Denise Munro Robb For City Council

responsible growth-responsive government

 

CITY COUNCIL QUESTIONNAIRE

Southern California Chapter, Americans for Democratic Action

September 11, 2001 Election

 

Americans for Democratic Action is an independent progressive political organization that was founded in 1947 by Eleanor Roosevelt, Walter Reuther, John Kenneth Galbraith, Reinhold Neibuhr, Hubert Humphrey, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and other leaders in the progressive political community. Nationally, ADA has about 60,000 members, and the Southern California Chapter has the largest membership and contribution base.

 

Please complete the questionnaire and email it to taztunes@aol.com or fax it to 323-651-1163 by July 12th.  If you have any questions, please contact our Executive Director, Jim Clarke, at 323-651-4440 between 10am - 6pm.

 

About Your Politics

 

1.    Describe your experience in politics. Have you been active in political parties, organizations, or campaigns?

 

Yes, very.  I am currently an elected member of the Los Angeles Green Party County Council and the Coordinator for the LA Greens.  I have worked on countless campaigns, the most recent being Antonio Villaraigosa's bid for mayor and the earliest would be Barry Commoner's run for President.  I spent years working on the single payer health care initiative (Prop. 186), campaign finance reform (Prop. 208), No on 187, No on 209, No on School Vouchers.  As Executive Director of Southern California Americans for Democratic Action I was at the forefront of numerous important political issues.  I participated in press conferences, organized volunteers, ran phone banks, tried to elect all of our endorsed candidates and much, much more.  I am also an environmental activist and currently serve as a member of the Coalition to Save All of Ballona.  I also am involved in immigrant rights and work at the National Immigration Law Center on impact litigation to protect the rights of low-income immigrants. 

 

2.    How would you describe yourself politically?

 

A left-wing progressive activist who favors people over profits.

 

About Your Campaign

 

3.    In one sentence, why did you choose to run for this office? How do intend to improve the quality of life in your community?

 

I am passionate about making this city more responsive to the people in this district.   I intend to improve the quality of life in the community by giving neighborhood councils real decision making power instead of the phony advisory power they have now; by making the LAPD more accountable and enforcing compliance with the consent decree, by preventing developers from having a stranglehold on the city, by listening to the concerns of environmentalists and creating more parks, open space, livable cities, preservation of historic housing, getting people out of their cars and making mass transit more accessible, more frequent, lobbying other agencies and government bodies for things that the city can't directly control like universal health care, instituting a living wage similar to Santa Monica's newly passed laws, creating more bike paths, re-greening the LA River, saving all of Ballona and much more.

 

4.    Describe your campaign organization and strategy to win. How much do you anticipate spending and how will you raise that amount? Who has endorsed your campaign?

 

We were the first to turn in our signatures and now our focus is on precinct walking, phone banking, advertising in various media including cable TV, tabling, debates, making the most out of organizational endorsements, and some surprises along the way as well.  We intend to raise $25,000 and get matching funds from the city to bring that to $50,000.  I have been endorsed by Ralph Nader, Medea Benjamin, Nancy Pearlman, Sara Amir, Santa Monica Mayor Mike Feinstein, City Councilman Kevin McKeown, singer Bonnie Raitt, author of "City of Quartz," Mike Davis, Prof. Robert Benson of Loyola Law School, Blase and Teresa Bonpane, and many more people (see website for complete list : www.DeniseMunroRobb.com

 

5.    How long do you anticipate serving on the city council?  What other political offices might you consider running for in the future?

 

I intend to serve on the council for the remainder of the term Ferraro would have served and then to run for a full term after that.  I am currently focused on city politics and my passion is at the local level.  I have not determined whether I will seek higher office after I have served my city.

 

About The Issues : General Topics

We are interested in learning more about your view on topical issues that may or may not directly impact your duties as a local government elected official but that help shape public policy. Please respond in 2-3 sentences.

What is your position on:

1.    The Death Penalty

The death penalty has been proven not to be a deterrent to crime, it is racially biased against people of color and often it is applied against innocent people.  This brutality must end.  If a person has committed a crime they can't make amends to the victim if they are dead and it serves no one.  I am 100% opposed to the death penalty and I always will be. 

2.    Three Strikes Law and Returning the Right to Vote to Ex-Prisoners

 

Once you have served your sentence, it is inhumane to remove one's right to vote.  Often the people who are in prison are serving for no other reason than drug charges.  The three strikes law has been a horrible mistake and has sent non-violent criminals to prison for life.  It never should have passed and it must be changed.

3.    Single Payer Health Care Plans

I spent many years gathering signatures, raising money, hosting house parties and speaking to people about the benefits of the Canadian style health care system.  Unfortunately, Prop. 186 did not pass and Mr. Clinton did not push for it nationally.  But we must keep up the pressure until a time when people know what it means, because I am certain once people understand the concept, they will favor it.

4.    Reproductive Choice

I am 100% in favor of a woman's right to choose, and it must be fully funded by the federal government so that poor women can also have that right.  Nothing must interfere with this.

5.    Privatization of Social Security & Medicare

We can't gamble with our future.  Social Security and Medicare must exist as a safety net for millions of elderly who will retire with very little savings.  It must be held in a secure fund so we will know it will be there when we need it.

6.    Affirmative Action

I fought against Prop. 209 and spoke to groups about it.  Most people have the wrong concept of affirmative action.  It is an equalizer, it does not hold incompetent people above more competent people. It merely is a leveler in situations where discrimination has been obvious.  Much damage has been done to affirmative action in the last few years and we must rectify this.

7.    School Vouchers

I worked on two different campaigns to stop school vouchers and yet it keeps coming back.  Republicans insist that this is a way for everyone to get a good education.  It is a stupid idea because it takes away money from public school, which is for everyone and gives it to religious schools, or anyone who has a license.  Private schools aren't regulated the way public schools are and the worst part of all is it ruins the separation between church and state. 

8.    International Trade Agreements (e.g. WTO, NAFTA, FTAA, MAI, etc.)

 

They all benefit American businesses but hurt both American workers and workers abroad.  It is crippled the Mexican economy because they export food that is needed for their own people, and we have moved a lot of jobs to Mexico just so employers can have cheap labor without those annoying environmental regulations.  Fair trade not free trade, as we say in the marches.

9.    Environmental Protection (e.g. Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, etc.)

President Select Bush is trying to destroy all of these and we have a lot of work to do.  They need to be expanded not eliminated. 

10. Electoral and Campaign Finance Reform (including Public Campaign Financing)

 

I support a system such as Maine's where public financing is attained by many people giving small amounts to the candidate.  We also need to stop the flow of soft money and limit independent expenditure campaigns.  TV coverage should be free for all candidates, as should the printing of literature in the sample ballot so that all candidates have a chance.

About The Issues : City Council Topics

 

1.    What are the most important issues in your city and how will you tackle them if elected?

 

Giving neighborhood councils real power, secession is a huge issue and I hope that this will alleviate some of the worries.  Corporate welfare continues to run rampant in this city and I want to put a stop to funding billionaire investment bankers.  If affordable housing is truly being built then that is worth subsidizing but that is often not the case.  Transportation is another huge problem and there are various factions fighting - bus vs. rail, etc.  I believe there is a solution once the consent decree of the BRU has been complied with we can get consensus on rail, see my position papers for more details on all of these issues.

 

2.    How do you envision your relationship with unions, both in the public and private sector?

 

I believe the City Council has to fight for the rights of unions, ensure collective bargaining in case the city secedes, support the neutral card check, project labor agreements, and a living wage for everyone - public and private.  I also want to institute a rating system for businesses that employ sweatshop labor so the public will know (similar to the rating of restaurants).

 

What is your position on the enactment of a living wage ordinance in your community?

 

I fully support it (see above). 

 What is your position with respect to contracting out public services and privatization?

 

I am against it.

3.    What would you do to promote the creation of affordable housing and in particular, how would you help people who are homeless to receive housing? How would you intend to reform the Community Redevelopment Agencies in your city to serve people better?

 

Stop the CRA from giving money to multi-billionaires and only fund truly affordable housing.  Convert some parking lots into mixed-use housing.  The city needs to spend more money on homelessness and affordable housing and we need a commission on homelessness that finds immediate solutions.  If a building has been abandoned, it shouldn't sit for years like this.  Permits must be granted and it must be available for use.  The city can its powers to acquire properties that are vacant, but we must put money into this, regardless of whether the homeless vote or not! 

 

4.    What is your approach to development? Please describe your vision with respect to planning, development, and preservation of open lands. What do you intend to do to increase the number of parks in your community, as well as creating recreational facilities?

 

We can create pocket parks in vacant lots, we should make Ballona a park immediately.  Neighborhood activists shouldn't be forced to become experts on environmental impact reports.  The City Councilperson needs to make sure all environmental regulations are complied with.  The senseless development we've had threatens everyone.  We don't need more malls we need more parks.  We have plenty of housing, we just don't have affordable housing.  We must do everything within our power to make sure that the remaining bits of open space in Los Angeles are preserved.  Blacktops on school playgrounds can also be converted into parks instead of concrete.  Griffith Park can be extended through the purchase of Cahuenga Peak, and much more.

 

5.    How will you address environmental contamination (for example, chromium-6 and perchlorate in the water supply, or air pollution from industrial sources in your area)? Do you oppose or support fluoridation of the water supply in your community?

 

As a City Council member I would allocate additional funds for the inspection of contaminated sites within the City of Los Angeles. I would further establish ties with and request that the State Water Resources Control Board investigate contaminated sites not only in the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys but also within the Los Angeles basin. I would work for the establishment of a chrome VI drinking water standard that adequately safeguards human health and safety. I also would work for a ban on all use of chrome VI within the city.

In regards to perchlorate I would encourage that perchlorate in the groundwater be tested at the same time that the chrome VI is, as well as focusing around traditional areas of perchlorate use (i.e. aerospace facilities). I also would work for the mitigation of volatile organic compounds, chrome VI, perchlorate, MTBE, NDMA, and 1,4-Dioxane.

I oppose fluoridation of the water supply, as it is a by-product of aluminum production and fertilizer.  There is a form of fluoride which isn't hazardous, however, that is not the type that is going into our drinking water.  Even if you're a person who thinks fluoride is good (which it isn't, I have hundreds of pages of scientific research to prove this) it is also an issue of freedom.  I don't even think Vitamin C should be added to our drinking water, and I am an advocate of Vitamin C. 

 

6.    How would you address the state of transportation, both within your community and as a part of the region? What types of solutions would you propose? Would you support the creation of an elected transit board in your area?

 

I would support an elected transit board.  We need to first comply with the consent decree of the Bus Riders Union as this is both a transportation and an issue of civil rights.  Then we need to construct the Exposition line, have a rail line that goes all the way to the airport, create more Dash buses to serve as feeder lines, more bike lanes, timed and left turn lanes, and even consider a dedicated lane in the freeway for mass transit.  Fares need to be low, stops need to be protected from wind and rain, and they need to be secure so people don't stand alone late at night, and transportation needs to be frequent.  Also parking needs to be available.  We also need to work with the City of Beverly Hills to allow the mass transit to move through that area in order to get people further west.  All this will encourage people to get out of their cars.

 

7.    What is your vision for the role of the police in your community? How do you understand the term "community policing" and how would you put it into practice? How would you resolve the issue of police brutality, and racial disparities in profiling and arrests?  [LA only] Would you support the creation of an elected police commission to increase accountability?  What do you feel is an appropriate formula for allocating police resources to various stations or divisions?

 

The police are supposed to protect people but often that hasn't been the case.  As Michael Parenti says, they focus too much on property and not enough on people.  The police are demoralized and the attrition rate is extremely high.  We need to support the drop program which currently allows older police officers to stay in their jobs at a higher pension, we need incentives to keep police on the force because right now they only stay 3-4 years and it takes five years to train them, we don't need police in helicopters we need them on the ground and on bikes and living in Los Angeles as part of the community they serve.  The Christopher Commission and consent decree must be implemented and Chief Parks must go.  An elected police commission will also help prevent the racial inequalities and brutality that has been such a core part of the police culture.  Perhaps police stations that have the best record in terms of community relations should be given financial incentives?  We also must provide good incentives to attract decent police officers.

 

8.    How would you address drug use in your city, and would you work to modify asset forfeiture practices by police? How will you work to implement Proposition 36?

 

They have no right to take away anyone's assets because of drugs.  As everyone knows, drug use is a health issue not a crime issue. It should never be treated that way.  De-criminalization of drugs will take away the incentive for crime.  Prop. 36 needs to be expanded because there are long waiting lists for people in need of rehab. 

 

9.    What sort of cultural, educational, and recreational programs would you like to foster in your community with respect to the youth, singles, married couples, the retired, etc.?

 

It would be nice to have neighborhood council sponsored community events to encourage people to register to vote, participate in their community, and also meet their neighbors.  The city can have special days to honor various groups in the community, such as a city-wide "Honor Teachers Day."  Park and Rec can also create lots of special events, that is if we're willing to fund it.  In some areas of the city Park and Rec people are working for no pay and this has to stop.

 

10. Do support the creation of elected Neighborhood Councils that will have the power to set zoning rules, approve or reject local development, make recommendations on public services, and possess a budget for organizing local programs for the community? How do you intend to address the issues behind the secession movements, if applicable?

 

Yes. This is the cornerstone of my campaign.  If implemented properly this will eliminate the need for secession.  But if not, we must ensure collective bargaining and no loss of services for poor areas in the areas that secede.

 

11. What should be done with the Ballona Wetlands?  What about Sunshine Canyon?  The LA River?

 

All of these must be preserved as public park areas for the enjoyment and mental health of the community.  LA is sorely lacking in open space.  Re: the LA River, wherever possible and safe, the concrete must come out.

 

12. Will you pledge to prevent deregulation or privatization of the DWP? 

 

YES! 

 

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

 

It's entirely my pleasure.