Piece by piece

As Pasadena celebrates the centennial of the 19th Amendment, activists say the right to vote was but one of many big victories needed for full gender equality

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 8/22/2019

Monday, Aug. 26, Women’s Equality Day, marks the 99th anniversary of ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote. 

In commemoration, two floats in the 2020 Rose Parade will celebrate the 100th anniversary and the history of the women’s suffrage movement: one produced by the city of South Pasadena, the other by a diverse group of Pasadena women and the National Women’s History Alliance, under the auspices of a nonprofit called Pasadena Celebrates 2020.

The theme of Pasadena Celebrates 2020’s float is “Years of Hope, Years of Courage,” with the tagline, “Upon Their Shoulders, We Won the Vote. Upon Our Shoulders, We Protect the Vote. We Celebrate and Build for the Future.” The theme of South Pasadena’s float is “Victory at Last.”


The theme of the 2020 Rose Parade is “The Power of Hope.” This year’s Tournament of Roses president, Laura Farber, is the third woman — and first Latina — to preside over the parade in its 131-year history.


Between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, California Pizza Kitchen restaurants in Pasadena, Santa Anita, Glendale, Burbank and Studio City will donate 20 percent of their proceeds toward building the Pasadena Celebrates 2020 float.

“There are still people who have trouble with the vote,” observed Martha Wheelock, who serves on Pasadena Celebrates 2020’s executive committee. “It’s keeping it both historical and how we feel we’re guardians of it. It’s not history; it’s still going on.”

'Unbossed and unbought'

The 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment will be August 2020, but Ellen Snortland — long-time Pasadena Weekly columnist, self-defense advocate, sexual assault survivor, author, playwright and filmmaker — wants to educate people ahead of time. That’s why, in addition to helping the Pasadena Celebrates 2020 float committee, she has curated an exhibit on the women’s suffrage movement in the north lobby of the Pasadena Central Library.

Martha Wheelock and Ellen Snortland

“1920 is the year we actually won the vote,” said Snortland. “People say, ‘Oh, they were given the vote.’ No, we weren’t given shit — yeah, we were given a lot of shit. It’s a big deal that women won the vote without having to kill anybody. Gandhi got his ideas of nonviolent social change from watching the women in the UK and the United States, and hardly anybody knows that. He saw them picketing and chaining themselves to the White House fence. They were just not putting up with the hypocrisy. President [Woodrow] Wilson was fighting a war to promote democracy in Europe and half of his population couldn’t vote.”

Her exhibit runs through Aug. 31 and features her personal collection, decades in the making, of dresses, books, photos, pamphlets, political cartoons, campaign buttons and other artifacts highlighting the major players and moments of the movement in the United States, as well as the UK suffragettes. Wheelock also donated some of her memorabilia with a focus on California. The exhibit will return to the library in December and March.

The exhibit pays tribute to several women and men who played key roles in the fight for women’s suffrage. For instance, one shelf displays a pair of ruby slippers, a nod to L. Frank Baum, who wrote the original “Wizard of Oz” series.

“I have been studying this long enough that I get connections that a lot of people aren’t aware of,” said Snortland. “For instance, this woman, Matilda Joslyn Gage, was one of the most radical of the radicals, and that’s why you’ve never heard of her. She said it’s the patriarchal religions that have the feet on our necks, and that was just not going to fly in her time. However, she influenced her son-in-law, L. Frank Baum, to be not only someone who was interested in having a female protagonist, Dorothy, but to be a suffragist himself who promoted women’s rights and equal rights big time. Perhaps, if it hadn’t been for Matilda Joslyn Gage, we would not have had Dorothy.”


The exhibit also pays homage to famous first political campaigns, including Victoria Woodhull, Shirley Chisholm and Hillary Clinton.

“Woodhull was completely notorious and a brilliant woman,” said Snortland. “She ran on a ticket with Frederick Douglass,” an escaped slave who became a social reformer, abolitionist, orator, statesman and writer who penned numerous autobiographies. “Of course, they didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning that, but she ran and she was important. And we have Shirley Chisholm, who was a serious contender,” Snortland said of Chisolm, the first black woman elected to Congress, who served New York from 1969 to 1983. Her signature campaign slogan was “Unbossed and unbought.” Last year, the Washington Post wrote that her “feminist mantra is still relevant 50 years later.”

'Where are the women?'

Snortland’s exhibit features the women who are considered the mothers of the US suffrage movement, such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as well as lesser known but equally important figures, including women of color such as Sojourner Truth.

“The African-American women were thrown under the bus by not only white women but by Frederick Douglass, who was caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Snortland. “He had to make a devil’s decision, which was, ‘Do I get behind the vote for black men, or do I wait for universal suffrage?’ And he decided he needed to get behind black men, but that threw all these African-American women under the wagon, so to speak. And the white women did that, too, because the best way to control people is to have them fight each other and then the dominant class doesn’t have to deal with it.”

An important part of the exhibit features Native American women, who promulgated and practiced democracy and provided early lessons in gender equality.

“Ben Franklin and the early suffragists got their ideas about gender equality from the Haudenosaunee, commonly known as the Iroquois Confederation,” said Snortland. “They are the longest standing practicing democracy on the planet. Ben Franklin invited two leaders from the Haudenosaunee to visit Philadelphia during the Constitutional Convention. They walked in and said, ‘Where are the women? You can’t create a society without women.’ They thought they were nuts.”

The exhibit also features Pasadena resident, suffragist and author Charlotte Perkins Gilman. She wrote the semi-autobiographical short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” after a severe bout of postpartum psychosis, as well as the novel Herland, considered to be the first science fiction book, about a society composed entirely of women who reproduce through parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction). She also wrote a book way ahead of its time called Women and Economics: A Study of the Economic Relation Between Men and Women as a Factor in Social Evolution, which inspired women to start their own businesses.


The exhibit also focuses on the substantial anti-suffrage movement, which Snortland categorized as the foremothers of the ultraconservative Eagle Forum, which was founded by anti-feminist firebrand Phyllis Schlafly in 1972.

“They were determined to keep traditional womanhood and rigid gender roles in place,” said Snortland. “They basically believed the extent of a woman’s life should be to get married and have kids. They were promulgating the idea that if women voted, their ovaries would dry up, and a lot of the women who already had eight children said, ‘Great idea! Sounds good to me.’

Piecemeal struggles and hatchetations

Snortland’s exhibit is one of many exhibits, conferences, parades and other events across the country telling different aspects of the movement’s story, including three major exhibits at the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Archive Museum in the nation’s capital, all curated by women.

The exhibits, including Snortland’s, bring forward lesser known elements of the story, such as the fact that the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade was the first peaceful march on Washington. And that the temperance movement was led by women such as Carrie Nation who went into saloons and used a hatchet to break bottles and chop up bars in acts she called her “hatchetations.”

It also shows how ratification of the 19th Amendment came down to one vote in the Tennessee Legislature, the last state to seal the deal. Assembly member Harry T. Burn, who wore a red rose to represent his opposition to women’s suffrage, cast the deciding vote in favor of the 19th Amendment when, at the last minute of roll call, someone brought him an envelope. He opened it, read it, put it in his pocket and changed to a yellow rose, signifying his newfound support of women’s suffrage.

“It was a letter from his mother saying, ‘Please, let your mother vote,’” said Snortland. “By one vote, we were ratified. Unbelievable. But that’s the existential question, isn’t it: how do you win the vote if you can’t vote for yourself?”

Dr. Robyn Muncy, a historian at the University of Maryland and one of the curators of the National Archives exhibit, told The New York Times that the ratification of the 19th Amendment was not the final “triumphant culmination” of the movement, “but one landmark in a struggle for equal rights for all citizens that isn’t over yet.”

“It’s important to remember how piecemeal a struggle it was,” Muncy said. “Seeing change as coming in one fell swoop undermines us as citizens and gives us a false idea about the way change happens.”


Mourning in America

Pasadenans call for gun control and immigration reform at a Villa Parke vigil for the victims of recent mass shootings

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 8/15/2019

Americans across the country are demanding action on gun violence and white supremacist extremism, which has manifested in a decidedly anti-immigrant flare.

On Wednesday, Aug. 14, activists marched from All Saints Church to the Richard H. Chambers US Court of Appeals in West Pasadena to protest the Trump administration’s arguments to cancel the Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from six countries.

On Aug. 7, about 300 people mourned the victims of the recent mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, during a candlelit vigil at Villa Parke in Northwest Pasadena.

And during an interfaith panel discussion on white supremacy on Aug. 5 at All Saints, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena) said Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton weren’t just the latest mass shootings; they were acts of domestic terrorism. Increasingly, national security experts are concerned about the rise of this far-right extremism in the United States.

“There is no escaping the clear and present danger of white supremacist violence in the United States and the terrible urgency to confront it,” said Schiff. “Simply put, it’s domestic terrorism. Acts of unspeakable violence motivated by a hateful ideology which justifies them as a means to an end. It shouldn’t be hard or controversial to say that. After all, if the shooter in El Paso was Muslim, is there any question how the president would describe him?”


Schiff said the FBI is currently conducting 850 active domestic terrorism investigations.

“People are now feeling free to express themselves in the most hateful of ways because they hear the president doing it and don’t see an outcry,” Schiff added. Some Democratic presidential candidates have called Trump himself a racist and a white supremacist.

The 21-year-old El Paso shooter, who drove 10 hours on Aug. 3 to kill 22 people and injure 24 in a Walmart, told law enforcement officials that he was specifically targeting Mexicans. He also used language in his manifesto that echoed President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, such as calling immigrants “invaders.”

It was the largest anti-Latino shooting in modern American history. The Latino community across the country feels under attack. Other countries are now issuing travel warnings to their citizens about the United States. Mexico vowed to take legal action against the United States for failing to protect the eight Mexican nationals who were killed in El Paso.

‘Enough is Enough’

“The events of this weekend show how vulnerable we are in Pasadena,” Jennipha-Lauren Nielsen, who organized the Villa Parke vigil, wrote on the event webpage. “We must remain strong in our commitment against white supremacy. That is El Paso’s strength. Nothing will change that. Today, we must reaffirm our commitment to that strength. And we must redouble our commitment to defeat the vile worldview of white supremacy.”

The Villa Parke vigil was sponsored by the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). Friends In Deed Executive Director Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater and NDLON Executive Director Pablo Alvarado delivered remarks, in addition to Nielsen. Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek and his wife Maria were also in attendance, as were District 5 City Council member Victor Gordo and Police Chief John Perez.

Peter Dreier, an urban and environmental policy professor at Occidental College, wrote on Facebook that people attended the vigil to “protest white supremacy, mistreatment of immigrants, rampant gun violence and Donald Trump. The crowd was wonderfully diverse by race, ethnicity, age and faith traditions. We sang together in Spanish and English, including Leonard Cohen’s inspiring ‘Hallelujah.’ The next steps will include trips to the border, a march to the federal courthouse in Pasadena and vigils at the local detention center. Si se puede!”


The same day as the Pasadena vigil, Aug. 7, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided several food processing plants across Mississippi and arrested 680 undocumented workers — but not the managers who hired them — just four days after the El Paso shooter targeted Latinos. It was the largest workplace raid in at least a decade. ICE did not inform Trump about the raid ahead of time, afraid that he would speak publicly about it like he did before other planned raids.

This reporter visited the El Paso/Juárez border in March when the arrival of Central American migrants surged to the point where existing detention and housing facilities became overwhelmed. Under the border bridge between Juárez and El Paso, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was holding a large number of migrants, including families and children. Despite the hot days and cold nights, they were being forced to sleep in the open air with silver mylar “space” blankets, exposed to the elements. There was also a pair of CBP agents at the middle of the bridge checking documents and turning away asylum seekers before they could reach the physical border where they are allowed to claim asylum.

“The hate-filled speeches that incite violence, the criminalizing of entire families and communities and the scandalous collusion of elected officials with hate groups — enough is enough,” wrote Nielsen.

‘Do Something!’

It has become a familiar refrain: after a mass shooting, calls for action on gun control get largely ignored by elected officials. Research from online public opinion firm Civiqs shows that public support for gun control increases after a high-profile shooting, then peters out after a few weeks. But support is steadily increasing, and the hard-line anti-gun control coalition is starting to show some cracks.

At a rally in Ohio, a crowd mourning the Dayton victims drowned out the remarks of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine with chants of “Do something! Do something!”


Even before the recent shootings, polls showed public support for gun control measures such as universal background checks at about 90 percent. Last week, Trump seemed open to at least exploring background checks and red flag laws, which would authorize law enforcement to take guns away from those a court has deemed a threat to others. Whether he follows through is another matter, as he has changed his position on gun control many times over the past few years. He and other Republicans were quick to blame the violence on video games and mental illness, while other countries also have those but don’t experience routine, horrific shootings as nearly as much as the United States.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), in a rare reversal of his usual stance, said background checks would be “front and center” when the Senate reconvenes in September. He did not, however, call the Senate back into session this month to tackle the issue, which many consider a national emergency. The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a gun control measure in February, but it has been held up in the Senate by McConnell ever since.

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is in a tailspin. Its president, Oliver North, was pushed out earlier this year by its long-time CEO Wayne LaPierre, who is being criticized by its board of directors and members for lavish spending and mismanaging finances. Infighting has also recently led to the shuttering of the organization’s controversial NRATV station and the severing of ties with its long-time PR firm Ackerman McQueen and its top lobbyist, Christopher Cox, who was seen as LaPierre’s successor.

The Washington Post reported last week that Trump has been asking aides whether the NRA is as powerful as it used to be and whether it can push back as hard if the White House were to pursue stronger gun control measures. Time will tell if the NRA still has the clout to hold off the public’s growing demands for action against the epidemic of gun violence.


Next Steps

Villa Parke will be the location of another upcoming event, a “Support Immigrant Rights” rally from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22. The sponsors of this rally include St. Philip’s Church, Lake Avenue Church, Adelante Youth Center, NDLON, Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center’s Social Justice Committee and Day One.

The themes of the rally are “Bridges Not Walls” and “Sanctuary Not Detention,” with the goal of showing “solidarity with immigrants and refugees, including about 50 families now in Pasadena.” Immigration attorneys will be on site and people can either sign up to support immigrant rights or contribute to a legal defense fund for immigrant families.

A Hero's Welcome

World Cup-winning U.S. women’s soccer team kicks off victory tour with a 3-0 win over Ireland at the Rose Bowl

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 8/8/2019

Fresh off their second World Cup win in a row (and fourth total), the U.S. women’s national soccer team defeated Ireland 3-0 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday. The game was the U.S. team’s first since the World Cup Final against the Netherlands on July 7 in Lyon, France, in which the United States beat the Netherlands 2-0.

A fireworks display inside the Rose Bowl welcomed the two teams. Forward Tobin Heath scored the first goal in the 16th minute by heading the ball into the net and midfielder Lindsay Horan scored the second goal in the 31st minute. Forward Carli Lloyd scored another header for the third goal in the 41st minute and received the Budweiser Woman of the Match award. Ireland was able to hold off the U.S. team in the second half.


Several times during the game, the crowd of 37,040 people broke into chants of “Equal pay! Equal pay!” in support of the U.S. women’s team’s “equal pay for equal work” lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, the body that governs the sport in the United States.

The match against Ireland kicked off a five-game victory tour for the U.S. team and was the fifth U.S. women’s game at the Rose Bowl, the first in 17 years and the third since the U.S. team won the groundbreaking 1999 Women’s World Cup. And it was the first time each of the current U.S. players actually played in the Rose Bowl. The remaining four games in the victory tour will see the U.S. team face off against Portugal on Aug. 29 in Philadelphia, PA, and Sept. 3 in St. Paul, MN, and against South Korea on Oct. 3 in Charlotte, NC, and Oct. 6 in Chicago, IL.

‘Full circle’

In the 1999 World Cup Final at the Rose Bowl, the U.S. women’s team tied with China, leading to nail-biting penalty kicks in front of a crowd of 90,185 people, the largest ever for a women’s sporting event. U.S. player Brandi Chastain scored the final goal to put the U.S. team over the top at 5-4, inspiring legions of young girls and boys playing soccer across the country, including the current U.S. team’s players, who were between four and 14 years old at the time. It was a watershed moment for women’s sports.

Playing in the same stadium as the 1999 team 20 years later “is extraordinary, a full circle moment,” midfielder Megan Rapinoe, 34, from Redding, CA, told the Pasadena Weekly before the U.S. team’s Friday practice at the Rose Bowl.


“We’re all in that age that we were inspired by that win,” she added. “To be able to come back here and celebrate a huge win that we had and connect the dots all the way through the program is very special.”

After scoring the winning penalty kick in 1999, Chastain slid onto her knees in triumph and ripped off her shirt, revealing her sports bra. It was a moment seen--and dissected--around the world, and the ensuing controversy highlighted the double standard facing female athletes.

On July 10, the 20th anniversary of that 1999 World Cup Final, the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation installed a bronze statue of Chastain’s iconic moment, depicting her on her knees clutching her derobed jersey with a look of pure exultation on her face. The statue is located in front of the stadium’s main entrance, Gate A, near where countless youth soccer games take place, ensuring that the moment will continue to inspire new generations of soccer players. Chastain herself attended the statue’s unveiling ceremony.


“[This statue] is not just for one person, it’s for every little soccer player out there,” Chastain said at the unveiling. “I hope every player who puts on cleats has a moment like that.”

Players Lorrie Fair and Saskia Webber from the 1999 team were also at the unveiling and read off the names of their other teammates.

“The impact of the [1999] victory, to sports and to women, cannot be overstated,” Pasadena City Council member Margaret McAustin, who represents District 2, said at the unveiling.

Marla Messinger, who served as president and COO of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Organizing Committee, said the women of the 1999 team “redefined what it meant to be a female athlete. They were educated, articulate, beautiful and as unafraid to be as tough and competitive on the field as they were collegial and engaging off the field.”

‘Just what this country needs right now’

On Friday, one day before their game against Ireland, the U.S. women’s team held a practice session on the Rose Bowl’s Spieker Field and spoke about the legacy of the trailblazing 1999 team.

Jill Ellis, the U.S. team’s head coach, said Chastain’s iconic moment was the inspiration to play soccer for some of the current team’s players. Ellis announced on July 30 that she is retiring after five years and 103 wins. She will continue to coach the team through their victory tour, which ends Oct. 6, and she has been nominated for FIFA’s 2019 Best Women’s Coach award, which she also won in 2015. She is the first coach to win two Women’s World Cup titles, including last month in France and in 2015 in Canada.


“That moment [in 1999] was the catalyst of a movement in terms of suddenly taking this game to a level where it reaches a bigger audience, it touches more people, it attracts more investment,” said Ellis, 52. “It pushed us forward and upward. It was a touchstone to what came next. It’s fitting that we’re here. The Rose Bowl is pretty special. This is a great place to kick [our victory tour] off. Part of what this celebration is about is saying thank you to our fans.”

Forward Alex Morgan, 30, who grew up in Diamond Bar, CA, and played soccer at UC Berkeley, said her team was continuing the legacy started by the 1999 team.


“The ‘99ers had such a domino and lasting effect on both myself but also the future of women’s soccer in the United States and globally,” she said. “This team, the ‘19ers, is doing the same and continuing to uphold that legacy. but it definitely started with the ‘99ers right here [at the Rose Bowl].”

Morgan and Rapinoe did not play Saturday because of injuries.

“[The 1999] team laid the foundation for the mentality of all the teams after it,” said midfielder Rose Lavelle, 24. “That mentality and the legacy they left is what has carried this program through so much success. Being able to step on the same field as them when they won the World Cup is so cool and surreal.”


LA Mayor Eric Garcetti attended Friday’s practice and gave the championship team some words of encouragement.

“You’re just what this country needs right now,” he told them.

The U.S. women’s team didn’t just win the World Cup; they set several records along the way, including scoring the most goals in tournament history with 26 and the most goals in a single Women’s World Cup match and the largest margin of victory when they beat Thailand 13-0. The U.S. team has also won 12 consecutive World Cup matches, the longest winning streak in the tournament’s history.

On the same day as the unveiling of the Chastain statue, July 10, this year’s World Cup-winning U.S. women’s team received a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan to celebrate the team’s fourth World Cup win. Democratic presidential candidate and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio presented them with keys to the city.


Rapinoe, Morgan, Lavelle and midfielder Julie Ertz, 27, were all nominated for the 2019 Best FIFA Women’s Player award, along with eight other players from different countries. The winner will be announced at the Best FIFA Football Awards show on September 23 in Milan, Italy. Rapinoe also received the Golden Ball (World Cup MVP), Golden Boot (World Cup top scorer) and FIFA Player of the Match awards. Morgan won the Silver Boot as the second-leading scorer and Lavelle won the Bronze Ball as the third-best player in the tournament.

‘Doing what’s right’ on equal pay

Despite these accomplishments, the U.S. women’s national soccer team continues to make less money than the U.S. men’s national soccer team, which has not performed nearly as well as the women’s team. The men’s team didn’t even qualify for the 2018 World Cup, for instance, and they lost to Mexico in the Copa America tournament’s final game on the same day the women’s team won their World Cup Final, July 7.

In March, all 28 players on the U.S. women’s team filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer over allegations that the men’s team receives more in bonuses and game day pay, and that female players make as little as 38 percent of what male players make overall.


“We’re fighting here on the soccer level, but [the equal pay fight has] an even bigger scope, in the boardroom, in hospitals, in the teachers’ [lounge], it’s everywhere,” said Ellis. “At some point, it comes down to doing what’s right.”

On July 29, U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro released an open letter claiming the organization actually pays the women’s team more than the men even though the men’s team brings in more revenue than the women’s team. Yesterday, U.S. Soccer hired two Washington lobbying firms to push back against legislation requiring them to pay the women’s team as much as the men’s team. For their part, the men’s team has written public letters of support for the women’s team’s efforts.


“[Cordeiro’s letter] missed the whole point,” Rapinoe said. “It’s more about the potential earnings of each team, that’s what’s really unequal. We’ve won 85 percent of our games, so it’s more about the total compensation package. I’m not sure what the point was in him trying to say that, because it’s obviously not the point of what we’re fighting for. I’m looking forward to mediation.”

Rapinoe is also relishing her platform to serve as an antagonist to President Trump, who backtracked on his invitation for the championship women’s team to visit the White House after they won the World Cup.

“People are frustrated and fed up with all of the negativity and the cruelty coming from the [Trump] administration, not only just vulgar language but racist and sexist behavior,” Rapinoe said at the Rose Bowl.


She added that her message of unity for the country will “take really hard conversations and it’s going to be really awkward and difficult and it’s going to take a lot of work from every single person to do that, but my message is if you’re willing to come and have that hard conversation, that’s where the magic is and that’s where the real progress can be made. Absent that, we’re just going to keep fighting. I don’t think what’s happening right now is really working for anyone besides Donald Trump and a small percentage of people in the upper echelons of the 1 percent.”

U.S. hat trick

Looking ahead, the U.S. women’s team is preparing for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. And FIFA announced on July 31 that the number of participating countries in the 2023 Women’s World Cup will expand from 24 to 32, reflecting the growing popularity but also competitiveness of women’s soccer. FIFA will announce which country will host that tournament in May 2020.

The United States, which is hosting the men’s World Cup along with Mexico and Canada in 2026 and the Olympics in LA in 2028, is hoping to host the Women’s World Cup in 2027.


Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden to visit Pasadena Friday

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 7/18/2019

Pasadena City Councilman John Kennedy, in what he is calling an effort to bring “prepared, competent, relevant and sane leadership to the White House,” will welcome Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden to his home on Friday, July 19, for a lunchtime fundraiser.

“I have known Joe Biden for over 30 years,” said Kennedy, who represents Pasadena’s District 3. “So it is with an abundance of history and respect … as well as personal affection that I am hosting Vice President Biden at an intimate lunch gathering. This will be a special opportunity for each guest to meet and talk with Joe Biden and join in the excitement of becoming instrumental in electing Joe Biden as the next leader of our country.”

Biden is currently the frontrunner in the crowded field of Democratic candidates. His poll numbers have taken a hit in the weeks since fellow candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris criticized his opposition to 1970s-era school busing policies as a U.S. senator and his comments on working with segregationist senate colleagues, for which he subsequently apologized. On Monday, Biden denounced Medicare-for-all and laid out his healthcare plan, an extension of the Affordable Care Act that retains private insurance.

Those expected to attend the event at Kennedy’s home include his sister Lena L. Kennedy and District 6 City Councilman Steve Madison.

On June 29, Harris spoke at a private fundraiser at the West Pasadena home of Tamerlin Godley, who is running for Madison’s District 6 council seat.


During a visit to Pasadena in 2017, Biden called for unity and said the United States is “the only nation in the world organized around the notion that anything is possible. It’s time for us to pick our heads up again. We have a lot to lose but so much to gain if we start to pull together and treat each other with a little bit of decency in the political realm. It is time for us to lead the world again.”

Biden’s visit to Pasadena follows those of several other Democratic presidential candidates in recent weeks. On May 30, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand spoke at the Women’s City Club of Pasadena. On May 31, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders held a political rally at the Pasadena Convention Center and he, Harris, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee participated in the first presidential forum focused on immigration at the Pasadena Hilton.

Fellow presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana is also reportedly finalizing plans to stump in Pasadena.

Candidates are making sure to show up in California because the state has moved its primary election date up from June to March 3, also known as Super Tuesday. The earlier date — after only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — will ensure that California voters and the state’s nearly 500 delegates play a decisive role in determining the eventual nominee, who will be chosen at the Democratic National Convention in July 2020 in Milwaukee.

“Joe Biden has the requisite experience, temperament, intellect, broad-mindedness and fortitude to serve this nation in its top elected position,” said Kennedy. “As we face daunting challenges at home and abroad to restore competency, civility and respect for the rule of law, we need Joe’s leadership more than ever. Guided by basic decency and humanity, Joe is a true public servant with the compassion and commitment to serve the American people today and the experience to effectively get things done.”

A weekly by any other name

The Pasadena Weekly celebrates its 35th — wait, make that 90th — anniversary

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 7/11/2019

The Pasadena Weekly, which you are currently reading, is 35 years old this year in its modern form. But predecessors to the same paper actually date back much further than is commonly known — to 1929, to be exact. 

Back then, according to a timeline provided by UC Riverside’s Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research and original copies from the Altadena Historical Society’s collection, the paper was known as the Altadena Press. The weekly paper was established by C.F. Hoffman, who published it every Thursday morning at his press at 2708 N. El Molino Ave., Altadena (an area that is now technically Pasadena), and later at 2686 N. Lake Ave., Altadena.

Its first issue was published on Nov. 21, 1929, and its final issue was published April 27, 1944. The paper’s masthead read “The community of deodars” and “Let the folks back east know of the most delightful place in all the world. Send them the Altadena Press.” Later it read “This paper will tell the story to inquiring friends in the frozen east.” The paper was known as “the first real Altadena newspaper.”

One of the main stories in the paper’s first year and throughout the decades to follow was Pasadena’s attempt to annex Altadena.

‘The weekly with a mountain behind it’

Starting in 1932 and throughout the depression and war years, the Altadena Press continued under editor-publisher Grayson M. “Mac” McCarty at 750 E. Mariposa St. and later 870 E. Mariposa St., Altadena. McCarty had previously served on the staff of the New York Herald-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune and newspapers in Paul’s Valley, OK, and Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Mineral Wells, Texas. In 1917, he enlisted in the National Guard and fought in France, and later served as director of the Altadena Chamber of Commerce. After he passed away on May 14, 1943, his widow Janie B. McCarty took over as publisher and editor.

The paper heavily covered Altadena’s contribution to the war effort at the time, complete with ads for war bonds and comic strips mocking the Nazis and Japanese imperialists. “We of The Altadena Press feel we must forgo the luxury of indulging in affairs that have no bearing on the course of the war,” reads a March 9, 1944, editorial. “By that we mean we will not advocate the expenditure of public funds on projects that can safely await the war’s end. To do otherwise, would be to slow the coming of victory.”

In the March 2, 1944, issue, McCarty announced the sale of the paper to Harry W. Smith, a Canadian who had previously served as a reporter for the San Bernardino Sun, managing editor of a weekly, associate editor of Desert Magazine and special correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor. Smith and his wife Helen served as publishers of the Altadena Press and changed the name to the Altadenan. Smith also served as editor. The credits read, “Continuation of Altadena Press” and “Your right to know is the key to all your liberties.”

The first issue of the paper known as the Altadenan, which was also a weekly published on Thursdays, was published May 4, 1944, at Smith’s press at 2396 N. Lake Ave., Altadena. In 1960, the Pasadena Mail was sold to Smith, who merged it with his paper and renamed it the Altadenan-Pasadenan. Its first issue under that name was published on Oct. 1, 1960.

In May 1976, Smith sold the paper to publisher Richard S.C. Redman, who also owned the Sierra Madrean, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times on May 23, 1976. Redman kept the paper’s offices at 2396 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, and named his wife Sue Redman as editor. Smith stayed on as a consultant. The masthead read “The weekly with a mountain behind it.” Its coverage included Pasadena’s attempt to annex Altadena.

In 1977, Redman began publishing the Altadenan-Pasadenan through a company called Altadenan Publishing Co. at the same offices. That company also began publishing an expanded, subscription-only addition called the Chronicle on Nov. 10, 1977, for 25 cents. The Altadenan-Pasadenan and the Chronicle ran until Dec. 29, 1983.

‘Continuing but broadening a tradition started in 1929’

In late 1983 or early 1984, the paper was purchased by Pasadena Media, Inc., an investment group that included future Pasadena mayor and current Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole, attorney and chairman Pierce O’Donnell, the late social activist Marvin Schachter, publisher Edward Matys, editor-in-chief Steve Coll, managing editor Dick Lloyd and business manager and assistant editor Larry Wilson, who now serves as public editor of the Pasadena Star-News.

Pasadena Media continued publishing at 2396 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, but changed the name of the paper from the Altadenan-Pasadenan and the Chronicle to Altadena: The Weekly. The first issue of that version was Jan. 5-12, 1984, with the masthead reading “Debut edition” and “Incorporating the Altadenan/Pasadenan & the Chronicle.”

In that first issue, publisher Matys wrote, “We are pleased today to present the Greater Pasadena area a ‘new newspaper,’ continuing but broadening a tradition started in 1929.”

The cover story of its first issue was about those who slept overnight along the Rose Parade route on New Year’s Eve and the cops who tried to wrangle them, and its feature arts and entertainment story was about the resurrection of the Pasadena Playhouse. In its second issue, the cover story was about Pasadena’s attempt to annex Altadena.

Pasadena Media also published Nine to Nine, a newspaper covering the business community in downtown Pasadena.

The Weekly cost 50 cents and was published under variations of its name for several years in the mid to late ’80s, such as the Altadena Weekly, Pasadena: The Weekly and the Pasadena/Altadena Weekly. Under the credits, it read, “The Pasadena/Altadena Weekly honors the past and does not fear the future.”

Later in 1984, Coll and Matys left the paper and Frank Kilpatrick became president and publisher. In 1986, Pasadena Media moved the paper’s offices to 300 S. Raymond Ave. #12, Pasadena, the first time in its history that the paper was produced in Pasadena. In 1987, the Pasadena/Altadena Weekly became part of O’Donnell’s 12-paper group, National Media, Inc.

James Vowell became editor-in-chief and Pamela Fisher became managing editor and later editor. Cartoonist Matt Groening’s comic strip “Life in Hell” made its first appearance in the paper in these early years, before “The Simpsons” cemented his legendary status. In 1987, Vowell left the paper to return to the LA Reader.

‘The Pasadena paper people actually read’

In January 1988, National Media sold the Weekly to Riordan-Laris Publications, a company owned by LA lawyer Richard Riordan, who went on to be LA’s mayor, and longtime Pasadenan and Downtown News Group founder and president Susan Laris. Laris served as publisher and editor, and Marc Porter Zasada served as executive editor.

Six months later, in July 1988, the paper was sold again for an undisclosed amount to Pasadena Publications, a company owned by Marge Wood and Jim Laris, Susan’s ex-husband. Jim became editor and co-publisher along with Wood, his new wife. Shirley Manning later became editor and Dan Hutson later became managing editor. The paper’s offices were moved to 155 S. El Molino Ave. #101, Pasadena.

Starting in April 1989, Pasadena Publications published both the Altadena Weekly and the Pasadena Weekly as two separate issues for the Altadena and Pasadena communities. However, in its July 27-Aug. 2, 1989 issue, Laris and Wood announced they were ceasing publication of the Altadena Weekly after just 16 issues. They continued to publish the Pasadena Weekly (PW).

Bill Evans took over as managing editor of PW in 1991. In 1992, PW became “The Alternative Voice of Pasadena, Glendale and the San Gabriel Valley” and launched several new columns. In January 1996, PW proclaimed itself “The Pasadena Paper People Actually Read,” a dig at the Star-News. In 1997, William Campbell served as editor and former editor Paula Johnson became associate publisher.

At the end of 1997, Laris put the paper up for sale. The last issue of PW to be published by Laris was on June 26, 1998. That month, Laris sold the paper to the Tribune Company’s LA Times, which added it to its Times Community News Division chain of newspapers.

The Times initially kept Campbell as editor, but soon made several staff changes. Judith Kendall, former publisher of the Glendale News-Press, was appointed publisher of PW, and Bill Lobdell, editor of the Costa Mesa/Newport Beach Daily Pilot, was appointed editor. Those two were soon replaced by Joe Pan as publisher and Mary Emerson as editor, who simultaneously edited the Times’ now-defunct San Gabriel Valley Edition. Both publications were based in PW’s current office at 50 S. DeLacey Ave. #200, Pasadena.

Kevin Uhrich was brought on as editor in 1999, a position he serves in to this day. He had previously worked as a reporter at the Simi Valley Enterprise and LA Daily News in the 1980s and the Pasadena Star-News, LA Times, LA Reader and LA Weekly in the 1990s. In 1994, Uhrich was banished from the Star-News after leading a union movement in the newsroom that rubbed management the wrong way.

Uhrich actually wrote his first story for PW on July 26, 1996, under the headline “Scathing Ruling Raises Questions in Kings Villages Case.” Under Uhrich’s stewardship, PW has become a truly progressive alternative newsweekly that actually breaks news and covers important stories that other local news outlets ignore. He has also mentored countless young reporters such as this author, who has written for PW since January 2005.

Free every Thursday

The Tribune Company sold PW to Southland Publishing in January 2001. Southland was founded in 1998 after converting from its former name Ventura Newspaper, Inc., which published the Ventura County Reporter, having purchased it from Nancy Cloutier in 1997. That company grew out of the Sylmar-based Valley Business Printers, owned by Michael Flannery, a conservative businessman who stayed out of editorial decisions of the decidedly left-leaning papers.

David Comden, who started out selling display ads for the San Diego Reader in 1983 and later served as general manager of the Sacramento News & Review, took over as publisher of VC Reporter in 1998 and eventually would become Southland’s vice president. Bruce Bolkin serves as Southland’s president.

Over the years, in addition to VC Reporter and PW, Southland would acquire San Diego Citybeat (previously SLAMM magazine), LA Citybeat/Valleybeat (defunct since 2009), the Argonaut, LA Downtown News (also owned by early PW owner Susan Laris) and others, as well as start monthly magazines Arroyo, Ventana, Verdugo and others.

Southland was able to survive while other alternative papers in Southern California died off in part because it has its own presses, a critical asset.

“The two greatest expenses for a newspaper are personnel and printing costs,” Comden told LA Weekly in 2003. Southland’s press printed LA Weekly for a while until it started its own LA paper in 2003: LA CityBeat/ValleyBeat.

Southland’s papers, including PW, are also unafraid to take a stand on controversial issues. In 2005, for example, PW became the first news outlet to call for the impeachment of President George W. Bush. Uhrich told LA Weekly in 2003 that Comden “pushed [PW] to be edgier” after Southland took over the paper. What was once a “quasi-alternative” paper quickly became a true-blue alternative newsweekly that “frequently scoop[ed] the local dailies.”

“When [Comden] came in, in his first week,” Uhrich told LA Weekly, “he pulls me aside as he’s addressing the group, and says, ‘How come you guys don’t have editorials?’ I say, ‘Newspaper people don’t have opinions about things.’ And he says, ‘You better start getting opinions.’”

Publishers have come and gone during Uhrich’s 20-year reign of terror at PW, including Dale Tiffany, Jon Guynn and now Dina Stegon. Reporters Joe Piasecki and André Coleman were brought into the PW newsroom in 2001 and 2004, respectively, and both would eventually become deputy editors under Uhrich. Piasecki now serves as editor of Southland’s Argonaut. Rounding out the current staff is longtime arts editor Carl Kozlowski.

For the past two years, the Altadena Historical Society has been working on digitizing its extensive bound newspaper collection, including the many variations of this paper over the past 90 years.

Here’s to another 90 years for the weekly that’s free every Thursday.
Reporter's Notebook

Early and Often

Bernie Sanders, among five presidential candidates to stump for votes in Pasadena, is out to win California

On May 31, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Secretary Julián Castro and Gov. Jay Inslee participated in the first presidential forum focused on immigration at the Pasadena Hilton. Sanders also held a political rally Friday at the Pasadena Convention Center, drawing a crowd of about 2,000 people including Pasadena City Councilmembers Tyron Hampton and Steve Madison. And New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s event May 30 at the Women’s City Club of Pasadena was sponsored by Women in Leadership Vital Voices and Lena Kennedy, sister of Pasadena City Councilman John Kennedy.

Candidates are making sure to traverse California on their campaign trails because the state has moved its primary election date up from June to March 3, 2020. Conversely, during the 2016 campaign, when California’s June primary was one of the last, Sanders was the only presidential candidate to visit Pasadena.

“We are treating [California] like an early primary state,” Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir recently told NPR, “campaigning there early and often, and making a strong play to try and win that state.”

The primary election for the city of Pasadena will also be held March 3. The state essentially forced the city to hold its general election the same day as the presidential election on Nov. 3, 2020, in an effort to increase voter participation, which had fallen below 25 percent in Pasadena. The mayor and City Council districts 1, 2, 4 and 6 will be up for election. Several candidates have already declared their intention to run.

Feelin’ the Bern in Pasadena

Sanders’ visit to California followed his first trip to his home state of Vermont since he announced his candidacy, a series of ice cream socials in New Hampshire and a two-day swing through Nevada.

Sanders’ recently hired a fundraiser — a position that didn’t exist in his 2016 campaign — to oversee his new strategy of holding smaller, grassroots, in-person fundraising events for donors of all levels and the media.

Sanders was the first candidate to sign the grassroots, nonprofit Indivisible Project’s pledge calling on Democratic candidates to make the primary constructive, rally behind and immediately endorse the ultimate Democratic nominee no matter who it is and do everything in their power to make that nominee the next president.

Sanders’ wide-ranging speech at the Pasadena Convention Center touched on domestic policies such as income inequality, poverty, affordable housing, homelessness, jobs, voting rights, unions, legalized cannabis, women’s rights, abortion, education, child care, tuition-free college, criminal justice reform, immigration, health care, climate change and the Green New Deal. He also touched on foreign policy, including his opposition to war.

Sanders went after President Trump’s economic message, saying American workers have been ignored. And he pointed out that in 2016, the media and political establishment called his ideas too radical, but that a majority of Americans now support them.

“Four years ago, we began the political revolution; this campaign we finalize the political revolution,” he said.

Sanders said he is often asked by his critics how he plans to pay for all his proposals.

“Ten years ago, the American people bailed out the crooks on Wall Street to the tune of $1 trillion. Well, Wall Street can now help the working families of this country. We will impose a transaction tax on Wall Street speculation.”

Sanders condemned states like Georgia and Alabama for passing “draconian” anti-abortion legislation.

“A woman’s right to control her own body is a constitutional right and we will defend that right,” he said. “I will never nominate anyone to the Supreme Court who is not prepared to vigorously support Roe v. Wade. This is an issue for everyone. Men must stand with women.”

He called out National Security Advisor John Bolton for helping lead the United States into war in Iraq in 2003 and warned that Bolton is now leading the charge to drag the country into war with Iran.

“Iraq was a disaster,” he said. “War with Iran will be worse. It will lead to perpetual warfare. Our kids, our grandchildren: never ending war. We must do everything we can to stop international conflicts through diplomatic means, not war.”

He pledged to rally world leaders to cut military spending and use that money to combat climate change.

“Think about a world where instead of building more nuclear weapons, poison gas, tanks and guns,” he said, “China, Russia, India, Latin America, Africa and the United States are coming together to say, ‘We are going to save this planet for our children and our grandchildren.’”

Sanders attacked Trump and vowed to defeat the “most dangerous president in American history.”

A Focus on Immigration

After his Pasadena rally, Sanders and three other presidential candidates — Harris, Castro and Inslee — discussed their plans for immigration reform at the Unity + Freedom Forum at the Pasadena Hilton.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti also spoke at the event, which was not open to the public, but more than 500 grassroots leaders and immigrant-rights advocates from across the nation were in attendance. About 7.1 million people watched Telemundo’s livestream of the event. Two moderators and several immigrants told their stories and asked questions of the candidates.

Harris claimed that there is bipartisan support for immigration reform on Capitol Hill and pledged to work on a bipartisan solution.

“Most Americans are acutely aware of the economic benefit to this country of having immigrants,” she said. “Farmers across the country, some of whom may have even voted for this president, understand that the strength of their farms and their continued success is in large part because of an immigrant workforce.”

Using executive orders, Harris said she would immediately reinstate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), restore Temporary Protected Status protections and enact a moratorium on migrant detention facilities, as well as undo the Trump administration’s other “backward, hate-drive policies.” She said the administration’s child separation policy is not border security but rather a human rights abuse committed by the US government.

“Every day that we don’t resolve this issue there are real consequences to real human beings,” she said. “We need a president who understands the complexity of this issue.”

Castro described specific policy proposals he would enact if elected and said immigration has to be a top priority for the next president.

“On April 2, I released my very comprehensive and progressive ‘People First’ immigration plan, which includes decriminalizing border crossings and treating them as a civil offense, ending family detention, reuniting families, improving the legal immigration system, reinstating DACA and implementing a pathway to citizenship for DACA parents, increasing refugee admissions, eliminating for-profit migrant detention facilities, stopping the border wall, adding the number of visas to harness talent from around the world and getting rid of 287(g).”

Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to deputize state and local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law.

Sanders called Trump a racist and pledged to establish a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.


Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Julián Castro, Jay Inslee and Kirsten Gillibrand campaign in Pasadena

Story by Justin Chapman | Photos by Mercedes Blackehart | LA Progressive | 6/6/2019

[A different version of this story was published in Pasadena Weekly.]

The 2020 hustings have officially arrived in Pasadena.

On Friday, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sec. Julián Castro and Gov. Jay Inslee participated in the first presidential forum focused on immigration at the Pasadena Hilton. All four are among the 23 Democrats – so far – running to replace Donald Trump as president next year.

Sanders also held a political rally Friday at the Pasadena Convention Center, drawing a crowd of about 2,000 people including Pasadena City Councilmembers Tyron Hampton and Steve Madison. And Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, also a presidential candidate, spoke at a private event on May 30 at the Women’s City Club of Pasadena.



Former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, both presidential candidates, are finalizing plans to stump in Pasadena soon, as well.

Part of the reason candidates are making sure to traverse California on their campaign trail is because the state has moved its primary election date up from June to March 3, 2020, also known as Super Tuesday. The earlier date – after only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – will ensure that California voters and the state’s nearly 500 delegates play a decisive role in determining the eventual nominee, who will be coronated at the Democratic National Convention in July 2020 in Milwaukee.

Conversely, during the 2016 campaign, when California’s June primary was one of the last, Sanders was the only presidential candidate to visit Pasadena.

“We are treating [California] like an early primary state,” Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir recently told NPR, “campaigning there early and often, and making a strong play to try and win that state.”

Out of 23 candidates, Sanders comes in second place in most polls, behind only Biden, though the difference is by double digits.

Feelin’ the Bern in Pasadena

Actor Danny DeVito and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream co-founder Ben Cohen introduced Sanders at his rally at the Pasadena Convention Center. His wide-ranging speech touched on domestic policies such as income inequality, poverty, affordable housing, homelessness, jobs, voting rights, unions, legalized cannabis, women’s rights, abortion, education, child care, tuition-free college, criminal justice reform, immigration, health care, climate change and the Green New Deal. He also touched on foreign policy including his opposition to war.


“In 2016, we got more votes here in California than anywhere else in America,” said Sanders. “I don’t want to get my opponents nervous, but we’re going to win California and the Democratic nomination.”

Sanders went after Trump’s economic message, saying American workers have been ignored. And he pointed out that in 2016, the media and political establishment called his ideas too radical, but that a majority of Americans now support them.

“Four years ago, we began the political revolution; this campaign we finalize the political revolution,” he said. “We are taking on Wall Street and will break up the large financial institutions that have wreaked havoc on this economy. We’re taking on the drug companies and will cut the cost of prescription drugs by half. We’re taking on the insurance companies and we will – whether they like it or not – bring a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program to America.”


He said he is often asked by his critics how he plans to pay for all his proposals.

“I will tell you how,” he said. “Ten years ago, the American people bailed out the crooks on Wall Street to the tune of $1 trillion. Well, Wall Street can now help the working families of this country. We will impose a transaction tax on Wall Street speculation.”

He pledged to end gerrymandering and voter suppression that he accused Republicans of engineering across the country.

“In a democracy, we believe we should make it as easy as possible for people to participate, not harder,” he said. “We want America to have the highest voter turnout of any major country, not one of the lowest.”

He condemned states like Georgia and Alabama for passing “draconian” anti-abortion legislation.

“A woman’s right to control her own body is a constitutional right and we will defend that right,” he said. “I will never nominate anyone to the Supreme Court who is not prepared to vigorously support Roe v. Wade. This is an issue for everyone. Men must stand with women.”

He called out National Security Advisor John Bolton for helping lead the United States into war in Iraq in 2003 and warned that Bolton is now leading the charge to drag the country into war with Iran.

“Iraq was a disaster,” he said. “War with Iran will be worse. It will lead to perpetual warfare. Our kids, our grandchildren: never ending war. We must do everything we can to stop international conflicts through diplomatic means, not war.”

He pledged to rally world leaders to cut military spending and use that money to combat climate change.

“Think about a world where instead of building more nuclear weapons, poison gas, tanks and guns,” he said, “China, Russia, India, Latin America, Africa and the United States are coming together to say, ‘We are going to save this planet for our children and our grandchildren.’”


Sanders attacked Trump and vowed to defeat the “most dangerous president in American history.”

“The underlying principles of our government will not be greed, kleptocracy, hatred, lies, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia or religious bigotry,” Sanders said. “We have news for Donald Trump: we are going to end those ugly practices when we are in the White House. The principles of our government will be economic justice, racial justice, social justice and environmental justice.”

Sanders changed his position on impeachment a day before his Pasadena rally, following Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s press conference last week in which he said Justice Department policy prohibited his investigation from considering charging the president with obstruction of justice but would have said Trump did not commit a crime if the evidence so established. Sanders now believes impeachment inquiries must begin, making him the 10th major Democratic presidential candidate to call for them.

A Focus on Immigration

One block away from the Convention Center, Rep. Judy Chu (D-27), whose district includes most of Pasadena, delivered introductory remarks at the immigration forum at the Pasadena Hilton. The event, titled the Unity + Freedom Forum, was hosted by FIRM Action, Community Change Action and CHIRLA Action Fund.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti also spoke at the event, which was not open to the public, but more than 500 grassroots leaders and immigrant-rights advocates from across the nation were in attendance. About 7.1 million people watched Telemundo’s livestream of the event.


All four candidates who participated – Harris, Sanders, Castro and Inslee – pledged to enact comprehensive immigration reform and revoke Trump’s Muslim travel ban during their first 100 days in office, in addition to other progressive immigration policies.

Harris, who formerly served as California attorney general, said the fight for immigration reform will not be easy, but that it’s “a fight worth having, and I promise you we will win this fight.”


Using executive orders, Harris said she would immediately reinstate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), restore Temporary Protected Status protections and enact a moratorium on migrant detention facilities, as well as undo the Trump administration’s other “backward, hate-drive policies.” She said the administration’s child separation policy is not border security but rather a human rights abuse committed by the U.S. government.

“Every day that we don’t resolve this issue, there are real consequences to real human beings,” she said. “We need a president who understands the complexity of this issue.”




Castro, who formerly served as Obama’s Housing and Urban Development Secretary, described specific policy proposals he would enact if elected president. His twin brother Joaquin, a congressional representative from Texas, was also in attendance.

“On April 2, I released my very comprehensive and progressive ‘People First’ immigration plan, which includes decriminalizing border crossings and treating them as a civil offense, ending family detention, reuniting families, improving the legal immigration system, reinstating DACA and implementing a pathway to citizenship for DACA parents, increasing refugee admissions, eliminating for-profit migrant detention facilities, stopping the border wall, adding the number of visas to harness talent from around the world and getting rid of 287(g).”


Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to deputize state and local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law.

Castro called for a “21st century Marshall Plan” for Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

“We need a president who’s not going to look down on these countries but work as a peer in a mutually beneficial way to ensure that people can find safety and opportunity in their home country, instead of having to come here to the United States,” he said. “At the same time, the truth is we need a lot of the folks who are coming to the United States right now, because they add vitality to our country. It would be economic suicide not to have them, because we have a declining birth rate and an aging population. We need a young, vibrant workforce. We need immigrants.”


Sanders called Trump a racist and pledged to establish a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.



Inslee, governor of Washington state who is running as a climate change candidate, said he would increase foreign aid to Central American countries, end family separations at the border, give asylum seekers hearings in a reasonable time period and increase the number of refugees – including those displaced by climate change – accepted into the United States to 110,000 per year.



After Pasadena, Sanders, Harris, Castro, Inslee, Gillibrand and nine other candidates traveled to San Francisco for the California Democratic Party Convention, which was the largest gathering of 2020 presidential contenders thus far until the first official Democratic debate will be hosted by MSNBC on June 26-27 in Miami.

'Housing first'

Homelessness declines in Pasadena thanks to focus on providing short- and long-term housing

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 5/30/2019

The number of homeless individuals in Pasadena decreased by 20 percent this year compared to 2018, according to the 2019 Homeless Count Report released on May 20 by the city of Pasadena’s Housing Department, the Pasadena Partnership to End Homelessness and Urban Initiatives.

The annual count is a one-night snapshot of those living in unsheltered locations and temporary shelters. This year’s count was conducted on the evening of Jan. 22 into the early morning of Jan. 23, 2019, and tallied 542 people experiencing homelessness in Pasadena, compared to 677 in 2018. That makes 2019 the second lowest year since the count began in 1992, after only 2016, when 530 people were counted.

Homelessness in Pasadena has generally been on a decline since 2011, when 1,216 people were counted (except for an uptick the last two years). In 2011, the city and homeless services providers implemented a new approach: housing first, as opposed to clearing up personal issues and then being placed into a home. And city officials and homeless advocates say that approach is highly successful.

“Permanent supportive housing is the only thing that ends homelessness,” said William Huang, the city’s housing director, during a panel on homelessness at the West Pasadena Residents’ Association’s annual meeting on May 8.

Officer Donovan Jones of the Pasadena Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Psychiatric Evaluation (HOPE) team and Shawn Morrissey, Union Station Homeless Service’s director of advocacy and community engagement, also served on the panel.

The Solution

“It took us over 40 years to figure out that the solution for homelessness is an actual home, but we finally did and that’s where our effort is now: to get people into housing,” said Morrissey. “During the early periods of homeless services, all we had to offer people were shelters. We didn’t have housing solutions, just temporary solutions. We became dependent on the massive shelter system we built in LA.”

Morrissey, originally from Montreal, had been homeless himself for a long time starting in his late 30s when he “washed up in Pasadena” in 2002, as he put it. He was an opiate addict from age 12 to 40, but after he received support and housing from Union Station, he was able to turn his life around.

“I showed up with two black eyes, my head was split open, I had no underwear and I was wearing one contact and it wasn’t even mine,” said Morrissey. “You’d see me on the street, I’d be wild-eyed, wild-haired. My success is a result of these types of services and community that wrapped around me. As soon as people get into housing, they’re no longer homeless.”

He said that it’s very challenging to provide services for people while they’re living on the street, but getting a roof over their head and four walls around them has a stabilizing effect and allows them to attend to many of the issues that led to their homelessness to begin with.

“Not only is permanent supportive housing humane and the right thing to do, it has a huge cost savings and helps both the individual and the community,” Morrissey said. “It’s actually $15,000 to $20,000 cheaper to help someone get into permanent supportive housing than it is to walk by them on the street.”

The city’s strategies to address homelessness include funding and working with partners that provide basic homeless services, rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing and targeted homeless prevention.

Rapid rehousing is short-term assistance for people who are not chronically homeless — those with a disabling condition who have been homeless for more than a year — but recently became homeless for economic reasons.

“We’re seeing people becoming homeless for the first time in their lives,” said Huang. “A lot of them are being priced out of their homes through raised rents, or low-income retired people.”

Permanent supportive housing is typically an apartment unit for those considered chronically homeless. Huang said there is a misperception among the public that the development of more permanent supportive housing in their neighborhood will cause crime rates to go up and property values to go down.

“The safety level is actually enhanced because the person who is housed and is now stable is far less likely to commit crimes,” he said. “Barbara King, a local realtor, looked at property values around the three permanent supportive housing developments we have in Pasadena and found that nobody’s property values went down because the supportive housing developments were well designed and well maintained.”

However, just because officials now know housing is the solution doesn’t mean they have enough housing available.

“There’s a real bottleneck to building more housing,” said Huang. “There’s also a disincentive for landlords even with rental vouchers, because it’s simpler and they get more money when they rent units out at market rate. We need to get more units, either by building them or through willing landlords. It’s a big ask, we realize that, so we do have financial incentives for them if they’re willing to do it.”

Huang said the good news is that the city will be receiving new homeless funding soon from the county and the state. They plan to use that money to get more rapid and supportive housing, hire more housing navigators and case managers, expand prevention efforts, enhance landlord incentives, distribute more motel vouchers and provide more job development.

Pay It Forward

In 2011, homeless advocates in Pasadena launched the inaugural “Housing First” initiative called Project House Pasadena, aimed at housing the 20 most vulnerable and severely chronically homeless individuals — those at risk of dying within a year if they stayed on the streets. One of those 20 people was Dorothy Edwards.

Edwards was born in Monrovia and grew up in Hacienda Heights. After moving from program to program trying to get off drugs, she became homeless in Pasadena, partly to escape a domestic violence situation. She lived with her dog Gunner on the embankment of the Foothill (210) Freeway behind Target in east Pasadena and on a sofa in the donations area of Goodwill on Altadena Drive and Foothill Boulevard, among other places.

Morrissey and others made several attempts to contact Edwards to give her a housing voucher but she hid from them. Seven years ago, Morrissey caught up with her, made a connection, built trust and convinced her to give supportive housing a try. After using cocaine, meth and heroin intravenously for 24 years, she has now been sober for several years and helps others in the position she used to be in. She said housing and employment were the turning point for her.

Edwards went through an advocacy training program at the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), a community development financial institution that empowers those with lived experiences to speak about homelessness to policymakers. She now sits on CSH’s national board of directors and works at Housing Works as an enrichment services coordinator in a 54-unit supportive services and special needs building in Eagle Rock.

“When you’re homeless for a long time you feel like you’re less than and not enough, but Bill Huang and Shawn Morrissey always made me feel welcome,” said Edwards. “I’m really a stronger person today because of all the encouragement I had. It’s important what I’m doing, my voice is important and I know in my heart that I’ve found my passion. Now I want to pay it forward and help those who are still on the street.”

Morrissey said they’ve housed hundreds of people in the past few years with a 97 percent retention rate.

Work to Do

While the 2019 Homeless Count Report found that progress has been made among key subpopulations such as youth, veterans and families with children, it also found that more people are experiencing chronic homelessness, accounting for 50 percent of the total homeless population.

Additionally, 58 percent of those counted were Pasadena residents before they became homeless and only 5 percent first became homeless outside of LA County or out of state, “largely refuting the misconception that people experiencing homelessness travel from other areas and across the nation,” reads the report.

The homeless population is also aging. The data reveal that three in 10 people experiencing homelessness in Pasadena are aged 55 years or older. There were 23 families with children experiencing homelessness in Pasadena, but there were no unsheltered families with children on the night of the count, compared to eight families in 2018.

Huang identified several things anyone can do to help homeless individuals: refer them to services through websites like LA-HOP.org; get educated by reading the Homeless Count Report; donate to the nine orange parking meters around the city that are part of the Real Change Movement designed by ArtCenter College of Design; engage landlords to consider renting units to homeless individuals; and volunteer with organizations that serve the homeless such as Union Station, Friends in Deed, Foothill Unity Center and many others.

“We’re never going to end this problem, but Pasadena is uniquely positioned to ostensibly end this problem as it exists today with the political will, the infrastructure, and the robust services that we have,” said Morrissey. “What’s really going to turn the tide is getting the appropriate information out to the community in order to tear down some of these myths and stigmas and help people see there really is a solution here: developing or making housing available for people.”