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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Coward, national traitor, job-killer Charles Koch refuse to debate California Marine Corps veteran Joel PowerVote.CA Francis

by Joseph Romm, Climate Progress, October 30, 2010

This week Joel Francis, a senior at Cal State Los Angeles and a Marine Corps veteran, flew to the Wichita, Kansas, headquarters of Koch Industries.  His mission was to knock on Charles Koch’s door and demand he defend his involvement in Prop 23.  CAP’s Jorge Madrid has the story.
“If you are going to try to hurt the economy of a state you don’t even live in, then you ought to have the courage to explain yourself in person,” said Francis.
Koch is one of the primary financial backers of a California ballot initiative, Prop 23, which aims to effectively repeal the states landmark climate and clean energy law.

Francis, a former student body president and member of the university’s debate team made public his intentions to travel to Koch Industries last week, in a video statement in which he challenged Koch to a public debate – “anytime, anywhere.”
The video has since gone viral on the web, and Francis garnered over 1,200 supporters in just a few days.

Silence and Security Guards
Not surprisingly, Koch has remained silent about his support for Prop 23, issuing only a “no comment” statement through 4 security guards posted at the building’s entrance when Francis and his coalition arrived.  The security guards then ordered the group to leave the premises.
“Unfortunately, though he prepared for our visit today, he didn’t prepare a statement or anything else in return. I find that to be a slap on the face to millions of young Californians,” Joel said.
While it was expected that Koch would not answer debate challenge, Francis and the opponents of Prop 23 can still claim a strong victory for mobilizing the voice of California’s university students.

The group organizing with Francis, PowerVote.CA, is a project of the California Student Sustainability Coalition, a network of thousands of university students in chapters that reach many of the state’s college campuses.  The group has been operating since 2001.

An Uncertain Future for College Grads
Joel Francis, like many college seniors, is nervous about his future job prospects after graduation.  He believes Prop 23 passing will make his prospects even worse.
“The job market is tough, and all graduating seniors are having to open the scope of the jobs they look at. We have to look as far and wide as possible, not just at the traditional jobs in our field…A million dollar donation [by Koch] is threatening the job opportunities out there for graduates like me.”
He has reason for concern. Numerous studies have indicated that Prop 23 threatens half a million jobs in California. This loss does not include the 100,000 new clean energy jobs California can expect to create in the next 10 years, and billions of dollars in private investmentthe state could unlock if its environmental and clean energy policies are upheld (and Proposition 23 is voted down).

Francis thinks of himself as “just one college student,” but he knows he can make his voice, and the voice of his generation, be heard on this critical issue.  He will continue his fight until Election Day – you can support Joel’s efforts here.

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