I was born in Covina and have lived most of my life in the San Gabriel/Pomona Valley area, attending public schools in West Covina and Covina. I currently live in Walnut, where I became an active voice in City affairs immediately, twice running for City Council, and continuing to advocate for protection of the last remaining open space in the city. More recently, I joined the fight to protect the city of Walnut from the adverse effects of a proposed NFL stadium in the City of Industry.
I enrolled in the University of Southern California at the age of 16, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology. I subsequently earned a master's degree in psychology from California State University, Los Angeles. I've worked for 28 years as a social worker for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
I'm also an active voice for working Californians, serving in several capacities with SEIU Local 721 and one of its predecessor unions, SEIU Local 535. As a worksite steward for the past 25 years, and for 13 years as a Local 535 statewide Executive Board delegate, I've stood up for my co-workers not only to management but also to leaders of the union itself. As a bargaining team member in contract negotiations several times since 1995, including serving as bargaining team chair in 2007, I've fought for manageable workloads for child welfare social workers. As a member political activist, I've visited the State Capitol on nearly an annual basis since 1992 to fight to protect funding for child welfare services, which are annually threatened with cuts despite State analyses that show that social worker caseloads are over twice the numbers necessary to ensure that at-risk children and families are adequately supervised.
There is a way to divert freight truck traffic off the 60 Freeway without increasing traffic in local neighborhoods.
If one follows the route of the Union Pacific tracks that run roughly parallel to the 60 Freeway, one sees that alongside much of that route between the western part of the City of Industry and eastern Ontario, there are existing roadways that are generally underused and/or used primarily by big rigs delivering to shipping sites along the road. (Examples are Chestnut Street, Arenth Avenue, San Jose Avenue, Business Parkway, and Ferrero Parkway in Industry, and Pomona Boulevard and First Street in Pomona.) Where no roadway exists along this corridor, in most sections there is undeveloped space where roadway connections can be built, and much of the developed space (mostly in Pomona and western Ontario) is occupied by older and in some cases unused structures, making those areas ripe for redevelopment projects.
This corridor provides an ideal location for a dedicated freight truck roadway with very little cross traffic - and possibly none at all if infrastructure improvements can be constructed in just a few spots. Trucks using this route could be expected to flow faster than they currently do on the 60 Freeway during peak hours, and with these trucks diverted off the 60 Freeway, traffic volume on the 60 Freeway during peak hours would be much lighter. This would also produce a ripple effect onto the 57 Freeway by reducing the backup of traffic through Brea Canyon. At the east end of the corridor are two possible branch routes, on and/or alongside Jurupa Avenue in Fontana and Van Buren Boulevard in Jurupa Valley.
I support the California DISCLOSE Act (AB 700), which will require paid media campaign advertisements to list the true names of the top three donors to the campaign.
I support a resolution by the voters of California calling for a Constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United v FEC (2010) decision.
Ultimately, I'd also like to see at least two more reforms:
1) a requirement that all post-primary campaign advertising must include only the name and/or image of the supported candidate and neither the name nor the image of the opposed candidate; and
2) a public campaign financing system with a mandatory reimbursement mechanism for any candidate who is elected after using public campaign funds for that election campaign.
As a Walnut resident, I stood in vocal opposition to development of open space in the east San Jose Hills just east of the site of the former BKK landfill. I raised concerns about excavation of the land releasing toxic gases formed underground (such as hydrogen sulfide, which is lethal in even small amounts) and allowing toxic groundwater to flow into Lemon Creek and southward through the city, both being byproducts of leakage of toxic waste buried in the BKK landfill - the largest toxic waste dump on the West Coast - prior to the landfill's closing.
Ultimately, we lost that battle to developers, and have to hope and pray that the area doesn't become another Porter Ranch.
Now the City of Industry wants to sell land along Tonner Canyon, the open area surrounded by Brea, Chino Hills, and Diamond Bar, to developers who want to build 3600 homes on 3000 acres, right alongside existing oil drilling areas in the hills northwest of the 57 Freeway. The area has already become more seismically unstable in recent years, as evidenced by recent earthquakes centered over the area. There is growing evidence to suggest that both drilling and hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for oil destabilize the surrounding ground and increase the likelihood of quake activity. (We're seeing this right now in the state of Oklahoma, where not long ago earthquakes were virtually unheard of.)
None of this makes sense. Nor does further degradation of the wildlife corridor that used to run uninterrupted from the Angeles National Forest to the Cleveland National Forest and on to the Mexican border. While many do not see wildlife preservation as a priority, preserving the food chain is.
For these and other reasons, I have joined the group Save Tres Hermanos, which seeks to stop development in the area. Protecting one of the few remaining pieces of open space in Southern California will be one of my top priorities as a State legislator.
Those who claim that public employee pensions are a drain on California's budget are not telling you the facts.
1) Pension costs represent about 3.4 percent of total State spending.
2) 65% of the balance of the CalPERS pension fund is return on investment. In CalSTRS that figure is 58%. These pension funds actually performed better than private defined-contribution retirement plans during the early 1990s - so much so that the State borrowed from the CalPERS fund at one point during that period to balance the State budget.
3) State employees contribute up to 11.5% of their monthly salaries to their State pension funds. On average, California teachers pay about 8% into the CalSTRS fund. The higher the monthly contribution and the more years worked, the higher the monthly pension benefit. Public safety employees who retire with 90% of their final salary as benefits represent a total of about 1% of all State employees.
4) While the State agencies generally match each employee's monthly contribution, during parts of the economic boom in the late 1990s, these matching funds were withheld ("pension holidays").
5) California's public employee pension systems are currently about 70% funded - far batter than they were in the early 1980s and before. (2015 figures show the CalPERS funding ratio at 77% - a 7% gain from 2014.) In 2000, just before the economy plunged into recession, both CalPERS and CalSTRS were well over 100% funded even after State employers took "pension holidays" from their matching contributions as described above. As the economy goes, so goes the pension fund. (And let us not forget that pension fund investments have put billions of dollars back into the economy, where they create jobs.)
Our State budget remains balanced on the backs of the middle class and working class.
The middle class is the backbone of our economy. A sustainable healthy economy depends on support for the middle class, which is the largest group of consumers in a market-based economic system. This means we need to shift financial support and tax relief away from corporations and the wealthy and toward the middle class and small businesses.
California's current taxation system does the opposite. Wealthy Californians and corporations receive far too many tax breaks, which remain untouched when we have faced budget deficits, while revenue-raising measures that hit the middle class and working class the hardest, like increasing sales taxes, are imposed to close the budget gap. Let's look at some examples of the unfairness in California's tax system:
1) In Alaska, home of tea party darling Sarah Palin, oil companies are charged a 25% severance tax for oil extracted from their wells across the state - so her chants of "drill, baby, drill" come as no surprise since they raise revenue for the state. In Texas, another red state which has faced large budget deficits for several years, the oil severance tax is 12.1%. Here in California, it's 0%. California is the only state among the 22 oil-producing states that does not charge wealthy oil companies for compromising the landscape by drilling on its lands.
2) Wealthy property owners are paying a fraction per square foot of what middle-class single-family homeowners pay in property taxes, taking advantage of a huge loophole in the reassessment language of the property tax code that was left in place when wealthy real estate investor Howard Jarvis wrote Proposition 13 in 1978 (now known officially as the Jarvis-Gann Amendment). This loophole allows wealthy and corporate property owners to avoid reassessment upon change of ownership by one or both of two means: a) buying in partnership and selling in minority share; and/or b) temporary corporate merger between the buyer and seller of commercial property. Property tax revenue numbers clearly show that, over the past 30 years, single-family homeowners' contribution to the state's property tax rolls has increased as a percentage of the total revenue collected, while commercial property owners' contribution has decreased. They're paying mostly 1970s- and 1980s-era property tax rates (some even paying three-digit figures), while single-family homeowners pay 1990s- and later-era rates. The middle class is therefore subsidizing the wealthy.
3) California's corporations continue to pay a flat income tax rate that is lower than the rates of some individual Californians.
Business groups and their advocates, like my opponent, claim that lowering taxes for corporations increases job creation, and that raising their tax rates will cause them to move out of state. To show the fallacy of this argument we need only go next door to the state of Nevada, where corporate tax rates are lower than here in California, yet the unemployment rate is higher than California's. Politicians who support corporations (or vice versa) try to portray themselves as protecting small businesses. But small businesses don't have access to the kinds of tax loopholes described above - they're basically in the same boat as middle-class working people.
Because water is essential for everyone's survival, we have to look at water access as a right of every Californian.
In addition to ongoing conservation education and local conservation measures, we need to protect the water we have by preventing contamination with toxic chemicals. Our current water shortage only underscores the need for existing regulations on businesses over drainage, as well as prohibitions on releasing contaminated water or toxic chemicals into the ground where it may commingle with previously uncontaminated groundwater.
Technological interventions like cloud seeding or saltwater desalination cannot bring us out of this water shortage. Cloud seeding can only be expected to bring small increases in precipitation, and desalination remains very expensive.
I've looked at measures currently taken by the State, as well as the Governor's proposed plan, and what I see is little if any application of the State's already-declared eminent domain over California's water supply. Historically, heavily-populated but less water-rich areas have had to negotiate with more water-rich ones in counties like Mono and Inyo to obtain an adequate water supply for the residents of those heavily-populated areas. But exporting water to distant counties provides a benefit for those less-populated but water-rich areas beyond the monetary compensation, by reducing the need for more people to move near those areas, preserving open space and a quiet, rural atmosphere that makes those areas desirable places to live for those who already reside there.
Rather than negotiating, it's not clear to me that the State is fully utilizing its power to claim a portion of the water in these areas for public use as provided under the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, to ensure that no Californian goes thirsty and no family farm runs dry. The State can then determine just compensation to the water source municipalities based on local water supply rates.
Denying gay and lesbian couples the ability to legally marry is a direct violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution states the following: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Because the government provides benefits to and recognizes additional rights (regarding ownership of real property and/or assets, inheritance, etc) of married couples, denying some couples the ability to legally marry based on their sexual orientation denies those couples the equal protection of the laws, and abridges their privileges. Pure and simple. Whether one agrees with this or not, this is our Constitution talking. Therefore, government has two choices: recognize same-gender as well as male-female marriage, or get out of the business of sanctioning and providing benefits for marriage. We can't have it both ways.