Saturday, June 23, 2012

Koch Brothers Bring Shadowy Summit to San Diego


While an elite group of major conservative donors meets this weekend at an undisclosed San Diego-area location (story in Politco), members of the Democratic Party, organized labor, the Occupy movement, and other groups will protest the Koch brothers event with rallies Saturday night and Sunday morning downtown.

WHAT:  "Koch Hunt" Rally and March

WHEN:  Saturday, June 23, 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 24, 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Children's Park, Downtown San Diego (1st & Island)

Republican financiers Charles and David Koch are reportedly on track to raise and spend at least $400 million this year on behalf of conservative political causes. Aided by the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling -- which opened new avenues for unregulated campaign spending -- their activism on behalf of the corporatist agenda shirks public scrutiny and subverts the laws and standards that have governed American elections for decades.

The latest in a series of highly secretive summits the Koch brothers and their related organizations have held to raise funds and plan their operations, the conference in San Diego this weekend also calls attention to connections of local Republican politicians with the Koch world. For example:

* Ten years ago, Republican mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio was the "director of government redesign" for the Reason Foundation, a right-wing think tank that received millions in funding from the Koch brothers and other conservative interests.

* Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group founded by David Koch, bestowed a glowing 95% approval rating on Congressman Brian Bilbray in 2010 in recognition of his support for corporate special interests, including the oil and tobacco industries.

* Already ideologically aligned with Congressman Darrell Issa in their staunch opposition to regulating or reforming Wall Street and the energy and healthcare industries, the Koch network has funneled more than $200,000 in recent years to members of the House Oversight Committee, which is led by Issa.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Not What It Seems

ECPAC Foundation to Submit Plan to the City of El Cajon to Save the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC)

Plan will reopen the Theater before the El Cajon Centennial Celebration this Fall and charts a course including phased renovation of the venue

EL CAJON, CA (June 20, 2012) – After objecting to plans of the City of El Cajon to demolish the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) and build a hotel on the site in March, the community came together and united around the goal of saving the theater, forming the “ECPAC Foundation.”

It will submit a proposal to the City of El Cajon on Thursday, June 21, 2012 to save the theater rather than tear it down.

The organization will hold a press conference at El Cajon City Hall, 200 Civic Center Way, at 3:00 p.m. to outline their proposal to the media, and then submit their extensive plan to operate the theater to the City Manager at 3:30 p.m.

Of most interest to the public is the fact that there is a reasonable way to save the ECPAC theater from demolition for perhaps 10% of the $4.3 million cost suggested by consultant Kurt Swanson in his March 2010 “Conceptual Business Plan.” The Foundation also proposes they they can run the theater without a required direct monetary subsidy from the City, unlike former managers.

“We really don't want to see the theater demolished or closed, especially during the November 2012 centennial celebration of the City of El Cajon,” said Ray Lutz, Founding Chair of the ECPAC Foundation. “We toured the theater in April to discover what it would take to open it up again, and we found the proposal by Swanson to be far from reality. Instead of $4.3 million, we figure it can be reopened for about $400,000 in repairs, maintenance, and renovations – only about 10% of his grandiose plan. Our plan is practical and feasible, and covers many items that his plan simply forgot.

“The developer Neal E. Arthur was able to get the city to agree to negotiate with him on an exclusive basis for six months to discuss how the theater can be torn down and replaced with a 'four star hotel.' We want the same chance to negotiate with the city on why it is best to simply repair and reopen the theater. Fair is fair.”

The main business points of the proposal state that the theater would be realigned from a pure “Performing Arts” venue to an “Arts and Entertainment” venue and pick up more mainstream acts that may not fit into a more ritzy venue. It will emphasize concessions, including beer, wine, and cocktails, and it includes a phased renovation plan to steadily improve the venue, signage, and other surrounding spaces. Although the Foundation does not propose getting a mandatory subsidy from the City, they do propose that the utilities be picked up by the city, as they have for all other theater managers, and that the City may wish to fund specific projects or rent the theater for events.

“The big difference in our proposal is that we're saving the City the $350,000 annual subsidy previously paid to Christian Community Theater,” said Paul Kruze, a Foundation Board member, professional trumpet player, and media personality. “We feel CCT offers great programs for children to learn to sing, dance, and act, but as the manager of the theater, they did not come through with the headliner schedule the community was hoping for. We can do better, and we can do it without a direct subsidy.”

The entire proposal is approximately 60 pages and can be found here:

Since the Foundation has had limited access to the theater and has not had a chance to fully investigate all issues, the Foundation board decided to include a disclaimer in the document to allow the Foundation to continue to investigate these details after the City has agreed to move forward with negotiations.

If the City agrees to negotiate with the Foundation, the plan will be improved to include the actual costs to fix the theater. The Foundation plans a Gala Fundraiser this summer to reach out to supporters, artists, and even theater management and production companies who may want to rent or help run the theater.

“This is the best organizational type for such a theater,” said Lutz. “This theater was originally funded and put into place by the tax-payer and by the blood, sweat and tears of performing arts supporters. It must stay in the public domain and must not be turned over to private developers.”

The ECPAC Foundation is an offspring of the SaveECPAC project of Citizens Oversight  Projects, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Until the Foundation secures its own nonprofit status, it can be sponsored by this parent organization and accept tax-deductible donations. Until the plan is approved by the City, the Foundation is accepting pledges for future donations that will be accepted at the Gala Fundraiser event planned for this summer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Statement of California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton on President Obama’s Policy Announcement to Halt Deportation of DREAM Act Eligible Youth


President Obama took smart, decisive action by allowing talented young people who are making great contributions to our nation to remain here without the threat of deportation looming over them. Many of these young Americans were brought to this country as children by parents who sought a better life and greater opportunity for their children.

While this new policy is a temporary measure, in the absence of Republican action in Congress, it represents a fair, efficient, and just approach working from within an immigration system in desperate need of reform.

The President’s actions stand in stark contrast to Mitt Romney’s continued waffling on yet another signature issue as he has refused to say whether or not he would overturn this effort, should he to be elected President.

Republicans have spent years demagoguing on the issue of immigration and no doubt find it difficult to support any reform measures, no matter how just or sensible they may be.

This is just one more reason why it is imperative that we re-elect President Obama in November.
Peace and friendship,

John Burton


California Democratic Party

California RNs Kick off Healthcare Tour in San Diego Today, with Screenings and Town Hall


California RNs Kick off Healthcare Tour in San Diego 6/19, with Screenings and Town Hall

Local stats show great need for healthcare overhaul—22% of adults uninsured, 13% of adults unable to see a doctor due to cost

With the U.S. Supreme Court decision expected imminently on the fate of the 2010 healthcare law, nurses, physicians, and healthcare activists will begin a three-week tour of California cities Tuesday as a reminder that the healthcare crisis continues to worsen and genuine, comprehensive reform is still needed.

Beginning in San Diego on June 19 and ending on July 12 in Anaheim, the Medicare for All tour will crisscross the state with stops in nearly two dozen sites. It will feature basic health screenings and town hall meetings where community members will be invited to tell their healthcare stories.

The focus of the events is a call to step up the drive for guaranteed, universal, cost-effective health reform once and for all by expanding and updating Medicare to cover everyone regardless of age. The tour kicks off in San Diego on Tuesday June 19 and will run through July 12 in Anaheim.  The Medicare for All tour will crisscross the state with stops in nearly two dozen sites.

St. Paul’s Cathedral, 2728 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

Health Screenings        3:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.                   
Town Meeting               6:30p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Protest Rally to welcome the Trans Pacific Partnership to San Diego


Hilton San Diego Bayfront
One Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
Monday, July 2, 2012

The Trans Pacific Trade Agreement is a massive trade agreement that will offshore American jobs, attack environmental protections and consumer safety policies, and deregulate Wall Street banks, hedge funds, and insurance companies. Representatives from corporations and other countries will be negotiating the TPP in San Diego.

Join Labor and Community groups for a kick-off press conference and protest rally Monday, July 2nd in the park adjacent to the Hilton Bayfront Hotel.

In the last decade, more than 50,000 manufacturing facilites have closed, 6 million manufacturing jobs have been lost and the U.S. trade deficit has grown. And we've seen outsourcing spread to other sectors, like call centers and financial services.

If we want to rebuild our economy, we need to stop sending good American jobs offshore.