(NOTE: This writer attended our press briefing on Saturday. Most names were spelled correctly.)


California Greens meet at Stanford

Law School grad discusses his election to S. F.'s Board

By John Shapiro

Contributing Writer

Monday, January 13, 2003

last updated January 14, 2003 12:00 AM

The California Green Party held its quarterly plenary meeting this Saturday and Sunday on the Stanford campus. The 11-year-old party - which continues to be dogged by perceptions that Greens such as 2000 presidential candidate Ralph Nader only take votes from Democrats and are thus "spoilers" - used its first meeting of the year to comment on recent successes and plan for a future of growth and technological innovation.

Among the speakers at the meeting was Matt Gonzales, a Stanford Law School alumnus and Green Party member who was elected president of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors on Wednesday. Gonzales described his election as evidence of growing support for the Greens.

"I think that it's telling when colleagues look around and they say, 'Who among us are we going to make stronger, who do we trust to make stronger?' . . . They're picking the Green Party," he said.

Gonzales also spoke favorably about his time at the Law School.

"At the time, the Law School was a pretty radical place," he said. "There were some really good students doing really good work."

Second as policymaker only to San Francisco's mayor, Gonzales commented on his new role in an interview after his presentation.

"I think that [my election is] significant for a couple of reasons," he said. "I think that post-Nader, there was this idea that the Greens were going to disappear."

During his speech, Gonzales also expressed support for alternative energy sources, which he identified as a Green issue.

"I think the Greens have always been seen to some extent as an environmental party," he said. "I don't think [alternative energy technologies such as wind power] will be necessarily credited to the Greens, but there is obvious kinship there, which is relevant."

Also speaking at the meeting was Peter Camejo, the Green candidate who lost to Gray Davis in last year's gubernatorial race. Camejo argued against the claim that the Green Party's candidates serve only as spoilers, and described the country's current two-party system as "an imperialist ruling class running our country."

Laura Wells, Green candidate for state controller in 2002, noted that in the 2002 election, every Green candidate on the statewide slate got at least 3.9 percent of the vote, which was Nader's share in 2000. Wells got 419,873 votes to Nader's 418,707 in California in 2000.

She also discussed the role of women in politics.

"It's 2003, and it's time for [women in elected positions]," she said.

California Green Party spokesman Ross Mirkarimi said, "We, as a political party, have matured over the last two years. The 2000 race really catapulted us into a different arena."

According to Mirkarimi, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are solving key problems faced by the nation.

"Right now we have a country that's on the brink of war, and we don't really have political representation that can explain why," he said.

Another speaker at the meeting was Green Kevin McKewon, mayor pro temp of Santa Monica.

"Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels will put us in a situation where we don't have to bomb other countries [such as Iraq] for oil," McKewon said. "We as Greens are committed to being strong, but gentle, stewards of this planet. That plays out in social justice and environmental ways."

In an interview following his speech, McKewon also discussed the role of technology.

"We have now finished converting all of our city facilities to renewable resource energy," he said. "[Even] the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier is solar powered, the only one in the world."

Santa Monica currently uses geothermal power. McKewon also works with the Sierra Club on the development of more fuel-efficient cars.

McKewon also believes technology can assist the war on terrorism. While concerned with the USA Patriot Act, which limits certain civil liberties, McKewon expressed support for an anti-hijacking system that will reroute airplane controls to the ground if hijacked.