Forum explores ‘why politics matter’
Published: Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 22:05
Politics matters because its outcome affects us. That was the take away from the spirited discussion at the second annual “Why Politics Matter” forum on April 25.
The guest speakers were Tim Shaw, district coordinator for Bob Huff, (R-Diamond Bar) and Manuel Saucedo, district coordinator for Assembly Member Norma J. Torres (D-Chino), who was absent that day. The moderator, political science professor David Milbrandt, jumped in occasionally with a progressive counterpoint to Tim Shaw’s conservative observations, to ensure the debate was even.
The forum started off with Shaw explaining how he got into politics.
His first ambition was to be a pilot, and he earned a degree in aviation from Mt. SAC as well as his pilot’s license.
He changed his mind, however, and went back to school, earning his master’s in government from George Washington
University in Washington, D.C.
He then moved back to California to go to work for then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2010 reelection campaign.
Nowadays he sits on the county board of supervisors and the city council of La Habra, where he has been elected as mayor, as well as working for Huff.
Milbrandt queried Shaw about the ups and downs of his various positions in government, what he likes about his job (“helping to speed up unemployment and drivers license applications,”) and also what he doesn’t (“cynical screamers on the phone, people who say ‘oh the government’s’ doing this to me and the government’s doing that to me’ ”).
They discussed special interests in politics, and Shaw expressed support for the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, saying that it leveled the playing field.
His opinion on direct democracy was mixed.
“When the legislature is paralyzed, the voters can break the deadlock, however, very few citizen-driven petitions pass. Those people you see standing around asking for signatures are usually getting paid a salary,” Shaw said.
His proposed solution to the budget crisis was “a stronger economy” and “more jobs, less people dependant on welfare.”
Shaw ripped into Brown’s current tax plan, which calls for the richest Californians to pay higher taxes.
“Nothing is quite so mobile as a rich man with money” he said. “They’ll leave, a percentage of them [if rates go up]. California is already highly dependent on the super rich. We need to simplify the tax code, eliminate some of the deductions and lower the rate.”
Shaw also offered the audience advice on how to deal with a scandal.
“What you want to do is get the story out to all the papers at once, rather than having it leak out a bit at a time,” he said.
The audience was a fairly diverse selection of students both ethnically and politically.
One student asked: “Why does California have a terrible budget crisis? Why wasn’t this caught long before it happened?”
“California’s revenue fluctuates wildly, and the real estate crisis hit us really hard,” Shaw said, referencing his earlier statement about California’s dependence on the super wealthy for tax revenue.
When another student asked when he thought the state would pull out of its current financial rut, Shaw laughed. “I wish I could be more optimistic. Sorry,” he said.
The talk turned to immigration, which inspired some heated debate between the people who thought the current situation was creating a large population of second-class citizens, and the people, Shaw included, who felt that amnesty was simply rewarding law-breakers.
“Any time we’re giving out a benefit, it turns on a magnet, incentivizing illegal immigration,” Shaw said, taking aim at the amnesty provision of the Dream Act.
“Reagan compromised with the California Democrats on amnesty in the 80’s and that was supposed to be the only time,” he said, referring to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
Among those taking this view was a student named Liliana, who declined to give her last name.
A Russian immigrant from the former Soviet Union, she finally achieved citizenship recently, after 15 years of trying.
“I left right after Perestroika,” she said. “I like the idea of personal freedom, of having choices, and America is really the only place left with those same ideas. You can’t go anywhere else.”
On the other side of the debate was Cresencio Calderon, a political science major enrolled in a global politics class. “I care for the well being of my community,” he said. “I am looking forward to one day being a politician because I think we can get through all this together.”