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Democratic Superstars Mingle With Activists In Topanga

Special To Topanga Journal

It was a star-studded Democratic Saturday afternoon in Topanga as a green lawn was rolled out for the progressive elected officials and activists. Before the program began activists and legislators mingled on the deck enjoying vegan Thai food and drink, marveling at the view and enjoying the company of fellow progressives.

Kriss Perras, Publisher & Editor Malibu Arts Journal

By Kriss Perras

When the program began progressives were elated to hear Alan Minsky has taken the helm as Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). US Representative Ted Lieu gave the first award as the program got underway. He had arrived early and was swarmed by activists and constituents. US Senate Candidate Kevin De León, who was receiving an award,  comfortably mingled with activists and constituents. The annual event garnered about 200. California State Senator Ben Allen, awardees Jackie Goldberg, Ani Zonneveld, comedian and Zonneveld’s friend, Mona Shay, Alan Minsky, Lila Garrett, Harvey Wasserman, Mimi Kennedy, Susie Shannon, Russell Greene, RL Miller, Michelle Sutter, Larry Gross and even CODEPINK was in the house! 

“My disappointment has turned to outrage. Complicity and capitulation will not shield essential human rights from Donald Trump and the Republican enablers marauding on Capitol Hill.” Kevin De León

Congressman Lieu was there to present the Tim Carpenter Courage Award to activist and honoree Zonneveld from Muslims for Progressive Values. Shay treated the activists to a mini roast of Zonneveld, who then spoke of her work for women’s rights to free Muslims imprisoned in their home countries. She ended her talk with an inspirational song as the audience cheered her on. Goldberg received the Lifetime Achievement award for her long-standing career as a leader and activist both inside and outside the party. Her award was presented by activist Gross from Coalition For Economic Survival and Director of Region 12 off the Democratic Party. Goldberg got the crowd going with her fiery speech encouraging them all to increase their activism. 

DNC member Shannon and environmental activist Miller, early supporters of de Leon’s Senate race against Feinstein, presented his award. De León spoke on progressive values and the hard fought passage of his bill SB100 all the way to Governor Brown’s signature and enumerated many of the other bills he had passed as a California legislator and leader of the California Senate. Toward the end of his speech he donned a dark blue cap with the gold embroidered numbers 100% to symbolize the bill’s renewable energy goal by the year 2045. This was historic because no other economy as large as California’s has committed to 100% clean energy. Feinstein had refused to debate de León and after his speech the reasons were obvious. Most recently he laments the leaderless Democratic Senate on the Kavanaugh hearing. 

“My disappointment has turned to outrage,” said De León in a statement. “Complicity and capitulation will not shield essential human rights from Donald Trump and the Republican enablers marauding on Capitol Hill. I would sooner walk out into the streets and protest with people we represent than remain in that Senate chamber where diplomatic bluster is worth less than the paper the members’ talking points are printed on. We deserve better because too much is at stake.”

The event was held at the Topanga home of Dorothy Reik, President of the Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains (PDSMM). Attendees were treated to a clear view of the city lights of Los Angeles below and the stars above as the sun set.   



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Heavy Weight Democrats Mingle In Topanga

Rep Ted Lieu Rep Barbara Lee PDSSM President Dorothy Reik | Photo by Kriss Perras

US Representative Ted Lieu (33rd Congressional District) presented US Representative Barbara Lee (13th Congressional District) with an award for her career efforts on September 9, 2017 in Topanga at a meeting of the Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains (PDSMM). There were over one-hundred-fifty Democrats in attendance, with nearly thirty high profile Democrats there to mingle and answer questions. Among some of the high profile individuals were California State Senator Henry Stern (27th District), California State Senator Ben Allen (26th District), Katie Hill, who is seeking election in the 25th District, well-known journalist Robert Scheer, Ed Pearl from the what was known as the Ash Grove, long time anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman and Jodie Evans from Code Pink, among others.

Representative Lee attended Mills College as a single mother of two sons. It was there as president of Mill’s College Black Student Union that she met and invited Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress, to speak on campus. From this friendship Representative Lee ended up registering to vote for the first time and working on Chisholm’s historic presidential campaign.

Representative Lee was presented the 2017 Inside The Democratic Party Tim Carpenter Courage Award by Representative Lieu and PDSMM President Dorothy Reik.

“When I think about Barbara, one word comes to mind, and that is courage,” said Representative Lieu to the large gathering. “In 2001, she was the only one to vote against the authorization of military force. Her reason is she thought it would be a blank check for all future conflicts. And she was right.”

Lee spoke upon her receipt of the award about her continued battle against a blank check.

“Kim Jung Un and Donald Trump both have their hands on the nuclear codes. I’ve got to say thank you to Ted because he has introduced a bill, HR669, saying the President shall not conduct a nuclear first strike unless he or she comes to Congress,” said Representative Lee. “Ted has built support for that, and it is needed now more than ever. We received 500,00 petitions several months ago when he introduced it. I’m a proud co-sponsor of it. So Ted we’re going to get that bill passed.”

Wasserman was presented with the 2017 Outside The Democratic Party Tim Carpenter Courage Award by election protection activist Mimi Kennedy.

“I’m wearing a t-shirt that says no nukes,” said Kennedy. “ That was a phrase Harvey coined. To bring things full circle, it was the no nukes rock concerts Harvey produced that brought Tim Carpenter of age as an activist.”

In 1973, Wasserman helped pioneer the global grassroots movement against atomic reactors. Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, CSN, James Taylor and others were at those no nuke rock concerts Wasserman helped produce. With these celebrities, Wasserman also helped found

“There’s a woman I met in Northern California,” said Wasserman to the group. “who has printed a bumper sticker that says ‘We Still Have Each Other.’ I think one of the things that’s so hard about living with Donald Trump in the White House, I won’t call him the President. He’s the resident of the White House. The illegitimate resident of the White House. One of the things that is so hard about him is that he exists at all. I’ve never met a human being like this. And we can talk about the politics. We can talk about the manipulations and the theft, but this guy is a shonda. But the idea to everyday see someone that mean and that cruel and cynical and that crazy is difficult for all of us. I want to invite you all as I do at gatherings to hug each other.”

Members of the group did indeed hug one another.

Ed Pearl was the recipient of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award presented to him by journalist Robert Scheer. Pearl was one of the founders of the Ash Grove, which opened its doors Friday July 11th, 1958. The Ash Grove was a place of various genres of music and was a political and cultural center in its day. It was something of a salon in its time.

“I happened to be at the Democratic Convention in 1956 in Chicago,” said Scheer as he was introducing Pearl. “I ran for the seat of Barbara Lee’s. I have bought into the lesser evil most of my life. I don’t have some sort of hard line ideological position. I am thrilled to be here to introduce a man who brought us music and not only brought us music but brought us courage when most political people didn’t show courage.”

Pearl spoke about the Ash Grove and its beginnings, and the impact of music on people’s lives.

“The great Jazz composer Charlie Mingus once said, ‘music is a continuum, a bottomless source of renewal. You can’t move into the future without a thorough knowledge of the past.’ That statement gets close to the spirit of the Ash Grove,” said Pearlas he accepted his award. “The Ash Grove was a Southern California political and cultural center of the sixties and seventies. It attracted people of all ages, ethnicities, causes and politics.”

The evening concluded with performance poetry from the award winning youth poetry troupe, The Get Lit Players. A special performance was also held by the famous jazz and blues musician Barbara Morrison. The crowd especially seemed to enjoy both of these performances. Toes were tapping to music and fingers snapping to the poetry.




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