Anti-Vaxxers’ Tactics Fail to Sway Legislature

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By Doug Porter

Gov. Jerry Brown signed off yesterday on legislation giving California one of the most far-reaching vaccination laws in the nation. Religious and personal-belief exemptions for schoolchildren will be phased out, starting next year.

Getting this bill passed turned out to be a major political battle. The combination of paranoia about government (on the right) and corporate greed (on the left) mixed with a solid dash of unfounded health concerns ended up being a recipe for political passion rarely seen on the legislative floor.

The anti-vaxxers, as they are popularly called, viewed this legislation as a battle for the lives of their children and the liberties of the nation. They’ve indicated that litigation will be their next step.   [Read more…]

Report: Border Patrol Union Officials Working with Hate Groups

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By Doug Porter

A newly released report from the Center for a New Community (CNC) says there is a systemic pattern of behind-the-scenes collusion between officials of unions associated with the Border Patrol and prominent anti-immigrant hate groups.

Last year’s protests in Murrieta, California are cited in “Blurring Borders: Collusion between Anti-Immigrant Groups and Immigration Enforcement Agents” as an example of Border Patrol agents coordinating with anti-immigrant forces. On July 1st, 2014, anti-immigrant activists used civil disobedience to block federal buses carrying refugee women and children to a Border Patrol processing center.   [Read more…]

Paid Sick Leave for California Workers Starts This Week

Assemblywoman Gonzalez with Paid Sick Leave supporters at rally  Photo by Rich Kacmar

By Francine Busby / San Diego Democratic Party

We’ve all been sick. I have been flattened by illnesses that have rendered me completely useless. I have had to miss work to stay home with a sick child when they can barely get out of bed, let alone function in a classroom. I have received those dreaded phone calls informing me of a family member with a medical emergency. Sometimes life just gets in the way, and our health or the health of our families has to take priority.

When we think of man’s inhumanity to man, we don’t usually think of employees who risk losing wages or even a job if they are too sick to go work or if they need to care for a sick child. At the moment, 40 million workers (38% of the American workforce) lack any paid sick leave, according to a study by the Center for American Progress. The United States is the only developed country in the world without laws requiring access to paid sick leave.

But we’re making progress. On July 1, California will join the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts in guaranteeing paid sick leave.   [Read more…]

In-Home Care Recipients Cautiously Applaud New Budget

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By Steven Mikulan / Capital & Main

The 467,000 Californians who receive assistance from the state’s In-Home Supportive Services are breathing a little better, if not easier, now that a new budget has restored care cuts to the agency. The program typically assists elderly, blind and disabled people on low incomes with housework, meal preparation, personal hygiene and other services; by paying individuals through the state to perform these tasks, the care recipients are able to remain in their homes and avoid being institutionalized – which also saves taxpayers millions of dollars.   [Read more…]

Mayor Looks to the NFL in Chargers Stadium Dilemma

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By Doug Porter

The chickens are coming home to roost for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, whose PR-centric program aimed at resolving the local football team’s quest for a new facility has been called out by Chargers spokesman Mark Fabiani.

Calling the city’s latest plans “misguided” and “doomed,” Fabiani made the rounds of the local media yesterday, making it clear that there was nothing left to negotiate.

The mayor’s surrogates have also been active, assuring people that the city did have a viable course for getting to a new stadium and suggesting that Mr. Fabiani was the real problem.   [Read more…]

It’s Not Right: San Diego Life Guards Do Not Receive the Same Health Coverage as Firefighters

OB lifeguard returning after a rescue. Photo by Annie Lane

Lifeguards Deserve Presumptive Coverage

By Ed Harris / The OB Rag

When a San Diego Firefighter or Police officer is injured or contracts an illness while performing their job, the City provides them with presumptive health coverage. Presumptive coverage includes meningitis, tuberculosis and hepatitis, to name a few.

Since San Diego Lifeguards are part of the San Diego Fire Department, one would think they’d be provided that same presumptive coverage. They are not.

  [Read more…]

A Blow to the Contract Labor Economy: California Says Uber Drivers Are Employees

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By Doug Porter

A claim filed by a San Francisco woman against the ride-hailing service Uber has led to a determination by the California Labor Commission that drivers for the company are employees rather than independent contractors.

The decision could be a major blow to what economists are calling the “1099 economy,” a business model wherein companies rely on armies of low-cost independent contractors, setting the terms and conditions for employment without having to absorb costs like social security, health care and workman’s compensation.

The California Labor Commissioner said they’d determined Uber to be “involved in every aspect of the operation,” meaning that it’s more than just an app handling logistics. The driver who filed the complaint was awarded $4,000 in expenses.   [Read more…]

SDSU/CPI Study Finds Wage Theft, Labor Law Violations and Discrimination in Local Restaurants

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By Doug Porter

A study by San Diego State University Department of Sociology and the Center on Policy Initiatives found persuasive evidence of widespread wage theft, labor law violations and widespread discrimination in restaurants throughout San Diego.

If you went in to a grocery store and took something without paying, you’d face arrest. If you robbed a bank you’d be eligible for jail time. Both are thefts. Both are crimes.

But if you’re an employer in the restaurant industry and fail to pay an employee’s wages –also a crime–, chances are good to excellent that you’ll get way with it. So this morning we’re learning  there’s a crime wave going on in San Diego. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.   [Read more…]

Representatives Peters, Davis Disappoint on Trade Bill

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By Doug Porter

On Friday the House of Representatives used a legislative maneuver to block President Obama’s path to fast track legislation on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

One good thing about Friday’s vote is that we now know where Representatives Susan Davis and Scott Peters stand on the issue. Both voted to advance the measure despite weeks of intensive citizen/grassroots/labor lobbying for a no vote. Both did so knowing they’d face the wrath of the coalition opposed to TPP in future elections.

For Davis, this may not mean much; for Peters, the consequences look to be serious–a labor-backed search committee is already looking at alternative candidates to run in the June 2016 primary. The word is that there’s a million dollar war chest to be spent defeating him.   [Read more…]

How California Drivers Get Screwed at the Pump

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By Doug Porter

Corporate greed on the part of fossil fuel companies in the era of trickle down apparently knows no bounds. If you live in California you’ve undoubtedly heard the stories about why we pay more for gasoline at the pump than elsewhere: our eco-conscious gas blend, higher taxes, yada, yada.

Research from Consumer Watchdog shows just how much these claims are exaggerated. Californians are paying more for gasoline because we’re being gouged, plain and simple.

The group points to abnormally large profits in the first quarter of 2015, with Valero, one of the state’s largest refiners, reporting $82 million in West Coast profits, compared to a $25 million per quarter average.   [Read more…]

Report: One in Four Jobs in San Diego at Risk with Trade Deal

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By Doug Porter

On the eve of what observers are calling a close vote in the House of Representatives over fast track legislation, the coalition of labor, faith and environmental groups released a shocking report on the potential impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on service sector jobs in the metro San Diego area. One in four jobs in the region spanning over 150 occupations are being placed at risk.

San Diego has two of less than a dozen House democrats who remain undecided on this issue – Representative Scott Peters (CA-52) and Representative Susan Davis (CA-53).

Republican House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan is seeking to stifle opposition in his own party by promoting an amendment to a customs and trade law enforcement bill being considered alongside the fast-tracking legislation prohibit the U.S. Trade Representative from negotiating climate change elements as part of any trade dealing over the next six years.

As bad as that news is for the environment, the news for local employment is even worse.   [Read more…]

Showdown! Trans Pacific Partnership Fast Track Authority Vote Set for Friday

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Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have set a Friday deadline for a vote on a bill giving the President fast-track authority on commercial treaties currently being negotiated.

The legislation would allow the executive branch to submit trade agreements to Congress for an expedited, up-or-down vote without amendments was passed by the Senate last month. President Obama has said he wants to complete a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and send it for approval under that procedure.

House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have reportedly agreed to replace a plan, opposed by Democrats, that would have funded some trade programs with about $700 million in Medicare cuts.   [Read more…]

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Vote: A Character Defining Moment

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A couple of weeks ago, Bill McKibben penned a very sharp editorial in the New York Times in response to the Obama administration’s choice to allow drilling in the Arctic noting that, “The Obama administration’s decision to give Shell Oil the go-ahead to drill in the Arctic shows why we may never win the fight against climate change. Even in this most extreme circumstance, no one seems able to stand up to the power of the fossil fuel industry. No one ever says no.”

Indeed, it is precisely this kind of political cowardice that may very well cost us far more dearly than we can imagine. In his defense, Obama went to Twitter and had little to offer other than red herrings and equivocation about the limitations of existing regulations.

But the bottom line could not be clearer: in the face of a stark moral choice, the President punted.   [Read more…]

Bad Omens for Democrats Dave Roberts and Scott Peters

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Things are looking iffy for two of San Diego’s elected Democratic officials.

San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts has gone on the offensive, responding to allegations about inappropriate behavior and misuse of public resources made by former employees.

Congressman Scott Peters may well be about to incur the wrath of organizations that worked hard to elected him in a close contest last year. Although he says he remains undecided about his vote on an upcoming trade bill, there are serious concerns from environmental and labor groups.   [Read more…]

‘We Will Win': McDonald’s Worker Protests Stretch Into Second Day

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By Deidre Fulton / Common Dreams

Less than 24 hours after 5,000 workers marched on McDonald’s corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, the fast food giant’s cooks and cashiers returned on Thursday morning to bring their call for $15 an hour and union rights directly to the company’s shareholders at their annual meeting.   [Read more…]

A Disastrous Oil Pipeline Break in Santa Barbara

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While clean up crews in protective suits are removing oil from a nine mile stretch of coastline in Santa Barbara County, investigators are assessing the impact and causes of a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains Pipeline. The company failed to shut down the flow of oil for more than three hours after local beach-goers reported the leak, according to a spokesperson with the National Resources Defense Council.

Current estimates say 105,000 gallons may have leaked out, with 21,000 gallons reaching the sea. Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Santa Barbara County. Federal, state and local officials are looking at both civil liabilities and criminal infractions.   [Read more…]

ACLU Challenges Escondido Racism

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The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the city of Escondido, claiming racial discrimination and anti-immigrant sentiment were responsible for its refusal to allow a temporary residential facility for undocumented children operate in various parts of the city.

Southwest Key Programs, the nonprofit that sought permits for the facilities is asking the court to overturn the city’s rejection, and to award for unspecified damages. The case has the potential to highlight the racism permeating government and the white community in the North County city.

After all, it’s not like hating on brown people is anything new to Escondido, no matter what kind of rhetorical gymnastics are used for justification.   [Read more…]

Reactions to the Chargers Stadium Deal

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Little green men from Mars could have seized city hall yesterday and I doubt anybody would have noticed.

The Mayor’s stadium advisory group presented its vision for building a facility worthy of consideration by the National Football League and its San Diego Chargers franchise. And that was the talk of the town.

However, there was other news… …and I’ll get to that first.   [Read more…]

The Fight for Progressive Tax Reform Continues: It’s Time to Make It Fair

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When Proposition 13 was first approved by voters in 1978 it was sold as a protection for single-family homeowners. But what voters were not told is that Prop. 13 contained giant loopholes that allow big corporations and wealthy commercial property owners to avoid paying their fair share of local property taxes.

This gives tax avoiders an unfair advantage over smaller, competing businesses that are paying their part and deprives our communities of much-needed revenue. As a result, California has made deep cuts to public safety, fallen behind in student funding, and been forced to close parks and libraries.

Now the battle to reform Proposition 13 is on in earnest.   [Read more…]

The Race to Replace Marti Emerald

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One month ago City Councilwoman Marti Emerald made the surprising announcement via Facebook that she would not be running for re-election.

Emerald, who was considered a shoo-in for another term in District 9, endorsed her chief of staff Ricardo Flores as the ‘perfect candidate’ for 2016 at a press conference. A half dozen or so people think otherwise, as two additional candidates have already declared campaigns and numerous others have expressed an interest.

Today we’ll take an early look at how the race to replace her is shaping up in an overwhelmingly Democratic council district. I can just about guarantee this contest will be one of the more interesting and unusual in recent San Diego history. And remember, it’s early! The primary isn’t for another year.   [Read more…]

GOP Vultures Circle North County

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It was a bad day for Supervisor Dave Roberts yesterday as UT-San Diego took a couple of pot shots at the sole Democrat on the County Board.

Roberts is under fire following staff resignations and allegations of mismanagement. His fellow supervisors refused to accept a severance package for his former chief of staff and admonished him for what they said were violations of the Brown Act.

The paper’s editorial board suspended its earlier endorsement of Roberts…   [Read more…]

Security Forces Clash with Baja California Farmworkers

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Police raids and street protests in Baja California have led to scores of injuries in the latest round of labor strife over pay and working conditions in San Quintin, an agricultural region producing produce sold in the United States.

This weekend’s violence followed the failure of Interior Minister Luis Miranda Nava to show up for a meeting with leaders of farm worker organizations in the area.

Max Correa Hernandez of the Central Campesina Cardenista (CCC), and Fidel Sanchez Gabriel, spokesman for the Movement of Agricultural Workers of San Quentin have called upon the state and federal government to intervene, saying more than 80 people have been injured by police in recent days.   [Read more…]

Councilmembers to Faulconer: Restore Library Funding

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These are supposed to be good times for the City of San Diego. Tax revenues are up. One of the biggest problems facing local government is reported to be hiring enough people to fill job openings being created.

So why are our public libraries getting the short end of the stick in Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s proposed $3.2 billion budget for 2016? They may be opening for more hours, but you may need some luck getting what you’re looking for.

Today’s column also features items about librarians as defenders of civil liberties, a court ruling unfavorable to a major government surveillance program, more on the missing SDPD body cam footage and sad tale about worker exploitation
  [Read more…]

Trans Pacific Trickle-Down Economics

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By Robert Reich / RobertReich.org

Have we learned nothing from thirty years of failed trickle-down economics?

By now we should know that when big corporations, Wall Street, and the wealthy get special goodies, the rest of us get shafted.

The Reagan and George W. Bush tax cuts of 1981, 2001, and 2003, respectively, were sold to America as ways to boost the economy and create jobs.

They ended up boosting the take-home pay of those at the top. Most Americans saw no gains.   [Read more…]

A Rough Ride in Baltimore Leads to Charges Against Police

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By Doug Porter

Six Baltimore police officers now face charges following a medical examiner’s ruling calling 25-year-old Freddie Gray’s death on April 12th a homicide.

States Attorney Marilyn Mosby told the press Gray died of a severe and critical neck injury suffered while handcuffed, shackled by his feet and left unsecured inside a police van as it took 38 minutes to deliver him to a police station just two minutes away.

Mosby went on to say Gray was “illegally arrested,” that police failed to establish probable cause for his arrest, and the knife he had when arrested was legal and was not a switchblade.   [Read more…]