Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

Stephanie very unsure about this path but I wanted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephanie
Morillo

POSC
198G

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Professor
Loveridge

December
7, 2017

Introduction:

During
the first week of the quarter I was looking for another Political Science class
to enroll in but after talking to my advisor and expressing my desire to get an
internship she suggested me to talk to Professor Loveridge who was in his
office. I had wanted to take an internship with through his class but I when we
had to sign up for an appointment all the appointment sloths were full. I
decided to take a chance and approach him to ask him if he had any internships available.
He told me that one student had actually dropped the class and that he was
looking for an intern for Congressman Mark Takano’s office. Since I had taken
his Political Science 198G class before and had received an A, he was willing
to add me in his class without a need of an interview. I was very glad to know
I was going to take the class again but I had never seen myself interning for a
congressman. Due to our lack of classes related to local politics at UCR I was not
sure what a congressman’s job in his/her district. The few knowledge I had in
regards to a congressman’s job was that he/she was part of the House of
Representatives whose job is to pass bills and vote on legislation. About a
year and a half ago my goals were very different from the current one. I wanted
to go to law school and possibly get a human rights degree. I was very unsure
about this path but I wanted to work in a field related to public service.
Those intentions had not changed but I hoped that this internship would give me
a better insight of what my next step should be after I graduate.

 Overall, interning at the office of
Congressman Mark Takano helped me realize how broad the job of the
congressman’s staff. I did not know how many services were provided to the
constituents in the pertaining district. Services which I had never heard could
be taken care of from a congressman’s office like helping with taxes or social
security issues. I always believed that constituents always had to seek for
assistance directly from the respective institutions. Through my interaction
with some of the staff I was able to learn that at some point in their lives they
were also not sure what they wanted to do with their careers. At my age I would
have wanted to be sure of what I want to do with my career but I was told that
it was okay. I learned that we get to figure that out with time and through
experience. After this experience I now have no doubt that I would like to work
in public service because helping others is just very satisfying for me.

I was
able to learn about the work of congress and make connections with the work I
was doing at the office through two books. The
U.S. Congress: A Very Short Introduction by Ritchie, Donald and One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the
Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported by
Dionne, Jr., E.J. These two books explained to me the work of congress and its
purpose. Congress is many times considered the most important branch of
government. Currently having 435 members in the House of Representatives, some
of their basic responsibilities is legislation, education and advocacy. Some
would argue that advocacy is one of the main important duties as it “involves
pleading their constituents’ interests and attitudes on national issues and
providing them with constituent service”1.
As a democracy promoting and protecting constituent’s views and interest is
very important.

 

District 41st:

District
41st constitutes the cities of Jurupa Valley, Moreno Valley, Perris
and Riverside with a population of 760,165. Currently having Mark Takano as the
congressman, this is his third term in office. Contituents show their
satisfaction through the reelection of their congressmen since there is no
re-election limit. In The U.S. Congress:
A Very Short Introduction by Ritchie Donald  the author says representatives “enjoy a high
rate of reelection, partly because of the greater name recognition that comes
with holding office and partly because their parties in the state legislature
drew the congressional boundaries to maximize the party’s strength in the
district.”2.
Mark Takano had initially been elected in November 2012 and recently he was re-elected
for his third term in November 2016. It is very clear that his reelection is
due to his popularity in the district and the support he gets from people. He
was born and raised in the city of Riverside where he graduated in 1979 from La
Sierra High School. He is from a Japanese- American decent and is the first gay
person of color to be elected as congressman. He earned his bachelor degree in
Government in1983 from Harvard College and worked as a high school teacher at
Rialto Unified School District. From this stems the importance that he gives to
the educational system in his district. Mark Takano serves as the “Vice Ranking
Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and as a member of the
Education and Workforce Committee, and the Science, Space, and Technology.”3 It is important to
know the background of the congressman of each city because through this
information the constituents can relate to their representative. Also,
information about the work that the congressman is doing is of great
importance.

 Throughout the years the representative’s ways
of communicating with constituents to keep them informed has changed.
Currently, “representatives use Web surveys and have turned their Web sites
into electronic newsletters. They participate in town meetings on the Internet,
inviting home-state residents to participate in a telephone conference call
with the lawmaker”4.The
work of a congressman is very important but the work of his staff is often
undermined. The work that the staff does it to help constituents directly by
providing them with services pertaining to their everyday matters. In the
Riverside office, where I interned there is 5 staff members which are: District
director, Constituent Services Representative, Case Work Manager and Operations
Director. The office works either directly or indirectly with federal agencies.
Some of these agencies vary since there is number of services that are provided
for constituents.  For examples “the
water we drink, the cars we drive, the bicycles we pedal, the streets we walk—
all are the products of government bureaucracy in action. We take it all for
granted, but we expect the highest levels of service.”5
Examples of services that I had experienced assisting in the office were the utility
company, telephone, and cable.

The
congressman’s staff assists the complaints of constituents about city
departments and assist them by attempting to solve their issue as
intermediators.  The office gets
complaints about the cities infrastructure and structure like the streets,
parks, transportation, traffic, graffiti, gang problems, etc. Many times the
staff members will assist constituents by directing them to the right agency or
if they don’t belong to the district they will provide them information with
the respective council member or supervisor of their city. A lot of times the
office staff are contacted by constituents who seek help with services like
filing their taxes,  taking out student
loans, receiving their retirement benefits, unemployment issues, employer
complaints, or mortgage refinancing, etc. The office also offers assistance
with federal agencies like the Social Security/ Medicare, Veteran’s
Administration and citizenship and immigration service

Local Government:

            Local
government is where all the governmental decisions affect the population
directly. As mentioned in class by professor Loveridge, local government is
where the action is because money is spent locally. All the services that the
congressman’s office helps with are services that were payed by the government.
In the book One Nation After Trump: A
Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet
Deported by Dionne, Jr  the author
explains that “local governments are
the obvious first responders for reviving community. One promising strategy is
to leverage public schools to help build social bonds and address neighborhood
problems”6Meaning
that the services like education, transportation, welfare, health, environment,
etc, are administered by the local government. The most important lesson that I
learned is that the local government is most likely to help you when you have
an issue because they can help you directly. Federal government will not take
the time to answer constituent’s calls and help them with their everyday
services. Through the local government you could have your opinions heard
through town hall meetings or just by calling and putting in your comments on
IQ. As explained in the book Politics of the Administrative Process, “as we
move from the federal to the state and then to local governments, the
administrative tools are more likely to be direct: from local ambulances to
libraries, schools to criminal justice, local administration is most likely to
be direct administration”7.
There are direct and indirect tools that are used by the congressman’s office
to administrate the district. The majority of these tools are direct like
social security but also use indirect tools through the disbursing of grants.
When going to the congressman’s website you are able to apply for grants. These
grants are meant “to encourage other levels of government to do things they
might not otherwise have done; regulating behavior to change private-sector
actions; handing out vouchers to allow citizens to purchase services from
private organizations; and administering loan programs to enhance the ability
of individuals and private organizations to borrow private money to pursue
public goals”8As
Ritchie Ronald emphasizes in his book representatives like Congressman Mark
Takano hold themselves first and foremost to their constituents. For this
reason his office in riverside focuses a lot on providing services their
constituents. Four of the services that I’m most familiar with are Veteran’s
Affairs, involvement with district’s schools, Immigration, and Meetings and
Recognition.

 

Veterans Affairs:

            The
majority of phone calls that we received in the office were from veterans or
families of veterans who needed help with some of their benefits. Congressman
Mark Takano serves as the Vice Ranking Member of the House Committee on
Veterans’ Affairs and the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Economic
Opportunity.  In
district 41, the Riverside County, has the 8th largest veteran
population in the country9.
The congressman seeks to increase the access to veterans for health services
and to give them more educational opportunities. He is able to help the
veterans who call the office through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The
purpose of the Department of Veterans Affairs is an agency that seeks to
recognize the contributions veterans have made to the nation. As mentioned in
the book Politics of the Administrative
Process, this department “runs the nation’s single largest health and
hospital care system, while BIA has its own health clinics— and each operates
independently of other health agencies organized by function at the federal,
state, and local levels.”10
Another resource to help veterans is the BI Bill which Congressman Mark Takano
seeks to expand.  The book One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the
Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported explains
that the GI Bill is “one of the greatest investment projects in American
history, millions of veterans were empowered to pursue higher education, start
businesses, and buy their own homes.”11
The G.I Bill could be good to help veterans get a higher education but
education companies exploit their educational services. For this reason
Congressman Mark Takano has introduced the Career Ready Students Veterans Act
to make sure that these educational programs meet the standard to receive the
G.I Bill payouts12.
Many veterans call the office constantly and apply for the benefits they
qualify for. I was able to organize some of the casework related to this topic
and send emails to the Veteran’s Affairs Department to get it approved.

 

 

 

Educational Participation:

            One of the main duties of a
representative is education. Congressman Mark Takano in particular is very
involved in the educational system of his district since he was a high school
teacher at Rialto Unified School District. The reason why education and
children are important is because they are the future constituents who are
going to shape the future As Dionne Jr. says in his book “community schools ‘engage
families and communities as assets in the lives of their children and youth.’
In so doing, they strengthen social bonds and invest in the future vitality of
their communities.”13
I was particularly able to help with the Congressional Arts competition which
is a “nation-wide
high school arts competition is sponsored by the Members of the U.S. House of
Representatives.”14 The
purpose of the competition is to recognize and encourage the talent of high
school students. Any student is able to apply as long as they apply to the
respective district they belong to. They have a variety of options of how to
express their art. Either through paintings, drawings, photographs, prints,
collaged, etc. The winner’s piece of art then is displayed in Washington DC. I
was able to help with this event by gathering contact information from art
teachers, principals, and counselors and saving them in an excel document for
Heidi to save. All the information to how to apply for the competition is also
in the Congressman’s website or of course constituents have the option of
calling the office.

 

 

 Immigration:

The
office is also often called for services in regards to their passport or
immigration services. District 41st like many other districts in
California have a vast amount of immigrants. Many times according to the needs
of the constituent,  a caseworker will
look into the constituent’s needs and will direct them to which institution
could assist them the best. The office helps with people who want to apply for
permanent residences or green card, naturalization, employment authorization,
legal advice, etc.15
Their website provides them with information that could be useful and also has
link that direct them to the U.S citizenship and Immigration services.  Mark Takano in particular is openly a
supporter to the comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) for undocumented
immigrants. In his website he talks about how more than 12 million immigrants
in the United States do not have a legal status. He wants highs skilled
employees and agricultural workers to have access to a citizenship since many
of these people have been living here for many years and contributing to the
economy. The congressman is also a huge supporter of the Dream Act because he
believes that young immigrant students should have the opportunity to have an
education. Many of these students were brought to this country by their parents
at a very young age and were raised here. For these students this country is
their home and they deserve an opportunity. Lastly, congressman Mark Takano is
a cosponsor of the “Uniting American Families Act” which prioritizes family
based immigration and also in his website he mentions that “under current law,
LGBT Americans are denied the opportunity to sponsor their permanent partners
for residency in the United States. Many of these couples are married under the
laws of the states in which they reside, but they are treated differently than
are straight married couples.”16
He wants people from the LGBT community to be treated fairly like heterosexual
couples. He understands the importance of immigrants in this country and he
reflects that on the quality service that the staff provides to them.

 

Meetings and Recognition:

            Congressman’s Mark Takano like other
congressmen holds events, workshops, informational meetings, and town halls
meetings to address different types of topics and issues. As Ritchie Donald
states in his book The U.S. Congress: A
Very Short Introduction representatives “legislative function includes
holding hearings and reporting out bills, while education requires informing
their constituents about the issues and explaining the stands they have taken.”17
During the events he gives recognition to veterans, women educators, people who
are completing programs to become citizens, DACA members, etc. Even I as an
intern received a recognition for the completion of my internship at his
office. It is very important to recognize constituents since that is how you
keep them involved in politics and more specifically local politics. I they are
being praised for their participation they are most likely to continue to do
it.

            In
conclusion, my experience interning at Congressman’s Mark Takano allowed me to
learn more about local politics and the importance of it. I learned the
complexity of the office and all the services they provide for their
constituents which is numerous. Through the two book reviews and the book of
Politics of Administrative Process I was able to make connections between the
staff and the direct and indirect tool that they use to administrate. Lastly,
after this experienced I have learned that it takes time and experience to
realize what your future career will be but I have learned through this that I am
most likely going to pursue something related to public service.

 

 

 

 

1
Ritchie,
Donald A.. The U.S. Congress: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short
Introductions) (p. 37). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

 

2 Ritchie, Donald
A.. The U.S. Congress: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
(pp. 28-29). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

 

3 “Biography | U.S. Congressman Mark Takano of
California’s 41st District.” About | U.S. Congressman Mark Takano of
California’s 41st District, takano.house.gov/about/biograph

4
Ritchie,
Donald A.. The U.S. Congress: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short
Introductions) (p. 39). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

 

5
Kettl,
Donald F. (Francis). Politics of the Administrative Process (p. 27). SAGE
Publications. Kindle Edition.

6 Dionne, Jr., E.J.. One Nation After Trump: A Guide for
the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported (pp.
240-241). St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition.

 

7 Kettl, Donald F. (Francis). Politics of the
Administrative Process (p. 34). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

8 Kettl, Donald F. (Francis). Politics of the
Administrative Process (p. 35). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

 

9
“Solutions
for Veterans | U.S. Congressman Mark Takano of California’s 41st
District.” Issue | Issues | U.S. Congressman Mark Takano of California’s
41st District, takano.house.gov/issues/veterans.

10 Kettl, Donald F.
(Francis). Politics of the Administrative Process (pp. 140-141). SAGE
Publications. Kindle Edition.

 

11 Dionne, Jr.,
E.J.. One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the
Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported (p. 178). St. Martin’s Press. Kindle
Edition.

 

12
“Solutions for Veterans | U.S. Congressman Mark Takano of California’s 41st
District.” Issue | Issues | U.S. Congressman Mark Takano of California’s
41st District, takano.house.gov/issues/veterans.

 

13 Dionne, Jr.,
E.J.. One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the
Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported (p. 241). St. Martin’s Press. Kindle
Edition.

 

14
“Arts Competition | U.S. Congressman Mark Takano of California’s 41st
District.” Art Competition | Services | U.S. Congressman Mark Takano of
California’s 41st District, takano.house.gov/services/art-competition.

 

15
“Passports
and Immigration | U.S. Congressman Mark Takano of California’s 41st
District.”Services | U.S. Congressman Mark Takano of California’s 41st
District, takano.house.gov/services/passports.

16
“Immigration
| U.S. Congressman Mark Takano of California’s 41st District.” Issue |
Issues | U.S. Congressman Mark Takano of California’s 41st District,
takano.house.gov/issues/immigration.

17
Ritchie, Donald A.. The U.S. Congress: A Very Short
Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (p. 37). Oxford University Press.
Kindle Edition.

 

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