Coalition demonstrators march in front of the Santa Monica Airport.
Sign on display depicting governor’s lack of concern for the elderly, disabled, and students of California.
Photo Credit: Francis Taylor for Sentinel
Community Coalition Targets
Governor at Airport Demonstration
By Francis Taylor
Sentinel Staff Writer
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was the target of a loud, yet peaceful, demonstration against his devastating budget cuts on Monday, July 20, at the entrance of the Santa Monica Airport.
Hundreds of Community Coalition members, young people and supporters dressed in black to mourn the millions of lives and families that will be affected by the cuts in education, health and social services, came out to give the governor a strong message: “Educate, Don’t Terminate.”
“We are going to demonstrate as often as it is necessary to get the governor’s attention.” Marquise Harris-Dawson, executive Director of the Community Coalition said. “He was elected to correct the budget problems created by the Gray Davis administration and we are worse off now than we were then.” He continued.
Community groups and social service agencies say that the severe budget cuts will mean higher drop-out rates among students, higher rates of crime and violence and faster mortality for the sick, elderly and disabled whose in-home care services may be cut in some cases as much as 90%.
“In a period when millions of Californians are losing their jobs, health care and what little savings they may have, the governor has shown tremendously insensitive and irresponsible leadership.” Harris-Dawson said.Â “Rather than offering genuine solutions to the budget crisis that would help working families, he attacked them with accusations of ‘fraud, waste and abuse,’ and stalled the budget process for days, demanding so-called reforms that have little to do with fixing the budget.”
When asked what is needed to begin to resolve the problem, acknowledging that some cuts are unavoidable given the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit, Harris-Dawson said. “The main thing that is wrong is that the governor has the wrong values.Â He is enjoying his private plane, Jacuzzi and cigars while working class families, the disabled, and the elderly are not getting the support they need.”
“Oil companies and big businesses are prospering while those at the bottom of our economic structure are struggling.” He continued. “When the person at the top has the wrong values, we end up with wrong choices.
In addition to representatives from the Community Coalition, the demonstration featured representatives from Shields for Families, the Korean Resource Center, SEIU 6434B (ULTCW) and SEIU 721, the Bus Riders Union, and Cadre.
While the community Coalition and its supporters were demonstrating in Santa Monica, the governor and state legislators were hammering-out a proposed budget in Sacramento that will close the state’s $26.3 billion budget.
According to a local report, they are scrambling to put the package, which does not include any broad-based tax increases, but rather, relies on ‘deep cuts in government services, borrowing, and accounting maneuvers, to wipe out the deficit.’
Lawmakers are expected to vote on the measure today.