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…]

History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Life in the 1950s

1950s TV Set

Last week’s article “The Korean War Years” highlighted the differences between the Korean War and World War II in terms of their impacts on life in Logan Heights. Readers were introduced to Johnny Leyva, a Korean War vet who grew up in Logan Heights. Johnny’s story continues this week, offering a glimpse into 1950s life.   [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…]

Protecting Mauna Kea: They Hate Hawai’i

Photo by The U.S. National Archives

Trigger warning: This piece contains graphic descriptions of sexual and colonial violence.

Hatred is one of the most misunderstood processes at work in the world today. Cops are killing young people of color while simultaneously maintaining they’re not racists and do not hate the people they’re killing. A growing number of men watch pornography claiming they do not hate women. Millions of tourists visit Hawai’i annually – despite pleas from native Hawaiians to stop – and feel they are so far from hating Hawai’i, it’s their favorite place to visit.   [Read more…]

A Community Champion Enters D9 Council Race

Georgette Gomez amongst her supporters in City Heights.

Progressive activist Georgette Gómez announces run for public office

By Brent E. Beltrán

On Tuesday morning, surrounded by her partner, family and supporters in City Heights, community activist Georgette Gómez declared her intent to run for City Council in District 9. A resident of City Heights’ Azalea Park, Ms. Gómez wants to be a champion for all D9 residents.

“I believe that we need elected officials who not only listen to our communities when they organize but someone who can actively and proactively serve us,” says Gómez.   [Read more…]

Progress, San Diego Style: Where More Gets You Less

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I’ve lived in San Diego long enough to remember what things were like “way back when.” And you know what? Not that much has changed!

True, there are more people living here than ever before. More restaurants and bars and multiplex theaters. More monotonous red roofs rimming bulldozed hilltops in the city’s north suburbs. Many more seals and sea lions hauling out on La Jolla beaches.

Also true is that nowadays you’ll find much more political clout embedded in the office of our mayor – a result of charter changes finalized five years ago. The new strong mayor governance system has great potential for making progress toward the goal of increasing the public good.   [Read more…]

Dark Clouds on San Diego’s Horizon

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Developments over the past few days bode poorly for San Diego’s image and civic pride.

One of the main tourist attractions, the football team, the successor to the downtown development agency and the home for Comic Con are all in turmoil.

Controversies have arisen concerning the lone Democrat on the Board of Supervisors and the sheriff’s department is being investigated for civil rights violations arising out of  the arrest of a mentally handicapped man.

So many stories, so little time to tell them all…   [Read more…]

Close Florida Drive Now. Right Now.

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As I recently wrote about, Balboa Park is a city treasure, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. It is also home to many high-speed roads which greatly diminish the quality of the park, use large amounts of high-value land, and pose health dangers immediate (being crushed by a car) and long-term (developing asthma and other disease due to very poor air quality in San Diego). It is time to eliminate the most superfluous high-speed road in Balboa Park – Florida Drive.   [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…]

When Home Doesn’t Feel Like Home

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The Human Face Of Border Crossers

On Friday, May 8th The Front Art and Culture Center in San Ysidro presented a first reading of Raul Castillo’s Border Crossing, a play that explores the nuances of the migrant experience.

Micah Parzen, CEO of the San Diego Museum of Man, commissioned the piece as a way to launch a deeper conversation about immigration. He asked the La Jolla Playhouse to find a playwright and also contacted the National Conflict Resolution Center to collaborate. He then worked with The Front—located less than a mile from the largest land port of entry in the world—to host a trial reading with six actors sitting in a circle surrounded by an intimate audience.   [Read more…]

On Turning 50

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Last week I turned fifty, and someone asked me what was the most important thing I had learned in half a century of life. I sighed. Never having been one to make too much of personal landmarks, my response was that this was just another day.

And now that that day and that question are already past, what matters most is the unspeakable beauty of this second as my fingers touch the keyboard, and I breath in and out and listen to the sound of my son singing in the background, my wife talking to the cat, and the birds chirping in the branches of the tree outside my window.   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The Korean War Years

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Veterans of World War II returned home deeply changed by their experience. They found that Logan Heights and San Diego had also been changed by the war. The effort to find a new normalcy would be interrupted by the Korean War.

This is part I of the Korean War and the 1950s, viewed through the experiences of Johnny Leyva who grew up in Logan Heights.
  [Read more…]

Losing One’s Perch on America’s Finest Tourist Plantation

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San Diego is becoming a glamorous plantation.

Its people fight for a degree of control over their lives and are left to fight among themselves over whether they get sidewalk repair or a new stadium. A water shortage is not because we grow avocados in a desert, it is because we take too many showers for too many minutes.

Homelessness is a problem because lazy people don’t want to work. If they got themselves jobs they could buy a condo in Mission Valley starting at the low 400s.   [Read more…]

Protecting Mauna Kea: Stopping Murder-Suicide

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By Will Falk

When people have asked me why I am going to Hawai’i to help protect Mauna Kea and my answer involves words like “sacredness” or “spiritual,” I am surprised whenever I see the grimaces.

I often get an explanation like this, “I support indigenous people, of course, but the telescope is for science. Isn’t it a little…superstitious to block an astronomy project for a mountain?” I said I was surprised, but I shouldn’t be. Spirituality, I forgot, is anathema in many leftist circles.

It shouldn’t be.   [Read more…]

Chronicles of a Nerfherder’s Wife: Raising a Jedi in the Modern Age

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May the Fourth Be with You!

By Olympia Andrade Beltrán

My husband and I are sci-fi nerds. There. I said it. We share a deep love for Star Wars that started in our youth. I was only a year old when Star Wars came out, and four years old when Empire Strikes Back was released… but I remember Return of the Jedi as the most mesmerizing, fantastic movie experience in all of my short 7 years on this planet.   [Read more…]

It’s the Neoliberalism, Stupid

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You can’t decry the social problems of Baltimore while politically promoting the very kind of trade policy that helped cause them…

Last week when the Baltimore Orioles played a game without fans in Camden Yard, there was much media coverage marking how the surreal event was unprecedented in American sports.

Perhaps, but it was not completely without precedent globally as the 1987 soccer match played to an empty stadium in Madrid, Spain came before it.

On the occasion of that strange contest, French social theorist Jean Baudrillard observed that “thousands of fans besieged the stadium but no one got in” and that this punishment of unruly soccer fans did much to “exemplify the terroristic hyperrealism of our world, a world where the ‘real’ event occurs in a vacuum, stripped of its context, visible only from afar, televisually.”   [Read more…]

Mayor Faulconer’s Stealth Re-Election Campaign Emerges

By Doug Porter

You’d think that One San Diego, the sort-of government operated non-governmental organization (GONGO) charged with drumming up tea and sympathy for the under-served parts of the city, would be smart enough to stage an event in one of those neighborhoods without engaging in petty partisan politics. But you’d be wrong.

Take, for instance, the Community Forum on Jobs scheduled for this evening (April 28) at the Barrio Station. Mayor Kevin Faulconer will be joined by representatives of the Workforce Partnership, UC San Diego and the Chamber of Commerce to present the “next generation of jobs programs.”

None of the organizations or politicians involved even informed–much less invited–David Alvarez, the City Councilman representing both the locale for the event and a district facing serious challenges in employment.   [Read more…]

Civic San Diego: The Kiss of Death for San Diego Neighborhoods

By Norma Damashek

The city of San Diego has first-class universities, first-class biotech companies, first-class ethnic restaurants, first-class theater, first-class engineers, artists, and musicians. Also: Our city has first-class standing as a prototype of community-based planning.

Who would have guessed that during the heady years of the 1960s while the Pump House kids were tripping the waves fantastic at Windansea Beach, other San Diegans – more firmly-grounded and civic-minded – were partnering with City Hall as official members of newly-created community planning groups. The La Jolla community plan was the city’s first. Then the Peninsula plan. Soon came the others.

Half a century later there are more than 40 recognized community planning groups throughout the city, where locally-elected members meet monthly to opine on neighborhood land-use issues, community goals, and proposed real estate development and relay their advice and recommendations to city officials.   [Read more…]

Right-wing Media Exploits Unrest in Baltimore to Push ‘Race War’ Narrative

By Adam Johnson / Alternet

When Breitbart’s Matt Boyle isn’t framing xenophobia as “pro-worker” or rambling on about a big gay hate machine (don’t ask), he’s attending baseball games with his family. A harmless enough act, and one I’m glad to see rightwing demagogues and communists alike can agree is a wonderful way to spend a spring evening.

While attending last night’s Orioles game, however, things quickly got out of hand for the Breitbart journo when unrest resulting from the apparent police killing of Freddie Gray boiled over into property damage and “clashes” between police and angry citizens outside of Camden Yards baseball stadium.

Boyle’s piece begins with the type of breathless hysteria one would expect from Breitbart: “War Zone: Baltimore Erupts Into Violence, Chaos as #BlackLivesMatter Riots Rage.”   [Read more…]

Is San Diego Up for the Challenge of Marrying Environmental and Economic Justice?

“A beautifully sustainable city that is the playground of the rich doesn’t work for us.”

By Jim Miller

Some of the best political news in America in quite a while happened last week in New York City. While much of the country is still under the sway of the climate-change denying right and thus fiddling while the world burns, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio came out with precisely the kind of bold, visionary plan that we need to address not just the existential threat of climate change but the equally pressing and dangerous trend toward deepening economic inequality.

Indeed, taking a page out of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, de Blasio made the interrelated nature of the two great crises of our age clear when outlining his “One New York: The Plan for a Just and Strong City” as he asserted that, “I believe fundamentally that you can’t have environmental sustainability without economic sustainability.”   [Read more…]

Still Groovin’ After all These Years

By Ernie McCray

A few days before my 77th birthday – “Hip-Hip! Hooray!” – I stepped into the Big Kitchen Cafe and the Rascal’s were “Groovin'” on the stereo and I couldn’t help but go back into time to when that song played in the background of my life.

I was, in this moment in time, slowly getting out of an unhealthy situation and found myself truly “Groovin'” on many a “Sunday afternoon,” kicking it with a beautiful high spirited funny-as-hell woman who, it seemed to me, was looking for what I was looking for at that stage of my life: fun, with no strings attached. Turned out later, I was the only one looking for that. She was more in tune with “Life would be ecstasy, you and me endlessly…” We parted amiably.

And the music just keeps on playing, a constant in our lives, something to grab and hold on to. And I’ve basked in a whole lot of it in my 77 years.   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Dancing and Dance Teachers

From Luis López, Señora Villagrana and Nachita Hernández to Albert Flores

By Maria E. Garcia

Mr. Albert Flores started teaching dance lessons at Neighborhood House in 1940. In 1942, he was drafted into the Army to serve in World War II. He was taken prisoner of war. One of his big dreams was to become a professional dancer. He did try to realize his dream in Hollywood but was unsuccessful. His prized possession was a pair of shoes that were given to him by his idol José Greco. He would wear these shoes with great pride whenever he performed in San Diego. After his unsuccessful Hollywood experience he returned to San Diego and worked for the City of San Diego as a tree trimmer.   [Read more…]

Activists to Rep. Scott Peters: Do the Right Thing on Fast Track, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

By Doug Porter

People representing organized labor, environmental and faith groups staged a rally outside the offices of Rep. Scott Peters yesterday, urging him to oppose legislation limiting congressional oversight on trade agreements currently being negotiated.

The demonstration at Peters office is symbolic of a larger political battle being waged over the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP). Business groups and most Republican legislators are supporting the Obama administration, contending an agreement is necessary as an important counterweight to China’s growing clout in the region.

In Washington on Thursday the so-called Fast Track legislation cleared an important hurtle as House Ways and Means Committee voted 25-13 in favor. A companion “fast-track” bill cleared a Senate panel on Wednesday and both are now ready for action in their respective chambers.

Today I’ll do my best–this is complicated–to give you an overview of what’s going on.   [Read more…]

Why We Need $50,000 Traffic Tickets

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Let’s make sure our penalties amount to penalties for everyone

By Sam Pizzigati / OtherWords

All of us would like to live in a world where people always do the right thing — without anybody looking over their shoulder. But that world doesn’t exist and never will. So every society on our planet has penalties. You break the rules, you pay a price.

But penalties only work if the wrongdoer feels that price. A ridiculously tiny penalty amounts to no penalty at all.

Take traffic fines, for instance.   [Read more…]

Reader-izing San Diego’s CityBeat Weekly

While I’m guessing some coverage of interest to progressives will continue to appear, the heart and soul of the organization appear to be headed in another direction.

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By Doug Porter

There’s trouble afoot at San Diego CityBeat, the alt-weekly known for its focus on local progressive politics, arts, and music.

Editor Dave Rolland and associate editor Kelly Davis both cited plausible professional reasons as they exited the publication in March, with Rolland promising readers “our departure does not foretell CityBeat’s demise.”

Incoming editor Ron Donoho started off vowing to “continue this alt-weekly tradition,” and pledging to “stink up the place if our local leaders foul things up.” Unfortunately these promises were woven into a bizarre scatological analogy, ending with “if we see brown, we’ll flush it down.”   [Read more…]