Sunday, October 25, 2020

What is America?

What is America?

There is a common joke is it a gaffe is when a politician accidentally speaks the truth. I believe it was a gaffe from Senator Lindsey Graham uttered the following words: “America is not a race. America is an idea.” I fully embrace this notion.

What is America? Not where is it, why is it, but WHAT is it as an idea? I contend it is this:

America is a secular, omni-ethnic, representative, democratic republic.

Let's unravel this definition.

Secular: America is secular, in that, while the government must respect the free exercise of religion, the government can not establish or sponsor religion. This brings up 2 points. First, is America a Theistic nation, where belief in a higher power or powers is a baseline? If so, what about atheists? (I can argue either side). Second, from this it is possible to deduce that the citizenry can bring their religious-culture-inspired ideas to the public square, but can not enshrine a particular religious practice in law.

Omni-Ethnic: I use this neologism to imply all ethnicities are welcome, and none are specifically barred from participation. I use this awkward word intentionally, to imply inclusivity, as well as to recognize that ethnicity and race are fundamental to identity, and can not be ignored. I use this awkward word intentionally, also to connote that there is no such thing as a race neutral policy or law. At this point in our history, I believe people do not have the ability to be race neutral. As a result we must be conscious of this dimension in every public decision, as we do with gender, and sexual identity.

Representative: I use this word to indicate that we elect representatives to deal with the details of governance in a way that reflects the people of that constituency.

Democratic: America is a democracy. While we argue over everything, we vote. The people decide the issues through the common exercise of their franchise.

Republic: In a republic, the citizens are sovereign. In a country where the notion of the unitary executive perniciously creeps into public discourse, it is important that we remember that this is a republic. It’s not a monarchy, it is not a dictatorship. It is a country where the people rule. Those who govern do so only by the consent of the governed.

This has important implications. The first is that the People Rule. The President is not our ruler, merely the head of one of 3 co-equal branches of our government. We, The People, rule through our democratically elected representatives. We set the rules, and determine where our money is going. The President, and the Executive Branch are there to "execute" our wishes. The only time a President gets to set policy, is if we, through our representatives give him that ability. Finally, if there are questions or disputes on those rules we place on ourselves, the Supreme Court decides. But in the end, The People Rule.

To conclude, America is a country that values freedom. Freedom is not absolute, because you have freedom in so far as you are not hurting others. I’ll mention more about this incoming posts.  Its founding ensures that we can live according to our values... So long as we are not hurting others. Why? Simply because we are all granted the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness, both individually, and as a whole. And we have a responsibility to others.

I thank Senator Graham for his gaffe, and look forward to his retirement. It helped to frame my definition about what this country is. About what my country is. And what we need to preserve and protect.


Monday, October 12, 2020

My Ballot Picks for 11/3/2020 DRAFT


Draft of my picks for November 3rd, 2020.

Draft. More later.

State Propositions

Prop 14: Yes  This is important work, and needs funding, and I'm setting aside my queasiness around the origin of some of the stem cell lines. We need to make sure their acquired ethically.

Prop 15: Yes. Chips away at Prop 13 and helps to make a fairer property tax system and better funding for schools. See Sacred Heart Voter Guide.

Prop 16: Yes. Erases Prop 209 and allows affirmative action style programs at the state level, which are needed to chip away at the current  overlay of systemic racism.

Prop 17: Yes. If you have done your time and paid your debt to society, you should be able to vote.

Prop 18: Yes. Register 17 year olds early.

Prop 19: Yes. Allowing old people (like me) and wildfire recipients a property tax break.

Prop 20: No. A measure by the prison industry to keep people behind bars. See Sacred Heart Voter Guide.

Prop 21: Yes. Allows localities to enact rent control. With high housing costs, this is necessary.

Prop 22: No. Lyft/Uber Drivers should have benefits.

Prop 23: I don't know. Don't understand the kidney dialysis issue very well. More to come.

Prop 24: Yes. Better data privacy

Prop 25: Yes. Approve non-cash bail system. It's regressive and hurts the poor.




Tuesday, August 25, 2020

End SJPD presence in San Jose USD Schools

 (my remarks to the SJUSD School Board).

To the Members of School Board and the Superintendent: 

My name is Bill Roth, a member of Grupo de Solidaridad,  SURJ at Sacred Heart, a former SJUSD parent, and a 30 year San Jose resident. Thank you for holding this study session and allowing the public to participate. I would like to voice my support for not only ending the district’s contract with the San José Police Department but also for passing the Derrick Sanderlin Resolution. Having SJPD in schools sends a terrible message to students of color. I strongly recommend you look at re-targeting the funds allocated for SJPD toward professionals trained in Social Work, as well as people trained in De-Escalation and Restorative Justice. I also urge you to hold a vote on these two issues at an appropriate board meeting in the future. 


Thank you for your service to our community


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

New Mobile Lab for Nicaragua: 2020

Help Build a Mobile Lab for Nicaragua


As many of you know, I have been working with a Nicaragua based NGO, Amigos for Christ, for the last 10 or 11 years. I spend my time raising money mainly for the medical team, that has done amazing work in lowering mortality due to diarrhea, lowering incidence of parasitic infections, and improving nutrition. This year is no different. (click here to donate if you get a tl;dr vibe)

Letter from Annie and Juanita


See the email from Annie and Juanita, 2 of the leaders of the medical team. (You can see a video of Juanita here).

Dear Bill,
Thank you so much for reaching out to ask how you can help our Mobile Lab team this year!
Just like the rest of the world, we are adjusting to the changes and precautions we have to take
to keep those we serve safe. But one thing is certain – the mobile lab is absolutely essential to
the work we are doing to help families on the path to long-term health. Thank you for being
such a great advocate for this project.

Last year your group gave $3,788.00 to support the mobile laboratory project that helps detect and treat kidney diseases and parasitic infections. In 2019, 8,705 community members were tested for these infections—and this was possible because of your teams efforts.

Each year, you reach out to Juanita and her team and ask how you can help. Eager and excited,
Juanita brainstorms what the biggest health needs are in the 20 communities involved in Plan 7.
After much thought and collaboration, she responds to you and that’s when you do your magic.
You humbly reach out to your friends and colleagues to get them onboard with what Juanita
and her team does. You help her dreams for our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters become a
reality.

Without you, 506 people would not have been treated for kidney disease and 3,356 people
would not have been treated for parasites. Bill, we are so thankful for your team and your generous heart. Amigos would not be the same without you.

I’ve put together some information about the lab and what the greatest needs are this year for
the Mobile Lab. Amigos for Christ is currently partnered with 21 rural Nicaraguan communities
consisting of 1,568 families. They are the people who will benefit from your generosity!!
Thank you Bill! Let me know if you have any questions! Thank you for all you do.

Juntos,
Annie

The Mobile Lab: This year's project.


Why is the Mobile Lab so important? An individual or family’s health is absolutely essential to live a fulfilled daily life. In Nicaragua, family’s often struggle with illness that are completely preventable. Amigos is on a mission to change that by testing families for the most common illnesses we see, treating those illnesses, and educating families on how to prevent them in the future. 

What illnesses is the Mobile Lab focused on? 

  • Intestinal Parasites due to poor sanitation
  • Kidney Disease to inadequate water consumption. 
  • Respiratory Disease due to inhaling cooking smoke. 
The project has done wonders. In some communities, we've seen deaths down 30% from diarrhea. I have seen children get healthier and stronger when they have access to clean water. (Ask me about Angel and Avril).

What does the lab look like? Here's a picture:


(Picture from 2019 doing lab work in the first mobile lab)

How does it fit in with what Amigos does?



How does the Mobile Lab project fit into the big picture of a community partnership? In the 21 communities we are currently serving, Amigos is committed to a seven-year partnership with each community. For these seven years, we are focused on helping the community achieve five goals. 

This effort is called “Plan 7”, our community development model. The third goal of Plan 7 is: Reduce Preventable Disease. The Mobile Lab is the guiding project in identifying disease and informing the best path forward to prevention. Infrastructure changes are also part of the Plan 7 efforts. A clean water system, bathroom, and clean air kitchen help a family fully prevent disease in the future. 



The Ask


So what is the ask? Simple, please help me raise the $9,235 to keep the Mobile Lab effort going strong. I'll donate $1000 to kick it off , and get my company, VMware, to match. (If you're a VMware employee, or you work for a company that has a match, please give through your match system and add the designator "Bill Roth Mobile Lab".)

So, if you'd like to help, please click below to help fund the Mobile Lab.
As always, reach out if you have questions.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

San Jose Resources In Times of Covid-19

Many people know I am on the boards of 2 great charities, Sacred Heart Community Service and also Gardner Heath Services. I also do work with my friends in Grupo de Solidaridad with Catholic Charities. Attached are some resources I know about. 

Financial Assistance for Low-Income Residents Impacted by COVID-19

These programs are building waiting lists:

Sacred Heart Community Service(English): https://sacredheartcs.org/covid19/
Sacred Heart Community Service(Español): https://sacredheartcs.org/covid19espanol/

Food distribution

Our Lady of Refuge: Food distribution on Tuesday nights from 4pm to 8pm. Currently drive up.
Saint Martin of Tours: See below.

City of San Jose(English):
Ciudad de San Jose(Español)

Information on the Eviction Ban


Thursday, January 30, 2020

My ballot picks for March 3rd 2020 Primary Election

In the past, I have published my thoughts on the various candidates and measures on the ballot. This year is no different.

Note: Thinking that primaries don't matter, and that you don't need to vote? WRONG. There are a number of important measures not related to the presidential primaries that you should consider, especially if issues like housing and homelessness are important to you.

Party Nominated Offices

President

I am torn here, and really don't have a favorite. There are still a few candidates who have dropped out who are still on the ballot, like Castro and Booker(sob). I'll likely vote for Biden/Warren/Buttigieg. For the record, I'll vote for whoever the nominee is.

County Central Committee


These are the voting members of the local party to get to go to the state convention, and vote on things like endorsements. When you here "Local party endorses candidate X", its these people that vote. There are 6-9 slots per Assembly District. I'm in AD 28. The people I know and am going to vote for include:
  • Angelica Ramos
  • Helen Chapman
  • Shay Franco-Clausen
  • James Kim
  • Adrienne Grey
All are long term progressive activists. You get to pick 6, but you don't have to.

US Rep, District 19


Zoe Lofgren. No question. She's a decent, hard working public servant and House Impeachment Manager. I'm so proud to be represented by her.

State Senator


Vote Dave 2020. While Anne Ravel is impressive, former FEC Commissioner during the Obama Administration, Dave Cortese is a great local progressive leader. Support him please.

Member of State Assembly, District 28

Please re-elect Evan Low.

Non-partisan Office and Measures

Judicial


No idea. But all the judges on my ballot are running unopposed.

City Council


Ruben Navarro. A local activist. Dev Davis has been hostile to spending on housing and homelessness, and is a "former" Republican.

State Measure 13

Yes. Look, I don't like spending on bonds any more than the next guy, but this is the only way to get around Prop 13 and to ensure we improve California Schools.   


City Measure E

Yes. This is an added tax on luxury home sales which will be applied to help housing and homelessness in San Jose. Please vote for this.