Minutes of the June 29, 2015 General Membership Meeting

Democratic Club of Claremont
General Membership Meeting
7:00 PM Monday, June 29, 2015
Porter Hall, Pilgrim Place

Introduction: John Forney, Chair, welcomed approximately 30 members and guests. He then recognized Carolee Monroe, honoring her on her birthday with song and flowers.

Program: Merrill Ring announced the meeting as the last one until September. He introduced Lindsey Skrdlant who spoke on "Seeds of Evil: Genetic Engineering and the Patenting of Our Food". Ns. Skrdlant grew up on a farm in Nebraska that grew genetically engineered crops. She is presently working on her PhD in Biology at City of Hope, studying the role of RNA in a medical condition. Ms. Skrdlant's presentation included detailed charts and graphs. She began with background information on the histories of both crop modifications and crop geneticists. Of particular interest was a picture and description of how tumors on plants are used to extract genetic materials that are to be modified.

The second part, "Goals", of genetic engineering listed Herbicide Resistance, Increase Yields, Drought Resistance, Nutritional Enhancement, Virus Resistance, Biofuels and Pest Resistance.

In the third section of her presentation, Ms. Skrydlant discussed "Environmental Effects". As she talked about testing, on animals prior to that on humans, she identified glyphosate as the chemical and its effects being tested for. (Glyphosate is defined in Wikipedia as having been discovered by a Monsanto scientist and given the trade name "Roundup".) One effect of genetic engineering is that of monocultures being developed as fewer types of certain vegetables are now grown: in one instance, where there had been 400 types of a vegetable being grown, now there are just 25. Another effect, herbicide resistance, has resulted in soil depletion and the rise of superweeds. Lastly, a detailed flow chart labeled "Arms Race: 2, 4-D, (2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid - a component of Agent Orange) showed the exposure routes on land and in water through plants and animals.

While discussing the "Economic Effects" of genetic engineering, Ms. Skrdlant began with the monopoly structure that has resulted. Today three companies, Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta, control seeds as compared to fifty years ago when there were hundreds. Another effect is the "Legal Strong Arming" of the biotech industry in which there seems to be a "revolving door" of personnel going from the industry into government positions and back. Also, the companies sue farmers for planting "their" (Monsanto's) seeds without permission when a second generation voluntarily grows. Farmers MUST buy seeds every year.

There are "Labor Abuses" also. The presentation ended with the benefits and risks of genetically engineered crops. A Question/Answer session followed.


Minutes for Approval: MSA (Joe Salas) Unanimously approved were the Minutes of the General Membership meeting of May 25, 2015

President's Message: John spoke of his lobbying in Washington for a carbon tax and his presence outside the Supreme Court when its' decision regarding the Affordable Care Act was handed down. The Texas decision regarding redistricting was also noted. He told of Congresswoman Chu and her staff supporting environmental issues. Later in the meeting John shared that cap and trade does not work; there was no pollution reduction last year.

Committee Reports:

FINANCE / Treasurer's Report: Carol Whitson reported a balance of $3,100.00 with dues filtering in.

PROGRAM & ISSUES: Merrill reminded people that the meeting was the last prior to summer recess. He said, that because California is 48th in the nation in funding for education, the Issues Committee is focusing on addressing the situation by (a) an oil severance tax and (b) revision of Prop 13 to separate commercial property from residential for tax purposes. These matters will be addressed through Assemblyman Chris Holden.

MEMBERSHIP: Carol reported that there are now 139 members in good standing with 126 living in the 41st AD.

POLITICAL STRATEGY: Debi Evans is working with others to establish a United Democrats Headquarters East ("UDH East")> By-laws are being written so as to comply with California Democratic Party requirements. A fundraiser to finance the operation is scheduled for the end of August. Our submission of our roster to the CDP will be done electronically. John Burton, current head of the CDP, is retiring and it is strongly possible that Eric Bauman will run for the position.

July 4: Booth, Speakers Corner and Parade Entry:

Booth - Register to Vote forms, DCC memberships, TAIPD book, Candidate swag and materials, Straw poll of Democratic candidates, tattoos

Speakers Corner - Merrill Ring will talk at 1:10 PM on "American Freedom"

Parade: "Grand Issues: What Democrats are Fighting For" Honoring John Forney, Eve Mefferd, Anthony Portantino, Chuck Farritor and Jim Stripling"

Los Angeles County Democratic Party Booth at the LA County Fair: Volunteers are needed. Fair runs September 4-27; Claremont Day is Thursday, Sept. 17

Los Angeles County Central Committee and Claremont Reports: Bob Gerecke said that two DCC members, Joe Salas and Zephyr Tate-Mann, have been elected to the California Democratic State Executive Board. The committee has taken positions: opposing TPP and the Ryan-Hatch TPP/FastTrack while supporting these: Elizabeth Warren's Trade Transparency Act; Ted Liu's Climate Solutions 2015 and his bill regarding sexual orientation therapy; the State's paying for close vote recounts; the issuing of registration to vote with a CDL or California ID card; vote by mail forms being sent to every voter; vaccination requirements for school enrollment and an end of life option. Resolutions passed included one ending loopholes in California's CEQA/environmental regulations and two regarding beach access in Malibu and mansionization of Sullivan Canyon. He distributed copies of "Make It Fair" re. Prop 13.

Joe Salas introduced Emily Zheng, an Arcadia High School graduate now admitted to Pomona College, who was a Young Democrat of the Year. Joe also said that the November ballot would have an initiative in support of a new police station for Claremont. The Republican candidate for State Senate District 25 will be Mike Antonovich.


Merrill Ring reminded everyone that the book he has edited, "Pithy Progressive Politics" is available through Amazon and at our booth on July 4th.

  • Saturday, October 24 - DCC booth at Village Venture
  • Saturday, December 5 - DCC Annual Holiday Party at the Napier Center

Other Organizations:

  • Fundraiser for Anthony Portantino changed to August

Adjourn: The meeting adjourned at 8:50 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Carolee Monroe, Recording Secretary