DIVERSITY DISFRANCHISEMENT

By: Zoë Muntaner

According to Wikipedia disfranchisement (also called disenfranchisement) is the revocation of the right of suffrage (the right to vote) of a person or group of people, or through practices, prevention of a person exercising the right to vote. Disfranchisement is also termed to the revocation of power or control of a particular individual, community or being to the natural amenity they abound in; that is to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, of some privilege or inherent immunity. Disfranchisement may be accomplished explicitly by law or implicitly through requirements applied in a discriminatory fashion, intimidation, or by placing unreasonable requirements on voters for registration or voting.

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Fellow Santa Monica resident, activist, wife, daughter, friend & filmmaker Holly Mosher produced provocative documentaries that explore the subject with John Wellington Ennis directing.

“We decided to offer our film Free For All online for free after the voting fiascos sweeping the nation from Brooklyn to Arizona, hundreds of thousands, if not millions are being disenfranchised. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was gutted by the Supreme Court and since then laws that make voting harder have popped up in over 22 states across the country. The people and neighborhoods most affected by both voting ID laws and reductions of polling places are usually in the high concentration of minority neighborhoods. It is important to let everyone know what is going on and help empower them to protect their voting rights. It’s up to us to demand free and fair elections for all.” ~Holly Mosher & John Wellington Ennis

For more information and to watch films for free until May 9, 2016, go to the link:

SAVE OUR ELECTIONS

To read John Wellington Ennis Huffington Post piece click on the following link:

CONFRONTING VOTER SUPPRESSION IN 2016

I met Holly at the premiere of her last film Pay 2 Play in 2014, which deals with POLITICAL campaign finance issues.  We became fast friends.  Out of that film the platform of developers money in Santa Monica political campaigns was born.  Sorry guys, this one is on me!   That’s why I was so baffled with Phil Brock flip flop when he solicited and received the maximum donation from a local developer.  Whoever gives you money owns you, therefore, influences your vote on City Council.   Because he was exposed, he returned the money, but the damage was done.  Will you keep trusting candidates that go behind the curtain to practice the opposite of what they preach in their speeches?  Food for thought for the upcoming election.  Again, ACTIONS speak louder than words.

VOTE FOR LOVE

I vote with love in mind, it was the theme of my 2014 Campaign for Santa Monica City Council.  I didn’t get elected, but I won an incredible amount of experience and the integrity of walking my talk.  VISIT MY FACEBOOK PAGE IN THE LINK HERE:

I WILL ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE

At the time, I didnt know anything about the Kousser Report, the At-Large Elections vs. District Elections debate, and why is so difficult to get elected in Santa Monica if you belong to the category I belong.  Now, I understand, Kimbery Ellis, Executive Director of Emerge California, an organization that is changing the face of California politics by identifying, training and encouraging women to run for office, get elected and to seek higher office answered my question during the Santa Monica Democratic Club Meeting last week:

“Generally speaking, research indicates that women and ethnic minorities fare better in district elections.” ~Kimberly Ellis, Executive Director Emerge CA

Their intensive, cohort-based four-month training program is unique. As the number of elected Democratic women remains flat or even declines, the need for their work is growing.

California became a state in 1850 but has yet to elect a female Governor. Despite being more than 50% of the population, currently, less than 30% of California state legislators are women.

A pool of highly qualified Democratic candidates is being left untapped. Too often, women do not see themselves running for office—they assume they aren’t experienced enough or they don’t know where to begin. Emerge California is changing that!

Emerge California is part of a national network currently working in 16 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

For more information about Emerge CA, go to the link: EMERGE CA

To read some research on the debate of distric vs.at-large elections go here: Electoral Institutions, Gender Stereotypes, and Women’s Local Representation

I am passionate about the subject, hence the tag line of this blog: Who was in the room?

SPEAKING ABOUT LOVE…

Ms. Mosher introduced me to a new coffee shop on Ocean Park Boulevard aptly named LOVE Coffee Bar.  Is where I am sitting as I type in my keyboard the words on this blog. I can’t drink coffee, I’m too hyper as it is, and don’t need the caffeine effect. Holly dared me to taste their coffee, and she was right.  It is beyond anything I’ve ever tasted before, is like drinking an exquisite Tiramisu.

The decor is clean, they have a back outdoor patio, a front bench to read a book or paper, meet a friend and watch people pass by, soft music, elegant yet comfy, small business owned by a Latino, classy…like me.  Like everything else in Sunset Park, it has that unmistakable neighborhood feel that Santa Monicans are losing fast if they don’t act with LOVE in the upcoming election.  Zina Josephs would not allow that in the hood. To learn more about Zina’s & Holly’s neighborhood go here:

SUNSET PARK NEIGHBORHOOD IN SANTA MONICA

LOVE Coffee Bar has a well curated Instagram page, I’m a sucker for good social media.  I own a boutique Public Relations, Marketing, Production and Digital Media company and their social media game has my seal of approval.  For more information about my work you can find us on Facebook:

New MOON Media & Communications

To see LOVE Cofee Bar images go to the link:

LOVE COFFEE BAR EXHIBITS (Instagram)

Speaking about elections, I read on Facebook that the Land Use Voter Empowerment (LUVE) Initiative got 10,000 signatures to be submitted tomorrow with a celebration in front of City Hall.

LUVE calls for a halt to the over-development of Santa Monica by giving voters the right to decide how much development is right for Santa Monica. LUVE would require voter approval for Major Development Review Permits and require voter approval for major changes in the City’s Land Use PolicyDocuments.  The LUVE Initiative was written by Armen Melkonians and Tricia Crane, board members of Residocracy.org, an online direct democracy advocacy tool for residents.

6,430 signatures – ten percent of registered Santa Monica Voters – are required to qualify LUVE for the Nov. 8 ballot. The Committee for the LUVE Initiative did its own validity verification and is confident that the 10,000 signatures they are submitting are more than the number needed to qualify the initiative for the ballot.

That was a labor of LOVE, I must congratulate everyone involved that worked hard for democracy.   The ironic thing is that the celebration coincides with the Mexican 5 de MAYO Celebration, despite Kate Bransfield, board member of Residiocracy claims on Facebook:

“Zoe, This has nothing to do with race, diversity, affordable housing or any other trumped up Trojan horse. This is about quality of life for all current Santa Monica residents. Those of all races and all socio-economic groups. If development were to go forward as planned, the quality of life for ALL residents would be greatly diminished.  Period.” ~Kate Bransfield

Who said race? I didn’t.

Kate is a supporter of Phil Brock and got a bad case of flip-flop syndrome which manifested symptoms in the above-referenced quote.  Unless the celebration is moved for another day it will be celebrated during Cinco de Mayo, which is not Mexican Independence Day–that is in September–but the celebration of one very important battle.  LUVE signature gathering was a battle, not the war. That will be fought in the following months.  It seems to me like it was about diversity after all…Ironic, no?

As they say: KARMA is a Blessing!

 

DIVERSITY ON WHEELS

By: Zoë MuntanerBest-Earth-Day-Poster-Ideas-Pictures-2016HAPPY EARTH DAY!!! Do you bike or walk to work?  I do!  I am a progressive believer of alternative transportation, and do not own a car in LA. Hard to believe but is doable.  I ride the bus, walk, Uber, share rides, and bike…until last Sunday when the folks at Gumbiner and Savett, Inc. decided to hire a gardener to cut my lock and vandalized my bike. The following day I stopped by their offices to inquire about the insurance policy to cover damages, and was emailed back with the following reply from Rick Parent, Managing Director of Gumbiner & Savett:

Dear Ms. Muntaner:

I was forwarded your email concerning your claim that your bicycle was vandalized and in which you state that somehow Gumbiner Savett Inc. is to blame. Let me be direct and state that Gumbiner Savett is not responsible for your bicycle whatsoever. As a matter of fact, you have left your bicycle on our property for weeks if not months and it should have been thrown away a long time ago. There is a sign marked “private property” a few feet away from where your bicycle was abandoned.

Additionally, I understand from our employee, Maria Ruiz, that this morning you confronted her in an aggressive manner. You are hereby notified not to step foot on our property again and if you should do so, we will immediately contact the police to have you removed.
Lovely! No? Not only they engage in criminal activity, they also fabricate a lie to cover it.   Let’s see what the SMPD has to say.  More will be revealed.

Two years ago I started filming a documentary about the influence of money in our local elections.  Amongst my advisors is fellow Santa Monica resident & filmmaker Holly Mosher who produced the documentary Pay2Play.  We have a team of researchers committed to finding the connection (if any) between the bullying behavior of business and/or developers and their political contributions.  Remember City Council candidate Phil Brock’s anti-development rhetoric last election?  We found out he solicited money from a local developer and confronted Residiocracy’s support/endorsement of his candidacy at their rally; one of the many flip-flops on his political record. Yep, you can call me the Pay2Play police, pro bono service to our community.  STAY TUNED, coming to a screen and theater near you!

In celebratory environment news, the first criminal charges were filed for the Flynt water fiasco. Environmental racism advocates should be rewarded for their hard work and activism.

As a storyteller, I showcase my work at different venues.  In New York, I started my career with The Moth, Speakeasy, The Liar Show and The Talkingstick.  Lucky for you I am back in the saddle and this weekend will be telling stories on Saturday: In Heroes We Can Trust on 5420 Adams Boulevard and Sunday at BUSted in Echo Park at Stories Books & Cafe. BUSted!

Go to my Facebook page for details.   ZOË MUNTANER PUBLIC EVENTS PAGE

YEAR OF THE MONKEY

According to Joni Yung, 2016 is a leap year, I couldn’t agree with her more.  We both were born in a Monkey year.

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For her is the end of a decade and beginning of a new one.  For me is the launching of this platform and release of the documentary I started to film two years ago during my run as a Santa Monica City Council candidate.  Time flies! We have a new election in seven months and the stakes are higher than two years ago.  So exciting! I LOVE politics.  I live for election season.  Elections show the best and the worst of the human condition at the same time.  It’s pure theater and seduction, so much fun to watch people lie with such conviction, and don’t get me started with the Saturday Night Life skits. The Press has its field day.  You have to have thick skin to be in politics, if you can’t get the heat, kindly remove yourself from the kitchen because I will be covering our local and national elections, get ready.  Diversity MATTERS and its Monkey Year! joni hammer photobooth

Back to Joni.  Like me, she is a long-time Santa Monica resident. She moved to town for college and stayed. We were both born on the year of the MONKEY, therefore, this is our year to celebrate under the Chinese Lunar Calendar. I met Joni two years ago on her birthday at SATTVA Yoga when I went to Friday Kirtan with Amita and Clay. It was a chilly winter night in December, you could not notice it from the warm intimacy of the room and the sensual soft movement of incense smoke twirling around.  SATVA LA community closed on May 2015, but Joni still here.

Joni BdayFor five years Joni has been moderating and producing YOGA CHAT, a podcast which covered my involvement and participation with The Mindful Living Health Expo through Compassionate Santa Monica back in 2015.  you can listen to episodes here:

YOGA CHAT with The Accidental Yogist

Joni is part of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition team, that will be participating in Climate Ride to have a positive impact on climate change. It will be her longest ride to date. I have been vocal about bicycle safety and support the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s work to make the LA region a healthy, safe and fun place to ride a bike.  The team is captained by Greg Laemmle who returns for a fourth run as their fearless leader and as a seasoned vet who helps the team meet their fundraising goals. To read more about Joni and support her fundraising efforts click on the following link:

Joni’s Climate Ride Fundraising Page

As she says: “female – check, minority – check, baby boomer – check! ” She is diversity on wheels and I wanted to hear more about Joni’s journey and celebrate her multifaceted interests and accomplishments.  She now commutes primarily on bike, logging an average of 15-25 miles a day and still own the same car for 15 years, which she drives it around town whenever biking is inconvenient.  Do you agree with me than we need more Jonis?  Lets get to business, she needs to raise $3000 by May 8th, Mothers Day. Did I mention she is a wonderful mother of two amazing daughters?  Open your hearts and wallets!

 

PENUMBRA

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY ART: is a new addition to the website development we are building for DIVERSITY MATTERS.  I will be posting artwork on exhibition at our local galleries that move and inspire reflection to write.  I love the blues, the lyrical, metaphorical and the actual color blue is my favorite (in all its hues).  The sky, the ocean, I was born & grew up on an island …what you expect?  Our environment deserves respect!  Randall Stoltfuz PENUMBRA on display at Laura Korman Gallery tells me about the shadow nature of our collective and individual souls.  A penumbra is defined as an incomplete or partial shadow. In astronomy, it refers to the shadow cast on the earth by the moon in a partial eclipse. Brooklyn-based artist Randall Stoltzfus translates these natural phenomena in his current body of work. Celestial blue circles of cerulean and deep cobalt are layered and repeated, dispersed by a spectrum of soft white, yellow and black circles suggestive of dim shadows and illuminated horizon lines.

 

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Randall Stoltfuz PENUMBRA on display at Laura Korman Gallery In Bergamot Station.

Stoltzfus’ meditative process begins slowly – compositions develop over months, and even years as controlled, circular layers of oil, hand-mixed pigments, and gold or palladium leaf are added over time. Abstracted landscapes and figures are illuminated and obscured in a push and pull of darkness and light as Stoltzfus builds visible texture. He compares his meticulous technique to the layering of scrim, a strong, coarse fabric, allowing the work to become a sum of its layers.

Layers are what I find fascinating about our local politics and the world at large. The more I research, the more I find, the more I learn, the more perspective I have to connect the dots.  Sight and perception are intrinsic to Stoltzfus’ thoughtful process. “Our perception is … always partial, and always collective in a way we sometimes find difficult to acknowledge,” says Stoltzfus. “We see individual things, less often aware of the broader condition of light and shadow that make this possible. The sources that power our sight dwarf what we actually comprehend.”  That is what sets me apart from the crowd. I am different, I represent diversity and that is my biggest asset as a writer, advocate and citizen.

PENUMBRA is an intimate study of light and the physiological response. Drawing reference from the color field painters Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, as well as the textured works of abstract expressionist Richard Pousett-Dart, Stoltzfus engages directly with his audience’s vision for a response that is at once physical and emotional. His paintings defy the two-dimensionality of the canvas to create visual narratives of wonder and mystery.  I wonder if our City Council has the depth and courage to explore the shadow side on the implications of their votes at City Council Chambers?  This work will be a good invitation to do that.  A little reflection never hurt anybody.  Kevin Mckewon is set to cut the ribbon at the Expo Se in Bergamot station, perhaps he will take a look.

In honor and celebration of the EXPO line opening at Bergamot Station, I will be posting a series of EXPO-SE posts starting next week. Get ready, is going to be a bumpy ride.  Details for the EXPO-SE below. Don’t miss it!

Until next time…let’s get intense with it!

 

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