Archives for May 2010

An Invitation To Houston

Momentarily taking off my AAA-Fund hat and putting on my OCA hat, I would like to invite you to the 2010 OCA National Convention, taking place in Houston from Thursday, June 17 to Sunday, June 20.

What is OCA?

Established in 1973, OCA is engaged in networking with its over 80 chapters and college affiliates across the nation to develop leadership and community involvement. As the first national Asian Pacific Americans (APA) organization to establish headquarters in Washington, D.C., OCA has been successful in building national support and working in coalition with other national groups around issues affecting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. OCA has been in the forefront of advancing social justice, civil rights and fair treatment of APAs since its founding in 1973.

What will happen at OCA National Convention?

Of particular note: Starry Night Market, Film Festival, and Gala. I haven’t even mentioned the NASA tour, ice skating, fashion show, or the fascinating discussions scheduled to take place in the tracks designed for students, youth leaders, community advocates, professionals, and entrepreneurs!

The free Starry Night Market will feature 11 different performing acts, brief speeches from local elected officials, games, and a variety of cuisines from local restaurants. While the performances are free, games and food will require tickets which can be purchased on site. Paid convention attendees will receive tickets and can purchase more as their appetites desire. This event will occur at the Chinese Community Center on Town Park starting at 6:30 PM on Friday, June 18. Everyone is welcome!

The free Film Festival will showcase five feature-length films:

9500 Liberty (1:45PM June 19 followed by immigration discussion with director Eric Byler):

Virginia adopts a law requiring police officers to question anyone who they suspect is an undocumented immigrant with “probable cause”. The ferocious fight to adopt and then reverse this policy unfolds inside government chambers, on the streets, and on the Internet.

A Village Called Versailles (2PM June 18 and at Starry Night Market):

Hurricane Katrina devastates the local Vietnamese American Community. The film beautifully shows how the community’s battle with the city government transcended barriers, and united people of different generations and races.

Transcending – The Wat Misaka Story (8PM June 17):

A movie documenting the journey of Wat Misaka, the first person of color ever drafted in the NBA, into the New York Knicks in 1947. Overcoming the national political climate during World War II, serving in the US Army, Wat stands testament to the unflappable Japanese American spirit.

Wo Ai Ni Mommy (1:45PM June 19):

From 2000-2008, China was the leading country for U.S. international adoptions. There are now approximately 70,000 Chinese children being raised in the United States. Wo Ai Ni Mommy explores what happens when an older Chinese girl is adopted into an American family. This film reveals the complicated gains and losses that are an inherent aspect of international, transracial adoption.

Searching for Asian America (1PM June 20):

Through intimate profiles of individuals and communities from across the country, this 90-minute program serves up a genuine taste of what it’s like to be Asian American in today’s ever-changing United States.

Directors Bruce Alan Johnson and Christine Toy Johnson of Transcending, S. Leo Chiang of A Village Called Versailles, and Eric Byler of 9500 Liberty will all be in attendance.

Who are this year’s Gala honorees?

The Gala will honor astronaut and former commander of the International Space Station, Dr. Leroy Chiao, professional basketball trailblazer, Wat Misaka, and Executive Director of BPSOS and community leader, Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang

How do I attend?

The last day for online registration is Monday, May 31. If you miss the deadline, don’t worry; you can register on site. When registering, please enter “aaaf” into the notes section. The Starry Night Market and Film Festival are free, but please register so we have an accurate head count!

Tuesday, June 1 is the last day to make hotel reservations in the convention’s hotel block at the convention hotel, Westin Galleria Houston, which is connected to the Houston Galleria, the fourth-largest shopping center in North America. For full reservation information, please see the convention Hotel and Travel page.

To learn more about the 2010 OCA National Convention, please visit the convention information pages or the convention’s Facebook page. If the mood strikes you to volunteer, you can sign up here.

See you in Houston!

– Justin Gillenwater

Breaking: Ed Case Drops Out

 Colleen Hanabusa

This is big.  It looks like Hawai’i Democrats will be united after all — especially since Congressional candidate Colleen Hanabusa’s main opponent just dropped out.

Only minutes ago, Hanabusa rival Ed Case announced he was withdrawing at the Hawai’i Democratic Party convention.  This means Hanabusa now has five full months to take on Republican Charles Djou for the honor of representing Hawai’i’s First Congressional District.

It’s time for all Democrats — and yes, that includes the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the White House — to rally behind Colleen Hanabusa.

It’s high time to win back this Congressional seat — which voted heavily for Obama in 2008.  AAA-Fund looks forward to doing its part.

— Gautam Dutta

Question of the Weekend

Q: Which prolific medieval leader boasts more than 1.6 million descendants today?

A:  Click here (or, even better, visit the Tech Museum).

— Gautam Dutta

HuffPost Features AAAF Leader

Ed. Note:  Huffington Post just printed this piece from AAA-Fund Executive Director Gautam Dutta.

Top 2 Reasons to Reject the Top Two Primary

What if you opened up your November ballot – and discovered that your only two choices for Attorney General were both Republicans? Or that your two only choices for Lieutenant Governor were both Democrats?

If Proposition 14 were already in effect, there’s a real possibility that such an outlandish outcome could occur.

Here are the top two reasons to reject Prop 14, also called the “Top Two” Primary. First, Prop 14 will stifle political competition and debate. Second, Prop 14 will deprive voters of a full range of candidate choices.

At first blush, Prop 14’s lofty premise – its backers believe it will reduce political gridlock – sounds seductive. And who could blame them for being frustrated at our state government’s shameful political paralysis? However, Prop 14 would throw the baby out with the bathwater.

By doing away with party primaries, Prop 14 would allow voters to vote for any candidate from any party. Basically, every state and congressional candidate would be pitted against one other in a June primary election. Then, the top two finishers would advance to a November runoff election.

Yet before rushing to judgment, let’s consider four critical questions about Prop 14’s Top Two Primary:

1. Who votes in the all-important June primary? With Top Two, the June primary would restrict everyone’s choices in November. In 2008, only 22 percent of the electorate voted in the June primary; those voters were, on average, wealthier and less representative of California as a whole. In contrast, nearly 80 percent voted in the November general election. Is it good policy to allow a small minority to dictate the only two choices that voters will have in November?

2. Has the Top Two Primary worked anywhere else? In 2008, Washington State adopted Top Two. Instead of increasing competition, Top Two produced a litany of lopsided outcomes. In fact, only five of 98 state House races were decided by a competitive margin (defined as a 4-percentage-point difference between the top two candidates). What’s more, 65 races (66 percent) were won by runaway margins of 20 points or higher. Such one-sided outcomes do not bode well for California.

3. How will write-in and independent candidates fare under the Top Two Primary? In November 2004, a write-in candidate was almost elected San Diego Mayor in a Top Two runoff election. Nevertheless, Prop 14 takes the extreme step of banning all write-in candidates from the November ballot. What’s more, since third-party candidates rarely place first or second, Prop 14 will effectively shut out independent candidates from the November ballot.

4. Will Top Two increase voters’ choices? Let’s take the red-hot California Attorney General race, which features at least six Democrats and three Republicans. With the Top Two primary, it’s entirely possible that Democrats would be shut out from November’s Attorney General ballot. Indeed, in a six-way race, the Democratic vote could splinter six ways. As a result, only the top two Republican candidates – and no Democrats – would advance to the November general election.

To prevent such an undemocratic (pun intended) outcome, Democratic leaders would be forced to do something very undemocratic: they would “persuade” at least three of the six Democratic candidates to pull out of the June primary. That would hand even more power to party leaders and interest groups from business, labor, and other sectors. So much for giving voters more choice.

Before we adopt yet another misguided measure, let’s first take stock of all our options. In 2008, voters approved Proposition 11, which may make our state elections more competitive, starting with the 2012 election. It would be prudent to wait and see how Prop 11 works.

Moreover, we should take a closer look at other ways to resuscitate our state government: reforming our runaway initiative process, streamlining our elections with Instant Runoff Voting (endorsed by CA Attorney General candidate Ted Lieu and CA Governor candidate Tom Campbell), and reducing the power of lobbyists and special interests (by modifying term limits).

Haste makes waste. It makes no sense to give any party a monopoly in our elections, and thus silence the voices of millions of voters. It makes no sense to rashly embrace the latest political fad, especially one that hasn’t worked. It makes every sense for voters to reject Prop 14.

— Gautam Dutta

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