Post image for Protests on 4/15 Up the Ante in the Fight for $15 in San Diego

By Doug Porter

It’s no longer about just fast food; the movement for a fifteen dollar an hour wage is expanding to embrace low-wage workers everywhere, along with the larger questions of inequality.

Everywhere includes San Diego, where organizers are planning a full day of actions. Fast food workers from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s , Subway, Sonic, and Taco Bell will be taking a ‘day off.’ Security guards and janitors will participate in a mid-day downtown protest against an-as-yet-unnamed “bad employer.”

A community-based demonstration is planned for City Heights starting at 1:30 calling attention to the need to decriminalize the poor in addition to the pay demands. At 3pm a bus will leave from the Rosa Parks Park and Performance Annex headed for a city-wide convergence on the San Diego State University campus (map) starting at 4pm.

The rally at SDSU will include support for rolling back student fees and the start of a unionization drive of the 3000 low wage employees of the campus Aztec Shops. (More info)

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Post image for A Public Interest Message About the San Diego City Charter

By Norma Damashek

Maybe you missed the story in the NYT a couple of months ago that characterized certain San Diegans as “aggressively bland…scrubbed of their character… command(ing) so little attention…”

Yes, the description is a dead ringer for our current mayor Kevin Faulconer.  But no, the story wasn’t about him.

It was about a new No.1 starter for our  hometown baseball team– left in the lurch three years ago by a wily real estate developer who amassed mega-millions through canny downtown redevelopment deals with obliging city officials and then headed off to Texas with his publicly-subsidized loot. For former Padres owner John Moores, the public good was hardly the point of his business plan.

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Post image for California’s Severe Voting Drought

By Anthony York / Capital & Main

A record-low percentage of Californians bothered to cast ballots last November, and there is no shortage of explanations being offered. Everything from voter apathy to sophisticated micro-targeting by political campaigns has been cited as the reason for the abysmal 42 percent turnout among registered voters.

But a new analysis of voting statistics and economic data suggests that California’s surging poverty and inequality rates are also partially to blame for the poor turnout.

“As home prices soar throughout the state and the middle class shrinks, we are increasingly creating a democracy where a growing number of people on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder are not participating,” says Mike Madrid, president of GrassrootsLab and author of a forthcoming study on poverty and voter turnout. “The result is a political system that increasingly ignores the political needs of poor people.”

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Post image for Lena Horne: A Great Lady Who Broke the Color Line

Lena Horne was the first black woman to get a contract with a major Hollywood Studio

By John Lawrence

Born into a black bourgeoisie family in 1917, Lena Horne was signed up in the NAACP by her grandmother, Cora Calhoun Horne, a college graduate, at the age of two. The Hornes owned a four-story residence in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn.

The distinguished Horne family included teachers, activists and a Harlem Renaissance poet. Lena’s uncle became dean of a black college. According to James Gavin’s biography of Lena, Stormy Weather, the black bourgeoisie were descendants of favored slaves “privileged blacks who, by virtue of their brains or their sexual allure to their masters, had worked in the house, not in the field. During the decade-long heyday of Reconstruction, they’d used their cachet to start businesses and gain social standing.”

Lena’s grandmother drilled into her respectability at all costs. She was to use proper diction, no dialect allowed, and always present herself as a lady. Cora was a determined fighter for black causes, and, despite her disdain for whites, she married a white man. According to Gavin, Cora’s cafe au lait skin, thin lips and delicate nose betrayed generations of intermingling with whites. Her maiden name, Calhoun, came from her father’s slavemaster in Georgia, Dr. Andrew Bonaparte Calhoun. His uncle was Senator John C Calhoun who championed slavery as God’s will.

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Post image for Indiana’s So-Called Religious Freedom Law: If It Walks Like a Duck…

By Doug Porter

For a while there I thought Republicans of the sane persuasion (a vanishing species) might prevail on matters relating to the legal status of gay and transgender people. One state after another was giving up on fighting same-sex marriage. 

What with “New Republicans” like Carl DeMaio emerging and the Log Cabin GOP caucus gaining legitimacy, I figured the party brass would leave it the hardcore to draw inspiration from the Obama Derangement Syndrome for the next year or so.. 

Then along came Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, signing a bill shepherded by lobbyists representing anti-gay rights organizations conflating freedom of religion with the right to discriminate. Voila! Now the Guns and God wing of the party has an issue to rally behind. 

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Post image for Baseball is Not a Metaphor

By Jim Miller

Baseball season is here again and with it comes one of the last times in my only son’s fleeting childhood that I have the opportunity to help coach his team. This brings much joy and more suffering because, as we all know, most of the game involves failure.

When you watch young people pitch, they throw balls more often than not. And when they try to hit, they strike out a lot. It’s a house of pain.

So you spend a great deal of your time telling them to keep their heads up and to stay in it. Indeed, the game is hard enough that, for lots of our young people bent on more immediate gratification, the patience and work it takes to get better is too much for them.

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Post image for A Note About the 50th Selma Jubilee March

By Rev. Richard Lawrence

March 7, 2015 is a Saturday that will live forever in the hearts of every freedom-loving citizen in the world who caught the news about the 50th Selma Jubilee March.

That day found me completely overpowered with emotions as my four grown kids and I pushed to stand as close as we could to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to hear our President speak.

I had marched in Selma in 1965, and I remembered the terror of being in a place where I was not wanted and where the opponents of voting rights for Black Americans were uninhibited in demonstrating their first Amendment right to freely express their disdain for our cause and savagely denigrated us for our misguided choice of lovers.

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Thumbnail image for What the World Needs Now is Empathy

What the World Needs Now is Empathy

by Ernie McCray 03.30.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ernie McCray

(This poem was written to kickoff the 1st Annual Social Justice and Education Conference at San Diego City College, March 26-27, 2015)

I look around me,
breathing in deeply
as I reflect on the totality
of what I see.
Before me, a man lays sleeping
on a downtown street
that jumps with a crisp
four/four time Hip-Hop beat,
bouncing from an upbeat retreat,
where folks hang out,
chillaxed to the max
as it’s the “Thank God it’s Friday,”
day of the week.

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Thumbnail image for Looking Back at the Week: March 22-28

Looking Back at the Week: March 22-28

by Brent E. Beltrán 03.29.2015 Looking Back at the Week

Compiled by Brent E. Beltrán

This week’s edition of Looking Back at the Week features articles by San Diego Free Press and OB Rag regulars, irregulars, columnists, at-large contributors and sourced writers on the “Death for Gays” initiative, marijuana legalization, easier voting, Civic San Diego, evil SD Bay monster, Obamacare hypocrite Ted Cruz, an ode to the Surfing Madonna, the criminal HBSC, California’s drought, Zurbarán and Sorolla, Uptown Planners hating on cyclists, Donna Frye on open government and a tsunami of Ocean Beach news.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Coach Pinkerton Ushers In a Golden Age of Sports

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Coach Pinkerton Ushers In a Golden Age of Sports

by Maria E. Garcia 03.28.2015 Editor's Picks

By Maria E. Garcia

Coach Pinkerton came to Neighborhood House in 1943. News articles described him as the person hired to find a cure for crime and juvenile delinquency that was occurring as a result of family upheaval during the Depression and World War II. The “cure” was popular and successful athletic programs in which 125- 135 boys, from age 8 to 18, used the Neighborhood House facilities every day.

The Logan Heights Old Timers Club which meets once a month at the National City IHOP provided me with the opportunity to talk to men ranging in age from their 60s to their 90s who participated in those athletic programs. I also spoke with women who attended Neighborhood House during those years. In Part I, Merlin Pinkerton, Mentor and Coach, these men and women describe the qualities that made Pinkerton a father figure, confident and role model.

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Thumbnail image for Donna Frye: An Ode to Open Government – ‘Let the Sun Shine In’

Donna Frye: An Ode to Open Government – ‘Let the Sun Shine In’

by At Large 03.28.2015 Culture

By Donna Frye / OB Rag

This past week, March 15 – 21, the annual celebration called Sunshine Week took place throughout the nation. It was started over 10 years ago by the American Society of News Editors, with its goal being to –

“enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger.”

From news organizations large and small, the public learned about Sunshine Week and why open government matters. The Des Moines Register ran a series of editorials, guest views and features on the importance of open government. The Washington Post encouraged us to “think about how the federal government can be more open to the public” as they checked “on recent efforts to increase transparency.”And the Sioux Falls Business Journal noted in their headline that “every week should be Sunshine Week in S.D.”

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Thumbnail image for Voting Made Easier: Legislative Actions Aim to Make Elections More Accessible

Voting Made Easier: Legislative Actions Aim to Make Elections More Accessible

by Doug Porter 03.27.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter 

San Diego legislators at both the federal and state level are working to remove barriers limiting voter participation. 

California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla are proposing to register every eligible resident who goes to a DMV to get a license or renew one, with the ability to opt out. In Washington DC, Congresswoman Susan Davis has introduced legislation ending constraints on voting by mail. 

Research recently published in the Oxford Political Analysis Journal indicates that as many as an additional four million Americans wanted to vote in the 2012 election , but were stymied by restrictions on voter registration. California currently ranks 38th out of the 50 states in voter registration. 

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Thumbnail image for Civic San Diego and the One Minute Citizen

Civic San Diego and the One Minute Citizen

by Anna Daniels 03.27.2015 City Heights: Up Close & Personal

Notes from the March 18 Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee

By Anna Daniels

At 4:45 pm on March 18, Marti Emerald, City Councilmember and Chair of the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee (PS&LN) announced that there were still 62 speaker slips remaining on the topic of community benefits. The agenda item with the most speakers had been switched to the last one that would be heard that day. Emerald courteously asked the citizens remaining in the room to limit their testimony to one minute and to please not repeat what had already been said. The committee would lose its quorum at 5:30.

Why had so many people shown up at 1:30 earlier that day, packing the committee room and overflowing into an adjacent room? Why were they willing to wait three hours to provide one minute of public testimony about Civic San Diego (CivicSD), the public non-profit development agency owned by the City of San Diego?

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Thumbnail image for A Climate Change Fix Both the Left and Right Can Embrace

A Climate Change Fix Both the Left and Right Can Embrace

by At Large 03.27.2015 Environment

By Sarah “Steve” Mosko

Studies abound linking the increase in extreme weather-related catastrophes in recent decades, like droughts, floods, hurricanes and blizzards, to global climate change.

Some climate experts stress the urgency of addressing the problem now, predicting cascading economic and political, social and environmental upheavals worldwide if action is delayed. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, the CO2 content of earth’s atmosphere has shot up from 275 ppm to over 400 ppm, already well above the 350 ppm limit some scientists believe is a safe level above which we risk triggering irreversible consequences out of human control.

Most Americans agree with the climatologists who believe that climate change is happening and likely caused by greenhouse gasses produced by the burning of carbon-based fossil fuels. Asked if “the federal government should act to limit the amount of greenhouse gasses U.S. businesses put out,” 78% said yes in a national poll which appeared January 20 in The New York Times. This reflects 60% of Republicans and 87% of Democrats polled.

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: The Surfing Madonna

Geo-Poetic Spaces: The Surfing Madonna

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 03.27.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Our Lady of Encinitas
is sliding down the lip of a wave
on rails

Lotus sun
unfolding

Wind thrashed tunic
splashing
light

Palms pressing
misty beads into prayers
the fin of her hands
carving
blue glass

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Thumbnail image for Ted Cruz Signs Up for Obamacare

Ted Cruz Signs Up for Obamacare

by Junco Canché 03.27.2015 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for Celebrations of César E. Chávez Span Six Weeks Around San Diego

Celebrations of César E. Chávez Span Six Weeks Around San Diego

by Staff 03.26.2015 Activism

“The legacy of the United Farm Workers union in its first decade provides us with key lessons for the present and future. It reminds us that grass-roots power organized and deployed by ‘disposable’ workers, fearlessness in the face of corporate exploitation, and the political uses of music, theater, and ritual can change history. In 2015, in a society based on greed and personal ambition, we ignore these lessons at own peril.” –Jorge Mariscal, Professor, UC San Diego

While Monday, March 31st is the official César E. Chávez day, activities celebrating his legacy as a labor and civil rights leader will continue into May. The day is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of his life and work. The ongoing activities are about continuing that legacy.

Thanks to the UCSD Blink, produced by the faculty and staff of that fine institution, for providing us with a list of activities over the next six weeks honoring the life and achievements of César E. Chávez.

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Thumbnail image for Marijuana Commission Report, Polling Point to Legalization in California

Marijuana Commission Report, Polling Point to Legalization in California

by Doug Porter 03.26.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

California’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy is releasing an interim report today outlining issues needing to be addressed in any legalization measures going before voters in 2016.

The commission, led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and including the ACLU, assorted academics, activists along with, law enforcement officials, will not officially take a position on legalization. Public forums in cities around the state will soon be announced as part of forming a policy road map towards legalization. Issues such as taxes, driving under the influence and a means for prohibiting access to minors are among those being considered.

The panel hopes to have its policy analysis completed by August.

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Thumbnail image for Passionate Pleas for Safer San Diego Streets Fall on Deaf Ears at Uptown Planners Meeting

Passionate Pleas for Safer San Diego Streets Fall on Deaf Ears at Uptown Planners Meeting

by Source 03.26.2015 Activism

BikeSD / BikeSD Blog

On Tuesday March 24 between 200-250 people packed the St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral for a special Uptown Planners meeting. It’s quite possible that that was the most number of people that church has held in recent years.

While many of you and us were out last night testifying and desperately pleading for safer access through along University Avenue, to a board that ignored all public testimony for safer streets except for the comments on using public spaces for private vehicle storage – parking – a 74 year old woman crossing Camino Ruiz in a marked crosswalk suffered life threatening injuries after being hit by an SUV. No word yet on whether the driver has been charged.

Earlier this month, our endorsed candidates Michael Brennan and Kyle Heiskala were successfully elected to the Uptown Planners at the Community Planning Group election. But last night’s meeting was a special meeting and Brennan and Heiskala haven’t yet been seated – so they were unable to vote on the issue.

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Thumbnail image for Some Things Cannot Be Improved Upon

Some Things Cannot Be Improved Upon

by Bob Dorn 03.26.2015 Culture

By Bob Dorn

I still have my father’s hammer; it’s tough hickory handle, all blackened by decades of use, has never separated from its carbon steel head, which is similarly stained by use. (The grease and dirt buried in that wood, some of it left there by my father, probably is what keeps the hickory from taking on water and rotting.) Let it be a symbol of endurance, persistence, toughness, good design and good material.

Here are some others:

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Thumbnail image for Change Is Still in the Air for San Diego Latino Film Festival 2015

Change Is Still in the Air for San Diego Latino Film Festival 2015

by At Large 03.26.2015 Culture

By Mukul Khurana

Day 3+ began with EN FAMILIA, the shorts program meant for the whole family, which had some charming and funny entries: CHULA (Puerto Rico 2014) directed by Victoria Sorberal, was one of those funny and entertaining shorts. Bebo can’t be found on his wedding day! Various detours later, it is a happy wedding. But first…

Also from the islands, THE EXTRAORDINARY MR. JUPITER (Puerto Rico 2014) directed by Federico Torres Fernandez turned out to be a lovely magical tale of romance. True love is hard to find—but not if you are a magician. ***** Life can be cruel. Sometimes, only flowers can soften the blow. In EL MAESTRO Y LA FLOR (Mexico 2014) directed by Daniel Irabien, a teacher must decide what he is willing to give up for love.

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Thumbnail image for California Consumers Gouged for $550 Million at the Gas Pump in February

California Consumers Gouged for $550 Million at the Gas Pump in February

by Doug Porter 03.25.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

The higher prices Californians pay for gasoline was the focus of a hearing chaired by San Diego’s Sen. Ben Hueso this week.

A report issued by the Consumer Watchdog group alleges consumers were gouged for an extra $550 million at the gas pump during February as the result of a strategy by refiners to keep inventories artificially low. The group came to this conclusion by calculating the difference between US and state prices and allotting for consumption.

Members of the transportation, housing and energy, utilities and communications committees questioned energy industry executives about recent price spikes in California. Earlier this week Californians were paying 84 cents more per gallon than the rest of the nation for their gasoline.

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Thumbnail image for An Evil Monster Rises from the Depths of San Diego Bay

An Evil Monster Rises from the Depths of San Diego Bay

by Junco Canché 03.25.2015 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives

How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives

by Source 03.25.2015 Business

By Paul Bucheit / Common Dreams

The Project on Government Oversight found that in 33 of 35 cases the federal government spent more on private contractors than on public employees for the same services. The authors of the report summarized, “Our findings were shocking.”

Yet our elected leaders persist in their belief that free-market capitalism works best. Here are a few fact-based examples that say otherwise.

Health Care: Markups of 100%….1,000%….100,000%

Broadcast Journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1955: Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
Polio Researcher Jonas Salk: Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

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Thumbnail image for Zurbarán and Sorolla: Welcomed Guests At the San Diego Museum of Art

Zurbarán and Sorolla: Welcomed Guests At the San Diego Museum of Art

by Alejandra Enciso Guzmán 03.25.2015 Arts

By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

“St. Francis in Prayer in a Grotto” by Francisco de Zurbarán and “By the Seashore, Valencia” by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida are the ‘newbies’ welcomed to the San Diego Museum of Art. The inclusion of these two influential artists’ works continues to build on the strength of the museum’s renowned permanent collection of Spanish art.

Earlier this month there was the unveiling of “By the Seashore, Valencia.” Several personalities for the arts community were present for the important event which falls perfectly into the celebration of the Balboa Park Centennial as well as the museum’s 100th birthday.

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