The January meeting of the Democratic Woman’s Club of San Diego was called to order at 7:00pm on January 30, 2017 in the offices of the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA) at 4089 Fairmount Avenue, San Diego, CA 92105. Approximately 75 individuals were in attendance as the meeting was called to order, but this number later swelled to approximately 90 as more joined throughout the meeting. Emily Bonner, the outgoing Club President, presided.
Elected officials were invited to share any current news with meeting attendees. Recently elected ADEM delegates from the 78th district, Susan Peinado, Doreen Mattingly, Brian Krohne, and Rebecca Fielding-Miller, all took the opportunity to stand and introduce themselves. Doug Case then took the floor to share two bills that State Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) has recently introduced to the State Legislature. The first was SB2, the Building Homes and Jobs Act, and the second was SB179, the Gender Recognition Act. Mr. Case shared details about both bills and took questions from members. He also assured club attendees that the California State Legislature was doing everything in its power to protect immigrants and refugees in the state from the recent Presidential Executive Order.
Special guests Sandy Naranjo, Anabel Arauz, and Sara Kent then rose to address the club. Ms. Naranjo and Ms. Arauz shared the details of their sexual harassment complaint against Labor Council leader Micky Kasparian with club members. After describing their stories, they presented a letter addressed to the chair of the San Diego Democratic Party requesting that the party seriously consider removing Mickey Kasparian from his leadership roles within the party until the allegations were resolved. Ms. Naranjo, Ms. Arauz, and Ms. Kent then asked the members of the Democratic Woman’s Club of San Diego to consider signing the letter in support.
Club members began discussing the letter and allegations, as well as the necessary timing of submitting the letter. Due to the time sensitive nature of the request, club member Ramla Sahid motioned to suspend the stipulation that endorsements must be posted 10 days prior to the meeting (Article V Section 4) and that the club consider signing the letter based on the discussion and votes of club members present that evening. The letter was read aloud to all members and then discussed further for several minutes. The motion to suspend the bylaw notice was then voted on and passed by the required 2/3 majority of dues paying members, with 21 ayes, 2 nays, and 1 abstention. Club members then discussed signing the letter, and agreed to sign on with 19 ayes and 2 abstentions. After agreeing to sign the letter, club attendees discussed several venues for publicizing the decision, with many advocating contacting the journalists who have been following the story to date to provide an update. President Emily Bonner signed the letter, copies were left for club members’ records, and the Executive Board agreed to meet later to discuss a publication plan.
Kathy Stadler then presented information on community-based strategies to engage with neighbors and colleagues to promote Democratic ideals and organize to win elections. Members of several local Indivisible groups, as well as Together We Will (TWW), joined the conversation to share their recent activities and offer advice on further engagement opportunities. Ms. Stadler discussed several online tools for community and political organizing, including NextDoor, Countable, Facebook, and Twitter. Following the main meeting the attending representatives of Indivisible and TWW met to coordinate plans across the San Diego region.
After the main programming, President Emily Bonner handed over the meeting to Ruth Rollins, the Chair of the nominating committee. Ruth introduced each of the candidates who had been nominated to run for officer positions within the club, and each woman then introduced herself and spoke briefly to voting members. A move to vote by acclimation was made for each in turn. Christa Wubbolding was elected Treasurer, Rebecca Fielding-Miller was elected Secretary, Ramla Sahid was elected Vice President, and Susan Peinado was elected as President.
To conclude the meeting, Rebecca Taylor shared details about an upcoming vote to declare National City a Welcoming City on Tuesday, November 7th at 6pm. Members were enthusiastic about the opportunity to push for progressive change in the region.
The meeting adjourned at 9pm.
Meeting notes: Rebecca Fielding-Miller, Ph.D., new Secretary
Photo credit: John Loughlin, past Secretary
The text of the scanned letter appears below:
San Diego County Democratic Party
8340 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard Suite 105
San Diego, CA 92111
Re: Request to Cease Democratic Party Leadership Roles of Mickey Kasparian Pending Resolution of Highly Concerning Matters
To Chair Hayes, Central Committee, and Members of San Diego Democratic Party Leadership:
In December 2016, two lawsuits were filed that made serious allegations against Mickey Kasparian, a prominent public figure and leader in San Diego County’s Labor movement and a strong voice in the progressive community. The lawsuits describe activities and situations allegedly created by Mr. Kasparian that violate moral, social, and legal norms as pertains to the treatment of women, as well as stand contrary to progressive and Democratic values. More than a month has passed, and despite a third complaint being filed against Mr. Kasparian and UFCW Local 135 for hostile workplace conditions and retaliation, the status quo remains unchanged.
The nature of the allegations are so serious as to warrant a temporary termination of Mr. Kasparian’s representation of San Diego Democrats pending an independent investigation and/or resolution of the legal processes in question. While due process is taking place, it would be most fitting that the Central Committee take up for consideration whether it is appropriate for someone who has been accused of such serious and disturbing allegations to represent our region as a delegate to the Democratic State Central Committee.
Because of Mr. Kasparian’s standing and influence in the progressive community, our ability to stand up against cultures of discrimination, bullying, and harassment is compromised unless we are able to resolutely acknowledge that we hold ourselves to the same standard that we demand from political opponents. While it would be easier to claim that this is an internal matter, it tests the moral fortitude of our progressive institutions, and therefore is of dire concern to all members of the progressive community in this region in general and the Democratic Party specifically.
It is our understanding that the deadline for naming our delegates to the Democratic State Central Committee meeting is fast approaching. Therefore, we ask that a Special Meeting of the Central Committee be convened at the earliest possible opportunity to consider whether to remove Mr. Kasparian as a delegate to the DSCC. If a Central Committee meeting cannot be held prior to the deadline to name our delegation, we would ask that a Special Meeting be convened as soon thereafter as is feasible to consider a motion calling on Mr. Kasparian to vacate his DSCC delegate position so that the Central Committee may designate a proxy pursuant to Section XVI, subsection 9 of the SDCDP Policies and Procedures.
Prominent Democrats, Community Activists Call on Labor Leader Kasparian to Stand Down – Doug Porter writing for the San Diego Free Press
Progressives, Democrats demand investigations, suspension of labor leader – Joshua Stewart writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune
Headaches, Hopes Face County’s New Democratic Party Leader – Ken Stone writing for the Times of San Diego