August 30, 2014

Ferguson riots

[Written August 11th. This is as much an update for friends and family as it is a perspective from someone who is new to town.]

So I moved to St. Louis 6 weeks ago. Been out of town for about 3 of those weeks. Let’s count it as 3 weeks on the ground. Everyone is very friendly, strangers talk to you on the street. My A/C broke and my neighbors who I had only ever met once before offered me the use of both of their fans. (We only needed one for the bedroom.) Then I bumped into a new neighbor whom I had never met, and she offered to lend me her fans. Overall, St. Louis is great.

Everyone talked about the racial divide, the Delmar divide. We saw glimpses of it here and there. Fireworks in Forest Park and the 2 separate stops for folks coming from the East side and the West side. White and black divided by railcars moving in different directions. I was in Los Angeles, the site of racial riots in 1992, this weekend for the OCA convention when the Mike Brown shooting happened. Picking me up from the airport this weekend there was a police blockade. Now the cops are throwing tear gas bombs in Ferguson and shooting rubber bullets. My AFLCIO coworkers were at the FTAA in Miami in 2003 when they got shot with rubber bullets. They hurt. And actually were moved off the non-lethal list of weaponry. Last night a Walmart was looted and a gas station went up in flames. This is real and this is live. Here’s a good article about why Ferguson, why riots: http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/relationships-and-special-occasions/parenting/aisha-sultan/why-ferguson-burned-explaining-st-louis-area-riot-to-kids/article_725f501f-ba21-538a-acaf-f00221add91d.html

Brown’s own family members have said the destruction in their hometown is salt in their wounds. When peaceful protests turn to a city’s self immolation, there is no justice for anyone. What’s left is a community used to being unheard, roiling in the wake of a deadly police shooting. A powder keg of unemployment and poverty, of neglect and frustration, and those willing to exploit a tragedy for personal gain.

–Caroline

AAA Fund Congratulates Erika Moritsugu on her Confirmation as Assistant Secretary for HUD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 7, 2014

AAA-Fund Congratulates Erika Moritsugu on her Confirmation as Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Washington, D.C. — The Asian American Action Fund congratulates Erika Moritsugu on her confirmation as Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations at the Department of Housing an Urban Development.

Ms. Moritsugu has previously served as Executive Director and on the Advisory Board of the AAA-Fund, a Democratic political action committee. Directly prior to her appointment, she was Deputy Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs at the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. Earlier, Ms. Moritsugu was the Deputy Legislative Director for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, and Acting Staff Director for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

“On behalf of our Board, we heartily congratulate Erika,” said AAA-Fund Executive Director Gautam Dutta. “We salute her leadership and commitment to public service,” he added.

Ms. Moritsugu received a B.A. from the College of William and Mary in Government and Fine Arts and a J.D. with honors from the George Washington University Law School. She was raised in Hawai’i.

AAA-Fund Deputy Executive Director Melissa Hampe stated, “I look forward to Erika continuing to serve with distinction. From her time at the city prosecutor’s office in Honolulu, to her Senate and other high-level federal service, to now, she has been a talented leader in policy development. We are thrilled to see someone with her depth of experience and expertise leading one of our nation’s most vital agencies and working to improve access to housing for all Americans.”

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–Caroline

Organizing from love

This is not a political post. Not really.

Back during the Suey Park/ Colbertgate debate, a journalist asked me for my take on it, something that was polarizing the AAPI community. It offered an opportunity for me to reflect on how much I have grown and changed since I was in college, when large scale events like 9/11 and the Iraq War helped form my political voice and identity.

Like many young student activists, I initially found my voice through subtraction or by filling a void. I forged it in opposition because there was so much gratuitous violence and rolling back of liberties in that time. After maybe 5 years out of college, a friend and I were talking about how a whole generation in DC grew up without the benefit of knowing how to navigate the levers of power because the Dems had been out of power for nearly a decade. We only knew how to fight against things, not how to build. There was a lot to fight against, and the struggle could be exhausting. We lost more than we won. I knew it was bad when even John Ashcroft refused to sign the wiretap authorization documents from his hospital bed.

Sometime in the past few years, and somewhere in my many travels across the United States, I gained some grace and some perspective. Whether it was by mentoring younger women, or learning that life holds so many surprises (some sharp, some delightful), I came to find the power in organizing from love. Love binds people who come from different backgrounds together and helps reach across boundaries.

When people hold differing views, I try to see how their life experience has shaped them, and to remember that they have loved ones who they are concerned for – that policies that I support, they might see as unduly impacting their families in a negative way. The positive picture trumps the negative most of the time.

All my work has always been done out of love of and for the community. It’s what my mother has taught me – responsibility to and for our own, however we define it. I have been fortunate to call many cities home, and to be welcomed by many communities. I look forward to connecting people and communities anew. Multiplying opportunities and seeing potential in individuals and organizations has always brought me great joy, and my current blessing is to have a whole new arena in which to roam.

–Caroline

Bringing back earmarks?

There is an argument to be made that Congress functions better with earmarks than without. The latest version comes from Jim Dyer, a Republican who worked under Presidents Reagan and Bush, and served as Staff Director of the House Appropriations Committee. His point is that part of the reason that the Veterans Administration was not reformed before is that Congress hasn’t been able to use earmarks to microtarget problems and fund solutions.

After all, what good is a national transportation policy if we can’t fix the potholes on Main Street? What good is a national recreation policy if our local parks are unsafe? And while we debate climate change, can we at least repair specific cities and towns ravaged by hurricanes, floods and fires? And, if we are going to rightfully allocate $1.5 billion more in funds to the VA this year than last because our postwar era needs exceed prewar demand, can’t we at least arm the custodians of the purse with the power to ensure it is spent wisely? (Politico)

I am not wholly convinced that earmarks are the only way to go to fix the VA because let’s be honest, the issues there are systematic and very long-standing and precede the current moratorium of the past three years. However, there are so many issues that Congress has not moved on (such as reauthorization of unemployment insurance benefits or a larger jobs bill) that benefit Americans of all stripes and if it takes funding pet projects in districts to get bills passed, folks are questioning previous disdain for earmarks. Some writing from left of center argue that at this point, Congress is broken enough that we just need some levers to get it moving again. And if earmarks can spur action, so be it.

“There is no question that sometimes, to get bills through, you have to ask people to vote for things that are going to cause them political pain at home, and you ease that pain by compensating them with earmarks,” said former Massachusetts representative Barney Frank in an interview. Today, he added, there are other things a party leader can do to build support for legislation, but “earmarks were the best.” (Boston Globe)

Additionally, it’s not as if the process of earmarking has ended, it’s just gone underground as “lettermarking.” Or elected officials threaten to withhold votes for agency funding or appointees unless their pet project gets money. Or, in the worst case scenario, Congress just shuts down government.

While earmarks required publication of a pork project—along with the amount of taxpayer money being spent and identification of the elected official proposing the earmark—lettermarking allows for such expenditures without any identification of the project, sum and sponsoring legislator whatsoever. (Forbes)

No one wants bridges to nowhere, but Congressional dithering on other common sense issues such as transportation reform and VAWA that have previously passed with large bipartisan majorities could make progressives and conservatives alike rethink earmark opposition. Needless to say, federal funding spurs job creation and workforce training in the states. Sometimes the only thing worse than pork is a complete standstill.

–Caroline

The pitchforks are coming

This is a very well-written piece by billionaire entrepreneur Nick Hanauer in Politico on why wealthy Americans should support an increased minimum wage and better conditions for the working class. It is also, surprisingly, a more common sentiment amongst not just the 1% but also the 0.001% than you would think. I know Managing Directors of banks who support a $15 minimum wage and who want to bring back Glass-Steagall.

It’s not everyday that you see common cause between certain Wall Streeters and the LaRouchies, but the shared belief is that in order for America to remain functional, that there has to be some modicum of regulation, oversight, and reining in of loopholes. Food for thought.

–Caroline

Job: Minnesota DFL Hiring Diverse Organizers

The Minnesota DFL Coordinated Campaign is building a team of talented Community Organizers to work within targeted constituencies around the state. These include:

African American
Hmong
Latino
Native American
Somali

This entry-level role is a vital element in our campaign strategy. Organizers are responsible for meeting goals centered on volunteer leadership development and voter education. Organizers will be trained to guide teams of volunteers to create a campaign plan, including voter contact goals, a training plan, meeting and event schedules, using strategies uniquely designed to meet the needs of unique communities. We hope to add positive, creative thinking individuals who can bring enthusiasm to our campaign team. Experience working on campaigns in Minnesota is nice, but not required. As we seek to build a diverse staff, veterans, people of color, and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Responsibilities:

Guide the development of volunteer leadership teams in the field, using the metrics and goals developed by the campaign leadership team.
Manage political relationships in the field. Find creative solutions to logistical barriers. Represent the campaign at various meetings and functions.
Other assignments as needed.

Qualifications:

Strong commitment to progressive, Democratic values.
Ability to self-motivate, innovate, and work effectively both as a part of a team and independently on specific projects.
Ability to work under pressure as a team leader, a team player, and project manager.
Basic computing skills including the ability to use and create documents in Excel and Word, use email, and navigate the Internet. Ability to communicate effectively and clearly with voters and volunteers.
Skilled management and prioritization of multiple sets of deadlines and projects in a fast-paced environment with a consistently positive attitude.
Ability to travel occasionally to events around the state and daily within an assigned area. Mileage or transit reimbursed. Access to a vehicle is required for some placements.

Candidates should send a resume and three references to sduevel@dfl.org. No phone calls please.

Job: Health Care Fellow, McAllister & Quinn

McAllister and Quinn, a growing and fast-paced government affairs and business development firm , is looking for a paid healthcare fellow for a full time, one-year term position with the possibility of becoming full-time staff. Competitive candidates should have a college degree, be detail oriented, enjoy research and writing, and have great organizational and people skills. Background in life sciences, healthcare, and federal agencies is especially desirable. Must be a team player and motivated. Interested individuals please send a resume and a short writing sample to DRyan@jm-aq.com.

Texas Dems hiring: AAPI Coordinator, Regional Press Sec

This is a great opportunity, and kudos to the state party on doing diverse and thoughtful outreach! Note: The Republican National Committee has both positions at the national level, so it’s smart of state parties to be doing similar outreach. Especially in a state like Texas where AAPI population growth is skyrocketing (71% from 2000 to 2010). – Caroline

Statewide AAPI Outreach Coordinator

The Statewide AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Outreach Coordinator will be primarily responsible for supporting the parties organizing efforts within the AAPI community. The Outreach Coordinator will oversee the creation, implementation and execution of the elements of the political outreach campaign plan. The Outreach Coordinator will be responsible for executing a program that builds relationships, tracks progress to goals and develops and executes metrics while ensuring reporting and accountability to senior staff.

In addition to the above responsibilities, the Outreach Coordinator will build relationships with community leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, small business owners, civic organizations, seek endorsements and leverage support to ensure program success and work with partners to ensure high turnout during GOTV.

Daily travel is expected and required to maximize the support for our campaign.

The Outreach Coordinator must have strong communication skills including an ability to talk to large groups of people, be excited to work as part of an accountable team and have a passion for electing Democrats. A bachelor’s degree and a minimum of one electoral cycles of work experience required. Applicants without these minimum requirements will not be considered.

To apply, please send a PDF resume to teddy@txdemocrats.org. List salary requirements in your email. Please no phone calls. Applicants accepted on a rolling basis but no later than May 15, 2014. This position can be located in Dallas, Houston or Austin.

The Texas Democratic Party is an equal opportunity employer and it is our policy to recruit, hire, train, promote and administer any and all personnel actions without regard to sex, race, age, color, creed, national origin, religion, economic status, sexual orientation, veteran status, gender identity or expression, ethnic identity or physical disability, or any other legally protected basis.

Women and members of historically underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.

AAPI Media Coordinator & Regional Press Secretary
The Texas Democratic Party is seeking an Asian American and Pacific Islander Media Coordinator & Regional Press Secretary to help design and execute a multi-platform communications campaign to engage with AAPI Texans and promote the TDP’s message regionally The AAPI Media Coordinator will oversee the development of web platforms and content, online organizing campaigns, and AAPI press outreach.

Primary responsibilities include, but are not limited to the following:
• Conceive and create a multi platform web-based campaign and related content
• Build online organizing campaigns that translate to offline action
• Develop relationships with AAPI press outlets and reporters across the state
• Identify and manage AAPI surrogates throughout the state
• Cultivate partnerships with organizations and groups focused on organizing in the AAPI community
• Drafting and editing campaign policy positions, candidate speeches, talking points, press releases, action alerts and Op-eds
• Pitching story ideas to regional reporters
• Plan and execute innovative earned media campaigns across the state
• Develop relationships with bloggers, editors, print reporters, and columnists
• Help execute rapid response for breaking news stories
• Prepares candidates for press interviews and events
• Work closely with political department around messaging and communications goals, such as letters to the editor and Op-Eds
• Monitor and engages opponent’s campaign and press activities

 Skills and Qualifications:
• Excellent writing skills and a demonstrated ability to work in a fast-paced environment with long hours
• Strong organizational skills and excellent follow-through
• Ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously, meeting frequent deadlines
• Demonstrated flexibility and a sense of humor
• Relentless dedication to the campaign’s success
• Experience with campaign operations and political communications
• On-the-record experience a plus
• Fluency in a second language is a plus

Salary commensurate with experience and qualification. To apply, please send a PDF resume to teddy@txdemocrats.org. List salary requirements in your email. Please no phone calls. Applicants accepted on a rolling basis but no later than May 15, 2014. This position will be located in Austin.

The Texas Democratic Party is an equal opportunity employer and it is our policy to recruit, hire, train, promote and administer any and all personnel actions without regard to sex, race, age, color, creed, national origin, religion, economic status, sexual orientation, veteran status, gender identity or expression, ethnic identity or physical disability, or any other legally protected basis.

Women and members of historically underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.

The politics of pilgrimage: Vietnam Veterans War Memorial

VVWM

(Photo from Fischer Art History)

The lines of people angle in, respectfully, along the powerful obsidian walls. Some are here on a pilgrimage and have come armed with light paper and crayons for tracing the names of their loved ones, to bear away some of the memory. Some are tourists from inside and without the homeland, checking off stops on a planned itinerary of historic places. This does not detract from the sacred nature of the place.

I breathe in the smell of earth and listen to the birds chirping brightly on this windy day. Time stops and the field of vision freezes. All there is, is in front of me.

The V of the wall rises like a gash in the earth, and the ground dips slowly like a curtsey, mimicking the descent into the underworld. And all the people follow the trail, with a sharp line dividing the black stone from the green grass and wildflowers that line the top edge. In contrast, families and friends have left bouquets that have withered in the sun, cut off from any source of sustaining nourishment.

In seventh grade, my class took a trip to Washington, D.C. and I brushed my hands along the cold marble wall. The wall transmitted such sadness and I felt the etched names like a mantra. I watched as families clustered in tight blossoms of sorrow around the name of a loved one who had died defending his or her country. At the age of twelve, I was transfixed by the flat shininess and the ghostlike reflections of the visitors in the face of so many names. As if we were the mirrored ghosts, paying our respects to those who had come before.

In the midst of my twelve year old reverie, a lady scolded me, saying “It’s disrespectful to touch the names.” My hand had been tracing etched letters on the wall, feeling the differential between my hot little hand and the somber, polished stone. It had never occurred to me that the memorial was meant for anything but touching.

I take in a deep inhale and exhale, now in my thirty-two year old self. Finding out later, in college, that Maya Lin was twenty when she submitted her design for the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial blind competition, a complete unknown student at Yale, gave me the context of her courage. What she endured was only magnified when you understand that her design was chosen out of 1,421 submissions, including entries by internationally recognized architects.

Lin faced a great deal of controversy, including detractors who thought that it was wrong for a young Chinese American woman to design a memorial for fallen American soldiers of the Vietnam War, that she looked too much like the people who had helped kill our veterans. She wound up having to defend herself and her vision to Congressional inquiry and soldiers who had returned from war. The former Secretary of the Interior even held up the building’s permits in an attempt to get her to change her design. It has since become one of the most cherished and significant memorials. More than a physical replica of soldiers in battle, walking the long wall and watching the names of the fallen rise to a height beyond humanity, and then walking away from the apex, and seeing the names taper is a heart-wrenching journey of finality and closure.
If it cleaves the earth, it is because it is a memorial to one of the most divisive wars of the modern American century. The memorial is magnificent because it is simultaneously the cut, the scar, and the healing. It has taken me twenty years to pin down what resonates about the memorial, and yet, I am always glad to put a name to a visceral feeling.

–Caroline

AAA Fund Endorses Shari Song for King County Council

November 2, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Asian American Action Fund Proudly Endorses Shari Song for King County City Council
Rising Star and Business Leader Seeks to Continue History of Community and Public Service

The Asian American Action Fund, a national Democratic Asian American political action committee, is pleased to endorse Seattle realtor Shari Song for King County City Council. Song is a first time candidate but a longtime community leader with business experience. She has served on the boards of the Korean American Chamber of Commerce and the Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), chaired the Diversity Commission of the City of Federal Way, and most recently was a Member of the Seattle Police Korean Community Advisory Council. Song was awarded the King County Recognition Award for Community Service, and serves as a Director for the Mission Church Learning Center in Federal Way.

Executive Director Gautam Dutta stated, “Shari Song will prioritize improved transportation, promote job creation policies, and focus on public safety. She has a strong track record of leadership in the Asian Pacific American community in King County.”

AAA Fund Endorsements Chair Caroline Fan enthused, “Shari is exactly the kind of candidate who we seek – she is deeply engaged in her community and will work hard for her constituents. She’s built an amazing and broad coalition of support from working families to environmentalists. ”
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Update: Shari lost by 15%. We commend her campaign’s hard work & enthusiasm!