September 24, 2019 Newsletter from the Fresno County Democratic Party
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Newsletter: September 24, 2019
** In This Newsletter:
Want to Be Part of the Democratic Central Committee? (#DCC)
T-Mobile/Sprint Merger: Info Session (#Sprint-Tmobile)
Democrats at the Big Fresno Fair (#BFFair)
Hispanic Heritage Month (#HHMonth)
California: The Prison State (#CaPrison)
Gun Violence (#Guns)
Should California Control its Own Roads? (#CARoads)
Funding Fellowship for FCDP Fridge (#Fridge)
Volunteer Orientations (#VolunteerO)
Upcoming Activities (#Upcoming)
Save the Date! (#SaveDate)
On Tuesday, Sept. 24, the Fresno County Democratic Party will host an orientation for persons interested in becoming part of the Central Committee. For incumbent and prospective members of central committees, we will cover the basic aspects of what a Democratic Central Committee does, the relationship with the state party and with local Democratic clubs, the time and cost of involvement, and how to run to be on a central committee in the March 2020 Primary.
Although the specific examples will reference the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee, the basic themes are applicable to all central committees and those from nearby counties are encouraged to attend as well.
A Democratic Central Committee (DCC) is a political entity that conducts the California Democratic Party’s affairs within a specific county. There are 58 DCCs in California, one of which is the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee, also known as the FCDCC.
The Central Committee provides voter services and voter education in Fresno County, nurtures and supports Democratic candidates for office throughout Fresno County, and disseminates information about the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates throughout Fresno County, among many other activities to support Democratic principles.
On Thursday, Sept. 26, the Fresno County Democrats will host an information session on the T-Mobile/Sprint merger and what this merger will mean for you as a customer and as a citizen. The session will be hosted by Stan Santos, a member of the Communications Workers of America and a longtime community activist.
Santos will address the potential impact of a merger of these two corporate giants on Central Valley communities. As telecommunications has evolved from its humble origins to today’s era of broadband and 5G, what might have begun as an auxiliary technology has become an essential social function. However, that social function is increasingly unregulated and this merger is just the latest manifestation of that.
Starting Oct. 2, the Fresno County Democrats will have a booth at the Big Fresno Fair. There will be voter registration, voter information and appearances by many local democratic candidates. We are seeking volunteers to assist. There are three shifts per day, and three people per shift. Interested Democrats should call the Democratic Party HQ at 559-495-0606.
The period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month, which has been celebrated in the United States since 1968. Sept. 15 is the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period, and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is Oct. 12.
The term Hispanic, or Latino, refers to Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race. Our Hispanic community has contributed to the success of our country in extraordinary ways. This month, we want to highlight the contributions of our Hispanic community in advancing our economy, enriching our culture and improving our communities.
To learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month and the vast contributions of the Hispanic community in the United States, visit HispanicHeritageMonth.org ([link removed]) .
America has too many people in prison, and California is no exception. The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million incarcerated people in any given year. Our state alone spends more than $12 billion a year keeping people as prisoners, swiftly on its way to becoming $13 billion. However, to simply cut that budget would only worsen already terrible conditions for an ever-increasing population, inflicting unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. We have to do something to ensure there are fewer people behind bars.
Morally, punishment must fit one or more of three motivations: to hinder the convict’s ability to commit the crime again, to deter the convict or other bystanders from committing the crime again, or to make the victims whole.
Imprisonment does nothing to make a victim whole, so that cannot be considered a valid motive. To permanently hinder the ability of the culprit to commit the crime again, the imprisonment must be indefinite; otherwise, you are back at square one the instant the person is released. A focus on this motivation drives a push for longer and longer sentences, costing our society more and more. When it comes to the matter of deterrence, America has focused on attempting to make incarceration so unpleasant that people would not dare risk it. However, there is another aspect of the deterrence solution that we as a society have not focused on: rehabilitation to deter crime by attacking the motives rather than just the consequences. These include poverty alleviation, mental health and social safety nets against personal disaster.
For too long, the focus on punishment-based deterrence has allowed terrible conditions to thrive in prisons because “prison is supposed to be bad, right?” Last year, the suicide rate in California prisons and jails was 26.3 per 100,000 people, up from 21.8 two years previously.
Thirty percent of psychiatrist positions in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation are empty. This state of affairs is cruel punishment, but unfortunately not unusual.
Even fiscal conservatives should be able to see the problem. Over the last four years, California has paid out an average of $17 million a year in individual lawsuit settlements related to the treatment of prisoners and wrongful deaths, and that number does not include class-action payouts. Mismanagement and over-incarceration is costing every California taxpayer at the same time it extracts a tax in blood from all those suffering behind bars.
Our nation is infected by a cancer of gun violence. The recent epidemic of mass shootings is the most jagged tip of a vast iceberg that claims 31,000 Americans a year through homicides, firearms accidents and gunshot suicides. Some individual states, counties and cities have attempted to tighten their own regulations regarding access to firearms, however, given that we enjoy the ability to freely travel around our country, local efforts can only have limited results. After all, every illegal gun started its existence being legal somewhere. We need a national solution.
“Common sense gun regulation” is currently on the lips of many lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican, but those hearing it should be cautious. It is a phrase can hide an intent to do nothing. We need to speak in terms of actual legislative goals.
Background checks must have the ability to stop those who fail from ever touching a trigger. Universal background checks are needed, and indeed have enjoyed massive public support for years. Currently, private sales and transfers allows a quarter of all gun transfers to happen without any oversight.
Assault weapons is another often heard term these days, defined as semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use. Assault weapons are tools for killing—plain and simple. Any argument in favor of guns for defense or hunting cannot account for easing the ability to kill large numbers of people quickly and effectively. The previous U.S. ban on these weapons expired in 2004 due to a built-in expiration date, and so it needs to be replaced.
However, assault weapons are only a small part of our gun problem, just as mass shootings are only the most visible form of gun violence. Handguns, cheaper and easily concealable, account for a majority of gun crimes, both against private citizens and against law enforcement. Any large-scale solution to our large-scale gun deaths problem must focus on limiting more than the narrow subset represented by assault weapons.
Opponents of gun regulation like to point to that number of 31,000 gun-enabled deaths per year and call it misleading as two-thirds of those deaths are gunshot suicides. That clarification does not make the number any better.
The Harvard School of Public Health research shows that access to lethal means is a serious risk factor for suicide. Many suicide attempts take place during a short-term crisis, so it is important to consider a person’s access to lethal means during these periods of increased risk. Reducing access to lethal means saves lives, and guns are the most easily and definitively lethal suicide method in America.
Concealed carry laws are another problem. Gun advocates claim guns are needed for personal defense, however, defense implies the ability to deter and deterrence is undone by concealing the gun. Concealed carry laws, permitted or otherwise, have allowed “safe spaces” for a toxic gun culture to grow and expand, hidden from public sight.
It turns out most people, understandably, are nervous around individuals who choose to walk through society prepared to kill. If we as a country choose to accept the risk of guns among us, it should at least be an informed choice. Let us easily see how bad this private arms race of people getting guns to defend against people with guns has gotten. Concealed carry must go.
The Second Amendment reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This was written back when the 13 states wanted to reserve the right to violently resist the new U.S. government. The Civil War taught us what the resistance of those state militias would look like and what insidious causes they would spill blood for.
Today, we have wisely decided not to rely on state militias as a necessity to our security, choosing instead the common defense of our country’s armed forces, though the militia laws remain. The U.S. Supreme Court has established over the centuries that there are many circumstances under which the right of an individual to keep and bear arms can be infringed upon. The amendment still stands as law of the land, but clearly there is room to work within its confines.
It is true that any potential solution to our gun violence plague will take years to show any effect. There is no legal switch to flick. Even if all private gun ownership was banned tomorrow, the existing gun supply would likely continue to exist in its current overwhelming numbers for decades at least, if not a century, with all its associated crime and violence.
Issues of mental health and culture have no quick fixes. However, that cannot be allowed as an excuse to do nothing. No big problem can be solved in less than 50 years, and even then the best you can generally hope for is a reduction in severity. But we must do something. America is bleeding and we need action, even if all we can manage is a band-aid. Every step, no matter how small, moves us forward.
Right now we are standing still, and right now we are dying.
Our state is currently fighting for its life as the Republican Party of “states’ rights” attempts to destroy California’s automotive standards. While we remember the deathly brown smog that used to routinely choke southern California like a Victorian London fog and the toxic emissions that blow down into the Central Valley from the densely populated Bay Area, the Republicans in Washington have decided on our behalf that we must return to the worst of those days.
California’s stringent standards have indisputably worked to alleviate our air pollution problem, but our statewide asthma and lung disease rates show that there is still a long way to go, not to mention the looming and inevitable worldwide threats of climate change and global warming.
California and New York state have joined together to sue to block the Trump administration’s attack that gutted the Clean Air Act’s provisions allowing states to adopt stricter emission standards than the national average. Because of that Act, California has become the leader in improving the health and safety of its automotive community, and the national car industry followed along. Now even major American car manufacturers have come out to criticize the Red Hat Republican’s vindictive and self-destructive vendetta against California, a feud that is threatening to harm all Americans for generations to come.
For its part, Fresno is taking some small steps in the right direction toward alleviating emissions by expanding our FAX bus services. Starting on Nov. 16, FAX will operate buses for longer hours on Saturday nights on the five routes with current weekday night service, extending the last ride from 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. to midnight. To facilitate later Saturday night service, weekday service on these same routes will end around midnight instead of 1 a.m. This will result in consistent service six days a week, Monday through Saturday, until approximately midnight.
However, Fresno, like the rest of California, still needs to massively expand its public transport system. Our current car-and-highway based society is a collective suicide pact that we must work to escape. The monetary costs of regulating car standards and expanding public transit, no matter how great, pale in comparison to the cost in lives and health that unchecked vehicle emissions are otherwise sure to bring us.
Time is the ruination of all things, man and refrigerator alike. Today, we are saying goodbye to an appliance of such antique provenance that it was found to have pot stuffed into the back grate when it was donated to us. We’ve come a long way.
So, in hopes of more and bigger endeavors in our new and expanded HQ, we bought a bigger used one, minus the pot. It was delivered today at a cost of $800. Any who are inclined to help defray these costs in favor of grander Democratic work this season, please donate today. Donate online at [link removed]. Checks made out to “FCDCC” (drop off at the Democratic Party HQ or mail to Fresno County Democratic Party, P.O. Box 5795, Fresno, CA 93755) are also accepted.
The Fresno County Democratic Party is always looking for volunteers, and we have a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. If you are interested in volunteering, the party provides orientation sessions at the HQ. The upcoming schedule is as follows:
Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 5795, Fresno CA, 93755
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1033 U Street, Fresno, CA 93721. Not authorized by any candidate or committee.