Political Diversity’s Impact on My Life

Posted by Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow Robert Nuñez 

When we talk about wanting or recognizing the benefits of a more diverse legislature, it’s not just some minority movement, or an issue of pride in which we all want our own team to win. The diversity I have seen in the Capitol is necessary for the health of a democracy in a diverse state like California. If there was a legislature composed completely of conservative white males who understood the issues that my family and I have had to endure, and created effective solutions that allowed my family and me to thrive, then I would be proud to call them my elected officials; unfortunately, as seemingly simple as it is to empathize with a person’s struggles, it’s far more difficult to truly understand what it actually feels like, and act accordingly. I have the privilege of getting to intern for Senator Ricardo Lara, a powerful man of color, and openly part of the LGBT community, who sits on some of the most powerful committees in the legislature, including chairing the Appropriations Committee. The Senator, his staff, and many of the other persons of color I have met at the Capitol truly embody a knowledge of the struggles I have had to face; If not by logic, they have been able to understand my issues by heart, by a raw emotional humanity which ads an extra dimension to politics.

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Robert with Senator Ricardo Lara

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Carli Yoro and Gaby Bermudez along with Robert grabbing a bite to eat after work to celebrate gabby birthday. Cal-in-Sac interns bring diversity to the capitol.

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Also Blossoming

Carli YoroPosted by Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow Carli Yoro 

On my first day as an intern for the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), the first thing I noticed was the eye catching sculpture in front of the building. The sculpture is made up of four giant slabs of stone arranged in a circle with a poem inscribed on the inside faces. After working with the Agency for a few weeks, it dawned on me that the sculpture was a reflection of CalEPA itself and its relationship with the California government.

Artist Beverley Pepper's stone sculpture in front of Cal EPA's headquarters.

Artist Beverley Pepper’s stone sculpture in front of Cal EPA’s headquarters.

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Three take-aways from the Matsui Center Fellows summer reception

Matsui fellows with Governor Jerry Brown

Matsui fellows with Governor Jerry Brown

By Ethan Rarick

You know things are going well when the Governor walks into your event unexpectedly. That happened last night, when Gov. Jerry Brown stopped by the Matsui Center reception for our summer Fellows and posed for a picture with the students.

The presence of one of Berkeley’s most famous alumni was just one of several great things about the reception, an annual event to honor the students participating in our two summer programs – Cal-in-Sacramento and our Local Government Fellows. For me, three things stood out: Continue reading

A Formal Assessment of Informal Trails

Posted by Matsui Local Government Fellow
Korbi Thalhammer

The slim ribbon of dirt I’d been following for a quarter mile skirted the edge of a bluff, ducked under a low oak and then dipped out of sight as it followed a precipitous line down the edge of a dredge tailing. I made my way down the steep slope of rocks that had been excavated from the American River’s bed during the California Gold Rush, listening for periodic beeps from my GPS to ensure that I was indeed recording and updating my location as I traveled. At the base of the tailing, the trail wound its way around a fallen cottonwood and finally disappeared into blackberry bushes and poison oak. I turned around and clambered back up the rock pile, GPS and satellite photos in hand. At the top of the pile, I stopped to record the trail’s width and level of degradation.

As an intern at the Sacramento County Department of Regional Parks, I’ve been tasked with developing and implementing a system of mapping and categorizing informal social trails in the American River Parkway. Continue reading

A Republican “War on Women”? I Don’t Think So!

Posted by Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow
Kerida Moates

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the College Republican National Committee’s 61st Biennial National Convention in Washington DC. Not only did I have the opportunity to hear prominent political figures such as Rand Paul, Elise Stefanik, Grover Norquist, and Tom Price, but I also was able to meet other College Republicans from across the nation.

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Proposition 13 revamp eyed for ballot

alvin chen 2Written by Cal-in-Sacramento fellow Alvin Chen for Capitol Weekly

Changing Proposition 13, the landmark, tax-cutting ballot initiative that California voters approved in 1978, is the goal of a constitutional amendment aimed at next year’s ballot.

The plan by two Senate Democrats – Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles and Loni Hancock of Berkeley – would allow commercial and business properties to be regularly reassessed for tax purposes, with an exemption for properties worth less than $500,000. Under current law – Proposition 13 – those properties are only reassessed when there is a change in ownership.

Mitchell and Hancock, both liberals, have a daunting task: Proposition 13 has long been popular among California voters. Continue reading

A Learning Curve at the County Office of Education

Posted by Matsui Local Government Fellow
Gladys Rosario

There’s a ton to reflect on even though my internship with the Superintendent’s Office at the Alameda County of Education started less than two weeks ago. I have already met dozens of people and begun to sink my teeth into the projects that I will work on this summer. So far I feel a sense of calm urgency, and I think it’s in part fueled by my daily doses of morning coffee. Or it might be stoked by the constant planning, meetings, and conference calls that I keep seeing in motion around the office. There are many Post-It notes and tasks waiting to be accomplished and checked off the County’s to-do list. Since it is summer, that means budgets are being turned in for final review, including the budgets of the 18 school districts in Alameda County, the County Office of Education, and the State of California. Once budgets are finalized, education dollars will be allocated according to strategic plans laid out in each district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) to take care of students’ needs, especially for those most vulnerable. But as I’ve seen in federal government, education funding is tight in state and local governments as well. Despite there being more funding this year, politics still plays a huge role in ensuring the highest-need priorities are met. I am eager to witness how this plays out on the local level–where school boards and district staff will be able to make last-minute adjustments before everything is all set in stone.
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