are involved in the effort and would benefit from tax cuts. Hey, sacrifice is for the little people.

In the same vein, Matt Yglesias argues at Slate that Fix the Debt is not really that concerned about fixing the debt: "What they believe in, instead, is the overwhelming importance of rate-cutting tax reform and reduced spending on retirement programs."

You'd think that Antonio Villaraigosa, an ostensible liberal, would want to pay attention to those voices. Evidently not.

Perhaps he will if we all shout a bit louder.  Click on this link to sign the petition

CD11 Candidate Mike Bonin Releases New Video, "I Believe In Los Angeles"

If you follow this blog, you already know I'm supporting Mike Bonin to be our next representative in LA City Hall for CD11.

With the release of Mike's first video, which I produced for his campaign, now you'll know why.

Titled, "I Believe In Los Angeles", Mike introduces himself to the voters of CD11 by sharing his personal story and his vision to move Los Angeles forward.

Have a look, then check out Mike's website at www.mikebonin.com

Mike Bonin 2013 "I Believe In Los Angeles" from Mike Bonin on Vimeo.

 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Villariagosa Partners With Wall Street To Throw Californians Off The "Fiscal Cliff"

Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

The last time Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made national headlines he looked like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming semi as the Democratic National Convention he chaired descended into chaos.

This time he's making national headlines for joining the steering committee of "Fix the Debt", a high-profile lobbying group whose "core principles" include keeping tax rates low for the wealthy while slashing Social Security and Medicare.  Founded by deficit hawks Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson (co-chairs of Erksine/Bowles 2010 deficit-reduction commission) the Campaign to Fix the Debt claims to be a "bipartisan" interest group, and is trying to influence ongoing fiscal cliff budget negotiations taking place in Washington D.C. right now.

"If we're serious about long-term economic growth, we need a balanced approach for reducing the federal debt," said Villaraigosa in a press release. "That approach should include spending cuts, raising revenue and reforms that put our entitlement programs on a sustainable footing. The Campaign to Fix the Debt is dedicated to reminding all Americans that we can't reduce the debt and create the conditions for long-term job creation without working across party lines to find practical solutions."

If you want to know what some of those "practical solutions" Villaraigosa will be lobbying for might look like, follow the money.  Fix The Debt's $42 million war-chest is funded almost exclusively by Big Business CEO's notorious for underfunding their employee's pension plans, Wall Street executives who support privatizing Social Security, and virulent anti-tax lobbyists. 

"These CEOs paint a stark picture of hypocrisy," said Scott Klinger of the Institute for Policy Studies, who co-authored a report which called Fix the Debt a 'Trojan Horse for massive corporate tax breaks'. 

"They're simply taking advantage of the so-called 'fiscal cliff' to push the same old agenda of more corporate tax breaks while shifting costs onto the poor and elderly."

Klinger's report paints a stark picture of what Villaraigosa has signed up to defend:

  • Make permanent the Bush tax cuts for the top 2%.
  • Cut corporate tax rates and shifting to a “territorial tax system” that would permanently exempt from U.S. taxes all offshore income earned by U.S. corporations.
  • “Reforming” earned-benefit programs by raising the retirement age and means-testing Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security benefits.

The politically ambitious Villaraigosa is termed out of office in 2013, and is no doubt fishing around for his next gig.  With limited options in California, perhaps he thinks The Campaign to Fix the Debt will burnish his national profile and launch him into a cabinet position with the Obama administration. 

Perhaps. But by signing on as a progressive "beard" for corporate interests, he'll be on the wrong side of this fight in the eyes of the coalition of working Angelenos, public sector unions, and progressive organizations fighting for economic justice who've traditionally backed Villaraigosa.

"Fix the Debt is a creature of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and the Wall Street Engineers of the the economic crisis we elected Barack Obama to get us out of, " said Rick Jacobs,  founder of the California Courage Campaign.  "I hope the President will pay attention to the voters and not those who put us into this mess."


UPDATE: Villaraigosa's constituents have gathered nearly 4,000 signatures in the last 24 hours demanding he resign from Fix the Debt. You can sign the petition at this link.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Robert Downey Jr. Lights Up Venice

Venice Holiday Sign Lighting



I love Venice during the holidays.

As the days get shorter, if you can float it, light it, sing to it, drink to it, or set it on fire (sometimes all at once) Venetians will do it to celebrate whatever winter holiday we care to acknowledge.

And so it was last night. For the first time in a hundred years, the historic Venice sign display at Windward and Pacific was lit with red-and-green colored bulbs to welcome the holiday season. 

Conceived by Venice restaurateur Daniel Samakow, the Inaugural Venice Holiday Sign Lighting and Windward Crawl featured performances by Suzy Williams, Brad Kay, Jeremy Parker, Rachel Toczko, the Band Venice and the Jingle Bell Rockers, followed by the ceremonial flip of the switch by Councilman Bill Rosendahl and actor and Venice resident Robert Downey, Jr.

Attendees were encouraged to bring new, unwrapped children's toys to benefit "The Muscle Beach Toy Drive", a Venice tradition sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division. Police will distribute the toys to Westside families on December 15th (for more information on how to donate, click on this link)





Here are my photos from the evening

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Butler Didn't Do It

UPDATE


So, what does abandoning constituents after only 14 months on the job, stacking the California Democratic Party's endorsement caucuses with delegates from as far away as Yolo County, months of arm-twisting by the the Speaker of the Assembly, 35,000 Mexican-made plastic baby bottles, and upwards of $2 million to defeat a fellow a Democrat buy you?

Turns out, not much.


With vote counting nearly complete, the new tally appears to spell defeat for Butler, who is finishing her first term in the Assembly and was backed by Assembly Speaker John A. Perez for the newly drawn district.

Parke Skelton, Butler's campaign consultant, said only that "it doesn't look very good, obviously." "The trend is certainly going very strong against Betsy," Skelton said.

Bloom said he is not sure how many votes are left to count. The day began with about 150,000 remaining countywide, but Bloom estimated that only 5,000 to 10,000 of them were from the 50th Assembly District.

Today's updating of the Bloom-Butler race reflected 4,412 ballots counted since Friday.




California does not have a required mandate for automatic recounts. Under CA election law, any registered voter may request a recount. But that privilege comes with a considerable financial burden, namely the full cost of conducting one.

So far no word yet from the Speaker's office or the CDP if they'll be seeking a recount of the AD50 election should Bloom be declared the winner.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Luke Russert Is An Idiot

Watch Luke Russert, the under-aged nepotistic NBC reporter-son of the late Tim Russert, ask Nancy Pelosi if she's "too old" to function as House Minority leader - a question he's never asked of Pelosi's male counterpart in the Senate, 70 year-old Mitch McConnell.

Somebody take this kid out and spank him.

So Who Voted To Reelect Barack Obama?

You'd be surprised. The electoral map below shows who, where, and in what concentrations, voters cast their ballots for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney (click on this link to see the high resolution version)
  Election2012


What's instructive is to see how blue-purple the electoral map really is. Even in "solid" Red States such as Texas, Idaho, Alabama (even Utah) Obama received high concentrations of votes in many areas of the states he didn't ultimately win, especially in suburban and urban areas.

What this tells us is the pendulum has swung - and hard - from the 2010 mid-term elections.

Remember that the next time Right Wing pundits try to convince you Democrats don't have a mandate coming out of the November 6th election.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mark Ryavec Quietly Withdraws From CD11 Council Race

Citing lackluster community and fundraising support, Venice resident Mark Ryavec quietly announced on his website yesterday that he would withdraw from CD11 race.


When I decided to enter this race I thought that I would be running against Councilman Bill Rosendahl.  He appeared to be confident that he would recover from the cancer that he was battling and run for a third term.  
In the end, as we have seen, he has continued to improve but also made the prudent decision to focus on his health and not run.  
In very short order, Bill endorsed his deputy Mike Bonin and Bonin immediately announced his candidacy, released the names of a whole passel of campaign co-chairs and endorsements from senior Democratic party elected officials and then reported that he had raised over $50,000 in nine days.  
As a former political consultant myself, I have to say, "Well played, Mike." 
Still, I was inclined to stay in the race if I could secure adequate funds to be competitive.  Working with a talented political consultant who recently piloted a candidate to office in the 15th LA councilmanic seat, we developed an initial budget and worked to meet that budget.  Unfortunately, though I raised about $25,000 in three weeks, it was significantly short of my goal and the amount Bonin has raised.  It appeared to me that it was unlikely that I would be able to catch up.

The deadline to file for the open City Council seat is November 10th.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Boots On The Ground: A Photo Diary From The First Day Of CA2NV GOTV In Las Vegas, Nevada

CA2NV Day 2-39 

 A thousand of us came from California this weekend, descending on Las Vegas and Reno, putting boots on the ground to get out the vote for Barack Obama.

I'm too tired, sunburned and foot-sore to write much about what happened today except to say I know we're making a difference. Whether it's directing people to the right polling places, convincing reluctant voters to do the right thing or leading by example for all the young kids who watch us as we canvass their apartment complexes, I know we're making a diffence.

You can make a difference too. I don't care if that means you fnd a phone bank, talk to your neighbors, or just bring a friend with you to the polls.

 But just do it. The country you save will be your own.


 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Put Your Boots On The Ground This Weekend For South Bay Assembly Candidate Al Muratsuchi


If you read this blog, you already know that Torrance prosecutor, Al Muratsuchi, the Democratic candidate for state Assembly District 66, is facing a tough race against Tea Party Republican Craig Huey.  The CA Republican Party and the Koch brothers have invested over a million dollars in this race and Democratic leadership in Sacramento didn't respond in kind until after the June primary.

But polling shows the race is very winnable for Al, but only if we can put boots on the ground and fight back with people power. Lace up your shoes, folks, and do some walking this weekend!

Saturday, November 3rd 10am to 7pm 
Sunday, November 4th - 11am to 8pm 
Monday, November 5th - 11am to 8pm 
ELECTION DAY November 6th - 10am to 8pm 
(when the polls close) 

Muratsuchi Campaign Headquarters 
628 Cravens Ave, Torrance, CA 90501 


 RSVP to Miguel at Miguel@alforassembly.com, or Kasey at Kasey@alforassembly.com or call Campaign Headquarters at (310) 781-3041

Monday, October 29, 2012

Obama Campaign Uses Email List To Direct Supporters To FEMA and The American Red Cross

With hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast, the Obama campaign is using their massive campaign email list to direct supporters to FEMA and the American Red Cross.

This is a serious storm, but we are going to do what it takes to keep people safe and secure, and make sure the communities affected get the assistance they need. FEMA is working with state and local governments to respond effectively. We all owe a debt of thanks to the first responders who will be dealing with the immediate impact of the storm.

If you live in the storm's path, please listen to state and local authorities about where and how to take shelter and stay safe -- and encourage your friends and family to do the same. If you are asked to evacuate, please take that seriously.

For more information on how to prepare for this storm, visit Ready.gov.

And if you'd like to find out how to support relief efforts where they're needed most, please visit the Red Cross or your local relief organization:

http://my.barackobama.com/Red-Cross

Michelle and I are keeping everyone in the affected areas in our thoughts and prayers. Be safe.

Barack
The my.barackobama.com link listed in the email completely bypasses the Obama campaign website landing page, taking supporters directly to the Red Cross disaster relief fundraising page instead.

Although the size of Obama's email list is a closely guarded secret, it's been estimated to have between 13-15 million subscribers.


Friday, October 26, 2012

All Hands On Deck! We Need Your Help To Get Out The Vote!

Folks, this election isn't going to be decided by the polls, it's going to be decided by people who show up at the polls. Already early voting has started in critical swing states like Ohio and Nevada. So we need all hands on deck to get out the vote between now and Tuesday, November 6th.

Below, I've compiled a comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities both locally and in Nevada (only an one-hour plane ride away!)

Whether it's a couple hours of phone banking for local candidates or putting the boots on the ground in Vegas for Obama GOTV weekend, we need you to do something, anything to help make sure Republicans don't take the White House and unravel every hard-earned victory from the past 4 years.





JOIN LA COUNCILMAN ERIC GARCETTI FOR GOTV WEEKEND IN LAS VEGAS
Eric Garcetti is organizing a Nevada get out the vote operation in the last weekend before the election. Free transportation to and from Las Vegas and free lodging will be provided to those who can commit the weekend before Election Day to this important effort.

Here's how it works:

Friday, November 2: Meet in Los Angeles (approx 5:30pm, location TBD) and depart in vans for Las Vegas.

Saturday, November 3: Spend the day walking precincts and calling voters. In the evening, join Eric and your fellow campaign workers for social events.

Sunday, November 4: Spend the morning doing GOTV work. Depart for Los Angeles in the afternoon.

Lodging will be provided for both Friday and Saturday nights.

Click HERE to sign up.

_______________________________________________________________________

PHONE BANK FOR OBAMA THIS WEEKEND
All the call centers listed below are open 9am-9pm Saturday and Sunday to call battleground states all over the country to ensure voters are ready for election day. Please bring cell phones and chargers if you have them.


Santa Monica OFA-CA Office
1408 Third Street, Santa Monica

Culver Studios
9336 West Washington Blvd, Culver City

Crenshaw OFA CA Office
5444 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles

Mid-City Phone Bank Rally Center
1904 5th Avenue, Los Angeles

Hawthorne Staging Location
11540 Hawthorne Blvd, Hawthorne

Inglewood Staging Location
8467 Van Ness Avenue, Inglewood

Sunset Gower Studios
6040 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood

LA South Bay GOTV Staging Location
1810 Grant Ave #1, Redondo Beach

North Hollywood GOTV Staging Location - UAW Local 887
731 North Hollywood Way, Burbank

SELA OFA CA Office
1167 E. Florence Av, Los Angeles

OFA California - Carson Phonebank Rally Center
603 E University Dr, Carson

_________________________________________________________________________

PHONE BANK AND PRECINCT WALK FOR AD66 CANDIDATE AL MURATSUCHI
Al Muratsuchi, the Democratic candidate state Assembly District 66, is facing a tough race against Tea Party Republican Craig Huey. The CA Republican Party and the Koch brothers have invested over a million dollars in this race. Let's fight back with people power!

Precinct Walk
Saturday, October 27 10am to 2pm
Muratsuchi Campaign Headquarters
1628 Cravens Ave, Torrance, CA 90501

Phone Bank
Sunday, October 28 1pm-4pm and 5pm-8:15pm & Monday - Thursday 5pm-9pm
Muratsuchi Campaign Headquarters
1628 Cravens Ave, Torrance, CA 90501

RSVP to Miguel at Miguel@alforassembly.com, or Kasey at Kasey@alforassembly.com or call Campaign Headquarters at (310) 781-3041

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Speaker John Perez Still Prioritizing Safe Incumbents Over Reaching A 2/3rds Marjority In The CA Assembly (UPDATED)

Assembly Speaker
John Perez
After an afternoon of headache-induced number-crunching I hoped I'd have better news to report today, but it appears Speaker Perez and Sacramento Democrats are still prioritizing the reelection of safe incumbents over achieving a two-thirds super majority in the California Assembly.

Democrats currently enjoy a majority in both the Assembly and the State Senate, but would have to pick up at least two more seats in each chamber to achieve the super-majority needed to pass revenue increases over the objections of an obstructionist Republican minority.

Yet campaign finance reports reveal that Speaker Perez, Sacramento Democratic lawmakers and state and county Democratic campaign committees have spent nearly half a million dollars more defending two safe democratic seats this election cycle than they have in defending a Los Angeles coastal district against a possible Tea Party takeover.

Mike Allen
In the 10th Assembly District (Marin, D+35) Sacramento Democrats donated $925K to Mike Allen, an incumbent Assembly member who moved into the open district when his existing district was carved up and reapportioned.  Mr. Allen's opponent is Marc Levine, a fellow Democrat.

In the 50th Assembly district (Santa Monica, D+33), Sacramento Democrats donated $601K to Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, who moved north to the Democratic stronghold after redistricting meant she'd have to run in the new, more conservative 66th Assembly district (Torrance, D+3). Like Allen, Butler is running against Democratic challenger (Santa Monica Mayor, Richard Bloom).

In the South Bay, Torrance School Board member Al Muratsuchi became the Democratic candidate for AD66 after Betsy Butler left the district.  Election experts consider the race highly competitive for Republicans, giving them the best opportunity in two decades to pick up a seat in that area.

Betsy Butler
Before the June primary, few Sacramento Democrats, including both John Perez and Betsy Butler had made any financial contributions to Muratsuchi, forcing the candidate to loan his campaign $45,000 to defend the new South Bay Assembly seat against two Tea Party candidates, Nathan Mintz, who ran and lost a close race against Butler in 2010, and Craig Huey, who ran an unsuccessful $500,000 self-financed congressional campaign against Janice Hahn last year.

After the June primary however, Sacramento finally began investing in Muratsuchi's campaign, donating $967K to help defeat opponent Craig Huey. Clearly,  a huge improvement, but is it enough? The most recent campaign finance reports show Muratsuchi and Huey have are neck and neck in the amount of cash they both have on hand.

Eric Bauman, Vice-Chair of the California Democratic Party, says the AD66 race is the party's "number one" priority. And if you compare these three races in isolation, that statement is correct.

AD66 candidate
Al Muratsuc
The bigger problem, however, is Perez and Sacramento Democrats aren't making a two-thirds majority their "number one" priority at all. Not when they're spending $500K more on two absolutely safe Democratic seats than they are to defend a competitive swing-district seat that could fall under Republican control.








UPDATE

Sacramento responds. Steve Maviglio is a Democratic political consultant for John Perez,  former Deputy Chief of Staff to Speakers Karen Bass and Fabian Nunez, and former press secretary to Gov. Gray Davis.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Strangest Email I've Received From A Candidate......Ever

So, a little background first.

If you read this blog - or pay attention to LA City politics at all - you know that Bill Rosendahl's decision not to run for reelection for the CD11 Council seat has created an election "vacuum" of sorts, with several candidates - most prominently Rosendahl's Chief of Staff, Mike Bonin - rushing to file before the November 10th deadline.

This is my home district. And as a political blogger, this creates an odd situation for me. See, I personally know two of the candidates, Bonin and Venice resident Marc Ryavec.

Now I like Mr. Ryavec just fine, having worked with him over the years on several issues affecting our neighborhoods, but I'm supporting Mike Bonin for the seat.

I'll post more on why I'm supporting Bonin at a later date, but for now I wanted to share something else.

After I expressed concern on a local Venice email listserve about keeping the CD11 campaign a positive one, I received a response from Mark Ryavec in the form of a press release and photos touting the endorsements of actors Ed Begley, Jr. and James Garner.

No big deal, except......well........the note he sent with the press release is the weirdest email I've ever received from any candidate running for any elected office......ever.

Without further comment, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mark Ryavec, candidate for CD11.


photo of Jim Garner that Mark Ryavec sent
Hi Marta,

I couldn't resist.  Is this positive enough for you?

I'll take Ed Begley and James Garner over Mark Gold
[Heal the Bay] any day. They're even better than Herb Wesson and Karen Bass.  Compare their "Qs".  You're in the industry and you know that most of Mike's endorsers don't rate - compared to a legendary Hollywood star like James Garner, who is especially popular with older voters, and an environmental hero like Ed Begley.

Ed and Jim will look great on the mail.  Maybe Ed will do robo calls.

I'm having so much fun with this, meeting so many people, learning so much, Mike could raise a million dollars and I wouldn't drop out.  I have the strong incentive to stay in the race to represent those residents to whom Mike (and Bill) have perennially turned their backs.  For example, he knows what we want done on the Boardwalk and on 3rd Avenue, but he won't do it.  Residents can't sleep at night, the bike thefts, car break-ins and the vandalism just go on and on, and Mike takes the side of the crustie punks. (BTW, there's a website by that name and that's who makes up the bulk of the campers on the Boardwalk and on 3rd Avenue these days.)

You're doing a credible job of spinning for Mike; I'm sorry you're not on my side.

Cheers,

Mark

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Venice For Change California Voting Guide Is Here!




OK, folks, it's that time of year again! Remember, if you don't vote, you can't bitch :) But first, a bit of housekeeping.

You are registered to vote at your current address, aren't you? AREN'T YOU!?

If not, you're in luck! You have until Monday, October 22nd to register to vote. And thanks to our amazing CA Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, you can now register to vote ONLINE!

Just go to this link and fill out your information: https://rtv.sos.ca.gov/elections/register-to-vote/

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get on with the show, shall we?


ELECTED OFFICE



President:
BARACK OBAMA
Vice President:
JOSEPH BIDEN
US Senator:
DIANNE FEINSTEIN


US Representative:
CD26 - JULIA BROWNLEY
CD33 - HENRY WAXMAN
CD44 - JANICE HAHN
CD47 - ALAN LOWENTHAL


CA State Assembly: 
AD50 - RICHARD BLOOM 
AD62 - STEVEN BRADFORD 
AD66 - AL MURATSUCHI 


CA State Senate: 
SD05 - CATHLEEN GALGIANI  
SD19 - HANNAH-BETH JACKSON 
SC27 - FRAN PAVLEY 

                                                             LA County District Attorney
JACKIE LACEY 



BALLOT INITIATIVES (STATE) 


PROP 30 - YES 
PROP 31 - NO 
PROP 32 - BIG FAT NO!!!!!! 
PROP 33 - NO 
PROP 34 - YES 
PROP 35 - YES 
PROP 36 - YES 
PROP 37 - YES 
PROP 38 - NO 
PROP 39 - YES 
PROP 40 - YES 
 
BALLOT INITIATIVES (LA COUNTY)

MEASURE A - NO   
MEASURE B - YES 
MEASURE J - YES 
 



For other endorsement sources, click on the links below



Calitics.com

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

BREAKING: Mike Bonin, Rosendahl's Chief-of-Staff, Formally Announces He's Running For LA City Council


Coming on the heels of Bill Rosendahl's announcement he would not be seeking reelection for the LA City Council due to health issues, Mike Bonin, Rosendahl's chief-of-staff, formally entered the race to replace him today.

“It has been my honor to work with Bill Rosendahl as he fought for our Westside neighborhoods and for positive change for Los Angeles,” Bonin said in a press release.  “I am determined to continue Bill's tradition of community empowerment and creative problem-solving.”

“Bill is a friend, a mentor, and an inspiration,” Bonin said. “His conscience, his boundless optimism, and his passion for serving our neighborhoods has set a gold standard for what it means to be a servant of the people.”

Rosendahl endorsed Bonin yesterday when he made the announcement to bow out of the race.

“On every issue that is important to this district, Mike has been a leader,” Rosendahl said.  “On police hiring, modernizing LAX, and building mass transit, Mike was there and engaged.  When it came to improving our parks, balancing the budget, and housing the homeless, Mike was involved at every step.  Mike Bonin has the heart, the smarts, and the guts to be the voice of this district on the City Council.”

Bonin's campaign also announced endorsements from LA City Councleman Herb Wesson and UNITE HERE Local 11. Former State Senator Sheila Kuehl and Steve Soboroff were named as campaign co-chairs.

In making the announcement, Bonin listed his priorities for the district: job creation, mass transit, affordable housing, making neighborhoods more liveable through increased green space and alternative transportation; and using technology to help reform city government.

“Los Angeles is a city of unparalleled talent, vision, and resources,” Bonin said.  “Our city government needs to be as smart and as creative as our people.  Working together, we can grow our economy, green our environment, keep our streets safe and clean, and make Los Angeles a city of vital neighborhoods.” 

Bonin has served in senior posts with Rosendahl, U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, and Councilmember Ruth Galanter. He currently serves as an alternate member of the Board of Directors of the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority.  He is also co-founder of Camp Courage, a training program for community organizers seeking the freedom to marry for the LGBT community.

A longtime resident of Venice, Mike lives in Mar Vista with his partner, Sean Arian, a policy expert in economic development and green jobs creation. 

At least two other candidates have announced they'll run to fill the open seat - Westchester teacher Odysseus Bostick and Venice resident Mark Ryavec.

"I'm looking forward to a vigorous debate," said Ryavec. "Mike and I have been on opposite sides of several of the issues. We'll have plenty of time to explore those as the campaign goes forward."






Monday, October 8, 2012

BREAKING: LA Councilman Bill Rosendahl Announces He Won't Run For Reelection

I'm sad to have to report today that LA Councilman Bill Rosendahl will not be running for a third term.

In a statement to be sent out to constituents tomorrow, Rosendahl said it was time to "pass the baton", then endorsed his longtime Chief of Staff, Mike Bonin  as the candidate he hoped would succeed him in next June's election.

"With Mike ready to fill my shoes, I can step aside with confidence." Rosendahl, 67, stated.

Rosendahl has stage IV bone cancer, and although is reportedly responding well to treatment, has appeared recently in public using a walker, significantly thinner than he was in July when first diagnosed.

Since August, Mike Bonin has been the public face of Rosendahl's office, and was recently named as the alternate for Rosendahl on the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority board

Bonin told the LA Times he plans to officially declare his candidacy Tuesday.

Westchester teacher Odysseus Bostick and Venice resident Mark Ryavec have also announced their candidacy for Council District 11.

UPDATE: 

Here is Rosendahl's full statement:

Dear Friends,

As most of you have heard, a few months back I received the difficult news that I have cancer.  It was a shock but, like every challenge I have faced during my lifetime, I decided to meet it head on.  Right now, I’m receiving treatment and I’m determined to beat this thing and join the ranks of millions of other cancer survivors!

What I discovered in the days that followed my diagnosis is the reassuring fact that I’m not fighting this health crisis alone. Thousands of you have showered me with well wishes, prayers, phone calls, letters, visits, emails, Facebook posts, and more. I feel the love and support in every message that comes my way.  Those loving wishes have meant the world to me, and have given me strength.

When I took my oath of office on July 1st, 2005, I gave you my heartfelt commitment that I would fight the good fights with you.  Together, we made Los Angeles stronger and our communities safer by putting people first.  We jump-started modernization at LAX, creating thousands of jobs for our city, while protecting local residents from excessive airport impacts.  We laid the groundwork for a 21stCentury public transit system that will end historic LA gridlock by getting us out of our cars and reconnected to our neighbors in other parts of the city.  We funded and built permanent supportive housing and moved more than 100 people from streets to homes.  That’s real progress!

There is no question that we still face plenty of big issues, but we are doing better by thinking outside of the box and coming up with new approaches to tackle difficult problems. I promise you that I won’t stop getting things accomplished for you, for our neighborhoods, and for our city as long as I remain in office.

It is because of these accomplishments and the promise of many more to be realized that I have decided not to seek a third term as your councilman.

When I first ran for office my goal was to rebuild our local democracy by putting the PEOPLE back at the forefront of local government, and raising the voices of community residents above the big bucks of lobbyists and special interests.  I sought to empower neighborhoods by returning control over local decisions.  For seven and a half years, that philosophy has been the cornerstone of how I approach my responsibility as your councilman.

While this style of leadership isn’t nearly as common as it should be, I know that I share it with my dear friend and top adviser – Mike Bonin.  Mike has served as my chief deputy from the day I took office.  He has been a loyal public servant to the residents and businesses in CD 11 for over 16 years. That is why I’m endorsing Mike Bonin as Council District 11’s next Los Angeles City Councilmember.

On every issue that is important to this district, Mike has been a leader.  On police hiring, modernizing LAX, and building mass transit, Mike was there.  When it came to improving our parks, balancing the budget, and housing the homeless, Mike was there.  Mike Bonin has the heart, the smarts, and the guts to be the voice of this district on the City Council.

With Mike ready to fill my shoes, I can step aside with confidence, knowing the issues we have worked on and the vision that we share in rebuilding our local democracy will move forward without interruption, without hesitation, and with a genuine appreciation for the needs of this district and it's amazing constituency.

Please know that I don’t plan to fade away.  On the contrary, once I have beaten this cancer I plan to return to public affairs broadcasting on television or radio.  I want to create a space for honest and open dialogue on the important issues facing our city, our state, and our country; a space where people can finish their sentences, share their thoughts, and contribute in a positive way to the public discourse.

I am eternally thankful for the trust you have given me in electing me to represent you on issues that directly impact your lives, and the lives of your loved ones.  I look forward to serving you and the public for many more years to come.



Regards,
BILL ROSENDAHL
Councilmember, 11th District




Thursday, October 4, 2012

Debate Reality Check: "This Election Is A Matter Of Life Or Death For Me"

The wake up call came at 2am last night, arriving in my email inbox long after the cool kids on Twitter were done snarking on Obama "sucking ass" or Romney's "zingers".
"I'm not sure if this will do any good..... I am terrified right now," The letter began. "The media has decided that Romney won the debate. And now the spin will happen. And no one seems concerned that this election is a matter of life or death for me.  I am in remission from a rare cancer."
Deborah, the writer, is part of the 47% conspicuously absent from last night's debate.

Living in a tiny Del Rey apartment with her husband Jonathan, the couple barely gets by now on $28,000 a year - their income cut by a third in 2009 when Deborah was fired following her cancer diagnosis.

"My only income is Social Security Disability. My only hope against anything going wrong again is Medicare. Without them, I will be homeless at best within a month. At worst, I die. I can't think right now. I can't sleep. I need to know that someone has a plan to not let a smirking, smug man who cannot put himself in my shoes run the country. I need to know that my only prospect isn't burdening my 76 year old father just to keep breathing."
Deborah and her husband used to have catastrophic health insurance through their employer. But it cost them $600 a month with deductibles so high they could never hope to pay them off.  So they dropped it.

Then Deborah was diagnosed with a one-in-a-milion cancer of the appendix. A cancer so rare few doctors have even heard of it, let alone know how to treat it. But Deborah was one of the lucky ones. She sought treatment at the Venice Family Clinic, and a social worker with LA County USC hooked her up with the one doctor at the UCLA Medical Center who knew how to treat her cancer.

She's been in remission for two years. But the chemo attacked her joints, her nervous system. It killed the cancer but left her permanently disabled. And the cancer, of course, is out their lurking. Waiting.
I feel like there is no point in trying to survive, because all I'm seeing are games.

Perhaps it is unfair to put all of this on one man when the world is so complicated, but I am simply terrified -- fair or not.

I need to know that someone is listening......

I called Deborah this morning and asked if I could share her story. Because her story is a story that wasn't told last night at the debates. Her story is the inconvenient truth swept under the rug. And it should be a wake up call for all of us.

                                                                      Getty Images
But Deborah (she asked that I not use her or her husband's last name) doesn't think of herself as a victim. In fact, she thinks she's lucky. She beat back cancer, she has a roof over her head and food on the table. Her husband, Jonathan, found another job, although part-time and for less pay than he used to make. They're hopeful Jonathan might be able to get a flu shot and basic physical this year.

But Deborah is terrified for the future. She's 52, Jonathan 49 - they have no savings, no margins for error. No employer will hire her with her medical issues, and while Jonathan can buy new health insurance from his employer for $200 a month, they can't buy coverage for Deborah. She relies on Medicare to literally keep her alive.

Debrorah's story is my wake up call, my reality check about what's at stake in this election. And now, I hope it will be yours.

Before I hung up with Deborah, I asked her if there was anything she would tell Mitt Romney and Barack Obama if she could.

"It's not about numbers on a ledger," Deborah told me. "It's about people trying to survive." 






Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Romney Video: Bain Exists To "Harvest" Companies for Profit

Mother Jones has discovered another devastating Romney video - this one from 1985. In it, Romney describes the creation of Bain Capitol as a firm designed to "harvest" troubled companies for "a significant profit".

At Bain, Romney's top priority wasn't to boost employment. As the Wall Street Journal recently noted, creating jobs "wasn't the aim of Bain or other private-equity firms, which measure success by returns produced for investors." And, the newspaper reported, Romney's 100,000-jobs claim is tough to evaluate.

Mother Jones has obtained a video from 1985 in which Romney, describing Bain's formation, showed how he viewed the firm's mission. He explained that its goal was to identify potential and hidden value in companies, buy significant stakes in these businesses, and then "harvest them at a significant profit" within five to eight years.
Watch:


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The 47% Speaks Out: This DIY Political Ad Will Break Your Heart

MoveOn.org asked its members to create and submit their own political ads based on Mitt Romney's comments that the 47% of US voters who don't pay Federal income tax see themselves as "victims".

The following, submitted by Virginia residents, is now running in the Roanoke, VA media market.

It will break your heart:


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy Autumnal Equinox


As seen from Venice Beach, California. Happy Fall, y'all.

Friday, September 21, 2012

PHOTOS: Endeavour Goes Hollywood


Making a final victory lap around the state of California, the Endeavour came to Hollywood for it's close-up before landing at LAX a little after noon. I was fortunate enough to be allowed to set up my photo equipment at the top of City Hall, where I had unobstructed views of the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory.

Endeavour made three laps near downtown Los Angeles, the last lap taking it within half a mile of the City Hall tower.  (You can read more about my adventures in this LA Times story.)

Endeavour makes it's first pass near City Hall - Griffith Park is in the background


As it passed by us the third and final time, I thought it somehow fitting that America's space shuttle program finally came to a close in Los Angeles, the city of dreamers and make-believe.

Click on any photo to see it full-size.


Spectators waiting on the roof of the Superior Court building


Endeavour  passes by the Hollywood sign

Spectators on the 27th floor of City Hall trying to line up a shot

Endeavour  passes over downtown LA


Downtown Los Angeles in between passes of the Endeavour


The shadow of LA City Hall falls on the new Grand Park

Shadow of the LA City Hall tower falls on a security guard


Spectators on top of the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion


Endeavour  passes over downtown LA


Spectators on top of City Hall take photos as the Endeavour passes by


Endeavor passes over downtown LA

Endeavour  passes over downtown LA


Endeavour  passes by downtown LA on it's way to Long Beach


Endeavour  in front of Mount Wilson - that's a chase plane on the right.


Endeavour  passes close to City Hall on its third and final pass


Endeavour passes close to City Hall on its third and final pass

Endeavour passes close to City Hall on its third and final pass

Endeavour and two escort aircraft close to City Hall on their third and final pass


My last photo of Endeavour as it flies by City Hall