The Trouble With Christina Fugazi Part II: Character
This is the story that every voter in District #5 needs to read. What happens with an elected official is so blinded by their hate that they will attack victims of assault and/or crimes? Is this type of person redeemable? How do hold this type of person accountable for their actions? What happens when voters aren’t even informed of such grievous behavior? These are the questions I hope you will ponder as I share a couple incidents that occurred over the past couple years. Situations that we all need to think about as we head to the polls in a couple months.
In my previous article, I shared how Councilwoman Christina Fugazi went back on her word and refused to be held accountable for her actions as a councilmember and how she betrayed a local family who were victims of fire. ---As an elected official your word and trust are your most important assets. In allowing her followers to attack this family and by refusing to honor her word, she lost the trust of this family. Well, this may well be one of the more recent incident, it’s not the first.
This essay starts in San Diego at the California Democratic Party's 2018 Convention. I've been a tad harsh to party leadership in the past. In particular our Party Chair's tone deaf anti-trans and anti-gender non-confirming statements during the LGBT+ Caucus. Well, it seams the LGBT+ Caucus was asked by party leadership to educate them and for the most part, party leaders were far more respectful of diversity so hat tip to Chairman Bauman for the progress. (Hat tip taken away though for Bauman's boneheaded dis of Kimberly Ellis, an African American female whom he narrowly beat for CA Party Chair, which followed his plea to support African American female candidates in the wake of the Alabama special election. Dude is seriously his own worse enemy. One other comment about the Dem Convention: While party leadership got the diversity memo, many elected officials and in particular Labor leaders didn't and continued to use greetings that were non-gender inclusive. Get it together people! Final hat tip to the LGBT+ Caucus though for raising cultural sensitivity issues. Now back to my main story...) During the convention many speakers rightfully raised the need for sensible national gun bans on automatic weapons and in doing so would site the history of gun violence at our schools. Out of the dozens and dozens of speeches I witnessed, only one, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, mentioned the Cleveland Elementary School Massacre. Now, if it were at a national convention, I could forgive the omission but these are local folks and I found the erasing of our history upsetting and downright appalling. And yet we Stocktonians have been just as guilty.
This Saturday, San Joaquin Pride Center youth leader Diana Sandoval gave a powerful speech about the need for gun control and the need for mental health services. It was a speech she wrote herself and her delivery was powerful. The fact that she is only a sophomore in high school should not be a surprise following all the examples of youth standing up and showing bravery and intelligence but she still blows me away. She, like her brother Frankie, another dynamic LGBT+ young leader before her, is someone to watch. I want to give Diana props for doing something that our mayor, Michael Tubbs, recently did, give voice to transgender women of color. Both of them took a moment to acknowledge their importance last week. Diana in her speech during Saturday's March for Our Lives in Stockton and Michael as part of his CEDAW Resolution that was passed last week by City Council.
Why is this important? If you grew up in Stockton during the 70s, 80s and 90s, you knew Coco. She was a beautiful African American transgender woman. She walked everywhere and could not help but stand out in a crowd. She was also a prostitute because at the time, a transgender women in Stockton couldn't find a job due to prejudices. Prejudices that still exist today. She battled years of drug addiction and mental health problems. Many of us assumed she had died but she is still alive. Sadly she's also in prison because of her battles. She unfortunately represents all the struggles that most transgender women of color endure. Even more sad, statistics state that transgender women of color make up the most murder cases percentage wise despite being the smallest demographic. For them, being murdered or attempting to murder them is a daily reality.
Statistics to remember:
72 percent of victims of anti-LGBT homicide were transgender women.
67 percent of anti-LGBT homicide victims were trans women of color.
Transgender survivors and victims only made up 13 percent of the total number of hate violence reports to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence that year. Only 13 percent – and yet trans women accounted for almost three-quarters of the year’s total hate violence fatalities.
75 percent of all anti-LGBT+ hate crimes are towards transgender people.
Extreme levels of unemployment and poverty lead one in eight trans person to become involved in underground economies—such as sex and drug work—in order to survive.
So a huge hat tip to Diana and to Mayor Tubbs for remembering that when we talk about equality for women, we also must acknowledge that women of color, transgender women and especially transgender women of color have unique challenges that need to be emphasized.
You can watch Diane's powerful speech here:
You can read Stockton City Council's entire resolution here.
To show your support for our local transgender community, join them at their Trans Day of Visibility event to be held on March 31st. More details here.
“Must be something in the water they drink”- Prince
Lately there’s been a lot of chatter about the historical manipulation of local Democrats to destroy progressive progress in San Joaquin County. People like Republican political consultant Don Parson’s and former Mayor Anthony Silva used to recruit registered Democrats with similar sounding names (or often Latinx sounding names) so that they would eat up votes from Dem minority candidates so that the Republican mathematically would have an advantage. Then Parson’s would buy up all the fake Dem voter guides and voila, continued political relevance for good ole Don. That all started to change when Rep. Jerry McNerney asked me to get involved with our County DCC (an effort that eventually led to me getting elected Chair a few years down the road).
Finally our local party was able to afford things like door hangers, robo calls and slate pieces for field and mailing. Things got even stronger under new DCC Chairs like AJ Hurford and Renee Elliott. Gone were the days that good ole Don could mislead the public. But look who is back up to his old tricks and working the good ole boy Republican network with extremist like Tea Partier Bob Elliot and out of touch Dale Fritchen and this time they’ve up'd their game and just like in the past, their targets are elected people of color. Yet this time, instead of finding token names to run for office, they’ve found Desperate for Relevant Democrats like Tracy’s Robert Rickman, Stockton’s own disaster duo Motec Sanchez and Christina Fugazi and the returned Old Man on the Block Carlos “no-constituent-ever-saw-me-work” Villapudua to do their work for them. In an era of Trump “Fake News” and social media’s ability to filter content and create bias info walls, what’s happening in Stockton and San Joaquin County could spell doom for the California Democratic Party’s efforts to institute true change across the entire State. (See my previous post on how that happens: California’s LGBT+ Divide). So, if you are women, a person of color, care about the environment or criminal justice reform or any other issue that needs system changes you better listen up.
As I was arriving back to Washington, D.C. from Philadelphia yesterday evening, I received a surprising email. It was a press release by City Council Member Rhodesia Ransom. She is calling for an investigation into abuse of position and power by Mayor Pro Tem Veronica Vargas and two city commissioners. I was inherently shocked by this release.
When I had met the Mayor Pro Tem over the summer, she appeared (at least to me) to be a kind woman who cared for her community. Of course, I didn't know what was going on behind the scenes with the City Council. With reports that the Mayor Pro Tem has engaged in conflict of interests and now a possible abuse of power, it is important that the city begins an investigation to either clear the Mayor Pro Tem or determine her guilt. An open and transparent government is needed now more than ever. If Member Vargas has nothing to hide, if she is committed to ensuring that local government works for the community, then she must accept an investigation.
As a member of this community, I want to have faith in the government that is making decisions on my behalf. Otherwise, government works no longer for the public interest. We risk increasing distrust between the people and the government. And that never works to anyone's favor.
*I have included a copy of Ransom's press release for interested parties to read. I major note I would like to make, as an independent voice, is that I support calls to investigate allegations. A transparent government will investigate claims and let due process take its course. I will reserve judgement until after it is completed.
When I was first approached to provide insight on how younger generation of Tracy view politics, I was somewhat taken aback. Because, in all honesty, millennials have it rough when it comes to our opinions having value. Being 21, I'm told by family that I am too young to know how the world works. Despite working with community leaders, I am still treated as a child who does not know what he is talking about.
In some ways, that is how the state views the Central Valley. Its people are not looked at in the same regards as the urban centers in the Bay or SoCal. Leaders in Sacramento overlook us in providing resources or programs. And that plays into the larger rural/urban divide that has split America. When I lived in Tracy, California, I remember my friends talked about how Tracy sucked. It was not a place you stay long. During the day, you leave for the Bay. When you graduate, you move to the cities. And what does that mean for the people who are left behind? The people who choose to stay or choose to move here?
When I took off to go to UCLA, I thought there was a possibility of settling down in LA. I thought, "I'll visit Tracy, but I'll never live here again." As I finished school, I realized that I could use the my experiences to understand and enhance the lives of people back home. I could bring back my experiences to help our community grow into what it needs to be.
At UCLA, I took courses that provided new perspectives on the policy issues. In a Latino politics class, I learned that there is a lack of clean drinking water in the Central Valley. It is expensive to build new wells. A lack of large populations discourages investment. Many people, especially impoverished Latino communities, to turn to cheaper and unhealthy sodas. This issue will become more prominent in years to come. I concur it will lead to tensions between the urban and rural areas.
Working with Assembly Member Eggman allowed me to see the issues affecting Tracy firsthand. I was proud to help her pass a measure that would connect Tracy to BART. People spend an hour to Pleasanton or a 2-hour commute to San Jose or SF. This should not be the standard. I know that this is a prominent issue that is affecting our community. I have seen how transportation systems operate in different regions of the country. I am inspired me to help develop an integrated system here at home. My inspiration comes from reading about the growth of rail and cars over the last 200 years. My hope is to adapt current programs and policies to the transportation advancements.
I see change starting in Tracy. Michael Tubbs (Stockton) and Dan Arriola (Tracy) inspiring young adults like me to return to our roots. These members brought their education and experiences home. They are working to make a difference in our communities. I look forward to returning to Tracy to follow in their footsteps. I want to build bridges on the issues that are impacting us. These range from affordable housing and transportation to quality of education and local business. We are on the cusps of building a golden society that will show the nation the strength of California. And I look forward to being a part of that movement.
With the Sawyer/Silva/Fugazi campaigners dropping off leaflets, with Fugazi attacking our local Stonewall Club and with her supporters attacking Mayor Tubbs for getting married, the 2018 election season has officially kicked off. Allen Sawyer and Anthony Silva have hitched their last grasp for political relevance on the Fugazi Train. Because the passing of time can fog the best of our memories, a lot of people are forgetting some critical situations that occurred and it is my hope that we can have a healthy discussion about these incidents as we head toward election day. Here are just three examples of incidents that we all should remember when considering who should serve us as our next councilperson.
On Saturday Nov 18th, I had the pleasure of joining local rural Democratic Party activist Glenn Glazer, a Santa Cruz appointed Delegate and Hilary Hodge, a Nevada County Supervisor candidate which was moderated by John Vigna, former California Young Dems President. The experience was one big eye opener in how out of touch the California Democratic Party is on issues that pertain to the LGBT+ community here in our state. Hopefully the panel discussion will be the start of true change for "all" members of the LGBT+ community in California.
This morning while conducting my morning ritual of catching up on news while in the bathroom, I came across a couple articles on Kathy Griffin returning to public performing via the annual Aid for AIDS fundraiser Best in Drag Show which benefits the Alliance for Housing and Healing, a non-profit that serves Los Angeles County. Some of the other famous names in attendance included Dylan McDermott, Selma Blair, Holland Taylor, Marc Cherry, Patrick Rush and Debbie Allen. How awesome it is that our LGBT+ movement has grown that wonderful straight and LGBT+ celebrities no longer fear retaliation for publicly supporting our community. However, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated while reading at the same time. Here’s why....
*And other fascinating observations from the MHSA 3 Year Plan and Expenditure Hearing
Yesterday evening, along with other representatives from local CBOs (Community Based Organizations), I attended the San Joaquin County Mental Health Service Act (MHSA) 3 Year Expenditure and Expenditure Hearing. It was a very sobering and telling experience. More after the flip!