2015 California State Democrats Convention Re-Cap

By William R. Roberts, Vice President for Political Affairs, Westchester-Playa Democratic Club 

Dear Fellow Dems,

As an elected delegate to the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) I attended the CA Democratic Convention this past weekend in Anaheim, together with Sheila Mickelson, Betsy Butler, Travis Pham, Scott Mayers, Carla Salazar, Fabiola Ceja-Cervantes, Marcia Hanscom, Michelle Sutter, and other elected and appointed delegates from the 62nd Assembly District. It was great to see other friends and delegates from around the county as well as the state, such as Cara Robin, President of the WLA Dem Club, Marianne Tyler, Linda Lucks, Susie Shannon, Tom Camarella from Culver City Dem Club, and Robert Brandin from San Pedro Dem Club. Also present were Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, former Assemblyman Steve Bradford, Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, State Senator Ben Allen and a host of others. 

Friday, May 15

Credentialing began at 3:00pm. This is where we all got our I.D. badges for the weekend, as well as our "swag bags". All weekend long there was a phone bank for Susan Bonilla who is running for State Senate against Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer. You can read about their candidacy here:  http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article19433286.html

Later in the day, Gov. Jerry Brown made an appearance and gave a speech in the hallway of the convention center. He spoke about some of the main issues facing Californian's such as income inequality; water resources and transportation infrastructure. 

Saturday, May 16

Saturday at the CADEM Convention is always the big day. There was a early morning discussion on Divide and Falter: A Lack of Progress Report on Congressional Republicans. Later at 10:00am, the General Session began (actually it started at about 10:30am). 

After the pledge of allegiance and the invocation, Leader Nancy Pelosi was welcomed to the stage. She spoke on many topics. Here are some of the highlights: Education reduces the deficit, as demonstrated by many reports. Her main message throughout the speech was this, "When women succeed, America succeeds". She stated she is committed to overturning the "Citizens United" case which now allows for unprecedented amounts of money to be given to PAC's that favor a particular issue or candidate. She spoke of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Selma and re-phrased his statement that the Pettus Bridge was really a bridge to the ballot box. She stated that there is a direct connection between legislation and a better life that flows from the ballot box. She is championing comprehensive immigration reform and believes it is up to California to lead the way. From her viewpoint in Washington D.C., she only sees that Republicans have no vision, only a desire to tear things down, like social security and Medicare. One of her statements that got a rousing cheer was "Immigrants make America more American".

After Nancy Pelosi, Treasurer John Chiang was introduced to the crowd. He told us that as the "banker" for the State of California, he is charged with investing $65 Billion on behalf of the State and local governments. He has championed better practices to maximize returns on investments to State and local governments. Since his tenure began, California bonds have been upgraded from "A" to "A+". The state has been able to sell bond debt at 3.7%, which has resulted in savings to the state of $1.79 Billion. He believes that increasing the "earned income tax credit" will lift many Californians out of poverty. He further mentioned the stark problems that we are now facing even though California is the world's 7th largest economy. Homelessness has increased 12% in LA County alone. He believes that American corporate boards must become more diverse, with more women, more LGBT folks and that will lead to better corporate governance. He stated that we are on the road to make California the most prosperous, successful California ever. 

Next up was Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsom. He mentioned that he has a long history of fighting for social justice and when he was Mayor of San Francisco, allowed the first marriage licenses to be issued to members of the LGBT community and now a few short years later, 38 states allow for gay marriage. His goal is to see marriage equality in all 50 states. He stated that we, as Californians, have to "Step-Up and Step-In" to fix the myriad problems that we still face. We have more than 8 million in poverty in this state. Growing without sharing in the profits is not sustainable for a populations as large and as diverse as California. He referenced the Greek thinker, Plutarch, who 2,000 years ago warned of income inequality leading to the breakdown of civilized society. In closing, he sated that the future is not just in front of us, it is inside us based upon our values.

Senator Elizabeth Warren was the next speaker. There were hundreds of signs with her name on them being waved by the crowd. She thanked and acknowledged our California Senators, Feinstein and Boxer, for their assistance and support. She took special time to thank our own Congressional Representative, Maxine Waters for her unwavering support on the House Financial Services Committee. She also thanked Atty General Kamala Harris for her help during the last election cycle in Massachusetts. Her populist messages resonated deeply with the convention delegates. She stated that Washington D.C. is not working for American families. She blasted the concept of "trickle down" economics. As she said, some of those Republicans "have taken one too many spins on the Tea Cup ride" next door at Disneyland. She then spoke about some Republican presidential aspirants and their take on national problems. She said that Jeb Bush finally found the perfect scapegoat for Baltimore problems, i.e. teachers. Yep, they're the ones that have consistently screwed the poor in Baltimore. Scott Walker--cut taxes for billionaires and corporations, then tell the citizens that there is no money for anything else. Rand Paul, minimum wage hikes hurt minority and kids the most. She spoke about how the middle class grew from 1935 to 1980, until Ronald Reagan became president. Since 1980, the vast majority of income has gone to the top 2%. She stated that no one should have to work full time and still be in poverty. She supports students getting a good education without crushing student loan debt. She wants to preserve and protect Social Security and also supports comprehensive immigration reform, equal pay for equal work, and preserving a woman's right to choose her health care choices. As for TPP, she believes we have to see the details before it is voted on by the Senate. Corporations are not people, she said. When she said, "You don't get what you don't fight for", the crowd was on their feet shouting. She thanked all of us and said that the Democratic delegates are the spark of the Democratic Party. 

The next speaker was Tom Steyer, the billionaire investor, philanthropist and advanced energy advocate. He is also the President of NextGen Climate, an organization that acts politically to prevent climate disaster and preserve American prosperity. Before retiring from the private sector, Tom founded and was the Senior Managing Member of Farallon Capital Management. He also was a Managing Director and member of the Investment Committee at Hellman & Friedman.

Tom is actively engaged in climate politics and works to promote economic development and environmental protection in the state. In 2010, Tom teamed up with former Secretary of State George Shultz to defeat Proposition 23, an effort by out-of-state oil companies to dismantle California’s groundbreaking clean energy law, AB 32. In 2012, Tom served as co-chair with Shultz for Yes on Proposition 39, which closed a tax loophole for out-of-state corporations and created jobs in California. In 2013, Tom also supported the successful campaigns of Ed Markey for Senate in Massachusetts and Terry McAuliffe for Governor in Virginia. 

The next speaker was CA Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, who is working to make it easier to do business in California. He is also working to support AB1477, to make it easier to vote through the DMV. 

Up next was State Controller, Betty Yee. She was formerly on the State Board of Equalization and won her contest to be Sate Controller. While at the Board of Equalization, she successfully lead the charge to require Amazon.com to pay sales taxes for on-line purchases. She said that 52% of fast food workers were on public assistance. She stated that our shared values of community are required to close the gap between the world's 7th largest economy and the state's large number of poor people below the poverty line. She supports affordable housing and creating opportunities for upward advancement. 

The last of the public speakers was Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. He asked us to support AB1434 to close corporate tax loopholes so that California can expand payments to MediCal doctors who need a raise. He spoke about insurance fraud and how it hurts all Californians. He stated that public corruption has no place in our state, including disgraced former State Senator, Ron Calderon, who has been accused of corruption involving hospitals and workers compensation. He supports most of the progressive slate of political ideas such as the right to organize for labor; support of teachers and classified employees; protecting women's access to health care; supporting the Affordable Care Act; and balancing the budget. 

At 4:45pm it was time for the election of certain Regional Directors. Tina McKinnor, who had been our Region 14, Director for the past few years, has accepted a job as Chief of Staff for Autumn Burke, leaving an open field. Although there had been 4 candidates, two withdrew before the voting, leaving Channing Hawkins and Miguel Martinez. After the vote was counted, Channing Hawkins won 80% of the votes and is our new Regional Director for Region 14, which includes Assembly Districts 54, 59, 62 and 64. 

After the General Session there was dinner with Special Guest, Barney Frank, U.S. Representative (Ret.). Later in the evening there many caucuses that met including the African-American; Arab American, Irish American, and Progressive Caucus. 

Sunday, May 17

CDP Controller Hilary Crosby spoke. We then moved on to the General Session with the Adoption of Resolutions. Only one resolution was challenged. The resolution involved vaccinations and supported the Senate Bill now pending in the legislature which would curb certain opt-out provisions for parents who do not want their kids vaccinated. The challenge was defeated overwhelmingly. 

The next convention will be held in San Jose, CA. The dates are February 26-28, 2016. Most of us expect Hillary Clinton will be the keynote speaker. 


William R. Roberts, Vice President for Political Affairs
Westchester-Playa Democratic Club 

Westchester-Playa Democratic Club Convention Photos

If you attended and would like to add photos to our gallery below, please send photos to Greg Dina at gregdina@gmail.com. Thank you!