Tuesday, April 24, 2007



My bud Roland teaches elementary school in Compton. I am certain that "Mr. C's Life Lessons" will have a greater impact on his kids than anything he has to force on them under "No Child Left Behind." I rarely ever have a conversation with him when his enthusiasm for his young charges doesn't come bursting forth. A lot of his kids are poor and most of them are the children of immigrants; many are immigrants themselves. In a society that does not value teachers-- just look at what a school teacher makes compared to... well almost anyone-- Roland feels that the parents of his students value him tremendously. They respect him and love him for the effort he puts in with their kids. These parents put tremendous value on the power of education.

The native born kids' parents, in his experience, are another case altogether. Roland worries every day that the homelife of his many of his young African-American students-- he teaches third grade-- aren't nearly as conducive to learning and valueing education as are the values being taught in the homes of the immigrant students.

Compton used to be an overwhelmingly African-American city. It's overwhelmingly Latino now. But the mayoralty and most of the high level appointed positions are held by African-Americans. And Compton-- along with much of Long Beach-- are the heart of the 37th congressional district. This is the district that was so well-represented by Juanita Millender-McDonald for the last decade and a half.

Congresswoman Millender-McDonald succumbed to cancer Sunday. (Roland claims the air in the district is so polluted from industry that he expects that everyone there will die from cancer, including himself. There's some kind of chemical plant right near the school that belches pollutants into the air and has caused him and his students to get sick and throw up.)
Carson Mayor Jim Dear said Millender-McDonald had colon cancer that had metastasized to her liver. "She was very active and working hard for the people of the 37th Congressional District all the way up until the end," he said. "She was always there to help people in need." ... Under state law, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has 14 days to set a date for a special election to fill her seat. Overwhelmingly Democratic, communities in the 37th District have reflected the demographic shifts across much of Los Angeles County-- in recent decades, largely African American areas have become increasingly Latino. Millender-McDonald's death is likely to set off "a major scramble" for her seat, said Dymally, who was California's lieutenant governor in the mid-1970s.

The Sacramento Bee also envisions the same major scramble. "With few blacks in Congress, African American leaders often put an emphasis on replacing one black politician with another." But the district has changed and many of the local African-American officeholders in the area are very old, like Assemblymen Mel Dymally (80) and State Senator Ed Vincent (72). More likely is another state senator, Jenny Oropeza, a progressive who represents the area south of Compton. Freshman Assemblywoman Laura Richardson, whose 55th Assembly District covers Carson and dips down into Long Beach, is another potential candidate and African American. Unfortunately she isn't very progressive and she has a reputation for being no friend of the gay community's. The congressional district is 43% Latino, compared to about 25 percent for African-Americans and 17 percent for whites.

Our pal Joshua Grossman from Progressive Punch shared an analysis of the potential race with the California Progress Report this morning.
Approximately 369,000 of the district's residents are in Long Beach, 93,000 from Compton, 90,000 from Carson, and only about 33,000 are in the Los Angeles portion of the district.

...State Senator Jenny Oropeza has been listed in the print media as one potential entrant. Although her current Senate seat has only 15% of the Congressional District, she is from Long Beach and would be a strong contender, according to Grossman.

Senators Alan Lowenthal and Edward Vincent represent about 40% of the Congressional District in their respective Senate Districts.

Three Assemblymembers, represent portions of the 37th Congressional District: newly elected Laura Richardson (approximately 38%), Betty Karnette (30%), and Mervyn Dymally (30%). In fact much of what is in the Congressional District was represented by Dymally when he was in Congress and he is an icon, having been Lieutenant Governor of the state and in office for virtually all of the last 4 decades.

Although Richardson has served on the Long Beach City Council, being newly elected to the Assembly, Grossman wondered if she would run for Congress. He also looked at the ages of others and wondered if they would want to be commuting to Washington, D.C. Oropeza, to his mind, approaching age 50 might be the best shot, although he handicapped Lowenthal as another strong competitor.

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At 11:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From 2003-2006 I lived in north Carson. A couple observations, for what they're worth.

Carson, along with Compton, has had lots of local political corruption in recent times. Perhaps that's part of the reason why it seemed the only people politically active, in Carson at least, were the paid organizers.

I also was in the state district in which Oropeza ran for and won last time around. I vouch for her as a friend of the gay community -- she wasn't very upfront about it. A lot of the national issues I don't know about her, but I'm hopeful.

At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was me above -- I mistyped my comment about Oropeza.

Jenny Oropeza WAS very upfront about her support for the gay community and providing equal rights on marriage, as I recall.

At 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently Schwarzeneggar just announced date of special election: Aug 21.

At 11:45 PM, Blogger Glancing Header said...

Wow, it's even earlier than Aug 21 -- there will be a primary that will occur on June 26. Whoever wins there wins in the August general election, so there's literally only two month of campaigning.

I wish I knew who these folks were!

(FYI, that was me above - I was having trouble logging in)

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