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Monday, November 1, 2010

Jerry Brown, Calif. candidate for governor, visits San Diego Old Town State Historic Park to give final pre-election speech

Story and photos by Emily Anderson

SAN DIEGO -- The former governor hailed as Governor Moonbeam in the 1970s – for his then forward-thinking ideas – returned to San Diego, visiting Old Town State Historic Park for his final pre-election visit.

Supporters crowded like sardines close to the small stage at Café Coyote to hear Democratic candidate for governor speak. State Controller John Chiang spoke, and then State Senator Chris Kehoe introduced Jerry Brown at 9 a.m. He was given a loud applause while approaching the microphone.

People lined up along the stairs and the second-story balcony, squishing together to hear the soft-voiced Brown give his short speech. A truck hummed across the street, making it harder to hear Brown, but the audience paid attention completely.

Brown supports job creation, education and protecting the environment. Brown was known by some as Moonbeam when he served two terms as governor from 1975-1983 for his environmental, innovative ideas which weren't commonplace. Brown did support carpool lanes, computers in schools, and satellite communications early on before it was considered cool to be an environmentalist.

Many supporters wore Jerry Brown or Barack Obama T-shirts, holding Jerry Brown for Governor signs in the air, while Brown thanked people who made the rally possible.

Brown said California had an aerospace industry that led the world at one time, that people live in California to obtain opportunities, and that even East Coast-born Meg Whitman came to California for opportunities. The crowd cheered at this statement.

Brown said California is the land of imagination and creativity, but it faces problems – i.e. a roughly $15 billion deficit.

At this remark, the crowd cheered and clapped, chanting, “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!”

He said more people come to California than leave California, but people are losing their homes, so he wants to create jobs. He wants to invest in environmental jobs, citing legislative bill AB 32, and that the bill will “nurture new industries, engines and machines…” He wants to create 500,000 jobs in the future, stress creativity and innovation, invest in schools, and “get California back on the road.”

Brown said it was a good sign that the sun was out today in the midst of the miasma of confusion, referring to the overall chaos the state is in.

During his short speech, an older man driving a black truck stopped in the street and yelled out his window a few times that Brown is a liar. The television camera crews rushed to his vehicle to capture the unsuspected moment.

“Is that friend or foe?” Brown asked his audience, remaining straight-faced. The audience laughed and some members answered, “Foe!”

Brown said that he wants Republicans and Democrats to work together. While it was difficult to hear all of his speech, a man holding a large Susan Davis for Congress sign said that he is 65-years-old and politicians all say the same things. This man was a Brown fan; he just meant that people who couldn’t hear weren’t missing anything new.

At the end of his speech, Brown said: “We’re all Californians together. (I want) inclusion, transparency and fairness,” while the audience chanted “Jerry! Jerry!Jerry!”

While Jerry seamlessly slid through the gate of people after his speech, news crews gathered around. Kamala Harris, who is running for his current position of attorney general, quietly stood next to him for a moment on camera. (Harris stood in the back of the crowd quietly while Brown spoke.)

Brown offered money to the quiet employee at Cafe Coyote who stood nearby at her work station, making fresh tortillas on the patio. She declined it, smiling, and gave him a tortilla, which he bit into while facing the cameras.

County Board of Supervisors candidate Stephen Whitburn, who’s the only Democrat running against Republican incumbent Ron Roberts, attended the Brown event. He was dressed in a navy blue suit, shaking hands with fans of his own.

Kelly Barnes, perhaps one of Brown’s most enthusiastic supporters and registered Green party member, held a Jerry Brown for Governor sign and smiled hugely and thanked him as he got in the backseat of a black Chevrolet sedan, although Brown couldn’t hear her.

“He’s our moonbeam,” Barnes said. “Seriously, he knows how to share. I first saw him back (on the East Coast) when he spoke to (an African American) church. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s commitment.’ (It’s about) politics and the pulpit, caring about the earth, mano y mano. Fight for our right to share.

“I’m proud to be here to support Brown. Hell ya. Every man for himself!”

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kamala Harris, Democratic candidate for attorney general, visits San Diego Democratic Headquarters to promote herself, position

Story and photos by Emily Anderson

SAN DIEGO (CLAIREMONT) -- Kamala Harris, Democratic state attorney general candidate, visited the San Diego County Democratic headquarters in Claremont yesterday to speak about her candidacy and the importance of Democrats being elected at all levels of office.

Harris began her speech at 1 p.m. and addressed a couple of dozen Democratic volunteers who showed their approval by laughing, smiling and clapping. Harris, who is part African American and part Asian, would be the first woman and first African American elected to the state attorney general office position if she wins.

Dressed in a professional gray skirt suit, pantyhose and black high heels, Harris looked poised as she spoke for 20 minutes about the importance of health care, protecting the environment, and fixing the state’s broken criminal justice system, citing the Back on Track initiative she created to help reduce the first time non-violent drug crime rate of 18 –to -24-year olds.

Harris, who is the district attorney for San Francisco County, said that when President Obama was elected, his supporters elected a leader who was willing to reform health care and that California will be responsible for implementing the new health care laws. As a woman running for the California attorney general seat, she knows healthcare is important to everyone.

“We elected a leader saying that to be a female, to be a woman, should not be a pre-existing condition for the purposes of having access to health care,” she said. “We decided that it is just and right in … society that everyone, regardless of their economic status, will have access to affordable health care."

Harris said her Republican opponent - Steve Cooley - would, if elected, involve California in a lawsuit which was brought on by a southern state’s attorneys general regarding healthcare. She feels the lawsuit would be detrimental to California. She didn’t discuss this further.

Harris, 46, also spoke about the environment and related it to Proposition 23, which will appear on the November ballot and is allegedly funded by Texas oil companies. She gave background on how the proposition was created, saying that bill AB 32 (an assembly bill) would increase greenhouse gas emissions standards for the state of California. She said Gov. Schwarzenegger and Democrats championed the creation of AB 32, which would be undone if Proposition 23 passed.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

San Diego League of Women Voters hosted Proposition 11 discussion

SAN DIEGO -- Members of the San Diego League of Women Voters met Thursday, September 23 to hear a three-member panel discuss redistricting and Proposition 11 at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse located at the end of Harbor Island.

Sail boats drifted lazily by the restaurant as Elizabeth Maland, San Diego city clerk, Vladimir Kogan, a UCSD student and Kathay Feng, an author of Proposition 11 and executive director of California Common Cause, discussed redistricting both at the local and state level. Kogan and Feng did most of the talking, discussing their differing viewpoints about the California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission and how it affects gerrymandering.

The luncheon event was held from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and was titled “Redistricting: The Good, the bad and the ugly.” Mike Aguirre, former San Diego city attorney was supposed to be the fourth person on the panel, but could not make it to the event.

Maland spoke about redistricting guidelines and procedures the city follows from the city charter; Kogan spoke about components and his dislikes of Proposition 11 and Feng spoke about the good aspects of Proposition 11. While Proposition 27 will appear on the November ballot and would overturn Proposition 11, it was rarely discussed.

Dozens of people listened to the panel, intensely observing the PowerPoint presentations being shown to them. Kogan is a political science student in the process of receiving his Ph.D. and pleasantly opposed Feng’s viewpoints while presenting.

Proposition 11 passed on the November 2008 ballot and created the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, which created a bipartisan 14-member committee to draw state district lines. Proposition 11 states that applicants whom apply to serve on the redistricting commission cannot be a previous or current government employee, a lobbyist, an immediate relative of a government employee or could not have donated more than $2,000 in any year to a local, state or congressional candidate.

From the text of Proposition 11:

“The Citizens Redistricting Commission shall consist of 14 members, as follows: five who are registered with the largest political party in California based on registration, five who are registered with the second largest political party in California based on registration, and four who are not registered with either of the two largest political parties in California based on registration.”

Kogan disagreed with Feng, saying that people who have government experience should be allowed to apply to serve on the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Kogan said, while reiterating the text of Proposition 11, that a three-member Applicant Review Panel is selected at random from a pool of Certified Public Accountants. He said CPAs shouldn’t decide which members to pick for the commission. The text says that these three members of the Applicant Review Panel are “employed by the state and licensed by the California Board of
Accountancy at the time of the drawing.” He also mentioned that this applicant panel selects the most qualified candidates – but defining “most qualified” leaves Kogan hesitant.

What are his concerns with having the regular public apply?

“My concern with the commission is that we are going to have a group of un-elected and unrepresentative people make critical decisions – decisions that are fundamentally about core political values,” he said after the event. “Back in the early 1900s, the Progressive movement sought to take politics out of politics, and make government be run by professionals and experts…My concern is that the same thing is going to happen with this commission, especially given the unrepresentative nature of the applicants.”

During the event, Kogan kept mentioning value-based decisions, and that decisions of whomever draws district lines are going to differ no matter if the state district lines are drawn by the legislature, the state supreme court, or by the commission created by Proposition 11.

“Are the values of our representatives’ districts our values?” Kogan asked the audience. He answered his own question, saying the values of our representatives aren’t always ours.

“How many people in the room are representative of California?” he said, stating that applicants for the California Citizens Redistricting Commission probably aren’t representative of California either. He said the applicants are mostly old, white men.

As of last Thursday, Feng said the 30,000 people who initially applied to serve on the were narrowed down to about 120 people. 30 percent of the applicants were Latino, 14 percent were Asian, 12 percent were African American and five percent were American Indian. 47 percent were women.

Kogan also believes Proposition 11 isn’t the best step to prevent gerrymandering. Gerrymandering occurs when districts are drawn for political gain.

“The current concern about gerrymandering seems to be the state legislature drawing safe districts for incumbents…gerrymandering does not increase incumbency advantage, which is the key claim … Common Cause make(s),” Kogan said. “Second, the decision to draw safe districts in California was made for defensive reasons,” going on to note that “the legislature doesn’t actually want to draw pro-incumbent districts. It only does this out of fear of the minority party.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grocery store dilema

I just returned from the grocery store. I went to Henry's. It was an hour-long trip.
It took 20 minutes just to drive there, 20 minutes to look for items and twenty minutes to drive back. Every light was red just to get to damn Henry's. Every person was driving below the speed limit.

At one point in the store, I'm so lost and cannot find my little bottle of cinnamon, I ask an employee for help. Well, rather, he has seen me pass behind him so many times, he asks if he can help me.

Cinnamon kindness

He directs me to the the spices section which has giant spice containers. I say I just want a small bottle. We round the corner. After my eyes scan across 20 different spices - from cumin to paprika - I find cinnamon. I pick up a bottle that is over $5 for an ounce and a half of cinnamon. A discounted sticker below the regular sticker price mocks $4.89!. $4.89? Seriously? As if that's a good deal.

The employee helping me brings me packs of cinnamon. "Hmm...$1.19 for an ounce of cinnamon. A much better deal," I think to myself, then tell the employee out loud. He says, "Yeah, those are expensive, especially because you picked up the organic cinnamon."

When he leaves, I proceed to find the non-organic cinnamon, for less money.

I then wander around a few more aisles, only to ask the friendly male employee, again, for help. He walks me to where the sugar is - it is ankle level, to where I had just been standing, staring up at the expensive spices. Another dilema envelopes my thoughts.

"Hmm..." I ponder, as I see the regular-sized cane sugar, used for baking. "That one's too big, but it's regular sugar," I say to the employee.

"You can have this one," he says, pointing to some calorie-free sugar. What is the world coming to? Pretty soon, sugar-free sugar will grace the aisles and real sugar will cease to exist.

I picked up the giant thing of cane sugar, plopped it in my basket (because I didn't get a cart) - because I don't want calorie-free sugar - and I suddenly realize my extremely disproportionate sugar-to-cinnamon ratio.

At one point, after I have the cane sugar and bottle of olive oil in my basket, I feel like I'm a little tilted, because the basket is a little heavy. I proceed over to many different tomato sections and realize none of the tomatoes are good. They are sullen-looking yellow and reddish things - not the bright, healthy red they are supposed to be. An older woman with a British accent tells me that she doesn't want to pay what the store wants her to pay for a green bell pepper.

"I just want to make a pizza," she says. "I've got tomato sauce and cheese. What else could I put on in?"

I told her a bell pepper would be great, but yes, it is expensive. I suggest she throw mushrooms on the thing, and she says no. Then I think, "Well, a cheese pizza is pretty standard with just cheese and tomato sauce..." I'm not mad whatsoever; I just can't help her. Another woman peers at the green bell peppers, and the British woman tells her how expensive the bell peppers are.

The yogurt section

When I peer through the glass doors at the yogurt, I am having trouble finding a big-sized bottle of vanilla yogurt with a brand I recognize. A woman next to me looks for her yogurt type just as long as I do. There are a trillion brands to choose from. But I cannot find vanilla. I find plain and non-fat, many times over with many brands. I start becoming discouraged and think to myself, "What happened to good old Vanilla? It used to be a popular flavor." When I finally find vanilla, I am relieved.

Finally, when I walk toward the check-out lanes, only two lanes are open, and both lines are long. I get in one, with a male cashier, seeing as both choices would be the same, since both are the same length.

Nope. The other lane, with the female cashier, shrinks down. Five people in and out, prompto! I'm still standing in the same spot. I place my basket on the floor, as I begin to feel my spine move slightly out of alignment.

"I should've gotten in the other lane."

When I arrive home, I realize what I thought earlier, pre-grocery store trip. Which store do I go to? Trader Joes is equally as far away. Only some items can be bought there, some at Ralphs, some just at Henry's. I went to Henry's simply because the parking lot is giant, compared to Trader Joes' tiny parking lot. Then I realize that I feel like a divorced child of the grocery stores, split and torn between two. Henry's has the bigger parking lot, which I can seamlessy drive in and out of, without a ten-point turn to back out of the parking space. As for Trader Joes, I love certain items there, and they are inexpensive. Downfall - tiny parking lot.

A divorced grocery store woman I will remain. But I need to eat, so what can I do?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Constitutional first amendment rights & privileges for the common American

Americans are truly blessed to live in the United States. The first amendment really rings true to me. I bet most people don't even know what it is and how important it is.

The first amendment in a nutshell:
Freedom of the press. Freedom of speech. The right of the people peaceably to assemble. The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The right of the government to not establish a religion and therefore separate religion from the government.

Do United States citizens realize how amazing it is they can attend a peaceful rally and frantically wave signs at the people with the opposing viewpoints? Do United States citizens realize just how lucky they are to be able to write something down, let's say, something critical of the government, and not be thrown in jail?

Scholars and judges have trouble studying the first amendment because its short simplicity makes it extremely open to interpretation. However, it's wonderful it exists.

Here in the United States, words can hold power and the writer doesn't have to fear for his or her freedom. People abuse this system by plagarizing or using their words to attack others too harshly. But overall, it's a beautiful idea.

However, people in general shouldn't abuse the powers granted to us hundreds of years ago, via the Constitution. Just because we have freedom of speech (which also extends to the unwritten law of freedom of expression), it does not mean it's okay to bash any one person, i.e. President Obama, for instance.

Recently enough, Obama simply made a health care analogy saying it is alright if the government expands toward helping people afford health care if they need help and that private companies can still compete with it. The analogy he made simply said that the U.S. government can still compete with the private health insurance companes, just like Fedex and UPS compete with the United States Post Office. I believe people referred to it as his Post Office comment.

I read a story by a syndicated columnist published in the Coast News newspaper of San Diego County regarding Obama's metaphor. The columnist completely and obviously doesn't know what an analogy is and took Obama's words out of context. He seemed to be upset that Obama said anything about the U.S.P.S. and went on to talk about the post office's decision to reduce staff hours, etcetera. The columnist tied two unrelated ideas together. It wasn't a bad story. It just didn't make sense. Obama's health care comment/analogy he made had nothing to do with the post office or its decision to reduce staff hours in the near future. The writer's tone was tense.

I'm not mad, I'm just amazed how so-called professional journalists and private writers take things out of context all the time.

The almighty pen (or the computarized "pen") is used too much in negative ways nowadays. I hope United States citizens stop criticizing unnecessarily and start thinking before lashing out verbally.

This won't ever stop, because it is human nature to attack and accuse everyone and everything. However, people need not to abuse the first amendment more than it already is abused.

Carpe Diem. Sieze the day. Don't attack.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

3/25/2010. 12 p.m. The Thoughts of a Recent College Graduate Office Worker

12 noon

Time aches by slowly. The computer clock reads 11:47 a.m. Hmm...What to do? I know. Clean up the desktop. Icons are scattered all over the place. Clean up is good - in life, too.

I discover, around 11:51 a.m., a few old Excel spreadsheets. I delete an old Word document --- off to the recycle bin it shoots!

11:52 a.m. Ironically, my non-video-game-playing self would actually prefer to play some computer interactive game than clean up the desktop. Perhaps I can invent a game in which points are won for shooting icons into the recycle bin within a certain amount of seconds. Pew! Pew! Pew! Ok...not going to happen. Focus.

11:53 a.m. I discover a half-remedied list in Paint.

"Hmm..." I think. "I should put this in an Excel spreadsheet. It'll give me something to do." Plus, I like being organized.

As I type and click away in the Excel wonderland, my eyes wander to the clock at the bottom of the screen. 11:54 a.m. it reads.

"Ok," I say to myself. "Click slower. Just organize."

After re-arranging some cells, I glance at the clock again. 11:57 a.m. Almost noon. You know how (some) people know the a.m. stands for ante meridiem? Well, I think it should stand for always-mocking. A few more clicks occur. 11:58 a.m.

Now, mind you, if I were using the latest version of Excel, I could teach myself to learn new tricks. But I can't. I'm stuck in the year 2000 and I'm already relatively decent at it. No use of learning new things in an ancient version.

I glance at the clock at the bottom right hand corner of the computer screen. 12 p.m.

Only five and a half hours to go. Only! As if "only" makes me feel better. Today is going to drag on.