Sunday, November 06, 2016

You Don’t Have To Eat The Caulking: The Jennifer DeNicola Story, From Malibu to DC And Back-- Running For Malibu City Council


-by Dorothy Reik

It all started in 2014 when three teachers in Malibu got thyroid cancer. The long ago banned carcinaogen, PCB, was found at the school. Was it the cause? There was the usual back and forth with the Santa Monica Malibu School Board downplaying the danger and claiming that you had to practically eat the caulking to be poisoned. Hint: it’s an airborne poison. Then Jennifer DeNicola stepped in:
“Jennifer deNicola, a parent who serves on the district's Malibu Schools Environmental Task Force, has launched the group Malibu Unites for Healthy Schools, which is seeking comprehensive toxin testing of both campuses. After that, she says, "We can sit down collaboratively with the parents and the teachers and the district and figure out the best solution for our school."
The school board wasn’t having any of it so the battle was on. It’s always good to have a celebrity and Cindy Crawford, who had recently pulled her kids out of Malibu High due to the PCBs, was already on board. Jennifer DeNicola was on her way. Malibu Unites morphed into America Unites for Kids as it became obvious that any school in the country that contained building materials from the years prior to the 1979 EPA ban likely had PCBs in their caulking and elsewhere. The district’s congressman, Ted Lieu, stepped in with support, providing additional test results to the EPA.

Money was raised, a citizens’ lawsuit was filed and Jennifer and her group of activists headed to court. The school district fought back but when the smoke cleared the school board had two and a half years to get rid of the PCBs or the buildings could not be used. Sweet victory!

So on to DC: Jennifer and Cindy Crawford headed for Washington where they were welcomed by the Senate leadership from both parties. The problem was explained. The senators were outraged and promised to help. And they did. Stating that more than fourteen million children were in danger, Senator Ed Markey proposed a bill mandating testing and providing funds for districts that needed money for testing and cleanup. “Decades after the PCB ban, people are still being exposed to these toxic chemicals from various sources, such as caulk, some oil-based paints, and floor finish in buildings constructed between 1950 and 1979; leaking fluorescent light ballast; old electrical equipment; and PCB-containing landfills. Most worrisome are PCB exposures for children in schools built or retrofitted during the period that PCB-containing materials were widely used. Up to 14 million students nationwide, representing nearly 30% of the school-aged population, may be exposed to PCBs in their schools, based on the estimated number of schools built during that time and how much PCB-containing material was used in these schools. A 2016 Harvard School of Public Health study estimates that between 12,960 and 25,920 schools have PCB-containing caulk.

Jennifer DeNicola is now back in Malibu and running for a seat on the Malibu City Council. A troika of bro’s is running a nasty campaign against her, aided and abetted by a local hit sheet called the Local. Jennifer is endorsed by Ted Lieu, Gavin Newsom, Betty Yee, Robert Kennedy, Jr. and now by Erin Brokovich who just gave her the Environmental Working Group (EWG) award. Ken Cook, head of the EWG), was named by The Hill as one if the three most effective grassroots lobbyist in DC. And of the two women running only Jennifer was endorsed by the Sierra Club.

"As a woman in the public eye fighting to protect our children and their future, I know what it takes to be effective in this political climate. Jennifer has the courage, intelligence, and integrity to take on tough issues and succeed. I am behind her and I hope you are too.I am proud to endorse Jennifer deNicola for Malibu City Council and I strongly believe she's going to win! So please make sure you mail in your absentee ballots or go to the polls, this Tuesday, November 8th, 2016. The polls are open from 7am-8pm."
-Erin Brokovich.

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At 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article, Dorothy and informative, so important. Indeed, Jennifer deserves to be on the Malibu City Council. I met her about 1 1/2 years ago at a Dem Club event and she patiently explained the situation in detail to me. I was impressed at her sound scientific knowledge and her energy to right this dangerous wrong. I certainly endorse her.

Ellen Lubic, Director
Joining Forces for Education

At 3:39 AM, Blogger Morgan Maginmis said...


Great story and great effort to elect Jennifer. Malibu has been run by machine politics for too long. Malibu is heaven but the underbelly of Malibu is deeply isolationist, racist, xenophobic, and aloof from reality. The Gang of three is an odd couple for sure. Who is financing them? One man who wants to keep Malibu only for the White Republican Men. Jennifer is one of my heroes, but heroes like Judge John Merrick, Paul Shoop and many others just don't get elected in Malibu. Mostly Malibu elects incompetents and Drumpf like clones. Sorry Dorothy Ralph Erickson is an anomaly. Pat Maginnis

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Bill Michtom said...

It is frightening and, unfortunately, unsurprising, that a person trying to prevent poisoning of school children can be painted by ANYONE as a villain.

At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The attached declaration from Malibu High School Parent Matt DeNicola declares that former SMMUSD Board of Education member Ben Allen, now California State Senator Ben Allen admitted in September 2014 that the SMMUSD Board of Education chose not to test for PCBs, because they knew that they would find illegal levels of toxic PCBs and be forced to remove them under the TSCA."

At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Sherry Martini said...

Jennifer really does fight for what's right. She is a tireless researcher and advocate for the environment and for kids. Malibu is so lucky to have her.
Sherry Martini
Santa Monica Parent


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