How did I end up in Eric Garcetti’s kitchen? : LA Mayors Race part 2

 Does this campaign make my butt look big? No, because when you canvas you walk! More about one of my latest part-time “jobs”.

That's my kind of mayor!

So, there are several reasons why I ended up in Eric Garcetti’s kitchen ( see blog post from a few days ago…) One is there is a grounded quality to him and a clear integrity.  When Campanile announced it was closing Eric wrote to me and Mark .  It was a personal note and I don’t want to share it, but to say it was appreciated.

Another reason…Several weeks ago I spoke to Eric at a another gathering of supporters and or would be supporters.  This was a bunch of people who are in charter schools, like we are. I think it’s the 7th or 8th time I’ve heard him speak,  yet I still enjoy hearing him speak.  I feel that he can lead LA into the next phase with dynamism, intelligence, and imagination.

He and his wife have adopted a baby girl and after speaking to the crowd at this convocation he was rushing out to do the “night duty”, that’s another reason.

Amy Wakeland in my dining room addressing volunteers about how to canvas

Another reason I love the guy is his choice of spouse.  No small aside is his wife Amy Wakeland.  She is a strong, confident, whip smart woman.  They met when they were both Rhodes Scholars .  However, she is also down to earth and will envelope friends in a warm hug.  No job is too small for her, no detail is missed.  One day my sister and I were going out to canvas for Eric and she told us if a voter had more questions get their number and she will call them.  We thought for a second she was kidding.  She was not, and she does.

The other week I hosted a canvassing party at our house.  The carrot was that Mark Peel would be making his famous grilled cheese sandwiches for volunteers.  It’s hard to get people to go knock on strangers doors and ask them to vote for your guy, but the food did it.  We had a good crowd and there was Amy leading the troops with her daughter crawling nearby. Classic strong working mom. She separated the tiny, swallowable toys out of the toy basket I had presented, changes a diaper and then told 30 people how to hit the bricks to get her husband elected with aplomb.  Fired up, I canvassed while my sister Cecily watched my kids.

Now, it’s not all work supporting a candidate.  The other week my friend and I went to a concert Moby gave to raise money for Eric’s campaign.  Jimmy Kimmel hosted. Will Ferrel made a funny video.    Last week I went to a Chefs for Garcetti event.  This time, my husband wasn’t one of them, but lots of other good restaurants participated with tasty dishes, Little Fork, Black Market and wine from Silver Lake Wine. I went stag, but hailed Gil Garcetti down to take a picture with me at their red carpet meets photo booth set up.  Gil is Eric’s father and former District Attorney of LA ( the ’90’s, OJ, yeah him).  Sweet guy, now he is an art photographer.  He has been making cold calls to voters on his sons behalf.  

“Aren’t people surprised that you are calling them?” I asked.

“Sometimes they think it’s a robo call.  One woman asked me to prove it.” He chuckled.  I didn’t ask how, but wondered what he would say to prove he is really Gil Garcetti.  Tell the lady where Eric has a birth mark?

Since I’ve been pounding the pavement for Garcetti for Mayor  I get asked “how can you do this with kids?” Like everything else when you are a parent the answer is two-fold 1) selectively, can’t go to every event and 2) it takes a village.

Direct voter contact is proven to be effective in getting out the vote.  A couple of times Amy invited me and some other mom supporters, to come to her house. She had a sitter there for her daughter so they would watch my kids as well.  Vivien and Rex had a great time hanging out.  I was touched by being so easily welcomed into their home, even if  I was there to help.

One day, a few other supporters were sitting in the front room or kitchen.  I sat at the counter in the kitchen so I could charge my phone while I called potential voters.  Eric was in between events and he was working around us. There is little difference between the “on” side to Eric and the at home eating left overs out of his fridge. “Do you want some he asked?” as I sat at his kitchen counter dialing voters.  A rare time I didn’t take food that was proffered, but I had gassed up before hand.  Whether I speak to him casually as a friend or hear him address a crowd he has a light that attracts people like the proverbial moth.

I heard Eric making his own calls and there was no cynicism as he moved from donor support, or reaching out to a community leader.  A few times I was stymied by an inquiry on the phone.  Sometimes you reach thoughtful people who want  deeper answers to the questions than I can provide.

“Well, Joyce, if you care about the environment you should know Eric was endorsed by the Sierra Club.”  But, she had more detailed question and “did I mention how nice he was to my mother?”  Didn’t seem like it would cut it, though I thought it should.    I put my hand over the phone,

“Eric, can you talk to Joyce, she is an environmentalist.”  He took the phone from me and rattled off a bunch of things he has done.   Nation’s widest-reaching green building ordinance, the nation’s largest local clean water initiative, and legislation leading to the nation’s largest solar rooftop program, etc.   He spent some time with her.  “Can I count on you for support?” he said finally.  “Thank you Joyce.”

When he hung up I said, “you are the closer!”  I said, wait, we gotta take a picture of this.  So we recreated the calling.  THAT is how I ended up in Eric Garcetti’s kitchen. 

 When we left he gave Rex and Vivien campaign buttons.

Rex was making a fierce face for canvassing, Viv takes a lighter approach

Sarah of MomsLA asked if I would interview him for a video for their site.  We got a few minutes as he rushed between engagements.  The street sound is not ideal, but here is some of it.  I’m going to try a pass at my own edit later, but Sarah did well to get this together.

Rex told me today that “Eric Garcetti is going to win.”  It was even cuter because we weren’t even talking about the election.  I was pouring chocolate milk.

I really hope Eric Garcetti wins the primary and the run off in May.  I think it would be great for Los Angeles. It’s been great to be part of the campaign and to share with my children what it is like to be involved in local politics like I did when I was growing up.  Well, except for hating some of your neighbors who didn’t support your dad, they can miss that part.

Los Angeles Vote on March 5th Tuesday.  Seriously

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving for college (sponsored)

As frequent coolmom readers may know my family had our savings stolen from us thanks to Madoff, Stanley Chais and other cronies.  My entire retirement, forced to sell our home and Vivien’s and my step kids college fund vanished.  Nothing like having your future put in jeopardy to focus the mind.  After that disaster I have become far more active and alert to the issue of building a nest egg.  As we all know, in the economy that might mean putting change in your kids piggy bank. And as you may have heard college costs are akin to the space program, so some planning is in order

Recently, a bunch of So. Cal bloggers converged in my favorite restaurant, Campanile, natch, to discuss saving for college.  As the wine flowed ( wine, it should be the official drink of motherhood) we discovered that the mom bloggers went from “What is a 529?” to a the super savvy “why is California one of only 13 states in the union that doesn’t give a tax incentive for 529’s?”

MY POV at dinner, lady on the right is the smarty pants who runs Scholarshare, far left always fun Sarah from MomsLA, and my new fave Kristen from Rage against the mini van. My wine glass at bottom of frame.  Dry, white, with minerality.

The dinner was sponsored by Scholarshare.  This is the State of California’s 529.  Each state has them, but only one per state.  If you are in the “what’s a 529″ camp think of it as a 401k for children.  The money grows tax free until your child goes to college, or a trade school, not for a motor cycle.  Anyone can contribute at anytime… so if you would rather grandma not buy another Barbie for your daughter, ask her to put that money in the fund.  The reason Scholarshare took us out to dinner so we ( the various bloggers) would write about it is this:

1) they just started with a new fund. , TIAA-CREF which they are fired up about.

2) they have lowered their limit for entry.  To start get into their fund one only has to start with $25.

3) Contest!  Scholarshare is having a contest on Facebook till Sept 26th.  They want people to “tell their story” about saving for college.  Winners are chosen at random so if you don’t have a super sad sack story, it’s cool, you still have a chance. Two winners will get $1,529 ( get it, 529, get it?) for their kids, you guessed it, 529.

4) They have lowered their fees.  Since we have been rebuilding our financial selves Mark and I have been automatically deducting money from our account for our little kids into a 529 from a different state.  Thumbs up for that plan as I don’t count that money in my monthly budget, so I don’t miss it.  However, after this dinner I did think …hmmm I need to check my fees on our 529. (according to Scholarshare The annual asset based management fees now range from 0.18 percent to 0.62 percent, vs. 0.25 percent to 1.06 percent with old plan).   A child can have more than one 529 so theoretically I could open one with Scholarshare with the State of California and even keep the one in the other state.  I won’t say which one it is, but it rhymes with Ball Sacka.

Here is when I put the wine glass down and really started paying attention: I asked the well spoken rep from Sacramento what is in it for the State of California to get the word out about a fund that they don’t make money on? She said… wait for it… because they know that if people have 529’s they will cost the State less money. If people don’t save they are shelling out for more grants and loans.  Now, we know how bankrupt frugal this and other states are, and if their pencil pushers have crunched the numbers and figured 529’s offset their load they are probably right ( then I picked up the glass again)

Here I am listening, being interested and calculating in my head.

On that last shoot I did with my kids ( previous post) I tried to buck my kids up by telling them they were putting money towards college.  That does help Vivien hit her mark, but Rex countered in a sing song voice, “mommy, I’m not going to college.”  As he shoved red vines in his mouth taken from the craft services table (craft service is Hollywood for junk food) I’m going to chalk up his negative attitude about college to him missing Oliver.  However, if my 3 and half year old still feels like that in 14 and 1/2 years  ( oh, that is going to go fast) he can take the dough and go to junior college, carpenter school or I can give it to Vivien for her education.  No buying tattoos with this money.

No, not a motorcycle.

So, check out the plan, the contest also HERE.. sidebar… Scholarshare is sponsoring a talk October 17th that I am very interested in.  UCLA’s Dr. Dan Siegel will speak on “12 strategies to nurture your child’s developing mind”. I’ve read one of his books and got a lot out of it.