Sol Festival / Green Party…

Sol Festival / Green Party meeting

On Saturday, Sol Festival took place in MacArthur Park in L.A. while nearby the  California Green Party held a campaigns & candidates meeting. I attended both.

Sol Fest made a big leap this year, from a smaller venue to a much larger one, from two to five stages, and from charging $10 admission to having it free and passing the hat. Not nearly as many people came as they’d hoped. The weather didn’t help. However there’s was much good music – electronica, hip hip, Mexican, African drumming, spoken word, and much more. Plus many vendors. I picked up a Mayan hip hop CD – some serious genre-blending to be sure! – from Xicano Records

The first photo shows one of the Aztec dancers, a troupe who tirelessly appear at progressive and Latino events anywhere in L.A. Their drumming has helped inspire many a protest.

The second photo, also taken at Sol Fest, is Peter Camejo, 2002 California Green Party candidate for Governor and Jim Lafferty, Exec. Dir of the National Lawyers Guild of L.A. They’ve known each other since Vietnam war organizing days.

Which leads me neatly to the Green Party (GP) meeting. This was a state meeting to discuss what to do and who to run in 2004. As you may know, California Governor Gray Davis is almost certain to face a recall election soon. Peter Camejo will formally declare his candidacy as a Green on June 30.

He made the cogent point that California has high taxation, has had several boom years, and should by all rights have a huge surplus.  Instead, we have a 38 billion dollar deficit. He is calling for an independent audit to determine where the money went. He can also demonstrate that the poor in California pay about 11% taxes to the State while the wealthy pay about 7%.

Camejo is a fascinating person. He’s a past Socialist Workers Party candidate for President, and has also run socially responsible mutual funds which outperformed most mutual funds. He is very sharp on financial matters.

The discussions at the meeting focused on whether to run a Green against California Senator Barbara Boxer in 2004, and should we run a Presidential candidate, and if so, who?
Some felt we shouldn’t do anything that might inadvertently re-elect Bush and that Boxer is as liberal as we can expect at this point in history. Some spoke of supporting Kucinich or Dean rather than running a Green.  Camejo opined that Democrat strategists like the DLC want Kucinich, who has no funding, in the race as long as possible to encourage Greens to re-register as Democrats.

Others thought the Gray Davis recall was a bad idea. Camejo said insiders assume Davis is toast and that Sen. Dianne Feinstein will eventually run for Governor in the recall election. (Note: Feinstein yesterday said she has “no interest in running”, a statement which certainly allows her to run if things looks bad for Davis, and is not a flat denial, as the L.A. Times implies this morning).

This meeting clarified these questions for me. Greens should run candidates in all these races because the Democrats, with few exceptions, supported the war, supported the Patriot Act, and voted for more taxes with less services. The GP will be the only party speaking out against this. That’s why we need to run – so an opposition voice will be heard.

Nader would be a great Presidential candidate, as Nader knows the issues, will speak loudly about them, and has international recognition. And that’s what we need.

I’m not undecided on this anymore. Greens should run someone against Boxer, and I support Nader for GP candidate for President.