President’s News

Gloves Off

Gloves Off

Why California Politics Have Changed

by Peter Coe Verbica, President
California Congress of Republicans

California politics have changed, but not for reasons that you might think.  If boxing is a tough sport, welcome to the MMA cage match known as California politics.  If you don’t have time to finish this article, I’ll cut to the punch line: Higher housing prices and higher rent equals less Republicans. The number of Republicans in California is inversely correlative to the price of housing.  As more and more Californians become oppressed renters, due to a lack of housing supply, they’re more prone to vote for policies which penalize owners.  Interested in more Republicans in California?  Reform land use!  The rest is hogwash.  Today’s problem has only been 80 years in the making.

(Chart source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_housing_shortage.)

For years, boxing was bound by the bare-knuckled “London Prize Ring Rules.”  These were subsequently replaced by the “Marquess of Queensberry Rules,” first written by John Graham Chambers in 1865, and endorsed by boxing patron and sportsman John Douglas, the Ninth Marquess of Queensberry.  Thanks to California’s governor, raised by the silver-back political wolves by the names of Pelosi, Brown and Feinstein and an unbridled Democrat-run legislation, the gloves are off.  It’s pure blood sport and not for faint of heart.  Who would have thought that so many aging hippies who hated “the man” would be such rabid advocates for the degradation of basic liberties?
While the rules of boxing have evolved, the rules of California politics have devolved.  If the stakes of boxing matches are high, the stakes in politics are higher.  A single fighter may fall to the canvas, but in politics, generations are either damned or liberated by who wins or loses.  The California Republican Party is in a death-match.  The old rules have been scuttled.  The greatest irony: California Republicans wear the white hat and sit high in the saddle.  California Republicans, male or female, gay or straight, old or young, of color or white as a lily, are the “good guys.” Why?  These brave souls stand for principles such as lower taxes, cheaper housing, quality jobs, better education and, the strangest concept of all — reason.  Californian Republicans demand their tax money is spent on outlandish projects normally under the purview of government: roads, water, fire protection.  Not slow trains to nowhere.  Welcome to the Alice in Wonderland looking glass world where up is down and down is up.

As Reagan reminds us, “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”  Great wisdom and yet, it’s a fact that Republicans don’t get a fair shake in the press; even back in 2014, the Washington Post announced, “Just 7 percent of journalists are Republicans. That’s far fewer than even a decade ago.”[i]

So, as the California Democrat Party refuses to build any new reservoirs, despite its population boom, and builds boondoggle trains to nowhere, and chokes housing supply despite demand, we could compile a quick list of some of their dirty tricks; lately, that’s an easy thing to do.  Here are just a few examples:

  1. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s nefarious mislabeling of Proposition 6’s repeal of the gas tax initiative.[ii]
  2. Sacramento’s change of law allowing for ballot harvesting, which greatly favors Democrats.[iii]
  3. Widespread voter fraud in California and lax enforcement of the rule of law (“LA County Admits Number of Registered Voters At 144% Of Resident Citizens Of Voting Age”).[iv]
  4. The California Teachers Union’s outsized spending on Democrat campaigns and liberal initiatives which in five and a half election cycles spent ~$118 million as reported back in 2012.[v]  According to the The Atlantic, “The Supreme Court Wednesday dealt a huge blow to public-sector unions and the labor movement in general, ruling in Janus v. AFSCME that public employees do not have to pay fees to unions to cover the costs of collective bargaining.”[vi]  It’s a sad day when teachers have to go all the way to the US Supreme Court to secure their First Amendment rights.
  5. Democrat campaign workers stealing Republican political flyers in Riverside County.[vii]
  6. The so-called fair redistricting measure which uses diabolically subjective tests which can be easily abused. As a friend eloquently states: “And let’s not fool ourselves with this redistricting commission —  we cannot win because the criteria was skewed to put “Communities of Interest” as top criteria – that means lines  can be gerrymandered and still be legitimate because the definition of communities of interest includes sharing the same transportation systems, same media outlets – etc. —  basically the court  can’t rule on a gerrymander because there’s no way to prove the lines violate the rules.”
  7. SB27 which, if unchecked, disallows California voters the right to vote for a Presidential or gubernatorial candidate who doesn’t submit her taxes.[viii]

Dastardly examples to be sure, but I will argue to you that none of these is the main impetus.  Termites have been working on the wood of the structure of the California Republican Party for years.  Let me explain.  The answer is shockingly simple, but the solution will be anything but easy.

Re-Branding is a Fool’s Errand

Before we dig into the problem, let me assure you that re-branding the California Republican Party is a fool’s errand.  Time and time again, one hears about it; pollsters are engaged; consultants do focus groups.  The CAGOP isn’t green enough.  It lets down soccer moms because it’s tone-deaf.  It doesn’t care about diversity or inclusion.  It doesn’t care about seniors.  This is pure, unmitigated hooey.  Don’t fall for any of these.  The overwhelming majority of California Republicans are generous, broad-minded, reasonable, neighborly and want to preserve our great outdoors.  So, while one hears arguments that the California Republican Party needs to be re-branded, don’t be fooled.  Unfortunately, the real issue is more complicated than replacing the shape of CAGOP bottles and spiffing its package design.  This isn’t a Coca-Cola® versus Pepsi® issue.  If only life were that easy.

Middle Class Californians are Leaving in Droves

We hear of middle-class Californians leaving in droves; without a doubt, many of them are Republicans; Len Ramirez reported this trend in his report, “San Francisco Bay Area Experiences Mass Exodus of Residents” on KPIX, a CBS affiliate.  U-Haul franchises are having trouble getting their trucks back because most of the traffic seems to be one-way; cities of choice are reportedly Las Vegas, Phoenix, Atlanta and Nashville.  Those leaving cite crowding, the cost of housing and increased crime.[ix]

Density as a Predictor

Back to the people voting Republican or Democrat.  Let’s step back for a moment and look at one of the major predictors of how someone is going to vote: density.  A rural voter will typically vote Republican and an urban voter will typically vote Democrat.  It’s a high correlation, as explained by Justin Davidson in his article, “Cities Vs. Trump, Red state, blue state? The urban-rural divide is more significant.”[x]

Epiphany!  The High Cost of Housing and the Subsequent Decline of Ownership

Why is density such a great predictor of how someone is going to vote?  Is it race or education?  Those red neck “deplorables” referred by the urbane and gentile Obama?  The real reason for the decline of the Republican Party struck me with unnerving clarity this past year, like a sledgehammer to a bronze church bell.  The reverberations of the revelation animated my being.  It was extraordinarily obvious, but like most California Republicans, I’ve been a lobster in a pot.  The heat of the water had gradually increased to a boil, but I was too busy swimming to notice.  Take a look at the chart at the beginning of this article on California housing affordability: it’s only been 80 years in the making!  Behold the obvious: those who live in rural areas are more apt to own their residence.  Entitlement subsidies and regulation compliance are more likely to fall upon an owner’s back.  The issue is compounded in California.  Ironic that a state which seeks to lowers barriers to immigration also makes little effort to address the supply side imbalance, isn’t it?

As the number of Republicans have declined in Californian, so too have the number of homeowners.  The trend is well-documented in a ftJournal article entitled, “California’s low homeownership rate to continue,” which came out on March 28, 2019.  The article notes that “California’s homeownership rate typically falls around 10 percentage points below the national average…”[xi]

The article continues to explain how in major metropolitan areas, the percentage of homeowners can be dramatically less.

And, the trend is nationwide for large urban areas.  According to an article in RentCafe, “The population of almost a quarter of the 100 largest US cities has changed from homeowner- to renter-majority between 2006 and 2016.”[xii]  Articles in the US, Canada and Australia are sounding alarm bells that these nations are transitioning from a nation of owners to a nation of serfs.

To reiterate, the epiphany is this: as the number of homeowners in California has dropped, so too have the percentage of Republicans; the low number of Republicans is, therefore, inversely correlative to the high cost of housing in the State.  While politicians virtue-signal with “living wage” regulations, what isn’t addressed is the biggest drain on the majority of Californians’ budgets: the cost of housing.  According to the California Budget and Policy Center, “Californians in All Parts of the State Pay More Than They Can Afford for Housing;” a huge percentage of these households have housing expenses in excess of 30% of their budget (also known as “cost burdened”).[xiii]

Wonder why other urban areas vote Democrat across the country?  Here’s why: they’ve flipped from a majority owning their homes, to a majority renting their homes!

Let Us Take Off our Gloves and Pick Up a Lance

In California, the supply problem is exacerbated by two main factors: the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) and onerous zoning regulations.  It’s time to face these demons head on, the way St. George might seek to slay a dragon.  Unless we do, the number of Republicans will continue to dwindle in California as the opportunity for ownership wanes.  Re-branding the CAGOP won’t help.

CEQA and Abuse of Process

Jennifer Hernandez, Esq. is an attorney who specializes in CEQA litigation and has done extensive review of cases which have obstructed new construction projects; she explains that even avowed liberals recognize the harm CEQA has done to the State of California:

“As CEQA critic Governor Brown has explained, over the past four decades the courts have issued hundreds of judicial interpretations of CEQA that have morphed this great environmental law into a “blob” of contradictions and uncertainty—often misshapen, misused, mismanaged and, as shown by this study, used to thwart important environmental policies like climate change.”[xiv]

The impact of the problem was documented in “California’s High Housing Costs: Causes and Consequences” by legislative analyst, Mac Taylor:

“We also find that building activity in California’s coastal metros has been significantly lower than in metros outside of California that have similar desirable characteristics—such as temperate weather, coastal proximity, and economic growth—and, therefore, likely have similar demand for housing.”[xv]

In the report, he observes that among the hardest hit are lower income families who are burdened with exorbitant rents; these individuals are those who the Democratic party successfully panders too, despite tax and regulatory policies which oppress these constituents.  A cruel irony indeed.

Zoning Laws and NIMBYs

The New York Times’ opinion columnist, Farhad Manjoo, in his article, “America’s Cities Are Unlivable. Blame Wealthy Liberals.” states that restrictive zoning laws and NIMBY-ism is a “sort of nakedly exclusionary urban restrictionism is a particular shame of the left.”  He chronicles “increasingly unlivable cities” and castigates liberal Democrat State Senator Anthony Portantino for shelving SB 50, which would reportedly create more housing by loosening zoning restrictions.[xvi]

Municipalities have used zoning restrictions to keep down new housing inventory which would drive down housing prices and rents; these bureaucracies have also perfected a rarely checked practice of extorting developers out of high fees, rather than seek to balance their own city, county and school budgets, and migrate away from high cost defined benefit retirement plans to defined compensation plans which are utilized now by a majority of private and public companies.  Of course, higher fees are always passed down to the consumers – the buyers and renters of the housing inventory.

One of the few exceptions to this unchecked and unbridled ad hoc administrative usury was Chop Keenan’s win against the town of Half Moon Bay which was hit with a $36.8 million dollar judgement for its unsavory practices.

For the California Republican Party to succeed, it needs to be part of the solution which cracks open the ownership opportunity for more Californians.  Examples of white knights which come to mind are the Pacific Legal Foundation, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Fair Education Santa Barbara Inc.

The California Republicans need to take on the forces which are choking housing supply and demand the reformation of CEQA and zoning laws in the state.  The State of California’s government should focus on improving its infrastructure, including reservoirs, bridges, aqueducts and roads, as well as reforming its strategies of fire prevention (controlled burns, grazing, intelligent timber harvesting).   As Reagan eloquently states, “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”

Republicans!  The gloves are off.  What are you doing about land use?  How are you helping more Californians have access to affordable home ownership?  What are you doing to increase supply?


[i] “Just 7 percent of journalists are Republicans. That’s far fewer than even a decade ago” by Chris Cillizza (Washington Post, May 6, 2014).

[ii] “Gas Tax Opponents Target California’s Anti-Trump AG Over Ballot Manipulation” by Chris White (Daily Caller, October 29, 2018).

[iii] “Exclusive–Election Fraud Expert: California’s Ballot Harvesting Favored Democrats” by John Binder (Breitbart, November 30, 2018).

[iv] “LA County Admits Number Of Registered Voters At 144% Of Resident Citizens Of Voting Age” by Tyler Durden (ZeroHedge, August 6, 2017).

[v] “Top 100 donors influence California campaigns most” by Coulter Jones and Elizabeth Titus (SFGate, June 4, 2012).

[vi] “Is This the End of Public-Sector Unions in America?” by Alana Semuels (The Atlantic, June 27, 2018).

[vii] “Assembly Member Sabrina Cervantes Campaign Worker Caught on Video” (Republican Club of Riverside County, June 3, 2018).

[viii] “California to Trump: Release your taxes or you’re barred from the primary ballot,” by Alexei Koseff (San Francisco Chronicle, July 30, 2019)

[ix] “San Francisco Bay Area Experiences Mass Exodus Of Residents” by Len Ramirez (KPIX, CBS affiliate, February 8, 2018).

[x] “Cities Vs. Trump, Red state, blue state? The urban-rural divide is more significant” by Justin Davidson (NY Magazine, April 17, 2017).

[xi] “California’s low homeownership rate to continue” by ftJournal editorial staff (ftJournal, March 28, 2019).

[xii] “Renters Became the Majority Population in 22 Big US Cities” (RentCafe, January 25, 2018).

[xiii] California Budget and Policy Center, Fact Sheet, September 2017.

[xiv] “New CEQA Study Reveals Widespread Abuse of Legal Process by ‘Non-Environmentalists’” by Jennifer Hernandez, Esq., December 21, 2015.

[xv] “California High Housing Costs: Causes and Consequences” by Mac Taylor, March 17, 2015.

[xvi] “America’s Cities Are Unlivable. Blame Wealthy Liberals.” by Farhad Manjoo (New York Times, May 22, 2019).

Message From The President

Message From The President

“No entity is singularly better equipped or robustly funded to efficiently administer terror than an unchecked government. Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Castro, Maduro, Amin, Hussein, Jong-il, Ceaușescu.  The list is a lengthy one.

Please think long and hard before running into the arms of those who promise you security in exchange for your personal liberties.  It is political opportunism of the ugliest variety and insults those who’ve fought for your freedom.”

Peter Coe Verbica
President
The California Congress of Republicans

Lectures on the Evils of Bullying by Bullies and other Strange Phenomena

Lectures on the Evils of Bullying by Bullies and other Strange Phenomena

By Peter Coe Verbica, President, CCR

It’s a strange time for Americans of all stripes, especially Republicans.  Corporations and churches are flying their multi-colored virtue-signaling flags from every edifice, making sure that the public at large is aware of their cartoonish participation in this month’s cultural cause cé·lè·bre.  Posters are proudly plastered in front of pastoral, teacher and administrative offices touting “safe spaces” and distinctions as to which “lives matter.”  Who would think that such divisive artifices would gain any traction in a country whose Declaration of Independence reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But, such is the ugly truth of politics and the current charade of seditious shape shifters.  Historic warnings of “united we stand and divided we fall,” are cast aside as outdated standards, to the delight of opposing sovereigns.  One wonders if their dictators awaken their mistresses as they laugh themselves to sleep each night.

Peter Verbica

Empowerment tutorials are touted on campuses on how to shout and raise fists and brand approved strains of righteousness.  In surreal irony, bullies gesticulate from podiums on the evils of bullying – best lampooned by the writers of the South Park television program.  The code word of “justice” is repurposed by Leftist theologians, pandering politicians and jaded bureaucrats to determine who deserves the spoils of redistribution.  Art, fashion, comedy and music, once the great unifiers, adventurers and innovators are being neutered and circumscribed to a new restrictive code in wholesale perversion of basic liberties.  Poets and writers sent to Communist gulags nod with ghostly empathy before the snowdrifts of time cover them yet again.  Real controversies are largely ignored, including:

  • an epic federal debt,
  • the global dimming of democracy,
  • the need for comprehensive reform of US healthcare a la the Singaporean model,
  • the oppression of defined benefit plans on municipal and state budgets,
  • rampant illiteracy in language, history and mathematics,
  • the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and Draconian zoning laws damning present and future generations to pay rent rather than own, as housing supplies are artificially choked,
  • misallocation of critical State infrastructure funds away from reservoir and road-building,
  • generations of angry sons who grow up in fatherless households,
  • the end of privacy and coterminous success of pervasive monitoring, and
  • the systemic challenges and opportunities which AI and robotics present to those employed in the workforce.

Historic threats to Western Civilization, such as those described in The Miracle of Freedom: 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World, are erased and substituted with subversive and obfuscating dogmata.  We can breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing that issues of true importance, such as restroom signage and bike lanes for indignant cyclists (many of whom ignore most rules of the road) are being dealt with speed and industry.  W. Cleon Skousen and Eric Arthur Blair should take a bow, come to the stage and receive their awards for eerily accurate prophesies.

A Lion in the Summer:
Don Genhart, Republican

Stepping back from the abject inanity of tax-and-spend California politics, where up is down and down is up, it is my unmitigated pleasure to write about a stalwart Republican, none other than that lion in summer, Don Genhart.  Don is known by many friends as “the Prince of the Desert,” a worthy moniker for a man who serves as President of the Sun City Palm Desert Republican Club, Regional VP of the California Congress of Republicans and delegate to the California Republican Party.  Don was born in Kansas City, MO, home to the Kansas City Royals (winner of the 1985 and 2015 World Series), and to Pony Express founder, Alexander Majors.  Don’s family subsequently moved to Ohio and then to Meadville, Pennsylvania – famous, Don jokes, for being in the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Deliver us from Meadville…”  Don attended high school in Meadville, home to the Bulldogs, where he participated in both track and swimming.  Don then attended Penn State, where he graduated with a BS in Hotel Administration, minored in Political Science and cheered for the Nittany Lions:

“Hail to the Lion, Loyal and True.
Hail Alma Mater, with your White and Blue.
Penn State forever, Molder of men (and women),
Fight for her honor, Fight, and Victory again.”

Don also served in the US Air Force as a Lieutenant where he worked in intelligence in Korea. Anyone who takes the time to read about the initial impact of MIG-15s on the lumbering B-29s knows that Don had his work cut out for him.  All hail to the swept-wing North American F-86 Sabre and its brave pilots who could take the fight to the enemy!  Don continued to apply his leadership skills in his civilian work, including running a hotel and three restaurants (in Oil City, Titusville and Meadville, PA).  He also served as Director of Sales and Marketing for Hilton and Sheraton, and worked in Oahu, Hawaii for six-and-a-half years as a Director of Sales and Marketing for the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.  Aloha!  Don also lived in Santa Barbara where Gauchos somehow study by the beach before he finally move to Palm Desert – heretofore known as “the Old McDonald Ranch.”

When asked about current hobbies and interests, Don confesses that he’s finally hung up his surfboard and retired as “granddaddy of the waves” when he used to surf in Hawaii, Santa Barbara and Huntington Beach.  Don enjoys yoga and has a three-times-a-week regimen.  He enjoys supporting local arts, attending theater and musical productions.  He is also active with “Animal Samaritans,” and the organization’s “no kill” shelter.  At the 8th Annual “Men of the Desert” Fashion Show, Don was one of the table hosts; together, donors reportedly raised an impressive $135,000.  According to a fun article in the Desert Sun newspaper, Don’s red, white and blue cowboy boots caught national attention when he attended a National Republican Convention.

Your CCR President is looking forward to speaking at the Sun City Palm Desert Republican Club and meeting Don’s many friends and fellow Republicans on June 19, 2019.  You can follow his Club’s activities by going to: https://www.facebook.com/SunCityRepublicans/

The Business of Character

The Business of Character

(c) 2019 By Peter Verbica
President, California Congress of Republicans

Recently, I had some work done on my ’13 Prius.  I’m not virtue-signaling because of the car I drive.  I know, for instance, that metals had to be mined and refined for its nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery.  I know that it’s built abroad by a foreign company, at the cost of local jobs.  I know that it’s safer to park in Santa Cruz County.  (Eco-terrorists slash 4×4 tires here, driving up insurance rates.)

Photo Credit: Peter Verbica

My reasons are simply economic — in large part because of the social-engineering by Sacramento politicians.  I bought the car used, after it had depreciated to some extent.  California collects high fees for vehicle registration taxes — and charges a high sales tax to boot.  I drive a Prius for the same reason that I often order tap water with meals: it saves money.  We have “reformulated gasoline,” so it’s more expensive than other parts of the country.  And, our fuel is taxed and taxed and taxed.  In January of 2019, California gas prices even outstripped Hawaii for the highest in the nation.[i]  California also has stratespheric income taxes – its maximum rate of 13.3% places it at the head of the pack.  And, the Prius has been a reliable car.  So, I’m not virtue-signaling.  I’m just trying to save a buck.

Back to the work being done on my car; when the workman finished the job, he confessed to going through my glovebox to retrieve my name.  There, he came across my California Congress of Republicans’ (“CCR”) business card.  And, he ranted for the next 45 minutes.  How could I support a racist, thief, and misogynist?  How could I support a Party which was against decent health care?  Or, a minimum wage?  How could I support someone who cheats on his wife?    How could I support such a person if I had daughters?

He was completely disinterested in hearing about why I support the Bill of Rights; he definitely didn’t want to discuss what was printed on the back of my CCR card:

“The CCR philosophy is based on core Republican values: individual responsibility, personal freedoms, limited government, a market economy, low taxes and a strong national defense.  We don’t play politics with personal and religious social issues, leaving those to the practice of personal freedoms.”

When I tried to respond that I appreciated civility and moral character in elected leaders, he continued with his jack-jawed diatribe.  He compared the comportment of the former President to the current.  He could have cared less about my talking about how CCR was making an effort to be more inclusive.

To him, policy didn’t matter; character did; they couldn’t be unbound into separate strands.  He had no interest in discussing free enterprise versus socialism – despite owning his own business.  He wasn’t interested in comparing the failed economic policies of Venezuela to our own, or why so many Californians and businesses are leaving the state.  How CEQA and zoning laws affect affordability of housing and lives more than platitudes about minimum wage.  The real dangers of following in Venezuela’s path.

He told me that he was part Native American; when I shared with him that I had Native American blood from my grandmother’s side, he was disinterested; I was told that I look white.  Of course, I’d been forewarned.  A good friend, who is a Republican, has chided that my percentage of Native American blood is too de minimis to mention to anyone.  I’d been asked by a fellow Republican to self-censure on the topic, for fear that it would result in controversy.  That was in print; but, here, it occurred in person.

So, this business of character matters.  Great policies can be advocated and implemented by flawed individuals.  Our founding fathers had feet of clay, but freed us from the tyranny of a monarchy.  But, if we are going to win hearts and minds in California, do we need great policies brought forth from only those of unquestionable character?  Are we to elect only saints and no sinners?

A friend of mine suggested something more reasonable and achievable.  “Peter,” she advised, “we need to teach school children what socialism is.”  It dawned on me.  This business of character must begin within each of us, not externally by electing unassailable saints.  This business of character begins with encouraging each individual’s enlightenment.  Our sacred duty is to effectively explain what it means to be free and to be an American.  We must carry the torch of this epiphany.

 

[i] “Leading states based on highest effective gas tax and price as of January 2019 (in U.S. dollars),” statistica,  https://www.statista.com/statistics/509649/us-states-with-highest-gas-tax-and-prices/

Special CCR Convention 2019

Special CCR Convention 2019

“Join the Rampage™”

President’s Report from the California Congress of Republicans’ (CCR)

Special Convention, 2019 in Sacramento

For those familiar with the saying, “Welcome!  Enter as guests; leave as friends,” our 2019 CCR Special Convention on Friday February 22 in Sacramento was a rousing success.  The biggest complaint – attesting to the enormous interest in our gathering?  Not enough chairs! Hyatt Regency Hotel staff received requests from the CCR team to provide more seats for our CCR officers, delegates, chapter members, CAGOP candidates and guests.  Thankfully, the extra chairs were speedily delivered and all was well.  Membership Secretary Pam Corradi, SPARC Board Member Dee Buhler and CCR First Lady Tiffany Verbica ensured that attendees were registered, fed, welcomed and seated.

Newly elected CAGOP Vice Chair and former SPARC VP Peter Kuo, CCR President Peter Verbica, SPARC Officer Alex Glew.

Business of the day included the unanimous ratification of two new chapters (East Valley Congress of Republicans (led by Victor San VincenteLarry and Christina Ciardella) and Central Coast Congress of Republicans (led by John YostLea Reed and Kristen Collishaw), the election of 2019/2020 CCR executive officers, President Peter Coe Verbica, Vice President Mark Hershey, Membership Secretary Pam Corradi, Recording Secretary Sharon Durbin, Treasurer RJ Kelly, Regional Vice Presidents Margaret DominiciCarl BurtonLarry CiardellaSteve BrownDean HaddockRob BernoskyKatie VarnerAnna Bryson (founding member and President of the Orange County Congress of Republicans), Robin Lowe, and Don Genhart, and the endorsement of the following CAGOP officer candidates: Chair, Jessica Patterson, Vice Chair Corrin Rankin (defeated at the CAGOP Convention on 2/24 by former SPARC Officer Peter Kuo), Secretary Randy Berholtz, Treasurer Kathy Tavoularis (defeated at the CAGOP Convention on 2/24 by Greg Gandrud), Regional Vice Chairs Matt HeathDeborah E.G. WilderJason ClarkDr. Dean Haddock (defeated in CAGOP election by Lisa Moreno), Lindsey Stetson. and Chair of County Chairs, Mike Osborn.  In addition, CCR unanimously endorsed three resolutions presented by CCR River City (Sacramento) Chapter President Carl Burton: the Vietnamese American Resolution, the Chinese Railroad Workers Resolution, and Assembly Bill No. 387, calling for better labeling of medications.  A special shout-out of thanks to SPARC Member Robert Varich who served as Sergeant-at-Arms and time keeper and 2019 CCR Special Convention sponsors Gold: SwensonDan and Patricia Bozzuto, and Silver: Peter KuoTracey EnfantinoCarlos and Cecilia Montalvo, and Rick Leisinger.

Certificates and special acknowledgements were bestowed upon former CCR Presidents in attendance, including James BrattCarl BurtonPam CorradiRobin Lowe (in absentia) and Darrell Connerton.  CCR tips its hat to other former Presidents, including Mark VafiadesBonnie SheaStuart PosseltDennis Catron, Robin Lowe and Patty Kelly.  Special thanks to Carl Burton and Bob Evans, for setting up and manning the popular CCR Table.  Scores stopped by to say “hello,” and peruse the literature and purchase raffle tickets for some cool prizes, including a framed print of the Republican Presidents by Andy Thomas.  Carl Burton also displayed a beautiful plaque acknowledging the contributions of out-going CAGOP Chair, Senator Jim Brulte (ret.).

Orange County Congress of Republicans VP of Programming Bill Evers made an announcement to be sure to go to his Chapter’s social media page.  Many other chapters, including the South Peninsula Area Republican Coalition (SPARC) (led by President Timur Engin, VPs Jayne HamLeslie MayrDee Buhlerand Treasurer Rodney Neils Mayr), the Hemet-San Jacinto California Congress of Republicans (led by President Sharon Durbin and VPs Bonnie WrightRobin Lowe, Secty. Susan Watson, and Treasurer Charlene Stover) and CCR itself, have a significant social media presence as well.  (And, for access to chapter’s newsletters, including the Republican Club at the Villages (led by President Carla Evans, VPs Burt LancasterMary Wagle, Secretaries Sue HerfurthGary Hill, and Treasurer Ruth Branch) and the Republican Club of Ocean Hills (led by President Barbara Fleeman Hazlett, VPs Lavonna Young,Michael Richardson, Secretaries Sally Booth, Treasurer Judith Fulop and others) please feel welcome to go to CCR’s Chapters’ Blog.  Special thanks to Betsy Mahan and David Nos for ensuring that CCR social media and email communications are well-organized.

**Stay tuned for more information about our 2019 Fall CCR Board Meeting (currently scheduled for September 6, 2019 in Indian Wells, California).**

The 5’5” High Superhero

The 5’5” High Superhero

By Peter Coe Verbica,
President of the California Congress of Republicans

There’s a popular show called “the Voice.”  Perhaps you’ve seen it.  Four judges sit in big swivel chairs with their backs to the singer.  Part of the fun is seeing their faces when they discover the shape, size and personality of the vocalist.  Often, the combination is unexpected.  At the 2019 California Republican Party Convention Prayer Breakfast, I experienced a similar surprise.  A Superhero arrived in Sacramento on February 24, 2019.  She was disguised in the form of a 5’5” high grandmother by the name of Jo Anne Madsen.

Now, Superheroes are known to have various powers.  Some can leap tall buildings with a single bound; others can bend steel bars, talk to fish, swing through cityscapes from spiderwebs or outpace a speeding bullet.  Impressive skills, but for the survivors of the Paradise “Camp Fire,” who witnessed a roaring fire ravage their historic, Gold Rush town and were numb with shock, a rescuer would have to bring something even more powerful.  Under such formidable circumstances, Jo Anne did just that.  As President of the Chico Relief Society, she and her organized teammates marshalled the most powerful super power of all.  They brought hope.

Jo Anne Madsen, Dale Madsen, DDS, Roger Kaspar, Ph.D. at
the 2019 California Republican Party Prayer Breakfast in Sacramento, CA

Jo Anne’s personal background helped her be the right person when help was needed.  Her family had experienced its own personal tragedy with the previous Carr Fire.  Loved ones lost their home and came to live with Jo Anne.  She learned first-hand that for victims of a fire, concentration is difficult; even the simplest of decisions can be confounding; short term memory skills degenerate temporarily.  Life becomes shrouded in fog.  There is a need to talk.  Even the simplest of tasks, such as going to the store can seem overwhelming.  Time is needed to heal.  As the athlete and writer, Vernon Law, explains, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”

All of us are familiar with a Superhero born on strange planet, and another raised by his English butler in an immense mansion.  Jo Anne’s background is less esoteric and exotic.  She grew up in Bountiful, UT.  Her dad worked as a salesman in a sporting goods store.  Her mom was a seamstress.  The family moved to Salt Lake City when Jo Anne was a Senior in high school.  She attended Brigham Young University where she studied food science and nutrition and met her future husband, Dale.  Later, she obtained a Master’s in Public Health from Walden University.  When I interviewed this Superhero, she mentioned not a single martial arts, marksmanship, or bomb-diffusing class.  Evident to me, however, was that she has mastered the art of service above self.  And, taking it further, for Jo Anne and her compatriots, being of service to others is being of service to God.

Though her Church life is of vital importance, Jo Anne and her colleagues at the Relief Society are eminently practical.  When determining how to be of help to the fire victims, of first order was to get a list of what people needed to do, including: 1. Post their names; 2. Get a Post Office box, so that they could receive mail; 3.  Change their address; 4.  Contact their insurance company; 5. Save their receipts; 6.  Proactively look for housing, using a variety of tools, including social media; 7.  Post any specific needs, such as clothing or bedding.  Other order of business included coordinated temporary housing, professional counselors, three meals a day, long-term assistance (such as utilizing the Bishop’s Storehouse with respect to milk and canned goods), coordinating with six local buses to help get children and teachers out of the fire area.  The Relief Society coordinated with CalFire and the police department who came to speak to the fire victims.  Adults were split into two groups: those whose homes were affected and those who homes weren’t.  Children were asked to draw something which scared them; something which made them sad; something that made them happy.  Many of the hand-drawn pictures included cars and houses on fire; comments on adults which were sad; moms crying.  Those whose homes didn’t burn wrestled with the guilt of why fate had spared them.  The Relief Society helped coordinate trailers full of supplies coming in; a local catering company provided a Thanksgiving dinner.  Phone calls, texts, emails and letters flooded in with people wanting to help.

So, much of what Jo Anne and her team have addressed has been tactical; how to deal with limited room to store things; providing a camp fire giving tree where people could explain what they needed; hundreds found their needs met by others via social media; CHP helped collect toys; while 2,000-3,000 were expected, 14,000 toys were given out, such was the outpouring of care.  A quilting area was established and 500 hand-made quilts were handed out; a Santa’s toy shop was established, as well as a gift-wrapping area; books, clothing and toiletry items were organized.  To help with morale, fifteen hairstylists from Chico, and some who came up from Los Angeles,  provided over 75 haircuts.  “Home Starter Kits” were created for the new households; items such as dishes, mixing bowls, and utensils were itemized on an on-line retailer’s registry.

Recipients of the goodwill have experienced tears of gratitude and expressed their appreciation, but there is still work to be done; there have been food drives and suit/clothing drives; hundreds of beds, dressers, chairs, tables and couches have been provided.  Most importantly, there is still a need for permanent households for those who were displaced.  With respect to temporary housing, such as trailers, there is the question of where to place them.  For many of the survivors of the fire, one-on-one counseling and ministry provides important solace.  Paradise was a community of many elderly people; one off-duty bus driver helped transport senior citizens who were stranded.  Children pitched in as well, with bake sales and fund drives, such as “Pennies for Paradise.”  Jo Anne Madsen has had thousands of deliveries made to her home as the point person for the relief effort, becoming friends with the various delivery and postal employees.

As Jo Anne explains, she and her teammates employ charity in action, and share an unwavering belief that “charity never faileth.”  Jo Anne would be the first to acknowledge that many organizations such as the Red Cross, local fire, medical, police, churches and other non-profits, have been instrumental in making a difference for the families of Paradise.  There are other Superheroes making important contributions, but I am particularly inspired by the one disguised as a 5’5” high grandmother.

When Roger Kaspar, Ph.D, Scientist and Entrepreneur (pictured with Ms. Madsen and her husband, Dale Madsen, DDS) learned about Ms. Madsen’s speaking engagement about relief efforts for the victims of the Paradise fire, he left his Santa Cruz home at 5:30 am to attend the 8 am 2019 CAGOP Prayer Breakfast.  For those wanting to know more about how they can help those still in need, sleep in and utilize your computer or smart phone instead.  Write Ms. Madsen at jsmaden@aol.com.  She and her amazing friends at the Relief Society continue to organize “Home Starter Kits.” These are comprised of items which people need to start up their home, so they don’t have to worry about purchasing items.  Once you have obtained a list from the Relief Society of which items are needed, she and her team will give you instructions on where to have them sent.