(Jan. 2, 2003) -- Roughly three months after announcing they intended to launch a grassroots political action committee (PAC), organizers of the new "ThisLand" PAC are showing they mean business.
They've scheduled their first fundraiser for January 9, 2003 -- a night out at the LB Community Playhouse -- and at $35 per person, $70 per couple (not tax deductible), the group hopes the event will begin building a political war chest to counter-balance LB's traditional political machinery.
ThisLand PAC co-organizer Traci Wilson-Kleekamp notes other LB interest groups, including the LB Area Chamber of Commerce and public employee unions, already have PACs that raise money and support and oppose candidates and causes.
"We want to level the playing field, " Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp told LBReport.com, adding "We have every right to take political action when others take positions hostile to our interests. We are no longer content to just talk. We intend to use the process to promote change."
Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp spearheaded a successful grassroots fight to save Stearns Park from a city management planned 911 Emergency Communications and Operations Center (subsequently relocated to city property at Spring/Redondo). She now operates an internet listserv forum (called "thisland") noted (or notorious, depending on whom one asks) for its "take no prisoners" approach to civic issues.
In an internet posting in September, Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp said, "I believe we all envision 'this land' being the 'sledge-hammer' against business as usual local politics."
If it succeeds, the This Land PAC could change the local political landscape in which PACs dominated by public employee unions (including the LB Police Officers Ass'n and LB Firefighters Ass'n) and the LB Area Chamber of Commerce have traditionally occupied the field. The LB Area Chamber of Commerce's PAC was organized only a few years ago but has been successful in helping elect its favored candidates to office.
One LB grassroots group, "Long Beach Area Citizens Involved" (LBACI), has openly advanced a progressive civic agenda, learning from initial defeats to score victories. It has helped elect several candidates to office (including Alan Lowenthal to City Council and the CA Assembly), enact ballot measures (including a police complaint commission and local campaign reform) and bring views once considered controversial into LB's mainstream (cleaning and beautifying the L.A. river and environs). Establishment backed candidates now court LBACI's endorsement much as they seek the Chamber of Commerce's blessing.
Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp said tickets for the ThisLand PAC's Jan. 9 fundraiser (not tax deductible) are available through LB attorney Rich Poland, whose ads on the back of many LB telephone directories have become a local fixture. (Mr. Poland made an unsuccessful run for City Prosecutor in April 2002).
The ThisLand PAC also maintains a web site at www.thisland-lb.org.