La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club 2017-05-31 13:19:49

Professors’ Hour to Highlight June Meeting

Economy, Climate Change to Take Center Stage

Gin, Severinghaus to Keynote


The June 7th meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club will feature a veritable who’s who of leading San Diego experts in the political ramifications of executive orders dealing with our economy and the environment. Furthermore, we’ll learn from a leading local expert about dark money and it’s effect on our elections. Non-profit Attorney Matt Strabone is a 2018 challenger to controversial County Assessor Ernie Dronenburg, and will not only enlighten us about special-interest influence in our electoral process, but also shady dealings in the Assessor’s Office.

Professor Alan Gin, perhaps the most visible of local economists and author of the USD’s monthly Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County, is a repeat and very popular LMFDC Guest Speaker. We look forward to his commentary on the current unethical business dealings of the Trump Organization/Administration, the proposed federal budget, the effect of the newly House-passed ACHA on middle class families, the rolling back of various Obama-era financial initiatives, the proposed dismantling of consumer, economic and banking protections, the new era (and many consequences) of wealth building for the investment class under Trump, and many other informed and fascinating opinions from Professor Gin. It’s noteworthy at this point in time that one of Dr. Gin’s key interests is the business environment in Asia, and China trade in particular. Could this be more timely?

For those who attended the recent Climate March on the San Diego Bayfront most certainly heard from Jeffrey Severinghaus, Professor of Geosciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He was sounding the alarm at the drastic measures taken by the Trump Administration in rolling back recently enacted advances to combat global warming. From his bio: “Severinghaus’ research raises the question of whether the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels could also produce a rapid change in climate, rather than the slow, steady rise in temperature many computer models of global climate now predict.” We also hope to hear how Professor Severinghaus views Trump’s admission that Climate Change is a Chinese-perpetrated hoax, and how the layoffs at and dismantling of the EPA will affect research like that taking place at SIO/UCSD. And what of our proposed pull-out from the Paris Climate Agreement? These answers and much more from concerned Climate Scientist Jeffrey Severinghaus.


Alan Gin is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of San Diego. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, and his Master’s of Arts and Ph.D. degrees, both in Economics, from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Professor Gin came to the University of San Diego in 1988, after having previous taught at Loyola Marymount University and the University of California at Santa Barbara.


Professor Gin is one of the affiliated faculty members of the University of San Diego’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate. His other research interests include local public finance, urban transportation, and the economy of San Diego. Professor Gin’s insights on the local economy have made him a popular source for interviews, and he has given over 1,000 interviews to local and national media sources.


He is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Asian Business Association of San Diego and sits on the Board of Directors of the Hong Kong Association of Southern California (San Diego Chapter). He has taught in the University of San Diego’s Study Abroad Programs in Hong Kong and Beijing/Shanghai, and has traveled extensively in the region.


Jeff Severinghaus is a professor of geosciences in the Geosciences Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. His current research interests center on using trapped bubbles of gases contained in ice cores to track changes in ancient climate. Born in Kentfield, CA, on Aug. 26, 1959, Severinghaus received a bachelor’s degree in geology from Oberlin College in 1983, a master’s degree in geological sciences from UC Santa Barbara in 1988, and a Ph.D. in geological sciences from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in 1995.

Current projects include construction of a “rapid access ice drill” to explore the three-dimensional interior of the Antarctic ice sheet in search of the oldest possible ice, which may allow a record of atmospheric carbon dioxide dating back 1.5 million years. This rapid access drill would allow drilling to the bed of an ice sheet in a few days, instead of the typical three to five years needed for a deep ice core.

Severinghaus has also performed extensive research in Greenland. His analysis of isotopes of nitrogen and argon contained in Greenland ice core bubbles have revealed that the earth went through a period of rapid warming at the end of the last ice age, some 11,000 years ago. He found that the region experienced a 15-degree-Fahrenheit jump in temperature in less than a decade, the impact of which was felt throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

Severinghaus is the recipient of the 2011 Claire C. Patterson Medalist of the Geochemical Society, an award given annually for a breakthrough in environmental geochemistry. Severinghaus was also awarded a Comer Science and Education Fellowship (2002), a Packard Foundation Fellowship (2001), a NOAA Climate and Global Change Graduate Fellowship (1992), and a University of California Regents Fellowship (1985). He worked in Nepal 1989-1991 to assist in a rural development project with World Neighbors.

Matthew J. Strabone is the owner of Strabone Law, a practice specializing in the representation of nonprofits, campaigns, and small businesses. He has counseled numerous campaigns for office at the local, state, and federal levels as well as a number of ballot measure committees. He has also provided guidance to President Obama, national party committees, and state and county Democratic parties.

Matthew holds a B.A., cum laude, from the University of Rochester and a J.D. from the University of Southern California Law School, where he was development editor of the Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice. He is a partner of the Truman National Security Project, a board member of the North Park Community Association, and an appointed member of the City of San Diego Parking Advisory Board.

The La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club is undergoing an unprecedented resurgence this year, with our membership climbing over 350 Democrats, progressives and concerned citizens, and our meeting attendance averaging over 200 each month. We meet the first Wednesday of each month at the very accommodating La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just North of University Ave. in La Mesa. We start each meeting at 6:30 PM with our social ½ hour, with snacks, salads, desserts and beverages provided by the club and members, and begin our business meeting and speakers program promptly at 7 PM. We conclude with public announcements and other notes and adjourn at 8:30 PM. We welcome all members and guests to each meeting, and remind you that this is a great time to join LMFDC for as little as $30 per year. Join your many progressive activists from San Carlos, Del Cerro, the College Area, La Mesa, Allied Gardens, Santee, Mt. Helix, Casa De Oro, and many other close by East County Communities. Please view our website for info on our participation in the La Mesa Flag Day Parade and other great local events at and like us on Facebook.


Linda Armacost, President

Jeff Benesch, VP Programming

La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club

San Diego County Club of the Year 2016




Local Dems to See Proof

Mattes and Fletcher Return to LMFDC



Recent news reports published in the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed, and appearing on many network news programs including Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, alluded to Russian hacking and manipulation of the 2016 Presidential Election, decidedly in favor of the Trump campaign. During the heat of the primary campaign, several website administrators of Bernie Sanders’ FB sites, including John Mattes, who many may remember from our Springtime Bernie/Hillary forum as an ardent supporter of the former, noticed a disturbing trend. Many posts and posters, hundreds of them in fact, were originating in Eastern Europe.


John Mattes is an attorney, former City Councilman, and veteran award-winning investigative journalist who spent many years with XETV and other local news outlets, as well as stations in Miami and Los Angeles and ABC World News. He’s been based in San Diego since 2002 and runs The Investigative Guy website.


Mattes first suspected outside interference in the campaign when he detected strange posts from Eastern Europeans on Bernie Sanders support Facebook pages. The posters had no profile or ties to Sanders but had dozens of faux-Sanders groups. The users who Mattes suspected were plants posted only vicious Anti-Hillary stories from American looking websites, but were strangely all located in Albania and Macedonia.

In early September, Mattes alerted several investigator friends with a list of the suspect sites he had uncovered. Digging deeper Mattes uncovered dozens of Anti-Hillary websites all hidden behind private registrations or addresses in Macedonia. Posts from the suspect websites were flooding Sanders media and online platforms nationwide in October with Anti-Hillary posts claiming Hillary was to be indicted, or had a stroke, or was involved in human trafficking.

Come late October, Mattes shared his findings with Buzzfeed where he is quoted as saying, “What is most disturbing is that the Macedonia stories worked to directly help Trump,” and, “The stories targeted Sanders supporters, creating doubts about Hillary among a key voting bloc.” Buzzfeed reported that Mattes thought this was part of a concerted effort to suppress the votes of Sanders supporters in order to help Trump win the election. “Some [of the Sanders supporters] are newly energized democratic voters,” he said, “If you have the ability to suppress and poison the well and reduce participation, that’s a win.”

After the election, Mattes expanded his investigation into the potential role of Russian tampering with the election. His findings were included in a story in the New Yorker titled “Trump Putin and the New Cold War”. Mattes’ investigation then was profiled in Huffington post and Raw Story, and now has reached numerous other publications.

In March, Mattes’ assertions were proven correct when the former director of the NSA testified that Russia had employed over 1000 trolls to plant Anti-Hillary disinformation on Sanders social media platforms. Currently, he is continuing this investigation, and working to spread his findings across the U.S. and the globe. John will present his latest findings at the next meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club on Wednesday evening, May 3rd at the beautiful La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just off University Ave. in La Mesa.

We get a bonus this month with the return of rising political superstar, Nathan Fletcher. Nathan will talk about what we can do locally to counter Trump (particularly on voting rights and ballot access) and give an update on efforts to bring home deported veterans. We also hope to hear about Nathan’s political future, and why he thinks all politics starts locally, in our cities, counties and communities and what it takes as progressives and Democrats, to get involved.

In addition to being a father of 2 boys, a UCSD Political Science Professor, former Marine, former State Assemblyman, Ironman Triathlete, marathoner, and mountain climber, Fletcher remains politically active; supporting Democratic candidates and progressive causes. He is a member of the national advisory board of Organizing for Action, the successor organization of President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.  He is a member of the Statewide Leadership Council of the Public Policy Institute of California, and a member of the Aspen Institute Global Alliances Program Advisory Board.  He is also a member of the National Advisory Board of the Truman National Security Project.  He is a delegate of the California Democratic Party and has been active in supporting Democratic candidates and causes such as efforts to raise the minimum wage. He also remains involved in efforts to ensure implementation of Chelsea’s Law. He is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Human Rights. He recently married noted State Assemblyperson Lorena Gonzalez.

Be sure to arrive early to grab the best seats for this blockbuster program. It’s also a great time to buy an annual membership to LMFDC for as little at $30. per year. We recently were voted the County 2016 Club of the Year!

Our social activities begin at 6:30 with snacks, fruits, veggies, desserts and beverages supplied by the members, and the meetings begin promptly at 7 PM. All members and guests are welcomed, and we particularly draw crowds from San Carlos, Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, La Mesa, Santee, Mt. Helix, Casa De Oro, the College Area, and all other nearby East County Communities. We meet the first Wednesday of every month.

Please check out our fantastic future events, and pictures of our last ones, on our website at or like us on Facebook.

Linda Armacost, President

Jeff Benesch, VP Membership

Being Had.

Larry Howe is the Past President who now lives in Italy with his wife Arlene.

Larry Howe, LMFDC Past President


As a nation, we are being confronted with the unthinkable reality that a foreign power intentionally injected influence into an election for the Office of the President of the United States. Compounding that issue is the concern as to whether the candidate who won that election knowingly collaborated with a foreign power in that effort or whether that candidate became an unwitting beneficiary.

A third more complex and realistic probability is that Donald Trump became compromised through the exploitation of his own entrepreneurial greed in his business dealings with that foreign power. Then comes the issue of what the result of that compromise might have entailed. The resolution of these critical issues is made more difficult by the seeming unwillingness and incapacity of the Trump enterprise to entertain serious reflection on the consequences of their actions. Self-aggrandizement appears to be the only overarching consideration they can consider.

A proposition could be made that the easiest people to con are greedy opportunists. The exploitation of an opponent’s own weaknesses for use against them is a well-established strategy.  It is beginning to look like the Russians have a gift of a predatory instinct that enables them to spot easy marks to prey upon. And the Russians have used it well against the United States in the undermining of the political process.

            But to what end? In a strategic contest between major world powers, any success in creating instability within the governing structure of a potential adversary works to the benefit of the orchestrator of the instability.  It would be a mistake to underestimate the residual animosity that exists within Russia over the perceived role of the U.S. in encouraging the fall of the Soviet form of government. The U.S. arming and encouraging the Afghani resistance brought the already existing deficits of the Soviet government into sharper focus. And then following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the heavy-handed approach to Russian economic reform taken by the U.S. administration under Ronald Reagan was taken as an attempt to further weaken Russia and ensure U.S. dominance. That was followed by a significant enlargement of NATO incorporating former countries of the Warsaw Pact which Russia saw as a buffer between it and a hostile west. To understand this larger dynamic is to better understand the underlying lingering animosity that orchestrates the Russian well played strategy against the interests of the U.S.

            Emerging evidence demonstrates the carefully executed strategy employed by the Russians to undermine the confidence of the American population in their governmental processes.  To be sure, the Russians recognized the reality that the American political process had already sown the seeds of its own collapse.  The fomenting of extreme political division changed politics from an arena for open debate and collaboration toward the best solutions for the common good to a ‘zero sum – winner takes all’ power contest.  Extremism in various quarters has become the dominant reality in American politics over the past thirty to forty years. And those divisions have only fed on each other resulting in the virtual breakdown of informed, collaborative political dialogue.

            The Russians did not initiate that process in America, we did it to ourselves. But that breakdown in effective political process created the tempting opportunity for the injection of ‘active measures’ to exacerbate the growing crisis of governance in the U.S.

            The growing extremism within the Republican Party fed on the manipulation of legitimate discontent and disappointment of large segments of the U.S. population. Many Americans recognized their government was complicit in the conditions that permitted big money interests to take unreasonable speculative risks and to engineer a cornucopia of bizarre mechanisms to lure the unsuspecting into bogus ‘get-rich-quick schemes’ (i.e. The Derivatives Market).  The outcome was world-wide economic disruption and the loss of significant life savings by so many of us. Added to that, was the further failure of the government to take meaningful, corrective action. Small wonder there is a rampant level of cynicism toward government in the U.S.

            Populism is one of the easiest movements to coopt. The successful demagogue is the one who listens to the anxieties in the population and plays them back to the masses in seeming affirmation and personal identification with their distress. In conditions like that, most people want to feel listened to, “Thank you for understanding I am pissed-off!” The aggrieved are in an elevated emotional state and have neither the inclination nor are they necessarily equipped to evaluate complex issues of economic structural reform necessary to correct the problems. Too often, affirmation of distress is sufficient to get a following. Sound bites, slogans and political stunts carry the day.

            The Republican Presidential Primary illustrated a mad rush to court the Populism sentiment with candidates each trying to appear more ‘anti-establishment’ than the next. Enter Donald Trump. This seventy-year old entrepreneur has existed by sniffing out opportunities to be exploited for his own personal gain. He instinctively gravitates toward market dynamics built on exposure.  Publicity is the meat of entrepreneurial opportunity. Looking for exposure, why not a presidential campaign stage?

            If you were looking for someone to back to be President of the United States who would be the least effective person to have in office and further promote discontent with democracy, from that field, who would you have chosen?  If you wanted to undermine the candidacy of the person with the best experience and best insights into your self-serving objectives, which of the potential candidates would you have wished to undermine?

            It remains to be seen and may never be sufficiently clear the extent to which the Trump campaign knowingly collaborated with Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 presidential election process. Elements of the Trump entourage were courted and enticed into what appeared to be promising commercial opportunities. The reality that they could be compromised in a political context would first have be recognized if they were even open to recognizing it.  A vulnerability of an entrepreneur can be the delusion you are conning the other party more effectively than they are conning you.  Trump was good at it in dealing with contractors working on his properties but dealing with the Russian state apparatus might have injected him into a contest even beyond his guile.

            There is an impression Donald Trump has embedded into our awareness that he is a man seemingly incapable of dealing with his own fallibility.  His inability to control his emotional reflexes and impulses is an extremely worrisome component in a president’s emotional profile. The responsibilities of the President of the United States require a person of calm disposition ready to see world affairs as extremely complex and nuanced. The individual must be able to control impetuosity and must gather around them people with broad depth and perspective who are encouraged to speak truth rather than acting as sycophants.

            Donald Trump is immersed in a swamp of his own creation and is flailing about using elements of the government to attempt to cover and justify his serious errors in judgement revealed in his impetuous pronouncements.   In a recent case in point, whether wittingly or not, to further his own ends he has deliberately weakened the credibility the investigation being conducted by the House Intelligence Committee. By compromising Committee Chair, Devin Nunes, he has cast doubt on the capability of the House of Representatives to impartially protect the interests of the American people.  The Russians could not have done a better job of undermining faith in elements of American democracy.

            On its face, in accomplishing that outcome, Donald Trump has furthered Russian interests. To give him the benefit of doubt, it is likely his own personality deficits are more responsible for that outcome than any orchestration by a hands-on Russian effort.

            And so, it appears in the entire Trump debacle, the personality deficits of Donald Trump have been ready made to be manipulated by a foreign power to their benefit.  Cynicism is growing and distrust of American core governmental functions is being eroded on an almost daily basis.

            The resolution of this crisis is going to require the emergence of true statesmanship coming from some other quarter than the Office of the President. Donald Trump has demonstrated he lacks the depth of personal character to see beyond his own personal aggrandizement to the larger interests of the United States.  The likelihood of his resigning is a fantasy.  His potential removal by Congressional action will be drawn out and messy.  We are in for a very uncertain future in a very complex world. The Russians could not be more satisfied with their efforts in contributing to this outcome.

            We have all been had.  We brought a lot of this on ourselves. Concentrations of financial power in the U.S. were part of the manipulative process that helped con many in the electorate. Narrow political opportunists who have sold out to those concentrations of financial power continue to do their bidding. We offered the Russians a wide-open opportunity to exploit our weaknesses and they took it.

            If there was ever a time to break down political division and have voices of collaborative moderation take charge, it is now.  God protect and defend the United States of America from what we have done to ourselves!


Tom Steyer, and Executive Director Diane Takvorian of the Environmental Health Coalition.


Local Dem Club to Host April Appearance

Longtime Collaborator Diane Takvorian to Lead Off


Standing room only is expected for the Wednesday, April 5th meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club. Keynote speakers will be leading renewable energy advocate Tom Steyer, and Executive Director Diane Takvorian of the Environmental Health Coalition.


In just 45 days, the new administration under Donald Trump has wreaked havoc on the environmental advances made under the previous administration. We’ve seen executive orders weakening the Clean Water Act, allowing mining operations to pollute drinking water sources with fewer regulations and oversight. The Keystone Pipeline has been given new life and will now transport dirty oil from Canadian tar sands to American ports. The inevitable catastrophic pipeline breaks will foul drinking water in the upper plains states for generations. And Exxon Mobile, recent home of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has been given the green light to expand operations worth billions of dollars in drilling and refining of oil and gas in the fragile ecosystem along the Gulf Coast, still recovering from the effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the devastating hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We have yet to see any commitment to renewable energy development that would alter our horrific future of global warming and continued dependency on fossil fuels.

The April 5th meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club will continue our Resist Series with the appearance of California’s best known environmentalist, Tom Steyer.

Steyer is a business leader and philanthropist who believes we have a moral responsibility to give back and help ensure that every family shares the benefits of economic opportunity, education, and a healthy climate.


In 2010, Tom and his wife, Kat Taylor, pledged to contribute most of their wealth to charitable causes during their lifetimes. That same year, Tom worked to defeat Proposition 23, an attempt by the oil industry to roll back California’s historic plan to reduce pollution and address climate change.


Tom founded a successful California business, which he left to work full-time on non-profit and advocacy efforts. He now serves as President of NextGen Climate, an organization he founded in 2013 to prevent climate disaster and promote prosperity for all Americans. Tom also served as co-chair of Save Lives California, the coalition to prevent teen smoking and fund cancer research.


Tom’s dedication to public service is greatly inspired by his wife, Kat, the co-CEO of Beneficial State Bank in Oakland. They founded this nonprofit community bank in 2007 to provide loans to people and small businesses shut out by the traditional banking system. Unlike most banks, by statute Beneficial State Bank invests any profits back into the community. Tom and Kat live in San Francisco and have four children.

Tom will be introduced by his friend and long time collaborator, Diane Takvorian. Takvorian has led the struggle for social and environmental justice for over 30 years. She is Executive Director and co-founder of Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), an environmental justice organization based in the San Diego/Tijuana region. Founded in 1980, EHC works to protect public health and the environment threatened by toxic pollution through efforts that create a just society.


In 2010 Tom Steyer and NextGen Climate worked with EHC and the California Environmental Justice Alliance to defeat Proposition 23 – the oil company effort to repeal AB 32 – California’s Global Warming law.   In 2012, they worked together to pass Prop 39 when California voters stood up to corporate interests and closed a tax loophole previously available to large energy companies. EHC targeted precincts voted to pass Prop 39 by 74%. To date, Proposition 39 has put nearly a billion dollars into California schools and clean energy projects, saving millions of dollars in annual energy costs.


EHC’s community organizing and policy advocacy work with disenfranchised communities have eliminated many health risks and enabled thousands of residents to develop into community leaders. Diane has served on international, national, state, and regional advisory boards. In 2016 California Assembly Speaker appointed Takvorian to the California Air Resources Board. In 2009, President Obama appointed her to the Joint Public Advisory Committee for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. In 2008 Diane received the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for her “creative and inspirational leadership benefiting the people of California.” Takvorian is also a cofounder of the California Environmental Justice Alliance. Diane holds a Master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis on public policy and community organizing.


The La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club meets the first Wednesday of each month. While we welcome all members and guests to our meetings and events, for this special event, we are asking all attendees to donate $10.00 at the door to offset costs of the program.   Join LMFDC for as little as $30 a year and become involved. We serve the communities of La Mesa, San Carlos, Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, the College Area, Mt. Helix, Santee, Casa de Oro, and other nearby East County communities. We meet at the very nice La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just off University Ave. in La Mesa. Social time begins at 6:30 PM with the meeting and program kicking off at 7 PM. We adjourn at 8:30-ish. Follow us on Facebook, and check out our website for updates and news at


Linda Armacost, President

Jeff Benesch, VP Programming






La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club, already one of the largest and most active chartered Democratic Clubs in the County, is experiencing a record influx of new members and intrigued guests as we explore the actual facts of a trump presidency and it’s affects on our long held American values. We had a standing room crowd of over 210 attendees to hear our All-star panel of environmental heroes at our February 1st meeting, and are expecting big turnouts for our March 1st panel about the utterly contemptible trump immigration policy, and then our April 5th meeting featuring the renowned environmental activist Tom Steyer, founder of NextGen Climate.

If ever there was a time to join with fellow Dems and progressives, trump’s alarming group of Republican anti-government ne’er-do-wells should be your clarion call. It turns out that all one needs to head a trump Cabinet department you are totally unqualified to lead is to make millions of dollars of campaign contributions to Republican Senators. Or direct the EPA if you have sued it multiple times in the past. Or head Housing and Urban Development if you admit you have no expertise in that field. Become Secretary of State if you head a large corporation that does mega-business with our sworn enemy. Head the Labor Department if you are against all manner of employee protections. Want to reform banking? Add 6 Goldman Sachs people to your inner circle. Want peace in the Middle East? Put hawks in charge of the Defense Department. Want to create transparency in the White House? Put a spin-mistress propagandist in charge of your messaging. And this is just a partial list.


Want to fight back? Resist? We have proven strategies to influence our elected representatives and hold them accountable! Join LMFDC for as little as $30 a year and become involved. We serve the communities of La Mesa, San Carlos, Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, the College Area, Mt. Helix, Santee, Casa de Oro, and other nearby East County communities. We meet the first Wednesday of each month at the very nice La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just off University Ave. in La Mesa. We are just 5 minutes off the Spring St. exit of I-8. Social time begins at 6:30 PM with the meeting and program kicking off at 7 PM. We adjourn at 8:30-ish.


Our March 1st meeting will feature UCSD Professor Michael Provence, a modern Middle eastern historian who specializes in Syria and the Arab region. He will talk about recent US Middle East policy and the possible consequences of the new rhetorical landscape. We hope Michael will unravel the effects of the trump immigration ban on refugees in the US and in this volatile war-torn region.


Michael Provence received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2001. He is the current director of UCSD Middle East Programs. His research focuses on the colonial and postcolonial Arab world, particularly popular insurgency and nationalism between the World Wars.

He lived and studied over the course of many years in several Middle Eastern countries, particularly Syria and Lebanon between 1998 and 2006. He returns as often as possible.


We’ll also be privileged to hear from Democrat Ben Kalasho, himself an Iraqi-American, and an influential member of the large Chaldean Community in East County. Councilmember Kalasho was elected to the El Cajon City Council in November, 2016. Prior to his landmark election, Kalasho was the founder and president of the San Diego East County Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, which is one of the fastest growing business groups in San Diego. Councilmember Kalasho received an award from the East County Small Business for Job Creation and has numerous awards in Marketing and Business from the National Small Business Association, Chambers of Commerce and notable Networking Organizations. Councilmember Kalasho was born in Baghdad, Iraq as the middle of 6 children. He attended UCSD (ext), studying economics, and left school to pursue a career in Real Estate and investments.


Lastly, the newly elected Chairperson of the County Democratic Party, long-time activist Jessica Hayes, will highlight the party’s efforts to fight and counter radical right wing policies and push San Diego County to the forefront in our efforts to elect Democrats on all levels. Jessica has been a lifelong advocate for women, workers, and equal justice. She was previously a member of Dianne Feinstein’s kitchen cabinet, organized studio employees with the Teamsters, and has volunteered for countless campaigns. She served two terms as South Area Vice Chair. Jessica graduated from UCSD with a B.A. and California Western School of Law with a J.D. She and her former husband built A-Z Towing and became local employers for over 175 people. She raised two daughters of whom she is extremely proud, Chelsea and Brittany.


Find out more about our meetings, and Tom Steyer’s April 5th appearance by visiting our website at, or friend us on Facebook. Tom Steyer is an American hedge fund manager, philanthropist, and environmentalist.  He is the founder and former co-senior managing partner of Farallon Capital and the co-founder of Beneficial State Bank, an Oakland-based community development bank. 

In 2010, Steyer and his wife signed The Giving Pledge to donate half of their fortune to charity during their lifetime. Since leaving Farallon in 2012, Steyer has become a leading figure in environmental causes, being among the top donors of the 2014 election cycle, and an environmental advisor to the Obama administration.

Steyer is on the board of Next Generation, a non-profit that intends to tackle children’s issues and the environment.  Steyer is NextGen Climate’s founder. He serves on the Board of Trustees at Stanford University and is active in political campaign fundraising.

Here’s hoping to see you on Wednesday, March 1st at 6:30 PM!!

Linda Armacost, President, Jeff Benesch, VP Programming, La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club


Environmental Heroes Headline Dems Feb Meeting

Environmental Heroes Headline Dems Feb Meeting

Nicole Capretz, Georgette Gomez Featured

Saving our Planet is Theme



On Wednesday, February 1st, ten days into the president Trump era, local Democrats will hear an all star forum discuss the steps we need to take to resist the attack on our climate goals, our clean air and water, and our ongoing transformation to renewable energy sources. Who best to create opportunities and action plans than the Executive Director of the Climate Action Campaign, Nicole Capretz? Or the newly elected San Diego City Councilperson from District 9, Georgette Gomez? Or the Executive Director of San Diego Coastkeeper, Matt O’Malley? Masada Disenhouse of will also join our panel, as will Brian Elliott of the Sierra Club. And our moderator will be none other than our friend, and former Exec. Chair of the San Diego Sierra Club, Davin Widgerow.


Why our urgency to sound the alarm and expose and resist what is likely to be in store for the next 4 years in the environmental community?


Per the Guardian: “Trump has assembled a transition team in which at least nine senior members deny basic scientific understanding that the planet is warming due to the burning of carbon and other human activity. These include the transition heads of all the key agencies responsible for either monitoring or dealing with climate change. None of these transition heads have any background in climate science.”


Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency is noted climate change denier Scott Pruitt. And Trump is expected to name Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers to head the Interior Department. She is noteworthy for claiming that Al Gore “deserves an ‘F’ in science.” And let’s not forget that Trump’s choice for Secretary of State is none other than the head of the largest oil company in the world, Rex Tillerson. It’s plain to see that our new President has little regard for ending our dependency on oil, coal, tar sands, and other fossil fuel sources.


La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club serves the communities of Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, San Carlos, the College Area, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, Casa de Oro, Santee and other nearby East County locales. At nearly 300 members, it is one of the largest and most active chartered Democratic Clubs in San Diego County. We meet on the first Wednesday of each month at the spacious La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just North of University Ave. in La Mesa. Our meetings start with a social ½ hour at 6:30 PM with snacks, desserts and beverages supplied by club members, and then the business meeting and program begins at 7 PM. All members and guests are welcomed!


Our February meeting is the second in our series we are calling Write, Advocate and Resist, 48 months of learning to cope and overcome the already dire Trump administration. Trump’s inauguration coincided with the lowest approval ratings of any modern incoming president. His shocking appointments to executive positions on his staff and in his Cabinet are filled with unqualified, inexperienced and self-serving individuals who have little in common with the people or departments they are intending to lead, a veritable who’s who of reactionary and far right thinkers beholden to the fossil fuel industry and climate change deniers.


On the other hand, our Environmental Heroes are long time advocates and scholars, the best and brightest in their fields.   Nicole Capretz is an environmental attorney with 20 years of as an energy and climate policy advisor for local governments and the nonprofit sector. Nicole was the primary author of the City of San Diego’s groundbreaking, legally binding 100% clean energy Climate Action Plan adopted in late 2015. She now serves on the San Diego’s Climate Action Plan Implementation Working Group, as well as the City of Solana Beach’s Climate Action Commission.


Nicole advocates for local and state renewable energy legislation, participates in state administrative proceedings, serves as an expert witness in state policy hearings and is a regular speaker at energy and climate conferences and hearings. Nicole’s duties as Executive Director of CAC include overall strategic and operational responsibility for the organization’s staff, programs, expansion and execution of its mission.


Previously, Nicole served as the Chair of San Diego’s Economic and Environmental Sustainability Task Force for three years while being the Associate Director for Green Energy/Green Jobs at Environmental Health Coalition, an environmental justice organization in National City, California. She has also worked as a policy advisor for the San Diego City Council.


Nicole’s work on San Diego’s Climate Action Plan earned her numerous accolades among which are:


New York Times Top 10 Californians of the Year (2016)

“Voice of the Year” – Voice of San Diego (2015, 2016)

“Best People of San Diego” – San Diego CityBeat (2016)

“Bike Advocate of the Year” – San Diego County Bike Coalition (2016)

“Leadership Award” – San Diego County Democratic Party (2016)

Finalist for San Diego Magazine’s 2016 San Diego Woman of the Year (2016)

Finalist for San Diego Business Journal’s 2016 “Women Who Mean Business” Awards (2016)


Newly elected City Council Representative for San Diego’s District 9, Georgette Gomez, has some serious environmental chops herself. Gomez, a San Diego State alumna, is a native of Barrio Logan and a current resident of City Heights. She was associate director of Toxic Free Neighborhoods for the Environmental Health Coalition, and is well-known as a community organizer who has fought for a number of environmental issues. Georgette was a very impressive participant on our candidates’ forum at the beginning of 2015, and received the endorsements of the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Todd Gloria and David Alvarez among others for her run to replace Marti Emerald. She has spoken out vociferously against downtown special interests. Her campaign revolved around her status as a City Hall outsider anxious to shake up the status quo. She will especially focus on repairing District 9 infrastructure including city streets and lights, address homelessness, create more affordable housing options and increase public safety.


Matt O’Malley is the Executive Director of San Diego Coastkeeper. Matt joined Coastkeeper in January of 2014 as Legal and Policy Director, where he leads the advocacy work of the organization and protects the water bodies of San Diego County by utilizing local, state, and national laws and regulations, and through community engagement. Having represented environmental groups in the federal, state, and local arenas, Matt has experience in areas such as the Clean Water Act and NPDES permits, land use and growth management laws, CEQA, the Endangered Species Act, groundwater, soils, and sediment remediation, and environmental justice, to name a few. Matt currently serves as Legal Committee Chair and Board Member of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, and he is actively licensed to practice law in California, Florida, and Washington State.


Masada Disenhouse is a repeat visitor to LMFDC and founder of, a very active climate action advocacy group. is an international environmental organization encouraging citizens to action with the belief that publicizing the increasing levels of carbon dioxide will pressure world leaders to address climate change and to reduce levels from 400 parts per million to 350 parts per million. It was founded by author Bill McKibben with the goal of building a global grassroots movement to raise awareness about human-driven climate change, to confront climate change denial, and to cut emissions of carbon dioxide in order to slow the rate of global warming. takes its name from the research of Goddard Institute for Space Studies scientist James E. Hansen, who posited in a 2007 paper that 350 parts-per-million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere is a safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point.


Brian Elliott works locally for Congressman Scott Peters but also chairs the Political Committee for the local chapter of the Sierra Club. Brian’s start in San Diego Democratic politics came while he worked for the California Democratic Party as the environmental organizer on Congressman Peters’ 2014 re-election effort. He quickly went on to utilize his environmental expertise to advocate for local clean energy as the campaign organizer for Climate Action Campaign, and is now serving in Peters’ district office. Since arriving in San Diego, Brian has been an active member with Sierra Club and the greater environmental community as a volunteer and professionally, focusing on energy, water and climate policy matters.


Moderator Davin Widgerow is an environmental lawyer whose work is focused on toxic contamination remediation. He earned his BA (Political Science) from Berkeley, and his JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Davin was admitted to the California Bar in 2011. He began his law career interning for a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and advocating for disabled individuals. Until recently, Davin headed the Steering Committee for Sierra Club San Diego, which is tasked with coordinating Club projects, activities, finances, and administration. He also served as Chair of the Political Committee, which engages political candidates and environmental activists to further Sierra Club’s conservation efforts.


La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club is in the midst of our 2017 membership drive. For as little as $30 per year, members enjoy 12 general meetings featuring outstanding speakers and programs, our monthly newsletter, weekly updates of news you can use, special events like the La Mesa Flag Day parade, Octoberfest, and our Party in the Park, and priceless camaraderie with fellow progressives and activists. Join us now to learn more about the current threats to our Democracy and the Future of our Planet. Be sure to visit our website at or friend us on our Facebook page.


Linda Armacost, President

Jeff Benesch, VP Programming