It has been an interesting week, to say the least!!!
For me, it began with a Saturday Visit to the Campus of Soka University to watch my son participate in the All-Star team.Â Â Â I have always viewed Soka as one of the Gems of South County. Sitting atop the Hills overlooking the Canyon, it is quite a sight. I have been through the entire campus and there is an aura of serenity to it that truly exemplifies its’ mission to remind us all of the need for peace and harmony around the World. If only we could embrace and truly understand it. As I enjoyed the day, I marveled at the spirit of volunteerism that is very much built into the fabric of South County Life. I see it everywhere.
I spent that Saturday Night dropping by a Community Meet and Greet for the Capistrano Candidates. It is great that the grass root support is starting to build up in a major way. For those who have been driving around town, the signs have been springing up everywhere. It appears that the opposition seems to be silent. As the discourse continued, someone handed me an email from one of the current incumbents. It touted how they were “conservative” and “for reform”, while the current slate was “Pro-Union”. They seemed to forget that two of the key players have Union Support and that the focus had to be on the kids. It was still interesting reading, though.
I began the week joining the local Political Coffee Group in Laguna Hills. As always, the meeting was far reaching and wide ranging. I had the chance to chat with three candidates running for the Laguna Hills City Council. One of them was a long-standing member who talked about how the Republican Candidates, Carly Fiornia and Meg Whitman, were in trouble despite some of the recent press. She noted that she was a fervent Whitman supporter and had done phone banking and would continue to press on in this respect. The other gentleman, an Iranian-American, had begun his first run for Public Office. It was great to see someone who had the courage to take the plunge against some rather entrenched incumbents who were running again.
Then there was Tuesday. I visited the Greater Democratic Headquarters in Irvine to watch the Governor’s Debate. There were fervent Democratic Supporters and a number of local candidates also joined as well, including Melissa Fox. In driving around Irvine, I have seen her signs on every street corner and have seen her continued active and vibrant effort online. There is a bit of a steep mountain to climb in light of the advantage in voter registration. She is campaigning hard and is not taking anything for granted, including fund raisers and phone banking throughout the next two weeks. I did found it surprising that Beth Krom did not show up.
As I saw the debate, the contrasts couldn’t be clearer. Meg Whitman finally came out of the shadows. Although she apparenlty held her own against Steve Poisner, dealing with Jerry Brown is another matter. She did remind folks that Jerry Brown was a career politician with no experience. It was just quite remarkable how Jerry Brown dealt with it.
Although I saw The LA Times’ Steve Lopez noting in his column that the voters lost, I saw a contrast that was as visible as ever. I saw a Meg Whitman who struck to her story no matter what the questions were. I saw a confident and vibrant 72-year old Jerry Brown who reminded the State of his long years of service and basically noting that he foresaw everything the State is dealing with -and he has the knowledge and the “spine of steel” to deal with it. It touched on the budget, education, crime and the economy. It was wide ranging and laid out the stark choices faced by the people.
What I find quite amazing is that despite all that Meg Whitman has spent so far, the last published Field Poll I just reviewed notes that the race is a dead heat. Despite the polls, Susan Estrich said it best in a write-up on Rasmussen, where she noted that, “… Brown, battle-scarred though he is, is still one of the best politicians of his generation. He is the consummate political survivor. He is tough as nails. He isn’t running a “morning in America” campaign. His tough, in-your-face style matches the mood of the electorate just as well as his Moonbeam persona matched an earlier time. I wouldn’t bet against him….” . This statement says it all as the final month of the campaign begins. I do have to wonder why Jerry Brown wants to take this on. The only explanation I came up with is this: The Yearning to Serve!!!
As I geared up to leave The new Headquarters, one of the principal organizers rose up to speak to thank all who had come out and asked all to help contribute to maintaining the office. She noted that they were self-funded and received no support from either the State or the local Democratic Party. She noted that she called upon the County Party to help with volunteers–and no one returned phone calls. It seems to me that there ought to be a coordinated effort by the party to continue to make inroads throughout Southern Orange County. But, it always seems that the people at the grass roots some
how manage to pull it all together.
I was on the road for the day and visited the local One Stop Center. It is one of the best innovations to help the unemployed. As I was there, I got a tap from an acquaintance who told me that he had just been laid off. There are also cuts going on there. Many of the hourly staffers are being let go today because there is no budget left. Apparently some of the budget that helped to fund the center was funded by Stimulus funds that is no longer available. From what I also understand, the Center itself is not directly funded by the State, but by Federal Government Funds. But, the fact that the State itself does not have a budget is a shame to say the least.
As I was on the road for the day, I happened to listen to my old College Radio Station, KPCC. By chance, I noticed that there was a US Senate debate!!! Carly Fiorina and Barbara Boxer was on the radio Wednesday debating the issues. I found the hour to be really odd (1 PM) and on radio. I am not sure who actually caught it. Although I am sure that the “pundits” would have their say, I heard the two candidates again sticking to their basic talking points. Barbara Boxer, in my view, did score some points when she assailed Carly Fiorina’s views on the environment especially in light of the statement by Fiorina about “Extreme Environmental Organizations” supporting Barbara Boxer. The LA TIMES Patt Morrison asked her point blank who she meant by that. She refused to answer.
As I was driving back down South, I noticed one of the couples who I featured in my “Voices from Street Corners (Vol 1)” column. They still had their sign up and were hoping. I wanted to drum up the courage to go up and talk to them…but couldn’t this time. I did wonder about those pool souls at the One Stop who are losing their job today. I then thought about the power play by Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina to hold up legislation in the Senate during the lame duck session. I wondered what the loyal opposition truly understood about the word Governing and Service. In this game of “Cat and Mouse”, it seems as if the People on Street Corners are truly lost in the shuffle. They deserve better. I also wondered whether November 3rd will herald an era of responsible Governing that we all desperately need.