Santa Monica hosted one of California’s most powerful politicians this week when senator Dianne Feinstein swung through town for a “fireside chat.”
The event, hosted by Town Hall Los Angeles and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on Sept. 2 at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel included discussions on a broad range of topics including child trafficking in Los Angeles, the current drought, global warming, her political history, the Iran Nuclear Deal and national security.
Feinstein began her chat with president and CEO of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Terry McCarthy, by discussing child trafficking.
“One of the big issues that’s confronting us is child trafficking,” Feinstein said. “And so this morning I had received your sheriff. Sheriff McDonald said what the situation was in Los Angeles with respect to child trafficking. So this morning we had a meeting with the sheriff, with the chief of police, with the [district attorney] of LA, and Oakland, and San Diego and the FBI and a large number of other people who are integrally involved in child trafficking.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is one huge problem. The average child is 12 to 14 years old. Children are sold on the Internet. I have just done an amendment to a bill, which is now a law, which seeks to prevent that from happening.
I’ve been writing letters to the six big hotel chains saying ‘Please participate in a code of conduct.’ I think we’re beginning to mobilize a real law enforcement effort against it and also an effort to take children 12-years-old who are sold, who are moved, who are trafficked for sex, who are used in the most bizarre and terrible ways and find other ways for them to go.”
Feinstein was then asked about her thoughts on the Iran Nuclear Deal.
“There is no better deal,” Feinstein said. “It is this or it is nothing and the nothing will lead to a possible break out of Iran in two to three months and then the response is military. Iran, you can’t really fool around with, it’s not like Syria. So there would have to be a military attack. I don’t know who would conduct it. Whether it would be Israel, whether it would be the United States, whether it be somebody else … The conclusion is that this can prevent Iran from moving toward a bomb for 15 years.”
Feinstein was the first woman president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors back in 1969, and the first woman mayor of San Francisco in 1978. The senator touched briefly on her early days in office in San Francisco, specifically discussing the November 1978, assassination of San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk and then mayor George Moscone by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently resigned and wanted his job back. Feinstein was in San Francisco City Hall on the day of the shooting.
“This was a long time ago, but it feels like yesterday. I heard the dorm slam. I heard the shots. I smelled the cordite, went out of my office. Dan rushed right by me and I walked into Harvey’s office and found his body and put my finger to get his pulse and there was a bullet hole.
It was a terrible dark day in San Francisco. This was the first openly gay public official in America killed by a colleague. If you think about the ramifications of it they were enormous. And so the city fell apart. And the hate, it was terrible. So my job, the board elected me, and I finished the last year of George’s term.”
Feinstein was questioned about her thoughts on national security and Edward Snowden, who she has publicly called a traitor.
“I don’t respect somebody that takes a job to scrape the system. And that was the purpose. And so it is a form of espionage … I don’t respect him. To me that’s a criminal act,” Feinstein said.
Feinstein also covered the topics of climate change and the ongoing drought that is affecting California.
“I think there is no question the climate is changing, there is no question of whether it is changing. It is much more volatile. We’ve had funnel clouds in the Pacific, where in my lifetime I don’t remember any. We’ve had hurricanes and tornados that have done tremendous damage. And there it is.
And we see our nature source of water, which is the Sierra Nevada snowpack disappearing. People down here are very lucky because you are served by the Metropolitan Water District, which is very good. They have reservoirs, they store water, and much of the rest of the state doesn’t have those reservoirs to be able to store water.
So we have been trying and worked for a year now on a drought bill that might pass and I think Senator Boxer and I now have one that has a good chance. It has both some short-term movement of water, transfer of water to get into communities that don’t have water, that kind of thing, while the drought goes on.
And it has some long term, like desalination. There is some, I think it’s around two dozen desalination plants that we’ve authorized; there’s 105 recycling programs that we would reauthorize. We’d authorize some storage. And so it’s a little over a billion dollars.
But the water infrastructure for our state ladies and gentlemen was built by Pat Brown in the 60s. We were 16 million people, were now 38 million people and moving up and it’s the same water infrastructure. So we have to make a change if the state’s gonna grow, if business is gonna grow, if we’re gonna maintain our farming and our cities. And that means desalination, it means recycling, it means ground water recharge.”
When McCarthy asked Feinstein if she would run again in 2018 when her current term is was up her response was, “We’ll see,” to a room full of laughter and applause.
Feinstein’s fireside chat marks the third recent appearance of a female U.S. politician in Santa Monica, following the separate appearances of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Barbara Boxer in July.