Oh what a night! There were a lot of folks with hoarse voices this morning in the wake of the California League of Conservation Voters’ 17th annual Environmental Leadership Awards at the W Hotel in Westwood.
This event is usually quite the schmooze-fest for environmental, business, labor, health and political leaders. This year the quality of honorees and guests alike guaranteed that the gala event more than lived up to its reputation.
CEO Warner Chabot kicked off the program by recognizing that this year’s awardees have contributed in bold and visionary ways to protecting both California’s environment and arguably our state’s most important natural resource: our diverse communities. In addition to being champions for California’s air and water quality and the public’s health, all four are champions of equal access to—and participation in—the democratic process.
Each honoree has worked on behalf of voters who have been historically under-represented in order to give them a chance to make their voices heard and their needs understood. Speaker of the Assembly John Pérez and Mayor Ana Rosa Rizo worked with residents to pass a law to improve water quality in the majority-Latino city of Maywood. Environmental advocate Rampa Hormel provided critical support to grow the capacity of CLCV to reach out to Latino voters in order to understand their environmental values and win elections. The Honorable Richard Katz helped expose a serious Latino voter suppression effort during his campaign for state Senate, resulting in a major settlement by the party responsible for the voter intimidation.
“As you all know, when members of California’s diverse communities show up in large numbers to vote, and when they contact their elected representatives about the policies they want to see enacted, the environment wins,” said Chabot. “We saw that in the recent election, where there was tremendous Latino interest and turnout. It made the difference, as this week’s poll by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that 75% of Latinos voted for Jerry Brown for governor and 60% voted ‘NO’ on the oil company-backed Proposition 23.”
Members of CLCV’s staff and Board went on to provide more details on how each of our awardees works to build a "Greener California" that leads the way on environmental progress and protecting community health.
Chabot introduced environmental advocate Rampa Hormel, who helped initiate CLCV’s sister organization, the CLCV Education Fund, and the Education Fund’s first major poll of Latinos and their environmental values, which contributed in critical ways to CLCV’s ongoing outreach efforts to these communities. Southern California Director David Allgood, in describing Maywood Mayor Ana Rosa Rizo’s inspiring work to improve the quality of life of her constituents, said Rizo was just the kind of leader that CLCV seeks out, helps to elect, and works with to protect the environment once they’re elected.
CLCV Board member Wendy Mitchell presented the leadership award to her partner, former Assemblymember Richard Katz. Mitchell listed Katz’s extensive environmental achievements, including passing the Toxic Pits Clean-up Act, authoring legislation to save Mono Lake and preserve open space, and spearheading the successful Los Angeles Measure R, which will raise more than $40 million over the next 30 years for critically-needed public transit in L.A. She concluded by noting that Katz is a dedicated public servant and a man who brings honor to the word “politician.”
CLCV Board member Rick Zbur introduced Speaker Pérez by recalling how Pérez—in his capacity as political director of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324—had worked with CLCV staffer Allgood in the 1990’s to build a bridge between the labor and environmental communities. These communities owe Pérez a great deal of thanks for helping them develop a common political agenda and create a lasting blueprint how to advocate for working families and for clean air, clean water, renewable energy, and wild open spaces. Zbur noted that Speaker Pérez’s “lifetime of fighting for environmental protection and for high-paying, quality jobs, healthcare, and benefits for working families reflects the values with which he was raised.”
Each of the honorees accepted his or her award with humble and gracious remarks about CLCV’s effectiveness and unique electoral role in the environmental community. As Katz and Pérez both noted: “CLCV gets it.” We at CLCV feel lucky to “get it” and fortunate that we get to work with committed environmental leaders on protecting this beautiful Golden State and its equally beautiful people.
Thank you to all of our honorees, our generous event sponsors, and all those who attended and otherwise supported the awards event. View photos from the event here.
See you at the next CLCV Environmental Leadership Awards!