What's at Stake on Election Day
The California Assembly makes decisions that directly affect our everyday lives. Who we send to the Assembly to serve as our representative will determine the fate of our schools, our local economy, our jobs, our colleges and universities, our seniors, our fees and taxes, and our reproductive freedom.
Here’s what’s at stake:
Our Schools. Our public schools are suffering massive funding cuts. Our children’s classrooms have too many students, too few teachers and too few resources. Our children are not being prepared for success in the 21st century. My opponent says that our schools don’t need more funding. As a mother with a child in public school, I know that’s plain wrong. As your representative, I will fight to make sure that our children have the schools they need to succeed.
Our Local Economy and Our Jobs. Our representatives have failed to bring tax and investment dollars back from Sacramento to our district. My opponent's ridged partisanship will continue to lock out district from our fair share of state funds. I will put an end to this unfair practice and make sure that our tax dollars come back for our schools, our businesses, our roads and our public safety.As your representative, I’ll focus on the specific economic needs of our local businesses, educational institutions, and homeowners in the cities of the 70th Assembly District.
Our Colleges and Universities. Our representatives in Sacramento have ignored the interests of UC Irvine, its students, staff and faculty. Cutting funding for UC Irvine and our community colleges will have a potentially devastating impact on the economic well being of our community. My opponent believes that our colleges and universities don't need more funding. As your representative, I’ll fight to change California’s budget priorities so that our state universities and colleges remain among the best in the world, so that middle class families are not shut out of our state’s higher educational system, and so that our state can regain its national standing as a leader in business and scientific innovation and economic opportunity.
Our Environment and our Ocean, Waves and Beaches. We’ve all seen the devastation in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the offshore oil spill. We cannot allow this catastrophe to happen to us in California. My opponent wants to expand offshore drilling along our coast. We cannot allow our district to be represented in Sacramento by someone who would risk our way of life to drill for oil off our coast. As your representative, Ill fight for responsible stewardship of our land, water and air -- not only for all the recreational opportunities we enjoy, but also for our economic well being now and in the future.
Our Seniors. Our local representatives in Sacramento have shown little concern for protecting seniors living on fixed incomes. They would eliminate adult health care services that provide in-home care to more than 430,000 Californians, of whom six in 10 are over 65-years old and one in four over 80-years old. My opponent supports these cuts in services to seniors. As your representative, I’ll fight to stop these cuts and ensure that seniors have the health care they need to maintain their independence in their own homes.
Our Taxes. Our professional politicians in Sacramento have promised to say “No” to taxes, buy have said “Yes” again and again to raising the sales tax, the car tax, and the gasoline tax. They have also raised tolls on our roads, and raised fees and tuition for our state colleges and universities. These tolls and fees are taxes by another name – and unfairly hit middle class taxpayers and small businesses. The taxes paid by California's middle class and small businesses are too high. My opponent claims to want tax cuts, but he isn't interested in cutting the taxes that you pay and his partisanship will continue to ensure that our district gets nothing from Sacramento. I'm running for the Assembly to make sure our tax dollars come back to us from Sacramento, that we keep more of what we earn and save – and to make sure that our economy is stimulated by real tax relief for the hardworking, overburdened families and the small businesses that are the real creators of jobs and prosperity in our community.
Our Public Safety. Cuts to our police, sheriff and fire departments are dangerous. We cannot afford these cuts – which put our lives and the lives of our loved ones in danger. My opponent supports these cuts in public safety. As your representative in the Assembly, I’ll fight for our police, sheriffs, and firefighters and fight to keep all of them on the job.
Our Reproductive Freedom. My opponent wants to end reproductive freedom for women. He believes that he has the right to impose his own faith and beliefs on every woman and family in California. He has received thousands of dollars in contributions from groups outside our district that are determined to use the government to impose their particular faith on everyone else. We cannot allow politicians and outside special interest groups to impose their own faith on every woman and family in California or allow the government to intrude into this most personal of decisions.
Please vote for Melissa Fox for California Assembly on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2.
There's a lot at stake on Election Day.
November 1, 2010
Calitics: "10 Reasons to Support Melissa Fox"
by Robert Cruickshank
Earlier this week the LA Times noted that Democrats are on the offense in Assembly races. Anthony York's article noted the strong defense of Alyson Huber in AD-10 and Dr. Richard Pan's campaign against right-winger Andy Pugno in AD-5 as examples of this trend.
But he neglected to add one very important and compelling pickup opportunity, and that's Melissa Fox in AD-70. It's a district that Obama carried by 4 points in 2008, part of the broader trend that is turning Orange County blue. I was born and raised here, in Tustin, and my family still lives there. I've always been ashamed that right-wing wackos like Chuck DeVore (mis)represent that district, and I know that residents there care about good schools, jobs, and quality of life instead of the latest crazy right-wing freakout of the day.
And we also have a fantastic up-and-coming progressive leader running for the seat in Melissa Fox. You've probably seen her posts here at Calitics. What you may not know is she has a very real shot at surprising the pundits and winning this election.
With just over one week left until Election Day, I thought I'd offer 10 reasons why I support Melissa Fox - and why I hope you will too.
1. Melissa Fox is a strong progressive who doesn't waffle on issues like marriage equality, education, or the need to move to single payer health insurance. You've seen that here at Calitics, including this powerful defense of a woman's right to choose.
2. Her opponent, Don Wagner, is a fringe Tea Party candidate, a leader in the Federalist Society and the Education Alliance, who boasts of support from Arizona's anti-immigrant sheriff Joe Arpaio, Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, and lists Michelle Malkin as a "community leader."
3. Don Wagner disappeared after the primary, which he won with only 32% of the vote against three more moderate Republicans. No candidate statement. No mail. No appearances except for a few Tea Party rallies. He's arrogant, lazy, and unknown. He communicated only with Republicans six months ago, and 2/3 of Republicans didn't like him. Even his website's news page hasn't been updated since May. He clearly takes voters for granted.
4. As I said above, this is a district that Obama won by 4 points, and has been becoming more progressive as the demographics change - including as my own generation starts to assert itself in the community. It's much more progressive than registration numbers indicate. These are exactly the kind of districts where we need to play offense.
5. The largest employer in the district is UC Irvine with its 34,000 students. This has always been a huge untapped resource, dating back to my one year as a student there in the 1990s. The Democrats of Greater Irvine have done a great job of registering students this cycle, and there is a strong, multi-level program to use social media and texting to turn them out to vote.
6. There are a lot of other races going on in this district which will help turn out progressive voters - a battle to protect the progressive majority on the Irvine City Council, the Capistrano Unified School District's recall of regressive school board members, the very effective Beth Krom for Congress campaign, and grassroots progressive city council candidates in Tustin and Newport Beach.
7. Your money won't be wasted. Melissa's campaign is disciplined and spends its advertising money efficiently and smartly. Every dollar you give now will go into printing and mailing one of the best contrast pieces I've seen -- "The Invisible Man" which exposes the extreme positions of her far-right opponent. And all of the work has been done without overpriced and ineffective Sacramento consultants, so you're supporting progressive infrastructure as well.
8. It's a lot more fun to play offense than defense. If we want to make California more progressive, we need to take the fight to the right in the purple districts they now control.
9. Because it gets us closer to a 2/3rds majority. Really, what more do you need?
10. Because I don't donate very often. I'm very stingy with my campaign giving. In the 2008 cycle I only gave to two candidates (Darcy Burner and Debbie Cook). But I gave to Melissa Fox because she is the future of progressive leadership in California.
Will you join me? Click here to support Melissa Fox for Assembly!
Robert Cruickshank(Reposted from Caltics, October 22, 2010).
Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang Needs Your Help!
The state legislature may seem far away from our local communities and our daily lives. But what gets decided in Sacramento critically affects us every day and in nearly every aspect of our lives.
That's why I'm running for the California Assembly -- to improve our everyday lives as Californians and to bring our tax dollars back from Sacramento to our local communities for our cities, our schools and colleges, our businesses, our public saftey, and our parks, beaches, and roads.
Here is what Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang has to say about why my election to the California Assembly is so important for our local communities and our daily lives:
During my years as Mayor of Irvine, I have constantly emphasized education, public safety, and fiscal conservatism. When we saw the recession coming, we tripled our budget reserves to carry us through the downturn to protect education and public safety.
But over the years, I have come to realize that bad decisions made in Sacramento have a huge impact on the ability of local cities and schools to do their job well.
That’s why I am asking you to vote for Melissa Fox for California Assembly on November 2nd. Melissa Fox will go to Sacramento and bring money back for our schools and colleges, our local police and fire and our local businesses.
She is more interested in results than in politics.
I look forward to working with Melissa on the issues that are most important to our community and ask you to vote for Melissa Fox on November 2nd.
Mayor of Irvine
Please join Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang in supporting my campaign -- and ensuring that our local communities have a representaive who will fight for them in Sacramento!
October 19, 2010
Will You Vote for the Invisible Man?
My opponent has given us an enormous opportunity. After winning the Republican primary with only 32% of the vote against more moderate candidates, he disappeared.
He hasn't updated his website. He hasn't held any public events. He became the Invisible Man.
He thought we would let him win without lifting a finger.
He couldn't be more wrong.
Because when people find out who he is, they don't like him.
And we're telling the voters who he is -- with a hard-hitting and carefully documented mail piece that tells the voters the facts Don Wagner doesn't want them to know.
We're telling the voters The Facts about Don Wagner:
He spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars for out-of-state junkets for his fellow community college trustees, while cutting classes and students.
His only plan for the economy is to increase offshore oil drilling.
He doesn't think our schools need more funding. He'd rather spend money on prisons.
He was accused of blackmail by the chancellor his community college district and then negotiated a secret settlement that cost the taxpayers more the $270,000.
He wants to end reproductive freedom for women.
He wants to give public school teachers the right to spank our children.
We need your help now to deliver this information to the voters.
Your contribution of $39.15 mails 100 Invisible Man pieces.
Your contribution of $391.50 puts 1,000 of these hard-hitting pieces in voters' mailboxes before the election.
Please contribute now so we can tell the voters exactly what Don Wagner doesn't want them to know.
October 18, 2010
Donald Wagner's War Against Librarians
In his role as president of the board of trustees for South Orange County Community College District, my opponent forced Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College to revoke their memberships in the American Library Association.
As a result, our community college librarians lose out on professional opportunities, access to journals, and access to a professional network of staff support; our community college students and faculty lose out on having better-trained librarians; and our community college district suffers national embarrassment.
My opponent's reason for revoking our commnity colleges' memberships in the American Libarary Association was, by his own admission, purely political. According to him, the American Library Association is a group of “liberal busybodies.”
In fact, the American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 62,000 members.
Its mission is “to promote library service and librarianship” and its motto, adopted in 1892, is “The best reading, for the largest number, at the least cost.”
The American Library Association honored First Lady Laura Bush for her service to American libraries and hailed her as “an exemplary role model to women and men considering the profession of librarianship.”
That doesn’t sound like a group of “liberal busybodies” to me.
Donald Wagner claims that he’ll bring the same “leadership” he has demonstrated as a trustee at South Orange County Community College District to Sacramento.
This isn’t the kind of “leadership” we want. Our district – which deeply values reading and education – doesn’t want the kind of “leadership” that revokes membership in the American Library Association, hurts our community college faculty and students, and embarrasses our district.
This issue is personal for me: my mother was a librarian in Orange County for more than 20 years and a proud member of the ALA.
She helped children and seniors, students and concerned citizens, find the books that would open up new worlds or help them make sense of this one.
My mother taught me that libraries are places of magic and inspiration, as well as the foundation for an informed citizenry that is essential to democracy.
Those are the values that I’ll take to Sacramento when I represent our district in the Assembly.
October 9, 2010
Double Standard: Donald Wagner Spends Thousands of Taxpayer Dollars for John Williams' Junkets
My opponent for the 70th Assembly District, Donald P. (Don) Wagner, has approved spending thousands of taxpayer dollars for out-of-state junkets for his fellow community college trustee John Williams, even while the community college district has imposed severe cuts to college classes and students.
As the Orange County Register has reported, Williams spent over $29,500 of the taxpayers’ money for junkets from July 2007 through December 2009.
Donald Wagner approved each of these taxpayer-funded junkets.
And just this week, Wagner again voted to approve spending another $2,425 of the taxpayers’ money for yet another John Williams junket to Orlando, Florida.
Williams has come under fire for being paid by Orange County for time he said he was working as the County’s Public Guardian while attending these out-of-state junkets approved by Donald Wagner and paid for by the taxpayers.
Orange County's Internal Auditor is now reviewing the payroll time sheets turned in by Williams, who "traveled to conferences for a community college district at the same time records show he was on duty, working for the county. A citizen complaint to the county questioned how Williams legally could turn in time cards that said he was doing county work while he was physically at conferences in San Diego, San Francisco or out-of-state."
What has self-proclaimed “fiscal conservative” Donald Wagner done to stop this abuse of taxpayer dollars?
Nothing. He voted to approve it, each and every time.
For our community college students, the budget crisis means the elimination of classes, long waiting lists, rising costs, and drastically reduced aid.
But for Donald Wagner, it means business as usual, spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on out-of-state junkets for his friends and political allies.
We don’t need a representative in Sacramento who pretends to be fiscally conservative, but approves the abuse of taxpayer dollars for John Williams' Florida vacations.
We don’t need a representative who applies a double standard, with one set of fiscal rules for himself and his friends, and another set of rules for everyone else.
As your representative in the California Assembly, I’ll fight against waste, fraud, backroom deals, and the abuse of taxpayer dollars no matter who is responsible.
Unlike Donald Wagner, I won’t have any double standards.
September 30, 2010
Renewable Energy Technology – Made in
For the first time, China has overtaken the United States as the world leader in the multi-billion dollar competition for renewable energy investments.
According to a report released this week by the accounting firm Ernst & Young, “China has all the benefits of capital, government will, and it’s a massive market. We would expect to see China retaining a dominant position.”
Not only is this bad news for the United States, it is especially bad news for California, which is China’s primary competitor for renewable energy investment dollars. It is also bad news for our local economy, since many of the American companies creating renewable energy technology are located right here, in our 70th Assembly District.
I don't believe that we should concede to China the billions of dollars and thousands of jobs that renewable energy investment brings, and we don’t have to accept “Made in China” for our renewable energy technology.
In fact, we can't afford to let China win this competition.
But to make sure that those billions of investment dollars and thousands of jobs go to California instead of China, we need to do two things:
First, we need to reject Prop 23. The big oil companies’ deceptive initiative to kill California’s clean energy and air pollution control standards would cost California more than $80 billion and hundreds of thousands of jobs.
As the non-partisan, independent California Legislative Analyst’s Office explained, the suspension of our new clean air standards would “delay investments in energy technologies reaping longer run savings, or dampen additional investments in clean energy technologies or in so called ‘green jobs’ by private firms, thereby resulting in less economic activity than would otherwise be the case.”
It’s no wonder that more than 89 percent of the money for Prop 23 has come from out-of-state big oil interests: Prop 23 is bad for Californians.
Second, we need to require “Made in the USA” for any energy technology, and for buses and trains, that receive tax subsidies or any other financial incentive from the state's taxpayers. Californians should not subsidize investment, production, and jobs in China or in any foreign country.
The formula is simple:
Renewable Energy Technology + Made in California = Investment $$ and Jobs.
That’s what I support and will fight for when I represent the 70th Assembly District.
September 16, 2010
Class Closed: Misplaced Budget Priorities Cause Community College Crisis
Students now starting classes at our community colleges face extraordinary challenges as they attempt to get the education and training they need and our state was once committed to provide.
Due to $520 million in budget cuts, our community colleges have eliminated 10 percent of their classes and the rest are over-enrolled. Students are facing long waiting lists, rising costs, and drastically reduced aid.
According to California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott, "For the first time, our first time enrollments dropped. It wasn't a lack of demand, it was a lack of supply. People are being denied."
These devastating cuts to California’s community colleges have come at exactly the wrong time – when unemployment is high, veterans are returning home from deployment, and more people are seeking the educational opportunities and workforce training necessary for success in the 21st century.
These cuts are not simply the unavoidable result of our economic downtown. Instead, they are the result of Sacramento’s gridlock and misguided budget priorities, which have failed to recognize the needs of middle class Californians.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
California should not be spending more on prisoners than on the students in our community colleges. We should not be spending more on tax breaks for multinational corporations that ship our jobs overseas than the students in our own communities. And like every other oil producing state, California should have a reasonable oil extraction fee that would raise $1 billion for our public universities and community colleges.
My opponent says that our schools, colleges and universities don't need more funding. That's nonsense.
Our community colleges are crucial gateways to success and prosperity for millions of Californians. More than any other institution, our community colleges provide the educational opportunities and training necessary for millions of working and middle class Californians, including adults and returning veterans, to achieve the California Dream. In fact, three-quarters of California’s more than 20,000 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans who are attending college are enrolled in a community college.
Our community college students and their families need real representation in Sacramento.
I pledge to provide that representation – and fight to make sure that our community college students have the education and training programs they need to succeed.
September 7, 2010
It's Official! NY Times Declares "Orange County is No Longer Nixon Country"!
The most respected newspaper in America agrees with what we've been saying!
The front page of this Sunday's New York Times declares that "Orange County is No Longer Nixon Country ... the political texture of this county, which is larger in population than Nevada or Iowa, is changing, and many officials say it is only a matter of time before many Republican officeholders get swept out with the tide."
Today's Calitics then followed up with: "Along with Congressional candidates Beth Krom and Bill Hedrick, Assembly candidates like Melissa Fox, running against an old-school right winger in the AD-70 race and Phu Nguyen, running in AD-68 are the leaders who will consolidate the trends and turn OC blue. They understand that OC residents want jobs, good schools, and environmental protections, not silly appeals to the latest right-wing ideological fantasy of the day. At a time when it seems like the right-wing is poised to have a better November election than they've had in several cycles, it's good to see that here in California, even in their strongholds, the public is rejecting what the right-wing extremists have to offer."
My Assembly District is leading the way -- in 2008, President Obama carried the 70th Assembly District by 8,721 votes! This year, in our overlapping districts, Beth Krom won the national DFA Grassroots All Star vote and I won the vote for California!
Some Democrats think we should be playing conservative defense. Not here. Not now. We are on the offense, running against an opponent who was too arrogant or incompetent to file a candidate statement on time.
If you want to join us in playing offense, registering thousands of voters on campuses, converting thousands of our voters to Vote By Mail, and delivering a message about jobs, education, and the environment, please join us now!
Shoot us a quick email at email@example.com telling us how you want to volunteer, or contribute to help us win.
Please help us keep this exciting momentum going by making a contribution now!
Your contribution now of $25, $50, $100 or whatever amount you can afford will help us ensure that "Orange County is No Longer Nixon Country."
MelissaAugust 30, 2010
Hiding from the Voters
The Orange County Registrar of Voters has confirmed that my opponent, Donald Wagner, has failed to file a candidate statement for the general election.
The majority of voters will know virtually nothing about the Republican candidate for the 70th Assembly District.
With the problems facing our schools, our businesses and our seniors, we can’t afford to take a chance on sending someone to Sacramento who isn’t committed to representing everyone in our district,
Voters should demand to know what Donald Wagner stands for, and why he isn’t willing to share that with every one of the voters in our district.
Here's what I said:
Are you tired of sending representatives to Sacramento who just play political games and never fight to bring our tax dollars back to Orange County?
As your representative, I will bring a fresh, independent perspective to the Assembly. I am an Orange County native, a small business attorney, and a mother with a child in public school. For more than 18 years I’ve been standing up for small businesses. I will bring that fighting spirit to
Sacramento, working for better schools and to create new jobs and economic growth in our community.
My top priorities will be:
Reigniting our local economy by growing businesses and jobs.
Fighting for our schools, colleges and universities so that they are the best in nation.
Fighting for tax fairness and against any tax or fee that unfairly hits our overburdened small businesses and middle-class.
Fighting for seniors, retirees and the vital home health services that allow them to live in dignity in their own homes.
Protecting our ocean and beaches.
Keeping our police and firefighters on the job.
Ending the power of lobbyists and special interests to make backroom deals; restoring accountability and responsibility to Sacramento.
Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang and Council Member Beth Krom, Laguna Beach Council Members Verna Rollinger, Toni Iseman and Jane Egly; Tustin Council Member Deborah Gavello.
I ask for your vote and pledge to provide the integrity and leadership our community deserves.
We can and will turn our state around.
Please visit my website at http://votemelissafox.com.
August 20, 2010
Beach Closed: Proceed at Your Own Risk
We’ve all seen the devastation in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the offshore oil spill.
We’ve seen the sea birds drenched in oil, fisherman out of work, beaches contaminated, a way of life destroyed.
For me, the devastation in the Gulf of Mexico is personal.
I have many friends who live around the Gulf.
I’m heartbroken about what this oil spill has done to their lives and their communities.
We cannot allow this catastrophe to happen to us in California.
My opponent, Donald Wagner, vehemently disagrees.
When asked by the Orange County Register how he would deal with our state’s budget crisis, his number one answer was “opening up offshore oil fields to drilling.”
I strongly oppose the expansion of offshore oil drilling in California, and I need your help to make sure that our community does not cast a vote in Sacramento to drill off our coast.
As a coastal community, we cannot allow the ecological devastation in the Gulf of Mexico to happen here or anywhere in California.
Nor can we risk the catastrophic economic consequences of an offshore oil spill. Tens of thousands of people are employed and billions of dollars are invested in local businesses that depend on our beautiful beaches and coastline.
Our way of life, quite literally, could be destroyed.
In fact, the danger of disaster is even greater here than in the Gulf of Mexico. The BP rig was 50 miles from the coast, but our oil rigs are much closer to shore – in the range of three to 12 miles. The impact on our coast and beaches of an offshore spill would be catastrophic and nearly immediate.
We cannot allow our district to be represented in Sacramento by someone who would risk our way of life to drill for oil off our coast.
Donald Wagner is counting on the big oil companies to support his campaign.
I’m counting on you.
Please contribute whatever you can now to make sure that an offshore oil spill disaster never destroys our beaches and coastline.
And please tell your family and friends that you support the candidate who will fight for our community, not the big oil companies.
July 28, 2010
The Most Personal Decision
The question of what a woman should do when she is pregnant but does not want to raise a child is extremely personal for me.
It is the question that my birth mother, unmarried and eighteen years old, faced forty-three years ago.
This was before People v. Belous (1969) and Roe v. Wade (1973) established a woman’s fundamental right to decide whether to give birth.
Just a few months before I was born, California Governor Ronald Reagan signed the “Therapeutic Abortion Act,” which changed California’s criminal code to permit the termination of pregnancy by a physician when there was substantial risk that its continuation would “gravely impair the physical or mental health of the mother” or when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
I am not sure whether my birth mother would have qualified for a legal abortion under the “physical or mental health” requirements of the new law, but she could have risked terminating her pregnancy by illegal means – as more than 100,000 California women did every year before the Act’s passage. In fact, Governor Reagan said that he signed the new law to prevent the death and injury of thousands of California women each year from illegal and dangerous “back alley” abortions.
My birth mother decided not to have an abortion, and instead gave me up for adoption.
Of course, I’m happy with her choice – I would not be here otherwise. I was raised by two loving parents who wanted and were able to care for me. I have also had the incredible joy of being able to thank my birth-mother for her decision – reuniting with her and my two younger brothers several years ago.
I received a great gift from my birth-mother’s decision – but I would not have wanted her to have been forced by the government to give birth to me despite being unable at that time to properly care for a child.
Whether or not to have an abortion – or whether to give a child up for adoption – is a deeply personal and often painful decision for a woman or couple to make, and it is a decision they have to make based on their own faith and values, not someone else’s – and certainly not the government’s.
My opponent for the 70th Assembly District believes otherwise.
He believes that he has the right to impose his own faith and beliefs on every woman and family in California. He has vowed to use his position in the legislature “to defend life from conception to natural death” – bringing back the days when thousands of women each year in California were forced to make the horrific choice between having unwanted children or illegal, dangerous abortions. And he has already received thousands of dollars in contributions from groups outside our district that are determined to use the government to impose their particular faith on everyone else.
We cannot allow politicians and outside special interest groups to impose their own faith on every woman and family in California or allow the government to intrude into this most personal of decisions.
That’s why I need your help now to keep the decision whether to give birth a deeply personal decision based on one's own faith and values, not someone else’s and not the government’s.
July 20, 2010
Memorial Day: Remembering the Lesson of the Four Chaplains of the USAT Dorchester
When my husband was a child, my father-in-law, a World War II Navy veteran, told him the story of the four chaplains of the USAT Dorchester as an example of American heroism and American values.
It is a story worth sharing again this Memorial Day:
On the night of February 3, 1943, United States Army Transport ship Dorchester was en route from Newfoundland to England via Greenland, when it was hit by torpedoes from a German submarine.
The Dorchester listed sharply to starboard, then began to sink almost immediately into the icy water. The ship was overcrowded and there were insufficient lifeboats or lifejackets for the 904 men on board.
As the Dorchester sank, the ship’s four chaplains aided the wounded, helped get the men into lifeboats and then gave up their own lifejackets when the supply ran out.
A survivor later explained:
“As I swam away from the ship, I looked back. The flares had lighted everything. The bow came up high and she slid under. The last thing I saw, the four chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men. They had done everything they could. I did not see them again. They themselves did not have a chance without their life jackets.”
As the ship went down, survivors in nearby lifeboats could see the four chaplains – their arms linked and braced against the slanting deck. Their voices could also be heard offering prayers.
Twenty-seven minutes after the torpedoes hit, the Dorchester was gone.
The four chaplains were:
Lt. George L. Fox, age 42, Methodist.
Lt. Alexander D. Goode, age 32, Jewish.
Lt. John P. Washington, age 34, Roman Catholic.
Lt. Clark V. Poling, age 32, Reformed Church in America.
This Memorial Day, I will be thinking about the four chaplains, arms linked and praying together on the deck of the USAT Dorchester in 1943.
And I will be thinking, with gratitude, of all of the men and women of our Armed Forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the rights and freedoms that we hold to be essential, including the right to be free from discrimination based on one’s race, faith, gender or sexual orientation.
According to the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation, the lesson of the sacrifice made by the four chaplains is “unity without uniformity” and “selfless service to humanity without regard to race, creed, ethnicity, or religious beliefs.”
My father-in-law said it more simply: We are all Americans.
March 31, 2010 (Memorial Day)
Still the Luckiest People in the World
Living in the 70th Assembly District makes us some of the most fortunate people in the world.
As we head into the final days of the June 8 primary, most of what we hear from candidates is about what is wrong with California and our communities and what it will take to fix them.
I have done quite a bit of that myself, pointing to our misguided budget priorities that have put our children’s education behind keeping unproductive corporate tax loopholes.
But there are so many things that are wonderful about our state and our district, and for all our problems, I would rather live here than anywhere else in the world.
We have an inspiring ocean, beautiful beaches, and still-rugged wilderness areas, which I have had the honor of helping to protect as a member of the Orange County Ranger Reserve. Our schools, despite their budget problems and over-crowding, are still among the best in the state, thanks in large part to the tremendous efforts of our teachers and the dedication of parents. UC Irvine is a world-class university, attracting the best and brightest students and faculty, and the most innovative businesses, to our district. There is our growing diversity, as people from every part of the world come here to share in our heritage of freedom and pursue the American Dream. There is our entrepreneurial spirit – six of the eight Orange County finalists for the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year are located right here in the 70th Assembly District.
We have a lot to be grateful for -- and to be proud of.
The California Dream is still alive. If you have not yet registered to vote in the June 8 primary, please do so today (the last day to register). Together, we can make our communities even stronger, our economy more productive, our seniors more secure and our children better prepared for the future.
May 24, 2010
Agents of Change
I am proud to join millions of people in California and throughout the world today in celebrating the life of Harvey Milk.
In posthumously awarding our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to Harvey Milk, President Barack Obama said:
“Harvey Bernard Milk dedicated his life to shattering boundaries and challenging assumptions. As one of the first openly gay elected officials in this country, he changed the landscape of opportunity for the Nation’s gay community. Throughout his life, he fought discrimination with visionary courage and conviction. Before his tragic death in 1978, he wisely noted, ‘Hope will never be silent,’ and called upon Americans to stay true to the guiding principles of equality and justice for all. Harvey Milk’s voice will forever echo in the hearts of all those who carry forward his timeless message.”
When Harvey Milk first ran for supervisor in San Francisco in 1977, he was told that an openly gay man could never get elected. When he won, he became the first openly gay non-incumbent to win an election for public office in the United States. Now there are hundreds of openly gay men and women serving their communities and states in elected office, including our own Speaker of the California Assembly, John Pérez.
We have all come a long way, thanks in large measure to the courage of Harvey Milk.
But much more needs to be done. We must continue to fight for marriage equality for all Californians. We must change our military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy, which unfairly discriminates against the brave gay men and women serving in our armed forces, undermines our national defense, and costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year. We must also fight to ensure the elimination throughout the world of violence and discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
I am deeply committed to the fight to ensure full equality for gay men and women and I am honored to be endorsed by Equality California, which works to achieve equality and secure legal protections for LGBT people and has successfully passed more than 60 pieces of civil rights legislation for the LGBT community, more than any other statewide LGBT organization in the nation.
When President Barack Obama awarded Harvey Milk the Medal of Freedom, he said Milk was “an agent of change” who “saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way.”
To honor Harvey Milk, each of us, in our own way, must become agents of change.
May 22, 2010 (Harvey Milk Day)
Forcing Seniors From Their Homes
When it comes to home health care, our local representatives to Sacramento have shown little concern for protecting seniors living on fixed incomes.
The Governor and our local representatives want to eliminate adult health care services that provide in-home care to more than 430,000 Californians, of whom six in 10 are over 65-years old and one in four over 80-years old.
That's a quarter of a million people who worked hard all their lives, and now need a little help that their families may not be able to provide.
These seniors would be forced into nursing homes and hospitals.
In Laguna Woods alone, 40% of the people enrolled in adult health care services would be forced into institutions.
These cruel cuts to vital, cost-effective services make no sense. Forcing seniors into institutions will cost California more money than it saves, and cost California 370,000 jobs.
As a member of the Assembly, I will fight to stop these cuts and ensure that seniors have the health care they need to maintain their independence in their own homes.
We can keep seniors from being forced from their homes. Please contribute $50, $100 or any amount you can afford to help us reach voters at this critical time.Melissa
May 11, 2010
First Class Mail
Voting by mail in the primary starts in a matter of days.
This week I’m sending out thousands of mailers to vote-by-mail Democratic voters.
You can see one of mailers on the right, focusing on education
In the next few weeks, I also plan to send out mail to thousands more Democratic voters who will vote at the polls on June 8.
But that requires your help.
For $100, we can reach 350 voters. To reach 1,000 voters, it will cost $350.
Will you help me get our message out to the Democrats in our district by making a contribution now?
Please donate $50, $100, $350 or any amount you can afford to help us reach voters at this critical time.
Your contribution now is likely to make the difference.
We can be represented by a fighter for education, health care, and the environment -- or we can send a right-wing extremist to Sacramento to vote to cut funding for our schools, against health care, and against clean air and clean energy.
Please contribute now!
May 7, 2010
Applause for Capistrano USD Teachers, Parents and Students. Recall for the Trustees.
The great news today is that the teachers’ strike at Capistrano Unified School District is over.
For months, the teachers at CUSD attempted to negotiate with an ideologically rigid and anti-public education board of trustees that refused to bargain in good faith.
Instead, the trustees attempted to use the budget crisis as an excuse to destroy the teachers’ union and force a strike.
Today, under pressure from a united community, the board of trustees has been forced to bargain in good faith and to agree that the teachers’ 10 percent pay cut and furloughs are temporary rather than permanent.
When parents and students stand with teachers, public education wins.
I am proud to have walked with you on the picket line. I thank the teachers for their courage and determination, and the thousands of parents and students who kept the pressure on the trustees to bargain in good faith.
Now we need to continue to ensure the highest quality education for our children by supporting the recall of anti-public education CUSD trustees Mike Winsten and Ken Maddox.
CUSD needs trustees who are committed to quality public education. These trustees have shown that they are more committed to the anti-public education ideology of outside influences such as the extremist Education Alliance than to our children.Melissa
April 27, 2010
For Earth Day: Support Clean Air and Clean Energy
California’s incredible natural resources are both a responsibility and a gift. They provide us with beauty and recreation, and bring millions of dollars to our community from all over nation and the world. They are an essential part of the California Dream.
Though much still remains to be done to protect our natural resources, California can be proud of its bi-partisan commitment to the environment and the health of its citizens. We can be especially proud of our commitment to clean energy and air pollution control standards. These standards not only improve the health of Californians, they stimulate job creation, spur investments in clean technology, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
Despite the benefits and popularity of our clean energy and air pollution standards, passed with the bi-partisan support of both Democrats and Republicans, these standards are under attack by well-funded out-of-state oil companies and their political allies.
In my 70th Assembly District, every Republican candidate supports the foreign oil companies’ deceptive initiative to kill California’s new clean energy and air pollution control standards. (One candidate, Jerry Amante, has gone so far as to join the extremist deniers of climate change and question whether there is a greenhouse gas or air pollution problem.)
They claim that our clean air standards are a job killer.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is that if the oil companies’ initiative passes, California could lose more than $80 billion in gross state product (GSP) and face the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs by 2020.
According to the non-partisan, independent California Legislative Analyst’s Office, the
suspension of our new clean air standards would “delay investments in energy technologies reaping longer run savings, or dampen additional investments in clean energy technologies or in so called ‘green jobs’ by private firms, thereby resulting in less economic activity than would otherwise be the case.”
Far from being a “job killer,” our environmental standards are a tremendous boon to the California economy. Between 1990 and 2006, green technology businesses in California grew by 84 percent. In 2009, while other sectors saw little or no investment, California’s clean technology sector received $2.1 billion, 60 percent of the total in North America, and more than five times the investment in our nearest competitor. Many of the companies creating new clean air and energy technologies are right here, in our 70th Assembly District.
Our clean air standards are also necessary to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. In 2009, Americans spent $265 billion - $500,000 a minute - on foreign oil. Eliminating our new clean energy and air pollution standards would result in even greater use of foreign oil in California and would undermine both our economy and our national security.
We can't let foreign oil companies and their political allies destroy the progress we've made.
Your support for my campaign will help ensure that we're represented in the Assembly by a defender of the environment, not an ally of the polluters and foreign oil companies.
I'll be joining the Orange County Young Democrats and Congressional candidate Beth Krom for a beach clean up tomorrow, Saturday 24, from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm at the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach.
Please join us!
April 23, 2010
Support the Capistrano Teachers
At Capistrano Unified School District, supporting our schools and our children means supporting their teachers.
For months, the teachers at CUSD have attempted to negotiate with an ideologically rigid Board of Trustees that refuses to bargain in good faith.
Instead, the Trustees have attempted to use the budget crisis as an excuse to destroy the teachers’ union and force a strike.
The teachers understand the financial crisis that the recession has caused, and have agreed to reduce their pay and benefits, but they want an understanding that the pay cuts are temporary and they want everyone to share the sacrifice.
Not one of these teachers wants to strike. They would much rather be doing what they love – teaching in the classroom. But they can’t stand by while our public education system is destroyed.
What the teachers want is to bargain in good faith and not have a contract with severe pay cuts illegally imposed on them. I think they deserve fair, middle class pay and benefits for the tremendously important and difficult work that they do.
If the Board's imposed contract stands, CUSD's recruitment and retention of quality teachers will be seriously compromised.
The parents and students at CUSD know that the teachers are on their side.
That’s why the parents and students at CUSD have overwhelmingly supported the teachers.
They know that the board’s refusal to bargain in good faith has nothing to do with what is best for public education or the students.
I am proud to stand with CUSD’s teachers, parents and students against this attack on public education.
I urge the Trustees to stop playing political games with the future of our children and bargain in good faith with the teachers.
And I ask every one of you to join with the teachers in every way, large and small. Even something as small as a honk and a wave, walking with them for a few minutes, or a friendly word helps our teachers when they are fighting for the right to give our children the best education.
MelissaApril 21, 2010
A Very Special Endorsement
I received an endorsement last night in my campaign for the California Assembly for the 70th AD that is especially meaningful to me.
By a unanimous vote, I received the June 2010 primary endorsement of the members of the Orange County Young Democrats.
In their press release today, the Orange County Young Democrats state that:
"The Orange County Young Democrats yesterday voted to endorse a slate of Democratic candidates who will appear on the June 8th Primary ballot. At their monthly general meeting in Santa Ana more than 50 young democrats from around Orange County gathered to listen to local candidates and elected officials discuss their plans for the future of California. The candidates offered a vision of what change would look like at the county level, sharing their thoughts about healthcare, education, and the role young democrats will play the upcoming election cycle.
'We stand behind candidates who stand up for the issues that matter to young Democrats here in Orange County,' said incoming Chair Nick Anas. 'Whether it is a statewide or local office,OCYD will work to elect public officials who will ensure that our voice is heard.'
The Orange County Young Democrats (OCYD) is the official voice for young people in the Democratic Party of Orange County. OCYD is comprised of young workers, young families, college and high school students, ages 14 - 35, who are dedicated to the Democratic values that make America strong and provide opportunity for all. OCYD is committed to establishing a bloc of young voters who will elect Democrats for an entire generation. Using proven peer-to-peer campaign methods, young democrats have made significant differences in races throughout the county."
This endorsement is especially meaningful to me because I know how dedicated these young Democrats are and how much they care about the direction of our nation and our state.
They are also the group that has perhaps been hit hardest by the consequences of the Bush recession and the Schwarzenegger administration’s misguided priorities.
They are facing difficult job prospects, and draconian cuts coupled with drastic fee increases at our colleges and universities. Yet they are also the most hopeful about the future.
They believe – and I agree – that their generation has the smarts, the heart, and the will to tackle and solve the problems that we have forced them to inherit.
They are the real engine of change in Orange County, and the real difference makers in this election.
I am honored to have their support.
April 9, 2010
To Fix the Budget, We Need the Facts, Not the Myths
I was recently asked by the Orange County Register to give answers about how to fix the California budget in 75 words.
That’s not possible, because it’s a complicated issue.
Of course, I could have pretended it was simple, like my opponent will do, by blaming California’s budget problems solely on government spending.
But that is not the case.
California has the second lowest ratio of state employees to population among all the states, with 103 full-time equivalent state employees per 10,000 residents. The national average is 143 state employees per 10,000 residents.
It isn’t excessive spending that is the real culprit causing our budget woes – it’s the reckless borrowing we've done to pay for unfair tax cuts to the very richest Californians and giant corporations.
The three main causes of California’s budget crisis are (1) the national recession, (2) the billions of dollars in tax cuts given to the wealthy and giant corporations, and (3) the billions of dollars in interest that California taxpayers must pay for the money borrowed to cover these unfair tax cuts to special interests.
If you want to see why people get confused about the causes of our budget problems, break down this whopper from the website of Jerry Amante, one of the Republicans campaigning in the 70th Assembly District, where I'm running:
Over the last 20 years, the California Consumer Price Index has risen 44% and population has increased by 20%. During the same period, state spending as (sic) increased by 262%, from about $40 billion to $145 billion. This huge expansion in the size of state government is the root cause of our budget problems. The solution is not to raise taxes so the government can keep growing – it is to rein in spending and limit government growth. I support a constitutional amendment to limit spending increases.
I don’t know where Amante gets his numbers.
The California Consumer Price Index has risen 72.1% from December 1989 to December 2009, not 44% as Amante claims.
Population has increased by 28% from 1990 to 2009, not by 20%.
(It’s pretty easy to Google this stuff.)
Factor those two numbers together (population and inflation), and you see that if spending had remained level per person, state spending adjusted for inflation would have had a natural increase of 220%.
Jerry Amante was either just plain wrong or intentionally dishonest in his numbers about population and prices, leading to a gross distortion of the growth of the California budget relative to population and cost of living.
How did he do on his spending numbers?
He got one number right: state general fund spending for 1989-1990 was $39.5 billion, very close to Amante’s $40 billion number. But state general fund spending in 2009-2010 was $86.1 billion, not the $145 billion that Amante claims.
Maybe Amante meant total state spending, including special funds and bond funds, but then he should have used $48.8 billion as his number from twenty years ago and a current number of $124.7 billion.
But whatever numbers Amante uses, the fact remains that real general fund spending has increased less than half of one per cent per year over the last twenty years.
Total spending has increased by more, driven by reckless borrowing under GOP Governor Schwarzenegger, so that bond payments have increased more than 400% from what they averaged twenty years ago.
Much of that irresponsible borrowing has been to pay for tax cuts for special interests. While general fund spending has been relatively level, the cost per year of the tax cuts enacted since 1993 has risen to $11.7 billion a year. Just the 2008 and 2009 tax cuts for giant corporations will cost the state nearly $8 billion over the next eight years.
If your asking, “What tax cuts?,” you’re not alone. You probably haven’t seen these tax cuts, since the constant shift has been from taxing corporations and the richest Californians to taxing the middle class, primarily in the form of increased sales and income taxes.
California also lost $1.2 billion a year when Republicans irresponsibly took away the provision that allowed for a California estate tax that was fully deductible against federal estate taxes.
So does California primarily have a spending problem, or do we have an acute tax fairness problem and a reckless borrowing problem?
We do have a huge revenue problem as the recession has seriously cut into the state’s income and sales tax revenue. California’s problem is worse than other states because we came into the recession already crippled by Arnold’s unfair tax cuts to the wealthy and the reckless borrowing needed to pay for it.
Most Californians agree that we need to restore the cuts made to education, and continue to provide vital and cost-effective health services for our seniors so they can live with dignity in their own homes.
To protect our schools and our seniors, we need to stop the borrowing, roll back some of those corporate tax cuts and let the banks, oil companies, and giant corporations pay their fair share.
The California Budget Project has done some great work in analyzing state budget issues and bringing to light some of the myths that are constantly thrown around. If you want to compare myths and facts, take a few minutes to read their analysis.
Don't believe the myths.
To fix the budget, we need the facts.
April 6, 2010
22,000 More Teacher Layoffs: The Method to their Madness
This week California took another giant step backwards as our public schools sent out more than 22,000 pink slips to teachers.
According to Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, “Our state budget crisis has forced districts to lay off thousands of teachers over the past few years. The governor has proposed cutting another $2.4 billion from public education. While the education community opposes these cuts, our schools are forced to prepare for this potential outcome by issuing a massive wave of potential layoff notices.”
The effect of these cuts will be enormous – and will be felt most acutely in the long term by our children. They will see their class sizes increase (again) to even more unmanageable levels; their libraries shut down; their schools dirtier and less safe; their textbooks older and scarcer; their music and art programs eliminated; and their after-school and athletic programs either seriously curtailed or eliminated entirely.
We saw a similar set of layoffs announced last year – but this year will be worse. Over 30,000 pink slips were issued last March, but federal stimulus funds from the Obama administration helped about half of those employees to get rehired for this current school year. This year, without stimulus funds, and with a state freeze in education spending, most of those teachers will now be permanently laid off.
Each of the school districts in the 70th Assembly District will suffer. Irvine Unified is facing $22 million in cuts, Saddleback Valley is facing $33 million, Newport-Mesa is facing $13.5 million, Capistrano Unified is facing $34 million, and Tustin is facing $7.4 million. Each school district will lose teachers and/or cut school days. Every child will suffer.
How do they expect our children to succeed in the 21st Century?
This is madness. But there is a method to it.
Neither Superintendent O’Connell nor Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken any responsibility whatsoever for these massive teacher layoffs.
Instead, they claim that the state was “forced” to eliminate 22,000 plus teachers because of the budget crisis – as if the budget crisis was some kind of natural disaster, like an earthquake, and as if there is only one way of to deal with its consequences: fire teachers.
They conveniently ignore the role that they – and their Republican Party – have played in creating our state’s budget meltdown in the first place by giving tax cuts to giant corporations and the richest Californians. They ignore the fact that they have consistently favored prisons over education, and favored the overburdening of the middle-class with unfair taxes over the fair taxation of giant corporations and large landowners.
The truth is that the Republicans who are in charge of California’s executive branch and who hold the budget hostage year after year in the state legislature care more about protecting oil companies, insurance companies, and giant corporations than they care about our children’s education.
The truth is that they are using the budget crisis to attempt to destroy public employee unions – and the teachers’ union in particular.
We can’t continue to allow them to destroy California’s public education.
I am running for the Assembly to fight against budget cuts to education. As your representative in Sacramento, I will fight for schools over prisons, and fight to ensure that our children have the teachers and the schools they need to succeed.
March 16, 2010
Day of Action to Protect Education:
Our Smallest Citizens Should Not Pay the Biggest Price
When it comes to California's budget crisis, our smallest citizens pay the biggest price.
We hear a lot of talk in the media today about California’s “failing” schools – schools with high drop out rates, violence and safety issues, and low test scores.
But in the five school districts in my Assembly District – Irvine, Tustin, Saddleback, Newport-Mesa and Capistrano – “failing” schools is not the problem.
Our local schools are not “failing.”
Our leaders are failing our schools.
Over the past three years, our local school districts have been hit with hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts, and the future looks worse, not better.
The devastation done to our schools by these massive budget cuts – the damage done to our children and our communities – is almost beyond comprehension.
Our class sizes, already the highest in the nation, are increasing.
Hundreds of teaching positions have been cut, and more teachers will lose their jobs.
Our music and art programs have been eliminated.
Our sports programs have been cut and parents are asked to contribute even more
Gifted and Talented programs are being eliminated.
English as a Second Language and adult education programs are disappearing.
School libraries cannot purchase new books and are being shut down.
Maintenance services are being cut so our schools are dirtier and less safe.
School nurses are being cut, leaving our children without medical attention in an emergency.
School bus services are being slashed.
And we’ve even cut our school crossing guards – resulting in at least one instance in Tustin of a child being hit by car.
It is not an exaggeration to say that we have abandoned our children.
Some politicians claim that our schools do not need more money, and that what is needed instead is simply more local control of how school budgets are allocated.
Tell that to my son, whose sixth grade classroom does not have enough pencils and paper for the 37 students in his class.
Tell that to his teachers, who are already overworked and struggling to teach more children with fewer resources every year.
I am in favor of more local control, but it is absurd to say that our schools are not being crippled by hundred of millions of dollars in budget cuts.
Today, across the state, students, parents, teachers and staff are participating in a “Day of Action” focusing on rolling back the nearly $2 billion in tax cuts for large corporations shamefully passed by our legislature last year.
Not only are our students suffering, but the two largest employers in the 70th District are the University of California, Irvine and the Irvine Unified School District, so when these schools lose funding, we lose jobs.
In the Assembly, I will fight to bring money back for education into our school districts --instead of seeing that money go to other cities’ or counties’ schools because of our local legislators’ “anti-public education” philosophy.
Our priorities must change, and our children and our future must come first in our state’s budget, not last.
Our children are depending on us to save their schools.
We can no longer afford to force them to pay the highest price for our political and budget failures.
Help me stop the devastation of public education in our communities by donating to my campaign for change in Sacramento.
March 4, 2010
Orange County: No Longer "The Right Wing Cradle"
I recently came across a fascinating – and very revealing – article about the political history of Orange County.
Dated July 7, 1974, and titled "Orange County: The Right Wing Cradle," the article shows how dramatically Orange County, and in particular my own 70th Assembly District (Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Foothill Ranch, and most of the cities of Aliso Viejo, Newport Beach, and Tustin) has changed, both politically and demographically, in the past four decades.
The article describes Orange County as “a stronghold of the John Birch Society, a former stomping ground of the Klu Klux Klan, the fastest growing county in the United States, and the home of the first drive-in church.”
Among the Orange County right-wing politicians profiled in the article are retired General Curtis LeMay (who ran for Vice-President of the United States as the running mate of segregationist George Wallace), former Congressman James B. Utt (who once claimed that “a large contingent of barefooted Africans” was training in Georgia as part of a United Nations military force to take over the United States), former Congressman James G. Schmitz (who railed against sex education and was later revealed to have engaged in an extra-marital affair and fathered two children with one of his former college students, and who was also the father of sex offender Mary Kay Letourneau), then-current Congressman Andrew Hinshaw (who was later convicted of taking bribes from large landowners as Orange County Assessor in exchange for lower tax assessments and served eight months in prison), and publisher and neo-Nazi activist John H. Townsend, who used his Orange County base to attack evolution, the income tax, abortion, the United Nations, Jews and the “international Zionist conspiracy.”
Orange County has profoundly changed, and for the better.
Who would have believed, even a few years ago, that an African-American Democrat named Barack Obama would win in the heart of Orange County?
Yet Obama carried my 70th Assembly District in South Orange County by nearly 9,000 votes.
Proposition 8 won here by less than 1 percent, and Prop 4 (parental notification) was rejected by a majority of the district's voters.
Back in 1974, the most important institution and the largest employer in the district was the El Toro Marine Air Base. It had 10,000 military personnel living on the base and 70,000 people (an amazing number, given the area’s small population) with PX privileges as military dependents or retirees.
Now the most important institution and the largest employer in the district is UC Irvine, with more than 22,000 undergraduate students, nearly 6,000 graduate students, 2,700 faculty members and researchers, and more than 9,000 staff. Once known as a commuter school, nearly half of UCI's students now live (and can vote) on campus.
When the article was written, the total population of Orange County was 1.6 million, and South Orange County was still largely undeveloped. Now the county's population tops 3 million, with much of that growth coming in the south part of the county. In just the last decade, Irvine has grown from 143,072 residents to more than 200,000. Tustin has grown from 67,504 to more than 75,000. Newport Beach has grown from 70,032 to more than 86,000. Lake Forest has grown from 56,707 to more than 78,000. Laguna Beach has grown from 23,578 to more than 26,000. Aliso Viejo has grown from 40,166 in 2000 (only 7,612 in 1990) to more than 42,000.
This growth in population has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in diversity. When the article was written, the district was close to 99% white. Now the district is wonderfully diverse, with significant numbers of Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Indian Americans, Arab Americans, and Persian Americans, who are not favorably impressed by the Republicans’ hostility to immigrants, education, and expanding the American Dream.
Orange County -- and the 70th Assembly District in particular -- is no longer the cradle of the right-wing extremism.
And after November 2010, with your help, a right-wing extremist will no longer represent us in Sacramento.
Feb. 24, 2010
Greed. Plain and Simple.
How much more can we take?
Last week, the largest for-profit healthcare insurer in California, Anthem Blue Cross, announced that on March 1 it will increase its rates by an outrageous 39 percent.
Athem also said that it will "adjust" – meaning increase – its annual premiums “more frequently” in the future.
This is the same insurance company that was forced to pay $10 million and reinstate 1,770 policyholders in California whose plans they had canceled simply because they made a healthcare claim.
At nearly the same time, Anthem’s parent company, WellPoint Inc., proudly announced that it had increased its profit for the last three months of 2009 by 800 percent, bringing its earnings -- just for that quarter -- to $2.7 billion. WellPoint’s CEO receives more than $11 million a year in salary and stock.
Anthem has also used its soaring profits to spend millions of dollars sending lobbyists to Washington, D.C. and Sacramento to prevent meaningful healthcare reform.
Amazingly, Anthem has attempted to justify its rate hike by claiming that its costs had gone up because so many people had been forced to drop their health insurance policies because of unemployment and the recession.
I call it greed, plain and simple.
The results of this greed?
Tens of thousands more middle class and working families in California will be forced to go without health insurance.
Small business owners will be forced to choose between continuing coverage for their employees or face going out of business.
Our state, counties and cities – in other words, the taxpayers – will be forced to spend millions of dollars more on emergency room care for those who lost their insurance.
These are millions of dollars that we cannot afford.
California cannot afford to allow greedy and irresponsible insurance companies to price gouge consumers and we cannot allow their lobbyists to force our state into even greater debt.
It’s time for California to insist on real health insurance reform.
Here’s what we can do:
Guarantee healthcare for every family.
Allow patients and doctors – not insurance bureaucrats – to make decisions about healthcare.
That’s what I stand for. I’ll fight for a healthcare system where people pay less and can no longer be denied care based on their income, age, location, or pre-existing health conditions.
You can do something to help me make these changes. Help me take the fight for healthcare reform to Sacramento by making a contribution on ActBlue supporting my campaign for the California Assembly.
Together we can make real healthcare change.
February 10, 2010
It's Time to Raise Our Voices
The Supreme Court's recent decision giving the green light to unlimited corporate spending on elections means that the voice of the people is in danger of being completely drowned out by the money of big banks, oil companies, and other giant corporations.
I am an unwavering defender of the First Amendment.
Corporations, however, are not persons and should not be allowed to use the First Amendment to dominate and distort our democratic process.
I agree with dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens: “In the context of election to public office, the distinction between corporate and human speakers is significant. Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.”
We must respond to this decision by increasing our financial support for candidates who share our values. As President Obama proved in 2008, contributions from many smaller donors can add up to more than that of giant corporations.
Even more importantly, we must respond by working harder to organize and mobilize our friends and neighbors.
We need to make sure that every Democrat and progressive independent is registered to vote.
We need to increase our vote by mail registration (which determined the outcome in the recent special election in the 72hd Assembly District).
We also need to make sure that California adopts the California Fair Elections Act, which would make voluntary public financing available to candidates running for Secretary of State in 2014 and 2018, and would be a significant first step toward getting candidates and elected officials out of the endless money chase and back to solving California’s problems.
Corporations can blast their messages from television, the Internet, radio and newspapers. But they cannot speak to people neighbor-to-neighbor and face-to-face. They do not live in our communities or attend our schools. They do not share our fears and our hopes.
They do not really know us.
Now, more than ever, we need to work with each other to talk to our friends, neighbors and coworkers about the candidates and issues that matter to us.
It's time to raise our voices.
February 1, 2010
Running in the "Red"
When I tell people that I'm running for the California Assembly as a Democrat in Orange County, some react as through I've told them that I've just volunteered for a suicide mission deep into enemy territory.
And when I tell them I expect to win, they look at me as though I have said something sweet, but incredibly naïve.
As naïve, for example, as saying you believe that an African-American Democrat named Barack Hussein Obama could carry my Orange County assembly district in a presidential election.
But Barack Hussein Obama did carry the 70th Assembly District – and by 8,721 votes.
Orange County was once the most Republican county in the nation, and many people still think of it that way. But Orange County has changed enormously in the last decade. On the positive side, Orange County has become far more diverse, better educated, and economically dynamic than ever before. On the negative side, we have been hit tremendously hard by the mortgage crisis, the collapse of the real estate market, and the state’s budget cuts.
Orange County is no longer complacent and satisfied with the status quo.
We want real, positive change.
I hear and feel that desire for positive change – yesterday, for example, when I overheard two ladies at lunch talking about the need for comprehensive healthcare reform and deploring the antics of the Astroturf bullies.
I hear and feel it when I meet voters, who often respond to my serious, committed-to-winning campaign as though I’d offered them a drink of water after a long trek in the desert.
I hear and feel it in the enthusiastic response I receive when I talk about funding our schools, supporting UC Irvine and our community colleges, keeping seniors in their homes, giving tax relief to the middle class and small businesses, creating green jobs, protecting our ocean, waves, and beaches, and about how we can renew the California Dream that once made our state the envy of the nation.
Of course, the road to positive change isn’t easy. The ferocious tea-baggers and the town hall bullies make a lot of noise and still control most of the district’s elected officials. But their ferociousness comes largely from the fact that they no longer have the majority of the district’s voters on their side.
As a female business litigator who has defended small businesses for more than 17 years in the Orange County courts, I am used to being underestimated. My opponents are often still smiling at me patronizingly when the judge rules in my favor.
I welcome the challenge of running as a Democratic candidate in a what people often assume is a “red” county (and that is longer “red”).
As we enter the New Year, I hope you’ll join me in our winning campaign to Renew the California Dream in 2010.
December 28, 2009
The Spirit of Christmas
"For the spirit of Christmas knows no race, no creed, no clime, no limitation of time or space. Yes, the spirit of Christmas breathes an eternal message of peace and goodwill to all men." President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Michael, Max and I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a joyous holiday season.
December 21, 2009
What's Wrong in Sacramento
The sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds is a perfect example of what's wrong in Sacramento.
It was a deal done in the dead of night, with no public hearings and no public input. Instead, lobbyists and wealthy powerbrokers pushed the sale through with bogus claims that this scheme would really "save the fair."
The scheme promised to raise far more money than any realistic valuation of the property as it is currently zoned, and this imaginary revenue was then used to create another phony "balanced" budget.
The Fairgrounds sale represents one more tax on Orange County residents. One way or another, we all will pay more if the Orange County Fair is sold, whether it's to a local government agency, a non-profit, or a developer.
Finally, we're selling our heritage and our future in a shortsighted scheme that does nothing to solve our real budget problems.
This is the same type of bad decision that's been made on transportation, on education, and on dozens of other major issues that face California.
Please join me in calling our representatives in Sacramento and telling them to support Assemblyman Jose Solario’s bill to Derail the Sale.
Assembly Members to Call
67th AD: Jim Silva – 714-843-4966
68th AD: Van Tran – 714-668-2100
70th AD: Chuck DeVore – 949-863-7070
71st AD: Jeff Miller – 949-598-7171
73rd AD: Diane Harkey – 949-347-7301
Senators to Call:
33rd SD: Mimi Walters – 949-457-7333
34th SD: Lou Correa – 714-558-4400
35th SD: Tom Harmon – 714-957-4555
We need to stop making backroom deals like the scheme to sell the Orange County Fairgrounds, and insist on openness, transparency and the restoration of accountability to our government.
We must Derail the Sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds, but even more, we must change the way the people’s business is done in Sacramento.
December 10, 2009
The Chicken and the Egg
When you're running for office, there's a chicken and egg problem. It's hard to raise money if nobody thinks you can win, and nobody thinks you can win if you can't raise money.
That's why we are so proud and grateful that California List has officially endorsed me in my race to win the open seat in the 70th Assembly District. California List not only looks at the candidates and their positions, but also evaluates whether a race is winnable.
California List recruits strong candidates to run for promising open or viable seats, and connects candidates and donors throughout California.
In addition to the California List endorsement, I am also proud to have also received the endorsements of the bi-partisan National Women’s Political Caucus and the bi-partisan Women in Leadership.
Each of these groups understands that it is especially important now, as the economic crisis has unleashed a backlash against the legal, political, and economic gains that women have made. We can't afford to lose ground in the fight for reproductive rights, for heath care, and for equal pay.
If you have not already done so, I hope you will join our campaign, and make a contribution, in whatever amount, so that I can fight for our values in the California Assembly.
December 7, 2009
The University of California -- Priceless
Here is a video created by a student at UC San Diego about the University of California budget crisis that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. Please pass it on to others.
I completely agree with the message of the video: "There are some things money can't buy -- don't let higher education be one of them."
The massive tuition increase across the UC system began with the mismanagement of California’s budget priorities in Sacramento – and will not be changed until voters elect more representatives who understand the critical importance of California’s public universities and colleges to the economic and social well being of our state.
Who is affected by the UC budget crisis and the 32% fee increase?
The students, of course, are immediately affected, and many of them will either be unable to continue their education or forced to incur tremendous debt.
The families of students are also directly affected, as well as the families of any child in California who might aspire to become a student at one of California’s public universities and colleges.
California’s businesses are also affected, since there is there a direct connection between California's economic prosperity and the educational level of its workforce.
In fact, we are all affected by this massive tuition increase, which is a direct attack on California’s middle class and threatens the economic future of our state.
As a member of the legislature, I will fight to realign California’s budget priorities and rescind these tuition increases, so that our state universities and colleges remain among the best in the world, so that middle class families are not shut out of our state’s higher educational system, and so that our state can regain its national standing as a leader in business and scientific innovation and economic opportunity.
I hope you'll join me in this campaign.
December 1, 2009
Michael, Max and I wish you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
We know that times are tough for many families in our District.
But from the first Thanksgiving of the Pilgrims at Plymouth in the hard winter of 1621 to the first national Thanksgiving celebration declared by President Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War in 1863, our nation has recognized that, especially in tough times, we Americans have much for which we should be, and are, deeply grateful.
We are grateful for our freedoms, and for those whose sacrifices, both in the past and in the present, have made those freedoms endure for generations.
We are grateful for our families and friends, and for the love that makes life worthwhile.
We are grateful too that we live in the most beautiful state in the nation, and for the commitment we feel in our hearts to renew the California dream for our children and our community.
November 24, 2009
We're Getting Our Message Out!
Last weekend I attended the meeting of the Executive Board of the California Democratic Party in San Diego.
I spoke to 13 separate caucuses and was honored to be on a panel of the Women's Caucus, where I spoke about how we can win our district by focusing on the issues and values that are most important to the voters: education, jobs and economic growth, responsible stewardship of our natural resources, protection for seniors, middle class tax relief, and keeping our public universities and community colleges affordable for middle class families.
I am pleased to report that the old myth that it is impossible for a Democrat to win in this part of Orange County is rapidly disappearing, as more and more people recognize that President Obama carried this district by nearly 9,000 votes and that the voters want a representative in Sacramento who will fight for their values and their needs.
November 20, 2009
Yes We Can Renew the California Dream!
Our team and I have been working hard ever since I filed as a candidate for the Assembly in May 2009.
I’ve spoken to voters in every city in the District (and registered them as well).
I've received the endorsements of the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association, the California Democratic Party, the California Labor Federation, the California Federation of Teachers, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the California National Organization for Women, the California Teachers Association, the National Women’s Political Caucus, Women in Leadership, Orange County Young Democrats, Sierra Club California, United Autoworkers, Equality California, Planned Parenhood, Democracy for America, California School Employees Association, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez, Senator Mark Leno, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Fiona Ma, Assembly Member Jose Solario, Assembly Member Dave Jones, Assembly Member Jim Beall, California Democratic Party Vice Chair Alex Gallardo-Rooker, California Democratic Party Vice Chair Eric Bauman, former Huntington Beach Mayor and Congressional candidate Debbie Cook, South County Labor Chair Raymond Cordova, Congressional candidate Bill Hedrick, Irvine Mayor Sukee Kang, Rancho Santiago Community College Trustee John Hanna, former Fountain Valley Mayor Gus Ayer, former La Habra Mayor Rose Espinoza, Irvine City Council Member Larry Agran, Irvine City Council Member Beth Krom, Laguna Beach City Council Member Verna Rollinger, Laguna Beach City Council Member Toni Iseman, Laguna Beach City Council Member Jane Egly, Costa Mesa City Council Member Katrina Foley, Tustin City Council Member Deborah Gavello, Orange County Democratic Party Central Chair Florice Hoffman, Irvine City Council candidate Shiva Farivar, North Orange County Community College District President Michael Matsuda, Coast Community College District President Jerry Patterson, Coast Community College District Trustee Lorraine Prinsky, Orange County Democratic Foundation President Dan Jacobson, Anaheim City Commissioner Jordan Brandman, California State Senate candidate Gila Jones and Huntington Beach City Council candidate Joe Shaw..
Our campaign website has already received more than 15,000 hits and our Facebook group has more than 1,450 supporters. Our campaign has received terrific press coverage. Channel 4 has interviewed me about renewing the California Dream.
I've met with elected officials and leaders of the Democratic Party, the women’s movement, small business, organized labor, the LGBT community, the Latino Community, the Persian community, student leaders and grassroots activists.
They know change is necessary in California, and that the 70th Assembly District is one of 31 districts in our state that President Obama carried in 2008, but the local Democratic candidate lost.
And they know that, this time, the right candidate with a vigorous, committed and passionate campaign can win.
We’re on the path to victory. Our campaign is gaining attention and building momentum.
Now party officials and other potential major donors are deciding whether and how much to contribute to our campaign.
The fact is that they won’t contribute unless you do.
Please contribute whatever you can now to keep our campaign to renew the California Dream moving forward.
The number of donors is extremely important, so your contribution, of whatever amount, will have a real impact.
Thank you for your support!
November 5, 2009 (key endorsements and numbers are updated).
News & Events
- "Together we can put education first, bring jobs and economic development to our district, and renew the california dream!"
- -- Melissa
- upcoming events:
- THANK YOU
- I NEED YOUR PHONE - VIRTUAL PHONE BANKING - NOW THROUGH ELECTION DAY, TUESDAY, NOVEMbER 2!
- Gotv! - gET OUT THE VOTE! - NOW THROUGH ELECTION DAY, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 2!