Dear Congressman Denham

February 24, 2017

Dear Mr. Denham,

I wanted to write to you as the mother of a 15 year old developmentally disabled child about my concerns over HR 610 and how it will eliminate ESSA which provides among other things access to the general education curriculum, access to accommodations on assessments, provisions that require local education agencies to provide evidence-based interventions in schools for children with disabilities.

That’s what I wanted to write to you about until I was shown a letter you wrote to Karina about her request for a face to face town hall. Sir, I am well aware of your February 6 tele-town hall but was sorely disappointed that I could not get through…don’t tell my boss that I was trying to connect while I was on duty please. I am also aware of your Mobile District Offices and was fortunate enough to attend your Manteca MDO with my husband. We were a little disappointed with the less than warm reception we received from the Manteca Chamber of Commerce receptionist as she expressed concerns that we might be there to be rowdy. I do hope that she was relieved to discover that we, as well as the other two constituents of yours, were not as rowdy as she imagined us to be. Yes, I am aware that the MDO in Ceres later that day proved to be perhaps more lively as was the assembly in Modesto on Wednesday, February 15. The thing is Mr. Denham, people are a little bit fired up for good reasons and are frustrated with the feeling that we do not have your ear. I’m sorry but your brief little video mailbags, rare tele-town halls, MDOs, appearances at parades, schools, and such are not enough and we, the people you are supposed to be working for, are becoming a bit rowdy in our disappointments and frustrations. Many of us are not feeling like you are engaging with us.

I would hope that you do have the interests of the Central Valley at heart…ALL of the Central Valley. 52.4% of District 10 did vote for you; but you also are called upon to represent the interests of the other 47.6%. That is your job as a public servant. I’m not too sure what you are implying when you wrote that the Central Valley’s voice not be suppressed by the bullying cries of outraged Bay Area residents who want to impose their opinions and way of life on our community. Honestly, that sounds A LOT like the down with BATs (Bay Area Transfers) talk. Are you anti-BATs? My husband and I moved from the Bay Area in 2003 to Manteca to raise our five children. More than half of the people I interact with day to day here in the Central Valley also at some point moved from the Bay Area. So many of the people living in District 10, like my husband and one of my daughters, commutes daily to work in the Bay Area. Perhaps our Bay Area values might not agree with your values but you still must advocate for our voices too. Of course you would have to listen to them and, at least for me personally, I feel like you are not listening.

I do appreciate your meeting the local Mantecan farmers earlier this week after they prevented the levee south of us from being completely breached. That really was something. Thankfully they were so vigilant. Of course they have been for quite some time as it has been public knowledge for years now that levee improvements are desperately needed. Your visit made for a great photo opportunity and several glowing pieces written by Jason Campbell and Dennis Wyatt in the Manteca Bulletin. I do hope that you will follow through on the promises you made with that media opportunity. The farmers and the citizens of Manteca, BATs included, are counting on it.

When I had the opportunity to meet with your man, Pete Butler, at the Manteca MDO, I did not feel like you were listening. Mr. Butler was nice enough but much of our conversation was him telling us that he could not speak for you. He also reminded us a few times that our opinions, questions and concerns expressed at the Manteca MDO are nothing at all like the reception received at a MDO in Patterson or Newman. Perhaps it’s that Bay Area influence you speak of? Regardless, you still represent us and we deserve your attention too. One thing I repeatedly emphasized while talking to Mr. Butler is you and your office need to do a better job at communicating with us. You need to ANSWER BACK. At the very least you or your staffers can send a postcard, an email or, like POTUS, even a tweet acknowledging communications from your constituents – even the ones whose values don’t agree with yours – ESPECIALLY the ones whose values don’t agree with yours.

Thank you for your time. I could hope to hear from you but honestly given your lack of response to all of my previous communications to your office, you will forgive me if I don’t hold my breath.

Respectfully,

Laura A Scarborough

not a paid protester or anarchist but a nurse, wife, mother and grandmother who lives and works in District 10

nevertheless persisting

I might be entering the acceptance stage. Of course the stages of grief are fluid and somewhat circular rather than linear so acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean one is done. Consider the reality that one never does get over the loss of a loved one. You don’t. You just don’t ever. I tell you this because while I might be accepting the fact of who is currently  sitting in the White House, and on weekends in his imagined Winter/Southern White House, it doesn’t mean that I am okay with this. Dear god, no! Nor am I okay with the idea of a Winter White House or a Southern White House. It’s like fetch. It’s not a thing and it’s never going to happen so stop trying to make it happen. I do, however, like that I can insert a Mean Girls reference here.

Perhaps I am accepting what is America right now, but I won’t lie, it makes me mad. Acceptance mixed with anger. See? The stages of grief are not stages with defined, hard boundaries even when mourning the loss of America.

So I’m accepting resigned and a little mad. Okay, fine. I am a lot mad. As my darling husband explained to our son as I headed off to meet with like-minded folks here in the 209 to discuss plans and strategies to get our Congressman to have a real town meeting and talk about the issues that are important to us – which don’t even come close to what is important to his political BFF in the White House – they woke the Mama-Bear.

That’s right, Mama-Bear is woke and Mama-Bear is going to fight back hard and, thankfully, Mama Bear is not alone.

 

snowflakes, snow days and winter is coming

Somedays can be so hard…like today. Chronic pain, persistent anger that simmers at a low boil and long awaited and prayed-for winter storms take their toll…and today it was just that.

Expressing frustrations socially can help except in this time of political incorrectness; which is basically code for a hall pass for bullying anyone who doesn’t agree with you. Still today was a day where I spoke my mind, because I have a mind dammit and as long as it is my social space and the First Amendment remains, I’m going to express myself. It feels good. It’s even better to bask in the warmth of the like-minded in my own circle. In church we used to refer to it as encouragement. Of course, not everyone I know thinks like me. That’s okay. Most can just agree to disagree because it’s the mature thing to do. Others just walk away, mute, unfollow, scroll past or just ignore – equally mature. I respect these choices. I honor them. I give thanks for each and everyone in my circles who do this. You all are amazing! Mad love and respect for you all because we regularly exchange ideas and challenge one another.

It’s all fine until that one person you know stops by to troll. YES, troll! We all know that one person…or two or maybe more. The ones who have nothing to say when you get that promotion at work, or your kid does something great, or when you wreck your car, or when you are lonely or afraid. But express an opinion that differs from theirs and THEY ARE THERE!

Hey there trolls. How the hell are you? Let’s talk. Engage. Trade ideas. Brag about our kids and grandkids.

Trolls respond as trolls do with shrill screeching, yelling and name-calling.

I’m a snowflake?

Okay fine, I am a snowflake.

You think that will hurt me? Oh bitch please. I have been called much worse…in fact one of you actually was one of those who called me much worse back in the day. I forgave you then. You were just a punky kid then. Today you are an adult, an adult armed with the idea that this Republican administration gives you a pass to insult and name call anyone who does not agree with your opinions, your beliefs, your politics or the Administration that you voted for. Now who is the snowflake, really?

But go ahead, if it makes you feel better about yourself, your opinions, your politics, call me a snowflake.

I’m a snowflake…one tiny snowflake alone, so delicate, so fragile, so ethereal. No wonder you feel so brave with your trolling. And yet, let a billion of them come together through the majestic force of nature, they can screw up a whole city…highways, airports, businesses and schools.

Winter is coming my friends.

So is a snow day.

Get ready.

what comes next

So the March is over and those who participated and the media celebrates. Why not? Reports and interviews over the last few days clearly indicate that we got under the skin of the President and his surrogates. Naturally what would follow would be the opinions expressed by a few elected officials, business owners and even some women who basically feel the peaceful, global movement is not needed because in America, women do have everything they need and if they don’t, it’s their own fault, and marching won’t fix that.

Yeah, we touched a nerve.

Let’s keep standing on that nerve.

I will accept the idea shared by certain lawmakers that a woman who looks like me, a woman who is as old as, or perhaps older than me is safe from pussy grabbing. Looking at your shared images on your office websites and social media accounts, I would offer likewise.

Like the Christys out there, my life is fairly comfortable…now! I now have the good fortune of a good education, a career with good benefits, a cozy home in a nice, suburban neighborhood and a number of other amenities that I take for granted believing them to be necessities rather than luxuries. I am lucky to have a sober, hard-working spouse who loves and respects me as much as he loves and respects his adult daughters and teen-aged son. I live in a bubble now and because I was not raised in such a fortunate, comfortable bubble, I am well aware of that and I give thanks for that reality. It’s good to no longer have to live with domestic violence and abuse, alcoholism and drug abuse, crime and poverty. I give thanks for this life I live now all the time because that which was my childhood has never been my children’s reality, nor my grandchildren’s.

Marching with the colorfully diverse group of peoples through Oakland, high-fiving and hugging law enforcement officers who gamely wore pink pussy hats, I was well aware of the white privilege that protected us. We were a peaceful march; still a loud march that pretty much shut down downtown Oakland. The same was happening everywhere else that day. Take away the white old ladies, middle aged women, young families with children and even the celebrities would it have been the same? Regarding my privilege and the bubble I live in, I can’t help but ponder that.

So what comes next? The Women’s March had a YUGE impact, a BIGLY one. But it is just the beginning. On January 21, over 5 Million of us worldwide and over 1 Million in Washington, D.C., came to march, speak and make our voices heard. But it doesn’t end here – now is not the time to hang up our marching shoes – it’s time to get our friends, family and community together and make history.

EVERY 10 DAYS WE WILL TAKE ACTION ON AN ISSUE WE ALL CARE ABOUT, STARTING TODAY.

The First Action: Write a postcard to your Senators about what matters most to you – and how you’re going to continue to fight for it in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Write down your thoughts. Pour your heart out on any issue that you care about, whether it’s ending gender-based violence, reproductive rights and women’s health, LGBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, immigrant rights, religious freedom, environmental justice or anything else.

If you need some inspiration, check out the Women’s March Unity Principles and #WhyIMarch hashtag.

Overachiever that I am, I not only wrote my Senators (because Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris both are supportive of that which is important to me), but also my Representative, as well as the Senate Majority Leader, Speaker of the House and the man in the White House. Virtually everything that is important to me they are currently intent on tearing down and what over 5 million people like me did this weekend currently bugs the hell out of them.

This action was not hard. It literally took a half hour out of my day and a quick run to my local SaveMart to buy some stamps. Yeah, I recognize that  I’m still protesting in my little White Women bubble. But it’s a start and there is always a starting point. I intend to continue to move forward…onward even.

the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy

…there was one performances this year that stunned me; it sank its hooks in my heart, not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job—it made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.

It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter—someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie; it was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.

Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose. …

Just in case you missed it, I just had to share with you part of Meryl Streep’s speech as she accepted the Cecile B DeMille award. Yes, I know, awards shows are so much more enjoyable without that political crap…not that awards shows have EVER gotten political about things like abortion, the environment, dolphins, the financial crisis, foreign affairs, wars, immigration, LBGT rights, Presidential campaigns, treatment of Native Americans, race, the AIDS crisis…This is nothing new; and as long as we can enjoy our First Amendment Right, I imagine that it will likely continue as long as there is a value or belief or platform to support or protest. People can get pissy when a woman on stage expresses such thoughts saying that she has no right to talk about politics, but she wasn’t talking politics. What Ms Streep was talking about was common decency and respect. Because when the person about to take the position of respected power in our country continues to act like a bully mocking those who oppose him, it does filter down into everybody’s life where people imagine they have permission to do the same thing.

My kid told me pretty much that recently when he expressed how mad he is still over the Presidential election outcome. Some might say he’s just a kid and really shouldn’t have an opinion. But he does. He should. He will be able to vote in the next Presidential election and he plans on voting to get rid of the bully. Perhaps he doesn’t have the words or the physical strength to fight against those who mock people like him but he does understand that he does have the privilege and responsibility to show respect and kindness…even when they are standing right beside him mocking him as he receives an award for respect and kindness. Mom is glaring murdering daggers at those middle school-aged boys until he makes eye contact chiding, Mom, don’t, because in the end, kindness and respect wins…and it will always, as long as we are brave enough to remind each other of our privilege and responsibility.