NAACP forum focuses on civil rights agendas, Richardson still targeted

dibbs-naacp-forum.jpgBY NICK DIAMANTIDES
Staff Writer

The forum was supposed to focus on only one issue: civil rights. Nick Dibs, however, veered off that path and zeroed in on Laura Richardson’s voting record and taxpayer-funded lavish lifestyle. That challenge drew a sharp rebuke from Naomi Rainey, president of the Long Beach Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The NAACP hosted the candidates’ forum on Sunday afternoon at the Ernest McBride Community Center in central Long Beach. Twelve candidates showed up for the event and explained their positions on civil rights to an audience of about 70 people.
Democrat Laura Richardson, who is seeking reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives, 37th District, was the first to speak. She told the audience that, as described in the United States Declaration of Independence, civil rights are the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and everybody is entitled to those freedoms regardless or race, creed or national origin. “People need to be treated equally,” she said. “When I was first elected to serve you here (as the 6th District City Councilwoman) we were number one in crime and yet we had the fewest amount of police officers.”
She added that civil rights include having adequate public safety, decent housing and an equal opportunity for education and employment, and that she has always worked hard to make sure minority people in this region have those things. Richardson stressed that the unemployment rate in Long Beach’s 6th council district was twice as high as the national average and she would fight to change that.
Dibs, who is running against Richardson and is the only other candidate whose name appears on the ballot for the 37th Congressional District, took the microphone next. “I am very concerned about civil rights,” he said. “Our civil rights come from God, and right now our government in Washington is violating our civil rights.” At tat point, he launched his attack against Richardson noting that she voted for legislation that gave the federal government the power to conduct unreasonable search and seizures by reading the emails of Americans even if they are not suspected of a crime. “I am very concerned that our fourth amendment rights have been violated and that we have somebody in Congress who is not defending our U.S. Constitution,” he said.
Dibs added that civil rights include economic opportunities. He planned to author legislation to reduce the number of pupils in public school classes, and install solar energy systems on rooftops to create jobs and reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. “With unemployment as high as Ms. Richardson said, she is driving around in a $1,300 a month car paid for by the taxpayers – the most expensive car in Congress,” he said. “That shows an irresponsibility and an arrogance against the citizens of this district.””
At that point, NAACP members interrupted Dibs asking him to stop his personal attack on Richardson. “We sent every candidate information and guidelines for this forum,” Rainey said. “Our question was, please state your civil rights agenda; that’s all we’re asking. We will not allow any other candidate (to engage in such personal attacks).”
Peter Matthews, who is opposing Richardson as a write-in candidate spoke next. He said America’s high incarceration rate was one of the biggest treats to civil rights. “We have one out of every 100 people in prison and one out of ten young black men in prison,” he said. “The three strikes law is completely out of control and we have to revise that.”
Mathews emphasized that America is not spending enough on education and instead placing too high a priority on keeping people behind bars. “We have to change our economic system,’ he said. “We should not allow our Congresswomen or men to vote $50 billion more for the war in Iraq.” Mathews added that he would also fight to ensure that all Americans have adequate healthcare, which he said was also a civil right.
The next speaker, June Pouesi, was a surprise to most of the audience. Only days earlier, Pouesi had qualified as a write-in candidate for the 37th Congressional District office. She told the audience that the most important challenge facing America today was the moral war being waged against it. She noted that Martin Luther King Jr. recognized that some laws were just and some were unjust. “He was driven by the conviction that manmade law must answer to a higher law,” she said. “Today’s debate over abortion and same sex marriage is inspired by that same conviction.”
Pouesi told the audience that the freedom inked in the U.S Constitution was founded on the recognition of the law of God, and without that recognition, we cannot hope to survive as a free nation. Pouesi explained that she is pro-life and in favor of reforms to improve public education and legislation to make healthcare affordable to everyone.
Later, State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-27th District) took the microphone. He noted that he had a long history of involvement in the civil rights movement, including working with Ernest McBride to stop what many believed to be excessive force used by the Long Beach Police Department against minority youth in the 1970s and 80s. Lowenthal added that he also has fought for civil rights, environmental justice and educational reform as a city councilman, state assemblyman and state senator.
Rosenthal’s opponent, Republican Allen Wood spoke next. He reminded the audience that the Republican Party was founded in the 1800s to abolish slavery. He noted that many government programs have hindered the success of free enterprise and been instrumental in the decline of families in America. “The most important civil right that we have is the equal opportunity for success,” he said. He said he would fight against any form of racial discrimination, but he would also fight for lower taxes and strong families.
Democrat Bonnie Lowenthal, Republican Gabriella Holt and Libertarian John Kling – the three candidates running for the 54th State Assembly District office – also spoke at the forum. Other speakers included Lydia Gutierrez and Roderick Wright, competing for the 25th State Senatorial District office; Gwen Patrick, running for the 52nd State Assembly District Office.
Lee Davis, who is running as a write-in candidate for the 37th Congressional District showed up late for the forum. She spoke primarily on the need to pass legislation that would outlaw predatory lending practices.
Upcoming issues of the Signal Tribune will include more articles on the positions of candidates running in the November 4 election.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *