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Coastal Justice for All! Hollister Ranch #FreetheBeach

Coastal justice along the California beach and coastal zone is at stake at Hollister Ranch. Failure to provide access disproportionately harms people who are of color, Native American, low income, disabled, or older, in violation of equal access, environmental justice, antidiscrimination, and democratic participation protections under state law. Our Free the Beach! report below analyzes coastal justice for all.

As Spencer Robins writes, “A developing body of research shows that access to open space is a vital part of human health and wellbeing. And it’s not evenly distributed; the people most often denied the benefits of forests and mountains and beaches are [. . . ] already marginalized and oppressed. Increasingly, coastal experts and advocates are arguing that planning in cases like Hollister needs to account for the economic, social, and practical barriers that prevent so many people from being able to enjoy their right to the beach [ . . . ] Robert García is an environmental and civil rights lawyer, director of The City Project, and advocate for what he calls ‘coastal justice’: a coastal movement recognizing ‘access to the coastal zone is about equal justice and human dignity and freedom,’ in García’s words. Coastal justice addresses the history of racial and economic oppression behind the unequal coastal access we see today. [The Gaviota Coastal Trail Alliance] includes in its legal briefs arguments based on environmental justice principles — arguments that coastal advocates have not typically used, despite a 2016 requirement for the Coastal Commission to consider environmental justice in its decisions [ . . . ] The Alliance’s most recent brief in the case describes the ‘legacy and pattern of discriminatory public and private beach, land use, and housing policies’ that have prevented low-income people and people of color from sharing in the benefits of a public coast.” Read The Long Battle over Coastal Justice at Hollister Ranch (KCET/Link 2018).

The 2004 National Parks Service study of the Gaviota Coast (2004) provides fair, fiscally responsible, and environmentally and economically sound alternatives for access.

Read our report Free the Beach! Coastal Access, Equal Justice, and Hollister Ranch (2018) by California LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), GreenLatinos, Robert Bracamontes, and The City Project, and our public comments to the California Coastal Commission (Dec. 13, 2018).

California LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens
Robert Bracamontes (Bob Black Crow, Yu-va’-tal ‘A’lla-mal, Acjachemen Nation, Juaneno Tribe) &
The City Project

SDNY Sentencing Memo against Michael Cohen is a best practice of understated eloquence and legal and moral clarity. Read it for yourself here.

The Government’s Sentencing Memorandum in the prosecution of Michael Cohen is a best practice of understated eloquence and legal and moral clarity. The Memo analyzes the facts, the law, the crimes, and why Cohen’s behavior is morally wrong. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York submitted the Memo by the Acting United States Attorney, Robert Khuzami – whom Trump appointed – and four Assistant United States Attorneys.

The Memo, compelling in its simplicity, explains that Cohen pled guilty to four crimes:

(1) Cohen evaded $1.4 million in taxes due to the United States.

(2) Cohen made false statements to banks to obtain loans.

(3) Cohen made illegal campaign contributions, paying off two women who claimed to have had an affair with Trump. Cohen made the two payments with the intent to influence the 2016 election, acting in coordination with and at the direction of Trump. As a result of Cohen’s actions, neither woman spoke to the press before the election.

(4) Cohen made false statements to Congress.

Cohen’s actions are illegal, morally wrong, and undermine faith in democracy and the rule of law, according to the Memo:

“While many [people] who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with [Trump]. In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election. [P]ublic cynicism may arise when individuals like Cohen act as if the political process belongs to the rich and powerful.”

“Taken together, these offenses reveal a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy. His motivation to do so was not borne from naiveté, carelessness, misplaced loyalty, or political ideology. Rather, these were knowing and calculated acts – acts Cohen executed in order to profit personally, build his own power, and enhance his level of influence. The nature and seriousness of each of Cohen’s crimes warrant a substantial sentence in this case. The need for the sentence to promote respect for the law and to afford adequate deterrence further supports imposition of a significant sentence of imprisonment.”

Many commentators are explaining the Memo in print, on television and radio, and in social media. The Memo speaks for itself, and we recommend that you read it yourself. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. The following is a summary of the Memo, in the language of the Memo. (This summary does not show omitted text and citations. Insertions are marked in [brackets].)

The SDNY carries on the highest traditions of fierce independence, excellence, and justice.

Robert García [Disclosure: I served as an AUSA in the SDNY as a federal prosecutor from 1983-87 under John Martin and Rudy Giuliani.

*  *  *


Cohen, an attorney and businessman, committed four distinct federal crimes over a period of several years. He was motivated to do so by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends.

  1. Cohen’s Offense Conduct

Cohen committed four separate and serious crimes over the course of several years. These crimes – willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.

[Until Cohen started working for Trump in 2007], Cohen earned approximately $75,000 per year.

[Beginning in 2007, Cohen] earned approximately $500,000 per year [as] “Executive Vice President” and “Special Counsel” [at] a Manhattan-based real estate company (“the Company”) [owned by Trump].

In January 2017, Cohen formally left the Company and began holding himself out as the “personal attorney” to [Trump], who at that point had become the President of the United States.

  1. Cohen’s Willful Tax Evasion

Between tax years 2012 and 2016, Cohen evaded taxes by failing to report more than $4 million in income to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), which resulted in the avoidance of more than $1.4 million due to the United States.

Cohen’s submission to the Probation Department asserted that “all relevant bank records were provided annually by Cohen to [his accountant] for the relevant years.” Cohen’s assertions are simply false.

  1. Cohen’s False Statements to Financial Institutions

In December 2015, Cohen contacted a bank (“Bank-3”) to apply for a home equity line of credit. In his application, Cohen made false statements about his net worth and monthly expenses. Specifically, Cohen failed to disclose more than $20 million in debt he owed to another bank (“Bank-2”), and also materially understated his monthly expenses to Bank-3 by omitting at least $70,000 in monthly interest payments due to Bank-2 on that debt. These statements were the latest in a series of false statements Cohen made to financial institutions in connection with credit applications.

  1. Cohen’s Illegal Campaign Contributions

On approximately June 16, 2015, [Trump], for whom Cohen worked at the time, began an ultimately successful campaign for President of the United States. Cohen had no formal title with the campaign, but had a campaign email address, and, at various times advised the campaign, including on matters of interest to the press. Cohen also made media appearances as a surrogate and supporter of [Trump].

During the campaign, Cohen played a central role in two similar schemes to purchase the rights to stories – each from women who claimed to have had an affair with Individual-1 – so as to suppress the stories and thereby prevent them from influencing the election. With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election. In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of [Trump]. As a result of Cohen’s actions, neither woman spoke to the press prior to the election.

  1. Cohen’s False Statements to Congress

Cohen also deliberately made false statements to the Congress. The offense conduct regarding Cohen’s false statements in set forth in the sentencing submission being filed by the [Office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller (“SCO”) in its separate case against Cohen].

  1. Cohen’s Meetings with Law Enforcement

Cohen repeatedly declined to provide full information about the scope of any additional criminal conduct in which he may have engaged or had knowledge. However, this Office acknowledges and agrees that Cohen’s provision of information to the SCO in connection with its investigation is a mitigating factor that the Court should consider in imposing sentence. Indeed, Cohen’s provision of information to the SCO is the reason that this Office is not seeking a Guidelines sentence here, but rather is acknowledging that a modest variance is appropriate.

[A]ny suggestion by Cohen that his meetings with law enforcement reflect a selfless and unprompted about-face are overstated.

[I]n order to successfully cooperate with this Office, witnesses must undergo full debriefings that encompass their entire criminal history, as well as any and all information they possess about crimes committed by both themselves and others. This process permits the Office to fully assess the candor, culpability, and complications attendant to any potential cooperator, and results in cooperating witnesses who, having accepted full responsibility for any and all misconduct, are credible to law enforcement and, hopefully, to judges and juries. Cohen affirmatively chose not to pursue this process. Cohen’s efforts thus fell well short of cooperation, as that term is properly used in this District.

For this reason, Cohen is not being offered a cooperation agreement.

A Substantial Term of Imprisonment Is Warranted.

[T]he nature and seriousness of the offenses and the need to promote respect for the law and afford adequate deterrence are especially weighty considerations [in favor of a substantial prison term.]

  1. The Nature and Seriousness of the Offenses

Cohen managed to commit a panoply of serious crimes, all while holding himself out as a licensed attorney and upstanding member of the bar. His offenses strike at several pillars of our society and system of government: the payment of taxes; transparent and fair elections; and truthfulness before government and in business.

While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with [Trump]. In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.

The sentence imposed should reflect the seriousness of Cohen’s brazen violations of the election laws and attempt to counter the public cynicism that may arise when individuals like Cohen act as if the political process belongs to the rich and powerful.

Cohen’s submission suggests that this was but a brief error in judgment. Not so. Cohen knew exactly where the line was, and he chose deliberately and repeatedly to cross it.

Taken together, these offenses reveal a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy. His motivation to do so was not borne from naiveté, carelessness, misplaced loyalty, or political ideology. Rather, these were knowing and calculated acts – acts Cohen executed in order to profit personally, build his own power, and enhance his level of influence. The nature and seriousness of each of Cohen’s crimes warrant a substantial sentence in this case.

  1. The Need to Promote Respect for the Law and to Afford Adequate Deterrence

The need for the sentence to promote respect for the law and to afford adequate deterrence further supports imposition of a significant sentence of imprisonment.

In sum, the nature of Cohen’s conduct underscores the need for a substantial period of incarceration as a means both to promote respect for the law and to deter future abuses by other individuals seeking improperly to influence the electoral process, evade taxes, or lie to financial institutions. Cohen’s crimes are particularly serious because they were committed on the eve of a Presidential election, and they were intended to affect that election.

Every defendant in every criminal case has the right to fight the charges against him. But where, as here, the evidence of their guilt is overwhelming, defendants often make the choice to plead guilty. After cheating the IRS for years, lying to banks and to Congress, and seeking to criminally influence the Presidential election, Cohen’s decision to plead guilty – rather than seek a pardon for his manifold crimes – does not make him a hero.

Respectfully submitted,

Acting United States Attorney
Andrea M. Griswold

Rachel Maimin
Thomas McKay
By: Nicolas Roos
Assistant United States Attorneys

*  *  *

The complete Sentencing Memorandum, with salient points highlighted in yellow by The City Project, is available here. The original Memo as filed without highlights is available here.












Using Soccer as an Organizing Tool by and for the People, Not the Money

The City Project and Anahuak Youth Sports Association use soccer as an organizing tool to bring people together to create the kind of community where they want to live and raise children, reflecting the value of soccer in immigrant communities.

The decision to hold the Latin American Libertadores Cup Super Final between River Plate and Boca Juniors in Madridis a pendejada of World Cup proportion. The decision reflects what professional sports have become: “an entertainment complex squabbled over by fiefs and autocrats, a way of exerting soft power and measuring importance that is worth almost any price, a circus paid for in bread.” So much for the love of the game.

“But what they will get will be a pale imitation, a simulacrum, designed by executives in boardrooms, decided by power brokers in private, staged for the benefit of the television cameras. This is what soccer is now, and what it may well be in years to come: UEFA is likely to see this game, should it go ahead, should Boca’s latest legal appeal fail, as a green light to take the Champions League final — its own showpiece — outside Europe: to the Middle East, to North America, to wherever the money on offer is most persuasive.

At the end of it all, there will — or there may, anyway — be a game. Once the broadcasters and the governments and the authorities have had their say, once they have decided what it will look like, and who may be allowed to attend, there will be a game. But it is not the same game as it used to be. To some extent, it is barely a game at all.

The decision to move the Copa Libertadores final to Spain is a failure of leadership, organization and governance. But it also is a precedent teams and fans may come to regret.”

Los Angeles State Historic Park Grand Opening 2006

Rory Smith NY Times: A Final for All Time, Sacrificed on the Altar of the Modern Game

Education on Culture, History & Art in Schools, Parks & Museums – STEAM not STEM for Equal Justice, Diversity & Inclusion

Education promotes equal opportunity in life. Schools, parks, and museums, including public lands, monuments, and waters, are the most important education institutions to reach students and their families and friends.

A study by Stanford University quantifies the benefits of ethnic studies. Ethnic studies dramatically improve education outcomes, including attendance, grade point averages, and credits towards graduation. GPAs improved in all subjects, including STEM. STEAM can work better than STEM. Students felt more welcome when their studies their own cultures. The study illustrates the importance of personal relevance in education to prepare students for life, jobs, and democracy.

A national survey nevertheless found that barely half of public school teachers believe they are competent to teach race and slavery. This may explain why faculty members dressed up like Mexican stereotypes and a border wall reading “Make America Great Again” for Halloween, and posting their picture on the Idaho school district’s social media page. This is a teachable moment at many levels. For example, did the teachers intend to discriminate? Their actions had an unjustified discriminatory impact on people, regardless of their subjective intent. Teaching that is more effective than suspending the teachers or just apologizing without training staff and the community. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill (AB 2772), that would require ethnic studies within high schools statewide.

Terrorists painted four swastikas defacing a mural celebrating culture, history, and art across the street from a high school in the heart of African American Los Angeles. The community in the Crenshaw District restored the Black Panther mural within hours. There is more about culture, history, art, and diversity in street art than in parks and monuments in L.A.

Education and interpretation in schools, parks, and monuments that illuminate the diversity of life, culture, and history engage people where they are and promote equal access, environmental justice, and health equity for all. The people passed Proposition 68 in California in 2018, taxing themselves over $4 billion to pay for public parks, waters, and monuments, and to infuse diversity and inclusion in work force and visitor rates. Prop 68 and the Presidential Memorandum on Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Our National Parks, National Forests, and Other Public Lands and Waters (2017) are themselves based on civil rights and environmental justice laws. Foundations and government funders themselves must support education, compliance, and enforcement related to civil rights laws, as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends in its committee report Communities in Action (2017).

The question now is persuading agencies and recipients of public financial assistance to comply with those laws and principles. The struggle continues. See generally the PRRAC handbook on Civil Rights, Environmental Justice & Health Equity road map at pages 42-57.


Monumental Disaster & Environmental Injustice Department of the Interior @SecretaryZinke Scientific American

“In a new report, Science Under Siege at the Department of the Interior, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has documented some of the most egregious and anti-science policies and practices at the DOI under Secretary Zinke. The report describes suppression of science, denial of climate change, the silencing and intimidation of agency staff, and attacks on science-based laws that help protect our nation’s world-class wildlife and habitats. It is a damning report and required reading for anyone who values public lands, wildlife, cultural heritage, and health and safety.”

And: “DOI rescinded two environmental justice policy memos that were put in place over 20 years ago to reverse decades of environmental racism and the marginalization of low-income communities,” including Native Americans.

Read the complete Op-Ed in Scientific American, and the report Science Under Siege at the Department of the Interior by UCS.

On Public Parks, Lands, Waters, Monuments, and People, see Civil Rights, Environmental Justice & Health Equity at pages 142-57 by PRRAC, The City Project, GreenLatinos, and The Praxis Project.












Bryce Canyon National Park The City Project CC BY NC SA

Raúl Grijalva, elected by the people, is a champion for justice, the rule of law, truth, and democracy for all. Zinke, not. .@RepRaulGrijalva @SecretaryZinke

Congressman Raúl Grijalva is a champion for people, justice, the rule of law, truth, and democracy for all. He proudly serves the people of Arizona, who repeatedly re-elect him.

The scandal-plagued Ryan Zinke is none of those things. He debases the office of United States Secretary of the Interior. His personal attack against Representive Grijalva is unwarranted and unprofessional. Sinverguenza!

Congressional Forum on People Over Pollution House Leader Nancy Pelosi, Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva,
pediatrician Dr. S. Christy Sadreameli, civil rights attorney Robert García, and Peggy Price, veteran and survivor of drinking water contamination

house environmenalal justice

Ranking Member Grijalva brings together people and their representatives

Congressional Forum on Civil Rights, Health Equity, and Climate Justice

Congressional Forum on Monumental Mistake

Rep. Raul Grijalva, Justice for STD Experiment Victims in Guatemala


Civil Rights, Environmental Justice & Health Equity Road Map PRRAC, The City Project

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sought a “middle ground between riots on the one hand and timid supplications for justice on the other.” Combined organizing and legal strategies provide that middle ground for social change. Advocates leave too much on the table when they address undefined “equity” and “policy” interests for “disadvantaged communities” without considering people have rights protected by civil rights laws.

Strategies for Health Justice: Lessons from the Field provides a road map by leading attorneys and advocates for civil rights, health equity, and environmental justice to alleviate or eliminate structural inequities based on race, color, national origin, income, and other disparities.

Legal standards are necessary to gather and analyze data, measure progress and equity, and hold officials accountable. A comprehensive civil rights approach relies on coalition building, planning, data collection and analysis, media, policy and legal advocacy, negotiation, and, if necessary, access to justice through the courts—all as part of combined problem-solving strategies. At the same time, voluntary compliance with, and enforcement of, equal justice laws and policies can be preferable to action in court to achieve equal justice, health equity, and environmental justice goals.

Attorneys and advocates address urban renewal; housing, health, and racism; schools; toxics; energy; transportation; waste equity; and a cross-cutting framework based on social science evidence, sound policy, and good law. The framework is summarized at pages 142-57.

Thank you to the Poverty, Race, and Research Action Council for publishing this important report, and for including a chapter by The Praxis Project, GreenLatinos, and The City Project.

2018 Dreamer Scholarship Award Ceremony

The Council of Mexican Federations in North America (COFEM) awarded over $400,000 in scholarships to students who are immigrants, sons and daughters of immigrants, and students protected under DACA pursuing a college degree.

Since 2008, COFEM and its partners have been awarding scholarships. These scholarships have helped over 380 students complete their university education.

Muchas gracias a COFEM por todo su apoyo. La lucha continua for immigrant rights, immigrant justice, and a just immigration system. Thank you to COFEM and Anahuak for including The City Project. Si se puede!

Scholarship recipients with COFEM staff and Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti

Lloramos con el Mundo Hispano – El legendario cantante de boleros Lucho Gatica El País QEPD

El rey del bolero ha fallecido la tarde de este martes a los 90 años en Ciudad de México, donde vivía desde hace más de medio siglo. El Gobierno ha decretado un día de duelo oficial por la muerte del artista de extensa trayectoria, famoso en toda América y en España. “¡Buen viaje! Te amo”, escribió en su cuenta de Instagram su hijo, el actor mexicano Luis Gatica, junto a la imagen de un crespón negro.

La causa de su muerte por el momento se desconoce, pero su deceso remeció a los países iberoamericanos, donde su prestigio se propagó desde mediados del siglo XX gracias a interpretaciones de boleros como Historia de un amor, El reloj, Contigo en la distancia o La barca. “Era un símbolo cultural. Lucho Gatica hizo lo imposible: ir a venderle boleros a los mexicanos y conquistarlos. Era su marca y su atrevimiento”, señaló la periodista Marisol García, especialista en música popular chilena, en una entrevista en una radio local.

A través de su ministra de Cultura, Consuelo Valdés, el Gobierno chileno reaccionó a su deceso: “Mi más sentido pésame a la familia y amigos de Lucho Gatica, reconocido con la Orden al mérito artístico cultural Pablo Neruda 2012, quien con su enorme talento conquistó grandes escenarios del mundo, dejando una huella imborrable en un género musical”. El ministro del Interior, Andrés Chadwick, agregó que “fue y será un gran embajador” del país.

Fue admirado por la gente y por sus pares. “Dicen que The Beatles escuchaban a Lucho Gatica”, señaló García, la investigadora chilena. “Nómbrenme a cualquier cantante realmente famoso del mundo y seguro tendrá opiniones de admiración sobre este bolerista”. La fotografía que lo retrata conversando con Elvis Presley revela “el peso que llegó a tener el bolero como género”, agregó la periodista. “Cruzó países, gustos, generaciones. Y Gatica fue el emblema de ese género y su voz más rutilante y admirada. Nunca se despegó de Chile y su voz se educó en este país”. . . .

En sus 70 años de carrera, participó en 15 películas y grabó 13 discos de estudio. El último en 2013, a los 85 años. Lo tituló Historia de un amor y versionaba algunos grandes éxitos con dúos con Miguel Bosé (Sabor a mí), Michael Bublé (Quizás, quizás) o Laura Pausini (Historia de un amor). Lucho Gatica era una leyenda en Iberoamérica y fue México su segunda patria, porque desde ese país internacionalizó su carrera. “Fue un reto ir a cantar boleros a México, patria de los mejores boleristas, pero yo tenía mucha fe en mi trabajo y salí airoso”, declaraba Gatica en 1990. “En los últimos años, el gusto popular se ha decantado más por las baladas que por los boleros”, reflexionaba el cantante. “Pero en el fondo es lo mismo: la balada es una continuación del bolero, siguen siendo igual de románticas”. . . .

Gracias a su voz, Chile dejó de lado su tradición tanguera y se inclinó por el bolero . . . .

Pero su fama incluso traspasó las fronteras de América y España. La productora y distribuidora estadounidense de cine Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lo invitó a varias fiestas que organizaba y a las que acudían grandes celebridades de la época como Nat King Cole. Desde 2008, el artista contaba con una estrella con su nombre en el Paseo de la fama de Hollywood.

Read the complete article in El País  . . .

Photo Wikimedia Commons

Wildfires Harm Communities of Color and Low Income Communities the Worst

California is being devastated by two of the deadliest wildfires in state history, the Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire, which are ravaging the towns of Paradise, Malibu, and Thousand Oaks. New research show the wildfires’ disproportionate impact on low income communities and communities of color. 

A University of Washington study found that communities that are majority Black, Hispanic, or Native American experience 50 percent greater vulnerability to wildfires when compared to non-hispanic white communities. This is because low-income communities and communities of color have less access to cars for evacuation, lack access to bilingual emergency information, and face shortages of affordable housing after impact.

Percentage of population by census tract compared to wildfire vulnerability

These fires have destroyed over 6,500 homes in Paradise and 350 in Malibu. Although both communities are over 80% white, displaced citizens of Paradise are particularly vulnerable to the destruction. Their median income in 2016 was $47,533 compared to $116,904 in Malibu. People in Paradise will have less money to rebuild, and have a more difficult time finding jobs after relocation. The Camp and Woolsey fires are a heartbreaking tragedy for all, but we have to think about those that are least able to recover from the destruction.

The City Project works to stop environmental degradation that disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color. The destruction from wildfire is just as much a social issue as it is ecological. The City Project implores emergency organizations to take racial and socio-economic factors into account when helping communities prepare for and recover from wildfires.

Alex RuppertUCLA Intern