Get Their Policy On
Sacramento Day Brings Over 100 to Capital
By Maricela Carlos
On March 25, 2003, over 100 energetic
individuals clad in bright yellow shirts descended on the California
state capital as participants in Community Technology Sacramento Day.
These yellow-shirted activists were community technology leaders and
supporters of all ages, who came from all over the state to take part
in the exciting policy making process. As part of an effort to rally
underserved communities to be active participants in the digital revolution,
the California Community Technology Policy Group (CCTPG) organized
this successful second annual Sacramento Day event.
The day's goals were to: 1) Raise participants' awareness of the
need and opportunity for them to become involved in policy making;
2) Help participants to be comfortable with the idea that they are
often the best advocates for their communities; and 3) Teach participants
how to be strong advocates for their organizations and their communities.
The day began with an informative training session that taught
participants about the policy-making process and how to effectively
communicate with their legislators to advocate for their issues.
Some of the issues participants raised included: increasing access
to technology, particularly for new and/or inexperienced users;
getting funding and other resources to provide technology programs
and services in their communities; and getting youth involved in
using technology for job training purposes.
CCTPG was also honored to have other guests in attendance, including
State Senator Debra Bowen, to whom CCTPG presented an award for
her legislative leadership in the area of community technology.
Sen. Bowen has sponsored several community technology bills for
which CCTPG played an active advocacy role. SB 1863, which was signed
in to law last year, allows the utilization of a special fund, the
California Teleconnect Fund (CTF), to provide discounted telecommunication
services to schools, hospitals and community-based organizations.
In addition, Commissioner Loretta Lynch from the California Public
Utilities Commission (CPUC) joined the day's activities. The CPUC
is a state agency that regulates privately -owned telecommunication
companies and, as such, is a critical player in all telecommunications
policy decisions in California. Commissioner Lynch reviewed three
key ways the CPUC planned to modify the CTF. According to Lynch,
community-based organizations would be eligible for a 50% discount
on their telecommunications expenses, the application process would
be streamlined, and it will be unnecessary for users of the CTF
On a related topic, Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh spoke to the group
about AB 855, which would develop a digital divide fund by taking
15% of revenue generated from leasing state-owned property to telecommunication
Joel Bush from the Department of Information Technology speaking
Armed with this knowledge of the latest updates in the telecommunication
policy scene, participants had the opportunity to brush up their
advocacy skills as they role-played their upcoming legislative visits.
Once participants got had the opportunity to practice their new
skills with their assigned teams, they spent the afternoon visiting
their legislators. "We visited our representative's office
and he remembered us from last year
we are looking forward
to delivering our message again next year" said a participant.
By the end of the day, participants had visited 80 State Senators
and Assembly Mmembers - over 1/3 of the State legislators - twice
as many visits as last year!
The community technology contingent was especially visible walking
through the State Capitol building; passersby could be overheard
commenting on the bright yellow t-shirts. At the end of the day,
the yellow shirted crews were tired but excited at the day's activities.
One participant stated, "it was nice to find there are people
actively involved in pursuing the issues of accessible technology."
While CCTPG's efforts will continue throughout the year, Sacramento
Day participants are all looking forward to Sacramento Day 2004
when they can regroup and keep advocating for equitable access to
technology so that all of our communities can take part in the digital
Maricela Carlos is a Program
Associate at Community Partners and is an active member of CCTPG.
She can be reached at Mcarlos@CommunityPartners.org.