I didn’t have the time (or stomach) to listen to Trump’s speech to Congress earlier this month, but I have since digested his words and the circus he created. He began by an act of disrespect and lack of class by refusing to shake the hand of Leader Pelosi, a normal procedure given to the Vice President and Speaker who represent Congress at the dais before the “speech.” (Leader Pelosi has fought for workers since the first year she won her election to Congress from San Francisco.)
The chart of American democracy and freedom has been fought very hard over the many years of our existence. It has been fragile. The Civil War, WWII and Vietnam are painful examples. But the struggle in our government is also a fight with our votes and the bills we need pass or fight.
When the founding fathers representing all 13 colonies met in Philadelphia over 200 years ago to hammer out a constitution to govern the new United States of America, the debate was tense. If anyone has the time or patience to study those debates, “The Federalist Papers” is a good read. It will drive you crazy. It’s also longer than the most boring novel you ever read…..
When the Founders were done writing the Constitution and leaving Constitution Hall in Philadelphia someone shouted to Ben Franklin: “Are we a Democracy or do we still have a king?”
Franklin retorted: “We are a Democracy! But we must be diligent if we are to keep that Freedom or we will regress to having a King.”
That is our state of national government right now.
We have often been taught the structure of our country: An Executive branch to lead the government; a Legislative branch to write the laws and work with the Executive branch to appropriate a budget; and a Judicial branch to arbitrate any disputes.
The simple examples of those three branches are on a national, state and city stage:
Congress/State legislators/ City Councils;
We vote for all of the above. That is the best of “Democracy.” No one gets too much power over anybody. The majority of a democratic vote – whether you like it or not – should be how we govern.
Trump’s speech was a personal embarrassment of vitriol that basically said he could do whatever he wanted and blamed everyone else for getting in his way. (Monarchy/king)
It was amazing to see the simple humble rebuke by Nancy Pelosi, our leader in the legislative branch, when she symbolically tore up the paper of his speech. (I’m sure because of her grace she still would have shook his hand.)
For those of you who still like Trump you, need to know that he has worked to stop your overtime, is working hard with the big shots on Wall Street to lower your pension and has appointed people at the national labor board (NLRB) to stop your business representatives from fighting for YOU. He is a wolf in sheeps clothes. Might shout the right things…. But does the opposite.
One of the mechanisms to facilitate the three branches of government in our wonderful City of San Francisco are the Commissions. In San Francisco we have many Commissions and Boards. We monitor the departments of the City and approve budgets and policies. And we have many labor representatives which we believe to be part of the fabric of all the working men and women who make this City function.
Here are some of the leaders who run our government:
I, Tim Paulson, was appointed by Mayor Breed to the Public Utilities Commission (Water, Sewer and Power); Larry Mazzola, Jr., President of our Council and Business Manager of Plumbers Local 38, is on the Recreation and Parks Commission. He is joined by Tom Harrison from Laborers 261. Joel Koppel from the IBEW sits on the Planning Commission. Former Business Manager of Local 38 and long time President of this Building Trades Council, Larry Mazzola is the President of the Airport Commission. Sabrina Hernandez from IBEW Local 6 is President of the Golden Gate Bridge Board. F.X. Crowley from Stagehands, IATSE 16, represents labor on the Civil Service Commission. Willie Adams, ILWU International President, is on the Port Commission. Bart Pantoja, Painters District Council 16 representative, is on the Capitol Bonds board. Sprinkler Fitters Local 483 San Francisco representative Tony Rodriguez (see article on the cover of the February, 2020 edition of Organized Labor) was just appointed to the Fire Commission. Alysabeth Alexander from ITPTE Local 21 is now on the Building Inspection Commission. There are others I haven’t mentioned, but we still need more.
Labor should be on all commissions. If you or your members have anyone that wants to serve, please contact me or Larry Mazzola, Jr. so we can continue making the Mayor and Supervisors aware of labor’s increasing voice in our City.
Make sure you Vote this March and stay active with your union.