Categoria: government

Complete Text: President Biden’s Speech At Monterey Park On Gun Violence

President Joe Biden on Tuesday, March 14, traveled to Monterey Park to visit families of victims of the Jan. 21 mass shooting and to promote gun-control laws and a new executive order aimed at stemming violence nationwide.

While leaders and gun control advocates crowded inside the Boys & Girls Club of the San Gabriel Valley, many others lined streets outside to catch a glimpse of the president’s motorcade, and take in the presidential visit in the wake of the tragedy at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio that left 11 people dead.

Here is the complete text of Biden’s remarks, released Wednesday by the White House.

The Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel ValleyMonterey Park, California1:37 P.M. PDT, Tuesday, March 14Good afternoon.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Please have a seat, if you have one.  (Laughter.)

Good afternoon.  Saturday, January 21st, 2023, Lunar New Year, a time to enjoy.  A ballroom dance studio, a place of happiness, friendship, and belonging.  People across backgrounds and generations celebrating their cultural roots and bonding through ballroom song and dance.

A place of refuge where immigrants have lived for years, supported new immigrants who just arrived, becoming not just friends but family.

But as we all saw, a day of festivity and light turned into a day of fear and darkness.  A holiday of hope and possibilities marked by horror and pain.  Vibrant dances and music replaced by vigils and memorials.  Eleven souls taken.  Nine injured.  Private mourning made public.

That sense of safety shattered.  Survivors who will always carry the physical and emotional scars.  Families left behind who will never be the same.

One of the worst mass shootings in California history.  A tragedy that has pierced the soul of this nation, here in Monterey Park, in the San Gabriel Valley, the heart of the Asian American community.

My dear friend, Judy Chu, former Mayor of Monterey Park and your Congresswoman and Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific [American] Caucus.

Senator Alex Padilla, a champion for this community and the entire state.

Our good friend, Supervisor Hilda Solis, and all elected officials, law enforcement, first responders, faith leaders, community members all here today.

You’ve shown up for this community, and I know you always will.

To the families of victims who spend time — I get a chance to meet with today and whom Vice President Harris spent time with a few weeks ago, I’m here on behalf of the American people to mourn with you, to pray with you, to let you know you’re loved and not alone.

Every case is different, but I know what it’s like.  I know what it’s like to get that call.  I know what it’s like to be told.  I know what it’s like to lose a loved one so suddenly.  It’s like losing a piece of your soul.  It’s like a black hole in your chest you feel like you’re being sucked into.

Suffocating, hardly able to breath.  The anger.  The pain.  The depths of the loss so profound it’s hard to explain.  The suddenness tends to magnify the grief.

And as time passes, the shock and numbness slowly make way for the sobering reality of their absence.

That empty chair at the dinner table.  The birthdays, the anniversaries, the holidays without them.

Everyday things, small things, the details you miss the most.  The scent when you open that closet door.  The park you go by that you used to stroll in.  The morning tea you shared together.  The bend of his smile.  The perfect pitch of her laugh.

As Judy shared with me, this is a tight-knit community with intergenerational households and deep reverence and respectfor its elders.  A community that’s opened its heart and its homes to friends and neighbors, and stood strong throughout the pandemic as anti-Asian hate crimes rose.

A community that in the face of horrific tragedy has become a symbol of hope and resilience.  Pushing forward together, healing together.

People from all faiths and backgrounds rallying to show their love and support, raising money for funeral costs and memorials, providing counseling and translation services to the victims’ families.  Providing and proving that even with heavy hearts we have unbreakable spirits.

As a nation, remember them: immigrants from China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan — all of whom found a home in America.

Mr. Ma, age 72.  A pillar of the community.  A beloved manager and dance instructor at Star Ballroom.  He’d walk patrons to their cars at night.  Helped new immigrants find jobs.  His children and grandchildren will carry on his legacy in the spirit of one of his favorite Chinese proverbs, “Cherish the people in front of you.”  “Cherish the people in front of you.”

Andy Kao, 72.  “Mr. Nice” for his kindness, his positivity, his infectious smile.  A free spirit always ready to lend a helping hand.  He died shielding his dance partner.

Xiu Juan Yu, 57.  Devoted mom, wife, sister.  A woman of faith.  Always there to help others bringing food and newspapers to family members who had trouble walking.  Always — always working tirelessly with her husband to build a future for their three children.

Nancy Jian, 62.  Known as “Sister Sunshine.”  She loved to play cards, piano, and a weekly volleyball game.  Always sharing her homegrown plants and vegetables with neighbors and friends.

A dedicated mom married nearly 40 years — a husband and wife who were always together, even in their last dance.

Valentino Alvero, 68 years old.  A servant of God.  Life of the party.  Storyteller who made the whole room laugh.  A man devoted to his children and his grandchildren.

Mymy Nhan, 65.  Bedrock of her family and friends.  Eternal optimist.  Avid dancer who’d visit the studio every weekend, often leaving snacks behind for her classmates.  She radiated positive energy through her laughter, her kind words, and her smile.

Muoi Dai Ung, 67.  Refugee.  A community builder.  A cherished friend, known for her kindness, her sweetness, her generosity.  Her beloved family, the center of her world.

Diana Tom, 70.  Devoted daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother who loved to sing karaoke.  A giver and an adventurer who loved to explore new foods and travel the world.

Charles Yau, 76.  Grateful.  Reflective.  Believed in living to the — life to the fullest.  He constantly showed his family and friends and showered them with warm words of encouragement, hope, and love.

[Wen]-Tau Yu, 64.  A lifelong learner, he retired as a business manager and was pursuing a second career as a pharmacist while caring for his elder mother — elderly mother.  A man beloved by his wife, children, and friends for his compassion, his determination, and his wisdom.

Lily Li, 63.  A matriarch with absolute strength, optimism, and grace.  Her daughter wrote, “Stolen is the grandmother whose granddaughter fell asleep many nights nestled between her loving arms.  Taken away is the opportunity for her grandson to feel her love and warmth.”

All of them lived lives of love, sacrifice, and service for their families, for their community.  They represent a bigger story of who we are as Americans, embodying the simple truth that our diversity — our diversity is the strength of this nation.

We saw that strength in Maria Liang, owner of Star Ballroom, who I want to thank for pouring her heart into creating a warm and welcome space to bring the community together, especially seniors.

And we saw that strength in Brandon Tsay, who met me at the airport, whom Jill and I have gotten to know.  Twenty minutes after the rampage at Star Ballroom, Brandon saw the same shooter walk into his family’s own dance studio just two miles away, pointing a gun at him.  In an instant, he found the courage to act and wrestled the semi-automatic firearm away.

Brandon saved lives.  He protected the community.

At Half Moon Bay, just two days later — (applause) — you’ve got it.  (Applause.)

Brandon, stand up.  (Applause.)

At Half Moon Bay, just two days later, we saw heroism from police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who rushed into the danger to save lives.

As many of you know, Jill and I invited Brandon as our guest at the State of the Union message because we wanted the country to know all of you — not just Brandon, all of you.  The character of this community.  The faith you have in this community.  The pride.  We see across — we see it in you across all of American life.

Just this week, a film about resilience and power of the Asian American immigrant family made history at the Oscars — (applause) — echoing the heart of so many in this community.

But we also hear a message we’ve heard too often, including two years ago this week, after the spa shooting at the Atlanta — in the Atlanta area: Enough.  Do something.

We remember and mourn today, but I am here with you today to act.

Last year, after the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, I signed into law, after being in both places, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun safety law in almost 30 years.

That was in addition to me signing more executive actionsto reduce gun violence than any of my predecessors at this point in their presidencies.

Today, I’m announcing another executive order that will accelerate and intensify this work to save more lives more quickly.

First, this executive order helps keep firearms out of dangerous hands, as I continue to call on Congress to require background checks for all firearm sales.  (Applause.)  And in the meantime — in the meantime, my executive order directs my Attorney General to take every lawful action possible — possible to move us as close as we can to universal background checks without new legislation.

I just — it’s just common sense to check whether someone is a felon, a domestic abuser, before they buy a gun.

The executive order also expands public awareness campaigns about the “red flag” orders — the laws — which my son, when he — before he died — Attorney General of Delaware — was a great proponent of it and instituted it.  So more parents, teachers, police officers, health providers, and counselors know how to flag for the — a court that someone is exhibiting violent tendencies, threatening classmates, or experiencing suicidal thoughts that make them a danger to themselves and others and temporarily remove that person’s access to firearms.

And it promotes — this executive order — safe storage for firearms, something every responsible gun owner agrees with.

The second thing it does — the executive order ramps up our efforts to hold the gun industry accountable.  It’s the only outfit you can’t sue these days.  It does that by calling out for an independent government study that analyzes and exposes how gun manufacturers aggressively market firearms to civilians, especially minors, including by using military imagery.

And it directs the Attorney General to public release — publicly release Alcohol, Tobacco, and Fam- — and Firearms inspection reports of firearms dealers who were cited for violation of the law.  (Applause.)  That way, policymakers can strengthen laws to crack down on these illegal gun dealers and the public can avoid purchasing from them.

Third, the executive order improves federal coordination to support victims, survivors, and their families and communities affected by mass shootings the same way FEMA responds to your natural disasters in California and all around the nation.  And it will help folks recover and build after wi- — that — they help folks recover and build after wildfires and superstorms and droughts.

For example, we need to provide more mental health support and grief — for grief and trauma — (applause) — and more financial assistance when a family loses the sole breadwinner or when a small business shuts down due to a lengthy shooting investigation.

There’s more in this executive order, but I’m not stopping there.

Last week, I laid out in my budget that we invest more in safer communities and expand access to mental health services for those affected by gun violence.  (Applause.)

Congressional Republicans should pass my budget instead of calling for cuts to these services or defunding the police or abolishing the FBI, as we hear from our MAGA Republican friends.

But let’s be clear: None of this absolves Congress the responsibility — from the responsibility of acting to pass universal background checks, eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.  (Applause.)

And I am determined once again to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.  (Applause.)  I led that fight in — to ban them in 1994.  In the 10 years that law was in place, mass shootings went down.

Our Republicans friends let it expire, and it — and 10 years later, and mass shootings tripled since then.  Tripled.

So let’s finish the job.  Ban assault weapons.  Ban them again.  Do it now.  Enough.  Do something.  Do something big.  (Applause.)

Folks, let me close with this.  Scripture says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  A lot of us have been there.

As we gather here today, I know your hearts are broken, but I know your spirits are strong.

And as you remember and heal, I know the light of your loved one is once again going to lead you forward.

It takes time.  I tell everyone — at least it did with me — it takes time.  But I promise you — I promise you the day will come when the memory of your loved one brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.  The tear will never fully go away.  But when you had that smile first (inaudible), that’s when you know — that’s when you know you’re going to make it — you’re going to know you’re going to make it.

And my prayer for all of you is that day will come sooner than later, but I promise you it will come.

God bless you all.  I admire you so damn much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)President Joe Biden

1:56 P.M. PDT

California Winter Weather State Of Emergency Declared By Biden

The winter storm that crashed into San Bernardino County mountain communities two weeks ago is officially a federal emergency.

The White House declared an emergency on Friday, March 10.

The declaration unlocks federal assistance to supplement existing state, local and tribal efforts to clean up the storms that have brought unprecedented blizzard conditions to the region. The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency will coordinate disaster relief efforts.

San Bernardino County is one of 35 California counties listed as needing disaster relief, along with Amador, Butte, El Dorado, Fresno, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Lake, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Mateo, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne and Yuba.

This is a developing story. Check later for updates.

Beau Yarbrough | Reporter Beau Yarbrough wrote his first newspaper article taking on an authority figure (his middle school principal) when he was in 7th grade. He’s been a professional journalist since 1992, working in Virginia, Egypt and California. In that time, he’s covered community news, features, politics, local government, education, the comic book industry and more. He’s covered the war in Bosnia, interviewed presidential candidates, written theatrical reviews, attended a seance, ridden in a blimp and interviewed both Batman and Wonder Woman (Adam West and Lynda Carter). He also cooks a mean pot of chili.

California Is Suing Huntington Beach For Limiting Housing Developments

California is suing Huntington Beach, accusing the city of knowingly violating state housing laws.

In a clear warning to other cities, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta, along with other state officials, lambasted Huntington Beach’s recent housing decisions. Just a day before, Huntington Beach councilmembers voted to extend the city’s moratorium on accepting new applications for accessory dwelling units and to ignore the “builder’s remedy” homebuilding process, which allows developers to sidestep zoning restrictions in cities without state-approved housing plans. The ban on builder’s remedy in town will take a second vote later this month to go into effect.

California is suing Huntington Beach over its ban on new ADU applications, but officials warned more action could occur should the City Council continue with its plan to oppose the builder’s remedy process.

Starting in 2017, state laws lifted barriers to building secondary units on a single lot. Housing advocates and state officials argue ADUs will help meet housing goals, offering living space for extended family or much needed rentals, making use of larger lots that were traditional in many communities.

“Huntington Beach has decided to slam the door in homeowners’ faces,” Bonta said. “No one gets to pick and choose the laws they want to follow.”

“The laws are clear as is Huntington Beach’s willful, intentional refusal to follow them. That’s why we’re in court,” Bonta said.

As housing goals were handed out to cities throughout California for the number of homes — including mandates at various levels of affordability — they have to plan for over the next decade, the pushback was quick and loud. But most also got to work identifying in their required local planning where developers could build what the state figured is needed to meet housing needs.

As of Feb. 9, there were 245 California cities, including 117 in Southern California that hadn’t gotten their planning signed off by the state. That opens them up to the builder’s remedy process, where developers can plan housing projects with cities having less say in what’s planned.

“At the end of the day, the state’s vision as it relates to housing cannot be realized anywhere else except locally,” Newsom said.

Huntington Beach, Newsom said, is not serving its community well with these housing policies and will “waste time, energy and taxpayer dollars.”

Councilmember Pat Burns said Tuesday night in supporting an extension of the city’s ban on further ADU applications that the relaxed state provisions on their construction harms the qualify of life in single-family neighborhoods.

It is all “part of the resistance to the state overreach that is trying to ruin this city with overbuilding in single-family, residential neighborhoods,” he said. “Sacramento thinks they can tell us how to zone our properties. And we need to resist it in any way we can.”

City attorney Michael Gates said Huntington Beach would file a new lawsuit this week challenging the state-mandated goal of planning for the construction of 13,368 new homes by 2030. City officials are expected to announce the lawsuit later Thursday.

“If Huntington Beach’s City Council majority wants to change the law, they are welcome to reach out to their state legislators, but to date my office and I have not heard from them on this issue, making clear that this is political theater of the worst kind, and a huge waste of Huntington Beach taxpayer dollars to boot,” Sen. Dave Min, a Democrat who represents Huntington Beach, said in a statement.

Staff Writer Jeff Collins contributed to this report.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

Temecula Leaders Turning Right As Critics Try To Slam The Brakes

Like it or not, the culture wars are on Temecula’s agenda.

While the southwest Riverside County city of 110,000 has long been conservative, the leadership of Temecula’s city council and school board has veered further right in recent months, wading into matters like race, abortion and whether to recognize the LGBTQ community that go beyond the nuts and bolts of local government.

The council no longer declares events such as Black History Month and considered banning abortion, while Temecula Valley Unified School District trustees prohibited the teaching of so-called critical race theory to the district’s 28,000 students.

Past city councils rarely dealt with matters beyond their control, said Jeff Comerchero, who served on Temecula’s council from 1997 to 2018.

“Whenever somebody would mention ‘We should take a stand on something,’ everybody else pushed back because it wasn’t our place to go there,” he said. “Every level of government has their responsibilities and those things simply were not ours.”

Temecula Valley Unified School District board President Joseph Komrosky, second from right, and others listen during a Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, school board meeting in Temecula. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Temecula Valley Unified School District board President Joseph Komrosky speaks Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, during a meeting at district headquarters in Temecula. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Temecula Valley Unified School District board member Danny Gonzalez speaks Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, during a meeting at district headquarters in Temecula. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Temecula Valley Unified School District board member Jennifer Wiersma speaks Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, during a meeting at district headquarters in Temecula. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Temecula Valley Unified School District board member Allison Barclay speaks Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, at a board meeting at district headquarters in Temecula. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Temecula Valley Unified School District board member Steven Schwartz is seen Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, during a meeting at district headquarters in Temecula. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Temecula Valley Unified School District board members meet Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, at district h headquarters in Temecula. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Julie Geary, a teacher and member of Temecula Unity, is seen Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, in front of Temecula City Hall. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Teacher and Temecula activist Julie Geary, of Temecula Unity, is seen in front of Temecula City Hall on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Teacher and Temecula activist Julie Geary, of Temecula Unity, is seen in front of Temecula City Hall on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Few people attended the Temecula Valley Unified School District board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, at district headquarters in Temecula. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Temecula Valley Unified School District Superintendent Jodi McClay speaks Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, to the board during a meeting at district headquarters in Temecula. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Julie Geary, a member of Temecula Unity, is seen Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, in front of Temecula City Hall. Recent actions by the Temecula City Council and school board have fueled a showdown between the city’s liberals and conservatives. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG).

But now, the board’s and council’s latest moves have critics fearing what might happen to the city and highly ranked school district they love.

“I see social media posts from people who are looking to move to Temecula and it’s hard to respond,” Christine Massa, a 19-year Temecula resident, said via email. “It’s ugly at the moment.”

In November, three candidates backed by a Christian conservative political action committee won a majority on the school board and a first-time conservative candidate unseated longtime Temecula City Councilmember Maryann Edwards.

In its first meeting, the school board majority — Joseph Komrosky, Danny Gonzalez and Jen Wiersma — banned critical race theory, a term for a college-level course of study that conservatives use to attack K-12 lessons on slavery and U.S. race relations.

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Conservative media outlets hailed the move, which earned Komrosky and Wiersma airtime on Fox News. Hundreds of Temecula high school students, outraged with what they saw as the board’s whitewashing of historical truths, walked out of class in December and January.

Gonzalez described his vote on the critical race theory resolution as “intended to be precautionary.”

“The definition of CRT is rarely agreed upon. It was my viewpoint that because the resolution described in such detail, most of the (tenets) of CRT that many find problematic, it would help to clarify what is meant when referring to CRT,” he said in an email.

“While we as a board continue to evaluate this issue, we will address what goes on in the classroom in an honest and open way that ensures teaching real history while being mindful not to perpetuate an adult’s political agenda into the young minds of our students.”

Wiersma also defended her critical race theory vote.

“I am NOT about canceling history, marginalizing students or whitewashing the content of their education,” she said via email. “My proactive stance on CRT pedagogy will help ensure the correct choice for future ethnic studies material and other curricula.”

In January, the council voted 3-2 — Brenden Kalfus, who beat Edwards in November, sided with the majority — to stop issuing citywide proclamations recognizing months like Black History Month that celebrate cultural diversity, women’s history or the LGBTQ community.

Instead, the council left it up to Temecula’s 2-year-old diversity commission to designate such months. It recognized Black History Month on Feb. 9.

In September, the council rejected a pro-life resolution that would have declared Temecula a sanctuary city for the unborn.

Months earlier, Councilmember Jessica Alexander, the resolution’s sponsor, blasted a council proclamation honoring LGBTQ Pride Month. Alexander, who has opposed the diversity commission, has said Pride Month goes against her faith and values and that such proclamations create more division and “do nothing to contribute to the running of our city.”

Rallied through social media, school board supporters clad in red — — “Saving America starts with (the) school board,” proclaimed one red T-shirt — and critics wearing blue have faced off at recent board meetings. Both sides cheered and applauded comments they liked as sheriff’s deputies kept the peace.

City still red, but not as much

What’s happening in Temecula isn’t unique.

School boards and city councils nationwide have become battlegrounds in a sharply divided political climate in which the other side isn’t just wrong — it’s the enemy.

Schools in congressional districts that voted for Donald Trump, who won Temecula in 2016 and 2020, were most likely to see efforts to limit or challenge instruction on race and LGBTQ rights and ban certain library books, John Rogers, a UCLA professor who co-wrote a study on how political conflicts affect public education, said via email.

Temecula isn’t new to culture clashes.

In 2010, the council approved plans to build a new mosque after a public hearing that ended after 3 a.m. and protests where mosque opponents brought their dogs to antagonize Muslims.

That same year, officials faced cries of censorship after removing a portrait of a nude woman from a city-run theater. In 1995, Residents protested the showing of the NC-17-rated movie “Showgirls” in a Temecula movie theater and, in 2008, criticized a charity performance of the play, “The Vagina Monologues.”

While California is a blue state and Democratic voters outnumber Republicans in Riverside County, Temecula has long been a GOP haven. The city’s Ronald Reagan Sports Park, which features a statue of the former president and conservative icon, became a rallying point for a 60-mile caravan of Trump supporters in 2020.

While there remain more Republicans than Democrats in Temecula, the gap is narrowing. In 2005, 55% of Temecula voters were Republican, compared to 23% for Democrats. In late 2002, 38% were Republican; 31% were Democratic.

The city’s also become more diverse. In 2010, 70% of Temecula residents were White. That fell to 55% by 2020, and Rogers said the percentage of White students in Temecula schools dropped from 72% in 2000 to 42% in 2020.

Events of 2020 motivated left, right Temecula’s growing diversity — and sensitivity to it — was on display in at least two Black Lives Matter protests in the city in 2020.

At an event by the progressive group Temecula Unity that year, Massa said she “was particularly struck by one story … about a Black family who didn’t feel particularly welcome in (their) own neighborhood — my neighborhood.”

Around the same time, Temecula conservatives may have had their own awakening.

As the pandemic ushered in remote learning, “a lot of parents became aware of some of the things that were being taught in school and things that maybe they found objectionable,” said Rick Reiss, a Temecula conservative and frequent speaker at council meetings. “I think it kind of created an impetus for change.”

Gonzalez said his school board journey started when he wanted to address parents’ concerns during the pandemic’s early days and that led to a group that urged him to run.

Last spring, Inland Empire Family PAC, with the help of conservative Pastor Tim Thompson of 412 Church Temecula Valley, endorsed and bankrolled seven candidates, including Komrosky, Gonzalez and Wiersma, for southwest Riverside County school boards. Five won seats in the Temecula Valley, Murrieta Valley and Lake Elsinore school districts.

Under pressure to provide better opportunities for minority candidates, Temecula’s school board and the council started electing leaders by districts — as opposed to having candidates run in the entire city or school district — in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

That made it easier for groups like the family PAC, said John Hunneman, a retired southwest Riverside County reporter and columnist who lives in Murrieta.

“There are areas (in Temecula) that might be more conservative or areas where you could rally people, whether it’s with a church or with a social group,” he said. “And they don’t need to get that many votes (to win a seat) because they’re only campaigning in a fifth of the city.”

When should council get political? Until recently, Temecula’s five-member council wasn’t a partisan hotbed.

When he was on the council, Comerchero said: “There were times when I didn’t have any idea what political party one of my colleagues (was registered with), and they didn’t care. None of us did.”

The council’s focus, he said, was on the issues it could control, such as maintaining roads and parks and funding police and firefighters.

James “Stew” Stewart, who was elected to the council in 2016, said the council shouldn’t weigh in on national issues because it’s “a nonpartisan body with no power to change (those issues).” But it’s a matter of free speech if a councilmember wants to speak from the dais on those matters, he said via email.

Kalfus, a self-described conservative, said via email that whether the council should step into outside politics depends on several factors. 

“If the social issue or national political topic pertains particularly to something occurring within our city limits, then it may be appropriate for (the) council to weigh in.”

Alexander did not respond to requests for comment.

City’s direction cheered, feared Temecula’s residents are divided on what’s happening.

“This isn’t like Republican or Democrat,” Temecula Unity activist Julie Geary said. “This is someone that is trying to tell someone else how to live their life versus the freedom for people to live their life how they want to.”

Jeff Pack, a Temecula resident and co-founder of One Temecula Valley PAC, said he’s worried the council’s and board’s actions “will have long-lasting effects on our city’s reputation, economy and educational opportunities for our kids.”

“Elected officials at the city and school board levels are not elected to be moral, religious or political leaders. They are elected to do the business of the cities and the school districts,” he said via email. “Clearly, some of the recently elected have misunderstood what their roles are.”

Gonzalez said his Christian faith “does not disqualify me from being a school board member and simply being Christian doesn’t mean I would support any sort of a theocratic regime in our school district.”

“It does mean I have faith in God and, like many other people of faith in our community, I consider my faith when making decisions in all aspects of my life,” he said.

Gonzalez said he’s been accused of belonging to far-right groups and called a “white nationalist, racist, bigot, and many other disgusting accusations … I disavow these labels and I will not apologize for having faith in God.”

Gonzalez said he, Komrosky and Wiersma “wholeheartedly reject the notion that supporting a parent’s right to decide when and where adults other than themselves discuss sex and sexuality with their children will lead to marginalizing LGBTQ students.

“In fact, one might say that these critics intend to marginalize the three of us, as well as other students, for our faith.”

Komrosky did not respond to requests for comment.

Asked if she’s worried about Temecula becoming divided, Wiersma said people never agree on everything and “differences in opinion can be constructive and help improve our community and its public education system.”

Geary said she’s been called “a groomer (and) a pedophile” on social media. Despite the backlash, she said she’s not leaving Temecula.

“We’ve had so many kids in (the school district) rise up on their own (and find) their voice (and they’re) making these amazing posts on Instagram … to fight for the change that they believe in,” she said.

“So in this fight, there’s so much beauty … and that’s not gonna change. Once you open the can, you can’t put that back in.”

Manhattan Beach To Unveil New Bruce’s Beach Plaque On Feb. 25

The new plaque for Bruce’s Beach Park will at last be set in stone — in just a couple of weeks.

Manhattan Beach will unveil the new monument immortalizing two Black entrepreneurs from Manhattan Beach’s early days during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, the city announced recently. The city is currently installing the plaque’s foundation and will finish putting the entire thing in by the reveal.

Mayor Steve Napolitano and yet-to-be-determined guest speakers will give remarks at the event.

“It is important that we remember and honor the history behind the area we now call Bruce’s Beach Park,” Napolitano said in a Friday, Feb. 10, press release. “While we cannot change what happened nearly 100 years ago, neither should we run from it. We have taken great strides to better understand that difficult chapter in our history and embrace the lessons we can learn from it.”

The City Council last month picked the ultimate design and directed staff to begin installing the plaque. It has taken nearly three years to get here.

A task force initially charged with planning the plaque redo in 2020 was turned into a history advisory board that was then set to rewrite the plaque’s language in 2021. But the City Council ended up taking over that job last year.

Then projected installation dates kept getting pushed back, from last Juneteenth to December, targets the city also missed.

But the original plaque was finally removed in November.

The national reckoning on systemic racism that exploded in 2020, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police, became particularly local in Manhattan Beach after a Juneteenth celebration, organized by activist Kavon Ward, brought to light the history of Bruce’s Beach and the surrounding area.

During the 1920s, the city used eminent domain to take away land from Willa and Charles Bruce, who were Black and operated a seaside resort for African Americans. The city used eminent domain to take their land, as well as other properties — primarily from Black residents — for racially motivated reasons.

Ward used the awareness of that history to lead a movement that ultimately saw LA County return the two parcels of seaside land, nearby Bruce’s Beach Park, to the original owners’ descendants last year. The heirs recently sold the land back to the county.

Manhattan Beach, meanwhile, grappled with how it should respond to its resurfaced history. The City Council ultimately voted to condemn the actions of the town’s former leaders and began the process of revamping the plaque at Bruce’s Beach Park; critics said the original language glossed over the reasons the land was taken.

“By shining a light on the truth of the injustices of the past, Manhattan Beach has begun a new chapter of recovery and healing,” Napolitano said in the city’s release. “Today, we are an inclusive, loving and caring community and this new plaque reflects that.”

Besides the soon-to-be-installed plaque, the city’s Art-in-Public-Places Committee is also working on a separate art piece and landscaping to go around the plaque honoring Bruce’s Beach; that project has its own timeline. The city is currently developing a request for proposals for the art piece.

If you go The plaque unveiling is at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 at Bruce’s Beach Park, 2600 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach.

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Tyler Shaun Evains | Reporter Tyler Shaun Evains covers city government, school board and community happenings for the beach cities (primarily Manhattan Beach and El Segundo). She was previously an editorial assistant for the San Gabriel Valley Newsgroup. Tyler earned her journalism degree from the University of La Verne in 2018.