Environmental Heroes Headline Dems Feb Meeting

Environmental Heroes Headline Dems Feb Meeting

Nicole Capretz, Georgette Gomez Featured

Saving our Planet is Theme



On Wednesday, February 1st, ten days into the president Trump era, local Democrats will hear an all star forum discuss the steps we need to take to resist the attack on our climate goals, our clean air and water, and our ongoing transformation to renewable energy sources. Who best to create opportunities and action plans than the Executive Director of the Climate Action Campaign, Nicole Capretz? Or the newly elected San Diego City Councilperson from District 9, Georgette Gomez? Or the Executive Director of San Diego Coastkeeper, Matt O’Malley? Masada Disenhouse of SD350.org will also join our panel, as will Brian Elliott of the Sierra Club. And our moderator will be none other than our friend, and former Exec. Chair of the San Diego Sierra Club, Davin Widgerow.


Why our urgency to sound the alarm and expose and resist what is likely to be in store for the next 4 years in the environmental community?


Per the Guardian: “Trump has assembled a transition team in which at least nine senior members deny basic scientific understanding that the planet is warming due to the burning of carbon and other human activity. These include the transition heads of all the key agencies responsible for either monitoring or dealing with climate change. None of these transition heads have any background in climate science.”


Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency is noted climate change denier Scott Pruitt. And Trump is expected to name Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers to head the Interior Department. She is noteworthy for claiming that Al Gore “deserves an ‘F’ in science.” And let’s not forget that Trump’s choice for Secretary of State is none other than the head of the largest oil company in the world, Rex Tillerson. It’s plain to see that our new President has little regard for ending our dependency on oil, coal, tar sands, and other fossil fuel sources.


La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club serves the communities of Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, San Carlos, the College Area, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, Casa de Oro, Santee and other nearby East County locales. At nearly 300 members, it is one of the largest and most active chartered Democratic Clubs in San Diego County. We meet on the first Wednesday of each month at the spacious La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just North of University Ave. in La Mesa. Our meetings start with a social ½ hour at 6:30 PM with snacks, desserts and beverages supplied by club members, and then the business meeting and program begins at 7 PM. All members and guests are welcomed!


Our February meeting is the second in our series we are calling Write, Advocate and Resist, 48 months of learning to cope and overcome the already dire Trump administration. Trump’s inauguration coincided with the lowest approval ratings of any modern incoming president. His shocking appointments to executive positions on his staff and in his Cabinet are filled with unqualified, inexperienced and self-serving individuals who have little in common with the people or departments they are intending to lead, a veritable who’s who of reactionary and far right thinkers beholden to the fossil fuel industry and climate change deniers.



On the other hand, our Environmental Heroes are long time advocates and scholars, the best and brightest in their fields.   Nicole Capretz is an environmental attorney with 20 years of as an energy and climate policy advisor for local governments and the nonprofit sector. Nicole was the primary author of the City of San Diego’s groundbreaking, legally binding 100% clean energy Climate Action Plan adopted in late 2015. She now serves on the San Diego’s Climate Action Plan Implementation Working Group, as well as the City of Solana Beach’s Climate Action Commission.


Nicole advocates for local and state renewable energy legislation, participates in state administrative proceedings, serves as an expert witness in state policy hearings and is a regular speaker at energy and climate conferences and hearings. Nicole’s duties as Executive Director of CAC include overall strategic and operational responsibility for the organization’s staff, programs, expansion and execution of its mission.


Previously, Nicole served as the Chair of San Diego’s Economic and Environmental Sustainability Task Force for three years while being the Associate Director for Green Energy/Green Jobs at Environmental Health Coalition, an environmental justice organization in National City, California. She has also worked as a policy advisor for the San Diego City Council.


Nicole’s work on San Diego’s Climate Action Plan earned her numerous accolades among which are:


New York Times Top 10 Californians of the Year (2016)

“Voice of the Year” – Voice of San Diego (2015, 2016)

“Best People of San Diego” – San Diego CityBeat (2016)

“Bike Advocate of the Year” – San Diego County Bike Coalition (2016)

“Leadership Award” – San Diego County Democratic Party (2016)

Finalist for San Diego Magazine’s 2016 San Diego Woman of the Year (2016)

Finalist for San Diego Business Journal’s 2016 “Women Who Mean Business” Awards (2016)


Newly elected City Council Representative for San Diego’s District 9, Georgette Gomez, has some serious environmental chops herself. Gomez, a San Diego State alumna, is a native of Barrio Logan and a current resident of City Heights. She was associate director of Toxic Free Neighborhoods for the Environmental Health Coalition, and is well-known as a community organizer who has fought for a number of environmental issues. Georgette was a very impressive participant on our candidates’ forum at the beginning of 2015, and received the endorsements of the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Todd Gloria and David Alvarez among others for her run to replace Marti Emerald. She has spoken out vociferously against downtown special interests. Her campaign revolved around her status as a City Hall outsider anxious to shake up the status quo. She will especially focus on repairing District 9 infrastructure including city streets and lights, address homelessness, create more affordable housing options and increase public safety.


Matt O’Malley is the Executive Director of San Diego Coastkeeper. Matt joined Coastkeeper in January of 2014 as Legal and Policy Director, where he leads the advocacy work of the organization and protects the water bodies of San Diego County by utilizing local, state, and national laws and regulations, and through community engagement. Having represented environmental groups in the federal, state, and local arenas, Matt has experience in areas such as the Clean Water Act and NPDES permits, land use and growth management laws, CEQA, the Endangered Species Act, groundwater, soils, and sediment remediation, and environmental justice, to name a few. Matt currently serves as Legal Committee Chair and Board Member of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, and he is actively licensed to practice law in California, Florida, and Washington State.


Masada Disenhouse is a repeat visitor to LMFDC and founder of SanDiego350.org, a very active climate action advocacy group. 350.org is an international environmental organization encouraging citizens to action with the belief that publicizing the increasing levels of carbon dioxide will pressure world leaders to address climate change and to reduce levels from 400 parts per million to 350 parts per million. It was founded by author Bill McKibben with the goal of building a global grassroots movement to raise awareness about human-driven climate change, to confront climate change denial, and to cut emissions of carbon dioxide in order to slow the rate of global warming. 350.org takes its name from the research of Goddard Institute for Space Studies scientist James E. Hansen, who posited in a 2007 paper that 350 parts-per-million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere is a safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point.


Brian Elliott works locally for Congressman Scott Peters but also chairs the Political Committee for the local chapter of the Sierra Club. Brian’s start in San Diego Democratic politics came while he worked for the California Democratic Party as the environmental organizer on Congressman Peters’ 2014 re-election effort. He quickly went on to utilize his environmental expertise to advocate for local clean energy as the campaign organizer for Climate Action Campaign, and is now serving in Peters’ district office. Since arriving in San Diego, Brian has been an active member with Sierra Club and the greater environmental community as a volunteer and professionally, focusing on energy, water and climate policy matters.


Moderator Davin Widgerow is an environmental lawyer whose work is focused on toxic contamination remediation. He earned his BA (Political Science) from Berkeley, and his JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Davin was admitted to the California Bar in 2011. He began his law career interning for a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and advocating for disabled individuals. Until recently, Davin headed the Steering Committee for Sierra Club San Diego, which is tasked with coordinating Club projects, activities, finances, and administration. He also served as Chair of the Political Committee, which engages political candidates and environmental activists to further Sierra Club’s conservation efforts.


La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club is in the midst of our 2017 membership drive. For as little as $30 per year, members enjoy 12 general meetings featuring outstanding speakers and programs, our monthly newsletter, weekly updates of news you can use, special events like the La Mesa Flag Day parade, Octoberfest, and our Party in the Park, and priceless camaraderie with fellow progressives and activists. Join us now to learn more about the current threats to our Democracy and the Future of our Planet. Be sure to visit our website at lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com or friend us on our Facebook page.


Linda Armacost, President

Jeff Benesch, VP Programming

Thoughts on Inauguration Day 2017

They Thought They Were Free

The Germans, 1933-45

But then it was too late:

I first literally first heard of the book They Thought They Were Free, a study of the lives of a group of ordinary Germans under the Third Reich, by Milton Meyer, when Thom Hartmann read excerpts on his radio show. The Germans interviewed had ‘ordinary’ jobs one was a professor for example. The subjects were not part of the military nor government and told their stories as observers not participants I think this is such an important book and Meyer’s accounts of folks ‘waking up and being under a Fascist regime; are harrowing for two reasons; 1. Fascism’s complete control of Germany was done bit by bit, a slow insidious process of rules and changes that seemed benign individually. By the time these Germans ‘caught on’, it was too late. 2. We are witnessing the very same sort of ‘Fascism Creep’ right now, and we had better pay attention and work like hell to prevent it!

Hartmann; “One of his closing chapters, “Peoria Uber Alles,” is so poignant and prescient that were Mayer still alive today I doubt he could read it out loud without his voice breaking. It’s the story of how what happened in Germany could just as easily happen in Peoria, Illinois, particularly if the city were to become isolationistic and suffered some sort of natural or man-made disaster or attack that threw its people into the warm but deadly embrace of authoritarianism. [President Trump’s election]

The [Peorian] individual surrenders his individuality without a murmur, without, indeed, a second thought – and not just his individual hobbies and tastes, but his individual occupation, his individual family concerns, his individual needs. The primordial community, the tribe, re-emerges, it’s first function the preservation of all its members. Every normal personality of the day becomes an ‘authoritarian personality.’ A few recalcitrants have to be disciplined (vigorously, under the circumstances) for neglect or betrayal of their duty. A few groups have to be watched or, if necessary, taken in hand – the antisocial elements, the liberty-howlers, the agitators among the poor, and the criminal gangs. For the rest of the citizens – 95 percent or so of the population – duty is now the central fact of life. They obey, at first awkwardly, but, surprisingly soon, spontaneously

Among Mayer’s stories are some of the most telling aspects of how the Nazis came to take over Germany (and much of Europe). I first quoted them a year ago in a Common Dreams article linked from BuzzFlash titled The Myth of National Victimhood*. I noted that Mayer told how one of his friends said:

What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security….

As a friend of Mayer’s noted, and Mayer recorded in his book:

This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. …

To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it – please try to believe me – unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, “regretted,” that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these “little measures” that no “patriotic German” could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

In this conversation, Mayer’s friend suggests that he wasn’t making an excuse for not resisting the rise of the fascists, but simply pointing out an undisputable reality. This, he suggests, is how fascism will always take over a nation.

“Pastor Niemoller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing: and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something – but then it was too late.”

“Yes,” I said.

“You see,” my colleague went on, “one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even to talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not? – Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

“Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there will be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things’ or ‘You’re an alarmist.’

“And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. …

“But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and the smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked – if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

“And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jew swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in – your nation, your people – is not the world you were in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God.” …

Mayer’s friend pointed out the terrible challenge faced then by average Germans, and today by peoples across the world, as governments are taken over by authoritarian, corporatist — fascist — regimes.

“How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men?” Mayer’s friend asked rhetorically. And, without the benefit of a previous and recent and well-remembered fascistic regime to refer to, he had to candidly answer: “Frankly, I do not know.”

This was the great problem that Mayer’s Nazis and so many in their day faced.

As Mayer’s Nazi friend noted, “I do not see, even now [how we could have stopped it]. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice – ‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men?”

By Robert Kagan Fascism comes to America

Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist for The Post.

The Republican Party’s attempt to treat Donald Trump as a normal political candidate would be laughable were it not so perilous to the republic. If only he would mouth the party’s “conservative” principles, all would be well.

Of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party, either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. Because it did not immediately and fully embrace Trump, because a dwindling number of its political and intellectual leaders still resist him, the party is regarded with suspicion and even hostility by his followers. Their allegiance is to him and him alone.

And the source of allegiance? We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up.

To understand how such movements take over a democracy, one only has to watch the Republican Party today. These movements play on all the fears, vanities, ambitions and insecurities that make up the human psyche. In democracies, at least for politicians, the only thing that matters is what the voters say they want — vox populi vox Dei. A mass political movement is thus a powerful and, to those who would oppose it, frightening weapon. When controlled and directed by a single leader, it can be aimed at whomever the leader chooses. If someone criticizes or opposes the leader, it doesn’t matter how popular or admired that person has been. He might be a famous war hero, but if the leader derides and ridicules his heroism, the followers laugh and jeer. He might be the highest-ranking elected guardian of the party’s most cherished principles. But if he hesitates to support the leader, he faces political death

This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.

And here we are.

*Eugene Robinson: Myth of white victimhood continues to gain strength

WASHINGTON — If there really were a “war on whites,” as a Republican congressman from Alabama ludicrously claims, it wouldn’t be going very well for the anti-white side.

In 2012, the last year for which comprehensive Census Bureau data are available, white households had a median income of $57,009, compared to $33,321 for African-American households and $39,005 for Hispanic households. The white-black income gap was almost exactly the same as in 1972; the gap between whites and Hispanics actually worsened.

According to an analysis by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, the average white family has six times as much accumulated wealth as the average black or Hispanic family. Other authoritative data show that African-Americans and Hispanics are far more likely than whites to be unemployed, impoverished or incarcerated.

Yet Rep. Mo Brooks feverishly imagines whites are somehow under attack and that the principal assailant is — why am I not surprised? — President Obama.

Asked whether Republicans were alienating Latino voters with their position on immigration, Brooks said this to conservative radio host Laura Ingraham:

“This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It’s a part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things.”

Author, Milton Mayer, reared in Reform Judaism, was born in Chicago, the son of Morris Samuel Mayer and Louise (Gerson). He graduated from Englewood High School, where he received a classical education with an emphasis on Latin and languages.[1] He studied at the University of Chicago (1925–28) but did not earn a degree

Mayer’s most influential book was probably They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45, a study of the lives of a group of ordinary Germans under the Third Reich, first published in 1955 by the University of Chicago Press. (Mayer became a member of the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers while he was researching this book in Germany in 1950; he did not reject his Jewish birth and heritage.) At various times, he taught at the University of Chicago, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Louisville as well as universities abroad. He was also a consultant to the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions.


What can we do-The Indivisible Guide


We: Are former progressive congressional staffers who saw the Tea Party beat back President Obama’s agenda.

We: See the enthusiasm to fight the Trump agenda and want to share insider info on how best to influence Congress to do that.

You: Want to do your part to beat back the Trump agenda and understand that will require more than calls and petitions.

You: Should use this guide, share it, amend it, make it your own, and get to work.

Donald Trump is the biggest popular vote loser in history to ever call himself President- Elect. In spite of the fact that he has no mandate, he will attempt to use his congressional majority to reshape America in his own racist, authoritarian, and corrupt image. If progressives are going to stop this, we must stand indivisibly opposed to Trump and the members of Congress (MoCs) who would do his bidding. Together, we have the power to resist — and we have the power to win.

We know this because we’ve seen it before. The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party. We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own MoCs to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism — and they won.

We believe that protecting our values, our neighbors, and ourselves will require mounting a similar resistance to the Trump agenda — but a resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness. Trump is not popular. He does not have a mandate. He does not have large congressional majorities. If a small minority in the Tea Party can stop President Obama, then we the majority can stop a petty tyrant named Trump.

To this end, the following chapters offer a step-by-step guide for individuals, groups, and organizations looking to replicate the Tea Party’s success in getting Congress to listen to a small, vocal, dedicated group of constituents. The guide is intended to be equally useful for stiffening Democratic spines and weakening pro-Trump Republican resolve.

We believe that the next four years depend on Americans across the country standing indivisible against the Trump agenda. We believe that buying into false promises or accepting partial concessions will only further empower Trump to victimize us and our neighbors. We hope that this guide will provide those who share that belief useful tools to make Congress listen.


Here’s the quick and dirty summary of this document. While this page summarizes top-level takeaways, the full document describes how to actually carry out these activities.

CHAPTER 1 How grassroots advocacy worked to stop President Obama. We examine lessons from the Tea Party’s rise and recommend two key strategic components:

  1. A local strategy targeting individual Members of Congress (MoCs).
  1. A defensive approach purely focused on stopping Trump from implementing an agenda built on racism, authoritarianism, and corruption.


CHAPTER 2 How your MoC thinks — reelection, reelection, reelection — and how to use that to save democracy. MoCs want their constituents to think well of them and they want good, local press. They hate surprises, wasted time, and most of all, bad press that makes them look weak, unlikable, and vulnerable. You will use these interests to make them listen and act.

CHAPTER 3 Identify or organize your local group. Is there an existing local group or network you can join? Or do you need to start your own? We suggest steps to help mobilize your fellow constituents locally and start organizing for action.

CHAPTER 4 Four local advocacy tactics that actually work. Most of you have three MoCs — two Senators and one Representative. Whether you like it or not, they are your voices in Washington. Your job is to make sure they are, in fact, speaking for you. We’ve identified four key opportunity areas that just a handful of local constituents can use to great effect. Always record encounters on video, prepare questions ahead of time, coordinate with your group, and report back to local media:

  1. Town halls. MoCs regularly hold public in-district events to show that they are listening to constituents. Make them listen to you, and report out when they don’t.
  2. Non-town hall events. MoCs love cutting ribbons and kissing babies back home. Don’t let them get photo-ops without questions about racism, authoritarianism, and corruption.
  3. District office sit-ins/meetings. Every MoC has one or several district offices. Go there. Demand a meeting with the MoC. Report to the world if they refuse to listen.
  1. Coordinated calls. Calls are a light lift but can have an impact. Organize your local group to barrage your MoCs at an opportune moment about and on a specific


Examining the President-Elect’s Constitutional and Immigration Dilemmas

Dems Examine Constitutional, Immigration Issues

President-elect Presents Conflict of Interest Dilemma

ACLU Director And Marjorie Cohn to Headline January Meeting

Author, Activist and Law Professor Marjorie Cohn will headline the January 4th meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club. Marjorie is now Professor Emerita after a quarter century of teaching Constitutional Law and we are thrilled with the prospect of her examining the inherent conflicts that arise when a president elect doesn’t disassociate from his business interests while in office.   We’ve also never before had a chief executive not release his tax returns, thus failing to disclose his company’s foreign entanglements and potential conflicts of interest on a global scale. Marjorie will also discuss her recent article on the prospects and consequences of a Trump-appointed Supreme Court.

We are also honored to have ACLU Advocacy Director David Trujillo speaking about social justice and civil rights for immigrants and minorities during a Donald Trump presidency. Recently, the ACLU lauded California lawmakers for standing by immigrant communities in the face of future federal executive orders that would endanger them. (Mass deportations? Internment Camps?, Deportation squads?)



Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law where she taught from 1991-2016, and a former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She lectures, writes, and provides commentary for local, regional, national and international media outlets. Professor Cohn has served as a news consultant for CBS News and a legal analyst for Court TV, as well as a legal and political commentator on BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, and Pacifica Radio.

David Trujillo has spent his career working on issues of social justice and has years of experience in community organizing, political campaigns and the legislative process. Prior to joining the San Diego ACLU, Trujillo served as Planned Parenthood Northern California’s public affairs director. Trujillo helped pass legislation that made California the only state in the country in the last five years to expand access to birth control and abortion services. Trujillo grew up in San Diego and has a degree in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego.

With each Trump Cabinet nomination, local Democrats are alarmed at the potential back-sliding of civil liberties, social justice, environmental protections, public school education, workplace safety, wage and pension protections, banking regulation, women’s reproductive rights, affordable healthcare, middle class housing and job opportunities, income equality, Medicaid and Social Security protection, immigrant rights, and most other progressive ideals that we’ve supported and nurtured for decades. Instead of reforming Washington, DC as promised in campaign rhetoric, we’ve seen a succession of Wall Street insiders, big money donors, military mavericks, anti-science and climate change denying elected officials, fast food and professional wrestling executives, anti-union and working class enemies, anti-semitic bigots and hate mongering fake news purveyors, and fossil fuel industry proponents and lobbyists put into the highest positions of power and influence. Instead of “draining the swamp”, we’ve seen a progression of very wealthy alligators nominated for and appointed to cabinet posts and White House advisory positions.

We’ll begin our 48 months of protest and activism with a campaign to WRITE, ADVOCATE and RESIST these ultra-conservative demagogues in the best way we know how. By peacefully and stridently gathering together to spread truth, education, and social action, we can protect our communities, our planet and our children’s futures from the mindless onslaught of greed and neo-conservatism. We’ll begin with 2 excellent social justice advocates and continue with four years of outstanding programming that you’ll not want to miss. If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. Join the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club, which serves the communities of La Mesa, the College area, San Carlos, Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, Mt. Helix, Santee, Spring Valley, Casa de Oro and other nearby East County enclaves.

We meet the first Wednesday of each month at the spacious La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive, just North of University Avenue. Our meetings begin with a 6:30 PM Social time with refreshments and drinks provided by the club membership. The programs and business meetings start at 7 PM and last about 90 minutes. We are just beginning our 2017 membership drive and new memberships are available for as little at $30 annually. All members and guests are welcomed at all meetings and other community events which are listed on our website at lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com, and visit our Facebook page for updates.










Veterans Day and Holiday Party

Thanks to all our wonderful veterans we can never repay you for your courage and commitment to our great country. In January, our country will have a new President and we do not know what the future brings. We sincerely hope our Military will be treated as well under President Trump as it has been with President Obama at the helm.

Roy Zimmerman to Headline Holiday Party


Musician and Social Satirist to Entertain Local Dems

December 7th Meeting to Feature Festive Buffet

They say that laughter is the best medicine, and so how appropriate that La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club welcomes back Singer/Songwriter Roy Zimmerman to highlight our December 7th Holiday Fest! Members remember Roy’s hilarious and biting satire from last year’s party, and we should all be entertained anew given the last 12 months of political shenanigans.

And as tradition holds, we will welcome all members and guests to enjoy our holiday feast, with turkey, ham, and all the trimmings supplied by the club. Members are encouraged to bring appetizers, side dishes, salads, and desserts to augment the clubs meat carvings, veggie lasagna and beverages. As usual, we’ll start our festivities at 6 PM, and Roy will take the stage about 7 PM. Mr. Zimmerman will be selling CD’s of his best and most memorable concerts, so be prepared to buy some great holiday gifts for friends and family. We ask each member and guest to donate $15 at the door, or whatever one can afford to offset the costs of the evening’s food and entertainment. We’ll be meeting at the usual place, the spacious La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just North of University Ave. in La Mesa. Because of the overflow crowds for this annual event, we ask willing and able members to park by the Little League field and take the short walk up the stairs to the Community Center. Let’s leave the adjacent parking lot for those that most need to be close to the meeting room.

 We also ask each member and guest to contribute to our annual holiday charity. This year we are supporting the efforts of Santa Sophia Church to feed needy families in the Casa de Oro area. Please bring canned and nonperishable foods that can assist those in dire straits during the holiday season. They also like to give out “street-ready” foods such as high protein bars, fruit and nut snacks and pop tarts. We also support the efforts of La Mesa Methodist Church who offer the city’s homeless citizens showers and other necessities during the Fall and Winter months. We ask you bring new, unused toiletries, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shaving supplies, shampoo, soaps, lotions, and other similar items for those who don’t take these items for granted

While the results of the national election on November 8th don’t leave us much room for optimism, our local candidates and issues had a banner night! We helped elect Board Member Colin Parent to La Mesa City Council, Senator Kamala Harris, Congress members Susan Davis and Scott Peters, State Senator Toni Atkins, Assemblypersons Shirley Weber, Lorena Gonzalez and Todd Gloria, Supervisor Dave Roberts, SD City Council winners Barbara Bry and Georgette Gomez, and SD City Attorney Mara Elliot. We passed measures K & L which will require November elections for all SD City offices and measures, we legalized cannabis, upheld the statewide plastic bag ban, and defeated the Chargers Stadium measure.   Sandag’s freeway-centric tax proposal, and the Lilac Hills overdevelopment in Valley Center went down to defeat. Our collective GOTV efforts in total passed nearly 75% of the SD County Democratic Party’s recommendations. Our supported candidates on local water boards won the day, as did George Gastil in the Lemon Grove mayoral contest.   A Democratic even won a seat on the El Cajon City Council, a real first. And in the Presidential contest, San Diego County went for Clinton/Kaine by 17 points over the Republican ticket, a wider margin than Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012. And we helped propel Hillary to a popular vote victory even if the Electoral College vote didn’t go our way. Our growing Democratic edge in voter registration countywide, now well over 100,000, bodes well for 2018, 2020 and beyond.

La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club draws members from the communities of Allied Gardens, San Carlos, Del Cerro, the College Area, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, Casa de Oro, Santee and other nearby East County Communities. All residents are welcome to attend our monthly meetings which take place on the first Wednesday of each month. Please visit our Website for coming events at lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com and like us on Facebook.

Linda Armacost, President

Jeff Benesch, VP for Programming



Election Night Party

Please join with East Area Democrats Tuesday for an Election Night Party, sponsored by the SDCDP East Area Caucus Committee!


Greetings, Democratic Friends.

We are almost done with an interminable campaign on the presidential level!  Our stress levels are high, and we can’t wait to see those winning returns!!!  Our state and local election also have us excited!  We have the cream of the crop, when it comes to our endorsed state and local candidates.  We hope to see them win, as well!!!

To celebrate our anticipated wins, our wonderful candidates, their volunteers, and our clubs’ work, the East Area Caucus is sponsoring an Election Night Watch at an East Area venue.  Here is the Yelp review internet site: https://www.yelp.com/biz/jimmys-family-restaurant-santee   Use it to get directions from your location to theirs.

 The address is below: 

Jimmie’s Family Restaurant 

9635 Mission Gorge Road

Santee, CA 92071

The best information about this Election Night Watch event is that is free, except for a no-host bar!  And, you will not have to drive to the Westin downtown to participate in San Diego County Democratic Party’s watch.  (Of course, you may want to go there following our event.  Here is a link to access more information on that event:  http://www.sddemocrats.org/ )

Our premier party planner, Linda Nickerson, East County Democratic Club president, has made the arrangements, so you know that this event will be the best ever!!  We’ll start at 6 and end at 10 p.m.  (We planned an early start to enjoy those East Coast wins.)  We’ll have appetizers, coffee, tea, and water.  (If you want to order more, it’s on you.)    The no-host bar is adjacent to our party area, where we will watch those great returns on TV.  



 This is our action weekend.  No one should rest on your laurels!  Walk, knock, talk, win!!!!  

Bonnie Burns Price, Ph.D.

Your voice on the SDCDP CC

(619) 741-6811


Party ends at 10:00, if you want to continue to celebrate, have your designated driver take you to the Rivera Supper Club in La Mesa for more cheer!

Linda K. Armacost, Ed.D

President, LMFDC






Colin Parent



Update with comments from the Lincoln Club President and links to prior concerns raised about the PAC by the FPPC.

By Miriam Raftery

November 3, 2016 (La Mesa) — A hit piece mailer on La Mesa City Council Colin Parent has been sent by a shadowy political action group tied to his opponent.

The mailer deceptively states Parent moved to La Mesa only to run for Council and mentions he’s lived in Sacramento and San Diego.  It fails to mention his long and deep ties to East County.  Parent went to Fuerte Elementary School near Mt. Helix, had his first job on La Mesa Blvd. with the East County Development Council, grew up going to local La Mesa hang-outs such as the Aquarius roller rink, was active in Boy Scots and graduated from Valhalla High School in the Grossmont Union High School District before attending UC San Diego and later, getting a law degree in New York.

The flyer also faults Parent for receiving funds from out of town donors including developers.  While it’s true he has significant donations from acquaintances, family and business interests in Sacramento and San Diego where he has lived and worked, including affordable housing builders as well as politicians (some of whom he has worked or interned for), the flyer fails to mention that he has also received significant donations from environmental organizations and is the attorney for Circulate San Diego, a group promoting transit and sustainable futures to address climate change.

As for a line about “taxing La Mesans” to pay for San Diego improvements, this is also deceptive. Parent has proposed no new taxes for the city of La Mesa, but does support a countywide ballot proposition that increase sales taxes a half-cent countywide to fund new transit and roadway improvements.

The mailer was sent by “Voters for Progress and Reform,” a group that Citybeat has reported in 2013 was tied to the Lincoln Club, which endorsed Kristine Alessio, Parent’s opponent.  Voters for Progress and Reform has previously been in hot water with the FPPC for deceptive mailers and not disclosing its backers—mailers targeting opponents of candidates backed by the Lincoln Club.

A warning letter sent by the Fair Political Practices Commission  in December 2014 to the San Diego County Voters for Progress and Reform advised that the group violated the  Political Reform Act by failing to identify T.J. Zane as a principal officer. Zane was also president of the Lincoln Club at that time and from 2006 to 2014, according to his biography on the San Diego Republican Party website.

However Brian Pepin, current president of the Lincoln Club, told  ECM that he is “completely unaware of the group and I have never heard of them before.”

Alessio, in an online community forum, denied ties to the mailer. She wrote, “For the record.  I never contributed to any attack pieces nor have I accepted or been offered any contributions from the Lincoln Club.  If you pull my campaign reports, you can see my donors are fellow La Mesans and me!”

But according to her latest campaign filing, Form 497, her campaign recently received almost $14,000 in an “in-kind” contribution from the Voters for Progress and Reform.

If the hit piece mailer was an independent expenditure campaign, legally it should have been just that—completely separate from Alessio’s campaign and done with no knowledge or consultation. So why did $14,000 suddenly appear as an in-kind donation on her disclosure form—meaning her campaign received something of value from Voters for Progress and Reform?

Perhaps the Fair Political Practices Commission should look into the shadowy organization behind the mailer and what exactly Alessio received of value from the organization.

While Parent has advocated for affordable housing which could mean limited denser development along transit lines, he has not been a supporter of sprawling development projects.  It’s worth noting that the Lincoln Club, a conservative pro-business group, typically favors developer-backed candidates. If Parent were really in the pocket of big developers, why wouldn’t the Lincoln Club have backed his candidacy instead of Alessio’s?



Submitted by Anthony Mc Ivor on Thu, 11/03/2016 – 12:54

Politics creates many “just can’t make this stuff up” moments. And here we have the President of the prestigious Lincoln Club protesting that he has no idea who works in his offices. Will someone please advise the befuddled president that a covert political hit operation is claiming to share the same suite of offices as his organization on Navajo Road in San Carlos. As a backstairs outfit, maybe they only work at night?

  • Log in or register to post commentsSubmitted by big fella on Thu, 11/03/2016 – 12:27
  • Thanks for this article. I had wondered who was behind the anonymous mailings attacking Mr. Parent. It is sad that even at the local level there is little transparency. Frankly, I would give such mailings credence if they were signed, even if it’s by the opposing candidates.
  • Finally, an explanation
  • Log in or register to post commentsSubmitted by marcia_t.LM on Thu, 11/03/2016 – 11:54
  • Was it too much effort for the writer would list the actual and in-kind contributions to date and their sources for all the candidates so the readers can decide what is what?
  • What is the total money for each candidate?
  • Log in or register to post commentsSubmitted by MPS on Thu, 11/03/2016 – 11:43
  • $14,000 says it all. This kind of monkey business does not bode well for Alessio, regardless of how many times she denies it. Regardless, my vote as already been cast. And while voting should be kept confidential, it’s safe to admit, it’s not for Alessio.
  • Not surprised…

Log in

Marty Block to Be Honored at LMFDC


Susan Davis, Chris Ward to Speak

GOTV Effort Stressed In Lead-up to Election


At our next meeting, just 6 days before the momentous 2016 Presidential Election, the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club will honor Senator Marty Block as he faces his last couple months before leaving office. Our meeting will take place on Wednesday night, November 2nd, at 7 PM at the beautiful La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just North of University Ave. in La Mesa.

   marty block

Block, a long time member and frequent guest at LMFDC, steps down after many years of service as Assemblyman and State Senator representing La Mesa and much of the City of San Diego. Senator Block was elected to the California State Assembly in 2008 where he represented the 78th Assembly District until his election to the Senate. He served as chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee for three years.

Marty previously served for 8 years as a member of the San Diego County Board of Education and then served 8 years as President of the San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees. During that period he also served as a San Diego Superior Court Judge pro Tem, Statewide President of the California County Boards of Education, and President of the San Diego Chapter of the American Jewish Committee.

Senator Block served as a dean, professor, and legal advisor at San Diego State University for 26 years. While at SDSU he also served as the Founding Chair and Director of the National Higher Education Law and Policy Institute. Block received outstanding faculty awards five times and was given the university’s Distinguished Service Award upon his retirement.

In Sacramento, many think his crowning achievement is SB850. This game-changing legislation for higher education will allow a number of community college districts across the state to develop 4-year degree programs, increasing access for quality higher education in areas that have a demonstrated workforce need. Marty Block’s long career as a lawyer, teacher, dean, trustee, magistrate and legislator is an incomparable model of altruism and devotion to public and community service.

We’ll have another star studded group to talk both about Senator Block and give us a little insight as to what we can expect in the election 6 days following.


Congressperson Susan Davis will headline the group and much of her background mirrors that of Senator Block. She represents California’s 53rd Congressional District and therefore most of our membership. Her interest in public affairs and service grew out of her experiences as a social worker, parent, youth mentor, and military spouse. Like Block, she has a background in education and her focus on educational issues at all levels is noteworthy.

Prior to Congress, Susan served in the California State Assembly (1994-2000). She served three terms and focused on what would become her signature issues – education, health care, and consumer protection. She chaired the Committee on Consumer Protection, Government Efficiency, and Economic Development. In the House, as she has throughout her public service, Susan has approached legislating as a bipartisan consensus builder achieving legislative successes in education, military families and veterans support and health care.

In addition to her state legislative experience, Susan brought to Congress nine years of experience as a member of the San Diego Unified Board of Education (1983-1992). As a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Susan has played a key role in bringing reforms and improvements to primary, secondary and higher education. She wrote the law to provide flexibility to college students receiving work-study funds during natural disasters such as the recent fires in Southern California.   In addition, she made work-study funds available to college students who work to educate the community in civic education and disaster preparedness.


3rd District City Councilperson elect Chris Ward is well suited to talk about Marty, as well as give his own keen insight to election day.   Chris serves as the Chief of Staff to Senator Block, representing the communities of the Third City Council District and most of the City of San Diego. In this capacity, Chris is strongly committed to excellence in constituent services, facilitating public participation in policymaking, and organizing state and local resources to make our neighborhoods a better place to live.   In the June primary, as candidate Ward, Chris won the 3rd District seat outright and will take his place on the San Diego City Council in January.

Previously, Chris was an environmental planner at the firm EDAW, working with local government to develop land use plans and conduct environmental review to help create inclusive, community-based solutions to neighborhood challenges and organize strategies to achieve long-term goals. Chris will draw from these experiences to help the city implement smarter visions for our urban neighborhoods. Before dedicating a career to public service, Chris worked as a researcher at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at UCSD on the front lines of San Diego’s burgeoning biotech sector and contributed firsthand to the critical value these innovators offer.


Club friend and previous guest analyst, Rich Grosch, is also well positioned to talk about both the election and his good friend and colleague, Marty Block. Not only is Rich the former District Director for Marty when he was representing the 78th Assembly District, Mr. Grosch’s career track, like Marty’s, is forged in the educational community. Rich currently serves on the San Diego Community College Board of Trustees having been elected to the position for 4 terms beginning in 2002. For 5 years, he served as President of that Board, and now serves as Executive Vice President.

Over the years of his wonderful career, he’s been a teacher, University Alumni Director, City Council Representative, school administrator, and community planner. He’s headed the OB Community Development Corporation and was key in the OB Community Plan, thus keeping Ocean Beach from wanton overbuilding and commercialization. He’s also a business owner and proprietor of the Ocean Beach Hotel.   Rich is a true politico and should have an informed and accurate assessment of the upcoming election.


Board Member Colin Parent is in the homestretch of his vigorous campaign for La Mesa City Council and will be urging all members and guests to participate in 6 more days of Get Out The Vote efforts by walking precincts and making calls from our local campaign office. Parent is Policy Counsel for Circulate San Diego, a non-profit advocacy group that promotes better transportation and living choices for more vibrant local communities. Colin is, by far, the most informed and progressive of the three candidates running for City Council.

The La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club represents the communities of San Carlos, Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, College Area, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, Santee, Casa de Oro, and other nearby East County communities. Our meetings start with a social ½ hour at 6:30 PM with snacks, desserts and beverages supplied by club members. All members and guests are welcomed. Watch for event updates on our website: Lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com or follow us on Facebook.

Linda Armacost, President

Jeff Benesch, VP Programming


(AND have a sandwich and a soda!)

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2016, 11:30-1 P.M.
7839 University Avenue*, Ste. 103B, La Mesa, CA 91942
Please RSVP: eastvc@sddemocrats.org or call 661.703.1347 by Friday, 23 Sept.
(*NOTE DIRECTIONS: The office is next to Helix Water District. Turn on Lee Avenue, off University Avenue. Please PARK behind our office on Quince Street.)

Congressman Scott Peters, and Assemblyperson Lorena Gonzalez headline the panel

scott-peters      lorena-gonzalez

Election Series Continues with Immigration Panel

“Building Bridges, Not Barriers”


After two straight packed houses for our STARK CONTRASTS meetings examining the differences this election year between the Democratic Candidates and their republican counterparts, La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club turns again to Star Power to serve on our panel of experts. Congressman Scott Peters, and Assemblyperson Lorena Gonzalez headline the panel which will also feature ACLU immigration experts and a member of the SDSU Chicana/Chicano Studies department.


Just as our last panel gave us a variety of opinions and experiences in the area of gender politics and the parties’ respective platforms, this October 5th panel will focus on Trump’s Build-a-Wall agenda and the local politicos who support him, in contrast to the Democrat’s long standing call for a compassionate immigration policy that recognizes the contributions and rights of the tens of thousands of immigrant families that call San Diego, Southern California, and nearly all of America, home.


La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club meets the first Wednesday of every month at the beautiful La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just North of University Avenue. We represent the communities of San Carlos, Allied Gardens, Del Cerro, the College Area, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, Santee, Casa de Oro, and other close by East County enclaves. Our meetings start with a ½ hour social time at 6:30 PM with snacks, desserts and beverages, followed by our 90 minute program at 7 PM. We welcome all fellow progressives and forward thinkers to attend and participate in our meetings. ½ price memberships are available for the rest of the year.


Congressman Scott Peters serves California’s 52nd Congressional District, which includes the cities of Coronado, Poway and most of northern San Diego. First elected in 2012, he currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee & the House Judiciary Committee. He formerly served on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Scott Peters is a civic leader who has made improving the quality of life in San Diego his life’s work. After a 15-year career as an environmental lawyer, Scott was elected to the San Diego City Council, where he later became the City’s first City Council President. On the Council, Scott helped lead the $2 billion redevelopment of downtown San Diego, the cleanup of the city’s beaches and bays, and the completion of a number of major infrastructure projects. He also pursued greater accountability and efficiency in government through the creation of a new Council/Mayor form of government with an independent budget review function.

In 2001, the governor appointed Scott to the Commission on Tax Policy in the New Economy, and in 2002, the Speaker of the Assembly appointed Scott to the California Coastal Commission.

Scott also later served as chairman of the San Diego Unified Port District – a major economic engine that supports over 40,000 high-skill, high-wage jobs for San Diegans, with $3.3 billion in direct regional economic impact.

Scott earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and worked as an economist for the United States Environmental Protection Agency before attending New York University School of Law. He and his wife of 29 years reside in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, where they raised their son and daughter.

Lorena Gonzalez is the daughter of an immigrant farmworker and a nurse. She attended public schools in San Diego County before earning a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, a master’s degree from Georgetown University, and a Juris Doctor from UCLA School of Law.

Gonzalez served as Senior Adviser to former California Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, as well as appointee to the California State Lands Commission and alternate on the California Coastal Commission. A community organizer and activist, Gonzalez was elected in 2008 as CEO and Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO. She is the first woman and person of color to be elected to head the Labor Council since the organization was founded in 1891.

Gonzalez ran for San Diego City Council during a 2005 special election and advanced to a runoff against future San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. However, Gonzalez ultimately lost the race to Faulconer by a margin of 724 votes out of 29,448 cast.

Gonzalez was elected to California’s 80th State Assembly district in a special election held May 21, 2013. She defeated former Chula Vista Councilmember Steve Castaneda with 70.75% of the vote. Gonzalez currently serves on the Assembly Committee on Education, the Assembly Committee on Health, the Assembly Committee on Insurance, the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife; and the Assembly Committee on Rules. She is also the first Chair of the Select Committee on Women in the Workplace. Lorena Gonzalez lives in San Diego with her two children, Tierra and Antonio.

THIS JUST IN: SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez made Politico Magazine’s 50 “thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2016” list. According to the magazine, “Gonzalez might be the nation’s most ambitious progressive scientist.” Since 2013, Gonzalez has represented the 80th district, which includes much of southern San Diego and is the southernmost district in the state.

Politico calls Gonzalez “the brain trust for California’s most ambitious policy ideas,” citing her authorship of California’s automatic voter registration law, her co-authoring of the state’s $15 an hour minimum wage law, sponsorship of the law requiring student vaccination and her efforts to close the gender pay gap. However, the magazine states that “it’s Gonzalez’s trailblazing advocacy for mandatory paid sick leave that could make the biggest differencenationwide. In 2014, she wrote a law requiring every private-sector employer in California to provide paid sick days to employees—the first such state or federal law in U.S. history.”

Be sure to visit our booth at La Mesa’s Octoberfest on Sept. 30th, Oct. 1st and 2nd. More details available on our website Lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com and please like us on our fabulous Facebook page. Hope to see you at our next meeting on Wednesday, October 5th! More info: jeffbenesch@gmail.com


Moderator-Brian Adams

Brian Adams joined the political science department at SDSU in 2003 after earning his Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. Brian’s research explores why local governments do not live up to their democratic potential. As small jurisdictions, localities should be “closer to the people,” allowing for more extensive citizen participation and greater accountability. Yet participation in local government is dismally low, and local officials are often unresponsive to citizen demands. Local governments, rather than being hotbeds of democratic activity are often corrupt and unresponsive entities dominated by elites. What accounts for this pattern?

Brian’s research approaches this question from a few different angles. First, he has analyzed non-electoral participation in local politics in an effort to assess how citizens participate. His 2007 book Citizen Lobbyists found that citizens take advantage of the many opportunities they have to participate and benefit from their participation in terms of promoting favorable policy and acquiring knowledge about the policy process. But given the manner in which they participate and the issues they choose to influence there is little benefit to the political system as a whole. He has also done research on how citizens discuss policy issues, finding that they offer evidence to support their claims but usually neglect to tie evidence and conclusions together in coherent arguments. They also avoid working through disagreements, preferring to deflect or simply ignore opposing viewpoints. Deliberative conversations among citizens typically comprise of strings of conclusions and evidence without much coherence or back-and-forth exchange.

A second strand of Brian’s research has examined local elections as a democratic practice. His book Campaign Finance in Local Elections: Buying the Grassroots examines whether the campaign finance system undermines the capacity of local elections to enhance the democratic character of American elections more generally. As the smallest units in the American political system, localities have the potential to contribute to democratic practices by fostering accessibility to the political system, promoting competitiveness, and reducing the biases seen in state and national elections. Yet the manner in which local candidates raise and spend campaign funds undermines these goals. He is currently working on an article that explores whether voters use a candidate’s occupation, which is listed on the ballot in California, to make decisions in low-information local races.

The final line of research focuses on conceptualizing the relative benefits of local governance. In a recent article (“Assessing the Merits of Decentralization: A Framework for Identifying the Causal Mechanisms Influencing Policy Outcomes”) Brian developed a new theoretical framework that explicates the causal mechanisms through which decentralization (moving policy authority from central governments to local ones) alters the motivations and behavior of government officials. He is currently working on a research project that explores the problem of scale for participatory and deliberative democratic theory, asking whether these theories, which are best suited for small governmental jurisdictions, can be relevant in a world dominated by large governments and global issues.

In addition to research and teaching courses at SDSU, Brian has done two stints of teaching overseas. In 2009, he spent six months at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea on a Faculty Fulbright grant, teaching American Politics to Korean students and researching Korean local government, For the 2011-12 academic year he taught at the Hopkins-Nanjing center in Nanjing, China, teaching courses on democracy and American politics to Chinese master’s students.


Panelist-Pedro Rios, director of AFSC’s US/Mexico Border Program

San Diego Program Director

Areas of Expertise:

Immigration | US/Mexico Border

Pedro Rios serves as director of the AFSC’s U.S./Mexico Border Program and has been on staff with AFSC for 13 years. He is also chairperson for the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, a coalition of over 25 different organizations in San Diego working to support the rights of immigrants.

A native San Diegan, Pedro has worked on immigrant rights and border issues for over 20 years. He became active on immigration issues in the early 1990s, when California was debating the passage of Proposition 187, the anti-immigrant initiative that was later ruled unconstitutional.

Currently, Pedro is overseeing a program that documents abuses by law enforcement agencies, working with many community groups, advocating for policy change, and interacting with migrant communities. Pedro has been widely interviewed and published by the Associated Press, Univision, ABC10, NBC7, and  Think Progress, among others.


Panelist- Isidro Ortiz, Ph.D. Professor SDSU
Areas of Research: Community organization, educational reform, Chicana and Chicano politics, political movements, educational practice, policy and reform, college student retention, engagement and success; origins and persistence of Chicano nationalism and relationship to oppression.