December 2018 Newsletter
As 2018 winds down, I find myself reflecting on the previous year and envisioning what’s to come in 2019. I am grateful to have served as your Assemblymember for the past two years, and I look forward to continuing to represent you and the communities that comprise the 24th Assembly District. There is still so much work to do to make our great state an equitable and healthy home for all Californians, and I look forward to making more progress next year. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the updates below and have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!
Assemblymember, 24th District
In this newsletter:
- A Cup of Coffee a Day Keeps the Doctor Away...Or Something Like That
- It's Back to School...I Mean Session
- Flu Shot, Anyone? 2018 Health Fair a Success
- Closing the Gap: Computer Science Education for All California Students
- Cleaning Up Our Coast
- An Intern Perspective
- Construction for Highway 101 Pedestrian/Bike Bridge to Begin in 2019
A Cup of Coffee a Day Keeps the Doctor Away...Or Something Like That
A big thank you to everyone who attended a Community Coffee this year! I always enjoy the issues and questions that folks raise, and hope you find our time together as insightful as I do. This past year we held coffees in Sunnyvale, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Portola Valley, and Pescadero, where I was joined by city and county elected officials and dozens of residents. We’ll keep adding dates to our Community Coffee series so check my website, and stay tuned for alerts in your inbox and on social media.
It's Back to School, I Mean Session
Swearing-in Day is a lot like the first day of school. There are new faces, folks are a little older and wiser, and there is a buzz of excitement as friends and colleagues are reunited. I am honored to have recently been sworn in to represent the 24th Assembly District for a second term, and I look forward to building on the progress we have made over the last two years.
My first term in the Assembly flew by, and I am really pleased about all we accomplished. As a Legislature, we tackled some ambitious goals: renewing Cap-and-Trade and committing to 100% clean energy by 2045; approving the strongest net neutrality and campaign finance disclosure laws in the nation; eliminating the current money bail system and replacing it with a more fair and safe pretrial release system; making the biggest investment in our infrastructure in 22 years; and passing a package of bills that will improve the supply and affordability of housing in our great state. Additionally, my office conducted a thorough review of California’s Master Plan for Higher Education, lead preparations for the 2020 Census, and secured funding to make Tunitas Creek Beach and Martins Beach accessible to the public. We also passed legislation to improve student mental health, protect our elections, and strengthen rights for sexual assault survivors.
Yet, there is so much still to do. Thank you for trusting me to continue working on these critically important issues.
Flu Shot, Anyone? 2018 Health Fair a Success
Hundreds of children from throughout Redwood City, and specifically the North Fair Oaks community in San Mateo County, came to Hoover Community School on October 20th for our Back to School Health Fair. Partnering with Assemblymember Kevin Mullin’s Office, the Redwood City School District, the San Mateo County Health Department, and about 30 other government and non-profit groups, we were able to administer 175 free flu shots and distribute over 350 backpacks to students in the community. I received my annual flu shot, learned CPR on a practice dummy, tried to identify animal bones at the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office (and failed miserably), and got to ride in a fire truck! I am grateful to our community partners for making this event possible, and look forward to future health fairs throughout the 24th Assembly District in the years to come.
Closing the Gap: Computer Science Education for All California Students
On the first day of the new legislative session, I introduced two bills to guide the state’s advancement of computer science education so that we close California’s skills gap and ensure that all students are prepared for success in the 21st century economy.
Too many students lack access to computer science courses, and this digital divide is often felt the most in low-income communities and school districts. There are nearly 571,000 open computing jobs nationwide, and entrepreneurs and employers are poised to add hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs in the technology sector right here in our own backyard. We can and should do more to empower all students with meaningful skills to thrive in an increasingly global and competitive economy.
In September, the state adopted its first-ever computer science standards. Now, California is considering adopting a plan to address broadening the pool of computer science teachers, defining computer science education principles, and ensuring that all students have access to quality computer science courses.
Assembly Bill 20 would create a California Computer Science Coordinator role within the California Department of Education, one needed to oversee the state’s successful implementation of the plan, and Assembly Bill 52 would require the plan to be continually updated to ensure it remains relevant and reflects technological advancements.
As tens of thousands of Californians turned up at over 1,000 beach sites for the 34th California Coastal Cleanup Day, I had the opportunity to clean up one of the hidden treasures in the 24th Assembly District. My staff and I, along with volunteers from San Mateo County, the City of Half Moon Bay, the California Coastal Commission, and members of the public, spent the day picking up and hauling away trash from Tunitas Creek Beach. This beach offers one of the most beautiful views on California’s coast, but it is often misused by visitors leaving piles of litter that tarnish the beach’s natural beauty and endanger wildlife. Cigarette butts were the most common article of trash we found, and I was surprised to learn that these butts are actually recyclable. We stumbled across the remnants of a small party, complete with mini cups, bottles, and a pair of socks. Overall, the sun was shining, the day was beautiful, and volunteers across California cleaned up a total of 734,000 pounds of trash and recyclable materials.
An Intern Perspective
My name is Jai Bahri, and I am an intern at the District Office of Assemblymember Marc Berman. Starting here as a sophomore in high school, I was most worried that my internship would be a burden on not just me, but on the staff who had been gracious enough to have granted me this opportunity. Yet, my concerns were almost immediately resolved within barely the first week of my working here; in spite of my youth and inexperience, I was already receiving complex, important tasks through which I could see I was making a tangible difference. Drafting letters to constituents, taking notes on meetings between the Assemblymember and those presenting ideas for new bills, even doing research on areas of interest for future legislation—all of these duties have been assigned to me many times over the course of my internship, and each and every time I have learned something new about Assembly District 24 and the Legislature. Of course, interspersed amongst the multitude of engaging and high-level work were more humdrum chores, such as filing old paperwork and sending out letters, and yet even these activities were significantly enlivened by the warmth and liveliness of the District staff. Not only have they provided constant mentorship and gladly answered any and all questions about the work I have been doing or otherwise, but the light, cheery environment and casual openness has considerably lent to my enjoyment and gratification here. As a junior now, my workload at school and my outside commitments have largely increased and intensified; however, this experience has been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined, and, regardless of my other responsibilities, I could not imagine leaving this one any time soon.
Construction for Highway 101 Pedestrian/Bike Bridge to Begin in 2019
Every year the Benjamin Lefkowitz Underpass in Palo Alto closes for several months due to seasonal flooding of Adobe Creek. After years of recurrent closures, I was thrilled to attend the signing ceremony on Monday, December 17th, for the Highway 101 Pedestrian/Bike Bridge Project. This project, which we began planning for while I was on the 2010 Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission in Palo Alto, entails building a new 12-foot wide overpass connecting East and West Bayshore Roads and the Adobe Creek Reach Trail. This new, ADA-compliant bridge will provide year-round access upon completion. I am grateful for the coalition of community partners, including the City of Palo Alto, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, CalTrans, Google, and others, for advancing this much-needed improvement in our community. Construction will begin in early 2019 and is scheduled to be completed in 2020.