Cassandra Devereaux, Peace and Freedom Party candidate for California State Assembly in district 14, weighs in on the PG&E monopoly’s tyrannical stranglehold on Northern California citizens and communities. The following piece originally ran on Fighting-Words.net.

On Tuesday, October 9, Pacific Gas & Electric, the publicly traded monopoly that supplies most of Northern California’s power needs, announced that they would be shutting off power for much of their service area due to the risk of wildfire posed by dryness, heat and high winds. These shutoffs would affect over 800,000 of their customers.

This announcement came scant weeks after the utility settled the second batch in a series of claims against it brought by insurers for its culpability in the wildfires that destroyed millions of acres over the past few years.

The night of the announcement, supermarkets were flocked by anxious shoppers preparing for the outage. Californians who were unsure whether they would be in an affected neighborhood frantically tried to get information from PG&E’s website, but their gravely overburdened servers made connecting impossible much of the time. As dread and fear spread, PG&E workers prepared to turn out the lights. Executives, however were otherwise busy; they were enjoying fine wine and decadent hors d’oeuvres at an exclusive Sonoma County winery in a modern analogue of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

PG&E’s self-interest is matched by callous disregard for the people under their thumb, forced to pay them in exchange for electricity and gas. They neglected their budget devoted to routine maintenance and such measures as trimming trees around power lines in order to pay investors $4.5 billion in stock dividends. It was chided for lack of upkeep by a judge at a hearing related to a lethal 2010 gas line explosion. This judge threatened to deny them their ability to pay dividends should they continue to neglect such upkeep. It is now clear that this has had no effect on them. But then, a privately owned utility holding a monopoly puts it in the role of hostage taker, and is rendered essentially above the law. It is a chilling case of capitalism’s ethos: Profits for the powerful before people.

On March 3, Californians will be voting in the 2020 Primary Elections which includes the chance for party voters to select their favored presidential candidate, but also features a number of sate- and local-level positions for which to vote.

Two Peace and Freedom Party candidates to date have filed to run for office in the February 2020 California Primary, and another two have announced their candidacy for the PFP presidential nomination. Our current slate of candidates is as follows.

Howie Hawkins
Peace and Freedom Party presidential nominee candidate
As part of the stated effort to “unite the independent left”, Howie Hawkins is seeking the Peace and Freedom Party nomination for President of the United States.

Howie is a socialist who believes self-organization, independent political action, and international solidarity by the working class and oppressed people for full political and economic democracy is the way to build a society of freedom, equality, solidarity, peace, and ecological sustainability. As a member of Solidarity, he believes in the promotion of “socialism from below” and international solidarity because the fight for freedom against all dictators and imperialisms is worldwide and indivisible.

He has been an organizer in movements for peace, justice, labor, the environment, and independent working-class politics since 1967 when he got active in “The Movement” as a teenager in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been a member of the Socialist Party USA since 1973 and was a co-founder of the Green Party US in 1984.

Gloria La Riva
Peace and Freedom Party presidential nominee candidate
Lifelong labor/community/anti-war activist Gloria La Riva has stood as a socialist candidate on several occasions since her first turn with the Workers World Party in 1984, and most recently as the PSL/PFP presidential nominee in 2016 and as a gubernatorial candidate in 2018.

Gloria has been a key organizer of many mass demonstrations and other actions for three decades, and has traveled extensively to meet with workers and leaders alike. Most recently, she documented the Venezulean people’s resistance to the US economic blockade, and in late 2018 covered the Migrant Caravan in Latin America for alternative media.

The message of Gloria’s campaign along with vice presidential candidate Leonard Peltier is to the point: The world is facing unprecedented crises, none of which can be solved within the existing capitalist system. We are in a race against time. The need for the radical reorganization of society on a socialist basis has never been greater or more urgent.”

José CortésPeace and Freedom Party candidate,
U.S. Congress (CA District 50)
José Cortés was raised in the 50th Congressional District and has been a political organizer since 2016 when the rising violence of the Trump campaign and an unjust police shooting in his hometown compelled him to take to the streets and organize. He has participated in campaigns all over San Diego fighting for rent control, the closure of the for-profit concentration camps, and an end to the criminalization of the homeless and poor.

José is a proud Chicano socialist committed to ending the destructive US wars abroad and shuttering the military bases in occupied countries. He has helped organize for national liberation in Barrio Logan alongside Chicano Park defenders, stood in solidarity with the struggle for socialism in Venezuela and Cuba, and supports the right of self-determination for the people of Hawaii, Puerto Rico and all former and current US colonies. He is running in the PFP because only a socialist restructuring of society can bring about the end of the rule of political dynasties, career politicians and corporate lobbyists.

Cassie DevereauxPeace and Freedom Party candidate,
14th CA Assembly District
Cassie Devereaux supports police oversight and an end to Vallejo’s reign of police terror; comprehensive rent control to keep people in their homes and communities; access to medical care and mental health services for the low-income and houseless; universal housing and an end to houselessness altogether; student-loan forgiveness and access to postsecondary education for all; and an end to all of ICE’s practices.

Says Cassie: “We can imagine a better world. To make things better we need deep, systemic change. Join a movement devoted to using the fruits of the la¬bor of people who do the work of the world to feed, clothe, and care for us and for our families, not to buy billionaires yet another yacht for their Pacific fleet. The ballot box can help build this movement. The people, united, can usher in this new world. Please join us in exercising our dem¬ocratic rights to uplift our demands for a better, more just world – and let’s get to work building it!”

“Imagine a world worth living in, a world worth fighting for.”­ – Leslie Feinberg

 Cassie Devereaux supports:

  • Police oversight – an end to Vallejo’s reign of police terror.
  • Comprehensive rent control keeping people in their homes and communities.
  • Access to medical care/mental health services for low-income residents and people now houseless.
  • Universal housing – end houselessness altogether.
  • Student loan forgiveness and postsecondary education access for all.
  • No cages, no deportations, no compliance with ICE: NOT HERE. NOT ANYWHERE.

Look around. Ours is a society with more empty homes than houseless. We produce enough food to feed the world, but people starve while we destroy 40% of our bounty. Profits for pharmaceutical companies are prioritized before healthcare and lifesaving medicine for all. We sacrifice human lives to easily prevented diseases in order to enrich CEOs. Theirs is the class that has wielded the mechanisms of power to ravage our hemi­sphere for over a century through war, sanctions, propping up dictators – all for Wall Street.

When those suffering from this violent legacy come for sanctuary, we round them up, separate their families, and cage them. As we argue whether to use the term “con­centration camps”, prisoners are dying. We gut education funding and spend the mon­ey building prisons and militarizing police rather than addressing the poverty from which crime springs. The parasites at the top cultivate ignorance, fueling dangerous conspira­cy theories while ignoring science. Giant corporations, which plunder our planet, are steer­ing the world into climate catastrophe. And while rainforests burn, corporations conduct internal studies analyzing ways to cash in on the devastation looming on the horizon.

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