While serving in Iraq, I would never have expected to find my own hometown to be the epicenter of corruption and the poster child for everything democracy isn't. As a returning combat veteran it is easy to see corruption in foreign countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and feel fortunate to live in America, a country where freedom is respected and laws honored. But that's not always true, even in America; these same freedoms can be turned upside down and justice can seem slow to come.
Bell is a city that looks similar to many small cities in Southeast Los Angeles. Scandal and corruption have been well documented by the LA Times and much has been written about a city government District Attorney Steve Cooley called, "corruption on steroids." It was revealed that former council members were making up to $100,000 a year. Robert Rizzo, former Chief Administrative Officer, was making as much as $800k with pay and benefits totaling $1.5 million a year. The legacy of Rizzo & company will leave its scars.
In the wake of the scandal that rocked the nation and ushered many statewide reforms. Residents proclaim with regret the fact that they are still one of the highest taxed cities within the County of Los Angeles. In a county of 88 cities, Bell has the second highest property taxes - thousands of dollars higher than even some of the wealthier cities within the county like Beverly Hills or Pasadena.
The Veterans Caucus is pleased to launch its new website [www.VeteransCaucusCDP.org], much thanks to our communications team. Please take a look, see where it can be useful to you, and offer your ideas for making it even more useful.
The new site provides a mechanism for welcoming veterans into the California Democratic Party, showing them how they can become involved in Democratic Party activities. Vice Chair Karen Marie Otter's article about a new Veterans Democratic Club starting up in San Diego [click here] is a prime example.
The site also points veterans and their families to public and private resources available to them around California [http://veteranscaucuscdp.org/links ] and provides news about the work Caucus members are doing in their community [click here].
Going the other direction, this website serves as a platform for the Veterans Caucus and other like-minded groups to speak to the California Democratic Party, Democrats around the state, and the veterans community generally, helping these groups understand the positions the Caucus takes on a wide range of political issues. [http://veteranscaucuscdp.org/issues].
That's our idea in building this site. But to make that vision a reality, we need your help.
The military's version of "Who Killed the Electric Car" is playing out before our eyes.
The possible repeal of Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 has the potential of setting back years of progress towards oil independence. The Department of Defense (DOD) and the military branches of the Navy and the Air Force are rapidly approaching certification of bio-fuel alternatives to oil. These alternatives have the capability of running fleets of aircraft and ships with at least 50 percent bio-fuel by the year 2016.
But, repeal of 526 would be a significant setback to national security that would require the military to turn to traditional forms of fuel, like oil sands, shale oil and coal to liquids. This move is being categorically opposed by top military brass, who have made it clear that further use of fossil fuels weakens our national security.
"The Department of the Navy's interest in this topic of alternative energy is fundamentally about improving our national security and our long term energy security...the more we replace foreign sources of oil with more diverse, domestically produced alternative fuels the better we are as a military and the better we are as a nation."
Thomas Hicks, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, testimony for the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, June 3, 2011.
As veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces concerned about this country’s national and energy security, I urge you to sign onto this letter [ https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHlmU2E5SW1jb1BhNlF... ] opposing the repeal of Section 526 of the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007 (EISA). Passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by President Bush, Section 526 of EISA states that the Department of Defense (DOD) and other federal agencies are not permitted to purchase fuels with higher lifecycle emissions than that of conventional petroleum fuels.
The Department of Defense opposes the repeal of Section 526, as it provides the legislative foundation of the military’s pioneering development of advanced biofuels that can benefit the future energy security of the United States. In the four years since its bipartisan passage, Section 526 has never prevented the Department of Defense from acquiring fuel that it needs to operate. Repealing the provision would likely cause the military to turn to traditional petroleum fuels or alternatives such as oil sands, shale oil and coal-to-liquids—a scenario that the Department does not want to see realized.
Repealing Section 526 would undermine the long-term strategic interests of the United States, stymie critical research and development activities, and unnecessarily hinder a growing sector of the American economy. It is a critical component of America’s national and energy security, and I strongly urge you to sign onto this letter.
The first meeting of the Veterans Democratic Club of San Diego County was held on August 27 in San Diego. The group held the meeting to conduct required business in advance of receiving a charter from the San Diego County Democratic Party. They elected the executive officers and adopted the bylaws of the club.
Congressman Bob Filner spoke to the rapt crowd about issues involving veterans. He stressed the misconceptions among veterans and service members alike that Democrats work against their best interests while, in fact, the Republicans continue to cut services for and support of veterans. If elected San Diego's mayor, as he hopes to be, Filner would open a special department within his office to provide information to veterans in the San Diego area.
The stated purpose of the Veterans Democratic Club of San Diego County is to foster democratic ideals by stimulating active interest in the Democratic Party amongst veterans residing in San Diego County, to especially support the party platform on veterans’ affairs, contribute to party leadership and responsibility, to provide a constructive role for the veteran-volunteer in democratic politics, and to promote an activist base amongst veterans.