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Denise Munro Robb and the 44th President of the U.S. of A.

I was stunned to learn recently that Denise Munro Robb won tickets to last month’s Town Hall Meeting with our President, considering she had also won the coveted tickets to Obama’s inauguration last January! Did this red-head’s membership in the Green Party give her the luck of the Irish? On reflection, I conceded that maybe all is fair in love and war if Denise, who has dedicated her life to stand up for what she believes in, can beat the odds and win the lottery twice. When Denise ran for City Council District 4 in 2001, the LA Weekly gave her this heartfelt endorsement:

“Denise Munro Robb, (is) a resourceful, committed activist who successfully spearheaded a yearlong fight to halt the destruction of historic apartment buildings, many of which offer decent affordable housing, in her Wilshire-area neighborhood. She’s also been active in the Green Party and local environmental causes — as a candidate, she’s earned the Sierra Club’s highest possible rating… The hitch is that the 39-year-old Robb has little chance of winning. Conventional wisdom dooms her candidacy, in large measure because her campaign embodies the very attributes that make her appealing, including her refusing to accept donations from developers and lobbyists. She’s going to raise about $25,000 in a race where the top spenders could blow half a million. So while urging voters to support her, we also have to note distinctions between the moneyed candidates.”

Smiling Spider: Did campaigning at the local level make you feel closer to the President even if you ran your campaign more like a Dennis Kucinich than an Obama?

Denise Munro Robb: That’s interesting, I forgot about that no, I didn’t feel connected in that way because Obama had millions (he raised over 700 million) and I raised $60,000.  They just don’t take you seriously unless you have tons of money. What do we have in common? Obama and I both taught Constitutional law (I was a Teacher Assistant) and we both are concerned about the killing of the constitution by the Bush administration. And of course, we’re both cute!

Smiling Spider: Dennis Kucinich had to go to court to be admitted in some of the debates. Didn’t you complain at the time of your campaign that you were shunned?

Denise Munro Robb: Yes. I forced them to put me t in a debate where I wasn’t intially welcome.  Then towards the end of the campaign my volunteers and I were listening to the radio and we heard the top two best funded candidates in my race being interviewed. So we stormed the radio station and made them put us on. The next show invited me to stay as a guest for a full hour!  It was pretty wonderful.

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Denise Munro Robb in DC, January 20th, 2009.

Smiling Spider: You won a ticket to the inauguration, what “privileges” did it give you over the sans-tickets like me?

Denise Munro Robb: Oh boy, the privilege to stand out in the cold for 5 or 6 hours before the ceremony began.  The privilege to be pushed around like cattle.  After waiting in one line for HOURS someone with a bullhorn would say “you’re in the wrong line, silver ticket holders must be over here” and people who came hours after us were already way ahead of us by then. We were able to stand near the reflecting pool but we couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t even tell who Obama was. The video screen had a tree in front of it so we couldn’t see that way either.  Also, there were multiple sound systems that seemed to be crossing each other so we literally couldn’t hear anything.  The only thing I really liked was that I was with all these other people having a shared moment in history.  The energy of the city was exciting.

Smiling Spider: What was your most memorable moment?

Denise Munro Robb: Walking through a tunnel afterward for a couple of hours trying on our way back home.  Also most subway stops were closed and buses couldn’t move so it took us many many hours to get home.  We walked part of the way.  I was in a lot of pain, as I have some back issues. A highlight was meeting my Congressman Adam Schiff. And eating cookies in his office.

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Denise’s view for most of the inauguration.

Smiling Spider: How different was the town hall meeting with the President?

Denise Munro Robb: I loved loved loved the town hall.  Instead of 1 or 2 millions of people, only 1000 were present. Obama was near us and I could see and hear him and he did NOT pre-screen questions the way Bill Clinton did.  He was amazing and talked about poverty and homelessness (at which time I started to openly sob because I had never heard a president talk at length about these issues) and the need for national health care.  He can’t help us with education much although he will increase some federal funding for schools.  But they’re only a small part of the budget. As a teacher I’m concerned though because we have an 8 billion dollar shortfall in public schools.

Smiling Spider: We know Obama is charismatic and talks from the heart, but what was the purpose of that town hall meeting? What did he have to say to Angelenos specifically?

Denise Munro Robb: I think he wanted to find out what California needed from the stimulus packet as we’re getting a lion’s share of federal monies to try to save our state.  We’re in big big trouble.

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Obama at Miguel Contreras Learning Center. March 19th, 2009.  Click here for full text of town hall meeting.

Smiling Spider: As a member of the Green Party, are you satisfied with Obama’s energy policies?

Denise Munro Robb: Well, he didn’t speak about it but I hear he supports “clean coal” which is ridiculous.  He did talk about solar power which I loved and he’s already started implementing the greening of homes as a way to create jobs and combat global warming but we are a long way from doing what needs to be done.  After seeing the movie “FUEL” by Josh Tickell I learned there are many alternative fuels that we can start using right now to cut emissions in half or more. Algae may prove to be the best renewable source of fuel and there are even microorganisms that “eat” plastic, etc.  I know Obama is committed to science (he’s said as much in many speeches) so I hope that a lot of money will go into speeding up the process.  Israel, among other promises, is already planning to be oil free in a short time or at least have all electric cars in just a few years.  Also, Germany is way ahead of us environmentally (as usual… the Green Party was founded there).

Lastly, Greens and others are very concerned about the war on Afghanistan.  We see it as a continuation of the failed Bush administration.  Afghanistan is a terribly poor country and all that we have done has just increased the opium trade as a means for their survival.  I don’t know why we need a “war” to get a few crackpots who are threatening us. What happened to the original plan to get Osama Bin Laden? The CIA was supposed to bring a special elite team to go in and find him. That was the original intent.  Surveillance, intelligence, doesn’t require bombing of innocent civilians.  Obama may end up in another endless war/quagmire and at this time in our history (aside from being morally wrong) it’s dangerous for our failing economy.

Smiling Spider: What are you focusing in on these days?

Denise Munro Robb: I still run the Miracle Mile Action Committee (even though I’m living in Pasadena) but I’m trying to scale back because I need to finish my Ph.D.  My contributions now involve teaching college students.  I give them extra credit for volunteering and various other activities and so far a number of my students have signed up to help with the Southwest Voter Education Registration Project, South Central Farmers, Health Care for All and the League of Women Voters.  I plan to spend the next 10 or 20 years teaching young people about why it’s exciting to be involved in politics, either running for office, as an activist or simply participating at a local level to effect change.

I’m still active with the Green Party too and we’re busy educating people about alternative fuels, weaning ourselves off of foreign oil. We just hosted Josh Tickell who made the movie “FUEL” and I took my students to the movies as a group to see it.

Smiling Spider: And on the comedy front?

Denise Munro Robb: You can see me on Saturday, May 2nd in Culver City at The Spot, 4455 Overland Avenue @ 7:30pm. The show is free and the food is pretty good. They have ice cream too!!

Denise Robb performing last September at the “Stand Up for Obama” fundraiser. My favorite Denise joke: “I have car insurance but no medical insurance, so whenever I get sick I have to get in my car and smash it up.”

Denise Munro Robb has appeared on A&E, Lifetime, MTV and Comedy Central.

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