Cal Pensions Cutting Coal Stock Called an “Emotional” Response to Climate Change

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By Doug Porter

You would think that losing $5 billion in pension fund investments in fossil fuel companies in 2014 would cause the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) to change course.

But Republican reaction to passage of SB 185, also called “Investing with Values and Responsibility,” beginning an eighteen month process to disinvest in any holdings of thermal coal is quite the opposite.

Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City decried the measure, saying, “We need to make (investment) decisions based on good, sound financial decisions, not based on emotions.”

So there you have it. Global climate change is simply an emotional issue.   [Read more…]

Police Deaths Matter. Now, Can We Talk About Injustice?

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By Doug Porter

The gang at Fox News is doing their damnest to make a connection between #BlackLivesMatter and police officers killed in the line of duty.  Yesterday, Megyn Kelly and Katie Pavlich characterized Black Lives Matter as violent, with Pavlich calling it “a movement that promotes the execution of police officers.”

Elsewhere in the media the implied story is that cops are getting mowed down at a dramatically increasing rate.  The Los Angeles Times ran with a story saying “the recent bloodshed feels different.” 

CNN does it by slight of hand in its coverage of Illinois police officer Charles Joseph Gliniewicz and Texas Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth, telling us that the number of deaths in the line of duty this year has increased from 73 to 85.   [Read more…]

Lawsuits Point to Misconduct in San Diego City and County Police Agencies

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By Doug Porter

We’re supposed to have been reassured that San Diego was on its way to solving the problems with police officers who break bad.  Yet there is mounting evidence that it’s business as usual behind the ‘blue curtain’ in local law enforcement.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer appointed a new chief of police before he was even sworn in and a voluntary audit by way of the Justice Department’s office of Community Oriented Policing made recommendations for reform. Chief Zimmerman assured the City Council not long ago that new training procedures were addressing the concerns raised by the audit.

When the Union-Tribune editorial board is taking the department to task and lawsuits begin to pile up, you might have a problem if you are the San Diego Police Department. This problem isn’t constrained by the city limits, as legal actions and court settlements point to the County Sheriff’s Department having it’s own issues with use of force.   [Read more…]

Mayor Faulconer’s Convention Center Expansion: It’s Huuuge

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By Doug Porter

Oh, those boys and their big shiny toys. Having failed in past years to gain approval for a waterfront expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, the City is about to throw its weight behind a $90,000 study promising “huuuge” (ala Trump) returns.

The Union-Tribune says Mayor Faulconer finds the report so persuasive that he’s prepared to back a ballot measure increasing hotel taxes for 2016. Since those taxes are dedicated revenues, two thirds voter approval will be required.

Today we’ll take a look at the spotty record of the outfit hired to do this report, along with various options along the way to getting a super-majority to go the polls and vote for this expansion.   [Read more…]

Looking Back at the Week: August 23-29

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By Doug Porter

This week’s edition of Looking Back at the Week features articles, commentaries, columns, toons and other work by San Diego Free Press regulars, irregulars, columnists, at-large contributors.

Twenty San Diegans contributed videos, poems, essays and analysis this week.

(Brother Brent Beltrán is having technical difficulties, so I’m substituting today. Any mistakes or omissions are still entirely his fault. You can send him all your hate mail though; he likes that.)

Step inside to catch up with all the latest from the San Diego Free Press….   [Read more…]

NLRB Ruling Could Be a Game Changer for Unions

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By Doug Porter

A Reagan-era standard allowing corporations to maintain an arms-length relationship with their workforces fell by the wayside yesterday as the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the Teamsters in a dispute with California recycler Browning-Ferris Industries.

The bottom line here is that big companies may be held responsible for what goes on in the workplace. Organized labor is pleased with the decision. Wall Street isn’t. The actual ruling concerned the use of temporary employees. What people are reacting to are its game changing implications.

There are lots of poorly informed (meaning full of crap) analyses being passed off in various media accounts.  To use a baseball analogy, just because a team acquires a high performance player doesn’t mean they’ll have a winning season. Just ask the San Diego Padres.   [Read more…]

Welcome to TrumpLand: A Local Example of Bigotry USA! USA! Style

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By Doug Porter

I’ve been trying not to say too much about The Donald. He’s playing the media like a great violinist plays a Stradivarius. He says jump and the stenographers posing as journalists say “how high?”

I can no longer remain silent in the face of the hate-mongering coming from this public figure aimed at Latinos. He’s giving ammunition to assholes, and there are real consequences, even on the streets of San Diego.

When a well-known and respected public advocate can’t take his child to a park without being race baited, it’s time to stand up and say No More. And, yes, it is precisely the rhetoric favored by Donald Trump that’s encouraging an upswing in bigotry.   [Read more…]

Women’s Equality Day: Celebrating the Success of Militant Protest

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The argument of the broken pane of glass is the most valuable argument in modern politics.–Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst

By Doug Porter

Women’s Equality Day (August 26th) marks anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

There are observances this week in San Diego, including a re-enactment of an early-century Suffrage march in Balboa Park.

Organizations including the League of Women Voters, the United Nations Women’s Equity Council, the Older Women’s League and others, will join members and supporters of the Women’s Museum at 5pm for a Rally on Thursday, (Aug 27th) at the Kate Sessions Statue, at the 6th Avenue end of the Cabrillo Bridge, followed by a parade across the bridge info the Organ Pavilion where the last free concert of the summer will be held at 6:30pm.

While this commemoration will be celebratory in nature, it’s important to remember, as Frederick Douglass once said, “Power never concedes nothing without a demand.” In many sanitized versions of US history, the struggle leading up to that victory is depicted as controversial only because women left their roles as wives and house-makers to protest. The reality of what transpired is considerably different.   [Read more…]

Privatizing Pensions and Idolizing Profit in the 21st Century

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By Doug Porter

Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik has been on a tear recently, rolling out essays challenging the validity of claims made by those who claim privatizing retirement is the way of the future.

At the core of these conservative/libertarian arguments against public support for defined pensions is a fundamental belief in the supremacy of the “market” as a force in society. 

The problem with this viewpoint comes when actual results for those programs participants are measured. The market has no obligation other than profit, which is only guaranteed for those managing the transactions.   [Read more…]

It’s Strike Three for San Diego Unified’s School Board President, But She’s Not Out

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By Doug Porter

San Diego Unified President Marne Foster was in the news over the past few days, and not in a positive light.

The State Attorney General’s office, according to a story in the Union-Tribune, is asking pointed questions about a fundraiser held last month to help pay off debt and college costs for her sons.

On August 19th, the San Diego Unified School District issued a response to a grand jury report on ethics questions concerning Foster, essentially telling the panel to “shove it.”

Mario Koran at Voice of San Diego posted a piece today on Foster, filling in the blanks on long standing allegations about her role in the firing of a highly ranked school principal who refused to go along with special privileges for the School Board Trustee’s son.   [Read more…]

KPBS Bars Affordable Housing Advocate from Midday Edition Panel

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By Doug Porter
UPDATED 8/26 With response from KPBS…

The spat between KPBS/inewsource and attorney Cory Briggs reached a new low this week when an invitation to retired civil rights leader and affordable housing advocate Rev. Richard Lawrence to participate on the Midday Edition program was abruptly withdrawn.

Lawrence, whose list of honors includes the San Diego Housing Federation’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” and  a San Diego City Council declaration making November 10, 2013 “Richard Lawrence Day,” was supposed to be participating in an August 17th panel on San Diego’s declaration of an affordable housing state of emergency.

The reasoning behind his “dis-invitation” was that Lawrence sits on the board of San Diegans for Open Government and vigorously defended attorney Cory Briggs in the wake of allegations of misconduct made by KPBS/inewsource.   [Read more…]

The Hillary Question: Two Telling Tales

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By Doug Porter

Six months ago, most Democrats believed the upcoming presidential primary season would be little more than a warm-up for the coronation of Hillary Clinton as the party’s choice to face off against the GOP’s nominee.

A feisty Vermonter with wiry hair has upset the Democratic applecart. Today’s column will start off with two tales of Hillary, told with the hope of providing insight into the nature of her as a candidate. (Those hoping for a bashing session will have to wait for another day.)

I, for one, thought the early campaign months would be focused on the circular firing squad that has come to represent the Republican contest for the nomination. Fortunately, my stockpile of popcorn won’t go to waste.   [Read more…]

Stolen Pay, Stolen Lives: It’s Time to Beef Up Enforcement for Wage Theft in California

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By Doug Porter

On the eve of an assembly committee hearing, the California Fair Paycheck Coalition and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) have released a new video showing the link between human trafficking and wage theft.

The state Senate has already passed SB 588, authored by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, enhancing the ability of the state labor commissioner to fight wage theft and help workers collect stolen pay.

Currently only 17% of workers receiving judgements for stolen wages are able to collect payment. Research indicates low-wage workers lose, on average, 12.5% of their annual income to wage theft.   [Read more…]

The Union Label: Making a Comeback, Despite Challenges

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By Doug Porter

A Gallup poll released this week says organized labor is making a comeback in the public consciousness. Support for labor unions has jumped five percentage points over the past year, with nearly six in 10 people approving of unions, up from 48% in 2009.

This increase in support comes despite an unrelenting effort by right-wing groups to blame unions for everything from unemployment to inciting class war. There are twin editorials/columns in Tuesday’s Union-Tribune misrepresenting the truth, casting labor as the evil opponent of good government and economic prosperity.

Today’s column will examine the phenomena driving the resurgence of the contemporary labor movement and the challenges it faces, along with some information on organizing efforts.   [Read more…]

Area Legislators Return to Sacramento for a Final Push

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By Doug Porter

If you want to understand the issues at play in California politics, keep an eye on the last 20 working days of this year’s legislative session in Sacramento.

Bills will be debated, lobbied and amended. Some will face vetoes from the Governor.

San Diego’s delegation to the statehouse has done an impressive job in this session with several measures remaining to be voted on. Today we’ll take a look at some of the legislation, with an emphasis on our local legislators, up for consideration in the coming days.   [Read more…]

A Look at San Diego’s Infrastructure Blues

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By Doug Porter

While there is near-universal agreement about the sorry state of San Diego’s infrastructure, building a consensus on the ways and means of getting the job done has proved to be challenging.

The Mayor’s office has been very public about wanting a deal to build a new football stadium, but conversations about how to keep the roads to that stadium in shape and the pipes carrying all the recycled beer away have been muted.

And then there’s the Convention Center, where monies that could have been used for keeping the building in shape were gambled on an improbable expansion plan.   [Read more…]

DeMaio’s Latest Pension Scam Fails Sacramento Sniff Test

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By Doug Porter

Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and proponents of  a California ballot initiative requiring pension changes to go through a public vote are screaming foul about the California Attorney General’s official description of that measure. The language, starting out with “eliminates constitutional protections”  will appear on petitions backers use to get signatures.

The backers of the “Public Employees. Pension and  Retiree Healthcare Benefits Initiative/Constitutional Amendment,” issued a statement blasting ‘union bosses’ and ‘politicians’ in response to Kamala Harris’ wording.

Likely most upsetting to the measure’s backers was the omission of the word “empowering.”  This squashed the idea of tapping into the politics of resentment and was a hoped for main selling point by proponents.   [Read more…]

Bernie Sanders is a Great Candidate. [Some of] His Supporters, Not So Much

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By Doug Porter

The Big News this morning (Hey, it’s August!) is a poll showing Senator Bernie Saunders leading by six points over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.

This news has got be some sweet irony for Sanders supporters, coming the day after the high priests of polling at FiveThirtyEight.com declared “The Bernie Sanders Surge Appears to Be Over.”  

Today I’ll take a look at the Bernie Sanders candidacy, warts and all. While the campaign appears to soaring in some circles, a significant cry of “Hey, wait a minute!” has emerged. How the man and his campaign deal with #BlackLivesMatter may be the real Big News of 2015 politics.   [Read more…]

The Chargers Stadium Proposal is a Joke, Right?

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By Doug Porter

(I’ve published two versions of the Starting Line for Tuesday. One on the stadium deal and one on the events taking place in Ferguson.)

Yesterday reporters were summoned to a vacant lot overlooking Mission Valley to hear the latest news about efforts to build a new football stadium for the San Diego Chargers.

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, County Supervisor Ron Roberts and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith solemnly announced a “real path to success,” complete with artist renderings, an environmental report and financing plan.   [Read more…]

Ferguson Report: Black Lives, Still Trying to Matter

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By Doug Porter

(I’ve published two versions of the Starting Line today. One on the stadium deal and one on events taking place in Ferguson.)

It’s hard for me even to write about what’s going on in Ferguson, Missouri on the first anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.

On the one hand there’s been the rise of a new civil rights movement taking aim at the institutional underpinnings of racism in this country.

Sometimes the media even acknowledges that everyday racism amounts to more than police brutality and Confederate flags. And sometimes they don’t.
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Dump the Trump? GOP Freaking Out as Their Frankenstein Runs Amok

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By Doug Porter

By now ‘everybody knows’ that billionaire blowhard Donald John Trump is out of control.

“He’s tapped into citizen anger” is Republi-speak for “we never thought all our lies would come back to bite us in the ass,” and “please spare us your wrath.”

Others in the party are seeking to portray The Donald as aberrant, only to draw angry responses from the man and his minions.  When everyday misogynist Erick Erickson dis-invited Trump from a conservative conference, the blowback was so bad he moved his family to another hotel, fearing for their safety.

So here’s the deal: if Donald Trump had made the same comments about MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, the Fox News crew and the other GOP candidates would have said ‘no big deal.’ They’d still be snickering in the green room.   [Read more…]

Fox News Debate: American Idol for Republicans

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By Doug Porter

Television entertainment doesn’t get any better than it was Thursday, August 7th; not bad for a day when entertainment stocks cratered over uncertainty about the future of the medium.

Fox news ran with two shows starring Those Republicans Who Would Be President. I watched the later Big Kids showdown. It was well crafted by Fox, packaged as  American Idol for (mostly Republican) voters.

Also, the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart left the room, departing to the sounds of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and a homily about the perils of bovine excrement.   [Read more…]

August Tales from America’s Finest Tourist Plantation

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By Doug Porter

Two seemingly unconnected stories popped up as I made my morning media rounds today, pointing out the underlying reality of a city governed by the few at the expense of the many.

An article in City Beat described the pressures being brought to bear to exclude elected officials from decisions on a taxpayer-funded development scheme… A former city councilman wrote an essay refuting a narrative published in the Union-Tribune denigrating local lifeguards…

These disparate tales are connected by a business ethos fostered by former and present elected officials claiming to have the public interest in mind. I’m talking about a Plantation Overlord Mentality as opposed to a backroom conspiracy. Business as usual in San Diego, in other words.   [Read more…]

As California Expands Eligibility, the Voting Rights Act Becomes a Proxy War

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By Doug Porter

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla did the right thing on Tuesday, withdrawing a challenge to the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated championed by his predecessor.

On Thursday, the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, President Obama along with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), will call for upon Congress for restoration of provisions struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Twenty one Republican-controlled states have enacted laws making it more difficult to register or vote since the 2010 election.

These three examples are all aspects of the same phenomena: the act of voting is a proxy war for issues of class and race facing our society.   [Read more…]

Opposition to Clean Power Plan Penned at San Diego ALEC Meeting

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By Doug Porter

States will be required to dramatically cut emissions from power plants over the next 15 years under the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, announced on Monday. The stage is now set for a major political showdown, reminiscent of the battle over Obamacare.

Given that the burden of implementing these regulations will fall upon the states, the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is crafting a counterattack should surprise no one. Details of the pushback were finalized at the group’s meeting in San Diego just two weeks ago.

Today we’ll look at how the opposition to the plan is shaping up, along with the strengths and weaknesses of what are being called a landmark set of regulations to combat climate change.   [Read more…]