ELLEN ISAACS for MIKE FEUER at WVRC on March 10th
PP MIKE NEWMAN provided the Invocation, which was a Buddhist quotation “All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world” Short and pithy, MIKE well chosen. A not-too-distant relative, PP HOMER NEWMAN, led us in the Pledge and The Four Way Test. RICK BROUS provided song sheets, entitled The Taxman Cometh, and it was very topical.
PEGGY was with her helper, and SUNNY was, of course, with LENNY. PAT ANDERSON accompanied PDG ANDY - and there weren’t no more guests. LEO TSENG was fined $20 for impersonating PETER MORE. And JOHN SINGLETON was fined $25 for bending the beginning of The Four Way Test.
It was Birthday Recognition Time, and leading the parade was PP MIKE NEWMAN, who chose Santa Monica on the 3rd. TERRY R. WHITE came along the next day, in Oceanside. MARIE ROLF settled on the 9th, in New Orleans, and PP CHRIS GAYNOR elected the 11th, in Los Angeles. Our temporarily absent member, LEAH VRIESMAN, preferred the 13th, and we know you know Janesville is in Wisconsin. PP JOHN SINGLETON liked Salt Lake City (which YOE modestly has to admit he already knew) and the date was the 14th. PDG ANDY ANDERSON preferred the 21st, in Buffalo, while CURT SMITH brought us back to Backersfield on the 26th which is the same day MYRON TAYLOR preferred, but he came along in Goodwill, WVA and you may remember that his Dad wouldn’t permit him to follow along as a coal miner. Last in March was ADELL QUILICO, who liked Glendale and did you know she was one of the original Meglin Kiddies? Those on the above list who were present were, of course, properly serenaded. And I guess I should ask whatever happened to our Library Book Signings?
We were reminded that the District Conference will be in Indian Wells from the 12th to the 15th of May. And somehow, the R.I. INTERNATIONAL Convention will also be in May, from the 21st to the 25th, in New Orleans. The featured Speaker will be Bill Gates, who belongs to Rotary in Seattle, and has just provided us with $355 million dollars to be matched by our $200 million for the final clampdown on Polio! His report will certainly be worth hearing. PP CHRIS BRADFORD spoke about the upcoming selection of Ambassadorial Scholar Candidates, which will be next week on the 14th. If you wish to join the group, do check with Chris, please.
LEO TSENG, unfazed by his earlier 20 buck fine, spoke briefly about a new tradition he is spearheading, built around Easter. LEO told the very touching story of his granddaughter, who at 18 months of age was diagnosed with cancer. She began an extremely intensive regimen of treatment, which lasted for two years - and she is now cancer-free, and entering High School! LEO had observed other cancer parents in their thankfulness, and so three years ago he began providing Easter Baskets to the kids at our Mattel Children’s Hospital within the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. This project will take place around Easter on April 24th, and LEO welcomes your participation please call him.
PP CHRIS BRADFORD introduced our Speaker, Ellen Isaacs. She is the Transportation Deputy for Mike Feuer, and also serves as his Field Representative for Westwood, Bel Air, Brentwood and Beverly Hills, and has been with Mike Feuer’s office for all four years of his tenure as Assemblyman for the 42nd Assembly District. She has worked on many projects during this time the 405 Sepulveda Pass HOV Lane Project, legislation enabling the 1/2 cent County Sales Tax for the LA County Metro Measure R, a joint legislative resolution requesting the IRS to apply California’s community property laws to same-sex married couples, developing support for the “30/10 Plan” to build 12 County transit projects over 10 years instead of 30, and monitoring the environmental process for the Westside Extension of the subway. Ms Isaacs previously worked in Education Outreach at UCLA, practiced law for 15 years, and started an Affordable Housing Project at Public Counsel. She and her husband are the proud parents of two boys, a college sophomore and a high school senior, who is waiting to hear from colleges.
Ms Isaacs began by thanking us for the opportunity to tell us about some of the things going on in Sacramento. Her first subject was the budget process now going on. The goal was to pass the budget on time. Governor Brown submitted his budget, and it is now being discussed. A change this year is that a simple majority is all that is needed to pass the budget. In addition, the new rules specify that the Legislature will not be paid during the time the budget is overdue. Another difference is that it is now law that new measures cannot be voted upon unless the method of payment is fully listed in advance. Finally, the budget must be balanced.
The state has a 25 billion dollar deficit. The submitted budget cuts 12.5 billion off, and taxes are requested to make up the difference. The Governor has asked for a temporary, five year extension of sales taxes, which of course must be voted on by the people of California. The cuts will fall on education, transportation, and services, mainly to the poor. The estimate of new taxes needed would be as much as $10,000 per family to balance this budget!
Health insurance was the next topic. AB 52 was discussed, (a copy was at each seat, remember), which would mandate that our Dept of Insurance would be able to reject excessive rate increases. Over eight million California citizens do not have health insurance today, so they tend to wait until their illness becomes serious before going to the Emergency Room this is completely cost ineffective, of course and the new Federal Health bill may help. As an aside, Insurance Commissioners have the right to reject excessive insurance increases, but this tool is not available to Health Care Commissioners. So support AB 52, please.
There is also a bill, AB 87, which would simplify the rules covering child abuse and treatment of victims. It would improve Foster Care, in addition. This would be beneficial to social workers who now are handicapped by archaic work rules. There is another bill in process that would address the kind of problems they face in the City of Bell. It would allow speedy Special Elections, for instance.
The last area she discussed was Transportation. Measure R, which was passed in 2008, specifies that funds from this would be restricted only to those areas of direct involvement, and the expected time of construction was listed as thirty years. There is now a bill, working its way through the Legislature, which is called 30/10 this would make it possible to build the transportation infrastructure and subway lines within ten years, rather than thirty, and pay for them over the thirty-year period. This seems likely to be passed and become the new standard.
Q&A How does AB 52 dovetail with the new Federal Health Care law? Basically, it builds upon Federal Law and thus the two work well together. What is the status of the High Speed Rail Project? This is a Federal Program, and thus not under review by the State Legislature. Will restricting the profit that health care providers can make drive them out of the state? This has not happened in other locals, so we don’t expect it here. Also, the concern about crossing state lines is not a real worry there is plenty of competition right now.
Ellen Isaacs, thank you for a most helpful presentation. Sacramento is not that far away, but we appreciate your bring news down to us.