April 21, 2014

Daily Until June 3: Phone Bank for Mike Honda

Rep. Mike Honda (CA-17) is a longtime supporter and friend of the AAA-Fund. His work has directly matched and aided our own mission and goal. We encourage all to support him as he has supported us all in all his work.

Phone bank for Mike!

Mike Honda at San Jose High School

Join Mike Honda’s campaign and help re-elect him to Congress. Phone banks are held at the DCCC building, 430 S. Capitol Street S.E., Washington, DC. Every Wednesday from 6:30pm-9:30pm until the June 3rd primary, with additional times announced for the general election. Sign up here.

Congressman Honda is running to represent CA-17, the Silicon Valley district. He has been delivering for his district for over a decade in Congress. As Chair Emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Vice-Chair of the DNC for 6 years, Mike has been a leading voice in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community & a progressive champion for underserved and under-represented communities & a fierce advocate for the middle class, fighting for legislation that nurtures the tech industry in his Silicon Valley district and grows our innovation economy. His service has been recognized by his many endorsers, including President Barack Obama, Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, CA Attorney General Kamala Harris, and the California Democratic Party, among others.

His opponent Ro Khanna has amassed a questionably funded war chest and high-paid consultancy team which threatens to end Mike’s career of delivering for CA-17 and fighting for the progressive values we hold dear. We’ll even pardon Khanna’s unsavory ethical questions. Working on behalf of people like you inspires Congressman Honda’s work every day. Thus we hope you will help Mike in his time of need.

To volunteer, fill out this form or contact 503-974-6026 or hondavolunteer@gmail.com. Forward this to anyone you think would be interested in helping Mike.

Thank you!

DOL Labor Hall of Honor Inducts Chinese Railroad Workers

Editor’s Note: We re-Tweeted the DOL’s Tweet about this news.

Chinese Railroad Workers

The United States Department of Labor invites you to join Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez for the induction of The Chinese Railroad Workers into the Labor Hall of Honor

Friday, May 9, 2014
11:30 a.m. — 12:30 p.m.

U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave NW
César Chávez Memorial Auditorium
Washington, DC 20210
Vistor’s Entrance: 3rd & C Streets NW

Registration and identification are required to attend. This invitation is non-transferrable.

Register at webapps.dol.gov/DOLEvents/Event/View/288 before Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

Contact Jeremy Bishop, Special Assistant to the Secretary
in the Office of Public Engagement, at bishop.jeremy@dol.gov with any questions or concerns.

Leland Yee Disappoints

Editor’s Note: Richard’s opinions are his alone, no one else’s.

Leland Yee arrested

Leland Yee‘s arrest is a severe disappointment to Toisanese, Chinese-Americans, his electorates, the state of California & the AAPI community all. FBI busted, raided & arrested him with 26 members of Ghee Kung Tong, a Chinatown gang for a huge array of charges, all serious & when summed, astounding.

The AAA-Fund has never had a relationship with him in any way & reminds us all how important vetting our endorsed candidates carefully & thoroughly is not just for us as an organization but for our own morality & consciousness. Voting for a candidate is a lot more than who had the most negative ads, who spent the most, whose polls got the most media buzz, who had the most lobbyists donate money to gartner favor, and other demoralizing inane parts of the politics industry. It’s about representing the public for the public good. I tell my friends to do work for the love of the purpose & politicians should likewise take heed.

In Support of Rep. Mike Honda (CA-7)

Rep. Mike Honda at California Democratic Party 2014

This past weekend, the Daily Kos endorsed Mike Honda in his 2014 re-election and received 92% of the California Democratic Party’s votes. We’ve long supported Mike Honda and are proud to help his campaign continue his service to CA-17 & nation.

Actions you can take include

Living vs dead Chinatowns, gentrification & elections

AALDEF, the NYC based Asian American civil rights organization, has a new report out about the rate of gentrification in Chinatowns in NYC, Boston, and Philadelphia. (I guess DC was just a lost cause.) In conjunction with the discussion of this article, I want to propose the idea of “living” (these three cities, Chicago, San Francisco) versus “dead” Chinatowns (DC.) In my mind, when I walk the streets of a given Chinatown, “living” connotes active engagement and residency by the Chinese American community versus the slick, big box retail feel of Washington, DC Chinatown, which most Chinese Americans fled decades ago for Montgomery County, MD, and Fairfax, VA. The shops in DC Chinatown are adorned in bright signs with Chinese characters, but have very little daily relevance to Chinese or Chinese American culture, such as the skateboard shop, the Ann Taylor, and the Legal Seafood.

It’s a very read-worthy report, and I’ve gone on the walking tour of Boston Chinatown where you can see how highway I-93 literally cuts through the enclave, with a half-sheared building standing mute but providing powerful testimony to interesting municipal planning. The report illuminated that the AAPI population in Boston Chinatown went from 70% in 1990 to 46% in 2010. Philadelphia Chinatown has been encroached upon by developers, and was under threat from a proposed casino for a significant period. NYC Chinatown was at one point overtaking Little Italy, but now with the New Museum and the gentrification of the Bowery, is being pressed upon by towering luxury apartment buildings. Not to mention, Park Row, a residential community adjacent to South Chinatown, and nearby commercial buildings (shops and restaurants) have been under the shadow of 9/11 for 12 years, with limited access for a substantial period of time (9/11 cleanup), depressing retail sales. To this day, there are armed police stations that guard the entrance path to Park Row.

San Francisco Chinatown has managed to thrive due to a high intra-ethnicity turnover rate, and Chicago Chinatown (of which, really, there are 3 – historic Chinatown, “new” Argyle (largely Vietnamese-Chinese American) Chinatown, and “new new” Chinatown, which is across the street from historic Chinatown, and includes a number of residential properties that have lured second and third generation Chinese Americans back to the city center. (There is some small degree of this happening in other cities as well, but in my mind, Chicago has done a better job than most.)

The reason that I keep rotating back to this issue of whether Chinese Americans who have “made it” come back is because it is also a large part of why “living” Chinatowns become essentially “dead” Chinatowns. Moving out of Chinatown and to the suburbs is intrinsically seen as one of the markers of success for first, second, and third generation Chinese Americans. This is antithetical to keeping Chinatowns vibrant. This is separate from biased and discriminatory urban planning decisions hatched in concert with the stereotypically greedy developers. And it absolutely doesn’t discount folks who want to stay but get pushed out – I’m just bringing this up because it’s also a real thing.

Don’t get me wrong – DC Chinatown/Verizon Center is more bustling and lively than a decade ago, and is now an economic engine and one of the hearts of the city, but the business owners by and large do not live there. Although the DC AAPI population has risen 60% since 2000, according to the 2010 Census.

In NYC, the press of developers on the boundaries of Chinatown has caused friends who have lived, breathed, and worked in Chinatown for decades to move to Harlem, where elected officials like City Councilor Melissa Mark-Vivitero have noticed the increase of AAPIs. This follows on a previous out-migration to Queens (Flushing, Woodside, etc.), Brooklyn (where there is another Chinatown), New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester, and Connecticut.

So how do we keep the living nature of Chinatowns across the country? The report proposes several solutions: reinforcing and constructing more low-income housing, subsidizing local small businesses, prioritizing green spaces, strengthening the links between satellite Asian Am enclaves in the suburbs to the Chinatown cores, and engaging in dialogue with traditional community land owners like the family associations. All of these are great, and I’m going to a step further.

What I’m fundamentally saying is that keeping Chinatown affordable and full of vitality is partially dependent upon the people in elected office. They hold hearings and have influence over city planning to varying degrees. Former At-Large Boston City Councilor Sam Yoon came out of the fight to keep one Boston Chinatown. Michelle Wu and Suzanne Lee are running for city council in Boston (different seats.) Philadelphia has yet to elect a progressive AAPI city councilmember, whereas SF has a plethora of AAPI electeds (and folks in the pipelines to run when the inevitable term limits hit.) AAAF Greater Chicago helped get Alderman Ameya Pawar, the first AAPI alderman ever in Chicago, elected in 2011. Progress is slow, but steady.

Not that AAPI candidates are necessarily going to be informed about the community’s issues, or even live in the Chinatown district. It is incumbent upon the community and those who work to keep living, breathing Chinatowns to educate candidates and elected officials, regardless of their ethnicity. Because we all need allies and champions in this effort, and sometimes people surprise you.


Question of the Day: Supreme Asian Am Candidates

If a US Supreme Court retires in President Obama’s second term, which Asian American leaders could be among the leading contenders for the seat? (Hint: two of them live in California.)

– Gautam Dutta

Question of the Week: Medical Marijuana

Should it be legal for people in chronic pain to use marijuana?  Please share your thoughts below.

– Gautam Dutta

Rep. Takano slams GOP Congressmembers’ Faulty Logic, in Red Ink

Takano edits to GOP immig

Like the veteran high school teacher that he is, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), decided to take out his red pen and apply it to a letter on immigration that fellow Congressmembers from the other party were circulating. Politico gave him some ink for exposing the shoddy reasoning.

He dishes out kindly but exacting critique, pointing out where the letter has logical and factual flaws. For example, the Republican letter claims that the Senate-passed bill is over 1,000 pages, so Rep. Takano circles this and points out that it’s exactly 286 pages. (Note to Congressmembers and staff: please do your research.)

Rep. Takano repeatedly points out “tawdry accusations” and Republican claims that are lacking in evidence. No, seriously, he points it out no more than four times in the short letter. What assertions does he specifically call out?

-”reportedly not all the Senators have read [the bill]”
-”We are disturbed by the secret and under-handed way that the immigration bill moved through the Senate…”
-”To attempt to do everything at once ensures that little will be done right”
-”will prevent the last minute secret deal-making and vote-buying”

One of Rep. Takano’s best closing lines is, “If you don’t understand the bill, come by my office and I’ll explain it. Weak draft, re-do.”

That’s called taking your colleagues to the toolshed. and why I love teachers as elected officials! (Full disclosure, AAA Fund enthusiastically endorsed Rep. Takano early in his campaign.)


Our Fellow Teddy Kỳ-Nam Miller to Dr. Ami Bera’s Campaign

Editor’s Note: Note our other Fellow Maya Ono’s posts as the AAA-Fund sponsored fellow to Nate Shinagawa’s campaign.

Teddy Kỳ-Nam Miller with Dr. Ami Bera

Our AAA-Fund Mike Honda Fellow, Teddy Kỳ-Nam Miller, directed the Election Protection team for our Endorsed Candidate Ami Bera. Bera ran in a rematch in Fall 2012 against incumbent Congressman Dan Lungren. Dr. Bera’s district has one of the fastest growing Asian and Hispanic populations in California. AAA-Fund Fellowship enabled Teddy to recruit, train, and deploy a 40-member Election Protection Team that successfully fended off Tea Party challengers at the polls as well as during the extended voter tabulation process. On election night, Dr. Bera’s slim lead of just under 200 votes was a direct result of AAA-Fund’s crucial support in keeping polls accessible for communities of Vietnamese, Hmong, Sikh, Hispanic, Filipino, and dozens of other minority groups. Teddy will attend this Tuesday’s fundraiser to help honor Ami and all our groundbreaking APA leaders. Join Teddy in supporting AAA-Fund’s effort to fund more Mike Honda fellows for the future.

‘Run, Ro, Run,’ Honda Responds to Challenger Khanna

Editor’s Note: This post is a re-posting of “‘Run, Ro, Run,’ Honda Responds to Challenger Khanna“. Mike is an AAA-Fund Honorary Board member and a 2012 AAA-Fund Endorsed Candidate.

Do more:

  • read about this race in our previous post
  • check our Twitter for snippets about this race & others; retweet our Tweet about this post

Rep. Mike Honda (second from right), who is being challenged for California’s Congressional District 17 seat by former Obama administration official Ro Khanna, is shown at the India Community Center’s recent 10th anniversary gala. Left to right: Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves; ICC co-founders Gautam Godhwani, Talat Hasan and Anil Godhwani; and San Jose city councilman Ash Kalra (far right). Anil Godhwani and Hasan’s husband Kamil are backing Khanna, while Kalra is endorsing Honda.

  • FREMONT, Calif., United States

    Rep. Mike Honda, who has served parts of California’s Silicon Valley in Congress since 2001, said he was unfazed by the prospect of a high-profile, deep-pocketed challenger to his 2014 re-election campaign to retain his Congressional seat in Northern California’s Silicon Valley.

    “It’s great to have the competition: it sharpens the focus,” Honda told India-West in a telephone interview, after former Obama administration official Ro Khanna announced April 2 his intent to unseat Honda in the 2014 general election.

    Both Honda and Khanna are Democrats. New California election mandates allow candidates from the same party to compete against each other in the general election, if they are the highest vote getters from either party in the primaries.

    “Ultimately, it’s the voters who decide. We have a highly educated, highly informed district who will make decisions based on the information presented to them,” said Honda, chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “We have to present ourselves in a very transparent and open way.”

    Almost 20 months before the Nov. 4, 2014 general election, both campaigns have gone full court press. Honda received early endorsements from President Barack Obama; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; California Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer; California Attorney General Kamala Harris; and Rep. Ami Bera from Sacramento, the sole Indian American in the House. 

    In an Apr. 8 letter, five former Indian American congressional hopefuls threw their support behind Honda, including former Kansas state Representative Raj Goyle; New Jersey state Assemblyman Upendru Chivukula; attorneys Ashwin Madia and Ravi Sangisetty; and physician Manan Trivedi.

    “From civil and religious rights, to minority small business issues and health disparities, to immigration reform to helping individuals from underrepresented communities get elected, Congressman Honda has been there on the frontlines fighting for our communities,” wrote the five, stating that Honda had mentored each of them in their congressional bids.

    The 36-year-old Khanna, who teaches economics at Stanford University and law at Santa Clara University and serves as counsel at one of the Valley’s most venerable law firms, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, has stacked his campaign team with key staffers of Obama’s re-election campaign (see separate story). Khanna has a financial headstart with a $1.2 million campaign war-chest he amassed before announcing his bid against Honda; the Indian American candidate will formally launch his campaign Apr. 14 with an afternoon rally at DeAnza College in Cupertino.

    The former Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Commerce Department, who has been dubbed a Democratic rising star, told India-West shortly before announcing his campaign that Honda was out of touch with his Silicon Valley constituency (I-W, Apr. 5).

    But Honda dismissed such characterization, noting to this newspaper that he has represented the Silicon Valley for the past 13 years.

    “The notion that I do not understand the vocabulary of Silicon Valley is nonsense. I’m not an inventor, or a patent lawyer, but I was a science teacher and I do understand what’s going on,” he stated.

    The 71-year-old Japanese American recently “crowd sourced” his campaign Web site, asking the public for their input in delivering his message.

    The Walnut Grove, Calif., native, who has been characterized as a traditional, union-backed Democrat, gave a shout-out to labor’s role in the Valley’s recovery.

    “Labor is the reason we have a strong middle-class here. They build the buildings the innovators work in, the machines that make the silicon chips,” said Honda, enthusiastically championing educators, firefighters and other union-dominant professions. 

    In his 2011-2012 campaign, Honda received approximately $157,000 from labor-related PACs of the total $900,844 he received for that run, according to Federal Election Commission reports. 

    About one-fifth of Khanna’s contributors in 2011 also contributed to Honda’s campaign in 2012, according to FEC filings by both candidates. Significantly, venture capitalist Vinod Gupta – who threw a fundraiser for Khanna in 2011 – contributed $2,500 to Honda’s race in 2012, according to FEC reports.

    Gautam Dutta, executive director of the Asian American Action Fund, told India-West, “Mike has been there from the start. He has seen the Silicon Valley grow, he knows all the movers and shakers and is pretty diverse.”

    “He cares about immigration, education being affordable, and shattering glass ceilings at the workplace,” stated Dutta. The AAAF announced its endorsement of Honda Apr. 9.

    “Today, as Congress debates immigration reform, Congressman Honda leads his colleagues on the issue of reuniting families – one of the greatest concerns for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” Dutta said in the endorsement letter.

    One of the real game changers of the race may be a lawsuit Dutta has initiated against the Top-Two Primary law, which he believes to be unconstitutional by forcing people to lie about party preferences during primary races. The case was heard Feb. 13 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif. If the court decides in Dutta’s favor, the California State Legislature will have to amend the law, explained Dutta. If the law is not amended in time for the November 2014 general election, the state will be forced to go back to the old system, where the top vote-getter in either party competes in the general election. 

    Evelyn Li, a Republican who ran against Honda in 2012 but was roundly trounced, has not indicated whether she will run again in 2014. Harmeet Dhillon, vice chair of the California Republican Party, told India-West, “We will run someone for sure,” but did not hint at prospective candidates.

    “There is not much daylight between Honda and Khanna — two flavors of the same big government medicine,” said Dhillon, adding, “Don’t get me wrong — I think it is great that Ro is taking on Mike Honda. Incumbency is corrupting and sclerotic and competition is good for politics. The more choices the voters have, the better.”

    “Republicans have been winning conservative battles in Silicon Valley recently including pension reform in San Jose and we intend to give voters a true business-friendly choice,” she added.

    Fremont, Calif., Vice Mayor Anu Natarajan told India-West, “This is great, and may get the community organized, there has to continue to be a focus on local politics.”

    “This shouldn’t be our only race. We need to create a robust pipeline of people at the local level,” she added.

    At press time, Natarajan had not announced an endorsement for either candidate. San Jose city councilman Ash Kalra told India-West he was supporting Honda.