Remembering Maria Desiderio McEneany

We all lost a great friend and fierce champion for human rights when Maria McEneany lost her fight for life. We miss her greatly and grieve with her family and community.
SAN DIEGO-LOS ANGELES-ROCHESTER -- (August 21, 2020) Maria (Marie) McEneany's gift to humanity was her dedication to making other's lives better. Her genuine love for people, strong faith in God, empathy, giving heart, and a million-dollar smile lit up every room she walked into, making people feel welcome appreciated, and valued.

Maria grew up in Rochester, NY, attending Mercy High School, Buffalo State University and the University of Rochester. Maria dedicated herself to helping those with dyslexia and others learning disabilities serving as President of the BOCES #1 PTA, The Board of Directors of the Monroe County Learning Disabilities and Special Education Chair for the NY State PTA.

In 1984, the family moved to Palos Verdes Estates, CA, where Maria initiated programs addressing drug and alcohol abuse awareness, suicide prevention, and accredited peer counseling. Maria and her husband Paul served as Co-Chairs of the California Chapter of the Neurofibromatosis Foundation.

Maria lived her life vibrantly and worked passionately to make life better for those less fortunate than her. Maria was a natural leader in everything she did. The causes Maria championed are too numerous to list. Highlights include her advocacy for special needs youths and adults, fighting for gender equality, sheltering abused children and eliminating human trafficking. She is also remembered for the warm hospitality and boundless love she shared with family and friends.

Maria bravely fought a 4-year battle against several forms of cancer, in addition to lifelong challenges from neurofibromatosis (NF.) Maria was predeceased by her brother Nicholas and parents Francis and Sara Desiderio. Maria passed away at home in Rancho Santa Fe surrounded by her immediate family: devoted husband of 43 years Paul McEneany, son Bruce Jay Scott, daughter Sara McEneany Orlando, son-in-law Mike Orlando and beloved family boxer Enzo. Maria is survived by her brother Sam and her extended family of Desiderios, McEneanys, Orlandos and Montesantos.

Maria believed each of us can make a difference, particularly in the lives of those less fortunate and that it is our obligation to do so. Maria lived her life as a true humanitarian and steward. If you were blessed enough to meet Maria, your life was changed forever, as was ours.

Maria asked that donations, to remember her, be made to the Children's Tumor Foundation, a cause that was truly dear to her. Thank you.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Rochester Democrat And Chronicle from Sep. 16 to Sep. 27, 2020.

Good Trouble in Rancho Santa Fe

Recently the sleepy little town of Rancho Santa Fe has become the scene of street-corner political protests.  For a couple of months, there has been a table on the sidewalk selling Trump paraphernalia.  I have to admit that every time I drive by I have been tempted to scream obscenities at these Trump supporters.  However, I concluded that there must be a more effective way to respond.  To my delight, during the past weekend, countering the Trump table, anti-Trump, and Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters started rallying on Rancho Santa Fe street corners. 
The scene escalated when a woman holding a “Defund the Police” sign was told by a woman in a car that she hoped the protester would get raped. News of this brought out more BLM protesters.  Meanwhile, conservatives in the Ranch are up in arms over the “Fuck Trump” bullhorn chants in “their” sleepy little village and are expressing concern that the protesters might turn into rioters.  Even some Democrats are concerned that the protesters are going too far, and that they might dilute democratic ideals or progress.
Congressman John Lewis called for some good trouble. Is that appropriate in Rancho Santa Fe? Should RSF remain an enclave of the quietly affluent, protected from the realities of our ever more divisive world?  Isn’t RSF a perfect symbol of the inequities of our society, in which we monied folks don’t have to be worried about being pulled over for reasons of our skin color, or worry that we might end up with a knee on our necks, or that we will be disproportionately sent to jail for a crime for which a white person wouldn’t even be charged?
Are you willing to make a little good trouble?  I suggest that we club members spend some time on the sidewalks of Rancho Santa Fe (even if you don’t actually live here) and help keep the protests civil, peaceful, and even loving.  I believe that we can convey an anti-Trump, pro-Black Lives Matter, pro-Biden message, while being courteously troublesome.  I believe that we can exercise our Constitutional right to protest, peacefully, and without rioting.  This is a monumental election and while we have the privilege of thinking globally, we have the duty to act locally.  I encourage you to bring your signs and convey your thoughts.

Fall Book Review

Dark Money  by Jane Mayer

Written on the eve of the 2016 presidential election, Jane Meyer's exhaustive research into wealthy donors reveals that private foundations funded by them were subsidized by the government to work against that very government.

Barack Obama had no idea of the non-cooperative environment he was going up against in January 2009. The Koch brothers, Charles and David, had worked for decades to revive the ideas of the old John Birch Society.

The Kochs, and before them, Richard Scaife, introduced the idea of private foundations as an inheritance dodge. Others, representing a who's who of the moneyed elite -- Paul Weyrich, the Olin family (ammunition), Joe Coors, a holdover of the John Birch era, William Simon, Rockwell International had all funded foundations that were able to represent themselves as benevolent organizations but bent on fighting taxation and regulation.

The non-profits had borrowed ideas from the board of Philip Morris' pro-smoking campaign which encouraged guerilla warfare, and with that long-range planning strategy, the Cato institute was funded in 1974 by Charles Koch.

Various social welfare groups had sprung up since the 1970s, which under the U.S. Tax Code did not have to divulge the source of their funds and were also tax-deductible.  Before Citizen's United, these 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporations -- like the for profit's --  were restricted from spending for or against candidates in elections.

They had concentrated instead on establishing think-tanks, academic programs, legal centers, and issue advocacy organizations as a form of an ideological production line. By the early '80s, distrust of government exceeded distrust of business

By 2006 Koch was grossing $90 billion annually.

Karl Rove told an audience of moneymen in 2010, "people call us a vast right-wing conspiracy, but we're really a half-assed right-wing conspiracy. Now, it's time to get serious." He was speaking, of course, of the supreme court decision on the 'Citizen's United' case earlier in the year, which allowed unlimited political spending by corporations.

In 2006, only 2 percent of "outside" political spending came from "social welfare groups" that hid their donors. By 2010 this number exploded to 40%. Social welfare groups could spend any amount of money, without revealing who they were by using amorphous sounding names like "Americans for Prosperity", "Americans for Limited Government", or "Center to Protect Patient Rights."

The Citizen's United decision was made in part on the belief that political spending would be transparent. The Kochs and their billionaire partners took great pains to hide what they were doing with the money they raised. This was a selling point they used in their fundraisers as they funneled their gifts through 501(c)(6) tax-deductible instruments which shielded the identity of the donor and in effect, weaponized political philanthropy, with a subsidy from the Federal government.

The Koch enterprise in Maryland was instrumental in launching the tea party.

Altogether, there were seventeen allied front groups dedicated to conservative causes.

The Kochs had developed, in essence, their own political party -- large enough to rival the Republican party itself. These IRS qualified tax breaks allowed the Kochs to build a "full-service political factory". It was run like a shell game: masked identities of real donors, all leading back to deep-pocketed Right Wing organizations.

By 2012 outside groups may have outspent political parties and campaigns. The top 0.4 percent outspent the bottom 68%.

By 2014 there existed a bona fide oligarchy -- those at the top were purchasing the power to stay there.

The charitable subsidy was $800B in 2016.

Mitch McConnell and Joni Ernst are examples of a Koch success. As players in the establishment of the "James Madison Center for Free Speech", they rode the Betsy DeVos funneled funds to bring lawsuits against campaign finance restrictions.

They rose to twice cripple a democratically elected president and began to supplant the GOP by establishing a talent pipeline through educational institutions and secret seminars which supplied a growing fleet of nonprofits to mobilize public opinion.

Donors exercised power from the shadows, meeting in secret, hiding money trails, paying others to front for them. Peter Buffett called it the "charitable-industrial complex".

The Koch's fortunes had tripled from $14B each in 2009 to $41.6B each in 2015.

Through exhaustive investigation, Mayer connects all the organizations with their donor groups and exposes their long-term, cynical agenda as a direct line from the John Birch Society to today's players. The book is a wake-up call for those who still believe in the integrity of the electoral process.

As Louis Brandeis predicted -- "We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we may not have both."

Summer Book Review

Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator

--Gregory B. Jaczko, PhD.

Dr. Jaczko arranges his book chronologically beginning with his background as a physicist and enthusiastic supporter of nuclear energy.

As the youthful member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and later its chairman, Jaczko recounts his inability to influence the other members of the commission. Even in the face of several nuclear emergencies during the time he served, he was continually shocked at the amount of influence the nuclear power industry had over the NRC and the U.S. Congress. 

On the rare occasion when Dr. Jaczko had assembled what he thought was a coalition, he later found that individuals on the commission were more readily swayed by lobbyists than by his influence. 

"History--Forget & Repeat"

After the Three Mile Island accident, just days after the release of "The China Syndrome" in 1979, when everyone anticipated that new promises and a flurry of reforms would come forth, 100 planned nuclear plants were canceled in the U.S.

After 31 died at Chernobyl, from which hundreds were sickened and thousands contracted cancer, no changes were made to U.S. reactors. U.S. nuclear experts dismissed Chernobyl as "a different design" and refused to consider any learning opportunities.

In spite of severe corrosion in the reactor at Davis Besse in Ohio with Alloy 600 leading to near failure, Jaczko found the general notion was "that all knowledge of nuclear power is known."

Jaczko claims "Supporters of nuclear power viewed the [NRC] agency as a tool to promote the nuclear industry, rather than a force to regulate it."

Nor were these issues confined to the USA. As Fukishima lay smoldering, Jaczko's visits revealed that "nuclear power regulators were too accommodating to those they were supposed to regulate." The cabal of regulatory agencies and industry lobbyists refused to interest themselves in outside information.

As Jaczko retired from the commission and vicious fights over regulation, one key ingredient in power plant safety, fire protection, "was years behind."

All in all, Jaczko found that the "promise of perfect nuclear safety is a mirage", because if anything is certain, "nuclear accidents will happen."

Jaczko cooperated with Harry Reid in canceling the Yucca Mountain waste depository project in Nevada.

He found that "realistically forecasting the complex, long term behavior of spent nuclear fuel in underground facilities [is] technically impossible."

Nuclear power is, in Jaczko's words, "the most costly form of carbon-free electricity." An example is the venture of four proposed nuclear reactors in South Carolina and Georgia. These were to be the new Westinghouse AP 1000's, marking a return to plant construction after thirty years of no activity. Years of postponements and cost over-runs have reduced the number of reactors and forced Westinghouse into bankruptcy. Only one, the Vogtle plant, remains under construction. The amounts invested so far overshadow hopes of a positive return on investment from the power it could produce. (In June, the department of Energy bailed Vogtle out with billions of dollars in subsidy).

Jaczko's inevitable conclusion is that "Nuclear power is a failed technology," and, as Jaczko reflects on the waste produced, "In thirty thousand years when these companies no longer exist, who will be responsible for this material?"

San Onofre Nuclear Waste Storage: "Up Close and Personal"

SoCal Edison resumed partially-burying canisters containing 3.6 million pounds of highly radioactive nuclear waste at San Onofre, just 108 ft. away from our Ocean!  These thin-walled canisters can't be inspected or maintained and each of them contains the radioactivity of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. They are corroded by salt air and damaged during loading, potentially leading to hazardous radioactive leaks that endanger the lives of 8.4 million Southern Californians.



Nuclear Regulatory Commission Town Hall
Tuesday, Aug 20, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
25925 Camino Del Avion (San Juan Capistrano Community Center)
Meet with NRC staff: ask questions, offer comments.
Get an update on fuel-loading operations resumed last month.


Congressman Mike Levin Town Hall
Thursday, Aug 22, 5:30pm - 7:00pm
1050 Camino Del Mar (Del Mar City Hall)
Mike Levin has many nuclear experts and elected officials on his
San Onofre task force. He welcomes your questions about San Onofre.



For more information, visit 

Policy Update July 2019

Calls are still out for voters to sign up for the California "Citizens Redistricting Commission."

  • Of particular interest are qualified minority members. The committee serves for ten years with a stipend for meetings.
  • All CA voters are eligible if they have voted recently and have not served as political staff.
  • The deadline for application is Aug. 9. For more information go to

The California State Democratic Party Platform Committee Calendar has started with three meetings scheduled before their platform adoption in November.

  • There is a Southern California meeting scheduled for September 7th. Submissions deadline for platform items are on the same day.
  • For more information go to

The California State Legislature has adjourned until Monday, Aug. 12, 2019

  • With nearly a thousand bills within each house still under consideration, there is still a lot of work to do when the legislature is reconvened in August, with a deadline of passage by September.

National Party directors are wary of a DNC shift to the left.

  • They are concerned it may distract from the number one priority of the party: ending the re-election of the current administration.
  • Comparison to the elections of Bill Clinton reveals that even though he ran on a decidedly centrist campaign, the agenda he promoted was far from what the Republicans may have proposed.

The movement toward Universal Healthcare is approaching a fork in the road this year.

  • Current court challenges place the viability of the Affordable Care Act in doubt going forward even while governor Newsome has extended the provisions of the Act in California to undocumented immigrants.
  • If key items of the ACA are struck down, then several forces will be unleashed in the health insurance marketplace and Federal funds that California and other states have been relying on may dry up. That could leave patients with pre-existing conditions without insurance, Medicaid programs unfunded, and premiums may change radically.
  • The net effect of all these forces will likely be more disruptive and controversial than when the ACA was first implemented.
  • One of the primary roadblocks to the smooth transition to ACA was the communication of its particulars to the end-user. Many on the right went out of their way to infuse misinformation into the marketplace. The current administration has tried to limit information and access in several ways.

Congratulations to Rose Ann Sharp

Del Mar Times

Rose Ann SharpHonoree Rose Ann Sharp with 78th Assembly member Todd Gloria at the 2019 Women of Distinction event.
(Photo: Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Rose Ann Sharp of Del Mar is one of 17 women from across San Diego that were honored as 2019 Women of Distinction by 78th Assembly member Todd Gloria, at the Women's Museum of California in Liberty Station on March 20. The 78th Assembly includes San Diego County, Coronado, Del Mar, Imperial Beach, and Solana Beach.

“This is an opportunity to honor the women that make San Diego a better place to live,” Gloria said. “We are celebrating Women’s History Month in March and want to take this opportunity to recognize the outstanding contributions of women across this country because men didn’t just build the United States, women are a part of it as well. There would be no America without women.”

Each year, the California Legislature holds an annual Women of the Year ceremony in Sacramento, where each of the state’s 80 assembly district members honors one woman. And locally, San Diego expands on that to recognize multiple women. “We know the 78th Assembly District is home to a number of truly phenomenal women, so that’s why we wanted to honor them here at home,” Gloria said.

In the community service category, Del Mar resident Sharp was recognized for her founding of the Never Again CA group, which advocates for gun control.

“If there is one word to describe Rose Ann in my book, it would be fearless,” Gloria opened. “This woman is fearless because she founded the local Never Again CA chapter as part of the national Never Again movement to end gun violence following the horrific shooting in Parkland, Florida.”

At hearing this, someone yelled from the crowd “thank you!”

Gloria continued, “Her tireless leadership and dedication have encouraged the City of Del Mar and surrounding cities to move to end gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and state-owned property. When confronted by angry and hateful opposition, she is not afraid to expose the danger of gun shows and to stand up to gun show owners, all with the sole purpose of making our community a safer place for all of us. Particularly, our children. It’s Rose Ann’s courage and devotion to Never Again CA that inspired me to author legislation this year to prohibit the sale of fire of firearms and ammunition at the Del Mar fairgrounds.”

Six days after the Women of Distinction awards, Gloria’s office announced the Assembly Public Safety Committee would hear legislation to prohibit the sale of guns and ammunition at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

“I said she is fearless because we have to take on the NRA, but we have something they don’t have: The fearless Rose Ann,” Gloria said.

The 2019 roster of awardees also included: Linda Tu, Roz Winstead, Stephanie Benvenuto, Diane Peabody Straw, Tracie Jada O’Brien, Laurie Black, Rose Ann Sharp, Jen LaBarbera, Tessa Williams, Darcy Pavich, Steph Johnson, Cristina Marquez, Marlena Balderas, Nicole Capretz and Vernita Todd.

Nominations for next year’s Women of Distinction are now open and can be submitted through

Copyright © 2019, The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. All rights reserved.


Policy and Political Action Update, March 2019


  • Border wall limitation considered by Senate
    • Texas voters were evenly split in January poll
  • New Gun Control bill is inching through Congress
    • Passed House, now headed to Senate
  • Green New Deal: House Resolution 109 was introduced in February. This is an ambitious outline of the desire to increase effort toward several objectives:
    • Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions, clean air & water
    • Sustainable wages, retirement security, housing & healthcare
    • Promoting justice and equality
    • More education, providing higher income jobs, income security for all     
  • State Legislative Calendar
    • Closed to new bills on Feb 22nd
    • Number of bills under consideration increased to 2,576
    • The Deadline to pass bills is September 13th
  • The State Democratic Convention is May 31-June 2nd, Focus:
    • New leadership and resolutions
    • California Democratic Party supports the LA teacher's strike
    • Opposes SCOTUS ruling on Military/transgender
  • Health Care Initiatives
    • Governor Newsom campaigned for Universal Healthcare, as did many legislators
    • Nothing showed up in the legislative agenda which closed last week
  • Local activity in February
    • SD County Dem Central Committee elected youngest leadership team ever for 2019-20
    • SD County Board of Supervisors to sue Trump Administration over its policy on asylum seekers
  • Progressive Democrats of America - 30 plus items of interest for the advancement of resolutions and legislation; Top 6 are:
    • End to private prisons
    • Universal health care
    • Establishment of a State bank
    • Reduce fracking
    • Teach civics in high school
    • Reform of corporate charter schools