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

Young Ferguson protester, October 11, 2014

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…]

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…]

Electile Dysfunction: GOP Candidates Prepare for ‘Happy Hour’ Debate

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By Doug Porter

Heading into the dog days of August, this should be the dullest of the dull period of the election cycle. But it’s not.

Seventeen candidates have formally declared an interest in seeking the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential contest. Roger Ailes, the high priest of Fox news, has called for an early debate, limited to the ten top job seekers capable of making the most noise.

Getting into this debate has been all about who can say the most outrageous thing. Today, I’ll share some of that outrage with readers.   [Read more…]

USC Report: Inequality Threatens San Diego’s Future

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By Doug Porter

A report by the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) says long term prospects for San Diego’s economy are challenged by widespread inequality.

I could dazzle you with charts and figures (and there are plenty in the report), but here’s the bottom line: the way public policy is and has been made in San Diego benefits a few at the expense of the many. Trading short term greed for long term growth would be better for the overall economy and the environment.

The authors of the report point to metropolitan areas around the country where public and private entities have opted to work together on economic and environmental issues and are building platforms for sustainable growth. They also point to emerging data demonstrating that “greater economic and racial equality in regions corresponds with more robust growth in terms of employment, output, productivity, and per-capita income.”   [Read more…]

As Medicare Turns 50, It’s Time to Grow the Program

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It’s As American As Apple Pie

By Doug Porter

On July 30, 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation creating the Medicare program. After more than five decades of failed attempts dating back to President Theodore Roosevelt, at least some Americans were eligible for coverage under a federal health insurance program.

Today more than 54 million people are covered by Medicare. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a damn sight better than the alternatives being proposed by the GOP. In fact, many of the problems facing medicare can be addressed by e x p a n d i n g the program, an idea gaining currency nationally.

Registered nurses are leading the way, with actions in over 25 U.S. cities July 30th to honor Medicare and Medicaid’s 50th anniversary with a National Day of Action celebrating the theme, “Medicare is as American as Apple Pie.” (The nearest local action is in LA)  They’re calling on policy makers to protect, improve, and expand Medicare to cover all Americans with a single standard of quality care not based on ability to pay.   [Read more…]

A New Wrinkle on the Chargers Stadium Story: Summer Olympics in LA?

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By Doug Porter

The city of Boston, Massachusetts bailed on its grand plans for hosting the 2024 Olympics yesterday and Los Angeles immediately became the next contender.

This development could be a game changer when it comes to the NFL’s thought processes on the future of the San Diego Chargers franchise.  An Olympic bid would provide additional impetus towards getting another venue built in LA.

The United State Olympic Committee has until September to figure out an alternative location. The chatter in the press is that the best option remaining is Los Angeles, host to the 1932 and 1984 games. LA’s proposed a bid centered on several clusters of venues including Exposition Park, Downtown, one along the LA River, the Westside, Long Beach, and –ta! da! –Carson.   [Read more…]

Lies & More Lies: Planned Parenthood as the New ACORN

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By Doug Porter

The Republicans appear to have settled on their wedge issue for 2016. You know, the thing that drives fear and/or disgust in a certain class of voters so they’ll ignore all those pesky economic policies they’re likely to get screwed by.

In 2008 a loosely organized entity named ACORN fit the bill. Manufactured imagery of  brown people doing something wrong was perfect for an election where the leading candidate was a person of color. Most people still don’t realize the charges brought against the community organizing group turned out to have been false.

The Donald has been busy co-opting the GOP’s immigration issues and Gays have kicking ass in the courts (both legal and popular opinion). Black people have been fighting back lately and there just aren’t enough Muslims to go around. And besides, the lone wolf mostly male libertarians constituting the party’s future are scared to death of female empowerment.   [Read more…]

Average Motorist’s Annual Cost for San Diego’s Crappy Roads: $843

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By Doug Porter

I can just hear the boosterism now: “We’re better than San Jose, Ole!”

Fifty one per cent of San Diego’s roads are considered to be in poor condition, according to a study released by TRIP, a national transportation research group.  The region has the eighth-highest rate of lousy roads nationally among large urban areas with more than a half million residents.

California cities dominated the study, taking 5 of the bottom 10 rankings. Coming in at number 5 was San Jose, with Concord, Los Angeles and San Francisco/Oakland topping the list.   [Read more…]