Thanksgiving is a Time to Give to Those In Need

We have much for which we are grateful.

We are grateful for for our freedoms, and for those whose sacrifices, past and present, have made those freedoms endure for generations.

We are grateful for our families and friends, and for the love that makes life worthwhile.

We are grateful for our beautiful City of Irvine, our beautiful state of California, and our beautiful planet.

We are grateful for our frontline health care workers, especially during this pandemic.

We are grateful for our firefighters, police and first responders, and for our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen.

We are grateful for everyone in our community and our nation who protects us and serves those in need.

We are grateful for the volunteers who comfort the sick and care for the young and the aged.

We are grateful for those who offer food, shelter, and medical care to those who have no home.

We are grateful that we are fortunate enough to be able to help others.

Our family, especially during the holidays, supports ClothingDonations.org, a service of Vietnam Veterans of America.  ClothingDonations.org will pick up your used clothes and household goods at your convenience and use them to support programs that address the needs of all our veterans.

We also support Families Forward, an Irvine-based organization that assists Orange County families in financial crisis to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency and helps these families to once again become independent, productive residents of the community. During the holidays, Families Forward also provides in-need families with festive food baskets and personalized holiday gifts.

Another worthy organization is the California Association of Food Banks, founded in 1995 to help hungry people throughout California, including our local Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County and the Community Action Partnership of Orange County Food Bank.

Our City of Irvine proudly and gratefully supports the Irvine 2/11 Marine Adoption Committee, which provides charitable and educational activities and support for the benefit and welfare of the United States Marines and their families assigned to Camp Pendleton, California, with special emphasis on the Marines and families of the 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines.

Donations of toys can be made to the 2/11 Marines Holiday Toy Drive benefiting families of Irvine’s adopted 2/11 Marine Battalion. Help bring joy to these families during the holidays by donating a new, unwrapped gift suitable for infants or children ages 12 and younger.  Donations can be dropped off through December 14 at the Irvine Civic Center, Irvine Police Headquarters, and the Great Park Visitors Center.

We also endorse giving to Socks for Heroes, which ships socks along with other essentials to United States Marine Corps combat infantry units, provides Marine children the ability to take advantage of swimming lessons, sports, and camps, and provides other programs for single Marines and Marine families during deployments.

Gift cards for Firefighters can be mailed or delivered to the OCFA Firefighter’s Benevolent Association for Firefighters in need.  Monetary donations can be made to Firefighter organizations such as the OCFA Foundation and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.  Donations can also be made to the California Fire Museum and Safety Leaning Center.

This year, through the involvement of my son, I learned about the great work of Wound Walk OC, which tends to the wounds of unsheltered people in Orange County.  Founded three years ago by filmmaker Michael Sean Wright, Wound Walk OC’s mission is to “Practice equity in action. Bring relief to those most in need. Inspire empathetic future healthcare advocates and field medics. Provide encouragement to communities by showing what caring volunteers can accomplish.”

The members of Wound Walk OC, including our son, Max, are street medics who go to where unsheltered people live — in parks and other areas — with a “wound wagon” filled with emergency medical supplies donated by the community.  They offer emergency first aid/medical care to homeless people with wounds and other injuries that, without Wound Walk’s intervention, would go untreated, with serious and potentially deadly consequences. They also provide food, drinking water, underwear and socks. Their work in helping unsheltered people with wounds and other medical issues is truly on the front lines of the homelessness crisis — even more so under the dangerous conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Spectrum News One has reported, “While doctors and nurses continue to battle on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wright [and Wound Walk OC] is in many ways on the front lines of its humanity.”

This Thanksgiving is a perfect time to help Wound Walk OC care for our unsheltered brothers and sisters, by donating or visiting their Amazon wish list for needed supplies.  If you would like to know more, or learn more about how you can help, contact Wound Walk OC at woundwalkoc@gmail.com or call 949-973-3317.

Each year at Thanksgiving, we remember our friend Michael Kinslow and his beautiful Prayer of Thanksgiving for those who protect and those who serve:

Thank you God for every woman and man who risks their life for my freedom and safety.

Please bless their families with peace.

Thank you God for every child, woman, and man who volunteers in my community. All of those who feed the hungry, provide shelter, and all who put their hearts, minds, and souls into building up others and caring for all of your creatures.

Please bless them in their own time of need.

Amen.

Wear a mask. Stay safe.

Melissa

Melissa Fox for California Assembly: What’s at Stake

The California Assembly makes decisions that directly affect our everyday lives.  Who we send to the Assembly to serve as our representative will determine our response to the COPVID-19 pandemic, our response to climate change, the quality of our schools, the vitality of our local economy, the cost and availability of healthcare, and the extent of our reproductive freedom. 

In addition, this election asks us whether we have the courage to respond to the alarming rise in bigotry and prejudice by committing to respect the rights and dignity of all residents of the 68th Assembly District.

Here’s what’s at stake:

COVID-19 Response and Economic Recovery

The most important issue facing all of us right now is the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 225,000 Americans and sickened millions — and the economic crisis it has caused.

​For the foreseeable future, the primary role of government must be stopping the spread of this disease, helping to provide treatment and support to those who have become ill, fighting to get more protective equipment to frontline workers like nurses, firefighters, and grocery workers, and helping people and small businesses survive the pandemic’s devastating impact on our economy.

Help must include financial assistance to workers who have lost their jobs, families that need help to stay in their homes, and small businesses that need help to keep their doors open and their people employed.

I believe that we should protect lives and minimize the number of people who are infected by the coronavirus, even if that means being gradual and careful on re-opening the economy. As the pandemic subsides, the primary focus of government must become helping families recover their financial stability, students recover lost their educational opportunities, and the small businesses that energize our communities recover their vibrancy.

The coronavirus has made it clear that we must invest in the health and safety of our community. Public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic require strong leadership grounded in respect for science. In sharp contrast to my opponent, who has flagrantly rejected the advice of scientists and public health experts, voted with anti-vaxxers, and given his unquestioning support to the disastrous mishandling of this pandemic by the Trump administration, I’ll listen carefully to the voices of scientists, public health experts, and first responders.

Frontline workers support us. We must support them. That’s why I fully support The Biden Plan to Combat COVID-19 and Prepare for Future Global Health Threats, which sets out an effective national emergency response to saves lives, protect frontline workers, and minimize the spread of COVID-19 and commits to economic measures to help hard-hit workers, families, and small businesses and to stabilize the American economy.

I understand the economic fears and financial hardships that many Orange County families are facing — because I’ve walked in their shoes.

My family and I were hit hard in the last financial crisis. That’s why I’ve fought for renters’ assistance, financial support for small businesses, and a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic.

In the State Assembly, I’ll fight for the working families in our community that are struggling during this financial crisis.

Climate and the Environment

Action on climate change is an existential imperative. Our environment is under assault from the Trump administration in all directions, including offshore drilling, fracking, dismantling established coal regulations, and eliminating California’s fuel emissions standards.

For Orange County, climate change means potentially devastating flooding along the coast and devastating wildfires inland.

Unfortunately, my opponent is fully committed to the Trump anti-science and anti-environment agenda, does not believe that human activity is responsible for climate change, and has a lifetime rating of 6% from the League of Conservation Voters and 0% from the Sierra Club.

My opponent “completely questions the idea of global warming being caused by human intervention.” He opposes cap and trade and other government imposed environmental regulations, calling them an extreme effort to tax businesses and economic growth.”

After receiving thousands of dollars from oil companies, my opponent has repeatedly voted against legislation crackdown on polluters, voted against laws to reduce air pollution, opposed funding projects to protect access to safe, clean drinking water and prevent pollution of beaches, and voted against legislation to stop offshore oil drilling expansion.  As Irvine Mayor, Steven Choi ordered that the phrase “climate change” be removed from all official documents of the City of Irvine and killed the U.S. Solar Decathlon at the Great Park. Click HERE for more information on Steven Choi and climate.

In contrast, I believe that global warming is an existential crisis that we must face and solve now. I’ll fight to take decisive action to protect our planet — and our neighborhoods — from havoc and destruction due to climate change. As a member of the Assembly, I’ll advocate for a scientific and research-based understanding of the state of our environment and continue to fight for improved public transportation.

I’m proud that my environmental record has earned the endorsement of the California League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club.  On the Irvine City Council, I revived and then served as Chair of the Irvine Green Ribbon Environmental Committee, initiated new environmental protections, and fought for a separate Climate Action Plan and a Community Choice Energy Plan for Irvine. When my opponent was on the City Council, the terms “climate change” and “global warming” were was banned from all City documents and public statements.

I’m also a strong advocate for increased transportation choices as a means of reducing both traffic congestion and air pollution. On the Irvine City Council, I succeeded in creating a major expansion of iShuttle routes that is expected to have a significant positive impact on Irvine’s commuter traffic congestion. As a member of the Assembly, I’ll continue to advocate for state funding to create more convenient and less polluting transportation choices for the residents of the 68th Assembly District.

In Sacramento, I’ll hold Big Oil and other corporate polluters accountable and fight back against the Trump administration’s attack on our environment by opposing the expansion of offshore drilling and fracking. I’ll continue to fight for effective action on climate change to make California a healthier place for our kids and for all generations to follow.

Education

Our public schools in California are significantly underfunded and the situation is even worse in the 68th Assembly District, where our current representative has done nothing to provide proper funding for our schools. The COVID-19 pandemic has made our schools’ financial situation even worse, putting even greater burdens on our already over-stressed school districts. I will fight for our students and increase funding for public schools and make college affordable.

I’m committed to getting more funding for every school and every student in our District by investing in classrooms and teachers, not more bureaucracy. I’m proud to be endorsed by the California Teachers Association, the California Federation of Teachers, and the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges. I

‘ll also fight for more funding for our community colleges as they work to provide educational and training programs to millions of Californians, providing essential career education and job training programs that help people get and keep good-paying, middle-class jobs.

​Making sure that social distancing and masking is implemented in schools when schools reopen is essential to protecting our communities. I’ll continue to be a strong advocate supporting the best practices to keep our children and teachers safe.

Affordable Housing

California has an affordable housing crisis. Rent should not be above one third of anyone’s income. Yet my opponent is interested only in protecting the big developers that have contributed more than 200 thousand dollars to his campaigns. In return, he has voted to give away public land for huge multi-million dollar development projects, opposed protections for renters and for seniors living in mobile homes, and voted against helping local governments create new affordable housing.

​In contrast, I’ve worked hard to create more affordable housing. As Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I’ve helped reduce homelessness and create affordable housing for families, veterans, and people with disabilities, and I’ve gone to Sacramento to fight for tax reductions for investments in affordable housing.

I want to build a future for our district where first time property buyers can afford to make a down payment and build a future for their families. As a member of Irvine’s City Council, I’ve supported policies that have led to more affordable housing. I’ve also worked with the state legislature to successfully amend our tax laws to make it easier to build affordable housing across our state.

​No one should be evicted from their homes if facing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a council member, I fought hard to provide financial aid to our residents so they could stay in their homes. I’ll continue to do so in the Assembly during emergencies such as this pandemic

In Sacramento, I’ll continue to fight for policies that create more affordable housing, reduce rents, and allow more residents of the 68th Assembly District to become homeowners.

A Thriving and Fair Economy 

I grew up in a middle-class family with two working parents believing in the American Dream that hard work leads to economic success. That dream is now under attack as President Trump and his allies in Washington and Sacramento push for an economy that benefits the super-rich and special interests and leaves too many Americans behind.

Now more than ever we need someone fighting for the middle-class in our Assembly. I understand the fears and insecurity that people are feeling about this economy — I’ve faced these challenges myself.

My family and I were hit hard in the last financial crisis. That’s why I’ve fought for renters’ assistance, financial support for small businesses, and a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic.

In the Assembly, I’ll advocate for the necessary loans and aid that small businesses and families need to make it through the Covid-19 pandemic.

We need a thriving, innovative, and fair economy that is focused on creating the good middle-class jobs of today and tomorrow. That means supporting economic policies that strengthen the middle class and create jobs that enable families to succeed. In the Assembly, I’ll fight for a fair and thriving economy that benefits everyone.

Health Care

I believe that affordable health care is a human right, not a privilege reserved for the few. Too many of us are worried that we will not be able to afford the cost of the health care that we or our family members might need.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for quality health care for everyone in our community. Now more than ever we need a comprehensive plan for those needing healthcare. Free COVID-19 tests should be easily available to all so that we can protect our families and our community.

Your health and peace of mind are important to me. In the Assembly, you can count on me to fight to improve the Affordable Care Act to make healthcare more affordable and accessible, protect coverage for people with preexisting conditions, hold drug companies accountable to reduce prescription drug prices and support frontline healthcare workers and local hospitals. I’m committed to fighting the Trump administration’s plans to take away health care from Americans and to keep the price of prescription drugs high. That’s why I refuse to take money from Big Pharma.

​I’m proud that my support for high quality health care for all Californians has earned the support of the California Nurses Association.  In contrast, my opponent  has put the profits of drug companies and the insurance industry ahead of patients and public health. Last year, he voted against legislation to provide California local governments with funding for infectious disease control to respond to a health emergency like the coronavirus pandemic. My opponent — who personally has more than 100 thousand dollars invested in pharmaceutical companies — also voted against cracking down on drug corporations that delay the release of cheaper generic medications and stricter oversight of the insurance industry to protect consumers. At the same time, he opposed legislation requiring that children be vaccinated for preventable and contagious diseases. These are not our values.

Reproductive Rights and Equality for Women

The question of what a pregnant woman should do when she does not want to raise a child is extremely personal for me, as my then 16-year-old birth mother had to navigate this decision herself when she became pregnant with me. I received a great gift from my birth mother’s decision to have me – but I would not have wanted her to have been forced by the government to give birth to me despite being unable at that time to care for a child.

Whether or not to have an abortion – or whether to give a child up for adoption – is a deeply personal and often painful decision for a woman or couple to make, and it is a decision they have to make based on their own faith and values, not someone else’s – and certainly not the government’s. That’s why I’m outraged at the attacks on women and their Constitutional reproductive rights from the Trump administration and its allies, and why I’m committed to protecting and defending women’s access to reproductive health care services.

I believe that women should have the right to make their own healthcare decisions. We can’t allow politicians to deny women basic human rights such as access to safe and affordable reproductive health care or allow the government to intrude into this most personal of decisions. I will keep this decision a personal one and not the government’s. In the State Assembly, I will protect the right to safe, legal abortion and birth control and I will stand up for Planned Parenthood, which provides access to critical health services for Orange County women and families.

I’m proud that my commitment to women’s reproductive rights has earned the endorsement of Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List, NARAL Pro-Choice California, Women for American Values and Ethics (WAVE); National Organization for Women (NOW), National Women’s Political Caucus, Women In Leadership (WIL), California Women’s List, Fund Her, and the Women’s Political Committee (WPC).

In contrast, my opponent does not believe that women have the right to choose when or whether to give birth and has repeatedly voted against funding healthcare services for women, including treatment for breast and cervical cancer and opposing emergency contraception for women. He also voted against legislation to prevent gender pay discrimination and refused to support a bill to give survivors of abuse more rights to file lawsuits against abusers.

My opponent was also the only State Assembly member and one of the few Orange County Republicans to defend another legislator accused of sexually harassing Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett and two other women. Unlike my opponent, I believe Supervisor Lisa Bartlett and I’m outraged by my opponent’s defense of her accused attacker. I’ll always stand strong against sexual harassment and assault, and I’ll make sure that powerful politicians do not get away with abusing their positions and the public trust.

In the State Assembly, I will fight to make women’s voices heard by requiring equal pay for equal work and paid family leave. Also, I am committed to championing tough anti-discrimination policies to stop workplace harassment and abuse and I will work to hold abusers accountable and protect victims of sexual assault and harassment.

Fighting Hate, Prejudice, and Discrimination

President Trump’s reprehensible embrace of bigots and white supremacists has resulted in an alarming raise in hate crimes in Orange County, particularly anti-immigrant, anti-Black, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, anti-Asian and anti-gay violence.

Our current representative in the 68th Assembly District has a long and disturbing history of anti-Muslim bigotry, supporting the anti-Muslim Trump Travel Ban, opposing legislation prohibiting discrimination, and questioning the loyalty of Muslim-Americans. He has even said that Muslims are “unfit” to hold public office.

​My opponent has also said and done nothing as Asian Americans in our community are unfairly targeted and blamed for COVID-19.  He has refused to speak out as Asian Americans are being threatened and face racist attacks, and still refuses to condemn Trump for calling it the “Kung Flu” and the “Chinese virus.” In fact, he has long embraced the divisive politics of Donald Trump’s attacks on immigrants, women, disabled people, and people of color.

​In sharp contrast, I’m proud to have earned the endorsement of the Equality California and the Courage Campaign. As a member of Irvine’s City Council, I’ve celebrated diversity and fought against prejudice and for the rights and dignity of all people.  I led a successful movement to fly the Pride flag in Irvine during Pride Month, and to repeal Irvine’s anti- LGBTQ+ law. In the Assembly, I’ll continue to fight to protect and defend the rights and dignity of all the residents of the 68th Assembly District.

Fire and Disaster Protection

Like 90,000 others, my family was recently forced to evacuate our home because of the Silverado Fire.

As a quarter-million Californians fled from the path of deadly wildfires and thousands of firefighters did battle on the front lines, President Trump threatened to withhold federal aid and attacked California fire policies.  When Californians urgently needed federal disaster assistance, President Trump instead attacked us and played political games with Californians’ lives.

President Trump’s shameful attack on California in the midst of catastrophic natural disaster was an attack on us all, especially our courageous first responders fighting to keep us safe on the front lines. Our current representative in the 68th Assembly District never stood up for California or for our first responders against Trump’s attacks.

Our nurses, doctors, and first responders have been working hard on the front lines of this pandemic. As the mother of a firefighter and a board member of the Orange County Fire Authority, I know the dedication of our firefighters and first responders who put their lives on the line to protect us. I’ll fight to reduce wildfire risk, for increased investment in emergency response, and for swift and fair recovery for fire victims. I’m proud to have earned the support of California’s Professional Firefighters because they know I’ll fight for our firefighters and first responders and ensure they have every resource they need to protect our homes and families from fires and other natural disasters.

​I will always invest in neighborhood safety by ensuring 9-1-1 services are fully funded.

Safer Communities

I’m committed to ending the epidemic of gun violence in our communities. As a City Council member, I established a program with our police department to educate residents about how to use California’s Red Flag Law and Gun Violence Restraining Orders.

In contrast to our current representative, who has consistently voted with the gun dealers and the NRA against common sense measures to reduce gun violence, I’ll fight to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and make our schools and communities safer. That’s why I earned the endorsement of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and am honored to be a 2020 Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate.

​As the daughter of a retired law enforcement officer, I know the difficulties faced by law enforcement and the sacrifices that law enforcement officers and their families make to keep our communities safe.

As a City Council member I have worked to continue Irvine’s reputation as America’s Safest City, while I have also successfully called for changes in the use of force policies of our police department, including banning choke holds and mandating the use of police body cameras, so that everyone in our community feels safe and respected in their interactions with the police.

Supporting our Veterans

I’ve been described by the Orange County Register as “an incredible advocate for veterans.” For me, respecting and serving our veterans is more than a matter of policy; it’s a moral issue. Our character as a community is defined in large part by how we treat those who have served and protected us. As the daughter of a combat veteran, I know the great sacrifices that military veterans have made for our country. As a member of the Assembly, I’ll fight for veterans, their families and their communities to ensure they have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. That’s why I’m committed to investments in job-training and vocational education opportunities, to give returning veterans the tools they need to succeed.

I’ll also fight to ensure that homeless veterans are kept a priority, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, I know that far too many veterans remain homeless or struggle with PTSD-related illnesses. We need to invest in funding for regional homeless services, street outreach for veterans, and urgent care beds, in addition to accessible mental health treatment. I’ll also fight to improve health care services for veterans to ensure that they can always obtain the care they need and the respect they deserve.

My opponent was the only member of the California Assembly to vote against $24.5 million in state funding for the Southern California Veterans Cemetery. In contrast, I have been fighting for a state veterans cemetery at the site for the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station since 2014. In the Assembly, I’ll ensure that our veterans in Orange County have a final resting place close to their families and loved ones.

Making Government Transparent and Financially Responsible

The path towards a better and brighter democracy starts through greater government accountability. For too long, the toxic influence of special interests has infected government at all levels and resulted in policies that put the interests of giant corporations and greedy developers above the interests of the people of our District.

As an elected official, I’m proud of my record in increasing government accountability, openness, and transparency. I’ve received the Orange County Taxpayers Watchdog Award for “demonstrating dedication to the protection of taxpayer funds and for the advocacy of government transparency and fiscal responsibility.”

Under my leadership, the Irvine Community land Trust was awarded the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, the world’s most respected source of information on nonprofit organizations.

I was also the only member of the Irvine City Council to oppose Measure D, which would have eliminated voter input into development decisions, because I believe that citizens must have a strong voice in deciding the future of their neighborhoods.

I enthusiastically supported the City’s adoption of the Irvine Sunshine Ordinance, which expanded public notice to four times longer than California law requires and prevents government action without full and informed participation from the community. I also supported approval of a two-year budget cycle, along with a five-year financial planning program, to bring more accountability to government spending. These were tremendous improvements in the openness and accuracy of the City’s budgeting process, compared to the time when my opponent was in charge.

In contrast, my opponent allowed highly questionable accounting procedures to hide the true financial condition of the City of Irvine while he was mayor. Once he arrived in Sacramento, he continued his fiscal irresponsibility by taking more than $54,000 in gifts from lobbyists and corporate special interests. This includes all-expense paid trips to Australia and Japan, luxury hotel rooms, expensive meals, tickets to concerts and numerous gifts like bottles of wine, gift cards, rounds of golf and clothing.

In the Assembly, I’ll make sure that large corporations, developers, and special interests don’t control government decisions. I’ll fight to end the power of lobbyists and special interests to make backroom deals and fight for greater openness and transparency and restore openness, accountability, and responsibility to state government.

Conclusion

There’s a lot at stake in this election.  Here’s How You Can Help

VOTE!  Quite simply, voting is the most important thing you can do to help bring positive change to our district, our state, and our nation. If you have not yet voted, please vote by dropping your ballot off at an official ballot box or voting in-person at an official Vote Center.

CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF OFFICIAL BALLOT BOXES.

CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF OFFICIAL VOTE CENTERS.

The hours for Vote Centers are
November 1 and 2 from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm.
November 3 from 7:00 am – 8:00 pm.

DONATE to fund our Voter Protection Program
CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

VOLUNTEER to help us GOTV
CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP.

Thanks!

We will surely win if we work together!

Melissa

 

Election 2020: Three Ways to Vote in California!

More than 40 percent of California’s electorate, — more than 8.5 million voters — have already voted in the 2020 election to select the next President of the United States, as well as our next members of Congress, next state legislators, next mayors and city council members, and next school board members.

This year, for the first time in a presidential election, all registered voters in California received an official vote-by-mail ballot at their homes.

After you receive your ballot, you have three ways to vote:

1. Return your ballot by mail (in the postage pre-paid envelope that has been mailed to you), or

2. Deposit your ballot at a secure official ballot drop box throughout the County, or

3. Cast your ballot in person at any of the many official Vote Centers.

After October 29, it is probably best not to mail your ballot, but instead to use a ballot drop box or cast your ballot in person!

Find a list of all official Orange County ballot drop boxes HERE.

Drop boxes are open 24 hours from October 5 to November 3 (until 8:00 pm on Election Day).

Find a list of all official Orange County Vote Centers HERE.

The hours for Vote Center are October 30 – November 2, from 8:00 am-8:00 pm. November 3, from 7:00 am-8:00 pm.

Of course, I would prefer that you Vote Democratic, and Vote for Melissa Fox for California Assembly in Assembly District 68.

Visit my campaign website HERE.

View my campaign Facebook page HERE.

Learn the truth about my opponent’s lies about me HERE.

Learn more about my opponent’s record HERE.

If you need further help, contact the OC Registrar of Voters at https://www.ocvote.com or 714-567-7600.

You can also contact my campaign at info@votemelissafox.com.

Your vote is your voice!  Be sure to make your voice heard by voting on or before November 3, 2020!

How to Thank Our Firefighters and Help Those Firefighters Who Were Gravely Injured Protecting Our Communities

We are deeply grateful to the firefighters and other public safety officers and first responders who fought the Silverado and Blue Ridge Fires this week.

Due to their heroic efforts, property damage was kept to a minimum, more than 90,000 people were safely and quickly evacuated — including my family — and no civilians were injured.

However, on the fire’s first day, two firefighters from our Orange County Fire Authority were critically burned by the Silverado Fire.

The two men, ages 26 and 31, were part of a hand crew aggressively battling the flames.

Both received extensive second and third-degree burns.  One of the men had burns on 65% of his body while the other had burns on 50%.

As our OCFA Fire Chief Brian Fennessy noted, the seriousness of their injuries reminds us that fighting to protect our communities from these unpredictable wildfires is an extremely dangerous job.

I have received several requests for information about how we can help these gravely injured firefighters.

Here is a statement from OC Firefighters Local 3631, which is organizing a fundraiser to benefit these firefighters through the Fallen Fire Fighter Relief Fund:

“Orange County Firefighters are raising money in support of 2 firefighters critically injured while protecting our community battling the Silverado Fire.

All proceeds donated through this GoFundMe page will go directly to the Fallen Fire Fighter Relief Fund to cover additional costs related to burn care and family support during this difficult time.

If you would like to send cards or well wishes to our 2 firefighters the can be mailed to the address below and we will make sure they get them :

OC Firefighters
c/o Silverado Fire
1342 Bell Avenue, Suite 3A
Tustin, CA 92780

Please understand that the families have asked us to not release their names as of yet.”

You can also thank our firefighters by contributing to the following organizations:

The OCFA Firefighter’s Benevolent Association

OCFA Foundation

Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thank you.

 

Stop the Toxic Fumes from All American Asphalt!

No one should have to live with the smell and the danger of toxic fumes. 

Yet many residents of North Irvine, especially in the area of Orchid Hills and Portola, have been living with the smell and danger of the toxic fumes produced by the manufacture of rubber products by nearby All American Asphalt.  According to many researchers, long term exposure to these fumes can cause headaches, throat and eye irritations, respiratory diseases, and even cancer.

Irvine residents in affected neighborhoods been forced to keep their windows closed at all times, and to curtail or cease outdoor activities such as biking or walking their kids to school.  The City of Irvine has sued All American Asphalt to stop this noxious practice, but have not received support from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) or the Orange County Board of Supervisors. This situation is unacceptable.

The Irvine City Council will meet at 3:00 pm on Friday, October 15, 2020, to discuss further steps to resolve this matter, including whether to revoke All American Asphalt’s business license.

All American Asphalt started out as a trucking company. Before the City of Irvine was incorporated, the company bought land that was part of the original Irvine Ranch. The County issued permits to the company to allow it to expand into asphalt production.  It appears, however, that the toxic fumes at issue are caused by the manufacture of products that are not a permitted use.

While primary enforcement responsibility lies with AQMD and the City does not have the power to immediately close the plant or eliminate the odor, the City should all possible steps to solve the problem as quickly as possible.

I fully support revocation of All American Asphalt’s business license if they persist in causing toxic fumes to contaminate the air in Irvine neighborhoods.

You can learn more at our new webpage at https://www.cityofirvine.org/community-development/all-american-asphalt-update.

You can help by making an online complaint with the AQMD at http://www.aqmd.gov/home/air-quality/complaints or calling the AQMD Complaint Number at 1-800-288-7664.

Our representative on the AQMD is OC Supervisor Lisa Bartlett.  I encourage everyone concerned about this matter to let her know how important it is to you to stop the toxic fumes from All American Asphalt from contaminating our neighborhoods.  Let her know at 714- 834-3550 or email her at Lisa.Bartlett@ocgov.com

 

 

 

The Truth about Steven Choi’s Lies

My opponent Steven Choi and his corporate backers know he can’t win this race on his ideas or on his record. That’s why they’re spending enormous sums of money on vicious and false personal attacks, telling outright lies about me and my family.

Like his hero, Donald Trump, he doesn’t care how big his lies are or who they hurt, so long as it advances his personal agenda.

I’m fighting back by filing a Cease and Desist Order against their lies. The truth is that I won a legal judgment in court against these false claims and those who made them were ordered by the court to pay me financial damages for making them.  My opponent and his backers know these claim are false. They just don’t care.

Read the Legal Judgment in my favor HERE.

Read the Cease and Desist Order to Choi HERE.

They are also attacking me because my family and I were hit hard in the 2008 financial crisis. We lost much of our income and the house we owned lost nearly half of its value. We were unable to pay some taxes, until we sold our home.

These vicious personal attacks prove that my opponent doesn’t understand, or care about, the lives of ordinary citizens. Like Donald Trump, he specializes in the politics of shame, hate, and deception.

From voting against family leave, to voting against equal pay for women, to voting against every kind of economic aid for COVID-19 response, my opponent has demonstrated his total lack of concern for families that are struggling.  For too long, Assembly District 68 (Tustin, Lake Forest, Orange, Anaheim Hills, Villa Park, part of Irvine) has been represented in Sacramento by an anti-choice, anti-vaccine, pro-oil, tobacco and guns climate change denier. Let’s change that!

Learn more about Steven Choi’s extremist record HERE.

When you read Steven Choi’s lies and his attacks about my family’s struggles from 12 years ago, ask yourself: does this sound like someone you could trust? Or someone who would care about your own family’s struggles?

Vote Melissa Fox for California Assembly!

Happy National Coming Out Day from a Proud Supporter of LGBTQ+ Rights!

Happy National Coming Out Day!

Observed since 1980, the one year anniversary of the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, National Coming Out Day is a day for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer people to be proud of who you are and your support for LGBTQ equality.  It is also a day for LGBTQ+ allies to come out as supporters of LGBTQ+ Pride and truly equal rights.

The foundational belief of National Coming Out Day is that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance, and that once people know that they have loved ones who are lesbian or gay, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views.  As the Human Rights Campaign states, “Coming out — whether it is as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer — STILL MATTERS. When people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful to each other.”

I am proud that this year, for the first time, based on my motion and my organizing work with the community, Irvine flew the Pride Flag from City Hall in recognition of Pride Month.

I am also proud that on my motion, brought with City Councilmember Farrah Khan, the Irvine City Council unanimously repealed and removed a section of the municipal code (known as Measure N) that had prohibited any anti-discrimination protections for people based on their sexual orientation.

As the Voice of OC noted , “Over the last year, Irvine has seen a dramatic shift in its recognition of the LGBTQ+ community after widespread calls from the public for renewed action to acknowledge the community. In June 2019, the panel voted against flying the pride flag during pride month, with [Councilmember Mike] Carroll referring to the flag as a ‘ spectacle of divisiveness.’ . . . But last month, the  council reversed its position, voting 4-1 to fly the flag over City Hall for the remainder of June and to make it an annual occurrence, flying from Harvey Milk Day (May 22) to the end of pride month. The city also officially recognized pride month for the first time this June two weeks ahead of the flag vote. The City Attorney questioned whether we had the authority to repeal the anti-LGBTQ ordinance. The council decided to move forward with the vote I noted that the only challenges that could potentially come to their decision would be a lawsuit calling for the legislation to be restored to the old city code. “Who in their right mind is going to come sue us to put this anti-LGBTQ language back in our code?” Fox said. “Lets clean this up and move on.”

Also for the first time this year, the Lavender Democratic Club of OC issued an OC LGBTQ+ Voting Guide. The Voting Guide recommends voting for candidates who have pledged their support for LGBTQ+ equality legislation, with a specific commitment to stand with our community in matters related to these public accommodations. public facilities, federally-funded programs, employment, housing, education, credit, marriage equality, disability and family leave, public safety, and the Equality Act.

I am proud to say that I am recommended for California State Assembly (AD 68) and recognized as “a long-time champion for LGBTQ equality.”

With the recent news that marriage equality is in imminent peril at the Supreme Court, it is more important than ever to elect strong pro-LGBTQ+ advocates to the California legislature.

Asian Americans Rising Honors Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Katie Porter, Melissa Fox and Other Political Leaders for Standing with the Asian American Community Against Xenophobia and Racism

This week, Asian Americans Rising, a non-profit group “committed to increasing Asian American representation in politics,” issued a statement thanking Orange County political leaders who “stood with us to denounce xenophobia and racism” when the Asian American community was under attack.

I am deeply honored to be included among these courageous political leaders.

Asian Americans Rising president Katie Nguyen Kalvoda explained:

“Over 2,000 hate incidents were directed at Asian Americans this year as a result of Trump’s hateful words calling the coronavirus the “kung flu” “Chinese virus”. Women, children, grandmothers of all Asian descent were attacked, stabbed, set on fire all across this country. I would have never imagined the day that I would bear witness to that. Me, my kids, our loved ones are viewed as the ‘yellow plague.’ This is why I appreciate so much the folks who have spoken out, denounced racism and shown us love.”

Asian Americans in California have reported thousands of incidents of discrimination and harassment in since the coronavirus outbreak, including assault and civil rights violations.

Anti-Asian American attacks and harassment have been stoked by President Trump’s repeated use of the term “Kung Flu” in recent rallies and comments on Twitter scapegoating China for the Trump administration’s catastrophic failure to control the pandemic. As California Assemblymember David Chiu, Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, told the Los Angeles Times, “There’s not just a pandemic of health — there’s a pandemic of hate.”

The Washington Post recently reported that “when Trump get coronavirus, Chinese Americans pay a price.”  On Twitter, in the three days after Trump announced that had tested positive for the virus, the civil rights group the Anti-Defamation League found an 85 percent spike in hostility against Asians: “The announcement [of Trump’s diagnosis] sparked thousands of online conversations blaming China for trying to purposefully infect the president.”

I am appalled by these acts of bigotry and by President Trump’s continued stoking of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hate.

I am also appalled by the silence of Republican leaders in the face of Trump’s anti-Asian rhetoric.

Sadly, even Republican leaders who are themselves Asian, including Assemblyman Steven Choi, have refused to protest Trump’s use of the racist and anti-Asian phrase “Kung Flu” in talking about COVID-19 and have silent about the significant increase in racist attacks targeting Asians and Asian Americans in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I first raised the issue of the COVID-19 outbreak and incidents of discrimination, harassment, and bullying of people thought to be Chinese at the Irvine City Council meeting on more than a month ago, on March 10.  I stated that we needed to do more to educate the public about how racism and xenophobia will hurt us in this crisis, and that we are all in this together.

I continue to be concerned, especially as reports increased of a surge in racially charged attacks unfairly directing blame for the pandemic on Asians and Asian Americans, while President Trump continues to insist on using the phrase “Chinese virus” or “Kong Flu” when speaking of COVID-19.

All who have witnessed or experienced anti-Asian attacks are encouraged to file a report HERE.

Reports may be made in English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Hindi, Japanese, Hmong, Tagalog, Khmer, Thai and Punjabi.

If you have experienced anti-Asian bullying, harassment, hate speech, or violence in Irvine, please also contact the Irvine Police Department at 949-724-7000.  In an emergency, call 911.  Neither the Irvine Police Department nor the Irvine City Council will tolerate any such anti-Asian attacks or discrimination in Irvine.

Please also let me know at melissafox@cityofirvine.org.

Again, I call on all my colleagues in elected office in Orange County, both Democratic and Republican, to join me in loudly and unequivocally condemning these acts of hatred, as well as President Trump’s continued stoking of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hatred and bigotry by using the terms “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu” in reference to COVID-19. 

_________

Pictured above: Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congresswoman Katie Porter, Councilmember Andrew  Rodriguez, Scott Reinhart, Congressman Alan Lowenthal, Congressman Gil Cisneros, Josh Newman, California State Controller Betty T. Yee, Councilmember Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen, Congressman Harley Rouda, City Councilmember Melissa Fox, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, Congressman Lou Correa, Congressman Mike Levin, Senator Kamala Harris, and Vice President Joe Biden.

California Moves to Dramatically Lower Prescription Drug Prices

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law new first-in-the-nation legislation that could dramatically reduce prescription drug prices for all Californians.

The legislaton allows the State of California to create its own drug label, Cal Rx, and to produce and distribute its own line of biosimilars, biosimilar insulins, and generic drugs, with the aim of improving access for consumers and lowering prices.

The California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) is now authorized to develop manufacturing partnerships to produce or distribute generic prescription drugs, making essential medications affordable and accessible to more patients.  It will also inject much needed competition into near monopoly markets that have driven up prices for consumers and help end sometimes critical drug shortages.

Councilmember Melissa Fox and Senator Richard Pan

Because precription drug prices are one of the largest drivers of rising health care costs, this new legislation will also reduce the overall cost of health care.

As Governor Newsom said in advocating for the new law, “Prescription drug prices are too high. I’m proposing that California become the first state in the nation to establish its own generic drug label. It’s time to take the power out of the hands of greedy pharmaceutical companies.”

Governor Newsom further noted, “The cost of health care is way too high. Our bill will help inject competition back into the generic drug marketplace – taking pricing power away from big pharmaceutical companies and returning it to consumers. California is using our market power and our moral power to demand fairer prices for prescription drugs. I am proud to sign this legislation affirming our ground-breaking leadership in breaking down market barriers to affordable prescription drugs.”

As the legislation’s principle author, Dr. (and State Senator) Richard Pan, pointed out, “Prescription drugs don’t work if people cannot afford to take them.  We need to ensure that Californians will be able to have access to a reliable supply of affordable generic medications. The state can play a pivotal role in bringing prices down through this authority to negotiate a steady supply for all purchasers and an increase of competition in the drug markets,”  He added that the new legislation to open up access to affordable drugs for millions of Californians “is more important than ever, as the COVID-19 crisis brought to light glaring gaps in supplies of essential, lifesaving drugs, and medical equipment and supplies.”

I strongly support this new and innovative approach to lowering precsription drug prices, making critical presciption medicine and health care more available as well as more affordable.

In contrast, my opponent in Assembly District 68, Steven Choi, refused to support this important legislation and did not even vote on this bill.

His campaign has received tens of thousands of dollars from the pharmaceutical and medical industries and their political action committies. In addition, according to his legally required Statements of Economic Interests filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, Choi holds substantial investments in numerous pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Sanofi, Johnson &Johnson, GlaxoSmith-Kline, Celgene, and Novo Nordisk, so that he personally profits from high presciption drug prices.

Unlike Steven Choi, I’ll be part of the solution to the high cost of prescription drugs, not part of —  or profit from — the problem.

Irvine Again is the Safest City in America!

Each year the FBI ranks the public safety levels of U.S. cities according to population and considers a number of factors including murder, rape, assault, burglary, arson and auto theft.

This is the 15th year in a row Irvine has held the top spot as America’s safest City among cities with a population of 250,000 or more.

Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel credited the department’s positive relationship with the community and strong City leadership for its continued success.

“Irvine continues to be a safe community due to the partnership between the committed men and women of the Irvine Police Department, our City leaders who always make public safety a top priority, and our residents and business community,” Chief Hamel said. “Maintaining public safety, while delivering professional and compassionate service to everyone is always our top priority.”

Councilmember Melissa Fox said, “We are America’s safest city because the men and women of the Irvine Police Department perform their duties at the very highest levels of professionalism and integrity.  Our Police Chief, our City Council and our residents expect and require nothing less. Our residents know that our police officers are dedicated to ensuring the safety of our residents and treat everyone with fairness and respect.”

Irvine was also 1 of only 11 police major departments in the nation that did not use deadly force from 2016-2018.

During the protests following the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, our Irvine Police Department helped ensure that all voices were heard. I was glad that Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel stated that he was personally “deeply disturbed” as a member of law enforcement by the “unjust and disgraceful” murder of George Floyd; that it “erodes the trust and confidence we work so hard to reach”; and that he demands that his officers “treat every member of the public with respect and professionalism.”

Irvine’s outstanding safety record is proof that public safety is enhanced, not compromised, by holding police officers to high standards, and is enhanced even more so when the police officers embrace a tradition of holding themselves to the highest standards of accountability and community service.

To see the FBI report, click HERE.

Irvine Community Land Trust’s “Stories from Home” Continues with Inspiring Story of Cail Cheng

I was elected to serve as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust (ICLT) in 2018, guiding its mission of providing secure, high-quality affordable housing for the benefit of income-eligible families.  Like all Irvine Community Land Trust Board Members, I serve as a volunteer, without compensation. 

We build high-quality affordable rental, ownership and special needs housing for the benefit of income-eligible families. Located in the heart of Southern California’s one of the most expensive real estate markets, there is a tremendous need for affordable housing.

From time to time, ICLT Executive Director Mark Asturias shares a story about our residents.  Here is his latest of our “Stories from Home”:

Cail Cheng

I’m very happy to present the return of the Irvine Community Land Trust’s “Stories from Home” series, where we highlight some of our communities’ exceptional residents, who all make Irvine a better place in their own ways.

This time, we’re featuring Cail Cheng, 27, a former Alegre resident who recently moved out. You may wonder why we’re highlighting a former resident, but Cheng has a truly remarkable story of growth during the few years he spent with us.

At first glance, Cheng seems like anyone else his age – he’s kind, diligent and loves art, photography and video games. But his path through life has been far more challenging than most. Cheng lives with a developmental disability. Five years ago, he wasn’t employed and had experienced very limited independence in his life. Though he has never been very verbal, his mother – June McLaughlin – heard his inner voice loud and clear: he wanted to live his own life.

Right around this time, the ICLT was finishing work on Alegre, one of our first affordable communities. Like our other properties, Alegre included certain units set aside for people living with developmental disabilities. ICLT was offering an affordable cost for a two-bedroom unit with a roommate, ideally meant to serve as a stepping stone for residents to later transition into complete independence. We put out a call for initial residents to apply, and McLaughlin was listening.

When McLaughlin heard about the opportunity and told her son, she saw a fire light up in Cheng’s eyes like nothing she had ever seen. He was still mostly silent, but there was a newfound focus – a quiet determination to grab the reins of his life for himself.

For roughly half of his stay with us, Cheng worked tirelessly to find steady employment, undergoing training that readied him for what the world would expect from him. Two years in, his diligence paid off through a job with Goodwill, where he continues to work to this day.

Just last year, McLaughlin realized that her son had turned a corner. He was much more responsible than he ever had been and was legitimately happy at his job. His time at Alegre had readied him for the next big step – fully independent living in a market rate apartment in the City of Irvine.

Earlier this year, Cheng left our community and moved into the San Mateo Apartments, where he now lives a proud, independent life. Over the course of five years, McLaughlin has seen him grow from a messy boy living at home to a self-made man capable of juggling all his bills and other responsibilities. “It’s been a privilege. I’m grateful for him as a son, to be part of his story,” McLaughlin said. “It’s an honor to be his mom.”

We’re honored, too. It gives us significant pride to have been able to – quite literally – open a door for Cheng as he hungered for new challenges that would help him grow. The fact that he’s moved on means that we’ve played our part, and we wish him the best of luck in his new, independent life!

Sincerely,
Mark Asturias
Executive Director, Irvine Community Land Trust

Thank you to everyone who has helped the Irvine Community Land Trust continue to succeed in its mission of helping people like Cail Cheng and many others.

As Mark Asturias said, it’s an honor to be a positive force in so many people’s lives.

Watch a video on the Irvine Community Land Trust here:

 

The Irvine Community Land Trust Land Continues Construction Progress on Salerno, Our Newest Affordable Housing Community

I was elected to serve as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust (ICLT) in 2018, guiding its mission of providing secure, high-quality affordable housing for the benefit of income-eligible families.  Like all Irvine Community Land Trust Board Members, I serve as a volunteer, without compensation. 

We build high-quality affordable rental, ownership and special needs housing for the benefit of income-eligible families. Located in the heart of Southern California’s one of the most expensive real estate markets, there is a tremendous need for affordable housing.

Both as a member of the Irvine City Council and as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I have made it a priority to create more affordable housing, especially for working families, verterans, and people with disabilities. I have worked with legislators in Sacramento to cut taxes on affordable housing construction, and I have made for easier to more working people to become homeowners.

As we fight the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, secure and affordable housing has never been more important.

Through a series of special protocols, the Irvine Community Land Trust is  continuing construction on our new community, Salerno, even during the pandemic. Out of concern for our construction workers, we’ve undertaen extraordinary measures to ensure they stay safe and healthy while on the job.

I recently received some photos of the progress that we’ve made at Salerno, which will bring 80 affordable homes to the city.  Still on schedule to be completed in the Fall of 2020, Salerno will offer affordable rents as low as $550 for a one-bedroom, $625 for a two-bedroom and $695 for a three-bedroom.

Thirty-five of the homes will be reserved for those earning less than 30 percent of the area median income: 15 for veterans; 10 for individuals with developmental disabilities; and 10 for families at risk of homelessness.

When completed in the fall, Salerno will join Parc Derian, Alegre Apartments and Doria Apartment Homes as places where income eligible residents will proudly call Irvine “home.” As the Orange County Register observed, these affordable communities offer “a new beginning for veterans, developmentally disabled people and families at risk of homelessness.”

The interest list for Salerno is currently closed.  However, you can get your name on our interest list for future projects and available homes HERE.

We will notify you when a project becomes available.

Here are some photos of our progress at Salerno:

Salerno.07

Our next project, Native Spring, is especially exciting For the first time, the Irvine Community Land Trust will build for-sale homes that hard-working residents making less than $100,000 can actually afford to buy.

The Native Spring homeownership project will serve moderate-income families with a 68-house development in Portola Springs that will have all the features of any market rate for-sale project in the city. A young couple earning $76,000 to $94,000 annually will be able to purchase a home for about $370,000.

Additionally, these homebuyers will “pay it forward” by agreeing to resale provisions that keep these homes permanently affordable. This development, which will break ground in 2020, is tremendously exciting for the ICLT as it stands to make the American dream a reality for many first time home buyers.

The ICLT continues to look for corporate donors who can provide grant opportunities, donate materials and items to help build, furnish and landscape new communities. Contact us to learn how to contribute!

You can learn more about the Irvine Community Land Trust at our website HERE.

In May 2019, the Irvine Community Land Trust was awarded the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, the world’s most respected source of information on nonprofit organizations.  You can read about it HERE.

Take the City of Irvine’s Jamboree Bridge Feasibility Study Survey!

The City of Irvine is famous for its committment to planning.  A crucial part of good planning is public input.  You can help us with an important planning decision by giving us your input on a significant project in the Irvine Business Complex (IBC).

The Irvine Business Complex has transformed into an area with diverse land uses, providing the opportunity to live, work, and shop locally. This transformation has created a need for additional connections and new facilities for walking, bicycling, and recreation.

The objective of the Jamboree Pedestrian Bridge Feasibility study is to determine the possibility of constructing a
pedestrian bridge that will cross over Jamboree Road.

The study will identify and evaluate potential locations along Jamboree
Road in between I-405 Freeway and Barranca Parkway.

The bridge will provide a direct crossing for pedestrians over the roadway, separated from vehicular traffic.

A convenient pedestrain/bicycle bridge would also serve to encourage walking and biking and reduce traffic congestion in the area.

The City is looking at the best precise location for the pedestrian bridge.  You can help us make this important decision by taking a short survey here

You can learn more about the project by watching the video of the public informational meeting held on September 10, 2020:

Please share the survey link with your friends and neighbors who may be interested in the project.

Thanks!

Join Melissa Fox, Sharon Quirk-Silva, Cottie Petrie-Norris and Dave Min on September 29, 2020, for a Conversation on Early Child Care and the Education Crisis in Orange County!

Please join me, Sharon Quirk-Silva, Cottie Petrie-Norris, and Dave Min for on Tues., September 29, 2020, at 4:00 p.m. for conversation on early child care the education crisis in Orange County!

The conversation is hosted by Early Childhood OC, Orange County Association for the Education of Young Children (OCAEYC), Pretend City Children’s Museum, and Child360.

This online event is free. The link is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81915074314.

What: Conversation on early child care the education crisis in Orange County.
When: Tues., September 29, 2020, at 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Where: Online. Link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81915074314.

Early Childhood OC is a community collaborative that was formed to develop Orange County’s Early Childhood Policy Framework in order to ensure that young children reach their developmental potential and are ready to succeed in school and life. The Framework ensures adults are knowledgeable, nurturing, responsive and interact effectively with other adults, children and the family unit and environments that impact children are safe supportive, stable and healthy. Through implementation of the Framework, Orange County will attain economic and social benefits.

Pretend City Children’s Museum is “the world in a nut-shell”, designed for children to learn how the real world works while engaging their curiosities and imaginations. The museum is a child-size interconnected city built to balance rich educational intention with boundless fun, where children can assume various real-world roles and let their creativity rule.  Through interactive exhibits and activities facilitated by our trained professional staff, children learn foundational math, reading and science skills while fostering curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork. They see how academic concepts have real-life application by learning in our unique, hands-on environment. Located at 29 Hubble Irvine, CA 92618. For more information, call 949-428-3900.

Child360 is a leading nonprofit working toward a future where every child has the educational opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Our name reflects our 360 degree approach to improve and expand the vital early learning opportunities our young children need, by working alongside educators, families, partner organizations, policy makers and our communities.

To learn more about my priorities regarding education, please see http://votemelissafox.com/priorities.

Celebate Hispanic American Heritage Month! ¡Celebre el Mes de la Herencia Hispana!

I’m delighted to join in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15).

Hispanic Americans are the largest minority group in both California and the United States, and generations of Hispanic Americans have helped make our country and our state strong and prosperous. The Hispanic American community continues to shape who we are, what we stand for, and where we’re going.

I’m grateful for the extraordinary contributions that Hispanic Americans make every day to our country, our state, and our county -– as scientists and business owners,  doctors and teachers, soldiers and veterans, artists and musicians, labor leaders and public servants, and as essential workers keeping us safe during this crisis.

The Hispanic American Heritage is a vibrant legacy of leadership, vision, creativity, kindness, resilience and commitment.  I’m proud to work together with my Hispanic American friends, colleagues, and neighbors to overcome the pandemic and save lives, make our economy stronger and fairer, ensure affordable housing and healthcare for all, fix our broken immigration system, fight climate change, restore our democracy, and make our world a better place for everyone.

¡Sí, se puede!

Wildfire, Earthquake, and COVID-19: Max Fox’s Family Emergency Plan

(Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

My son, Max Fox, is an EMT and HazMat specialist.  He had been studying firefighting and emergency management at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, until he came home for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.  With wildfires raging across the state, I asked him about what he would advise local families that want to prepare for emergencies.  Here is what he wrote:

“As Californians, there are certain emergencies that we should all be prepared for: earthquakes, fire, and flood.  We should have Family Emergency Plans for these all too common occurrences.

Family Emergency Plans should include (1) an emergency family communication plan in case of separation, (2) consideration of the special needs of each member of your household (such as medications or medical equipment), and (3) plans for your most important documents (such as identification and insurance).

Documents you should consider including as part of your Family Emergency Plan are:

  • A copy of each family member’s driver’s license and passport
  • Each family member’s Social Security card or number
  • A copy of each family member’s birth certificate
  • A copy of everyone’s medical records and list of vaccinations, including your pet’s
  • Authorization for treatment
  • Property titles for your car and home
  • All of your bank, credit card and investment account numbers and corresponding customer service telephone numbers
  • Health insurance and life insurance account information
  • Photographs or videos of all of your property to make potential insurance claims easier
  • Wills, as well as living wills and a power of attorney
  • Your latest tax return
  • Your marriage certificate
  • Adoption and citizenship papers
  • Military records
  • Medications and eyeglass prescriptions
  • Important files backed up on an external hard-drive
  • Copies of your favorite family photographs

A Family Emergency Plan for the current COVID-19 pandemic should incorporate many of the same features.

For families with young children, plans should also include lists of other trusted adults who are able to look after your children should a parent become sick and/or hospitalized.

People with children — or people taking care of seniors — should also make a list that has everything the caregiver should know about the children and/or seniors, their allergies, any medical documentation that may be needed, as well as written authorizations for treatment.

Plans should also include provisions for care of your pets, if you are not able to leave them home or continue to care for them.

In an emergency, it is very easy to forget something, so an important part of making your plan should also include making a pre-prepared “go-bag” (a bag of stuff needed in an emergency that is already pack with everything you need). An emergency go-bag might include:

  • At least three days of water for every member of the family
  • Non-perishable food options, like nuts, canned goods and granola bars
  • Changes of clothing and footwear for each member of the family
  • Sleeping bags or rolled blankets
  • First-aid kit supplies
  • Emergency supplies, such as a battery-operated radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, duct tape, plastic bags, water purification tablets, local maps and a compass, aluminum foil, matches and a can opener
  • Basic tools, like pliers, a wrench, an axe and a utility knife
  • Personal care items such as toilet paper, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine products, extra eyeglasses and contact lens solution
  • Money, including a few personal checks.

I hope no one will have to use their plan, but it is always better to have a plan and go-bag and not need it, then it is to need a plan and go-bag but not have them.

Please stay safe.  Whether in case of fire, earthquake or other emergency, please remember that COVID-19 is still a killer, so be sure to wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain social distancing.”

Democracy in Action: Public Outrage Leads Irvine City Council to Call on U.S. Postal Service to End and Rescind Actions that Impede Prompt Delivery of the Mail!

Following reports of postal boxes disappearing across Orange County, coupled with recent news stories that the Postmaster General of the United States was removing thousands of postal boxes and mail-sorting machines, eliminating overtime for mail carriers, and reducing post office hours, I joined with Irvine City Councilmember Farrah Khan in calling for the Irvine City Council to speak up on behalf of our residents to urge the Postmaster General to immediately end and rescind these changes.

Thanks to tremendous public support, we succeeded!

At the Irvine City Council meeting on September 8, 2020, the Council unanimously agreed to send an official letter to the U.S. Postmaster, on behalf of our residents, to cease and rescind any actions that undermine prompt delivery of the mail, including “expeditious action to re-store mail sorting equipment and remedy the recent changes to USPS polices and procedures that would result in reduced or delayed mail service levels.”

Here is the full text of the official letter sent to the U.S. Postmaster General:

Thank you to everyone who wrote to the Irvine City Council in support of the U.S. Postal Service! This letter is truly the result of democracy in action.

Now, we must keep the pressure on the federal government to ensure that the USPS “to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and render postal services to all communities, without interruption.”

Please Consider Donating to the California Fire Foundation’s SAVE Program!

The California Fire Foundation’s Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) program brings immediate, short-term relief to victims of fire and other natural disasters throughout California.

Through this program, frontline firefighters in California provide SAVE gift cards to eligible victims of fire and natural disasters, so they may purchase basic necessities such as food, clothing or medicine.

The SAVE program has grown steadily since 2014 and has impacted more than 55,000 victims in California to date. The SAVE program is administered directly by participating fire departments across California each day, and mobilizes for rapid disaster relief when communities are impacted by wildfire or natural disasters. The SAVE program is a reliable way for Foundation supporters to provide direct relief to victims, especially in the first 24-48 hours after a disaster.

You can watch a video about the SAVE program here:

If you are able, please make a donation HERE.

The California Fire Foundation provides critical support to surviving families of fallen firefighters, firefighters, and the communities they serve. Your tax-deductible donations will help commemorate fallen heroes, offer scholarships to children of fallen firefighters, provide aid to victims of fire or other natural disaster, and provide fire safety resources to underserved communities across California.

Do you know how to protect yourself, your family and your neighborhood against wildfire?  Are you prepared for an emergency?

Wildfire preparedness emphasizes these key messages: Ready, Set and Go.

Ready: Protect your home ahead of time by taking steps to mitigate wildfire risk.

Set: Prepare for an emergency by assembling a bag of important items that you would need in the event of emergency. This includes clothes, medication and other personal items. Develop a family emergency plan that details escape routes and reunification plans.

Go: Leave early in the event of an emergency. Avoid traffic congestion and other complications by evacuating at the earliest opportunity.

Nearly all of the 68th Assembly District is subject to the danger of wildfire! Residents are strongly encouraged to sign up to receive emergency notifications at AlertOC.org.

Celebrate Irvine’s 2020 Global Village Festival with Three Weeks of Interactive Online Experiences and Two Drive-In Concerts!

Join us for three weeks of unique, interactive online experiences and two socially distanced drive-in concerts that will highlight memories of festivals past and create new memories uniting the community.

My favorite event of the year is the Irvine Global Village Festival, founded in 1998 by a group of Irvine residents to help promote understanding and build harmony within Irvine’s many diverse cultures.  Over the years, the Global Village Festival has expanded from one day to two days, and moved from Col. Bill Barber Park across from Irvine City Hall to the much larger Orange County Great Park.

Because of COVID-19, this year’s festival will be somewhat different.  While we can’t gather in person this year, we look forward to celebrating Orange County’s premier multicultural event in innovative ways that keep the public safe, connected, and engaged.

The 2020 Global Village Festival will consist of a series of responsibly planned events that adhere to social distancing guidelines as we navigate these unusual times.

From September 21-October 10, 2020, you’re invited to celebrate Irvine’s multicultural community through music, art, food, and fun:

  • Browse photo albums and videos exploring the history of the Irvine Global Village Festival. Share your own photos of favorite memories from past festivals to see them included on the City’s social media accounts.
  • Make new memories of Irvine Global Village Festival at home. Families can take part in weekly themed art activities and classes from home, including downloadable coloring sheets for kids.
  • Explore a list of multicultural restaurants in Irvine with outdoor dining or take-home options to dine globally and celebrate Irvine’s rich diversity while staying safe at home. Share photos of your festive meals with the City so we can share them online!
  • Enjoy entertaining videos featuring the international cuisine, dance, and musical performances of previous Irvine Global Village Festivals.

The Irvine Global Village Festival also includes two drive-in concerts at the Orange County Great Park, put on in partnership between the City and Irvine Barclay Theatre. On Friday, September 25, enjoy a live show by Willie Nelson tribute band True Willie and the Boys.

Round out the festival’s celebrations on Saturday, October 10, with a show by award-winning all-female mariachi band Mariachi Divas. Park your cars and enjoy a picnic to pay tribute to the rich musical history of the Irvine Global Village Festival, all while safely practicing social distancing.

Tickets for these concerts are $25 per car for general admission and $40 per car for VIP front-row access. Pre-registration is required.

Tickets will be on sale at yourirvine.org for three weeks prior to the start of each event; the first week of sales is open to Irvine residents only, and the remaining two weeks are open to all members of the public. A $5 non-resident fee will be applied.

For more information, visit irvinefestival.org or call 949-724-6600.

Irvine Community Land Trust Distributes Free Face Masks to Affordable Housing Residents

As Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I’m pleased to announce that the Land Trust has distributed hundreds of free face masks to residents of our affordable housing communities.

I want to thank FivePoint for its generous contribution of these masks.

I also want to thank Farrah Khan, my colleague on the Irvine City Council and a Community Land Trust Board Member, for arranging and coordinating the delivery of the face masks from FivePoint to the Land Trust so that we can distribute them free of charge.

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person speaks, sneezes, or coughs within 6 feet of others. You may have the virus and spread it even if you feel well.

To prevent infection, you must cover your nose and mouth when outside your home. Wearing a mask or cloth face covering can slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the release of virus into the air. It also reinforces physical distancing, and shows you care about the health of others. Wearing a mask is now required statewide. It’s also the law in Irvine, and common sense and good neighborliness everywhere.

I am honored to serve as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust  guiding its mission of providing secure, high-quality affordable housing for the benefit of income-eligible families.  

We’re all in this together!

 

 

UPDATED! Tell the Irvine City Council to Oppose the Slow Down of the U.S. Postal Service!

I have received numerous reports of postal boxes suddenly disappearing across Orange County, including Irvine.  These reports are consistent with recent changes in policy by the Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service, which have included removing thousands of postal boxes and mail-sorting machines, eliminating overtime for mail carriers, and reducing post office hours.

These changes in U.S. Postal Service policy have been faulted for slowing mail delivery — including the delivery of medicine and medical supplies veterans benefits, Social Security checks, census forms, and rent checks — and for making it more difficult for our residents to vote safely and with confidence that their ballots will be timely received during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For these reasons, Councilmember Farrah Khan and I will be asking our colleagues on the Irvine City Council to speak up on behalf of our residents and our businesses to urge the Postmaster General to immediately end and rescind these changes.

Here is the proposed Resolution:

RESOLUTION URGING THE U.S. POSTMASTER GENERAL TO CEASE AND RESCIND ALL ACTIONS THAT SLOW DOWN OR UNDERMINE THE PROMPT DELIVERY OF THE U.S. MAIL, ESPECIALLY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

WHEREAS, The United States Postal Service is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution “to bind the country together through the correspondence of the people”; and

WHEREAS, The Postal Service guarantees universal delivery to everyone, ensuring affordable and equitable communication and delivery as a basic right; and is indispensable, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, to the American people, especially veterans, seniors, and small businesses, delivering medications, stimulus checks, social security checks, census forms, rent checks, medical supplies, and election ballots;

WHEREAS, The Postal Service is one of the most important employers in the United States, providing family sustaining jobs, especially to veterans;

WHEREAS, By failing to seek regulatory approval on policy changes that have a nationwide impact, the United States Postmaster General has unilaterally implemented a series of revisions to the postal service’s protocols and procedures that threaten to undermine the timely delivery of mail across the country, including Irvine. These unilateral changes have included:

  • Removing mailbox locations around the country, including in Irvine and other cities in Orange County;
  • Decommissioning mail-sorting machines, with severe reductions in sorting capacity and the speed of delivery;
  • Severely limiting employees from working overtime, despite reported increases in demand and the need to compensate for employees who are out sick or at home quarantining; and
  • Instructing letter carriers to leave mail behind if it delays routes, running counter to the training postal workers traditionally receive to ensure prompt delivery of the mail;

WHEREAS, The USPS’s actions align with the President’s own recent assertion that he will prevent the postal service from being able to handle the expected surge in demand for voting by mail, and the USPS has warned several states, including California, that it could no longer guarantee timely compliance with all state election deadlines and delivery of all ballots cast by mail for the presidential election.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, THAT THE CITY OF IRVINE URGES THE UNITED STATES POSTMASTER GENERAL TO IMMEDIATELY CEASE AND RESCIND ALL ACTIONS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO REMOVAL OF POST BOXES, DECOMMISSIONING OF MAIL SORTING EQUIPMENT,  AND RESTRICTING MAIL CARRIER OVERTIME, THAT SLOW DOWN OR UNDERMINE THE PROMPT DELIVERY OF THE U.S. MAIL, ESPECIALLY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

PASSED AND ADOPTED by the City Council of Irvine at the meeting held on the 8th day of September 2020.

Please join us in urging the Irvine City Council to adopt this Resolution.

You can contact the other three members of the Irvine City Council to tell them to urge the Postmaster General to immediately cease and rescind that slow down or undermine the prompt delivery of the U.S. mail here:

Mayor Christina Shea:
christinashea@cityofirvine.org

Councilmember Anthony Kuo:
anthonykuo@cityofirvine.org

Councilmember Michael Carroll:
michaelcarroll@cityofirvine.org

You can also SIGN OUR PETITION here.

Thanks!

UPDATE: On August 27, 2020, the California Assembly voted 50-0 in favor of a Resolution that “urges the federal administration and the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate to cease and desist from all efforts to reduce the ability of voters to cast their ballots by mail or diminish public confidence in the vote by mail program as it relates to the November 3, 2020, general election” and that United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to immediately restore all mailboxes and mail sorters back to the communities from which they were removed in order to guarantee the timely and efficient delivery of vote by mail ballots in the November 3, 2020, general election.”

Of course, I would have voted in favor of this Resolution. Our current representative to Sacramento for the 68th AD, Steven Choi, again failed to show up to vote. In fact, Choi has one of the highest no-show rates in the CA legislature.  It’s time for us in AD68 to have a representative in Sacramento who cares about the people’s business and shows up to do the job he was elected to do.

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who wrote to the Irvine City Council in support of the Postal Service. As the result of your efforts, the Council at its meeting on September 8. 2020, unanimously agreed to send an official letter to the U.S. Postmaster, on behalf of our residents, to cease amd rescind any actions that undermine prompt delivery of the mail.

Congratulations to Rabbi Richard Steinberg, Distinguished Citizen Honree on the Irvine Wall of Recognition

I recently had the pleasure of nominating Rabbi Richard Steinberg, Senior Rabbi at Congregation of Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine, to be honored as a Distinguished Citizen on the City of Irvine Wall of Recognition.

Established in 2006 and located in Colonel Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park across the from Civic Center, the Wall of Recognition is a hallmark of Irvine. Even before Irvine became a city, there was a spirit of community activism, involvement, and pride that set the tone for the municipality Irvine would become. Since the City’s incorporation in 1971, hundreds of individuals have dedicated themselves in service to Irvine as Mayors, City Council Members, Commissioners, Committee Members, and leaders of community organizations. The Wall of Recognition honors these individuals, groups, organizations, and businesses who have made significant contributions to the community.

Rabbi Steinberg embodies the spirit of service to the community. Born in Northern California, Rabbi Steinberg initially studied criminal justice in college and trained to be a police officer.  He then felt a calling to serve as a rabbi, earned a masters degrees in Hebrew letters and family therapy, and was ordained as a rabbi in 1995. After serving a congregation in Cincinnati, Ohio, Rabbi Steinberg returned to California to lead Shir Ha-Ma’alot in July of 2001.  At that time, the congregation consisted of 300 member families. Today, it is a thriving congregation of well over 600 families.

In the years since he assumed the leadership of Shir Ha-Ma’alot, Rabbi Steinberg has become a community leader in Irvine and Orange County.  He has long served as Chaplin for the Irvine Police Department and as a member and Chair of the Orange County Human Relations Commission, whose mission is to “seek out the causes of tension and conflict, discrimination and intolerance and attempt to eliminate those causes.”

Rabbi Steinberg also serves on the Boards of the Jewish Federation, Orange County Board of Rabbis, the American Jewish Congress, and the Anti-Defamation League. He is extremely active at the Jewish Community Center, Tarbut v’Torah and Morasha Day Schools.  He is key point person on the University of California, Irvine, campus dealing with the issues of tolerance and diversity. He is the recipient of the “Outstanding Devotion to the Jewish Community Center” award, the “Yachad Award for Outstanding Jewish Community Service” given to a local Jewish professional each year and he was honored by the Central Region of B’nai B’rith Youth Organization.

I have known Rabbi Steinberg as a friend and spiritual advisor.  When my mother passed away, he visited and brought kindness and healing to my father.

I have also known Rabbi Steinberg as a fighter for justice, a powerful voice against bigotry and intolerance, and as an inspiration in my own journey toward more effective servant leadership.

In response to the hatefull, White Supremist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Rabbi Steinberg urged the OC Human Relations Commission to speak out against it loudly and clearly. “When there is hatred, it needs to be called out as such and responded to with a loud voice that is unequivocal,” Rabbi Steinberg said.  The OC Register wrote that “[Rabbi] Steinberg became emotional as he described his feelings as a Jewish man listening to anti-Semitic chants and seeing flags bearing the swastika, the symbol of Adolf Hitler’s regime that exterminated 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. ‘We need to find ways to have peaceful conversations,’ he said.”

When there were anti-Jewish incidents in Orange County, Rabbi Steinberg wrote that “Hate always begins with words. Then words un-responded to will always lead to hate action. And hate action un-responded to will always lead to hate violence.  Let us be people who respond.  If we lose friendships over our responses, so be it.  If we are not part of the group because of our righteous response, then so be it.  The alternative of not responding at the very least is re-wounding those who have been literally scared by violence rooted in hate.  The very most that can happen if we respond is that we might change someone’s heart from hate to love, from ignorance to knowledge, from foe to friend.”

Irvine is a far better place because of Rabbi Richard Steinberg and he well deserves to be honored as a Distinguished Citizen on the City of Irvine Wall of Recognition.

But it is not only Irvine that is a better place — the world is better place because Rabbi Steinberg lives among us.

 

Top photo credit: Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG.

 

 

 

 

Watch Our “OC Education Forum on COVID-19 Safety and Our Schools” with School Board Trustees Gina Clayton-Tarvin, Kris Erickson, Keri Kropke and Jamison Power!

On Wednesday, August 12, I hosted an OC Education Forum on COVID-19 Safety and Our Schools, discussing when and how to re-open our classrooms with four leading members of Orange County school boards currently dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

For many of us, there is no bigger question right now than whether our children will be attending in-person classes this fall.

President Trump seems desperate to have schools re-open regardless of the danger to students, teachers, and staff, even threatening to cut federal aid to school districts that decide that the risk of COVID-19 infection is too great to return to in-person classes.

Yet the federal government has provided no real guidance for determining when it is safe to re-open schools, or the proper procedures for school to follow to limit the spread of COVID-19 if they do re-open.

As USA Today put it, “Abandoned by any semblance of national leadership during a raging pandemic, students, teachers and staff are being told to jump into the deep end and return to school buildings.”

In the absence of federal leadership, these decisions and procedures have been left to governors and, crucially, local school districts.

Here in Orange County, our Board of Education made national headlines when it voted 4-1 (with the sole Democrat dissenting) to re-open this fall, without requiring the use of face masks or social distancing.

For many, there was tremendous relief when California Governor Gavin Newsom stepped in to mandate that any schools in counties on the state COVID-19 watch list, which includes Orange County, could not have students in classrooms. The Republicans on the OC Board of Education then responded by suing the Governor over his decision to prevent schools from opening in-person.

I asked four outstanding, progressive school board members in Orange County to join me in a discussion of this critical situation for parents, students, teachers, and school staff:

Keri Kropke of the Brea Olinda School Board. Keri earned a B.A. in political economy from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in History, a post baccalaureate from Chapman University in Communication Disorders, and a M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in Communication Sciences.  She is an elementary public educator with a California Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and has recently become a speech language pathologist specializing in language, early intervention and autism spectrum disorder.

Gina Clayton-Tarvin of the Ocean View School Board. Gina is a long-time educator, and was first elected to the OVSD Board of Trustees in 2012. She was recently voted President of the Board, after serving as Clerk, Vice President, and three terms as President of the Board. Gina holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Anthropology and a California Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, as well as a California Secondary Single Subject Credential in Biology. She holds an English Learner (EL) Authorization and Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate and is authorized to provide instruction to English learners. She has also worked for Special Education as a home school teacher. She successfully completed the California School Board Association Masters of Governance program and received her certification in 2014.

Kris Erickson of Orange Unified School Board. Kris is the founding attorney at the Law Office of Kristin A. Erickson. She has held board positions on PTA, put on fundraisers for student events, mentored at-risk kids, coached mock trial, and planned our annual staff appreciations to honor hard-working teachers. She also started a grassroots organization, CARE, with several other parents to bring long-needed improvements to our high school campuses. Kris attended Western State University School of Law.

Jamison Power of the Westminster School Board. Jamison was first elected to the Westminster School Board in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.  He received his B.A. from UC Irvine and his J.D. from UCLA.  In his professional life, Jamison serves as in-house counsel for Hyundai Motor America.  He also provides free legal assistance to low income families, and has received multiple awards for his work.  He previously served as a member of the Vietnamese-American Education Advisory Council, and he worked closely with the Superintendent and the Board to ensure that WSD became the first district in California to implement a Vietnamese-English dual immersion program.

I think you’ll find our discussion very timely and informative.  Watch it here:

Full Public Participation in City Council Meetings Must Be Ensured During the COVID-19 Crisis!

The Voice of OC recently noted that “Throughout the coronavirus shutdown, many of Orange County’s public agencies have struggled to provide access for constituent voices to be heard.”

In Irvine, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced our city to limit in-person participation for members of the public during City Council meetings.  As a result, since the onset of social distancing and emergency public safety measures in March 2020, members of the public have been limited in their ability to participate in the decisions made by the City Council during public meetings.

Currently, the public can make comments only through the eComment feature on the City of Irvine website, and only a very limited number of these comments have been read aloud during our live City Council meetings.

I believe this situation raises serious questions about government openness and public participation under the Brown Act, which states that “the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly. The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”  As I told the Voice of OC, “This isn’t actually a hearing, [since] there’s no testimony from the public.”

Clearly, we need to do much better to ensure public participation in our City Council meetings, while still maintaining public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

For this reason, Councilmember Farrah Khan and I have placed a discussion for better accommodating public participation and accessibility on the agenda for the Irvine City Council meeting on August 11, 2020. 

In addition, we must also ensure that the public can fully participate in our very important Commission meetings.

We look forward to hearing from City staff, the Mayor and other City Councilmembers, and the public, on ways to best ensure full public participation in our meetings during the COVID-19 crisis.

Please use the eComment feature to make your views on this important topic known to the Mayor and the City Council.

Watch the City Council meeting live online HERE.

 

Join Our OC Education Forum on COVID -19 Safety and Our Schools! Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 5 PM!

Join me on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 5 PM for an Orange County Education Forum on COVID-19 Safety and Our Schools.

For many of us, there is no bigger question right now than whether our children will be attending in-person classes this fall.

President Trump seems desperate to have schools re-open regardless of the danger to students, teachers, and staff, even threatening to cut federal aid to school districts that decide that the risk of COVID-19 infection is too great to return to in-person classes.

Yet the federal government has provided no real guidance for determining when it is safe to re-open schools, or the proper procedures for school to follow to limit the spread of COVID-19 if they do re-open.

In the absence of federal leadership, these decisions and procedures have been left to governors and, crucially, local school districts. As USA Today put it, “Abandoned by any semblance of national leadership during a raging pandemic, students, teachers and staff are being told to jump into the deep end and return to school buildings.”

Here in Orange County, our Board of Education made national headlines when it voted 4-1 (with the sole Democrat dissenting) to re-open this fall, without requiring the use of face masks or social distancing.

For many, there was tremendous relief when California Governor Gavin Newsom stepped in to mandate that any schools in counties on the state COVID-19 watch list, which includes Orange County, could not have students in classrooms. The Republicans on the OC Board of Education then responded by suing the Governor over his decision to prevent schools from opening in-person.

We will be discussing this lawsuit, as well as the larger questions when and how to re-open our classrooms, with three leading members of Orange County school boards currently dealing with the COVID-19 crisis: 

Kerie Kropke of the Brea Olinda School Board. Kerie earned a B.A. in political economy from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in History, a post baccalaureate from Chapman University in Communication Disorders, and a M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in Communication Sciences.  She is an elementary public educator with a California Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and has recently become a speech language pathologist specializing in language, early intervention and autism spectrum disorder.

Gina Clayton-Tarvin of the Ocean View School Board. Gina is a long-time educator, and was first elected to the OVSD Board of Trustees in 2012. She was recently voted President of the Board, after serving as Clerk, Vice President, and three terms as President of the Board. Gina holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Anthropology and a California Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, as well as a California Secondary Single Subject Credential in Biology. She holds an English Learner (EL) Authorization and Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate and is authorized to provide instruction to English learners. She has also worked for Special Education as a home school teacher. She successfully completed the California School Board Association Masters of Governance program and received her certification in 2014.

Kris Erickson of Orange Unified School Board. Kris is the founding attorney at the Law Office of Kristin A. Erickson. She has held board positions on PTA, put on fundraisers for student events, mentored at-risk kids, coached mock trial, and planned our annual staff appreciations to honor hard-working teachers. She also started a grassroots organization, CARE, with several other parents to bring long-needed improvements to our high school campuses. Kris attended Western State University School of Law.

Jamison Power of the Westminster School Board. Jamison was first elected to the Westminster School Board in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.  He received his B.A. from UC Irvine and his J.D. from UCLA.  In his professional life, Jamison serves as in-house counsel for Hyundai Motor America.  He also provides free legal assistance to low income families, and has received multiple awards for his work.  He previously served as a member of the Vietnamese-American Education Advisory Council, and he worked closely with the Superintendent and the Board to ensure that WSD became the first district in California to implement a Vietnamese-English dual immersion program.

RSVP to Alli@votemelissafox.com

ZOOM info provided on RSVP

See our Facebook Event Page Here.

Learn more about Melissa Fox for California Assembly at http://votemelissafox.com

 

 

 

Irvine Community Land Trust to Distribute Free Face Masks

As Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I’m pleased to announce that the Land Trust will be among the non-profit organizations that will be distributing the face masks that FivePoint Communities has donated to the City of Irvine.

I want to thank FivePoint for its generous contribution.

I also want to thank Farrah Khan, my colleague on the Irvine City Council and a Community Land Trust Board Member, for arranging and coordinating the delivery of these face masks from FivePoint to the Land Trust so that we can distribute them free of charge.

We hope these free face masks will help you to continue staying safe during these unprecedented times.

We ask that you do your part as well, and wear your mask when in public, especially when shopping.  It’s the law in Irvine, and common sense and good neighborliness everywhere.

Specific details regarding mask distribution are being arranged and will be posted soon.

I am honored to serve as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust  guiding its mission of providing secure, high-quality affordable housing for the benefit of income-eligible families.  

We’re all in this together!

Irvine Again Extends COVID-19 Testing at the Great Park

Due to continued high demand, the City of Irvine has again extended the time period for COVID-19 testing at the Great Park.

Irvine began to offer COVID-19 testing on July 13.  On July 24, we added additional test appointments.  Tonight, we agreed to have the testing program continue for an additional 30 days.

Testing is available for individuals who live or work in Irvine, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic. Only PCR testing, which determines if someone currently has the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is available.

Testing is by appointment only and is available Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot 6 at the Great Park. There is no out of pocket fee for this COVID-19 testing.

To sign up for an appointment, visit curogram.com/covid-testing/irvine. Please note that Chrome and Firefox are the preferred web browsers for registering.

In order to facilitate the registration process, please have the following information available:

  • Insurance card, if you have insurance.
  • Driver’s license or state ID.
  • Proof of residence or employment in Irvine (i.e. any utility bill with Irvine address and your name or copy of pays tub from work with an Irvine address. If your pay stub lists a corporate address NOT in Irvine, please ALSO include some identifying document with your name and place of work in Irvine.

Once residency or employment verification is complete, you will receive an opportunity to select an appointment. This may take several days and participants will be processed in order of registration.

At the appointment, patients must remain in their vehicle, bring a driver’s license or photo ID, and registration confirmation. During the appointment, a licensed healthcare professional will be present during the self-administered nasal or oral swab test to collect the specimen to send to FDA-approved laboratories. Test results should be expected within three days after the appointment.

Tests will be conducted by Curogram and multiple medical laboratories, including Orange County based Pangea Laboratory.  Curogram has worked with many other cities, including New York City and Atlanta, to provide COVID-19 testing.

The Orange County Great Park is located at 8000 Great Park Blvd. Lot 6 can be accessed via Marine Way and Skyhawk. Visit ocgp.org/maps for complete directions. Please note that GPS systems may not provide reliable directions.

For more information, please review the FAQ at cityofirvine.org/covid19testing.

As I have said before, while I am pleased to have authorized expanding these much-needed tests, Irvine should never have had to provide COVID-19 testing on its own.  We are now doing so because of the failure of the federal government and Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide adequate COVID-19 testing. 

Irvine does not have a public health officer or a public health department.  We rely on Orange County to provide these critical services.  The taxes we pay to the State of California for public health services go to Orange County, not the City of Irvine.  Orange County received all of our CARES ACT funds from the federal government.  But regarding COVID-19, we can not rely on Orange County.

The City of Irvine is providing COVID-19 testing — at our own taxpayers’ expense — because at this point, with COVID-19 infections setting new records on an almost daily basis in both Orange County and the nation, we have no other choice.

We should not be in this position.  While other nations are seeing declines in the number of new COVID-19 infections, our new infections continue to rise.  The basic reason for our continuing rise in infections and deaths is the catastrophic failure of our federal government to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, including President Trump’s continuing denial of its seriousness and his undermining of social distancing and face coverings as the best weapons we now have against this virus.

Our Board of Supervisors followed Trump’s lead and also bear responsibility for the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Orange County.  For months, it was unclear how or even if California’s statewide mask mandate would be enforced in Orange County

As the Voice of OC reported, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

The Board of Supervisors also allowed Orange County’s chief health officer Dr. Nichole Quick to be driven from office by threats against her life from anti-mask and conspiracy theory extremists, failing to back up her public health orders or provide her with protection.

Under these circumstances, it is good that Irvine is now providing free COVID-19 testing for residents and people who work in Irvine. But Irvine’s COVID-19 testing also highlights the failure of our federal government and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing or any effective strategy in response to this deadly disease. Our friends and neighbors who live or work in other Orange County cities still have no good COVID-19 testing options.

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

 

Say Thank You From Orange County to Governor Newsom For His COVID-19 Leadership!

Dear Governor Newsom,

As residents of Orange County, California, we wish to thank you for your caring, steadfast, and science-based leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, we wish to counter the narrative that a majority of Orange County’s residents object to Governor Newsom’s orders mandating social distancing and face covering in order to stop the spread of this deadly virus.

We are appalled by the much-publicized and politically motivated opposition to the Governor’s COVID-19 orders by the Orange County Board of Supervisors, the Orange County Board of Education, and individual “anti-maskers” in Orange County.

They do not represent us.

On the contrary, we stand with the great majority of scientists, doctors, nurses, and other health care and public health professionals in calling for mask wearing and social distancing.

We want our economy and our schools to reopen, but we know that to do so safely we will need to increase testing and reduce the rate of infection.

We join with you, Governor Newsom, in saying that social distancing and wearing a face covering is critical for keeping people safe and healthy, keeping businesses open, and getting people back to work and school.

Again, thank you, Governor Newsom, for your leadership during this challenging time!

Melissa Fox

Sign on to this letter HERE.

Irvine Adds Additional COVID-19 Testing Appointments

The Irvine City Council has expanded COVID-19 testing capacity at the Great Park.  Registration for testing will re-open on Friday, July 24 at 12:00 p.m. to fill additional appointments available through this expansion.

Testing is available for individuals who live or work in Irvine, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic. Only PCR testing, which determines if someone currently has the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is available.

Testing is by appointment only and is available Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot 6 at the Great Park. There is no out of pocket fee for this COVID-19 testing.

To sign up for an appointment, visit curogram.com/covid-testing/irvine. Please note that Chrome and Firefox are the preferred web browsers for registering.

In order to facilitate the registration process, please have the following information available:

  • Insurance card, if you have insurance.
  • Driver’s license or state ID.
  • Proof of residence or employment in Irvine (i.e. any utility bill with Irvine address and your name or copy of pays tub from work with an Irvine address. If your pay stub lists a corporate address NOT in Irvine, please ALSO include some identifying document with your name and place of work in Irvine.

Once residency or employment verification is complete, you will receive an opportunity to select an appointment. This may take several days and participants will be processed in order of registration.

At the appointment, patients must remain in their vehicle, bring a driver’s license or photo ID, and registration confirmation. During the appointment, a licensed healthcare professional will be present during the self-administered nasal or oral swab test to collect the specimen to send to FDA-approved laboratories. Test results should be expected within three days after the appointment.

Tests will be conducted by Curogram and multiple medical laboratories, including Orange County based Pangea Laboratory.  Curogram has worked with many other cities, including New York City and Atlanta, to provide COVID-19 testing.

The Orange County Great Park is located at 8000 Great Park Blvd. Lot 6 can be accessed via Marine Way and Skyhawk. Visit ocgp.org/maps for complete directions. Please note that GPS systems may not provide reliable directions.

For more information, please review the FAQ at cityofirvine.org/covid19testing.

As I have said before, while I am pleased to have authorized expanding these much-needed tests, Irvine should never have had to provide COVID-19 testing on its own.  We are now doing so because of the failure of the federal government and Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide adequate COVID-19 testing. 

Irvine does not have a public health officer or a public health department.  We rely on Orange County to provide these critical services.  The taxes we pay to the State of California for public health services go to Orange County, not the City of Irvine.  Orange County received all of our CARES ACT funds from the federal government.  But regarding COVID-19, we can not rely on Orange County.

The City of Irvine is providing COVID-19 testing — at our own taxpayers’ expense — because at this point, with COVID-19 infections setting new records on an almost daily basis in both Orange County and the nation, we have no other choice.

We should not be in this position.  While other nations are seeing declines in the number of new COVID-19 infections, our new infections continue to rise.  The basic reason for our continuing rise in infections and deaths is the catastrophic failure of our federal government to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, including President Trump’s continuing denial of its seriousness and his undermining of social distancing and face coverings as the best weapons we now have against this virus.

Our Board of Supervisors followed Trump’s lead and also bear responsibility for the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Orange County.  For months, it was unclear how or even if California’s statewide mask mandate would be enforced in Orange County

As the Voice of OC reported, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

The Board of Supervisors also allowed Orange County’s chief health officer Dr. Nichole Quick to be driven from office by threats against her life from anti-mask and conspiracy theory extremists, failing to back up her public health orders or provide her with protection.

Under these circumstances, it is good that Irvine is now providing free COVID-19 testing for residents and people who work in Irvine. But Irvine’s COVID-19 testing also highlights the failure of our federal government and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing or any effective strategy in response to this deadly disease. Our friends and neighbors who live or work in other Orange County cities still have no good COVID-19 testing options.

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

 

Helping Each Other in a Time of Crisis: Here are Some Organizations that Could Use Your Help Now.

Over the last several months during the COVID-19 crisis, Second Harvest Food Bank and OC Food Bank have seen record volumes of food distribution.  As the crisis continues, it is likely that the demand for food assistance will continue to increase.

I participated today in a food drive today in support of Save Our Youth (SOY).  The food drive was sponsored by my friend, Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, who represents California’s 74th Assembly District. Thank you, Cottie, for this opportunity to help others!

As we work together to fight back against COVID-19, there are many volunteer organizations in our community looking for additional resources and support.  In particular, many families in Orange County are in need of food.  Blood centers are also in urgent need.

Here are some organizations that could use your help right now:

Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC) w/ Orange County Food Bank

11870 Monarch St.

Garden Grove, CA 92841

(714) 897-6670

Possible volunteer tasks: Box and deliver lunches.

Meals on Wheels Orange County

1200 N Knollwood Circle

Anaheim, CA 92801

(714) 220-0224

Possible volunteer tasks: Drivers and donations.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County

8014 Marine Way

Irvine, CA 92618

(949) 653-2900

Possible volunteer tasksHarvest Truck Brigade, Field Distribution Team, Donations.

Red Cross (Desert to the Sea Region)

Multiple locations: please visit the website for a location close to you.

Possible volunteer tasks: Blood donation.

Pathways of Hope

1231 E Chapman Avenue

Fullerton, CA 92831

(714) 680-3691

Possible volunteer tasksTransporting, sorting, stocking food.

During this time of crisis, it is important that we all look out for our fellow community members.

If you have any questions or need assistance connecting to other community resources, please contact my Senior Executive Assistant, Alli Binder at abinder@cityofirvine.org.

See also: My up-to-date COVID-19 Resources and Information Page.

Please wear a mask in public and practice social distancing. Let’s work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 so we can all return to work, school, and our normal lives!

Tell the Irvine City Council to Implement Community Choice Energy (CCE) Now!

At our Irvine City Council meeting on July 14, 2020, we will be discussing Irvine’s next steps regarding implementation of a Community Choice Energy Plan.

Community Choice Energy (CCE) is a way for cities, counties or regions in California to look out for their own energy interests, a hybrid between regulated and deregulated electricity supply. CCE programs seek to provide energy that is cheaper and cleaner than energy provided by for-profit utility companies.

Nearly two years ago, on September 25, 2018, before a standing-room crowd, as Chair of Irvine’s Green Ribbon Committee, I joined with my colleagues on the Irvine City Council to vote to commission a feasibility study to determine the pros and cons of implementing a Community Choice Energy program in Irvine, including potential economic benefits for the community.

At the direction of the Irvine City Council, EES Consulting completed a comprehensive analysis of the feasibility (including costs and benefits) of a Community Choice Energy program in Irvine.  For this work, the taxpayers of the City of Irvine paid EES Consulting over $180,000.  We received the EES Consulting Feasibility Study in June 2019.

Among the study’s crucial conclusions was the projection that a CCE in Irvine would result in savings of $7.7 million per year in citywide electricity cost savings for Irvine residents and businesses, and a $112,000 per year savings for the City itself in municipal energy costs, as well as driving additional local economic development benefits, such as new jobs and $10 million in annual economic output.

Despite the extremely positive results of the feasibility study (or perhaps precisely because of these very positive results), the Republicans on the Irvine City Council insisted that we undertake a second study to evaluate the results of the first study.

I believed at the time that this second study was unnecessary and feared that it was really a scheme to delay and ultimately derail implementation of CCE in Irvine.

These fears have been born out.

In this second study (a so-called “third-party peer review”), MRW & Associates reviewed the EES Consulting Feasibility Study and found that, while there were some quibbles about the EES Consulting Feasibility Study’s assumptions and analysis, (1) the analytical approach of the EES Consulting Feasibility Study was sound; (2) the rate savings projected by the EES Consulting Feasibility Study is consistent with what current CCE programs are offering, and (3) a CCE program in Irvine could be financially viable.

In addition, MRW & Associates found that (4) the EES Consulting Feasibility Study adequately addressed the four CCE governance options available to the City, and (5) agreed with EES Consulting Feasibility Study that the two most reasonable options are forming an Irvine-only CCE or developing a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) with other Orange County cities.

Nevertheless, according to the staff report, “Given the uncertainty of some variable inputs, MRW recommends that if the City pursues formation of a CCE, a more extensive and detailed pro forma analysis be required prior to implementation.”

In other words, despite overall agreement with the analytical approach and the positive conclusions of the EES Consulting Feasibility Study, the MSW report recommends that Irvine undertake (and pay for and wait for) yet another study, and of course, more paralysis by analysis.

Instead, the City Council should immediately implement the Community Choice Energy program that studies we have twice paid for show to be a tremendous benefit to both the City and the planet.

We also need to adopt and implement the stand-alone Climate Action Plan that the Irvine City Council unanimously voted to develop, with lots of public fanfare and self-congratulations, in July 2019.   Like the Community Choice Energy plan, I am concerned that the Republican majority on the Irvine City Council has no intention of adopting a stand-alone Climate Action Plan and is delaying implementation with no intention to move forward.

For all of these reasons, I call on all Irvine residents to sign the petition to “Tell Irvine’s City Council to Implement Community Choice Energy (CCE) Now.”

I also ask you to submit an e-comment to the Irvine City Council in support of implementing a CCE now, without further and unnecessary delay.

The Climate Action Campaign has created an engaging 10 minute video explaining the issue.

Watch it here:

 

 

Irvine Providing Free COVID-19 Testing at the Great Park! Make an Appointment Now!

The City of Irvine will begin providing free drive-up COVID-19 testing for individuals who live or work in Irvine beginning Monday, July 13, 2020, at the Orange County Great Park.

Irvine will be the first city in Orange County to provide testing to those who live or work in Irvine, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

This month long testing program will be available by appointment only and will take place Mondays through Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot 6 at the Great Park. To schedule an appointment, visit https://curogram.com/covid-testing/irvine.

The Great Park testing site can accommodate approximately 200-260 tests per day. Only PCR testing, which determines if someone currently has the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 virus), is available.  No testing will be provided for the presence of anti-bodies.

At the appointment, patients must remain in their vehicle, bring a driver’s license or photo ID, and registration confirmation. During the appointment, a licensed healthcare professional will be present during the self-administered nasal or oral swab test to collect the specimen to send to FDA-approved laboratories. Test results should be expected within three days after the appointment.

Tests will be conducted by Curogram and multiple medical laboratories, including Orange County based Pangea Laboratory.  Curogram has worked with many other cities, including New York City and Atlanta, to provide COVID-19 testing.

The Orange County Great Park is located at 8000 Great Park Blvd. Lot 6 can be accessed via Marine Way and Skyhawk. Visit ocgp.org/maps for complete directions. Please note that GPS systems may not provide reliable directions.

For more information, including an important FAQ, visit cityofirvine.org/covid19testing.

I agree with my Irvine City Council colleague Farrah Khan that “I’m happy to see that we will now be offering COVID-19 testing in our City. I understand that people were frustrated with the delay. However, it is important for us to make sure that we provide residents and workers with a quality test vendor.”

I would also add that Irvine should never have had to provide COVID-19 testing on its own.  We are now doing so because of the utter failure of the federal government and Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing. 

Irvine does not have a public health officer or a public health department.  We rely on Orange County to provide these critical services.  The taxes we pay to the State of California for public health services go to Orange County, not the City of Irvine.  Orange County received all of our CARES ACT funds from the federal government.  But regarding COVID-19, we can not rely on Orange County.

The City of Irvine is providing COVID-19 testing — at our own taxpayers’ expense — because at this point, with COVID-19 infections setting new records on an almost daily basis in both Orange County and the nation, we have no other choice.

We should not be in this position.  While other nations are seeing declines in the number of new COVID-19 infections, our new infections continue to rise.  The basic reason for our continuing rise in infections and deaths is the catastrophic failure of our federal government to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, including President Trump’s continuing denial of its seriousness and his undermining of social distancing and face coverings as the best weapons we now have against this virus.

Our Board of Supervisors followed Trump’s lead and also bear responsibility for the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Orange County.  For months, it was unclear how or even if California’s statewide mask mandate would be enforced in Orange County

As the Voice of OC reported, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

The Board of Supervisors also allowed Orange County’s chief health officer Dr. Nichole Quick to be driven from office by threats against her life from anti-mask and conspiracy theory extremists, failing to back up her public health orders or provide her with protection.

As a result of the Board of Supervisors’ failures to follow or enforce basic state-mandated guidelines for stopping the spread of COVID-19, a Harvard University website that shows “How severe is the pandemic where you live?” places Orange County in the red extreme danger zone.   Today, the Orange County Register reports that “In the last five days, 5,796 new cases were reported [in Orange County], and more than half the cases of the virus in the county have been reported in the last 30 days.”

Under these circumstances, it is good that Irvine is now providing free COVID-19 testing for residents and people who work in Irvine. But Irvine’s COVID-19 testing also highlights the failure of our federal government and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing or any effective strategy in response to this deadly disease. Our friends and neighbors who live or work in other Orange County cities still have no good COVID-19 testing options.

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

California Needs a Racial Bias Strike Team Against Anti-Asian COVID-19 Racism

Asian Americans in California have self-reported 832 incidents of discrimination and harassment in the last three months, including 81 incidents of assault and 64 potential civil rights violations, according to Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center and the leading aggregator of incidents against Asian Americans during the pandemic, founded by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON) and San Francisco State University Asian American Studies Department.

As California Assemblymember David Chiu, Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, told the Los Angeles Times, “There’s not just a pandemic of health — there’s a pandemic of hate.”

Discrimination and harassment of Asian Americans in California has drawn national attention recently after a series of videos in Torrance, California, featured a woman using graphic racist language against Asian Americans. The videos have received millions of views, and reflect just a handful of the incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate in California. The new report shows that incidents of racism and discrimination are not isolated to any particular area but are a statewide problem — Asian Americans have reported incidents in 34 counties so far. Incidents are reportedly taking place in California in retail stores, in the workplace, and online.

Anti-Asian American harassment has been further stoked by President Trump’s repeated use of the term “Kung Flu” in recent rallies and comments on Twitter scapegoating China for the United States’ devastating failure to control the coronavirus. 

I am appalled by these acts of hatred and by President Trump’s continued stoking of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian bigotry.

I first raised the issue of the COVID-19 outbreak and incidents of discrimination, harassment, and bullying of people thought to be Chinese at the Irvine City Council meeting on more than a month ago, on March 10.  I stated that we needed to do more to educate the public about how racism and xenophobia will hurt us in this crisis, and that we are all in this together.

I continue to be concerned, especially as reports increased of a surge in racially charged attacks unfairly directing blame for the pandemic on Asians and Asian Americans, while President Trump insists on using the phrase “Chinese virus” or “Kong Flu” when speaking of COVID-19.

In May, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering” and urged governments to “act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate.”

In response to these attacks, Stop AAPI Hate has now called on California Governor Gavin Newsom to establish a Racial Bias Strike Team comprised of key state agencies and departments that have jurisdiction over public education, implementing state and federal civil rights laws, overseeing workplace and employment discrimination, providing mental health services to vulnerable communities, and offering support to local Asian American-serving community-based organizations.

As Dr. Russell Jeung, Chair and Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, explains, “Without government accountability, we risk COVID-related racism against Asian Americans becoming deeply entrenched, ultimately impacting the lives of millions of people in California and around the country.”

I join with Stop AAPI Hate in calling on California Governor Gavin Newsom to establish a Racial Bias Strike Team against anti-Asian COVID-19 racism.

I further call on all my colleagues in elected office in Orange County, both Democratic and Republican, to join me in loudly and unequivocally condemning these acts of hatred, as well as President Trump’s continued stoking of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hatred and bigotry by using the terms “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu” in reference to COVID-19.

No one, especially not the president, should use racial or racist terms in describing COVID-19.

Sadly, no Orange County Republican elected official has explicitly condemned Trump’s racist, anti-Asian “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu” language regarding COVID-19. Their cowardice and complicity leaves an indelible stain on their party and themselves.

All who have witnessed or experienced anti-Asian attacks are encouraged to file a report HERE.

Reports may be made in English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Hindi, Japanese, Hmong, Tagalog, Khmer, Thai and Punjabi.

If you have experienced anti-Asian bullying, harassment, hate speech, or violence in Irvine, please also contact the Irvine Police Department at 949-724-7000.  In an emergency, call 911.  Neither the Irvine Police Department nor the Irvine City Council will tolerate any such anti-Asian attacks or discrimination in Irvine.

Please also let me know at melissafox@cityofirvine.org.

We’re in this together.  Don’t hate, stay safe, and wear a mask!

July 4th: We Hold These Truths . . .

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

— That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men,

deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States, that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

    —  The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

Tell the Irvine City Council To Repeal Its Unconstitutional Anti-LGBTQ Law!

“If the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects.” — Louis Brandeis, Justice of the United States Supreme Court

Please join us on July 14, 2020, when the Irvine City Council decides whether to approve the motion from Councilmembers Melissa Fox and Farrah N. Khan to repeal and remove a cruel and unconstitutional anti-LGBTQ ordinance that has been part of Irvine’s Municipal Code as Sec. 3-5-501 through 503 since 1989.

[UPDATE: Sign our Petition to Repeal and Remov