<![CDATA[LWV Beach Cities - BLOG]]>Mon, 28 Nov 2022 01:01:38 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[How to Judge a Candidate]]>Sun, 02 Oct 2022 18:29:29 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/how-to-judge-a-candidate
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Article by by the League of Women Voters. Image by rawpixel.com
 Elections up and down the ballot present voters with important choices. Whether it's a local race that will affect your community or a national race that could change the direction of the country, elections are a time to consider the issues that you care about and decide which candidate you support. 

But is it possible to move beyond campaign ads, social media chatter, and noisy news cycles to find the best substantive candidate who represents your values and needs? The answer is yes! 


Six Steps for Judging Candidates 
The 6 steps outlined here are designed to help you judge and choose the best candidate for you in the next election. 

Step 1: Determine what you are looking for in a candidate You can judge candidates in two ways:
  1. The positions they take on issues; and,
  2. The leadership qualities and experience they would bring to the office.

Your first step in picking a candidate is to decide the issues you care about and the qualities you want in a leader. 

When you consider issues, what problems do you want people in government to address? For example, you may be interested in national security, government funding for student loans, or climate change.  

When you consider leadership qualities, what characteristics do you think make an effective elected official? Do you look for intelligence, honesty, humility, an ability to communicate? What else?

Step 2
: Visit Votersedge.org and learn about the candidates on your ballot

Find out which candidates are running in your area by using the League’s online election resource VotersEdge.org. When you input your address, VotersEdge shows you all the races and candidates on your ballot. 

VotersEdge also includes information about each office on your ballot, candidate background information, stances on issues directly from the candidates themselves, and extensive background and explanations on ballot questions. 

Step 3: Gather materials about the candidates 
Research and collect information about the candidates. Read their positions on their campaign website, watch media coverage, review online discussions, and check out their stances on VOTE411. Sources of information you may choose to review include: 
  • VotersEdge.org candidate stances 
  • Direct mail letters, flyers, and postcards 
  • Media coverage
  • Online, radio, and television ads 
  • Candidate endorsements by individuals, organizations, and news outlets 
  • Candidates’ speeches 
  • Candidate debates 
  • Online candidate forums and town hall events 

Step 4: Evaluate candidates’ positions on issues 
In a local race, interviews with the candidates can be helpful.
For incumbents, a look at their voting records on issues important to you (which you identified in Step 1) can also tell you a lot.  
Ask yourself the following questions: 
  • Does your collected information give you an overall impression of the candidates?  
  • What specific conclusions can you draw about the candidates’ positions on issues?  
  • Record what you have learned about where they stand on your priority issues from each source you review in Step 3.  

Step 5: Learn about the candidates’ leadership abilities 
Deciding if a candidate will be a good leader is difficult. How can you know if someone will be honest, open, or able to act under pressure if elected to office? Here are some ways to read between the lines: 
  • Look at the candidates’ background and their experience. How prepared are they for the job? 
  • Observe the candidates’ campaigns. Do they give speeches to different groups (even those who may disagree with them)? Do they accept invitations to debate? Do the campaigns emphasize media events, where the candidates can be seen but not heard? (For instance, a candidate is seen cutting ribbons to open new bridges rather than going on record about transportation and infrastructure challenges.) 
  • Review the campaign website, social media content, and materials. As you watch the campaign develop, consider information that provides insights into candidates’ personalities and leadership qualities. For example, do campaign materials emphasize issues or nice images? Do materials paint a true picture of a situation? Add this information to the Candidate Report Card shared below. 

Step 6: Learn how other people view the candidate 
Other people’s opinions can help clarify your own views, but do not discount your own informed judgments.  
  • Seek the opinions of others in your community who are affected differently by decisions of political leadership. Talk to people of diverse backgrounds and positions, such as a person of a different race than you, a teacher, a member of the business community, an Indian tribe member, or a sexual or gender minority person to find out which candidate they support and why.  
  • Learn about endorsements. Endorsements provide clues to the issues a candidate supports. For instance, a candidate endorsed by the Sierra Club (an environmental organization) will be in favor of legislation that protects the environment. A candidate endorsed by the National Rifle Association would be opposed to gun control laws. Get a list of endorsements from each of the candidates’ campaign websites. Find out what these groups stand for and find out why they are endorsing this candidate. 
  • Look into campaign contributions. Where do the candidates get the funds to finance their campaigns? Do they use their own money or raise funds from a few wealthy donors, from many small contributors, or from Political Action Committees? (PACs, as they are known, are groups formed to raise and distribute money to candidates without disclosing individual donor names.) Many types of information about campaign contributions must be reported to the government and are watched by the press, so the information is relatively easy to find. Check your local newspaper for stories on campaign finance or go to www.opensecrets.org.  
  • Which candidate’s views on the issues do I agree with the most? 
  • Who ran the fairest campaign? 
  • Which candidate demonstrated the most knowledge on the issues? 
  • Which candidate has the leadership qualities I am looking for? 
  • Is the choice clear? If so, pick a candidate.  __ 

Other Considerations
  • Avoid Distortion Techniques Candidates try to sell themselves to voters, but they can sometimes distort the truth in ways that are difficult to detect. Here are seven examples of distortion techniques that you should watch for as you review candidates’ campaign materials: 
  • Name-calling/Appeals to prejudice: Accusations such as, “My opponent is arrogant and full of hot air,” do not give any real information about the candidate. Reference to race, ethnicity, or marital status can be subtly used to instill prejudice. 
  • Rumor mongering: These include statements such as “Everyone says my opponent is a crook, but I have no personal knowledge of any wrongdoing,” which imply (but do not state) that the opponent is guilty. 
  • Guilt by associations: These are statements such as “We all know Candidate B is backed by big money interests,” which attack candidates because of their supporters rather than because of their stands on the issues. 
  • Catchwords: These are phrases such as “Law and Order” or “un-American,” designed to trigger a knee-jerk emotional reaction rather than to inform. 
  • Passing the blame: These are instances in which a candidate denies responsibility for an action or blames an opponent for things over which they had no control. 
  • Promising the sky: These are unrealistic promises that no elected official could fulfill on their own.  
  • Evading real issues: These include instances in which candidates may avoid answering direct questions, offer only vague solutions, or talk about the benefits of proposed programs but never get specific about possible problems or costs.  
  • Evaluate Candidates’ Use of Video:  Candidates are aware of the potential power of video and try to use it to their advantage. When you see videos about a candidate or that feature the candidate, consider that the picture you see may be staged by a media advisor whose job is to make the candidate look good on camera. As you watch news coverage of campaigns, be aware of staged events (also known as photo opportunities) and try to instead focus on what the candidate is saying about the issues. The same applies to political advertisements on television or online. When you watch political ads, be aware of how the medium influences your reactions. Ask yourself: Did you find out anything about issues or qualifications, or was the ad designed only to affect your attitude or feelings about a candidate?  

Now Take Action
  • Back the candidates you believe in.
  • Talk to your friends and family about “your” candidates. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions at candidate meetings, debates, or rallies or when a campaign worker rings your doorbell. 
  • Write letters. Tell candidates, newspapers, and party leaders how you feel about the issues. 
  • Volunteer to work on a campaign or make a donation. 
  • Register to vote. 
  • Make a voting plan.
  • Vote by mail, absentee, or in person before or on Election Day. 
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<![CDATA[Gov. Newsom signs hundreds of new California laws.]]>Sat, 01 Oct 2022 18:45:22 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/gov-newsom-signs-hundreds-of-new-california-laws
Ashley Zavala KCRA 3
SACRAMENTO, Calif. —

Here is a look at what will become state law.

Health care
SB 107 aims to make California a sanctuary state for transgender health care, shielding transgender people, including youth and their parents, from legal action from states with bans and restrictions.

Newsom has signed several abortion and reproductive healthcare-related measures in the wake of the United State Supreme Court overturning abortion protections, which restricts access to the procedure in several states. This includes laws that protect medical records and cooperation with out-of-state entities regarding abortion restrictions (AB 2091, AB 1242), expands abortion training options and providers (SB 1375), and protections for people from criminal or civil liabilities for pregnancy loss or abortion (AB 2223).

Labor
SB 1162 requires employers to make salary ranges for available job positions to applicants and employees. It also sets new pay data reporting requirements based on gender and race.

AB 2183 makes it easier for farmworkers to unionize.

SB 951 increases the share of paid family leave provided to lower-income Californians. It extends what was a temporary increase in the benefit from 55% of wages to 60% to 70% depending on income. In 2025, the bill requires an increase of the benefit to 70%.
Law enforcement and criminal justice
SB 971 allows most old convictions on non-violent or non-sex relate offenses in criminal records to be permanently sealed. It applies to previous convictions of those who completed their sentence and did not return to the criminal justice system.

SB 1008 provides free phone calls to people detained in California prisons and jails.

SB 301 and AB 1700 aim to crack down on the sale of stolen merchandise online, requiring online marketplaces to collect more information from sellers with high volumes of product, and sets up a section on the state Attorney General’s office website to report stolen items.

AB 2294 gives law enforcement the ability to keep those in custody accused of organized retail theft.

AB 1740 and SB 1087 aim to crack down on catalytic converter thefts.

SB 836 prohibits disclosure of a person’s immigration status in open court in a criminal case by any party unless approved by a judge.

Climate

The governor signed 40 climate-related bills, several of which aim to significantly reduce the state’s use of oil and gas by 2045.

AB 1279
puts the state’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2045 into state law

SB 1137
establishes new setbacks for new oil drilling near communities,

SB 1020
requires the state’s electric grid to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2045.

AB 2238 creates an extreme heat advance warning and ranking system.

Housing and Homelessness
Newsom signed 38 measures related to housing.

AB 2011
and SB 6 aim to boost housing production and affordability by turning unused retail spaces into homes and communities.

SB 1338 establishes new judicial branches in all of California’s 58 counties that will provide court-ordered care to those who are unhoused and severely mentally ill.

Social media and the web

SB 2273
establishes the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, requiring online platforms to consider the best interest of child users and to default to privacy and safety settings that protect children’s mental and physical health and wellbeing.

AB 587 requires social media companies to publicly post their policies regarding hate speech, disinformation, harassment and extremism on their platforms, and report data on their enforcement of the policies. It also requires companies to provide reports to the California Attorney General’s office on terms of service violation data and enforcement action.

COVID-19
AB 2963
requires workplaces to continue providing employees with COVID-19 exposure notifications until 2024.

AB 152 extends required, supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19 until Dec. 31, 2022.

AB 209 makes it easier for the California Medical Board to punish doctors who spread COVID-19 misinformation.

Miscellaneous
AB 1766
allows undocumented immigrants to obtain state identification cards through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

SB 988 establishes suicide hotline call centers in California and dedicates a source to fund a 988 system in the state.

AB 1314 establishes the “Feather Alert” for missing Native American people

AB 1249 exempts PG&E wildfire victims from paying taxes on settlement payments from the wildfire trust.

SB 1287 prohibits gender-based pricing on products based on who they're marketed towards.

California now has three, optional, new state holidays on the books including Juneteenth (AB 1655), Lunar New Year (AB 2596) and Genocide Remembrance Day (AB 1801).

AB 1817 bans the use of chemicals commonly known as PFAS from being used in fabrics and makeup by 2025.

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<![CDATA[Election 2022: South Bay local races, candidates and measures]]>Thu, 18 Aug 2022 18:43:44 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/election-2022-south-bay-local-races-candidates-and-measures
From the Daily Breeze
PUBLISHED: August 18, 2022 at 10:20 a.m.

The statewide general election is Nov. 8.
Redondo Beach also has a special election set for Oct. 19.
 


The statewide primary was about two months ago — but another major election is only a tad more than two months away.

And voters across the South Bay will have a lot to decide.

Besides the runoffs for Congress, state Senate and Assembly, and other races that were winnowed down during the primary, multiple local races will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.

And Redondo voters will get a warm-up of sorts — with a controversial special election set for Oct. 19.

That election will feature a measure that, if voters pass it, would allow up to three cannabis dispensaries to open in town. District 4 voters will also weigh whether to recall Councilman Zein Obagi Jr. Tonya McKenzie is the only person running to succeed Obagi should voters oust him.


Below is a list of South Bay city council and school board races and candidates, as well as measures. Hawthorne’s city clerk did not return a request for comment.

City Council
  • El Segundo: Incumbent Chris Pimental is running against at least four opponents to fill two El Segundo City Council seats. The other known candidates are Ryan Baldino, Michelle Keldorf, Robin Patch and John Pickhaver. Because Councilman Scot Nicol is not running, the deadline was extended to Wednesday.
  • Hawthorne: Has two council seats up for grabs in November, but it wasn’t clear as of Wednesday who was running.
  • Hermosa Beach: Three City Council seats are available, with incumbent Raymond Jackson facing seven other candidates, Dean Francois, Rita Gerace, Daniel Godwin, Kieran Harrington, Matt McCool, Jeff Raedy and Rob Saemann.
  • Inglewood: Mayor Jim Butts is running for election against four challengers, Miya Walker, Chika Ogoke, Angelique Johnson and Raina Carrillo. District 1 Councilman George Dotson is running against four challengers, Kevin Taylor, Gloria Gray, Alena Cindy Giardina and Yolanda Davidson. District 2 Councilman Alex Padilla is running against one challenger, Robert Brown.
  • Manhattan Beach: Incumbent Suzanne Hadley and six challengers are running for two City Council seats. The challengers are former Councilmembers Mark Burton, Amy Howorth and David Lesser, and political newcomers Frank Chiella, Rita Crabtree-Kampe and Stewart Fournier.

Measures
  • El Segundo: Voters will decide whether to allow cannabis dispensaries with certain restrictions, including discouraging pop-up shops by requiring a shop be a minimum of 1750 square feet and limiting locations to east of Pacific Coast Highway. Another measure would tax cannabis businesses at a rate not to exceed $20 per square foot for cultivation and 10% of gross receipts for sales. A third measure would increase business taxes, potentially generating $3 million per year for public safety and parks.
  • Hawthorne: Voters will have a local measure on the ballot, according to the Los Angeles County registrar, but it wasn’t clear what it would do.
  • Hermosa Beach: Voters have several measures to decide upon, including one that would allow up to two cannabis dispensaries and other that would place a tax, not to exceed 10%, on such businesses if the cannabis measure passes. Another measure would increase the city’s sales tax from from 9.5% to the state max of 10.25%. A fourth would repeal a 1960s-era human resources code that, among other things, prohibits nepotism in city government.
  • Manhattan Beach: Voters will weigh two measures, one to allow up to three cannabis dispensaries and another that bans them outright.

School boards
  • Centinela Valley Union High School District: Incumbent Estefany Castaneda is running for reelection in Trustee Area 5 against Virginia Gomez. The Area 1 and 2 incumbents filed for reelection but don’t have any challengers.
  • El Segundo Unified: There is one seat available, with incumbent Tracey Miller-Zarneke running against four rivals, Meredith Beachly, Yadranka Lucia Draskovic, Dawn Garrett and Frank Glynn.
  • Hermosa Beach City School District: Incumbents Maggie Bove-LaMonica and Jennifer Cole, and challenger Catherine Barrow are running to fill three seats. Because a third incumbent, Stephen McCall, isn’t running, the deadline was extended to Wednesday.
  • Lawndale School District: Incumbent Shirley Rudolph of Trustee Area 2 is running against Angel Sanchez. A possible challenger to the Area 1 board member did not appear to qualify, according to the registrar, while no one opposed the Area 4 incumbent.
  • Lennox School District: As of Wednesday, only three people qualified for this election, which only had three seats available: incumbents Karina Cordero and Maria de Los Angeles Gonzalez, and challenger Julio Vargas. But the filing deadline was extended.
  • Manhattan Beach Unified: Incumbent Jen Fenton and five others are running for three school board seats. The challengers are Christy Barnes, John George Uriostegui, Kristen “Wysh” Weinstein, Mike Welsh and Christina “Tina” Shivpuri.

All registered voters will receive a ballot for the Nov. 8 election by mail beginning Oct. 6.
In-person will begin Oct. 29.


To update you voter registration, visit lavote.gov or call 800-815-2666, option 2.

For more information about candidates, measures or local races, go to lavote.gov, or your local city or school board website.
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<![CDATA[LWV LA County ILO makes suggestions to help LA County improve their Climate Action Plan]]>Mon, 25 Jul 2022 18:36:28 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/july-25th-2022
by Grace Peng, July 2022

LWV LA County ILO recently took action to write a letter to LA County suggesting ways they could improve upon their Climate Action Plan (CAP) so that LA Co can truly meet our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction goals.  By their own admission, transportation contributes over 44% to LA Co’s GHG emissions and 52% of emissions in unincorporated parts of LA Co. Yet their CAP relies heavily on things outside of LA Co’s control, such as robotic cars, virtual power plants and Direct Air Capture(DAC) of CO2 from the atmosphere.

UC Berkeley researchers found “that roughly 35% of all carbon footprint abatement potential statewide is from activities at least partially within the control of local governments.” Local Governments control zoning and their streets. Rezoning to allow more homes in urban infill areas where there is less need for driving, and remodeling streets to allow more trips to be safely and conveniently done without cars, can reduce GHG emissions many times more than other interventions that get less attention.

Consider the Cool Climate Local Gov’t Climate Policy Tool for Cities of Santa Monica and Los Angeles.
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Urban infill (zoning, parking reform) and VMT reduction (bike lanes, transit) can reduce 10.7x as much GHG emissions for Santa Monica as Renewable Electricity (6.4x in LA City). Our political leadership is acting with urgency on the wrong things. We can, and must, do it all at the same time because the climate can’t wait. More homes for people instead of cars. More homes with elevators to train stations instead of waiting for robotaxis that may never come.

LWV LAC ILO wrote a detailed 12-page letter with specific recommendations for actions from Appendix E: Implementation Details. The letter refers to appropriate League policy positions and current research about best practices.  Please give it a read.
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<![CDATA[James Madison & The Federal Negative]]>Wed, 06 Jul 2022 22:55:05 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/james-madison-the-federal-negative
Several years ago, our League sent Redondo Union High School Government & History teacher Michael Henges to Harvard University to learn teaching strategies used extensively by the Harvard Business School.  In return, he was to teach his classes using the strategies, and also to provide a community meeting sharing this learning experience with LWVBC membership and the community.  

On May 23, 2022 we held our community meeting.  Mike provided a lively and interactive discussion using teaching and learning strategies, based on the Harvard Case Study methodology he uses in his Advanced Placement Government class.   This stretched our thinking and led to an exciting night.

In preparation for the evening discussion, participants read the Madison Case Study provided by Harvard, and formulated answers to the following questions in advance, just as Mike’s high school students prepare for their class discussions.

Click here to read more about this case study.
We plan to provide a different case study in this next school year — read the Voter for updates!

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<![CDATA[A Juneteenth Reminder About Systemic Racism in Health Care]]>Sun, 19 Jun 2022 19:25:50 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/a-juneteenth-reminder-about-systemic-racism-in-health-care
Summary: Juneteenth commemorates an 1865 US army order to end slavery in Texas. Emancipation was the first essential step to offer Black Americans the opportunity to live a free and healthy life. But even today, 157 years later, the well-being of people of color is compromised by numerous post-emancipation policies that disadvantage them. We offer a framework to understand these issues and advocate for change.

Comment by: Jim Kahn and Susan Rogers

Systemic racism in health is the constellation of policy decisions taken within health care as well as in other policy domains that affect health, regardless of the purported mindset of decision-makers and practitioners. Overt racist intent (e.g., denying Black individuals the same rights as White individuals) is unacceptable and deeply harmful, but is not required for racist consequences. Indeed, many broadly harmful policies derive from racist perspectives dressed up to appear beneficent (e.g., providing inferior public services when the likely users are people of color). What makes racism “systemic” is that structural features foster unequal treatment and outcomes.

Our framework for understanding systemic racism in health starts with health care, including insurance and delivery of care. It then proceeds to broader domains that less obviously, but indeed powerfully, influence health. Our effort in this post is broad, with a few citations. It should not be taken as a definitive academic review on the topic. Instead, we hope it helps clarify the challenges we face in order to reduce and end systemic racism in health.

A note on terminology. Observed differences are often described as “disparities,” which has a neutral tone. We prefer “inequities,” which highlights that these differences are unjust and unfair.


Health insurance: Black and Latino Americans are less likely to be privately insured, and more likely to be uninsured or Medicaid-insured. This is the insurance structure that predisposes them to health care access problems. Our public policy tolerance of low payment rates and poor access under Medicaid differentially harms people of color, and in so doing reveals a fundamental and unacceptable disregard for their welfare.

The Affordable Care Act reduced uninsurance inequities, via the Medicaid expansion. However, the 13 non-expansion states have high Black and Hispanic Medicaid participation, including five of the ten highest states by this metric. Thus state refusals of federal money to expand Medicaid disproportionally hurt people of color.

Inequities in coverage worsened during COVID.

Historical Origins: 20th century health insurance expansions, including the lack of universal coverage, were shaped substantially by the linked issues of states’ rights and racism. Medicaid design and implementation compromises were similarly influenced.

Access to care: Blacks and Latinos are more likely to experience financial barriers to care. This derives from higher rates of uninsurance and Medicaid. In the Medicare program, lower income and race interact to create higher rates of skipped or delayed care. In addition, there are geographic barriers: often no hospitals, clinics, or pharmacies in poor and rural neighborhoods.

Health workforce: People of color are under-represented in the most prestigious professional group in medicine – physicians. Even worse, they remain under-represented among medical students, so the physician mix is not evolving. The American Medical Association excluded blacks until the 1965 passage of Medicare, which desegregated hospitals. A wide variety of racist attitudes and behaviors continue in clinical practice.

Pain management: One often-mentioned issue is different attitudes and use of narcotic pain relief for Black patients, with an example here. This problem is especially difficult to read about for sickle cell anemia, with its excruciating sickle crises.

Quality of care: The literature on race and quality of care is massive. A PubMed search turned up 1,700 systematic reviews, and 200,000 articles. The issue pervades medicine.
Now we discuss issues apparently outside the health realm. Yet they influence health care and health in profound ways.

Law enforcement & incarceration: Our criminal justice system is biased against people of color at all steps: stops, arrests, convictions, and severity of punishment. Blacks and Latinos are vastly over-represented in prisons. The high rate of incarceration creates a “prison penalty” which impairs employment. This, in turn, reduces access to private insurance, among other harms.

Living in areas with concentrated poverty: Blacks are more likely to be poor than are whites. However, the elevated risk of living in areas of concentrated poverty – with scarce resources like supermarkets, well-funded schools, and health care, and greater environmental toxicity – is even greater. Blacks are five times more likely than whites to live in concentrated poverty, 10 times in some cities, and even non-poor Black families are 1.5 times as likely as poor White families to live in concentrated poverty.[1] 

Public funding to get ahead: The GI bill after World War II paid for higher education for returning soldiers – if white; black soldiers were mainly excluded. Federal mortgage guarantees were “red-lined”: excluding high risk (read: mainly black) neighborhoods. As a result, Black families were denied the leg up needed to establish family financial stability. Wealth differences are massive by race. This contributes to a greater medical debt burden.

Health effects: Life expectancy is >3 years greater for White than Black babies. At age 60, the difference is 1 year. Both differences increased with COVID, which had much higher death rates among Black than White individuals.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep saying it: single payer universal health care will help end inequity in health insurance and thus largely in access. The phrase “health insurance program for the poor” will no longer have meaning. Being Black or Hispanic will no longer feed an “algorithm” to rank health insurance attention to underserved populations. Instead, it will mean that person deserves excellent universal health insurance, just like everyone else.    

We should rejoice that the federal government has designated Juneteenth as an official holiday. We have a lot more work to do.
***
Susan Rogers is president of Physicians for a National Health Program.
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<![CDATA[10 Things You Can Do To Help People Vote in 2022]]>Tue, 17 May 2022 00:25:24 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/10-things-you-can-do-to-help-people-vote-in-2022Last Updated: February 17, 2022  by Maggie Bush and Megan Brown
Primary election season officially kicks off in March, when voters across Texas will weigh in on the issues that matter most to them. With many more primary elections scheduled this year, and with all of the House of Representatives and dozens of US Senate and Gubernatorial seats up for grabs in November, the results of this year’s elections will be felt for a long time to come.  
Here are ten ways YOU can help make sure this election year matters:  
  1. Check your voter registration and ask at least five friends to do the same. If you’ve moved or changed your name since the last time you voted, you most likely need to update your registration record. Don’t wait until it’s too late: check your status now.  
  2. Find out where the candidates stand on the issues that matter most to you. Bookmark our Webby award-winning site, VOTE411.org, and check back closer to your state’s elections to see who is on your ballot, what they stand for, and what options you have for voting. Our info is available in both English and Spanish —  and we’re committed to keeping the facts up to date even if voting rules change in your state.  
  3. Sign up to join the election workforce! Our elections depend on thousands of people working to staff and secure them every year. If you have time to spare, sign up as a poll worker. It’s a paid gig in many states!  
  4. Volunteer to help get voters ready for Election Day! Find your local League of Women Voters or another org whose work you admire.  
  5. Put your money to use for democracy! Support brands that value civic engagement and voting. The Civic Alliance is a great place to start
  6. Know a young person, new citizen, or someone else who will be voting for the first time? Share our First-Time Voter Checklist to help make sure they're prepared. 
  7. Find out who’s funding the candidates on your ballot. FollowTheMoney.org is a useful resource. 
  8. See or hear a problem with voting in your area? Call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE for help (find election helplines in additional languages at VOTE411.org). 
  9. Learn about our nation’s historic – and persistent – struggle for voting rights, then get involved in organizations whose mission you believe in.  
  10. Seriously, VOTE411 has everything you and your friends need to successfully cast your votes this year. Spread the word!  

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<![CDATA[‘We have failed’: how California’s homelessness catastrophe is worsening]]>Fri, 25 Mar 2022 00:28:17 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/we-have-failed-how-californias-homelessness-catastrophe-is-worsening
by Sam Levin in Los Angeles
March, 22 2022

A new Guardian US series reports on a seemingly intractable crisis, and hears from those living on the edge in one of America’s richest states

When California shut down in March 2020, advocates for unhoused people thought the state might finally be forced to solve its homelessness crisis. To slow the spread of Covid, they hoped, officials would have to provide people living outside with stable and private shelter and housing.

But in the two years since, California’s humanitarian catastrophe has worsened: deaths of people on the streets are rising; college students are living in their cars; more elderly residents are becoming unhoused; encampment communities are growing at beaches, parks, highway underpasses, lots and sidewalks.

California has the fifth largest economy in the world, a budget surplus, the most billionaires in the US and some of the nation’s wealthiest neighborhoods. Yet the riches of the Golden State have not yielded solutions that match the scale of the crisis that’s been raging for decades. Pandemic-era programs have had some success for a slice of the unhoused population, but many measures have fallen short.

Meanwhile, homelessness has become the top issue in political races. Polls in Los Angeles, which is home to 40% of the state’s unhoused population, suggest that a majority of voters want their governments to act faster, and that residents are angered by the immense human suffering caused by a seemingly intractable crisis. ​​
In response, governments across the state are increasingly cracking down on people sleeping outside. Out of the 20 largest cities in California, the majority have either passed or proposed new laws banning camping in certain places or have ramped up encampment sweeps. LA and Oakland passed laws meant to prohibit camping in certain zones; San Francisco’s mayor has pushed for a police crackdown on unhoused people using drugs in the Tenderloin neighborhood; Fresno adopted a law to fine people up to $250 for entering certain restricted areas; and Modesto, Bakersfield and Riverside are pushing to expand the number of park rangers in an effort to enforce anti-camping rules and related restrictions.

Some unhoused people and civil rights activists warn that those escalating efforts to force people off the streets are only further hurting the most vulnerable.

“We have failed in so many respects,” said Theo Henderson, a Los Angeles advocate for the unhoused, who was himself living outside until recently. “There are families with children living in automobiles. There are elderly and the infirm on the streets … It’s a dark time right now, and unhoused residents are very afraid.”


‘Unacceptable’ numbers

In a new series that will be published over the next several months, Guardian US is examining California’s homelessness crisis across the state.

While homelessness remains concentrated in major metro areas like Los Angeles, San Jose, the San Francisco Bay area and San Diego, communities from the north to the Mexico border are facing their own emergencies.
AdvertisementCalifornia counted 161,548 unhoused people in the state in January 2020, the most recent count data available. The count is a “point in time” estimate that tallies people living on the street or in shelters. Since it’s a rough snapshot of a single day, and doesn’t account for people who are hidden from public view or are unhoused but couch-surfing that night, it is considered a significant undercount.

At least 113,660 of those counted were classified as “unsheltered”, making California home to more than half of all people without shelter in America and the only state where more than 70% of the homeless population is unsheltered (by comparison, just 5% of New York’s homeless population was unsheltered.

The consequences of so many people living outside are severe and fatal. In 2015, the LA county coroner’s office recorded 613 deaths of unhoused people. That number has steadily climbed each year, rising to 1,609 fatalities in 2021, a spokesperson said. Those figures are an undercount, because the coroner only tracks fatalities considered sudden, unusual or violent. A report by the University of California, Los Angeles last year estimated that overdoses were a leading cause of death of unhoused people during the pandemic.

AdvertisementData analyses have revealed other disturbing trends: one UCLA study estimated that at least 269,000 students from kindergarten to grade 12 in the state were experiencing homelessness before the pandemic; in LA county, Black residents were four times as likely to be unhoused; and also in LA, there was a 20% jump in the number of unhoused seniors, with nearly 5,000 elderly people living outside before Covid arrived.

“It’s just not acceptable,” said Wendy Carrillo, a state assemblymember who represents parts of LA and chairs a budget committee on homelessness. As a kid, she would pass by Skid Row and struggle to understand why so many people were forced to live outside, she said. The crisis has grown since: “We’ve become so disconnected as a society, so cold to the issue that people are OK with stepping over someone who is passed out on the floor.”

A $14bn investment – and a crackdown on camping

California’s catastrophe stems in part from a longstanding, statewide housing affordability crisis. Californians spend significantly more of their income on housing compared with the rest of the nation. More than 1.5 million renters spend half of their earnings on rent, leaving them potentially one medical emergency or crisis away from homelessness. In recent years, income inequality has only worsened.

UCLA research on the residents of one LA encampment found that people cited a range of factors that led them to become unhoused, including eviction, job loss, domestic violence, former incarceration, family conflict and low wages in gig economy jobs.

Responding to the crisis, California is pouring billions of dollars into housing and related services, but the success of new programs meant to expand affordable housing and emergency shelter has been mixed.
“One of the challenges of housing policy is that it’s like turning around a giant ship. It’s a slow process,” said Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project. The state has made significant progress in recent years in investing in housing, he noted, but the benefits can sometimes take more than a decade to materialize.

There are also systemic and historical problems that housing programs can’t solve, including the loss of social safety nets, the dissolution of redevelopment programs, and a controversial state tax measure passed in 1978 that has created significant obstacles for new home ownership, Roller said.
And some regions have invested more in temporary shelter programs than in permanent housing, making it hard for people to transition out of shelters, especially as the housing market worsens and as more people newly become unhoused, advocates said.

AdvertisementEmblematic of the challenges is California’s signature homelessness response during the pandemic: Project Roomkey. The program temporarily provided motel rooms to an estimated 50,000 people living on the streets. But the program was administered at the local level and some counties fell short of their goals or failed to meet the demand in their regions; participants reported struggling to find housing after hotel stays ended and some returned to the streets because of the strict rules in the program, advocates said.
This year, the California governor, Gavin Newsom, is pushing a $14bn investment in homelessness solutions, meant to create 55,000 new housing units and treatment slots. His Homekey initiative, the successor to Project Roomkey, allows local governments to buy motels to use as temporary or permanent housing for unhoused people. As of last week, the state has awarded $695m for more than 2,400 units.

While the programs could be transformative for some participants, advocates worry their impact for many could come too late, especially with statewide eviction protections expiring at the end of the month and pandemic-era rent relief efforts winding down. Even with a partial eviction moratorium in place, sheriffs enforced lockouts of thousands of households in the first year of the pandemic, according to a CalMatters analysis.

“We are getting a lot of calls from tenants who are being evicted,” said Jovana Morales-Tilgren, housing policy coordinator with Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, a Central Valley-based organization. “A lot of undocumented folks don’t have the resources to battle an eviction notice … and then there are not enough shelters for the unhoused people.”
Meanwhile, advocates warn, conditions for those living on the streets are only getting harder amid increasing restrictions on camping. A proposed state law would also allow courts to force some people with severe mental illness into treatment.

The crackdown on tent living and fear of possible forced treatment can lead people to scatter into more hidden locations where it can be harder for them to access services and get into programs, advocates say.
“Using law enforcement to respond to houselessness is both counterproductive and ineffective,” said Eve Garrow, policy analyst and advocate at the ACLU of Southern California. The expansion of criminalization was overwhelming, Garrow said. “And people are experiencing compassion fatigue, and they want something done. Local public officials are responding with what they see as ‘quick fixes’ that aren’t fixes at all and are completely misguided.”

‘I don’t want to die on the streets’

People living on the streets or in temporary shelters waiting for housing said they were worried and exhausted by the increasingly hostile rhetoric of politicians and communities.

“Unhoused people are blamed for every social ill,” said Henderson, who regularly talks to unhoused residents on his podcast. “There’s an uptick in burglaries, and then the response is, ‘Can we get the unhoused removed?’ Every unhoused person has those stories – as soon as something happens, here comes the police looking at them as the prime suspect.”

Kenneth Stallworth, who has been living in a group shelter since his Venice Beach encampment was shut down in a high-profile dispute last year, said he didn’t mind the shelter and appreciated the electricity, but also noted that he had seen several people die or have health emergencies in the facility.

“The people are getting what they want,” he said of his fellow Angelenos. “The homeless are getting moved away from areas where there were the most complaints.”

Dawn Toftee, 57, was living at an encampment near the stadium where the Super Bowl was held in LA last month, until she was forced to leave in advance of the big game. Officials said the residents were offered housing, but a month later, Toftee is camping down the street – and is still waiting for a housing voucher that could subsidize a rental.

“I’m getting old and I don’t want to die on the streets,” she said, adding that she didn’t think officials cared whether people like her got housing: “They just want us out of eyesight.”
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<![CDATA[On What Just Happened to Medicare for All in California—and the Organizing We Need to Win]]>Wed, 23 Mar 2022 19:29:01 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/on-what-just-happened-to-medicare-for-all-in-california-and-the-organizing-we-need-to-win
February 8, 2022  by Michael Lighty

Why is a healthcare system—Medicare for All—that costs less described as "too expensive?"

Why hasn't the overwhelming popularity of Medicare for All—85% of Democrats, 66% of independents and 52% (!) of GOP support it—translated into legislative majorities?

We need a healthcare justice coalition guided by a strategic assessment of what it will take to win with the ability to communicate effectively against the industry's lies.

Why is Medicare for All, a version of which is utilized in 50 countries around the world, presented as 'untested?'
The recent demise of the Medicare for All style reform bill in California, AB 1400, reveals some answers. The Wall Street Journal, who haven't met a for-profit healthcare model they don't like, suggest that if Medicare for All cannot be done in California, it won't happen in the United States. And the opposite is more likely true: if we can do it in California, Medicare for All will be adopted nationally.

AB 1400, also known as "CalCare" sponsored by the California Nurses Association/NNU, was the latest version of a single-payer bill to be considered in the California Legislature designed to help lead the US towards Medicare for All. Since the 1994 ballot initiative for single payer that was heavily defeated—it received fewer votes than the petition signatures gathered to put it on the ballot—numerous single payer bills have passed one or both houses of the legislature, and those that made it to the Governor's desk were vetoed.

Many advocates were encouraged when Gov. Gavin Newsom campaigned in support of the prior bill, SB 562, since the lack of gubernatorial support had proven fatal to reform efforts. As a result, the Healthy California Now coalition of organizations sought to hold Newsom to his promise and to utilize the Healthy California for All Commission he sponsored to move a single payer agenda. The pandemic delayed that Commission's work, but it is on track to release a report in April likely favorable to what they term "unified financing," having issued reports that demonstrated the unsustainability, inequities and expense of the present healthcare system compared to the cost and coverage advantages of single payer.
Rather than wait and rely on the Governor's leadership, advocates sought to rally around a bill as the preferred organizing strategy and a necessary policy step to apply for the approvals from the Biden administration necessary to finance a state single payer program (known as ACA Section 1332 waivers).
The resulting bill AB 1400 faced significant hurdles in the California Assembly, which has a large contingent of pro-corporate Democrats, despite a nearly three-fourths Democratic majority (which has been eroded by early retirements). To protect its profits and power, the healthcare industry—the insurance companies, corporate hospital chains, and prescription drug corporations, which can charge whatever they want, choose our doctors, and restrict access to treatments—rolled out a series of lies:
  • Expensive and unproven approach to health care (only the US relies upon commercial insurance to allocate healthcare)
  • Removes consumer choice (of health plans, such as it is)
  • Threatens California’s ability to respond to future public health emergencies (as if the present system has done such a great job addressing Covid-19)
  • Californians need a stable health care system we can rely on (which is why we need single payer).

The Assembly Speaker required the AB 1400 author, Assembly member Ash Kalra, to develop a financing plan as a condition to move the bill through the legislative process. After eight months of work, Kalra complied in late December. With the introduction of the financing plan, known as ACA 11, the debate focused on the taxes necessary to replace the current premiums, co-payments, and deductibles: the media narrative adopted the industry perspective and highlighted the supposed costs of single payer.

No one mentioned that the "private taxes" workers and employers pay for healthcare are the greatest financial burden faced by the middle class, as the Commission had shown. Nor did we hear about the much greater expense of the present system ($517 billion in 2022!) even though it provides less benefits, is hugely inequitable, and includes out of pocket costs of $2000 per year from each Californian just for the administration of the commercial insurance system. AB 1400 proponents didn't utilize the very favorable studies and analysis provided by the Commission—the Los Angeles Times pointed to one study after the fact, but it's not just "supporters" who assert single payer will cost less (see researchers from UCSF review of 22 financing studies, 20 of which show savings from single-payer).

The bill moved to the Assembly Health Committee, where it passed 11-3 in early January. Time was of the essence, since for the bill to advance to the state Senate, it had to pass the Assembly by January 31st.
At this point significant changes in AB 1400 were made to how the bill's policies would be implemented. Rather than go through the legislature this year never to return, amendments were adopted that required the bill's governing board to apply for the necessary federal support, review and certify the sufficiency of the financing plan, and report back to the legislature which would have to vote again by July 1, 2024, to implement the resulting program, and send the financing plan to the voters for ultimate approval. In short, AB 1400 expressed the intent of the legislature and set up a process for implementation that depended on legislative votes and on winning a ballot initiative.

Given existing provisions in the California constitution regarding the size of the state budget and revenues devoted to education, a ballot initiative seemed inevitable to most observers, but many advocates presented a successful adoption of AB 1400 this year as "enacting CalCare," which was not the case.

The message environment matters, and single payer proponents are not winning the media narrative.

So how much of a setback is Assembly member's Kalra decision not to bring up AB 1400 for a vote? Rather than risk a double-digit defeat and solidify a negative position among colleagues whose support he needs and expects, Ash Kalra opted to fight another day. Advocates expressed outrage and a sense of betrayal. It's appropriate to hold elected officials accountable by forcing them to go on record on a bill, if we are prepared to act electorally to replace them, including having a fund and organizing strategy for credible primary challengers. That wasn't the case here. AB 1400 has been characterized as the only true single payer bill in California history, yet all of its provisions were subject to federal approval and further state legislative review.

In fact, the "first step" established by the amended AB 1400 can still be taken by the Governor with legislative authorization if necessary and incorporating the Commission's analysis and the key principles put forth in AB 1400. Once the federal support and approval for financing and program is secured by the Newsom administration, the California Legislature could approve it and send it to the ballot. The timeline would be at least as soon as in the amended AB 1400. There can be a convergence of state legislative and executive approaches.

Much has been accomplished. AB 1400 supporters organized the most comprehensive grassroots digital lobbying campaign ever, building a key infrastructure for future campaigns. The bill received significant endorsements, though the organizations including unions, that provide campaign funding and volunteers to elect Democrats did not make AB 1400 a priority. Organizational capacity to take on the industry was insufficient. There is also not a sufficient working-class base, particularly in non-union workplaces and during labor disputes, demanding single payer as the solution to the on-going healthcare crisis, and especially to the inequities exposed by the pandemic. We need to bring the diverse healthcare reformers who are in Sacramento everyday urging immediate improvements to pressure legislators for single payer. We need to be able to persuade and if necessary, force politicians to guarantee healthcare—not simply adopt "universal coverage" with all its gaps and disparities—whether they or their donors want to or not. That takes greater organizational and institutional support, and base building, in addition to activist mobilization.

The message environment matters, and single payer proponents are not winning the media narrative. Our slogan could be "We Care, They Scare. Better Healthcare, Not Bigger Profits." We must educate and inoculate voters, which takes door-knocking, earned media and paid ads, funded by tens of millions of dollars over a few years. Once the industry funded TV campaign begins against a ballot initiative—and we can expect based on recent ballot fights $200 million to publicize their lies about high costs, taxes, unreliability, lost jobs and limited choice under single payer—we'll need to be on TV, too.

This year in California we can establish the building blocks for single payer—seeking federal support, covering undocumented residents, setting up the infrastructure to set a state healthcare budget and rates, establishing a "single payer" for prescription drugs, and unwinding the for-profit domination of the state's low-income health program, Medi-Cal.

We need a healthcare justice coalition guided by a strategic assessment of what it will take to win with the ability to communicate effectively against the industry's lies. Can one bill do it all? Maybe not. But strategic organizing can.
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<![CDATA[Deferred and Accelerated Voters: Redistricting and the California State Senate]]>Wed, 05 Jan 2022 20:39:43 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/deferred-and-accelerated-voters-redistricting-and-the-california-state-senate
Background
California state Senators are elected every four years. The terms are staggered; those from even-numbered districts elected in one statewide General Election, and those from odd-numbered districts two years later. This creates a problem when district lines are redrawn every ten years. All of the new district lines for the state Assembly and US Congress take effect at the next election – but for the state Senate, the process is staggered, with new district lines taking effect for only half of the districts imme-diately after redistricting, and the other lines taking effect two years later.

Deferred Voters
In 2022 voters will elect new state senators in even-numbered districts for new four-year terms. State Senators in odd-numbered districts were elected in 2020. Some voters may find themselves moved from an even-numbered district to an odd-numbered one. For these individuals, voting in a state Senate race will be deferred until 2024. The Citizens Redistricting Commission did attempt to create and number districts that cause as few voters as possible to defer voting for another two years.

Accelerated Voters
Accelerated voters are the opposite of deferred voters. These are voters who voted in odd-numbered state Senate districts in 2020, and now, in 2022, are in even-numbered districts. They will vote for state Senator in both 2020 and 2022.

What happens to voters in deferred areas? Who do they contact as “their” state Senator?
In 2013, the state Senate set the following rules:
Due to redistricting, Senate districts have a unique issue that Assembly and Congressional districts do not have. Of the Senate districts established by the Citizens Redistricting Commis-sion in 2011, only the odd-numbered districts went into effect for the 2012 election cycle. The new even-numbered districts will go into effect for the 2014 election cycle, and the even-numbered districts previously established by the 2001 redistricting will continue to exist until 2014. These unique circumstances create some areas of overlap between the old and new districts (“accelerated areas”) and some areas without coverage (“deferred areas”). For the 2013-14 Regular Session of the Legislature, each accelerated area essentially has two Sena-tors representing the area and each deferred area has none. The Senate Committee on Rules will assign a Senator to provide appropriate constituent services to each deferred area. This is a normal consequence of the redistricting process.

Assuming that the Senate applies the same practice in 2023, Senators in even-numbered districts will be elected in 2022, and the Senate Committee on Rules will assign a Senator to each deferred area.

You can find your state representatives at this website.
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