Can rights be wrong?

The Pasadena Republican Club sues the Western Justice Center and the city of Pasadena over an alleged violation of free speech

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 12/20/2018

A battle over the First Amendment is raging across the country, especially on college campuses. Republican clubs book controversial speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Ben Shapiro or Steve Bannon, then liberal groups protest and the event is canceled. Conservatives say it is a violation of their free speech rights, and liberals say they have a right to prevent the institution they are affiliated with from giving speakers with hateful messages a platform to spread their discrimination.

That debate has come home to Pasadena.

The Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence (CCJ), based at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, filed a complaint in federal district court on Nov. 28 on behalf of the Pasadena Republican Club (PRC) against the Western Justice Center (WJC) and the city of Pasadena.

PRC allege that WJC canceled their event at the last minute because of the scheduled speaker’s anti-same-sex marriage views. The civil rights complaint, filed in federal court, alleges political and religious discrimination and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and unspecified monetary damages. It was filed by Anthony Caso, director of CCJ.

“The essence of the complaint is that they’ve taken public property and they’ve decided who can use it based upon political or religious viewpoint,” Caso said. “Take your pick; both are unconstitutional.”

According to the complaint, PRC President Lynn Gabriel signed a contract in early 2017 with then-WJC Executive Director Judith Chirlin, a retired LA Superior Court judge, to rent the Maxwell House in west Pasadena for the club’s next event on April 20, 2017, for a fee of $190. The Maxwell House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and located just a few doors from the US Ninth District Court of Appeals, is owned by the city of Pasadena. The city leases the Maxwell House to WJC for $1 a month. PRC had held meetings at the Maxwell House before, featuring different speakers.

The Pasadena Republican Club was founded in 1884, two years before Pasadena incorporated as a city, making it the oldest continuously active Republican club in the United States. According to its website, the club is “dedicated to electing Republican candidates to federal, state and local office. [It] funds and operates the Republican [election] headquarters in Pasadena every two years.” The Western Justice Center is a nonprofit organization that “develops creative programs to teach students, teachers and members of the community ways to resolve conflict peacefully.”

In the complaint, Gabriel asserted that she informed Chirlin at that time that the speaker at the event would be Dr. John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). NOM was formed in 2007 to promote the passage of Prop 8, the controversial 2008 ballot measure that eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.

Eastman also previously served as the dean of Chapman University’s law school and was the founding director of CCJ, which is representing PRC in this lawsuit. He has argued many cases before the Supreme Court and engineered President Trump’s recent call to end birthright citizenship. At the Maxwell House event, he was planning to deliver a Supreme Court update.

According to the complaint, at 3:43 p.m. on April 20, 2017, less than three hours before Eastman’s talk was to begin at 6:30 p.m., Chirlin emailed Gabriel to cancel the event, writing, “While I knew that Prof Eastman was a professor and author, we learned just today that he is the President [sic] of the National Organization for Marriage. NOM’s positions on same-sex marriage, gay adoption, and transgender rights are antithetical to the values of the Western Justice Center. WJC works to improve campus climates with a special focus on LGBT bias and bullying. We work to make sure that people recognize and stop LGBT bullying. Through these efforts we have built a valuable reputation in the community, and allowing your event in our facility would hurt our reputation in the community.”

The complaint asserted that WJC’s contract required a disclaimer to be included on any publicity for the event that read, “The Western Justice Center/Maxwell House does not endorse the views expressed by this organization or its speakers,” a rule that Caso said PRC followed.

Caso said the last-minute cancelation caused several problems for PRC.

“The Pasadena Republican Club president had to scramble to find an alternate location for the event, and I’m amazed that they did so,” he said. “Then she had to stand out in front of the Maxwell House to redirect traffic to the University Club of Pasadena, the new location, so she never got to the event herself.”

The University Club charged PRC $500 and not all PRC members were able to make it to the new venue. The complaint stated that “attendance at the event at the University Club was one-third below average attendance.”

Elissa Barrett, WJC’s current executive director, declined to comment for this story.

“We are consulting with legal counsel and cannot make any further comment at this time,” Barrett wrote in an email in response to a request for comment from Chirlin.

Earlier, Barrett reportedly wrote in response to questions from Pasadena Now, “When this matter arose more than 18 months ago, we believed that a fair and mutual accommodation had been reached. We have heard nothing from the plaintiff since then. We are disappointed that the plaintiff chose not to contact us before pursuing litigation, especially given the centrality of conflict resolution to our mission. The Western Justice Center empowers people to resolve conflicts and to address forms of bias that often underlie those conflicts.”

Caso acknowledged that PRC did not try to contact WJC to resolve the situation before pursuing litigation but argued that they didn’t need to do so.

“There’s no requirement to contact,” Caso said. “Basically, what [WJC] did is they gave the money back for the contract, the $190. That’s all that they did. They didn’t apologize, they didn’t say they wouldn’t do it again, they didn’t open up the facility and they didn’t promise to obey the Constitution.”

Caso said the city is also responsible because it gives WJC “the authority to rent the [Maxwell House] out, but is not providing guidance or supervision at all. Just like the city can’t delegate it to an employee and not provide any oversight. It is city property, so the Western Justice Center is operating on express city authority as to how to do the rentals.”

On KPCC’s “AirTalk with Larry Mantle,” Eastman said that if the city were to rent the Maxwell House out as a public forum, “there’s no question constitutionally it would be required to lease it out without discriminating on the basis of viewpoint. The real question is, by signing a dollar-a-month lease, can it avoid those constitutional duties and pass the buck to a nonprofit organization to do the discriminating for it? I don’t believe it can do so.

“The Western Justice Center has some decisions it’s going to have to make,” he continued. “If they want to continue to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint, they can’t do that with sweetheart deals using publicly owned facilities. If they want to continue serving as an agent of the city, renting out this spectacular facility for community organizations’ meetings, then they have to comply with the Constitution just like the city does.”

PRC is seeking a declaration that WJC and the city of Pasadena “violated the free speech and religious rights of [PRC] and its members” and that they “acted with malice, oppression and wanton and intentional disregard for the law.”

PRC is also seeking an injunction prohibiting the city of Pasadena from “allowing [WJC] to decide which organizations may or may not hold events at city-owned property” and prohibiting the WJC or any of its agents from “discriminating against organizations in the use of city-owned facilities based on the viewpoint of the speaker or the religious viewpoint or affiliation of the speaker.”

PRC is also seeking damages for “emotional distress suffered by members of the [PRC]” and punitive damages against WJC for “action with malice, oppression and wanton disregard for the law in engaging political viewpoint and religious belief discrimination,” as well as attorneys’ fees.

“The main thing we’d like to see is that the Western Justice Center not have the opportunity to continue to violate the Constitution, that this go over to the city or some other mechanism so we can ensure that the Constitution gets obeyed,” said Caso. “One alternative of the relief that we’re asking for is that the court order Pasadena to take over the task of deciding who can and cannot use the property, rather than the Western Justice Center.”

No court hearings have been scheduled for the case yet, but Caso expects the first one to happen in January or February.

“We were just served [Monday, Dec. 3] and are reviewing the complaints,” Lisa Derderian, the city’s public information officer, wrote in an email in response to a request for comment from the city.

The complaint alleged that by waiting until the last minute to cancel PRC’s event, “Chirlin, acting on behalf of [WJC] and the city of Pasadena, sought to ensure that the event could not be held at all and to impose the maximum level of inconvenience for [PRC]. These actions constitute willful and wanton misconduct. As a retired California judge, Chirlin is presumably aware of the provisions of the United States Constitution and was therefore aware that the action she took on behalf of [WJC] was unconstitutional.”

Eastman said on “AirTalk” that WJC should have known better.

“The folks on the Western Justice Center board, including the executive director who did this, are judges or former judges,” Eastman told Mantle. “They ought to have known their constitutional obligations.
Turning the tables

Rep. Adam Schiff, incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee, discusses the Democrats’ plans once they take control of the House of Representatives next month

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 12/13/2018

President Donald Trump’s political life will drastically change come Jan. 3 when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in the 116th Congress. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), whose district includes part of Pasadena, will become the chair of the House Intelligence Committee. A former federal prosecutor, Schiff has vowed to follow up on the leads in the Russia investigation that Republicans ignored when they were the majority in the House.

The day after the election, Trump essentially fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with loyalist Matt Whitaker, who has criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Schiff called Whitaker “Trump’s Roy Cohn,” a reference to the combative lawyer for both Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the communist witch hunts of the 1950s, and for Trump in the 1970s. Schiff wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Nov. 12 that Whitaker’s appointment “represents the president’s most direct challenge yet to the rule of law. The new Democratic majority will protect the special counsel and the integrity of the Justice Department.”

On Nov. 18, Trump tweeted, “So funny to see little Adam Schitt [sic] talking about the fact that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was not approved by the Senate, but not mentioning the fact that Bob Mueller (who is highly conflicted) was not approved by the Senate!”

Special counsels do not need to be approved by the Senate, but attorneys general do, per the Constitution. Last week, Trump nominated former Attorney General William Barr to return to the position. Meanwhile, Mueller’s investigation is picking up speed with recent sentencing memos filed on Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

“There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him,” Schiff said Sunday on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “He may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.”

Schiff recently spoke with the Pasadena Weekly to discuss the new power dynamic in Washington, how Democrats plan to hold the Trump administration accountable and what’s next for the Russia investigation.

Pasadena Weekly: What message do you think voters sent on Election Day?

Rep. Adam Schiff: They sent a message that they want to place a check and balance on this administration. They want Congress to be focused on bread and butter issues, like how families make ends meet and keeping the cost of health care within reason. But also that they don’t want this president to have unrestricted power, that he’s just too unstable and too inclined to tear up the foundations of our democratic institutions.

What are your main priorities when Democrats take control of the House, and what can they get done with control of just one branch?

Our first priority is going to be to offer a positive agenda for the country that addresses the economic changes that are going on, that makes sure more Americans have an opportunity to live the American Dream, that brings down the cost of prescription drugs. But I also think that we’re going to need to do oversight that has been lacking for the last two years. There’s not a great expectation that our legislative agenda will get through the Senate, but we do want to be able to show the country the priorities that we have if they entrust us with the full government in 2020. On the oversight side of things, there are numerable allegations of corruption and malfeasance within the administration. We’re going to have to prioritize; we aren’t going to be able to look into everything that has come to our attention. We’ll have to look at the most serious matters first. It’s everything from the ties between the Trump campaign and Russia to the president’s potential efforts to use the instruments of state power to censor the press by raising postal rates on Amazon to go after the Washington Post, to holding up the merger of CNN’s parent to punish CNN, to violations of the emolument clause. We just saw reports yesterday of how much the Saudis were spending at Trump hotels to curry favor with the Trump administration. There are a whole range of important oversight priorities.

What can Democrats, Republicans and the Trump administration work together on in the New Year?

The country could badly use an investment in infrastructure. That would be good for the economy, it would help put Americans back to work, it would certainly help repair a lot of our decaying roads and bridges and highways and renewable energy infrastructure and airports, and that ought to be completely nonpartisan. So that’s a fruitful area to work together. The president at times has indicated interest in working to bring the cost of prescription drugs down. If he’s willing to buck some of the people in his own administration to work with Democrats on it, we can find common ground there. There are any number of opportunities for us to get things done for the American people. I hope the president will be open to doing that.

What are some of the leads or witnesses in the Russia investigation that the Republicans refused to follow up on that you will follow up on come January?

One that I’m particularly concerned about is the allegations that the Russians were laundering money through the Trump Organization. We know the Trump Organization was lying about its efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, efforts that continued through the middle of 2016, and efforts in which the Trump Organization sought to enlist the help of the Kremlin and offer Putin a penthouse suite, reportedly, but we don’t know whether the financial ties are much broader than that. If the Russians were laundering money through the Trump Organization that would be powerful leverage they would have over the president of the United States. So that certainly is a priority. There are any number of investigative threads that we were pursuing when the Republicans abruptly ended their participation in the investigation, so we want to make sure the job is done with thoroughness.

Have you seen any indication that the acting attorney general has interfered with the Mueller investigation, and are you worried that Bill Barr will interfere if he is confirmed?

We have no visibility into what role Whitaker is playing, and that’s of grave concern. He auditioned for the part by bashing the Mueller investigation and talking about how he can secretly suffocate the investigation. We will work hard to expose any involvement that he has as long as he’s with the Justice Department. In terms of Barr, he’s made some concerning remarks about not only the Mueller team but also he’s given credence to the president’s efforts to prosecute his political rivals and reopen the Uranium One investigation. Those things are deeply concerning, but I don’t put Barr in the same category as Whitaker. Barr is plainly qualified and has already been attorney general; he was a fairly mainstream and conservative attorney general. Were it not for the concerning comments he’s made about the Mueller investigation and the Clinton investigation, I would have far fewer reservations. But these are things that need to be explored during his confirmation hearings.

What can Democrats do to protect the Mueller investigation?

Once we get the gavel, we’ll be able to bring Whitaker before Congress and demand to find out what role he has played in the Mueller investigation, whether he was given and is abiding by an ethics opinion from the Justice Department, whether he’s shared any information he has gleaned about the investigation with the president or the president’s lawyers. He’s going to have to answer all of those questions and more. We ought to take up and pass legislation to protect Mueller, but that’s something that the Senate majority leader has refused to do. We’re going to try to get that done as part of our final budget talks, but I don’t know how optimistic to be about that. We can certainly end the attacks on the integrity of the Justice Department and the FBI that have come out of the House Intelligence Committee during the Nunes period. That will stop in January.

Do you think Mueller is delaying submitting his final report to the Justice Department until the Democrats have taken control of the House in January, or is the investigation just ongoing? Will House Democrats use their subpoena power to try to force the Trump administration to make the report public, if it is suppressed?

I don’t think his timing is determined by the change in the majority. I think there are other factors at work that are influencing the timing, including potentially the appointment of Whitaker may have accelerated the timetable. There are certain things that we should be doing to assist the Mueller investigation, and the Republicans have refused. We will certainly have to take that up in January, that is, we will be making the interview transcripts of our witnesses [before the House Intelligence Committee] available to Mueller for consideration as to whether witnesses should be charged with perjury. That may or may not influence the timing of charging decisions with respect to some of the subjects of the investigation. In terms of whether the report will be made public, I think we ought to make as much public as possible. We should be as transparent as possible. This is simply too important to be swept under the rug. It’s going to be the responsibility of Congress to make sure there is a full accounting.

It seems like if any other president had done what we already know this president has done they would be impeached. What is it going to take to hold this president accountable? And have you seen or do you know of evidence that the president, his family members, or his inner circle have committed wrongdoing?

What we are seeing every day as the president continues to attack the Mueller investigation and dangle pardons in front of potentially cooperating witnesses or a harsh sentence for those who testify against him, is that he is willfully trying to interfere in the investigation and he’s doing it in broad daylight. The effect of that is to numb the public to just what a breach of the democratic norms of office we are seeing. Ultimately, for an impeachment to be successful it will need to be bipartisan, otherwise you might be able to impeach the president in the House but you’ll never be able to convict him in the Senate. What it will take is we will have to wait and see what Mueller reports. His conclusion and the evidence of that report would have to be sufficient to convince the country that the president’s conduct was so incompatible with the office that he needed to be removed. That’s a very high bar, and it’s properly a high bar under any circumstance because it’s an extraordinary remedy. It would require a great many Americans around the country to view the president’s conduct not through a partisan lens, but through the lens of whether what he’s doing is consistent with our Constitution. We simply have to wait and see what Mueller produces and then determine what the consequences should be.

What’s next for you? Are you going to run for president?

What’s next for me is really getting to work on the parts of this investigation the Republicans were unwilling to undertake and providing a check on this president. Whatever comes after that, I don’t know at this point. I’ve got more than enough on my plate as it is.
Going green

Pasadena officials will soon be accepting permit applications for commercial cannabis businesses

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 12/13/2018

Following the statewide legalization of recreational cannabis by California voters in 2016, Pasadena officials are finally ready to accept applications for permits for those who wish to operate legal commercial cannabis dispensaries in the city.

In June, Pasadena voters approved Measure CC, which lifted the city’s self-imposed ban on cannabis dispensaries, with nearly 60 percent of the vote. City officials put that measure on the ballot because they would have been preempted by a citizen-led ballot measure in November that proposed to allow current illegal operators to get legal permits.

“The Pasadena residents voted on rules and regulations to allow limited commercial cannabis in the city and approved a taxation process and percentage,” David Reyes, Pasadena’s director of planning and community development, wrote in an email to the Pasadena Weekly. “It took over a year to get the regulations established based on an evaluation of various other cities to establish best practices for our city. The whole process is a great story in terms of where we started and where we are.”

Selective, Regulated & Costly

The city’s final regulations, based on public input at several community meetings over the past year, will allow a total of six permits for retail cannabis dispensaries within city limits, with only one allowed in any given council district. The regulations also allow four permits for cultivation centers and four permits for testing labs within the city, for a total of 14 potential businesses. About 300 people attended a public meeting the city hosted on Nov. 13 to provide information about the upcoming application process.

The retail and cultivation locations will be allowed in commercial and industrial zones and must also be 600 feet away from K-12 schools, residential zones, libraries, parks, substance abuse centers and other cannabis retailers and cultivators. Smoking, ingesting or other consumption of cannabis onsite will be prohibited. Hours of operation will be limited to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

The regulations include other conditions, such as strictly controlled entrances with a buzz-in system, exterior signage standards and an advanced ventilation system. The retail space of any given dispensary will be limited to 15,000 square feet and cultivation space will be limited to 30,000 square feet.

Testing labs will only be allowed in zoning districts where laboratories are permitted and must be 500 feet away from cannabis retailers and cultivators. The labs must also comply with all state-mandated testing procedures, destroy any cannabis that does not comply with the state Bureau of Cannabis Control’s health and safety standards, and install advanced ventilation systems.

The Pasadena City Council retains the authority to make amendments to the ordinance in the future.

The application period opens Jan. 1 and closes at 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 31. The first-round nonrefundable application fee per permit type is $13,654. Once approved, applicants will then have to apply for a Conditional Use Permit and get approved by the Planning Commission. That second round fee is $10,639, for a total of $24,293.

According to Lisa Derderian, the city’s public information officer, Pasadena’s fees are higher than some other cities — Long Beach, for instance, charges up to $8,621—but reflect the amount staff said it needs to recoup the costs of developing the regulations, plus cover administrative expenses associated with running the program going forward.

“We are hoping we will break even,” she said. “[The city is] not making money off this process.”

After the application period closes, city staff will screen, review and score applications by March 31 and notify top applicants by April 15. Throughout spring 2019, top applicants will obtain city land use permits. In the summer, top applicants will obtain their city business licenses and non-transferable cannabis permits. By the end of 2019, finalists will obtain their state licenses and open for business.

The city plans to utilize a “merit-based approach to selecting which applicants will receive the cannabis permits,” according to city documents. The review criteria will consider applicants’ business plan, neighborhood compatibility and enhancement, security plan and the qualifications of the owner and operators. Applicants do not need to have already secured a physical location in order to apply.

Cracking Down

Meanwhile, the city continues to try to shut down existing cannabis dispensaries that are operating illegally. As of June, there were 19 such cannabis dispensaries operating in the city, officials told the Weekly at the time. In 2017, the city began shutting off utilities at illegal dispensaries in an effort to drive them out, following months of trying to get them to comply by other means.

“We shut down two [illegal dispensaries] in the last month,” Derderian said in November. “I know there are a few more out there. We are working with our city prosecutor’s office and our Police Department with the intent to close them all so that those who want to legally and officially apply for the permits abide by that process knowing that there are no illegal ones still in operation. We’ve been trying for several years to get many of them to comply and it hasn’t been effective, so we’re going to have to take legal action and close them down.”

Under Measure CC and the city’s subsequent regulations, those who have operated an illegal dispensary in the city after Nov. 6, 2017, will not be allowed to apply for a legal permit.

Also in June, more than 75 percent of Pasadena voters also approved Measure DD, which allows the city to levy a business license tax on commercial cannabis businesses of up to $10 per canopy square foot for cultivation and between 4 to 6 percent of gross receipts for retail sales. Combined with state taxes, the maximum total taxing rate would be approximately 30 percent. According to a presentation on Nov. 13 by Perry Banner, a contract planner in the city’s Planning and Community Development Department, the intent of the cannabis business tax is “to generate proceeds to offset [administrative] costs, not balance the [city’s] General Fund budget.”

The money, city documents state, will fund “general municipal services such as police and code enforcement services necessary for the proper administration of the regulations, as well as promote health education regarding the dangers of smoking cannabis, particularly to young people.”

In May, the Pasadena Public Health Department launched a campaign to inform the public about the health effects of cannabis use, as well as the consequences of driving under the influence.

Real heroes in a half shell

Patagonia's Old Pas store helps protect desert tortoises—sentinels of the Mojave

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 11/29/2018

The tortoise population in the Mojave Desert is under threat. The main culprit? Humans.

That’s the message Cody Hanford, executive director of Transition Habitat Conservancy (THC), told a packed house on Nov. 9 at Patagonia’s store in Old Pasadena about threats desert tortoises face and ongoing conservation efforts. Founded in Ventura, Patagonia sells sustainable outdoor clothing and gear for travel, climbing, trail running, hiking, fly fishing and snow sports.

Last year, Patagonia’s Pasadena store selected THC as one of its grantees in its Action Works Retail Grants Program to help support their tortoise conservation efforts. The $9,500 annual grant goes toward THC’s native food gardens, a low-cost and low-effort habitat enhancement project that helps assist tortoise survival.

“Patagonia is an amazingly philanthropic corporation,” said Hanford. “They’re really showing how a business could be run. They do a request for proposals for grants and then the staff at that store looks through them and picks what they want. They want to be told of an environmental or climate problem, and what we might do to help it. They were not interested in funding a research grant; they want boots-on-the-ground impact, tipping the scales toward assisting the environment.”

Romeo Lodia, who runs the grants program at the Pasadena store, said each Patagonia store gets a fixed budget from the parent company per fiscal year, which runs from May through April. Organizations that apply through Patagonia’s website get funneled to the store closest to where they operate. Lodia said the Pasadena store selected THC for a grant last fiscal year and this fiscal year, which runs through April.

“It’s a democratic process,” Lodia said. “Each employee for that specific fiscal year gets to vote on the proposal and then we come up with a good number as far as the amount to give that group.”

Nearly Extinct

The native food garden project involves angling corrugated metal sheets on the desert floor to concentrate falling water into one area to trigger native annuals to bloom, a main staple in the tortoise’s diet, rather than invasive plants. The result is that the target area receives more moisture at up to a 10:1 ratio.

“We’re always thinking of these outside-the-box approaches to help the tortoises,” said Hanford. “To our knowledge, nothing like this has ever been done. We were going for a low-cost, low-management solution. It wouldn’t be that effective if we came up with this expensive, labor-intensive way to save the tortoises because who’s going to do it? The idea is to give the tortoises a leg up in these really trying times.”

Patagonia Pasadena’s 12 other grantees include local environmental organizations, such as the Arroyo Seco Foundation and the Arroyo & Foothills Conservancy. THC, headquartered in Piñon Hills near Palmdale on the other side of the Angeles National Forest from Pasadena, is a nonprofit organization that focuses on land acquisitions and habitat stewardship in the West Mojave Desert. The conservancy has acquired over 7,000 acres of land and works to improve thousands of additional acres in Southern California.

The California desert tortoise, or Gopherus agassizii, is the official state reptile and functions as a flagship, umbrella and indicator species found in southeastern California, western Arizona, southern Nevada and southwestern Utah. Along with Gopherus morafkai, found east of the Colorado River in Arizona and in the Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa, the two desert tortoise species inform scientists about the health of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts — and the prognosis isn’t good.

Before white settlers arrived in the Southwest, there were between 50 to 300 desert tortoises per square mile. Now there are fewer than five on average per square mile, and often less than that. The population has decreased by 90 percent since the 1980s. They are effectively extinct in certain historic territories such as the Victorville, Palmdale and Lancaster areas. They have been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1990, making it illegal to harass, collect or harm tortoises with penalties of up to $50,000 in fines and one year in prison. Military bases in the desert all have tortoise conservation programs because of its federally protected status.

“The tortoise tells us so much about the health of the desert,” said Dr. Kristin Berry, a research biologist and ecologist specializing in desert tortoises who works for the US Geological Survey. “It’s a sentinel of the well-being of our environment. The tortoise can be spokesanimal, so to speak, for the desert.”

Human Threat

Berry’s remarks were part of the Mojave Project, an experimental transmedia documentary led by Kim Stringfellow, an associate professor at San Diego State University, exploring the physical, geological and cultural landscape of the Mojave Desert. The Mojave Project is part of Fulcrum Arts’ EMERGE Program, formerly known as the Pasadena Arts Council and still based in Pasadena. Stringfellow wrote in a KCET article that Berry is “the person perhaps most credited with gaining protection of Gopherus agassizii under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“Urbanization, mining, agriculture, livestock grazing, tract home subdivisions, military land use, industrial solar and wind installations and recreational spillover from greater Los Angeles is rampant [in the desert],” wrote Stringfellow. “The issue [of livestock on tortoise habitat land] ignited the 2014 Cliven Bundy standoff in Bunkerville, Nevada, when rancher Bundy — who stopped paying grazing fees to the federal government in 1993, while continuing to illegally graze his cattle on public land — refused to remove them from the Gold Butte area of southern Nevada. The [Bureau of Land Management’s] planned roundup of his livestock backfired when armed militia groups and individuals showed up in support of Bundy, eventually forcing authorities to release 300 of his confiscated cattle back onto public land on April 12, 2014.”

There are many reasons for the tortoise’s decline, all of them directly or indirectly related to humans. Respiratory disease is the primary culprit; tortoises in captivity that are released back into the wild spread bacteria that makes wild tortoises lose their appetite and sense of smell. Poaching, cattle grazing and the increasing development of desert towns, roads, power lines and industrial wind and solar panels also threaten their habitat. Translocating tortoises has also been found to be disruptive and ineffective.

The popularity of Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) such as dirt bikes and quads has exploded in the last 20 years, especially in tortoise habitat areas. And climate change is making conditions too hot and dry, even in the desert.

Ravens are particularly challenging. The nonnative birds, which eat baby tortoises, have increased in the desert by 1,000 percent since the 1970s. There is a 95 percent mortality rate in the tortoise’s first five years of life, because they have to live to six in order for their shells to be raven-proof. Ravens have increasingly been subsidized in the desert by humans, who leave trash and build power lines where they nest.

Protecting ‘Mini-Dinosaurs’

Hanford said THC and many other conservation groups are working to mitigate the impacts of these threats to desert tortoises, which he calls “mini-dinosaurs.” Indeed, the turtle form dates back 220 million years to the late Triassic Period. Wild desert tortoises can live up to 50 years and captive tortoises can live to 100. They hibernate from about October to March every year and spend up to 98 percent of their lives underground in burrows that they dig, which help support about 30 other species such as lizards, snakes and rabbits. Their extinction “would have a ripple effect across the desert,” said Hanford.

In addition to purchasing land to permanently conserve, THC works closely with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), other government agencies and other tortoise conservation groups to come up with creative solutions to protect this critical species. Those solutions include placing solar and wind installations in areas of the desert that are already disrupted, rather than disrupting new areas; erasing unofficial dirt roads that OHVs create; and using a 3D printer to create fake baby tortoise shells to discourage ravens from eating them.

Hanford, originally from Tennessee, has been doing desert conservation work in California since 2003. He led desert restoration crews for the Student Conservation Association and worked as an environmental and land acquisition consultant for nonprofits, land trusts and federal, state and local agencies. In 2015, he started working fulltime for THC and became the conservancy’s executive director in 2016.

Conservation Ambassadors

There are several steps that visitors to the desert can take to minimize their impact on tortoises, Hanford said.

“First, do no harm,” he said. “Assume that if you’re in the Mojave Desert, you’re in tortoise habitat. Drive very carefully, and on official roads only. Don’t rescue tortoises that don’t need rescuing. Zoos and national parks are handed tortoises all the time by seemingly well-intentioned folks. Move it if it’s on the highway, but once you’ve taken it into your car, that tortoise is probably not going to be in the wild anymore, which is a loss for them. Consider your impacts with ravens: your trash subsidizes them. And finally, vote with the environment in mind.”

Hanford and other tortoise experts also recommend adopting tortoises that are already in captivity. Captive desert tortoises cannot be returned to the wild because they develop and spread respiratory diseases.

“Adopting tortoises is not going to save the tortoises in the wild, but what it does do is it keeps their spirit and plight alive and front and center,” said Hanford. “People get exposure to them, so they serve as ambassadors.”

About 200 desert tortoises need to be adopted in Southern California, according to Linda Crawford, adoptions chair of the Foothills Chapter of the California Turtle & Tortoise Club, which coordinates adoptions in San Gabriel Valley. That chapter meets at 7:30 p.m. on the fourth Friday of every month in the Palm Room at the LA County Arboretum, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia. Learn more at

Vote like the future of your children depends on it

by Kevin Uhrich, Pasadena Weekly, Nov. 1, 2018

Before endorsing candidates and measures appearing on Tuesday’s ballot, we decided to share some happy Pasadena Weekly news.

First, we welcome to the world Sienna Mercy Chapman, born last week to longtime PW contributors Justin Chapman and Mercedes Blackehart. It seems like only yesterday that Justin was a student at PCC and freelancing for PW. Soon after that, he became the youngest person elected to the Altadena Town Council before heading off to UC Berkeley. Since they’ve been together, Mercedes has been a freelance photographer for the paper. Congratulations to you both.

Many of our readers remember PW Deputy Editor Joe Piasecki, who is now editor of one of our sister publications, The Argonaut, covering LA’s West Side. Joe and Kelly Corrigan, a digital editor for the LA Times, recently married in a grand ceremony full of family and friends at a church in Montrose. We wish both of you love, joy and happiness in your lives together.

Finally, Rashi Kesarwani, who contributed to the paper in 2007, is a candidate for the Berkeley City Council. Who knew? Now married and mother of a newborn son, Austin, Rashi is a 2005 graduate of Brown University who earned her master’s degree in public policy from UC Berkeley in 2012. That city would do well to have Rashi among its council members.

Speaking of babies, Ted Uhrich, the PW editor’s son, and his wife Dorene are expecting again. Their adorably loquacious 3-year-old, Kedt, is anxiously waiting to meet his little sister on Dec. 1.

And Amaré Thompson, who turned 2 in August, just moved to France to be near his dad, who plays pro basketball there. Little Mars, grandson of PW Office Manager Ann Turrietta, stays in touch with Grandma via FaceTime.

Regarding the election, Republican and Democrat alike would acknowledge that the country is in trouble right now, with the potential to go well beyond the constitutional crises caused by Watergate. War seems more imminent than ever, and portions of our planet are aflame as other regions sink further under water. This is the world that our families and friends will inherit, and this is why elections matter.

On Tuesday, California voters will choose a new governor and lieutenant governor, and decide on the offices of secretary of state, attorney general, controller, treasurer, insurance commissioner and superintendent of schools. There is also a full slate of state propositions. At the county level, Sheriff Jim McDonnell is up for re-election, and Measure W asks for a parcel tax to collect, clean and store rainwater runoff.

In the race for governor, we can’t really think of much Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s done in the legislative and political arena. Let’s just say Jerry Brown he’s not. Unfortunately, however, the same could be said of his opponent. With white supremacy on the rise and the republic teetering on the brink of calamity, now is not the time for division here at home. Vote for Gavin Newsom. Also Vote for Jim McDonnell and Vote Yes on Measure W.

Pasadena voters also have one US Senate race, two House contests and two ballot initiatives to weigh.

Her opponent may be right, that it’s time for US Sen. Dianne Feinstein, now 85, to step aside. But he is not the one to replace her. Feinstein’s done some stellar things while in office, and she remains a champion of core democratic values. Vote for Dianne Feinstein.

In the 28th Congressional District, Congressman Adam Schiff, a former federal prosecutor whose district includes portions of Pasadena, has been extremely adept at holding President Trump accountable. Vote for Adam Schiff.

Congresswoman Judy Chu of the 27th District has been a fighter for health care, gun control, labor rights and equal rights. Vote for Judy Chu.

Measure I is a three-quarter cent sales tax hike expected to raise $21 million a year for the city and go toward improving public safety and financing after-school programs, among other things. Vote Yes on Measure I.

Measure J is an advisory measure which asks if the city should give the Pasadena school district a third of those funds. Don’t punish the children for the mistakes of the adults. Instead, replace the district’s leaders with people who can actually do the job. Vote Yes on Measure J.

Proposition 6 would repeal a state gas tax used for infrastructure improvements. Yes, it’s a regressive tax, but we all drive and contribute to the problem. Vote No on Proposition 6.

Proposition 10 would repeal a state law prohibiting local communities from enacting their own rent control ordinances. Landlords didn’t have to raise rents so much, but they did, mostly because they could, thus creating much of the homeless and housing crisis we are now experiencing. Vote Yes on Proposition 10.

This Tuesday, vote for public safety, affordable housing and education because the quality of life for you and your kids really does depend on it. 

Sibling synchronicity

Council considers approving Dakar-Plateau in Africa as Pasadena’s sixth sister city

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 8/23/2018

Pasadena may form its first sister city relationship with an African city Monday when the City Council considers adopting Dakar-Plateau, Senegal, with a population of nearly 37,000, covering an area of 1.93 square miles, and serving as the political, financial and commercial center of the country’s capital of greater Dakar.

While discussions to form a Sister Cities relationship with an African city have been ongoing for at least 20 years, efforts ramped up in 2015 when the Sister Cities Committee created a 15-member ad hoc committee on Africa and appointed Boualem Bousseloub as its chair. Bousseloub is a Pasadena resident who was born in Algiers and has lived in Paris, Albi, Bruges and Sacramento.

Pasadena has established five other Sister Cities partnerships, including with Ludwigshafen, Germany, in 1948; Mishima – Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, in 1957; Järvenpää, Finland, in 1983; Vanadzor, Armenia, in 1991; and Xicheng District – Beijing, China, in 1999.

The idea of partnering cities grew out of the Twin Town concept in Europe in 1946 following World War II. Ludwigshafen was selected in 1948 by the Pasadena branch of the American Friends Service Committee. America’s involvement came in 1956 following President Dwight Eisenhower’s White House conference on citizen diplomacy, out of which grew Sister Cities International (SCI). Pasadena formally established its Sister Cities chapter in 1960.

Traveling to Dakar-Plateau

From March 21 to April 1, Bousseloub led a delegation composed of four members of the ad hoc committee on Africa, Pasadena Councilman and Vice Mayor John Kennedy and Honorary Consul of Senegal in Los Angeles Mame Toucouleur Mbaye, on a fact-finding mission to Dakar-Plateau. There they met with community leaders, including the mayor of Dakar-Plateau and member of the country’s Socialist Party, Alioune Ndoye, to determine the feasibility of forming a sisterhood with that city.

The delegation visited schools, youth centers, museums, the chamber of commerce, the Port of Dakar, the island of Gorée (the infamous gateway of slavery to the Western Hemisphere), the National Assembly, the US Embassy and other locations.

“Mayor Ndoye was with us from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of our delegation, as was a cameraman from a private TV station,” said Bousseloub. “Everywhere we went we were received with great interest and warmth by officials as well as the citizens of Dakar-Plateau.”

Senegal is one of the most stable democracies in Africa. According to the BBC, for example, it is the “only country on mainland West Africa never to have had a military coup.” Although it is 96 percent Muslim, the country is also tolerant of other religions. Easter and Christmas are government holidays, for instance, and Muslim residents often have Christmas trees in their homes. Officials at the US Embassy also informed the Pasadena delegation that while Senegal is a conservative society, it is making positive progress on LGBTQ rights and there have been no recent active persecutions against LGBTQ people.

Senegal is not without its political turmoil, however. Dakar-Plateau is one of 19 district communes of greater Dakar, with each district commune having its own city government. In March, as the Pasadena delegation was touring Dakar-Plateau, the mayor of Dakar, Khalifa Sall, was sentenced to five years in jail for embezzling $3.4 million and falsifying documents. Sall and Dakar’s city government would not be involved in a Sister Cities relationship between Dakar-Plateau and Pasadena.

Identifying a Sister City

Before settling on Dakar-Plateau, the ad hoc committee explored other possibilities on the continent. They preferred a region that had an English-speaking population, no war or epidemics and a democratic political system that respected human and civil rights. They considered all 54 countries before narrowing the list down to three: South Africa, Ghana and Ethiopia.

They first approached Cape Town, South Africa, but after several months of waiting, Mayor Patricia De Lille informed the committee that Cape Town was only interested in investors, not a formal Sister Cities relationship. The cities of Durban and Port Elizabeth expressed interest, but did not follow up.

In June 2017, Senegal’s Honorary Consul in LA Mame Mbaye unexpectedly called Bousseloub and they discussed the possibility of a Sister Cities relationship with a city in Senegal. On June 18, 2017, Bousseloub gave an invitation letter to Mbaye, who delivered it to Ndoye in Dakar-Plateau. On July 13, 2017, Ndoye wrote back accepting the offer.

“Aware of the extraordinary exchange and collaboration opportunities between our two cities, we express our full support for this project,” Ndoye wrote.

The Importance of Exchange

Bousseloub and Jim Barry, a member of the ad hoc committee who lived in Senegal for five years, are optimistic that the Pasadena City Council will approve their proposal. They pointed out that the Sister Cities Committee overwhelmingly approved it.

Bousseloub also pointed out that Dakar-Plateau has a wealth of museums, a UNESCO World Heritage site, strong infrastructure such as its new airport and port, popular cultural festivals, financial institutions and youth programs. The presidential palace, the country’s major banks and all of its top companies are located in Dakar-Plateau.

If the City Council approves the proposal on Monday, the two cities would exchange official delegations led by Ndoye and Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek and conduct signing ceremonies in each city.

Bousseloub then envisions extensive exchange opportunities between the two cities, including police officers, doctors, students, faculty and administrators of schools and universities, scientists, artists, musicians, business executives and athletes. Ultimately, he would like to see the creation of an annual Pan-African Market and Arts Festival at the Rose Bowl, and invite all of the African consulates in LA to participate.

“People on the West Coast of the United States have so little contact with Africa compared to people on the East Coast of the United States,” Barry said, addressing why Pasadena needs a Sister Cities relationship with an African city.

Bousseloub agreed, pointing out that the African-American community is a sizable portion of Pasadena’s population.

“This is a time when African Americans are searching for their roots,” he said. “We look at Pasadena as a mosaic. We want to add a beautiful new tile to make it a comprehensive and beautiful mosaic. We have Sister Cities relationships with three Asian cities and two European cities. Well, there are no Central or South American cities, and there are no African cities. I think there is something there that needs to be done in the future.”

Pasadena just finished hosting two college students from Ludwigshafen, Germany, who interned at a Pasadena law firm and the Huntington Library. One of the students, Sophia Hoffman, who stayed with different host families in Pasadena and Altadena for five weeks, told the Pasadena Weekly about how meaningful this experience was for her.

“I’ve had a wonderful time here,” she said. “I am glad and thankful for having the chance to be here. The people of the exchange program are very welcoming and cordial. I will always remember my time in California and I am sure that I will come back.”

To learn more about Pasadena’s Sister Cities Committee, visit

Democracies Should Fight Sharp Power with Soft Power

Democracies are increasingly more vulnerable to the "sharp power" tactics of authoritarian regimes but should not adopt these same tactics in response, Joseph Nye and Shanthi Kalathil told Pacific Council members in the fourth installment of the 2018 Summer Teleconference Series, on the rise of authoritarianism

By Justin Chapman, Pacific Council on International Policy, 8/15/2018

Democracies are increasingly more vulnerable to the "sharp power" tactics of authoritarian regimes but should not adopt these same tactics in response, Dr. Joseph S. Nye, Jr., and Ms. Shanthi Kalathil told Pacific Council members in the fourth installment of the 2018 Summer Teleconference Series, on the rise of authoritarianism.

Nye is a University Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus, and former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University who is credited with coining the term “soft power.” Kalathil is the director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Jessica Ludwig, the research and conferences officer at the International Forum for Democratic Studies.

Listen to the full conversation below:

Nye defined soft power as resting on the ability to attract and sharp power on the ability to manipulate.

In November 2017, the National Endowment for Democracy released a report titled "Sharp Power": Rising Authoritarian Influence in the Democratic World which sought to understand why authoritarian regimes such as China and Russia were investing billions of dollars in efforts that might be typically regarded as forms of soft power to shape public opinions and perceptions around the world.

"Their initiatives were not necessarily aimed at winning hearts and minds in the general publics of the democracies, but instead they sought to manipulate the information environment by encouraging policy elites and thought leaders in the democracies to adopt particular narratives while at the same time acting to preempt, neutralize, and censor criticism of their regimes," said Ludwig. "We determined that a new term was needed. Whereas soft power tends to emerge in a more organic fashion from the values, cultures, and civic institutions of a society, ‘sharp power’ reflects the ability of authoritarian regimes to pierce, penetrate, or perforate the information environment and public sphere of targeted countries."

Nye pointed out that the rise of information technology has made sharp power much more important and effective today.

"While the rule of law and openness make democracies asymmetrically vulnerable, they are also critical values that we need to defend."

Joseph Nye

"In the 1990s, there was a lot of optimism that the internet would be marked by decentralized and democratic effects," said Nye. "President Clinton once argued that China’s efforts to censor the internet would be like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. But today, in the face of successful Chinese control of the internet and Russia’s interference in the 2016 American election, the democracies find themselves on the defensive."

He added that autocracies are able to protect themselves by controlling information while the openness of democracies create vulnerabilities that the autocracies can exploit through cyber information warfare. While this is not necessarily a new phenomenon, he argued that the speed and low cost of spreading disinformation has changed.

"Ironically, one of the causes of these vulnerabilities is the rise of social media and mobile devices," he said. "If you go back to George Orwell and his image of Big Brother, citizens now voluntarily carry Big Brother around in their pockets. Along with Big Data and artificial intelligence, technology has made the problem of defending democracy from information warfare far more complicated than was foreseen a decade ago. While the rule of law and openness make democracies asymmetrically vulnerable, they are also critical values that we need to defend."

"In China, the Communist Party is well aware that power depends not only on whose army wins but also on whose story wins."

Shanthi Kalathil

Kalathil argued that authoritarian regimes tend to project values externally that they live by internally. 

"When we examine the ways the major authoritarian regimes engage internationally we start to see how this manifests itself through what we call sharp power," she said. "In China, the Communist Party is well aware that power depends not only on whose army wins but also on whose story wins. For them, this means shutting down contending views, literally erasing those views from public discourse by coercion, if necessary, and restricting that voluntary component on which true soft power depends."

She pointed out that these tactics go beyond controlling the narrative within China, citing an example of African journalists working in Africa and hired by Chinese state media who were not allowed to report negatively about their own African governments.

Kalathil also argued that democracies do not yet know which metrics should be used to measure the success of autocracies’ sharp power efforts, noting that public approval or "winning hearts and minds" might not necessarily be the right metric, such as when measuring the success of soft power efforts.

"Today, in the face of successful Chinese control of the internet and Russia’s interference in the 2016 American election, the democracies find themselves on the defensive."

Joseph Nye

"How do you show self-censorship, for example?" she asked. "Also, people to people exchanges—which are usually considered some of the most fundamental ways by which countries can engage in soft power—can at times shade into sharp power. We in the democracies need to be fully aware of the conditions that surround our expectations for these exchanges and the expectations on the other side. For example, when Chinese students come to the United States, are they really free to speak their minds? Do they really feel as though they are getting the most out of that exchange experience without feeling some pressure to self-censor?"

Kalathil argued that democracies should live by their democratic values while calling out authoritarian behavior and avoid engaging in xenophobic activities that would diminish their true soft power. 

Both Nye and Kalathil said there needs to be greater transparency on the part of universities and other institutions in democracies who have partnerships with cultural institutions such as China’s Confucius Institute to determine whether benign cultural activities start becoming manipulative sources of sharp power.

"We shouldn’t kid ourselves that people in China can go against the wishes of the Communist Party," said Nye. "On the other hand, we benefit from having contact with Chinese students. We can slightly open their minds or give them broader perspectives. It doesn’t help us to close down these institutions, but we are going to have to monitor them more carefully. We have to set the value framework."

"Democracies need to get off the back foot and understand it’s not just a case of reinvigorating institutions that may have been effective during the Cold War, but rethinking how democracies can most effectively project their voices and define their values."

Shanthi Kalathil

Nye and Kalathil agreed that the closing of the U.S. Information Agency in the late 1990s was a mistake, noting that institutions such as USIA would be valuable instruments in the information warfare playing out today. Nye pointed out that USIA recognized that developing soft power takes time.

"The closing of USIA and other moments where the United States and other democracies retreated from that space were emblematic of that post-Cold War moment where the defining sentiment seemed to be, ‘Well, we won, so let’s pack it in,’" said Kalathil. “Now we’ve arrived at this post-post-Cold War moment. That’s a terrible term for it and we’re still trying to define what the current era is. Someone defined it as an era of ‘strategic competition between authoritarian regimes and democracies.’ If that’s the case, democracies need to get off the back foot and understand it’s not just a case of reinvigorating institutions that may have been effective during the Cold War, but rethinking how democracies can most effectively project their voices and define their values."


Justin Chapman is the Communications Officer at the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Learn more about the Summer Teleconference Series and read summaries of previous installments in the series.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Pacific Council.

The Domestication of International Affairs

AUGUST 13, 2018
By: Madison Jones McAleese, Justin Chapman, Foreign Policy News

In the span of just a few months, President Trump has made significant changes to the United States’ role in the international community. Trump removed the United States from the Iran Nuclear Deal and held discussions about creating a new deal with North Korea; he moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and recently removed the United States from the UN Human Rights Council, to name a few. Trump publicly praises Kim Jong-un and sides with Vladimir Putin while criticizing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the European Union.

The Trump administration has given new meaning to partnerships, deals, negotiations, treaties, understandings, covenants, and indeed all of international relations. What does this mean for the future of international affairs? How does the United States move forward within the liberal world order if our international institutions are being threatened?

First, we need to understand that international relations have very little to do with international issues. The administration seems keen on the domestication of international affairs—that is, making foreign policy decisions based on interests at home. Make no mistake, Trump’s recent policies are not made loosely; he is purposeful in his decision-making.

What’s best in Trump’s mind is not necessarily best for America. His general policy of "America First" would be more accurately stated as, "L’état, c’est moi": the state is me.

Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem appeases the evangelical base of conservatives who, in large numbers, helped to elect Trump. The newly imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum were created to protect the U.S. manufacturing industry, while withdrawing from the COP21 Paris Climate Agreement was a nod toward U.S. coal, petroleum, and natural gas groups.

The president’s close relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could explain his hardline stance against Iran, despite his softening on North Korea. Not to mention the personal glory, and potential financial gain, of achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The Trump administration is clearly making important international policy decisions to help garner political support from conservative Christians, donors, manufacturers, the fossil fuels industry, and more. He is domesticating what should be international.

But President Trump is not making feckless decisions. He is putting "America First" in his own mind. But what’s best in Trump’s mind is not necessarily best for America. His general policy of “America First” would be more accurately stated as, "L’état, c’est moi": the state is me.

It’s Trump versus the world. Not America versus the world.

In setting aside national security and long-term international competitiveness in order to answer to powerful lobbies at home, the president’s loyalty to these lobbies could undercut the importance of the international institutions we have worked so hard to build.

But this isn’t meant to be an anti-Trump diatribe. We must remember international policy has answered to domestic interests before. Isolationism and "America First" is not new. But the post-World War II order made way for a new paradigm of international engagement where the United States led on the global stage. We gave more credence to international institutions, cooperated with democratic allies, and put our trust in the diplomatic corps, our military, and intelligence agencies to carry out international relations in our best interests.

Under President Trump, he alone is running international relations and is acting on behalf of lobbies loyal to him.

In setting aside national security and long-term international competitiveness in order to answer to powerful lobbies at home, the president’s loyalty to these lobbies could undercut the importance of the international institutions we have worked so hard to build.

We propose a full court press. We must encourage our institutions to look beyond our own national interests. We can maintain America’s place in a world built on relationships and cooperation, striving towards peace. Public diplomacy can help us achieve these goals; regional leaders, like mayors, governors, business leaders, educators, and those in the arts and entertainment industry can fill that role.

Congressional leaders should speak to the importance of international institutions like the United Nations, and the significance of joining and adhering to multilateral agreements with our allies.

Local leaders like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Deputy Mayor for International Affairs Nina Hachigian are enhancing LA’s position on the global stage by promoting action on climate change, encouraging trade, and welcoming immigrants. New York City’s Office for International Affairs, led by Commissioner Penny Abeywardena, is focused on promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and connecting New Yorkers to the global diplomatic community. Cities like San Diego, Seattle, and Vancouver cooperate frequently, as do Miami and Havana, and El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. Here at the Pacific Council on International Policy, we are working to establish the West Coast as a foreign policy powerhouse.

There is an increased desire for cities to establish themselves globally, especially now as the United States finds itself isolated from the international community. But we need to do more. Congressional leaders must step up and speak to the great partnerships the United States has with the world by highlighting our alliances with Canada and Mexico. They should speak to the importance of international institutions like the United Nations, and the significance of joining and adhering to multilateral agreements with our allies.

And educators, artists, entertainers, and business leaders should do the same. Encourage international cooperation and engagement. Facilitate connections with our allies. Teach students about the global community. American interests can still be served, and even optimized, by collaboration with international actors.

L’état, c’est moi. But not for long.


Madison Jones is the Communications Associate at the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Justin Chapman is the Communications Officer at the Pacific Council on International Policy.

This article was originally published by Foreign Policy News. Also published by the Pacific Council.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Pacific Council.

Game on

Pasadena approves a 10-year soccer contract at the Rose Bowl as North America wins bid for 2026 World Cup

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 7/12/2018

Although the United States did not qualify for this year’s World Cup in Russia, soccer’s popularity in the United States — and especially in Pasadena — continues to explode.

On June 13, one day before kickoff of the first game of the World Cup between Russia and Saudi Arabia, the Federation International de Football Association (FIFA) announced that the 2026 World Cup will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The joint North American bid beat out Morocco by a vote of 134-65, mostly due to the fact that all of the necessary facilities already exist in North America, whereas Morocco would have to build several stadiums and improve infrastructure to the tune of $16 billion.

According to The New York Times, President Donald Trump sent three letters to FIFA President Gianni Infantino over the past couple of months promising that “foreign teams, officials and even fans will face no restrictions on entering the US for World Cup matches in 2026 if their countries qualify for the tournament” and that Trump’s “hard line stance on visas would not apply to the World Cup.” The Trump administration’s travel ban and immigration policies almost derailed the North American bid.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on the final game of this year’s World Cup in Russia. The final game between France and Croatia will be played at 8 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on Sunday, July 15, at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

Sweet 16

The North American bid promises to generate $11 billion in profits for FIFA. It could also be beneficial for Pasadena’s Rose Bowl.

According to stadium General Manager Darryl Dunn, the facility, along with 22 other venues, is a candidate to host soccer games during the global, newly expanded 48-team tournament in 2026. Sixteen venues will ultimately be chosen by FIFA in 2020.

“We’re hopeful,” said Dunn. “Our fingers are crossed.”

When the United States last hosted the World Cup in 1994, the final game between Italy and victorious Brazil was held at the Rose Bowl. Mexico hosted the 1970 and 1986 tournaments. The US-Canada-Mexico bid forecasts that revenues will reach $14.3 billion.

International soccer has carved out its place in the Rose Bowl. The stadium has hosted several national teams, as well as European club teams such as Inter Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid and others. It hosted an international soccer match in 2013, another in 2014, two in 2015, four in 2016 and one in 2017. This year, Mexico and Wales faced off on the Rose Bowl’s Spieker Field on Memorial Day, and July will see AC Milan take on Manchester United and FB Barcelona take on Tottenham Hotspur as part of the International Champions Cup.

Next year, the Rose Bowl will present at least two games during the regional 2019 Gold Cup tournament, hosted by the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). The Rose Bowl hosted the CONCACAF Gold Cup final in 2002 and 2011, a group stage doubleheader in 2013 and a semifinal in 2017. The stadium also hosted Brazil vs. Ecuador, Colombia vs. Paraguay, and Mexico vs. Jamaica during the 2016 Copa America Centenario, a North, Central and South American regional soccer tournament.

In fact, international soccer is critical for the long-term financial viability of the Rose Bowl, Dunn told Pasadena City Council members at their June 4 meeting. That night, the council unanimously approved a 10-year exclusivity contract with one of Southern California’s two Major League Soccer teams, LA Galaxy, and promoter Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which also produces the music festival Arroyo Seco Weekend, now in its second year at the Rose Bowl and Brookside Golf Course. The Rose Bowl Operating Co. and AEG are currently finalizing the contract’s language and are expected to sign it soon.

The other LA-based MLS team, LA Football Club, is a brand-new team with a brand-new stadium, the Banc of California Stadium in Exposition Park.

“Soccer is an essential piece [of the Rose Bowl’s financial viability],” Dunn told the Pasadena Weekly. “The Rose Bowl is the only venue in the world that has ever been the host of the gold medal match of the Olympics [in 1984] and the final matches of the men’s and women’s World Cups [in 1994 and 1999, respectively]. No one else has done it. Our history is second to none and we have the reputation of being the preeminent soccer venue in America. We want to build on that and strengthen that. Continuing to host high-level international soccer is very important for our future, which is the primary reason why we want to do this deal with AEG.”

The Rose Bowl will also likely host men’s and women’s semifinals and finals in soccer once again during the 2028 Olympics, to be hosted by Los Angeles. Dunn said that the RBOC had a handshake agreement with LA’s Olympic bid committee when it was aiming to host the Games in 2024.

“We’ve had some discussions [since Paris was awarded 2024 and LA was awarded 2028], and we do anticipate having the same events in 2028, but we need to finalize specifics related to that with the organizing committee,” Dunn said. “We’re cautiously optimistic that that’s going to happen. And certainly, our partnership with AEG is going to do nothing but make us — the Rose Bowl and therefore Pasadena — stronger.”

A Stronger Stadium

Pasadena’s contract with LA Galaxy and AEG stipulates that any soccer match with an expected attendance of 35,000 or more involving either of those two entities within the LA market must be offered to the Rose Bowl. In return, the Rose Bowl will involve AEG in all its soccer bookings. The agreement also allows for a higher license fee structure. Currently, the Rose Bowl earns about $165,000 per soccer match that it hosts; under the new agreement, the stadium will earn anywhere between $250,000 and $400,000 per match. Thirty percent of net revenues will go to AEG/LA Galaxy, excluding admission tax.

“We are confident that the minimum we will be able to generate [from special events such as international soccer games under this new agreement] is $300,000 per event,” said Dunn. “This is really an opportunity for the RBOC to give ourselves the best possible chance to continue to have soccer programming over the next 10 years.”

The increased soccer revenue will help offset the declining golf revenue that the RBOC relies on. Golf’s popularity is decreasing nationwide.

Jens Weiden, chief revenue officer of the RBOC, told council members that there is a real chance the Rose Bowl could be shut out of the soccer market if the city did not approve this contract.

“Over this 10-year span, that could represent millions of dollars in lost revenues for the RBOC,” Weiden said. “This deal will better align ourselves to hopefully book some of this programming. It could be said that outside of American football, our venue is known internationally as a soccer venue more than anything else. For us, soccer has been and will continue to be very important as far as programming and revenue for the RBOC. For a very long time, the Rose Bowl had very little competition in the market. That is changing.”

Weiden noted that the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum is currently undergoing a $300 million renovation that will be completed in 2019; the $350 million soccer-specific Banc of California Stadium opened earlier this year; and the $4 billion LA Stadium in Inglewood, which will be the home of the Chargers and the Rams and multiple other events, will open in 2020.

“Our landscape when it comes to attracting events, which is our business, has changed and is constantly changing,” he said. “AEG and LA Galaxy have been partners of the Rose Bowl for a very long time. When it comes to promoting a soccer match, you almost always partner with the local MLS team. This is because you need to be able to market and sell tickets, so you need to partner with somebody that has a database of people that buy soccer tickets in market.”

LA Galaxy, a founding member of MLS, first played at the Rose Bowl from 1996-2002.

“When we set out to renovate the stadium, this is precisely what we had in mind,” said Pasadena Councilman Victor Gordo. “Fortunately, we’re a couple steps ahead of the Inglewood stadium’s opening. That’s going to be the most expensive stadium in the history of this country — of the world, maybe. And they’re going to have to make up that $4 to $5 billion. They are going to be hungry for events, and they’re likely going to try to buy a lot of the business away from other stadiums. If we hadn’t done the work of renovating the stadium and positioning it ahead of time, we’d be in a world of hurt, potentially also losing UCLA. So I’d like to thank Darryl and his staff for having positioned the Rose Bowl in this way and giving us a fighting chance. This is the kind of deal that we need to drive for so that we’re not just responding to the market and trying to compete for very limited business.”

At the June 4 council meeting, Nina Chomsky, president of the Linda Vista-Annandale Association, questioned whether this deal represents “displacement creep,” meaning a gradual increase of large events at the Rose Bowl each year that are called “displacement events.” The city council has to approve any event over 15 per year. Dunn said they will reserve two displacement event slots for soccer each year over the 10-year period.

“Part of our agreement with AEG is anything over two, no matter what number it will be, would be subject to approvals by the city,” he said.