EPISODE 32 – KENDALL MAYHEW, GROUNDGAME-LA

In our thirty-second episode, listeners meet Kendall Mayhew, an organizer for GroundGame-LA, People Organized for Westside Renewal, and most recently for the Nithya Raman campaign for City Council District 4. We discuss the origins of GroundGame-LA back in 2017, Mayhew’s political ‘awakening’ at Boston College, lessons drawn from the Occupy-LA movement, and what the future may be for City Council District 13 given Raman’s highly competitive challenge to Ryu in the Los Feliz neighborhood next door. A must-listen for every local on this Election Day eve!

J.T.

J.T.’s Community College Trustee and Superior Court Judge Picks for this November 2020

Los Angeles Community College District – Member of the Board of Trustees, SEAT 1: Andra Hoffman

Why? She’s a transfer student, meaning she hailed from a working class background in the valley when she began her pursuit of a B.A. at L.A. Valley Community College, from which she transferred to Antioch University, the latter of which is especially celebrated throughout Los Angeles for low-cost tuition and accessibility. Moreover, as an adjunct professor at Glendale Community College, it’s clear that Hoffman has a passion for community learning and empowerment. She should continue working to improve the transfer rate for the entirety of LACCD, especially given the transformation of the CC system with this last year of online learning. She should also work towards directing LACCD’s budget towards student housing and work needs.

Los Angeles Community College District – Member of the Board of Trustees, SEAT 3: Anthony Joseph Danna

Why? Danna has a well-crafted Position Paper, which, among other things, notes the need for the LACCD to build student housing through unobligated bond money from Measure CC, which was passed by over 75% of the electorate in November 2016. Danna notes the possibility of building live/learn housing facilities off LACCD campuses with programs similar to Cal State Long Beach’s, which until just recently was building a live/learn hub in downtown Long Beach with the express purpose of developing affordable housing for students and a connection between the university and its downtown area. He also notes the possibility of a satellite facility for LACCD in South Los Angeles in order for the district to improve its services for L.A.’s Black students and community.

Los Angeles Community College District – Member of the Board of Trustees, SEAT 5: Nichelle M. Henderson

Why? She brings much needed energy to the board as a long-time activist, educator, and community organizer. And while her list of priorities doesn’t quite yet include housing for students, she does note that she seeks to make the community college system at the LACCD more relevant to foster youth and formerly incarcerated youth. Two huge wins for this blogger.

Los Angeles Community College District – Member of the Board of Trustees, SEAT 7: Mike Fong

Why? He’s a transfer student, who attended both LACC and ELAC before earning his B.A. from UCLA. Mike also played a role in ensuring a partnership between the LACCD and LAUSD to make the first two years for students graduating from LAUSD free of charge. He should continue to improve on accessibility for students at LACCD, as well as seek opportunities to address student housing needs, food insecurity, and retention within the district.

Member of the State Assembly – 43rd District: Laura Friedman

Why? She talks affordable housing, racial justice and redress, protections for LGBT communities, and even curbing the allowance of higher speed limits. She’s basically kind of a super-legislator, and it’s surprising, and then not surprising, how small of a profile she seems to maintain in Los Angeles.

United States Representative – 28th District: Adam B. Schiff

Honestly, Schiff has had no serious competition ever since he won this seat in 2001, and that needs to change immediately. It’s hard to say just how Schiff hopes to bring badly needed affordable housing for the 28th district in Los Angeles while he spends so much time in Washington D.C., and especially after more than a year focused on “Russiagate.” His opponent, however, who’s placed billboards and flyers around Echo Park claiming that he “defends cops while Schiff defunds them,” is unacceptable to the values of this blogger.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 72: Myanna Dellinger

While Dellinger is not as “experienced” as her rival for this seat, it’s also true that her tenure at the Superior Court should benefit from her international experience as an immigrant from Denmark, not to mention her time as a Fulbright Scholar. She is also a podcaster, producing The Global Energy & Environmental Law Podcast, who has noted that in California, “Power structures, including the government, need to be much more inclusive of women, immigrants, low- and middle-income earners, educators, and other people from a ‘non-traditional’ background including people of color and LGBT people.” She thus earns her marks with J.T. The L.A. Storyteller.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 80: Klint James Mckay

Apart from what’s probably the coolest video for public office for any prospective official in the Golden State this year, Mckay’s understanding that “we’re all more than the worst that we’ve ever done” is precisely the type of judgement that we can use more of in the state with the largest jail system of the United States. Let’s get him the seat.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 162: Scott Andrew Yang

While Yang’s definition of “justice” for Voters Edge comes off as not quite impartial, it’s also true that he’s been assigned to a victims defense unit for something like a decade, which has clearly informed his perspective. Moreover, as an immigrant and former refugee from Vietnam, Yang should understand well the importance of “a second chance” through the arm of the state’s powerful superior court position. J.T. The L.A. Storyteller approves.

Made a mistake on your ballot? Not to worry, you can always make some last-minute corrections. Check out KQUED’s “Tips for Correcting your Choices.”

J.T.

J.T.’S VOTER GUIDE FOR THIS NOVEMBER 2020

Did you know? For yours truly, even more important than the presidential race this year are the propositions on the ballot. This is because if Daniel HoSang’s Racial Propositions shows anything, it’s that the Golden State’s ballot initiatives are nothing if not race-based and race-affecting measures or policy “solutions.” As such, below is a list considering how eligible voters this year can choose to defend communities of color this November 3rd, 2020, or not. For a more expansive list, including recommendations on California Superior Court judges and Board of Trustee seats at LACC, you can also visit Knock-LA’s Voter Guide.

NO ON PROP 14: Prop 14 seeks to authorize more than 5.5 billion from taxpayers to maintain stem cell research first initiated back in 2004. Since then, California has used over 3 billion taxpayer dollars to fund STEM cell research, yet after nearly sixteen years, it’s shown little promise in meeting its original goal of making revolutionary advancements in medicine for communities. Black, Brown, White, Yellow or Red, at a time of drastic budget shortfalls due to this last year with the pandemic, approving billions more for stem cell research would be ill-advised. Point-blank.

YES ON PROP 15: Prop 15 seeks to authorize the state to tax commercial properties or corporations which make more than $3 million a year to support schools across the state. Currently, schools up and down the state of California, predominantly attended by children of the state’s immigrant workers, are underfunded, and a major reason why is because there are so few taxes going to support their budgets, including few property taxes as a result of Prop 13 in 1978. After more than four decades then, taxing commercial and industrial corporations which earn millions to support local schools where they locate their companies is not just fair, it is in order. If our schools are to hire additional teachers, counselors, nurses and more resources over the next few years, there is no reason why large corporations extracting major dividends nearby cannot play their part in doing so. Step up!

YES ON PROP 16: Prop 16 seeks to authorize taking race into consideration when hiring at the state’s public institutions. Absent of a housing or home-ownership bill equivalent to the historic G.I bill after World War II for the state’s millions of Latinos, who, along with Blacks and Asians, have historically been denied access to such programs–especially in California, as with Proposition 14 in 1964–a bill granting permission for state and local entities to include race in their decision-making for work opportunities is an approvable first step to rein in California’s historically racist policies against non-white communities. Consider that the state has been indicted, including by even the United Nations, for unfair housing, unfair education, and egregious criminalization policies towards communities of color. As such, you can consider this proposition as an opportunity for the state of California to do better itself after its historic wrongs.

YES ON PROP 17: Prop 17 seeks to allow formerly incarcerated people on parole the right to vote while on parole. Imagine being convicted of a crime such as petty theft or a drug offense by the state, and then being told that you have no say in how that law may be changed, even after you’ve “served your time” for the offense! Vote yes to restore former prisoners’ rights to participate in fair elections, especially once they’ve “proven” that they’re ready to assess and make decisions of their own accord over what’s fair and just in our societies.

YES ON PROP 18: Prop 18 seeks to allow 17 year olds the chance to vote during primaries if they’ll be 18 within the year. Give the 17 year olds a shot to vote in primary elections if they’ll be 18 by the time of the general election. In fact, the minimum age requirement to vote should probably be lowered to 13 years of age, and perhaps even lower than that. What’s there to be afraid of, anyhow? As in, how many “kids” do you know who don’t understand right from wrong when it comes to their state or nation’s politics? Moreover, isn’t there currently a 5th grader occupying the executive office of the white house right now?

YES ON PROP 19: Prop 19 seeks to provide tax breaks for older homebuyers and fire victims in California when purchasing a new home. As Scott Frazier of The LA Podcast has noted, any step towards unwinding the damage done over four decades by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is a step worth taking. Modifying our tax codes for properties is long overdue in the aftermath of Jarvis’s so-called “tax-revolt,” and allocating net savings from such modifications towards wildfire “prevention” in counties at risk is a good start. By no means is it the only step we should be taking to remedying tax laws in the state, however. Hail the revolt against the tax revolt.

CORRECTION – NO ON PROP 19: Prop 19 seeks to provide tax breaks for older homebuyers and fire victims in California when purchasing a new home. And while I never thought I’d be ‘joining’ the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association against any proposed tax changes in California during the 21st century, I cannot support what has been pointed out to me as another ploy by the California Realtors Association–following up on the previously defeated Prop 5 from 2018– this time the CREA is purporting to “defend” home-buyers. While the CREA hopes to convince voters that any potential revenues garnered from this change to the tax code will go towards fire prevention, Pete Stahl argues persuasively that Prop 19 actually seeks to ensure that home-buyers get taxed less, while home-inheritors get taxed more, which benefits none more than the CREA itself. And yes, this is the same California Realtors Association that was in bed with the Homeowners Loan Corporation during the redlining era. Vote no on this proposition, which, if passed, will not result in more housing availability for new, prospective buyers such as immigrant families, but probably less revenues from housing properties for cities and counties across the state due to a reduction in market rate taxation. Thanks also to Ms. Holland for the lead to Stahl’s blog.

NO ON PROP 20: Prop 20 seeks to toughen parole requirements by turning certain misdemeanors into felonies. That’s right. California police and districts attorney offices across the state are at it again, once again looking to pigeonhole Black and Brown people with egregious prison sentences even while crime is at an all time low. Think about it this way: If every court hearing in the Golden State were required viewing for residents, do you have any idea how many of Black and Latino people we’d see being sent to jail for petty theft and drug offenses, relying on the help of a public defender due to their frequently disproportionately low incomes? Even in the midst of the pandemic, sending people to jail is big business, which this ballot initiative seeks to prop up. Vote NO.

YES ON PROP 21: Prop 20 seeks to grant cities across the state of California permission to enact rent control within their jurisdictions. In the throes of a pandemic racialized by the inherent inequality of our state and federal laws and regulations, or lack thereof, a barrage of racialized evictions, the likes of which we’ve never seen before, is on the horizon. As such, allowing cities to enact rent control in California, where nearly 18 MILLION people don’t own homes but only rent, could prove to be a life-saving measure. Of course, it’s going to take more than voting to see this once through; it’s going to take enforcement. Following the proposition’s passage, our local political leaders have to act with respect to renters and their families and not under the auspices of corporate overlords–or is that, landlords? Mom and Pop landlords, you say? Check out the Vacancy Report and pass rent control everywhere, America.

NO ON PROP 22: Prop 22 seeks to exempt Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing companies from classifying their workers as employees. Earlier this year, Uber & Lyft were told by the state of California that they needed to classify their drivers to work as employees rather than as defenseless, disposable contractors. In response, the companies rebelled and mustered up this ballot proposition. Consider this about most ride-sharing “gigs.” They are full-time jobs, upon which millions of immigrant and Black workers who are denied employment elsewhere depend on. If companies such as Uber & Lyft want to continue doing business in California, then they should act like mature businesses towards the workers who allow their companies to thrive. Very much yes on this one.

NO ON PROP 23: Prop 23 seeks to require the presence of certified doctors at dialysis centers across the state of California. And while the text of this proposition reads fairly enough, but while its intention purports to do right by dialysis centers by requiring centers to have at least one doctor present, I can easily see dialysis companies closing up shop or drastically reducing service hours, citing their inability to afford a physician’s attendance. J.T. The L.A. Storyteller passes on this one, but hopes that the state legislature will intervene soon, as it’s its duty.

YES ON PROP 24: Prop 24 seeks to strengthen privacy laws around user data across the web and with respect to the increasing number of apps Californians use with each year. Black, Brown, Red, White or Yellow, defend your data and reclaim your data. Let companies know that you are not simply a statistic or marketing tool for their ads. Doing so can set a nationwide precedent, and who knows, maybe a shift of the pendulum on all things internet. Let’s make it happen.

NO ON PROP 25: Prop 25 seeks to replace money bail with an algorithmic system designed to judge the “safety” of releasing people in custody over an alleged crime. And although ending money bail is urgently overdue, it should not come with stipulations or dangerous replacements, such as the algorithmic system which is proposed in money bail’s substitution with this proposition. Algorithms have been proven to discriminate based on race, because they’re designed by humans living in race-based societies of haves and havenots. Moreover, if the last few years of the social media have shown us anything, it’s that we are a long, long way from constructing algorithms or much tech at all for that matter which isn’t built on the overwhelming exploitation of impoverished, non-white people for profits.

YES ON MEASURE RR: Measure RR seeks to authorize $7 billion to finish retrofitting schools in Los Angeles. And yes, $7,000,000,000 is a lot, even over a ten year period, for the purpose of continuing to retrofit L.A.’s schools for earthquake and fire hazards, but that’s why it’ll be key for communities to watch their local School Board representatives and nearby school principals as these moneys turn into construction projects and contracts. As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and in California during the 21st century, also billions of dollars in upgrades for classrooms and buildings to remain ‘competitive‘. But seriously, follow up with your School Board representatives.

YES ON MEASURE J: Measure J seeks to allocate ten percent of the annual budget from the L.A. County sheriffs department towards diversion programs or alternatives to the prison industrial complex for youth and communities. Remember this past summer, when protesters all over the city of Los Angeles mobilized against a catastrophic budget for our communities, dialing into their representatives’ meetings over Zoom, and hounding at them to reduce the egregious police budget? In L.A., we now have an opportunity to ensure that at least 10% of the annual budget goes towards funding alternatives to the policing and prison industrial complex in Los Angeles, which by extension means more programs to enrich Black and Brown communities rather than to impoverish them. And which makes this a huge, unequivocal and resounding YES!

J.T.