In late April, leaders of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) brought their California road show, Healthcare Not Warfare, to Fresno en route to the California Democratic Party (CDP) Convention. Co-chaired by Rep. John Conyers (D‒MI), California Congressional candidate Norman Solomon and Donna Smith (Sicko), the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign aims to end America’s wars and devote the savings to healthcare for all. In fact, Conyers has authored HR 676, which is a bill currently in committee that would provide enhanced Medicare to all Americans.
The road show visited the Central Valley–Sierra Progressives chapter of PDA. Attending were PDA’s national director, Tim Carpenter, field director Conor Boylan and Dr. Bill Honigman, California coordinator of the Healthcare for All issue organizing team (IOT).
Video shout-outs to the chapter came from Mimi Kennedy, Advisory Board chair; the Nation magazine’s John Nichols; Michael Lighty, director of public policy for the California Nurses Association (CNA); Smith; and Rep. Mike Capuano (D‒MA).
The Fresno visit was timely. Just two days before the road show arrived, the chapter was lobbying for healthcare. A major campaign is under way for comprehensive healthcare for Californians through State Sen. Mark Leno’s (D‒San Francisco) SB 810, which is supported by PDA, the CNA, and other organizations.
The first vote on the bill was May 4 in the Senate Health Committee. The committee chair, Sen. Ed Hernandez (D‒West Covina), had not indicated how he would vote. Our local senator on the committee, Michael Rubio (D‒Bakersfield), had announced he would vote against SB 810.
The Central Valley–Sierra Progressives chapter dispatched a lobbying team from its Healthcare for All IOT to meet with Sen. Rubio’s staff on April 25. PDA and others throughout the state mobilized to contact Sens. Hernandez and Rubio by telephone. On May 4, the bill received the Health Committee’s nod, on a 5-3 straight party line vote. Rubio cast the only abstention—a step in the right direction.
Honigman spoke of PDA’s partnering with national peace organizations and healthcare workers, including National Nurses United/CNA to move healthcare legislation forward. Victory in Vermont underlines the effectiveness of these efforts.
Boylan told of new chapters around the country and monthly national conference calls for PDA’s IOTs: End the Occupations, Healthcare for All, Economic and Social Justice, Stop Global Warming and Clean, Fair, Transparent Elections. Action groups include Ending Corporate Personhood, Immigration Reform, Israel-Palestine and Accountability and Justice.
Lobbying in Washington and locally has moved legislators closer to approval of progressive legislation. Brown bag lunch vigils at Congressional members’ field offices bring visibility to PDA’s positions and provide an opportunity to chide—or thank—them for their positions.
Carpenter highlighted PDA’s Change Makes Change campaign and roused the chapter with his clarion call for action to stop the wars and bring healthcare to everyone.
Many PDA members ran and became delegates to the CDP Convention, where they successfully worked for two critical resolutions: the National Nurses United/CNA resolution for a Main Street Contract for America and a resolution to maintain the integrity of Social Security.
The next PDA meeting will be at 6 p.m. on June 22 at Denny’s Restaurant, 1110 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno.
Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC)
The CRC is scheduled to release preliminary maps for the proposed new districts for the U.S. Congress, the Board of Equalization, the California State Senate and the California State Assembly by no later than June 10. After the release of the preliminary maps, the CRC will hold a second round of public hearings.
A hearing will be held in Fresno on June 23 in Suite 100 of the University of California Fresno Center at 550 Shaw Ave. from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Members of the community may provide testimony in response to the preliminary maps to the CRC at that time.
Follow the CRC and its activities at http://wedrawthelines.ca.gov/. Meetings and hearings are streamed live, and videos and transcripts are available for all the meetings and hearings held so far.
Board of Supervisors
At the local level, the Board of Supervisors has named a task force to address redistricting for that body. Meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, June 1, at 3 p.m., and Monday, June 6, at 3 p.m. The meetings, which are held at the Fresno County Hall of Records, Room 301, at 2281 Tulare St., are open to the public, and public input is encouraged.