By Bill Bruns
Palisades News Adviser
On Jan. 22, two days after President Trump’s inauguration and a day after the massive Women’s March in downtown L.A., close to 250 Democrats packed the Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club to get a better sense of “What do we do now?”
They gathered to hear five elected politicians—Congressman Ted Lieu, Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Councilman Mike Bonin, State Senator Ben Allen and Assemblyman Richard Bloom—rally the troops at the Democratic Club’s annual meeting.
“After a momentous series of events,” said six-year Club President Melissa Grant in her opening remarks, “we are all looking to see what we can do to make sure that our values and priorities remain paramount on the federal, state and local level.”
She vowed that the club, which is one of the largest and most influential Democratic clubs in California with 527 paid members, will “continue our political efforts” at the grassroots level, looking ahead to the 2018 House and Senate races.
Congressman Lieu, who as Henry Waxman’s successor is quickly gaining influence as an outspoken member of the House Judiciary Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee, said that Democrats “are going to fight like hell against President Trump’s bad ideas, like the Wall,” while also working with the Republicans “to get things done on behalf of the American people,” like an ambitious infrastructure spending bill.
He urged audience members to donate to frontline organizations such as the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Planned Parenthood, “and buy subscriptions to newspapers that you like,” to support their vital role. “It’s deeply troubling that Trump’s administration is attacking the press,” Lieu said, noting that the press “will be a check on the abuses by our president.”
When Mayor Garcetti, who is running for a second term, came to the podium, he pointed to the room’s bay windows and the hard rain falling. “Look outside,” he said. “This turnout is incredible.” He said he was inspired by the diversity of those who participated in the Women’s March (“It reminded us, this is what America looks like”) but warned, “This is the next day—nothing changes unless we act. It’s what we do between elections that counts.”
He said that he is especially focused on resolving homelessness in Los Angeles (“join my Welcome Home Project”), tackling traffic issues across the city, and widening the number of job opportunities in the face of challenges posed by automation.
Councilman Bonin, who is also running for re-election on March 7, said: “We have to show the rest of the country—the red states— what progressive values mean. Los Angeles is a leader in this [e.g., the $15 minimum wage]; we set the example.” He cited two examples: “My signature issue is to get the DWP to eventually use 100% renewable energy,” and next year he wants the City Council to focus on campaign financial reform. “I know the political muscle is there” to bring it about.
State Senator Allen said he has two new responsibilities this year: chair of the Senate Education Committee and co-chair of the Legislative Environmental Caucus. “Needless to say, we are gearing up to do whatever it takes and whatever is in our power to block any rollback of our key environmental protections, and any erosion of education opportunity for all students that may be coming out of Washington, D.C.”
Assemblyman Bloom reiterated that California’s state government, controlled at every level by Democrats, “is going to fight any federal actions that try to reverse what we are doing here,” in terms of environmental, immigrant and health care protections. He also predicted, “I think you’ll see a lot of housing-related legislation this year” aimed at tackling the affordable housing crisis.
Former club president Joe Halper provided his traditional post-election voting analysis, noting that 51 percent of the eligible voters in Pacific Palisades were registered Democrats, 28.9 percent were registered Republi- cans, 16.9% were decline-to-state and 2.8 percent were other parties. Hillary Clinton received 72.5 percent of the vote here (the same percent- age as in L.A. County), and Donald Trump received 22.2 percent.
In the 90272 zip code, 78 percent of the eligible voters were registered to vote in the November election, and 81 percent of them actually voted (compared to only 67 percent of voters in L.A. County), Halper reported.
In addition to Melissa Grant, the Democratic Club executive board consists of 1st Vice President Erika Feresten, and VPs Janet Turner (Programs), Adam Wolman (Communication), Gary Bettman (Admin- istration), Susan Haskell (Political Issues and Endorsements) and Richard Wulliger (Finance/Treasurer).