Tag Archives: volunteerism

Democrats Work in San Pedro With Debbie Cook (CA-46)

Today about 20 volunteers congregated at the White Point Nature Preserve in San Pedro to give back to the community as part of Democrats Work and their national day of service.  I know community organizing and community service is teh suck, but that didn’t stop us, for some reason.  Democrats Work is a really great organization that brands service and volunteerism as a Democratic value, part of protecting the commons and creating a more livable world.

We arrived around 9am and immediately set to work clearing tumbleweed from a large area of the preserve, which formerly housed a naval missile silo.  For 2 1/2 hours we picked, pulled and chopped away at the weeds.  And joining us was Congressional candidate in CA-46 Debbie Cook (San Pedro is in her district).  Now, most candidates would spend about 10 minutes there, get their photo-op, shake a few hands and go home.  Cook drove up in her car and spent the entire volunteer session with us.  Pretty interesting.

I talked to Cook a bit about her race against Crazy Dana Rohrabacher.  Obviously, the big hurdle right now is financial.  While Cook has outraised Dana Rohrabacher since she entered the race, she still is at a disadvantage of 3:1 in cash on hand, and until she shows more fundraising strength, outside groups like the DCCC won’t jump in.  It’s kind of a vicious cycle – you can’t get money until you raise money.  Cook has released a TV ad that’s running in the district on local cable, and she has an ActBlue site up for supporters to adopt an ad.  She also raised close to $10,000 in Blue America’s recent contest, and while she didn’t win to receive the extra $10,000, it was still a success.  Cook has challenged Rohrabacher to debates but he’s been cool to the idea.  Local PBS station KOCE has committed to running the debate with or without Crazy Dana, so she may be debating an empty chair.  Cook discussed her plan for Iraq (if the oil companies require security to do their business in the country, they can pay for the private security contractors like Blackwater and let us leave), her energy ideas (the drillusion is backwards thinking that will never move us forward), and Sarah Palin (as the mayor of Huntington Beach, she said that she never received such federal largesse from earmarks that Palin did as mayor of Wasilla, despite having 20 times as many constituents), among other things, while helping clear the tumbleweed.  Cook is an impressive and dedicated citizen legislator who would truly be a breath of fresh air in Washington.

Overall, not a bad morning.  Pics on the flip:

It was a wide expanse.

This one’s me.

Debbie Cook and a volunteer.

The whole gang and the fruits of our labor

Obama’s Register For Change Drive Nets 600+ Voters in LA

In order to rise from a relative unknown who lost to Chicago legend Bobby Rush in 2000 to the cusp of a Presidential nomination today, Barack Obama did not only have to court all elements of the varied coalitions that rule over politics in Chicago, he had to build the pie of voters large enough to be someone all those coalitions wanted to rally behind.  In 1992, Obama, working as a community organizer, registered 150,000 residents throughout Chicago to vote in what ended up being a landmark election, as Carol Moseley Braun became the first female African-American ever elected to the US Senate.

This weekend I attended an Obama Vote for Change rally in South LA which ended up registering 615 new voters.  It was one of over 100 events all over the country; here’s a report of another one in Birmingham, Alabama.  Over 400 volunteers attended the Los Angeles event, heard from a few speakers, were trained in voter registration (most of them were doing it for the first time), and sent out into the surrounding area.  Now, 600-some new voters in the LA area isn’t going to sway much politically or ensure an already-fairly-assured Democratic victory in California.  But it does build the tent, not only for the general election but beyond.  I’ve written at length about how Obama’s gamble is to build an electorate that’s so big that he has a serious, almost insurmountable advantage for both his election and his agenda.  A nationwide effort maximizes resources, keeps that army of volunteers excited and doing work, and builds that base to be dispatched for the general election.  In addition to voter registration, the volunteers were signing up registered voters to volunteer later in the campaign.  We could see a million people on the ground all across the country in November.  That’s special – and different.

John Kerry outsourced the field and mobilization to ACT and other outside groups and it was a stupid way to go.  Obama thinks he has a better idea that will work long beyond the election, and I support that aspect of it.  I worry about his shutting out the outside groups that have come out of the progressive movement since Bush’s first election, but I will note that yesterday’s event was at the campaign offices of Mark Ridley-Thomas, a progressive running for LA County Supervisor, and the event in Huntington Beach doubled as the kickoff event for Congressional candidate Debbie Cook.  So there is a layering effect, where the local candidates are benefiting from Obama’s work at the national level.

Time To Play: You’re The New York Times Editor!

So, let’s see.  You’re the New York Times.  You’re a national paper, but you have a significant readership in California, so you want to cover the Left Coast every now and again.  You’re not on the ground in California, but you have a few reporters hither and yon, and press releases a go-go from the Governor’s office.  There’s a space in the paper for a California story, something that can show to the world the innovation and forward-thinking at work in the nation’s largest state.  So you look over what they’ve done for the last few days.

On the one hand, the Governor, just months from failing in a quest to massively expand health care to millions of uninsured Californians, has decided to go in the complete opposite direction and force Medi-Cal enrollees to fill out all kinds of paperwork in the hopes of knocking thousands off the rolls to save money.

Administration officials expect the rule will result in 122,000 people being dropped from the rolls next year, saving the state $92 million – money that the governor’s staff has already counted against the state’s deficit.

The plan calls for about 4.5 million of the 6.5 million enrollees of the Medi-Cal program to file eligibility forms with the state four times a year. Under existing law, children, some disabled people and pregnant women must reapply once a year, while parents are required to report twice annually.

The chore of filling out a form and sending it to regulators might sound simple enough, but for Medi-Cal recipients such as Ernie Campbell of Novato, who has hemophilia, the danger of losing coverage because of an unanticipated problem, such as a form being lost or delayed in the mail, is a serious one.

“The renewal process is already a lot of paperwork and they warn you if you don’t get everything in on time you could lose your coverage,” said Campbell, 31. “I think this could probably affect me pretty negatively.”

Sounds like something you’d want to cover.  You know, the story has an arc and some drama, with a callous Governor claiming the mantle of universal health care in public and trying to cast off the sick and the poor in private.  

On the other hand, there’s this somewhat meaningless move to create a cabinet-level position for volunteerism, an effort to outsource normal government functions, and let them rise and fall on volunteer efforts.  Seems like not much of a program at all, and certainly of less importance to everyday Californians than this plan to purge the Medi-Cal rolls.  Anyway there are plenty of volunteer organizations that perform these functions all the time.

Of course, The Times went ahead with the volunteer story.

Under the change, the governor’s commission for volunteerism, California Volunteers, will maintain its staffing and budget. But its executive director will gain expanded duties as a cabinet secretary, playing a role in disaster-related planning and response efforts and coordinating volunteers at disaster sites.

The office will also manage donations that flow into the state for disaster relief, a responsibility now held by the state’s Office of Emergency Response. It is the first time a governor’s commission overseeing federal money to manage volunteers – panels required by law since 1993 – has been elevated to a cabinet role.

Really no change at all, aside from a change in the faceplate on somebody’s office door.

But that fit the narrative of the “Governator is teh awesome” much, much better.  So off it goes to the front porches of all the Grey Lady’s readers.

And some people blame the 2006 election loss on Phil Angelides.  Ho-kay.