Thank you for taking the time to read my e-newsletter. “Mimi’s Message” is designed to keep you informed on the most current events and issues facing our community and state. As always, please feel free to contact me with feedback or questions.
Senator Walters and her panel of experts answer questions from parents, students, and community leaders at a Prescription Drug Abuse Town Hall held in Irvine at the Kia Motors headquarters June 6th.
In an effort to warn her constituents about the growing dangers of prescription drug abuse, Senator Walters held two town halls last month with a panel of experts who know first-hand the damage this drug epidemic is causing to Orange County residents.
“This is a much larger problem than people are anticipating,” said panelist Dr. Valeh Karmikhani, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and founder of Orange County Psychiatry. “Twenty-four percent of high school students are taking prescription pills for recreational purposes…. Every day in the US, 2,500 adolescents (12-17) abuse a narcotic pain reliever for the first time.”
Another panelist, Orange County Superior Court Judge John Adams, is overwhelmed by the number of illegal and prescription drug cases he sees every day. “For me I feel like it’s drugs for breakfast, drugs for lunch, drugs for dinner, drugs, drugs, drugs,” Judge Adams said. “I have the young and the beautiful in my courtroom every single morning…. [The drug problem] is really, from my perspective, a tsunami.”
The town hall meetings, held at the Kia Motors headquarters in Irvine and Estancia High School in Costa Mesa, drew parents, teenagers, educators, and community leaders eager to ask their questions. Some parents had lost their children to overdoses and wanted to know how the system could be changed to stop these senseless deaths.
A bill (SB 809) to rejuvenate California’s prescription drug monitoring program called CURES passed unanimously through the Senate last month and is now being reviewed by the Assembly. This program will help law enforcement catch doctors who illegally over-prescribe and help doctors and pharmacists catch addicts who doctor shop for prescription drugs.
“As parents we would rather have our own lives taken than our children’s lives,” Senator Walters told the audience. “And this doesn’t have to happen. We can stop it.”
Senator Walters speaks at her Prescription Drug Abuse Town Hall at Estancia High School in Costa Mesa. The panel of experts include (left to right) Orange County Superior Court Judge John Adams; Treasurer of the CA Chapter of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators Kevin Barnard; Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist for Newport Academy Teen Treatment Center Dr. Valeh Karimkhani; DEA Diversion Program Manager Michael Lewis; and Physician Director Emergency Department of Kaiser Permanente — Orange County Dr. Todd Newton.
Recently, Governor Jerry Brown reached a new labor agreement with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 that gives 95,000 state employees a 4.5% pay raise beginning in mid-2014. This comes on the heels of a budget compromise between the Governor and Legislative Democrats that is being touted as “conservative” and “balanced”. Under the compromise, State General Fund spending for the 2013-14 budget is $96.4 billion, $1.4 billion more than the 2012-13 budget. Also, total spending from all revenue sources is nearly $5 billion greater than the $228 billion last year, setting a new spending record of $233 billion.
As with all legislative and budgetary actions, the devil is in the details. In this case, the detail that is quickly overlooked in the Democrats’ hurry to pat themselves on the back is the failure of addressing future debt. While nearly 100,000 state employees will receive pay increases, three major budgetary obligations continue to be ignored, which will place further fiscal strain on state budgets in the future. Read More…
During the Legislature’s hectic “house of origin” deadline-when each bill that originates in either the Senate or the Assembly must pass out of its respective house or it dies-many bills with sweeping implications for California’s economy come before us. Oftentimes it is easiest to simply vote “No” and move on since many bills are simply bad for hardworking Californians. In the case of Senate Bill 11 (Pavley, D-Agoura Hills), this decision was neither easy, nor was it the best solution to a very real problem.
SB 11 is a case in point because it extends several existing fees that are imposed on California residents, but also provides assistance for many companies that must retrofit their equipment in order to meet the requirements of AB 32 (the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006). California’s economy would be better off without AB 32 and replaced with a market-based approach that takes into account economic reality. However, the voters upheld a referendum on AB 32 and it is a law we must account for in our decision-making process. Read More…
Senator Walters makes a Senate Floor presentation of SB 185, her digital textbook bill, which was approved by the California State Senate 35-0. The measure would enable school districts to more easily integrate today’s technology in the classroom.
Senator Walters named Taft Elementary School Principal Steven Longacre as this month’s “Spirit of Service” award recipient for the service to his students and to Orange County’s deaf community.
Steven “Steve” Longacre is the youngest of six boys. He was identified as profoundly deaf at age 4. He was enrolled at the Granada Elementary Deaf/Hard of Hearing program, and was fully mainstreamed from third grade on. Although no signing was taught or used in class, he and his classmates created their own signs.
Steve struggled through high school, “guessing his way through” and relying on classmates’ notes. He attended Golden West College (GWC) that offered support services.
In June 1975, Steve won GWC’s Outstanding Student of the Year award, its most prestigious campus honor. He attended California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and majored in Education. He also became involved with theatre and created a performing act known as ‘DEAFinitely Magic!’
Steve, a resident of Tustin, currently serves as Principal of Taft Elementary School in Santa Ana. Taft Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Program is a regionalized program serving students from birth to 6th grade in Santa Ana, Capistrano, Garden Grove, Irvine, Newport Mesa, Orange, Placentia/Yorba Linda, Saddleback, and Tustin. The regionalized model allows Deaf and Hard of Hearing students to be educated together with like peers who have a similar mode of communication. The program has two components. There is a total communication program for students who require sign language to access language and the curriculum. “Total Communication” is the use of multiple modalities such as signing, listening and speaking, and a variety of signed communication systems. There is also an oral program for students who can access the curriculum through spoken language and listening.
Steve’s parents, Robert and Mary Longacre, founded a nonprofit organization, “DEAFinitely 4 Kids, Inc.”, as a way of giving something back to the community. He has since taken over the organization, serving as president. DEAFinitely 4 Kids provides resources for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in Orange County, including Taft students.
Senator Walters poses with “Spirit of Service Award” winner Lucy Santana, CEO of Girls Inc. of Orange County and the participants of Girls Inc. program. Santana is holding a resolution that Senator Walters presented to her for her outstanding community service.
Senator Walters delivered a “Call to Action” at the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) monthly dinner meeting. Senator Walters addressed the Orange County chapter of NAWBO on May 7th at the Pacific Club in Irvine. She spoke on the need to pressure legislators who have poor legislative records when it comes to pro-job-creation bills. Senator Walters previously served as a board member to the Los Angeles chapter of NAWBO prior to entering public service.
Senator Walters (right) and her Chief of Staff Garth Eisenbeis (center) visit with Almavision CEO and Founder Bruno Camaano at their headquarters in Costa Mesa.
Only a few blocks from Senator Walters’ new Irvine district office is one of the largest Spanish-language Christian networks in North America, Almavision. Senator Walters recently toured the facility with CEO and founder Bruno Camaano. During the visit, Bruno shared the inspiring story of how he founded the network.
He was a banana importer at the time, bringing in bananas from Ecuador to California. On one of his trips to Ecuador he was kidnapped and held captive for over two weeks. While captive, Bruno promised the Lord that should he ever escape the kidnapping alive, he would dedicate the rest of his life to the Lord. Upon his release and return to the United States, he got out of the banana import business and set out on his journey to fulfill his commitment to Christ. “What an awesome man,” said Senator Walters. “His life story is unbelievable. It is so encouraging to see how God works in our lives…”
July 7th through August 31st – Pageant of the Masters: This world-renowned, ninety minute stage show of living pictures is presented each night during the summer season in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater in Laguna Beach, featuring a professional orchestra, live narration, intricate sets and hundreds of dedicated volunteers. Begins each evening at 8:30 p.m. For ticket information, please call (949) 494-1145 or go to www.foapom.com.
July 12th through August 11th – The Orange County Fair: The annual Orange County Fair is the premier family attraction in Southern California offering a wide variety of exhibits, foods, entertainment, rides and hands-on activities. There is something for everybody at the Fair, including the summer headline concert series, working farm and petting zoos, thrill rides, contests and games. Open noon to midnight Wednesday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday. General admission is $11. For more information or to order tickets, please call (714) 708-3247 or go to www.ocfair.com..
July 18th through 21st – The Wall That Heals:Vietnam Veterans Memorial: The City of Irvine, in partnership with Vietnam Veterans of America and Visions2Victory, is proud to welcome The Wall That Heals, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. and the Global War on Terror Wall of Remembrance. Under the supervision of volunteers, both memorials will remain open for public viewing 24 hours a day at Woodbridge Community Park in the City of Irvine. For more information, please call (714) 348-8023 or go to www.cityofirvine.org.
July 19th – Family Fun Zone Fridays: Family Fun Zone Fridays brings nostalgic family entertainment back to the Balboa Fun Zone in Newport Beach. Visitors will enjoy hands on activities, interactive programs and live entertainment. Activities include science experiments, arts and crafts, carnival games and contests. Immerse yourself into history while entering our galleries filled with local Newport Beach history. Throughout the evening guests will enjoy a variety of entertainment such as live music, face painters and jugglers. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., admission is $2. For more information, please call (949) 675-8915 or go to www.explorOcean.org.
July 20th – Shakespeare by the Sea: The Newport Beach City Arts Commission once again presents lively Shakespearean entertainment performed by professional Shakespearean actors. Don’t miss the dramatic production of “King John”, Shakespeare’s own version of “Game of Thrones”. King John is filled with secret alliances, corruption and greed. It’s a poetic and powerful tale of a country’s struggle to unite under a single legitimate ruler. Bring a picnic dinner, low backed beach chairs and blankets for an enjoyable evening of Shakespeare by the Sea. 7:00 p.m. to 9U00 p.m. at Bonita Canyon Sports Park in Newport Beach. Admission is free. For more information, please go to www.newportbeachca.gov.
July 27th – Catopia: Join us in celebrating all that is wonderful about cats during this yearly celebration. Adoption fees will be waived during this event and adopters will only be responsible for paying for the microchip ($15). All other services provided, spay/neuter, vaccines, deworming, testing and flea treatment, will be free of charge. 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Orange County Animal Care Center in the City of Orange. For more information, please call (714) 935-6848 or go to www.ocpetinfo.com.
July 31st – Concert in the Park: Pack a picnic basket and bring your lawn chairs and blankets to Peppertree Park in the City of Tustin for an enjoyable evening of music under the stars, featuring the band Bumptown (Top 40 and Latin Fusion). Food will be available for purchase from local non-profit vendors. 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Admission is free. For more information please call (714) 573-3326 or go to www.tustinca.org.