Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Political Posers

Political Posers
By Robyn Ritter Simon

SIMON SAYS - It will come as no shock to readers that candidates seeking elected office or even those already in office and running for re-election, pander to constituents for votes and money. No revelation here, that’s for sure. But what makes the offense even more egregious is when a candidate is an out and out poser.

A poser is a candidate who bounces from one constituent group to the next saying how much they support that group and its mission, yet when given an opportunity to advance the organization’s agenda, the candidate is nowhere to be found. Give it a rest political poser; we know what’s up with your behavior.

Let me elaborate.

Let’s take a look at some women candidates and elected leaders who have been posing, resulting in a disturbing scenario brewing at LA City Hall. Their posing has sadly contributed to the reality that after next year we may not have one single woman serving on the LA City Council. You say what!?

Electing more women has been a passion of mine for a lifetime. I have a demonstrated track record of recruiting, training, and supporting women to run and then sticking with them the entire way, regardless of their chances of winning. I’m sometimes loyal to a fault. I have run for political office in my hometown of Los Angeles twice and know exactly who’s been truthful and who is a poser.

As an active Board member of the National Women’s Political Caucus, an organization striving to reach 50/50 by the year 2020 (50 percent representation by women and men by 2020) I am heavily submerged in encouraging women to run and I put my money and time behind them if I believe they are a formidable candidate who meets my bottom line issues. Yet, sadly, this is not always true for my fellow sisters who have been elected and who don’t reciprocate the love to those who helped propel them into office. So what gives?

This past weekend I received a phone call from a recently elected US Congresswoman from the LA area asking me for money and my support. Before I hit the delete button I had to chuckle at how out of touch this woman is with her own past conduct. I hope Washington is treating her well, because her inaction to cultivate a woman to replace her has contributed to us potentially not having one woman out of fifteen council members fill the LA City Council horseshoe come 2013.

When I was a candidate for the Los Angeles City Council (5th District) this very same woman barely met with me let alone lend her endorsement, even though I had been endorsed by every prominent women’s organization in the community – the same organizations that had endorsed and stood by her all these years. When she was a candidate she would attend the NWPC endorsement meetings and pontificate about how we need more women in public office, yet when given a chance to ensure that our LA City Council would not be left absent of a single woman, she chose not to engage.

She of course is entitled to support whomever she chooses, but she should know that her inaction has consequences. Several trips to the community that has helped put her in office with her hand out, without reciprocating the love, even if it means using up some of her political capital along the way, has left many of us who work hard to elect qualified women, shaking our heads with disbelief.

It should be offensive, not just to women, but to all Angeleno’s that not since 1953 when Roz Wyman was first elected to the Council that we may not have a single woman serving on this governing Board. How did this happen? Well, several of the women who have occupied a seat there recently share the blame in this sad commentary. They too will face consequences as they ramp up for their next campaign and push back from stalwart women leaders who are tired of financing campaigns to not see their goal of more women in office realized.

If you truly support the mission of organizations such as NWPC, which believe that it’s good public policy to include women’s voices at every level of government, then do what it takes to ensure this happens. Identify a woman in your community, cultivate her, encourage her, offer her the training necessary for assembling a competitive campaign, raise her money, support her and see her through to the finish line. That’s what true leaders do who support those people and groups who have been there for them when they were candidates.

A candidate and an elected official’s inaction have consequences sometimes greater than their actions. So for me and my like minded friends, we’ve been hitting the delete button to demonstrate we don’t support political posers, male or female.

Robyn Ritter Simon is a long time NWPC LA Westside Board Director. She ran for Los Angeles City Council, 5th District, in 2001 and again in 2009. She is a champion for ensuring more women serve in public office and spends her time actively supporting candidates who meet her bottom line issues. She is a sought after empowerment speaker encouraging young girls and women to engage more in the political arena. She was nominated as a Forward Thinker by the think tank, California Forward. She currently works with LA's Best in City Hall. This post reposted from 2/17/12 "RRS Birthday Blog"

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why Women Don't Run

Why Women Don't Run
By Robyn Ritter Simon

Did you read the article in the Los Angeles Times about why so few women run for public office? Here's my response to the writer who wrote the article:

Greetings Kate,

Thanks for writing about an issue near and dear to me. As a former candidate for the Los Angeles City Council in 2001 & 2009 (5th District), I am one of the brave women who did put it all on the line to run for an office I believed I could bring value to. As a lifelong resident of Los Angeles, an active community member, a parent, and a passionate champion of more women in office, I applaud you for covering what our political landscape will sadly look like come 2013.

All the women you spoke with and had comment in your article are friends, colleagues and supporters of mine. I have spent a dozen years involved with and serving as a Board member with theNational Women’s Political Caucus,a group committed to recruiting, training and supporting more women to run for office. The obstacles are huge for a candidate running in Los Angeles, money probably being the most challenging. Second, is that women still carry the primary responsibility of their families and are unwilling to jeopardize their family for the grueling scrutiny that accompanies a candidate on the campaign tail. I might also point out, that women don’t always support other women and it’s terribly frustrating.

Several of the women you quoted or write about in your article are in office because the women’s community backed them wholeheartedly, and not because they were female, but because they were the best candidates in their respective races. However, many of them do not stay true to the core values that helped elect them which included a commitment to more women in office. They do not mentor women in their communities to fill the pipeline when they move on, thus leaving a void when a seat becomes available. It is a recurring theme and one that now presents us with the possibility of no women on the LA City Council, a town that prides itself on being inclusive and progressive. Where will my voice be on the council?

NWPC’s mission is 50/50 by 2020, 50% men, 50% women representation in all branches of government by the year 2020. We will not achieve this goal at the rate we are progressing. This being said, I will continue working tirelessly to support women candidates with my energy, experience, money and encouragement that while the road may be brutal, and it is, the outcome of having her voice in the political dialogue, is well worth it.

Thanks again for writing an article that speaks volumes to me.

Robyn Ritter Simon is a long time NWPC LA Westside Board Director. She ran for Los Angeles City Council, 5th District, in 2001 and again in 2009. She is a champion for ensuring more women serve in public office and spends her time actively supporting candidates who meet her bottom line issues. She is a sought after empowerment speaker encouraging young girls and women to engage more in the political arena. She was nominated as a Forward Thinker by the think tank, California Forward. She currently works with LA's Best in City Hall. This post reposted from "RRS Birthday Blog

Friday, July 19, 2013

When women succeed, so does America

Time to move beyond 'Mad Men' era for working women
By Nancy Pelosi and Rosa DeLauro , Special to CNN updated 7:25 AM EDT, Fri July 19, 2013

(CNN) -- There is compelling evidence that the economic security of women and their families is more fragile today than ever.
Women are one-half of the nation's workforce, yet disparities in pay, the shrinking of the public sector and stagnant wages have left too many women and families on the losing end of our nation's economic recovery.

Nearly two-thirds of all minimum wage workers are women. The poverty rate among women is as high as it has been in 17 years. Women are more likely to file for bankruptcy and have less retirement savings. Women have rushed to get more education and training, but student debt has skyrocketed. Five decades after the Equal Pay Act, women still make just 77 cents for every dollar men make for the same job, an average real difference of $11,000 a year. Unmarried women -- single, widowed or divorced -- are the most economically insecure.
These disparities persist for many reasons.
Women and their families are struggling financially.

Too many women face financial pressures simply because of outdated policies and a "Mad Men" view of the world that constrain opportunities for women's full participation in our economy. Our country's policies simply do not reflect the way families live today, with both parents in the workforce and more single-parent households than ever. A second income is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity.

For far too long, Washington has been silent on these issues. It's time for an agenda that addresses the economic instability of women and their families.
This week, House Democrats announced an economic agenda for America's women and families.

It recognizes a simple fact: When women succeed, America succeeds. It reflects the same spirit advanced 165 years ago at the first Women's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York, where American women began their quest for equal rights and equal opportunity.
House Democrats' agenda -- "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds: An Economic Agenda for Women and Families" -- stands on the shoulders of what was accomplished at at Seneca Falls and what was advanced by activists in every generation by addressing the economic challenges facing women and families in our time.

Our agenda promotes policies that raise wages and ensure pay equity in the workplace. It allows working parents to support their families, succeed in school and at the office, and care for their children.

Achieving good and equal pay for women is essential.

We must enact paycheck fairness legislation to ensure women get paid what they deserve and put more money in the pockets of working women and their families. We must expand access to job training and education assistance so that working women can obtain better-paying jobs in the future. We must do more to support women-owned businesses and nurture entrepreneurship by providing more access to capital.
Today, women play an expanded role in the workforce, in businesses small and large, and in our homes as primary breadwinners.

Given this reality, we need policies that allow a better work and family balance for all workers, not just a select few at the top of the income ladder. The Democrats' agenda increases access to paid sick leave, expanding the Family Medical Leave Act and protecting pregnant workers and new mothers so that they can't be fired or demoted.
The high cost of child care is another economic barrier for working families, forcing too many to make a near-impossible choice between low-quality child care or forgoing wages to stay home to care for their children.

That's why we must increase access to affordable, quality child care. One key step forward should be to provide all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds with access to high-quality preschool, as proposed by President Barack Obama.Congress must also take steps to support early Head Start and child care partnerships and expand existing child and child care tax credits.

Our pro-family agenda will help strengthen the middle class, grow our economy and provide a brighter future for the next generation.

Democrats have long led the way to address the health and economic security of women and families -- from the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Act to our continued fight to strengthen and protect Social Security and Medicare. Our women and families economic agenda is the next step in our mission to expand opportunity for all Americans.

American women and their families are at an economic crossroads. We want them to succeed, not sink. That is why every chance we get we will call for passage of the policies necessary to meet the economic needs of America's women and families today, to help them succeed so America will succeed.

Editor's note: Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House, is the House Democratic Leader. Rosa DeLauro is a U.S. representative from Connecticut.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 27 - Register Now

Women: Organized to Win's Inaugural Women's Summit

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California is the latest supporter to sign on with Women: Organized to Win California PAC and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia to present the inaugural Women’s Summit later this month. The event is aimed at providing resources and information to progressive women who are considering running for the California State Legislature beginning in 2014.

 “We are so pleased to have prominent organizations support our efforts,” said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who is co-presenting the Summit. “When women run for and are elected to public office, women’s issues receive the attention they deserve. This Women’s Summit should be a high priority for anyone concerned with women’s issues.”

Additional Summit supporters include HOPE Political Action Committee (, the state’s only political network that raises campaign contributions specifically to assist Latinas running for public office.

A series of talks and panel discussions focused on the special needs of women candidates is being held during the daylong Summit that is taking place on the campus of Cerritos College July 27. There will be sessions tailored to women who are running for office and another track focused on women still in the exploration stage.

The California State Legislature is comprised of less than 30 percent women, even though the state’s population is majority female. In fact, the number of women in the state legislature is on the decline. There are just 21 women in the state assembly today, compared to 25 in 2003.

For more information and to register for the Women’s Summit, visit the Women: Organized to Win website at or call 323.920.5804.

The mission of Women: Organized to Win ( is to elect progressive women to the California State Legislature. We work in partnership with other organizations that share similar goals, focusing our efforts on target districts where we can help women candidates with the tools to win and mentoring to guide them on the path to victory.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Women to L.A. City Hall: Remember us?

Deplorably, as of today, there is not a single elected woman in Los Angeles city government.

By Lindsay Bubar and Sandra Fluke
4:00 PM PDT, July 14, 2013 | LA TIMES

At the dawn of this nation, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband urging that the Continental Congress "remember the ladies" as the men began to govern. Since there were no female elected leaders at the time, women had little choice but to rely on men to make their voices heard.

In 1953, Rosalind "Roz" Wyman became only the second woman elected to serve on the L.A. City Council. In 1915, Estelle Lawton Lindsey became the first. (Los Angeles Times / June 9, 1999)

In Los Angeles, it wasn't until 139 years after Adams' letter that the first woman was elected to the City Council, but since that time many strong, independent women have served on that body.
Now, women must once again ask the city's leaders to "remember the ladies" because, deplorably, there is not a single elected woman in Los Angeles city government.

In 1915, Estelle Lawton Lindsey became the first woman to be elected to the Los Angeles City Council. She brought a unique perspective to the table, focusing on issues the all-male council had never championed. She prioritized public health, greater services for impoverished women and the appointment of female officers to investigate crimes against women. She campaigned for better facilities for female prisoners.

Lindsey was, in short, a perfect example of how the conversation changes when women have a seat at the table, though she often found herself, as she once wrote, "on the firing line for the woman's cause."
It wasn't until 1953 that another woman was elected to serve on the council: Roz Wyman. Many other women have followed in her footsteps since, and in the 1990s, there was a period in which five women served on the City Council at the same time. Women still held only one-third of the seats, but in comparison to today, that seems like a victory. The last non-incumbent woman to be elected to the council was more than a decade ago, in 2001.

On July 23, this will change when voters in Council District 6 will choose between two women in a runoff election to fill the seat vacated by Tony Cardenas when he was elected to Congress. But one woman among 14 men hardly feels like a representative government, and many committees, where policy priorities are set, will still be uniformly male.

Voting decisions shouldn't be made simply on the basis of gender, but as we have seen again and again since Lindsey took office in 1915, the perspectives women bring to the table are unique and critically important to the future of a city made up of 54% women and girls.

Until things change, it will be more crucial than ever that each elected official remember his responsibility to represent 100% of the people in his district. With no women on the council, it is critical that the men ensure that the voices of women and girls are heard.

Council members need to prioritize issues that disproportionately affect women, including pay parity, human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault. It's important that they consider, even when debating seemingly neutral policies, how their actions will affect women, and that they collaborate with the women of their districts. They need to make a conscious effort to build diverse staffs where women are equally represented. Perhaps most important, they need to recruit, mentor and support women to replace them when their terms are up, so that in years to come, women will have more secure seats at the table.

Abigail Adams went on to write, "If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation."

We aren't calling for open rebellion or lawlessness. However, we do remind the men of the City Council that the women of Los Angeles are watching — and unlike in 1776, now we vote.

Lindsay Bubar is director of political action and former president of the National Women's Political Caucus Los Angeles Westside. Sandra Fluke is a Los Angeles-based attorney working on social justice issues.

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