EDITOR’S NOTE: On Oct. 5, student journalists from Summit Public School: Denali held a press conference to meet State Assemblymember Marc Berman. See below for a compilation of their stories. More information about Rep. Berman can be found on his website.
Staff photographers Justin Casillas, Jacob Gaylord, Mark Haiko, Jacob Jasper, Kyle Kobetsky, Alan Rivera and Hazel Rothrock contributed photos to this slideshow.
California Assemblymember Marc Berman believes the California housing crisis is a larger issue
By Jamil Abed, Mark Haiko, Ellen Hu and Angela Hwang
Assemblymember Marc Berman believes that the housing crisis in California acts as the basis for many other unsolved issues.
Rep. Berman said that California’s various issues are “all important.” However, the lack of affordable and available housing acts as the “foundation for a lot of the other problems.” Homelessness and a lack of well-funded education systems are just a few of those issues.
Marc Berman, the 24 District Assembly representative of California, visited Summit Denali on Oct. 5 to take part in a press conference hosted by Summit News student journalists.
According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the real estate markets in Fremont, San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco are among the most competitive cities for homebuyers in the United States. The article’s source, Redfin, explains that these prices are likely due to the abundance of technology-based companies in the area and their tendencies to bring employees into these cities.
“The cost of living in this area is incredibly high. That puts a lot of pressure on us and it means that a lot of people have to leave and life further and further away,” Rep. Berman said. “So now our housing crisis has affected transportation, it’s affected the environment, and education.”
The housing issue has also led to a higher rate of homelessness. According to The California State Senate, California’s 2017 homeless population accounted for 25 percent of the nation’s homeless population. This number rose from 22 percent in 2016.
Rep. Berman believes that in order to combat this issue, California must provide the homeless population with the resources they’ll need to get back on their feet. “We need to give [homeless citizens] the wraparound services: the mental health services, the job training, the food, so that they can stay housed and they can hopefully eventually become productive members of society,” Rep. Berman said. “But it really all starts with housing.”
Many issues in California require long-term solutions, including the housing crisis and a lack of funding for education. Rep. Berman believes that tax reform will fix these economic challenges. Rep. Berman said, “The real answer to stabilizing school funding in California is comprehensive tax reform because school funding is so unstable because our tax system is so volatile.”
According to an editorial from the Los Angeles Times, “California has the sixth largest economy in the world yet ranks 45th nationally in the percentage of taxable income spent on education.” However, recent steps were taken by California Governor Jerry Brown that aim to increase these funds.
“All of those are important issues,” Rep. Berman said. “But I think housing and the cost of housing is the first domino that creates all of the other issues.”
Marc Berman explains problems caused by the housing crisis
By Ibrahim Ayub, Jacob Gaylord, Mateo Gonzalez Rivera and Michael Stavnitser
California State Assemblymember Marc Berman believes that the housing crisis in California is a major problem.
On Oct. 5, Rep. Marc Berman came to visit Summit Denali to answer questions at a student-led press conference led by the journalists of Summit News.
Rep. Berman spoke about the high cost of housing in the state. “This problem is the foundation for many of the other problems we are facing. And living in this area is very, very expensive. So housing is one of the major problems California is facing.”
Rep. Berman explained that “the cost of living in this area is very high, which makes people move farther and farther away.”
People moving away causes a lot of pollution because they are coming to work from far away which causes another problem. “They drive to work here because most have jobs that are here, but we don’t have houses that are in their wanted budget, which then causes another problem, which is pollution,” he added.
The housing crisis also leads to another problem, which is that more people become homeless due to the lack of money for housing, he argued.
“We need housing to fix the homelessness. If we have more affordable housing, then that can also fix the homelessness problem.”
Marc Berman discusses his work for the State Assembly
By Hazel Rothrock, Nadia Tatishcheva, and Alex Twoy
State Assemblymember Marc Berman is focused on helping marginalized communities.
“We need to make sure that everybody understands that our diversity is the biggest strength that California has, and the different backgrounds and the different experiences that we bring to solving issues make our solutions that much stronger,” Rep. Berman said while discussing what can be done to end discrimination.
On Oct. 5, State Assemblymember Marc Berman visited Summit Denali for a press conference. He discussed helping sexual assault survivors, youth who struggle with mental health issues, members of the LGBTQ+ community and the homeless, among other important issues.
When asked to share some of the projects he has worked on in the past, Rep. Berman discussed the work he has done for sexual assault survivors, including creating the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which “tries to reduce the obstacles to reporting an attack and also tries to make the process a lot better for the survivors as they go through the justice system.”
He also added that this year he “extended the statute of limitations for survivors of sexual assault to be able to bring a lawsuit in civil court and receive monetary damages for the impacts of the attack” from two years to 10.
Sharing his reasoning for the change, Rep. Berman added, “The impact of sexual assault … on the survivor is really terrible, and it can take a long time for somebody to … recover from the impacts of the act and then feel comfortable speaking about it and reporting on it – so as we’ve learned more and more about this issue, it’s important that our justice system … provide for an environment where people can go through that process of recovering and then still be able to get the money damages that they should get.”
Rep. Berman also talked about the work he did for youth mental health and suicide prevention, with the help of the state budget: “In this year’s budget, I got $1.7 million for the state to identify the best online youth mental health and suicide prevention training that’s available and then buy enough subscriptions to make it available to every middle school and high school in the state for free.”
When asked about what he could do to help the homeless, he also discussed working on mental health, among other factors that could be explored in order to help fix homelessness: “We need to get them into stable housing first and get a stable roof over their head, but … we can’t then just give them the keys and walk away; we need to give them the wrap-around services, the mental health services, the job training, the food, so that they can stay housed and they can hopefully, eventually, become productive members of society.”
Additionally, when asked about whether he has done work that benefits the LGBTQ+ community, Rep. Berman discussed working with the Trevor Project for training for suicide prevention for students. He also added that “40 percent of Bay Area homeless youth or California homeless youth are LGBT, and we know that a lot of LGBTQ+ youth struggle the most with mental health issues, as they’re, you know, kind of, getting comfortable with who they are and being who they are, and so we need to provide more resources and be even more aware of that, so that they feel more welcome in the community as anybody else does.”
When asked about marginalized communities and what could be done to end discrimination, Rep. Berman stated that he and his colleagues will keep passing policies that protect immigrant communities and “keep on emphasizing the fact that this is a good thing and not a bad thing and also keep on passing laws that make it illegal to discriminate.”
When asked about the immigration policies currently being passed, Rep. Berman stated that he thinks “we’re passing good ones in California, and they’re passing bad ones in Washington, D.C.” Elaborating further, he shared his family’s history of immigration, and ended with “immigrants come to America because they want a better life and a safer life than where they are coming from, and that’s something we should support; that’s something we need to embrace; that’s something that makes America a stronger place.”
Rep. Berman shared a lot of ideas about making laws that support marginalized people. While discussing empathy, he said, “It’s important to respect each other and the differences that we have.”
Marc Berman explains his platform
By Charles Cassel, Kyle Kobetsky, Soren Ryan-Jensen, Evangeline Si
California State Assemblymember Marc Berman values affordable housing, election security and protections for sexual assault survivors. When asked what issue is most important, he stated, “We have a lot of issues.” On Oct. 5, Rep. Marc Berman visited Summit Denali to answer questions about his position and what he wants to do in office.
When talking about his most important issues, he leaned the most toward housing, saying, “Housing has impacted the health of the environment and education.”
Rep. Marc Berman claimed housing is affecting education in the state; through the lack of housing, teachers have to live farther away, giving them less time to work after school with students and run clubs. On the subject of school funding, he responded, “School funding is so unstable because the majority of our money comes from the volatile income tax,” adding that we need to put this money in reserves.
Talking about California’s homelessness situation, Rep. Marc Berman stated that we need to give homeless people food after we give them housing so that they can permanently reside there, and that “we need to improve the mental health services to the homeless.”
When asked about what role large companies have in the communities they reside in, he said, “They should play a big role,” and added that “Apple is terrible when it comes to social corporate responsibilities.”
On the subject of global warming, Rep. Marc Berman stated that “the national government is not helping.” On the same topic, Rep. Marc Berman said, “Texas and coal states are dead wrong about having a good economy and being good to the environment … we are right; they are wrong.”
Reaching the issue of immigration and national government policies, Rep. Marc Berman said, “I think that we are passing good ones in California, and they are passing bad ones in D.C”. He proceeded to say, “Both my parents are immigrants … Our diversity makes our state so much stronger … we will keep passing laws to protect our immigrants.”
When he was asked what the most important bill he has passed was, he didn’t definitively say which; however, he did say, “I think the work I have done with elections and sexual assault survivors… I’ve done a lot of work with youth mental health.”
According to Rep. Marc Berman, he got into politics because growing up in Palo Alto showed him his privileges compared to friends he played competitive soccer with, and one of his relatives being a senator allowed him the opportunity to familiarize himself with politics. He also said that his role models are “my parents, Congressman Mike Honda and Senator Tom Daschle.”
When asked what his greatest strength is, he responded “listening and empathy.” Connecting back to his role model Tom Daschle, he also pointed out that you need empathy in any leader.
Marc Berman works to support youth
By Andrea Castilleros and Joseph Gutierrez
State Assemblymember Marc Berman would like to better protect the youth in his community through improved mental health services.
“In this year’s budget, I got $1.7 million for the state to identify the best online youth mental health and suicide prevention training that is available and then buy enough subscriptions to make it available for every middle school and high school student in the state for free,” Rep. Berman said.
According to kidsdata.org, “in 2013-2015, there were 7.9 suicides per 100,000 California youth ages 15-24.” Rep. Berman believes that support from community members can help teens dealing with mental health issues. “We need trainers for the prevention of suicide and depression,” he said.
He added that the goal is to help youth recover from trauma. “It’s important that we recover from that and we understand that is a part of growing up,” Rep. Berman said. “We need embrace failure.”
The homeless population is also a large demographic who suffer from mental health issues. “A lot of our homeless are going through mental health problems, so we need to get them into stable housing, but we can’t just then give them a key and walk away. We have to give them the wraparound services,” Rep. Berman said.
“More than one-quarter of the total homeless population nationwide live in California,” The New York Times states. This accounts for roughly 114,000 people.
Assemblymember Marc Berman believes California’s economy relies on economic change
By Thomas Maiello, Brandon Raybon and Alan Rivera
State Assemblymember Marc Berman believes that the current California tax system is creating economic inequality which shows through the education system.
On Oct. 5, Rep. Berman was interviewed by Summit Denali students during a press conference. “We rely too heavily on income tax and not on property tax,” he said.
“Our tax system is so volatile because we rely too heavily on income tax and not enough on things like sales tax or property tax,” Rep. Berman said. “When you have a strong economy you get a lot of income tax, and when you have a poor economy you get very little income tax and capital gains tax.”
Rep. Berman saw the effects of the California tax system, the largest being economic inequality, on different communities during his childhood. “I got interested in politics because when I played competitive soccer; I got to look at the kids around me and see how they were less fortunate than me,” he said. “It made me upset that I was able to receive a good education but other kids around me didn’t, even though it was just bad luck that got them where they were.”
The inequality in Rep. Berman’s childhood community, he argued, is the result of the California tax system. “When you get a downturn in the economy, the state gets way less money, and our school funding is kind of tied as a percentage of a state funding,” he explained.
According to the California Department of Education, the education budget makes up 40 percent of the state budget. “The state budget directs how education funds are to be spent,” the department’s website explains.
Rep. Berman believes that one way to solve this issue is to store money in reserves. “The responsible thing is to put money in reserves because we know that there is going to be an economic downturn.”
Assemblymember Marc Berman discusses his government’s stances
By Jacob Jasper, Kamal Lakisic and Saad Qazi
According to State Assemblymember Marc Berman, the state of California will continue to act independently from the federal government regarding issues such as climate change and immigration.
Rep. Berman said the federal government’s backtracking policies are “not making it easy for us … We think of ourselves as a shadow government … in opposition to federal policies.” Rep. Berman describes his party’s positions as opposition to many of the policies taken by the new administration, especially on issues of climate change and immigration.
His views echo those of the DNC: “These principles stand in sharp contrast to the Republicans, who have nominated as the standard-bearer for their party and their candidate for President a man who seeks to appeal to Americans’ basest differences, rather than our better natures.”
Rep. Berman said, when addressing his party’s policy on climate change in opposition to federal stance: “[We want to] establish our goal …100 percent renewable energy by 2025.” Here, Rep. Berman is reflective of the general state policy in California regarding climate change.
As follows, the Democratic Party is seen to hold some of those same views: “We will reduce methane emissions from all oil and gas production and transportation by at least 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 through common-sense standards for both new and existing sources and by repairing and replacing thousands of miles of leaky pipes. This will both protect our climate and create thousands of good-paying jobs.”
When defending his party’s policy on climate regulation measures, Rep. Berman said the policy “creates good jobs and also improves the environment.” He also stated that his government acted contrary to pressure from other states who felt such efforts were not a proper use of the California budget.