Government

Thumbnail image for City Budget Requests, Unpaid Glitter Unicorns and Congressional Follies

City Budget Requests, Unpaid Glitter Unicorns and Congressional Follies

by Doug Porter 01.28.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

There’s lots to report on today, starting with the annual wish lists for the coming fiscal year’s City of San Diego budget. The consensus item among the city council’s lists is finding more money for paying police.

A local non-profit’s Facebook posting seeking unpaid interns (along with paying positions) to participate in building support for increased minimum wages came under fire yesterday. But things aren’t always as they seem; I think there is another agenda at play here.

And the 114th Congress is off to a great start, unless you want to count passing meaningful legislation as part of it’s goals.

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Thumbnail image for Civic San Diego and Community Benefits Agreements: The Need for Project Specific Focus

Civic San Diego and Community Benefits Agreements: The Need for Project Specific Focus

by Jim Bliesner 01.28.2015 Activism

By Jim Bliesner

The United Food and Commercial Workers (Local 135) are picketing the El Super store in the City Heights Retail Village for a decent wage, health benefits and healthy working conditions. El Super just opened the store in late 2014 with a commitment to hire local City Heights residents.

Pickets allege “there are more people from Tijuana employed than from City Heights”. The Coalition for a Better El Super folks are distributing flyers illustrating 341 health code violations in various El Super stores throughout Southern California—things like “flies in the meat department” and “droppings from what appears to be a cat in the warehouse beverage storage cage”.

They both are asking customers to “Boycott El Super”. Mickey Kasparian, the head of UFCW says it is not unusual to find expired products in almost all El Super stores in So California. They have been picketing for three weeks.

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Your Home Is Your Prison

by Source 01.28.2015 Activism

How to Lock Down Your Neighborhood, Your Country, and You

By Maya Schenwar / TomDispatch

On January 27th, domestic violence survivor Marissa Alexander will walk out of Florida’s Duval County jail — but she won’t be free.

Alexander, whose case has gained some notoriety, endured three years of jail time and a year of house arrest while fighting off a prison sentence that would have seen her incarcerated for the rest of her life — all for firing a warning shot that injured no one to fend off her abusive husband. Like many black women before her, Alexander was framed as a perpetrator in a clear case of self-defense. In November, as her trial date drew close, Alexander accepted a plea deal that will likely give her credit for time served, requiring her to spend “just” 65 more days in jail. Media coverage of the development suggested that Alexander would soon have her “freedom,” that she would be “coming home.”

Many accounts of the plea deal, however, missed what Alexander will be coming home to: she’ll return to “home detention” — house arrest — for two years.

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Thumbnail image for Water Main Breaks Cause Major Problems in San Diego and Nationwide

Water Main Breaks Cause Major Problems in San Diego and Nationwide

by John Lawrence 01.27.2015 Environment

By John Lawrence

In the best of all possible worlds water main breaks would not happen. Local government would replace old water mains with new ones on a regular basis. That means that money for this and other infrastructure needs would be allocated systematically and appropriately.

If we had our priorities straight, money for infrastructure would take precedence over money for football stadiums and convention centers. But in San Diego and in fact throughout the US this rational approach is to be seen rarely if at all.

The Romans gave their citizens bread and circuses to keep them in line. Here in fact only circuses seem to be necessary.

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Thumbnail image for Ed Harris: Don’t Rush the Belmont Park Lease

Ed Harris: Don’t Rush the Belmont Park Lease

by Source 01.26.2015 Government

by Ed Harris /OB Rag

Last year during my State of the District Address I called upon District Two residents to monitor and weigh in on development projects that came forward but were not resolved while I was in office. One such project is the Belmont Park lease extension. For a primer on the issue you can read an article I wrote about it in September of 2014.

While I was the Councilmember for District Two, it was my duty to protect the taxpayer’s money. When it came to the Belmont Park lease extension, I asked City staff two simple questions: How does the lease extension benefit the taxpayer and how much more will the City make if it extends a lease from 25 years to 55 years? I never received satisfactory answers to either question.

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Thumbnail image for University of California Doctors Call One Day Strike

University of California Doctors Call One Day Strike

by Doug Porter 01.26.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

Physicians at all 10 University of California student health centers will hold a one-day unfair labor practices strike on Tuesday.

They gave notice to the UC system on Friday, following the failure of 41 bargaining sessions over a year’s time to gain an initial contract for The Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD). Over 90% of the student health doctors voted in favor of striking in meetings during December.

The union has filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the  California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) saying the universities are failing to negotiate in good faith. In one instance cited, the UC administration increased pension contributions without negotiating over the issue.

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Thumbnail image for The State Of the Union: Obama is an Eisenhower Republican

The State Of the Union: Obama is an Eisenhower Republican

by Jim Miller 01.26.2015 Columns

By Jim Miller

Last week, President Obama gave a pretty good speech in which he outlined a series of solid progressive policy proposals along with a few very bad ideas like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

What was most telling about the response to his speech, however, was how glowing the praise was in some quarters for what, in essence, was a fairly pedestrian list of things to do: raise the minimum wage, support collective bargaining, admit that climate change is real and act upon it in some way, tax the rich more than the middle and working classes, recognize basic civil rights, and make community college free for students as a way to expand opportunity, as well as some other modest initiatives.

These proposals, along with Obama’s threat to veto the Keystone Pipeline have encouraged many downtrodden Democrats and progressives as they should, but they hardly represent a significant shift in our politics.

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Thumbnail image for The American Sniper As Hero

The American Sniper As Hero

by Source 01.24.2015 Culture

By FDRDemocrat/ Daily Kos

The controversy over the movie American Sniper has predictably reopened the divide among many Americans over the Iraq War.  What is more interesting is how the choice made by director Clint Eastwood to choose a sniper as a heroic archetype unravels classic notions of what is considered heroism.

The concept of heroism has been with humanity since the beginning.  At it’s heart it contains a common thread where the hero (or heroine) risks themselves for the sake of others.

How then to adapt the heroic archetype to the profession of sniper?  This is no easy task.

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Thumbnail image for McDonald’s Customers, Employees Not Lovin’ It

McDonald’s Customers, Employees Not Lovin’ It

by Doug Porter 01.23.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

Fast food giant McDonald’s is reportedly spending $3 million daily on U.S. advertising, yet business is declining. As the company has pumped up its menu to counter the explosion of fast-casual restaurants, food quality and service times have suffered. And increasingly negative image of the fast food industry as an exploiter of its workforce certainly hasn’t helped matters.

Last year was the company’s worst in three decades. Domestic sales actually declined by 1.7 percent. Global profits declined by 21 percent in the most recent quarter. Franchise owners are unhappy about menu bloat. Customers are confused by assorted pricing schemes. Employees are appearing on TV holding picket signs. And now the company is facing even more bad news.

A July ruling by the National labor Relations Board deeming the company a “joint employer” with its franchisees could spell big trouble, as 10 former workers at three McDonald’s locations in Virginia have filed a lawsuit alleging they were unceremoniously fired last May after being told by supervisors that there were “too many black people” working at their locations.

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Thumbnail image for On Roe vs. Wade Anniversary, GOP House Passes Vicious Assault on Women’s Right to Choose

On Roe vs. Wade Anniversary, GOP House Passes Vicious Assault on Women’s Right to Choose

by Source 01.23.2015 Economy

Reproductive rights advocates say legislation would cause entire insurance market to drop abortion coverage while raising taxes on small businesses

By Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams

On the 42nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which affirms a woman’s Constitutional right to an abortion, House Republicans passed a far-reaching anti-choice bill that women’s health advocates say would cause the entire insurance market to drop abortion coverage while raising taxes on small business who provide comprehensive health care to their employees.

After pulling a more extreme anti-abortion bill at the last minute due to intra-party dissent, the GOP on Thursday voted 242-179 in favor of alternative legislation sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) that restricts federal funds for abortion.

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Thumbnail image for What’s the Fix for San Diego’s Crumbling Infrastructure?

What’s the Fix for San Diego’s Crumbling Infrastructure?

by Doug Porter 01.22.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

Pssst! Got a spare two billion dollars? That’s a number being talked about in the search for a comprehensive approach to fixing San Diego’s deteriorating streets, pipes and public spaces.

The City of San Diego has issued a report outlining what it says are our infrastructure needs over the next five years, and it isn’t pretty. Our roads are falling apart. Public buildings like libraries and fire stations have repair needs that are mounting faster than the city can pay for them.

I’m told discussions about how to sell taxpayers on paying for this among the city’s big time players (led by the Chamber of Commerce) are already underway. While I don’t dispute the need to upgrade the bones of this city, whatever deal emerges to sell us on paying for it needs to include a whole lotta people who’ve been getting the short end of the stick lately.

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Thumbnail image for Change the World, Change Yourself

Change the World, Change Yourself

by Will Falk 01.22.2015 Activism

By Will Falk

Friends and family tell me I too often focus on the negative. My doctors and therapists have told me me this, too. Diagnosed as I am with severe depression and surviving two suicide attempts, I used to believe them.

Part of my recovery involved completing a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program. CBT assumes that changing the way a patient thinks leads to changes in mood and behavior. Patients keep “thought records” where they document negative thoughts and then challenge the validity of those thoughts with the help of a therapist. On the surface, CBT seems like a good way to combat depression, right?

I do not think so, anymore. I came to therapy feeling like I was the problem. My sensitivity to the problems I saw around me caused me profound grief. I felt guilty for my ineffectiveness as a public defender to stem the tide of poor people being thrown in prison. I felt guilty as a member of a natural community for being unable to stop the destruction from raging on. My doctors and therapists insisted that if I changed my perceptions then I would alleviate the grief. In other words, my doctors and therapists told me, “You cannot change the world, so change yourself.”

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Thumbnail image for Three Ideas for Inclusive Cities: How Raleigh, Seattle, and Others Are Bringing Everyone Into the Fold

Three Ideas for Inclusive Cities: How Raleigh, Seattle, and Others Are Bringing Everyone Into the Fold

by Source 01.21.2015 Activism

From city-issued ID cards to open-source data anyone can access, simple urban innovations are creating more transparent and equitable cities.

by Shannan Stoll / Yes!

1. City ID cards for everyone who needs one.

While immigration policy is contested on the national stage, many local governments are taking steps to improve the lives of the undocumented people living and working in their communities.

From Los Angeles to New Haven, 11 cities across the country have instituted municipal ID programs. Now New York, a city with an estimated half-million undocumented immigrants, is preparing to launch the country’s largest program in January 2015.

With the new city IDs, New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, will be able to apply for a job or library card, access health services, sign a lease, or file a police report.

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Thumbnail image for Richest 1% Percent To Have More Than Rest of Humanity Combined

Richest 1% Percent To Have More Than Rest of Humanity Combined

by Source 01.21.2015 Business

New Oxfam report shows the scale of global inequality is ‘simply staggering’

by Jon Queally / Common Dreams

In less than two years, if current trends continued unchecked, the richest 1% percent of people on the planet will own at least half of the world’s wealth.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from Oxfam International, released Monday, which states that the rate of global inequality is not only morally obscene, but an existential threat to the economies of the world and the very survival of the planet. Alongside climate change, Oxfam says that spiraling disparity between the super-rich and everyone else, is brewing disaster for humanity as a whole.

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Thumbnail image for Trouble With Filing Your Federal Taxes? Try Calling Congressman Darrell Issa

Trouble With Filing Your Federal Taxes? Try Calling Congressman Darrell Issa

by Doug Porter 01.20.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

National Public Radio broadcast a story this morning on the upcoming tax filing season. In years past it would have been the typical annual “how to” feature timed to coincide with W2’s arriving in mailboxes around the country. But this year it wasn’t.

This year the onset of tax season story was more of a warning. If you expect IRS help with tax questions, expect to wait. And wait.  As in “The IRS is predicting it will only be able to answer half of the 100 million calls it expects from taxpayers this year, and those who do get through can expect to wait a half hour to hear a live voice.” In 2010 the IRS answered calls with an average 11 minute wait.

We can thank Republican Congressman Darrel Issa and his cronies for the 17.5% reduction (adjusted for inflation) in the IRS budget since 2010. The US Treasury will be out about $2 billion, thanks to the inability of the government’s tax collectors to conduct audits. That money could have been used to repair bridges, like the one collapsing on an Interstate last night in Cincinnati.

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Thumbnail image for Extreme Weather Watch: 2014 Hottest Year on Record

Extreme Weather Watch: 2014 Hottest Year on Record

by John Lawrence 01.20.2015 Economy

By John Lawrence

It’s official: NOAA and NASA have confirmed that 2014 was the hottest year on record. Despite the fact of Arctic cold winters on the US east coast, the average earth surface temperature was the hottest on record. Those cold temperatures were more than made up for elsewhere.

The fact that the three hottest years on record are 2014, 2010 and 2005 points in the direction that climate change is indeed a reality, a reality that is only getting worse as time goes on.

The 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997, a reflection of the relentless planetary warming that scientists say is a consequence of human activity. Climate change deniers have pointed to 1998 as the year they say the earth stopped warming. Despite the fact that 1998 was the hottest year on record up to that point, that record has since been broken … many times!

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Thumbnail image for Taking Back the Streets and Their Stories, Thousands Reclaim MLK Day

Taking Back the Streets and Their Stories, Thousands Reclaim MLK Day

by Source 01.20.2015 Activism

In year that saw renewed calls for racial justice, over 50 nationwide demonstrations held to ‘desanitize’ the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams

Thousands of people took to the streets on Monday rebuking what they say is the “sanitized” version of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and calling to restore the legacy of a man whose protests, like their own, were never “convenient.”

The nationwide actions marked the birthday of the civil rights leader in a year that saw renewed calls for racial justice in the face of persistent inequality, discrimination, and police targeting of communities of color.

Capping off almost a week of demonstrations, organizational meetings, and other pledges of resistance—all done with the intent to “Reclaim MLK”—grassroots coalition Ferguson Action issued a specific call for Monday: “Do as Martin Luther King would have done and resist the war on Black Lives with civil disobedience and direct action. Take the streets, shut it down, walk, march,  and whatever you do, take action.”

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Thumbnail image for We Need Martin Luther King Jr.’s  “Fierce Urgency of Now”: Beyond Our Current Failure of Imagination

We Need Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Fierce Urgency of Now”: Beyond Our Current Failure of Imagination

by Jim Miller 01.19.2015 Activism

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” –MLK, speaking against the Vietnam War in 1967

By Jim Miller

It’s the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and we will be greeted, as is the case these days, with lots of empty gestures and vanilla rhetoric that erases the radical nature of King’s legacy and neuters the impact of his ideas. As I have noted in years past, King was not a moderate whose only idea was that we should all just get along and respect each other. He was a provocative thinker and activist who challenged the core values of our society both then and now.

King fought what he characterized as “the triple evils of racism, materialism, and militarism,” sought to restructure “an edifice which produces beggars,” and called for us to move forward with a “divine dissatisfaction . . . until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice.”

He believed that the “whole structure must be changed” for America to be reborn as a truly humane, egalitarian, and civilized society. Only then would we have “democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action.”

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Humans Have Brought World’s Oceans to Brink of ‘Major Extinction Event’

by Source 01.17.2015 Environment

But ‘proactive intervention’ could still avert marine disaster, researchers find

By Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams

fish circleMarine wildlife at all levels of the food chain has been badly damaged by human activity, says a new report that urges immediate and “meaningful rehabilitation” if we are to avert mass extinction in the world’s oceans.

“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara and an author of the study, told the New York Times.

The report, published Thursday in the journal Science, finds that habitat loss, mismanagement of oceanic resources, climate change, and the overall “footprint of human ocean use” have resulted in a phenomenon known as “defaunation”—a decline in animal species diversity and abundance.

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Thumbnail image for The War on Hen-Pecking

The War on Hen-Pecking

by Source 01.16.2015 Activism

All states should follow California’s example and make egg producers treat laying hens better.

By Jill Richardson / OtherWords

Chickens had plenty to celebrate on New Year’s Day. Supposedly.

After a long wait, California’s 2008 ballot measure to improve conditions for laying hens finally went into effect. Instead of living in cramped cages that give each bird less room than a sheet of paper, the birds are going to get enough space to lie down, stand up, stretch their wings, or turn around.

That’s still not very much space. And it’s certainly not “Chicken Disneyland” as egg producer Frank Hilliker told UT-San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for The Mayor’s State of the Chargers Speech: Where’s the Beef?

The Mayor’s State of the Chargers Speech: Where’s the Beef?

by Doug Porter 01.15.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer made a pile o’ promises in his decidedly optimistic State of the City speech last night.

“Never before has there been so much promise for our future,” said the Mayor. “After a decade of crises and crashes, San Diego is writing its comeback story and each of us has a line to contribute.”

Twin task forces will tackle paying for a football stadium and figuring out a way for locals to make enough money to afford tickets for seats at football games.  Streets will be repaired, government will become more efficient and the city will have a year round facility for the homeless.

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Thumbnail image for Black Wealth Matters

Black Wealth Matters

by Source 01.15.2015 Economy

For generations, white households have enjoyed far greater access to wealth and security than their black counterparts.

By Chuck Collins / OtherWords

As protesters march through our cities to remind us that black lives matter, grievances about our racially fractured society extend far beyond flashpoints over police violence.

What is the state of the dream that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about, particularly as it relates to economic opportunity?

Racial inequality in earnings remains persistent. African-American workers under 35 earn only 75 cents on the dollar compared to their white contemporaries. Latinos earn only 68 cents.

Examining income alone, however, is like tracking the weather. If you want to explore the true tectonic shifts of the earth, you have to look at wealth and net worth — that is, what people own minus what they owe.

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Thumbnail image for World Wide and in San Diego, 2014 Was Warmest Ever

World Wide and in San Diego, 2014 Was Warmest Ever

by Doug Porter 01.14.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

There really shouldn’t be much debate about the fact the world is getting warmer. Outside of the Republican leadership in Congress, most people seem to be acknowledging that reality.

Next week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), agencies whose mission includes keeping track of what’s going on with planet earth, will schedule their first ever joint press conference to announce that 2014 broke all records as the warmest year globally since record keeping started in 1880.

The National Weather Service part of NOAA has already declared 2014 to have been the warmest year in San Diego’s history.  The city experienced 342 days last year recording warmer than normal temperatures, with 4 days hitting the normal mark and only 19 days seeing below average readings.

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Thumbnail image for If You Like Sleep, You’ll Like Death Even Better

If You Like Sleep, You’ll Like Death Even Better

by Judi Curry 01.14.2015 Culture

A summary of the League of Women Voters meeting on Death with Dignity

By Judi Curry

The League of Women Voters has scheduled nine different discussion locations for the “Death with Dignity” topic.

On Monday. January 12th, the discussion was held at the Point Loma Library.  The turn-out was disappointing to me – three men and nine women, plus the three female moderators.  The discussion, although slow at first, was interesting as the small audience began to participate.  The moderators were Nancy Witt, Shirley Walkoe and Jeanne Brown.

Jeanne led the discussion by handing out a statistical page of Assisted Suicide Laws by State.  We found out that three states have passed legislation permitting physician-assisted suicide:  – Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

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Thumbnail image for Where is the Infrastructure Planning for San Diego’s Vulnerable Coastline?

Where is the Infrastructure Planning for San Diego’s Vulnerable Coastline?

by At Large 01.14.2015 Activism

By Jeffrey Meyer/San Diego 350.org

A few weeks ago, San Diego coastal cities were given a stark reminder of the threat to public safety and our $15 billion a year tourism industry by increasing tides and coastal flooding. With this problem becoming more severe, year after year, the lack of substantive coastal infrastructure planning can become a countdown to disaster.

The latest combination of high astronomical tides and elevated surf caused strong rip currents and some flooding at low-lying areas along beaches. Known as king tides, they are expected to return to our coastline on January 19-21 and February 17-19. They have become a harbinger of damage to our coastline as we confront increasing sea levels during this century.

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