Katie Dunne, Passionate believer in democracy and member of UHM's Digital Media Content Crew.
Jon Pelzer on Campaign finance reform, SB 562, Affordable housing and education, Climate change, Military spending and the Dreamers.
On Monday March 19th, 2018 #WeThePeople interviewed Jon Pelzer, candidate for the 30th Congressional District of California. He is a small business owner and long-time resident of San Fernando Valley. “I care about strong progressive issues like campaign finance reform, universal healthcare and affordable housing.” Add to this, the environment and affordable education.
To clarify for those who watched Jon on the Ron Placone show… Jon supported Bernie but voted for HRC in the 2016 Democratic Primary (for fear of Donald Trump and what would become of the Judiciary). On the latter issue Jon says that Mitch McConnell now spends his whole day getting the President’s signature on judicial appointments. Had HRC won, he thinks she might not have got (all) her picks through, but we wouldn’t have had Neil Gorsuch. Jon thinks all the “horribleness” of the Trump administration has thrown a light on “everything” and that that has helped to unite Progressives. It has also exposed the Corporate Democrats in a way that might not otherwise have happened. I certainly found out a lot this way he says. John has one more question on this matter. If people had concerns about where you stood on issues, would you be willing to sign a CFar? Yes, absolutely, Jon answers. He adds that he has the progressive endorsements that he has, because the people of the Valley know him and his views.
Jon doesn’t accept money from PACS, Corporations, or even from Unions. Personal individual contributions are what he takes. “I feel that the sanctity of the One Person One Vote is that important...” he says. Public financing is clearly needed. The best or fastest way to change the present set-up is to elect people like Jon who will work toward this.
Why run at 65? John Ellis asks. “Nothing worthwhile is easy, and this is worthwhile.” I can run (at this moment of my life) so I am doing so, he tells us.
Jon considers affordable housing to be his number one issue, and not just because his district is not an inexpensive one to live in. He argues that in order to really tackle affordable housing successfully, you are forced to address all the other areas of inequality: access to and discrimination in, education, healthcare, transportation… Jon figures one has to do everything possible to allow people to stay in their own homes. There are two laws that presently make this more difficult. He would move towards national standards for rent control and make sure that the federal programs we have for both mortgage assistance and rent assistance are upped. People living in cars – it’s obscene! A crucial part of this would be paying people a living wage.
In his 8 months (so far) of campaigning, constituents have told him that the rents are too high and that there is a lack of continuity with the leases themselves. He refers to the Ellis Act. There are landlords who supposedly get out of the rental business just to squeeze people out, before getting back into the business again. Staying in one’s home is the single biggest hedge against gentrification Jon says. He mentions the 3 breweries in San Fernando Valley, and that for newcomers; the tasting rooms are often the first step towards becoming part of the community. For those who work in them, it is a very fast commute which is an added attraction. A new hub destroys the previous manufacturing base, he points out.
Jon believes there is a future for the cannabis industry but hopes that it will not be taken over by those who just want to make a fast buck, but by people who know what it can do and how important it is to veterans and older people. As to how to pay for cannabis, Jon feels that public banking is putting something in the middle which adds nothing but costs.
He is for ranked-choice voting, and if electronic voting, then it has to be open-sourced.
Snorky (YT chat) informs Jon about Reverse Osmosis, and tells us that the National Guard can’t give away (in an emergency) water that exists, until Nestle runs out of water it can sell. That’s horrendous! Jon says.
Jon feels that regarding climate change we should have reacted already. He’s for “off fossil fuels”. Is it too ambitious to aim for 100% renewables by 2030 (referencing Oregon) John Ellis asks of him. You have to start and you need those important goals, Jon replies. He continues, is it an unreasonable goal? Look at what is at stake! Wait long enough and you won’t have to deal with it! He was arrested recently at a protest, and was one of maybe two people over 30. He is enthused by the speed at which young people take to the streets and feels that that bodes well for the future.
Jon is against money bail and private prisons. He is also against charter schools, although he feels that we need to look more closely at the reasons why people “choose” them. He speaks of Prop 13 and the much reduced sum of money available to the public schools system. All public colleges and universities should be tuition free. Americans should also be allowed to refinance their student debt to lower rates just like in the case of any other loan. There should be no profit motive for federal student loans. At least delay paying back the loans for 10 years! John Ellis says: I believe in student debt absolution.
Jon continues on the subject of guns and the military. There is so much money out there, that people can’t get their heads around it! He talks of taxing Wall Street speculation, progressive inheritance taxes, making corporations pay for the (profits) that are off-shore… Would he cut military spending? Yes, by at least 30%! However you do need to make the cuts commensurate with green energy jobs that are going to be affected. We need to make sure that those whose jobs are being downsized are not hurting. What I’ve learned during the campaign though, is how entrenched the military is in all aspects of our lives. Did you know that army recruiters can walk anywhere on any high school campus without asking anyone anything? He speaks of tanks and guns on display at Parades and Fairs, of fathers and sons taking photos of them. It’s cool, neat, fun to join the military! According to Jon, military grade weapons have no place in public. There should definitely be waiting periods and very strict background checks. It’s a matter of political will. Arming the teachers, ICE, the Police Departments…just new markets for the industry! What of how the Veterans are treated, given all the money the military gets, asks John? An obscene situation, Jon replies. He suggests tying veterans’ benefits to any future military spending. Another war? You have to take care of the guys and women who are going to fight it! Should we abolish ICE John asks? Based on their current behavior? Yes. Their original purpose has long since been corrupted, Jon says after a momentary pause. He was gratified to see the students’ reaction in Florida. They cut to the chase very quickly. They have the names of the legislators and they are watching how they vote!
What else was mentioned?
SB 562…Jon reckons that Anthony Rendon saying that details had to be ironed out wasn’t the real reason. The donors didn’t want it! It is not enough to be a Progressive Democrat in Congress; you have to be a Progressive Democrat willing to fight like a Republican!
Jon: We asked the Dreamers to come out of the shadows with the promise of a path to citizenship…they did so! Where is the path to citizenship? Republicans weaponized confusion, and they are so good at doing that, especially with regard to immigration issues. We need to do everything to take out the confusion. Co-sponsor bills that clarify the rights of immigrants. Jon speaks of “discrimination masquerading as an immigration policy”.
The links are beneath the video. Good luck Jon Pelzer!
Wendy Reed on the meaning of Progressive action and the value of Knowledge and Experience, the Industries in her district, the Military industrial complex, Budgetary priorities, Climate change and what we should do about it, Fascism and Monsanto.
On March 21st, 2018 #WeThePeople interviewed Wendy Reed, who is running in the 23rd Congressional District of California. She is a small business and Charitable Corporation founder who worked in business finance and legal compliance. She is also a musician and was a Bernie volunteer. If she makes it through to the general election, she will be up against Republican Kevin McCarthy, who it appears is the 3rd most powerful person in Congress.
She is running to “recover our government from corporate influence, to restore representational government for people, and to face climate change and a deteriorating economy that serves only the super-rich and corporations.” She wants to convert to sustainable economies and to preserve the rights and programs that our ancestors fought to provide for us.
Wendy was originally endorsed by Justice Democrats, and this was pulled (following accusations made against her of “personal harassment and threats against other Democrats in her Community”). No evidence or links were provided on social media it seems. She was told by Mr Chakrabarti that JD are a PAC and do not have to provide explanations for their pulling the endorsement. Her attorney is looking into a defamation suit. The original information came from people who were with another campaign and their smear campaign through the first months of the year was brutal. Here Wendy explains the link between local Democratic politics, Chevron and Halliburton, and how these people don’t like that she stands by the California Democratic Platform against fracking… and how much they don’t stand to make off her campaign.
So, am I going to focus on being a candidate or am I going to focus on engaging people in the Democratic Party, Wendy asks. She continues, I was a strong Bernie supporter and organizer, and in my personal life expressed many many misgivings about HRC. I try very hard to focus on my qualifications, my proven progressive work in the community for going on 30 years, “engaging people in government processes and advocating for health, safety, and property rights with local, county, state and federal agencies.” Wendy has also given climate change education to groups.
We need, she says, to have people in Congress now that have committed their life to progressive action. I love that young people are getting involved, but if they haven’t studied American history and economics, political science and public policy and ethics, then they aren’t going to stand by those progressive policies when they get to Washington because they don’t know the history of it, they haven’t lived the effort, the struggle of it. John interrupts to say that he knows lots of young people he’d rather see in office than anybody older and supposedly educated on those subjects. I’d rather he says, have someone who has good intentions, morals and decency and who is willing to learn their job! How, replies Wendy, can you judge their morals and decency if they have no record, no education? I’m a little taken aback by your statement says John and there follows a spirited defense of the young Progressives. There are plenty of people that you are running with that are Progressives and in their twenties and I support many of them. And I don’t think any of them lack an education or … an understanding of what’s going on the United States or … of how corrupt this country is, or … of what they need to do to fix it, and I don’t think any of them needs to spend decades restudying that ***, I think the one thing we can learn from the past is that people from your generation and my generation have pretty much screwed things up pretty ***. So what are you saying? Do they have to be 62 to run? John then lists off the young candidates in the Progressive Movement around the U.S. who are fighting the good fight and that we know from #WeThePeople. These are the same kids that are marching he says. With all due respect, Wendy continues, I think that people need to spend time in their districts, need to understand the different economies … constituencies and the geography of their districts. Secondly, I have people running against me in my district who have spent their lives in a self-involved way, which had nothing to do with any progressive engagement or any organizing. John adds now that he has no problem with Wendy addressing her opponents or people she has met personally like that, just not as a blanket statement about all the young people in the Progressive Movement. Wendy explains that it is important to have studied American history so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes, and in answer to John’s comment regarding the ability of the young to afford a good university education, Wendy says they are entitled to it, but she would prefer they had it before becoming her Representative. She explains that she worked hard to make a good life for herself, and it taught her a lot along the way, but it didn’t prepare her to be a good Congresswoman. What did that was getting engaged in her community, standing in front of city councils and boards of supervisors at the county level, and engaging in committee work. She went back to college and studied many useful things and got a Master’s Degree in Public Administration that focused on committee work, on managing conflict, and on developing consensus in committees. Some of the passionate young people when they come to the Democratic Party process, hadn’t read the bylaws, they hadn’t taken the time to understand research methodology and they didn’t follow the rules of the committee. They just wanted to protest and that is not very helpful. Many others who did do these things have been elected all the way up to the executive boards of the Party.
Wendy wants to be clear about her views, but John points out that there are highly educated, knowledgeable people in Washington D.C. who are doing a horrible job and destroying the planet and that he would really like to connect Wendy up with many Progressives that are highly educated, that he has met in the Democratic party, because he doesn’t think it’s fair to expect them to have the same type of life experience as her, or the same distance. Our children, he says, are growing up being shot at in schools. The level of violence in 1968 is nowhere near what it is today. And he reminds her that the kids are the ones who rose up on the gun control issue.
They move on to talk about resources. Wendy tells us all about the range of industries represented in her district: Agriculture, oil, ecological-based, aerospace… She lovingly describes the beauty of Sequoia National Park, Lake Isabella and more. She speaks of the district’s diversity (Native American, Undocumented workers, those in Little Texas with Oklahoma roots…). In 2016, Wendy won 35-43% of the various parts of this nonetheless fairly white and right-wing area. She is big into the environment. “How do you balance off-highway vehicle recreation with the need to preserve an endangered desert tortoise?”
On to the military industrial complex: We need says Wendy, to reorient to better support our veterans and our military families. She has plenty to say about the situation. A lot of re-organizing can be done here. She mentions cyber technology and all the stored information about American citizens. The main thing is though, Wendy says, that once corporations are no longer dictating what legislation we are going to have and what our budgetary priorities are in Congress, we Progressives will be able to figure it out. I think that we’ll have a lot of reversals of bad legislation and bad policy, such as the exportation of crude oil that McCarthy (shoved) through 18 months ago. There is a lot that can be fixed very quickly like DACA and immigration concerns, removing the cap on social security taxes - so we can shore up social security and ensure that that is there for future generations. We should definitely remove the “suspension of the rules that Congress is acting under” (carte blanche to go to war anywhere). They didn’t get the part about peace and love. We are supposed to be a religious nation that cares for our brothers and sisters and we are not implementing legislation or budgetary priorities that reflect that at all. Our military budget absolutely needs cutting. They don’t want to provide college and social security to people, childhood lunches, tissues, paper and hot water and soap in the bathrooms in schools, in order to give that money to their donors. John says that a lot of Progressives say that we need to bake caring for our vets into our military budget. If you can’t care for them, then there’s no more spending for you. Yes says Wendy, who goes on to agree that a large chunk of the military budget should be reallocated to education, healthcare for all and making sure we have a living wage. She adds that we ought not to be playing at corporate imperialism with our military. This is causing tensions internationally and our own advisors are against it.
On climate change, Wendy is very clear. She speaks of 400 parts per million of CFCs and greenhouse gases on our planet and says we are way past a tipping point. We need to deal with it head-on, like we did with the space program. Set a goal and say this is where we are and this is where we need to get to. We can be investing in infrastructure to convert things that use fossil fuels currently, and electricity generated by fossil fuels, to more sustainable things and things that actually absorb CO2. We can invest in greening up urban areas that suffer terrible environmental injustice. Their neighborhoods are more impacted than a higher economic zip code. We can change out street lamps to LG lamps that absorb CO2 and run themselves off of that etc. The oil and agricultural industries are just archaic at this point. They have industrialized and become factory mass-production things that are totally unsustainable economically. They rely on virtually slave labor with undocumented workers - they’re very upset right now that there is immigration reform. These are the same people that voted for Donald Trump and wanted immigration reform … just not at their plant. John reminds everyone what reform means in this instance (ICE separating families…). If we look at these industries, we stop exporting crude, we stop using fracking to export plastic pellets to make plastic straws and plastic water bottles and we reorient things towards sustainable futures, we can reverse some of the damage and start to try to make the planet livable into the future, and in doing so we generate tremendous economic growth and as with WW2 and the space program, we see tremendous economic boom times after we have addressed the issues. We need sensible people who listen to scientists, making good decisions as to where our tax dollars go in our budget. Well said says John!
Referencing a quote by Wendy “You can look back to Germany and Europe in the 1920s and 30s and you will see exactly what we have ahead of us. And it is not pretty. And the older people here and people like my dad went and prepared for D-Day and fought fascism. They didn’t do it so that we could elect fascists to Washington D.C.” John agrees…
They discuss the gradual descent into fascism that has been taking place in the United States and how Congress is allowing the President to do what he is doing. Wendy once felt guilty for having waited so long to get involved in politics (unlike her dad) but was reminded by Henny Kelly that every generation has to fight for their rights. Fascism never really goes away she says, and we must be vigilant. She speaks of those of us who grew up listening to JFK and Martin Luther King and those who are like the President or in remote and isolated communities who don’t have to go to school with others who are different from them, and of the fact that they have that same feeling that they are better, superior by virtue of their skin color, race, religion… “We are one race – it’s the human race. We come in a rainbow of colors, and a rainbow of genders, and sexual orientations, and it is all okay.” All that people need to do is accept other people’s differences, and love and be kind to others.
What of Monsanto, John asks (possibly after a YouTube question). Wendy sadly explains the impossible bind that people in her district are in. They realize the toll the work will take on their own and their family’s health and yet they still go to work at those oil fields and those pesticide-laden fields to provide for their families every day. In the Northern part of this district you go to work at the slaughterhouses, the McDonald's, Hooters… of course we need to take better care of these people’s health. She tells us about a nerve gas (Chlororaphis?) and its residue on fruit and nuts. Environmental protections have been ditched by this administration and the effects are already making themselves felt, not least by undocumented workers. GMOs? It’s all interlinked, Wendy gestures.
Wendy’s is a very low budget campaign. We need those small dollar contributions, she says. Volunteer, share this information. Thank you for having me she says. These videos have a long life and can be shared - when people see them they can decide what the candidates are like and indeed whether to trust them.
Let us try to save ourselves and the thousands of other species on this planet. We need to stand together and be kind to each other Wendy ends. Well, win or lose says John, you are pushing the narrative left, and I thank you for that.
Wendy has a beautiful smile and a positive attitude. She is passionate about Public Administration and knows her district very well. John was right when he said that she took the heat (in the interview) well. We do appreciate Wendy Reed coming on the show and fighting for what she believes in. Her choice of song was both appropriate and beautiful, as were the images.
The links are in the video description. Good luck Wendy Reed!
Bryan Kim on Supporting the Troops not the defense contractors, Universal Basic Income, Profit vs People’s needs, Social struggle, Unions, Medicare for All, a Green jobs program and