ECDC Member Denounces West County Wasterwater District Director

By Mister Phillips

 I first registered as a Democrat in 1996. I was 18 years old then. Now I am a deacon, husband, father, veteran, attorney, and Democratic Party official. I have the honor and privilege of representing the people of West Contra Costa County, including Richmond, California, on the Democratic Party County Central Committee and the Democratic Party State Central Committee.

 Overall, my experience with the Democratic Party has been positive. As a political party, “[w]e [Democrats] take pride in and celebrate our diversity and work to foster the common values and commitments that unite all people regardless of their age, cultural heritage, national origin, disability, socio-economic status, gender, race, sexual orientation or views on religion.”

 That is why I was saddened by the recent comments of my fellow Democrat, West County Wastewater District Director Leonard Battaglia. According to the article,

$1,100 an hour? Part-time service at little agencies means big bucks and benefits for politicians” in the San Jose Mercury News:

 [Mr. Battaglia] repeatedly used slurs during an interview to describe Asian people. He was also critical of African Americans, who make up a large part of his Richmond [California] constituency.”I flew with black pilots [in the Korean War]. I’d say ‘break’ (suddenly turn right or left) and they’d hesitate. They’d miss it because they think slower. They have an African-American mentality. They can’t help it. It’s the way God made them,” he said. “Like in Richmond. It’s a mess.” When a reporter later asked Battaglia about those remarks, he said, “I am not a prejudiced person.”

 He said he intends to seek another term on the board next year and insisted his constituents should not be offended by his comments because he is only saying “how things are.”

 That kind of language has no place in today’s Democratic Party. We have come too far as Democrats, and more importantly as Americans, to allow anyone to turn back the clock on racial progress.

 Therefore, while I thank Mr. Battaglia for his many years of service, I will be working with like-minded individuals to identify a more respectful and more progressive candidate to support in the upcoming West County Wastewater District election.

Successful Fundrasier for Betty Yee

The Club’s immediate past President and California Democratic Party Controller Hilary Crosby hosted a fundraiser on Sunday, November 17 in El Cerrito for Betty Yee who is running for State Controller. For those who are poltically engaged, this was the place to mingle, eat and drink on a Sunday morning. Sixty people attended including many of our Club members, local candidates and electeds.

To name a few:   

El Cerrito City Council members- Rebecca Benassini and Janet Abelson

Stege Sanitary District Board member-Al Miller

West Contra Costa County School District board member-Todd Groves

Senator-Ellen Corbet

Oakland City Council members-Dan Kalb and Libby Schaaf 

Oakland School Board member-Jody London

Antioch City Council member-Monica Wilson

Solano County Board of Education member-Dana Dean

Solano County Supervisor-Linda Siefert

Candidate for AD 15 and EBMUD board member-Andy Katz

Peralta Community College District-Meredith Brown and Abel Guillen

California Democratic Party Regional Directors-Martha Gamez and Hene Kelly

Also in attendance were members of the CDP Women’s caucus, National Women’s Political Caucus and Emerge graduates.

Betty Yee thanked all attendees and  spoke about how she’s the most qualified candidate in the race. The event was a huge sucesss and raised several thousand dollars for Betty’s campaign.

 Betty Yee 8 Betty Yee 7 Betty Yee 6 Betty Yee 5 Betty Yee 4 Betty Yee 3 Betty Yee 2 Betty Yee 1 Betty Yee 9

All photos curtousey of Betty Yee for Controller 2014 Facebook page.

Remembering the Life and Impact of Nelson Mandela

On Thursday, December 5, the world lost the influential leader, historical figure and man, Nelson Mandela.  Club President Scott Lyons shares his connection with the former President of South Africa.  Do have a story or feelings on the loss of Nelson Mandela? Please feel free to share on the ECDC website and/or facebook page.  

“In 2000, I spent a month traveling in South Africa as a tourist. The country made for wonderful travel–cheap accommodations, relatively sparse tourist traffic, beautiful parks and reserves for hiking and safaris, and a patchwork of cultures and peoples. Nelson Mandela had recently stepped down from the presidency, but the turmoil and trauma and optimism and hope of the revolution were still fresh in everyone’s minds.

On Robben Island, only a few miles off the coast of Cape Town, with views of the city just as stunning as those we have from Alcatraz, former prisoners acted as tour guides and showed us where this and that had occurred. Mandela’s cell was (and is still) a highlight of the tour. I imagined him living there, serving a life sentence, spending decades waiting and hoping and holding faith in the future.

As we filed into the cafeteria to hear the stories of the facility, our guide looked across the room of Brits and Germans and Americans and said, “Let me start by thanking you for your help in ending apartheid.” It was a perfect reflection of the reconciliation that Mandela had willed on the country. We had done little to end apartheid–perhaps a few in the room had written their congressmen or MPs to support economic sanctions or had supported the disinvestment effort. Our guide, on the other hand, had risked his life and spent a decade in prison fighting against the system.

Later on the trip I spoke with a white South African about Mandela. “We just love him so much,” she said, somewhat wistfully. Many people said similar things. There was always an unspoken “but…” that hid their fears for the post-Mandela era. But no one doubted that, in those years in the early 90s when the country hung in the balance, it was Mandela alone who had averted the nascent three-way civil war, who had inspired an inclusive and liberal constitution, who had led the commissions of reconciliation that had done so much to heal and help the country to move on.

So I, along with millions of others, have been inspired by Mandela’s life to hope for a better future. His incredible triumph should remind us that dramatic changes are possible, even in the relatively short period of a human lifetime. And as we continue our own struggles for justice we should remember just how much it is possible to achieve.”