SANDAG, Water Agencies Faith Based Planning


By Doug Porter

Two incredulous tales about the agencies entrusted to look out for the public good opting for short-sighted policies grabbed my attention this morning. Apparently climate change is a mere bureaucratic hurdle and the drought is soon to be forgotten. I guess we just gotta have faith, baby.

Our regional transportation planners are set to approve a proposal no better than the one already rejected by the courts for failing to meet state-mandated greenhouse gas reduction goals, according to the group that took them to court in the first place.

Ten local water agencies are, according to a story in Voice of San Diego, questioning state regulators about the need to continue restrictions on water use. They’re banking on a return to normalcy with the advent of El Nino conditions this winter, and are apparently ignorant of long term trends due to climate change.   [Read more…]

ReformCA Files Its California Pot Legalization Initiative

ameri pot

By Phillip Smith / AlterNet

The California Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, also known as ReformCA, has filed a draft marijuana legalization initiative with state officials, the group announced Sunday.

The long-anticipated move means the campaign best-placed to bring legalization to the Golden State can finally get underway.

The Control, Regulate and Tax Cannabis Act of 2016 would allow people 21 and over to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana and it would set up legal marijuana commerce overseen by a pair of new state agencies, the California Cannabis Commission and the Office of Cannabis Regulatory Affairs.   [Read more…]

Why Free College Tuition Makes Sense for America

free college now

By Bernie Rhinerson / FreeCollegeNow.Org

Ever since President Obama announced Americas College Promise, his plan to make community colleges tuition free, the debate and conversation about making colleges free has been building with many productive ideas coming forward.

This month, the San Diego Community College District may have become the first community college district in the country to approve an endorsement resolution supporting these efforts to make a community college education more affordable.  That is just one step of many that we need to take down the road to a future where a college education is expected, accessible and affordable for all young people in our country.

More than 100 years ago, America began to acknowledge that to be successful, our younger citizens needed more education.  During the “high school movement” from 1910 to 1940, high schools were established to expand educational opportunities for students.  In 1910, only 9% of 18-year-olds graduated from a secondary school.  By 1940, 73% of high school age Americans were enrolled in a secondary school.  That educational explosion has been credited with the success achieved by our country in the 20th century in the growth of the middle class, and scientific and technological achievements.   [Read more…]

A Defining Issue for the 2016 Elections Will Be the Trans Pacific Pact (TPP)


By Doug Porter

The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations have agreed to the largest regional trade accord in history, one promising to set international commerce standards affecting 40% percent of the world’s economy.

The deal culminates years of negotiations setting up mechanics for a global economy as the basis for future prosperity. These negotiations never involved questioning the premise of neo-liberal policies as the foundation for economic development in the years ahead. In a nutshell, this means “marketplace” will be the final arbiter in the global economy.

The rules of the economic game, as laid out in previous trade-pacts, are seen by the left as driving forces in the widening of economic inequality. This, along with parochial and nationalist concerns on the right, sets up the Trans Pacific Pact (TPP) as a defining political battle as the US heads into an election year.   [Read more…]

US Bombing of Afghan Hospital Called a War Crime by Doctors Without Borders

MSF Photo

By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Sunday called the U.S. military’s Saturday airstrike on its charity hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan a war crime and announced it was withdrawing all staff from the beleaguered area.

MSF said 22 people, including medical workers and patients, were killed in the bombing, which occurred around 2:10 am local time and reportedly lasted for at least half an hour.

“Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body,” said MSF general director Christopher Stokes in a statement on Sunday.   [Read more…]

San Diego Democrats to Progressive Base: We’re Just Not That Into You

via Facebook

By Jim Miller

Last week over at the San Diego Union-Tribune, Logan Jenkins had some fun pondering what might happen if the “Dems go dark” this upcoming mayoral election.   His conclusion?  It would push Faulconer to the top-tier of Republican candidates for Governor in 2018:

And, it should be deduced, a cakewalk sweetens Faulconer’s prospects in Sacramento.

In 18 months or so, Republicans will be looking for a governor candidate who can appeal to Latinos and independents as well as the conservative base. The Democrats have a long electable bench. Republicans? Not so much.

If Faulconer is re-elected by a landslide in a major Democratic city, he’s going to rise to the top tier of the GOP’s A+ list.

  [Read more…]

Diary of a Refugee: Finding Hope In Art and Education


By Vanessa Ceceña

Burma is a country in Southeast Asia that has been torn by civil war, unrest and a regime that instills fear in its people. After nearly 50 years of military rule, the country is currently in a process of renovation, but there are still accounts continued human rights violations.

Like in many countries that have experienced unrest and a level of genocide, many in Burma fled their country and entered refugee camps in neighboring Thailand. Here is the story of Eh De Gray.

De Gray identifies as Karen, one of the ethnic groups in Burma. He is the oldest of 5 and at the young age of 11, he decided to leave his home country and family to enter a refugee camp on the Burmese-Thai border. He wanted an education, an opportunity, something that he would not get if he remained in Burma.   [Read more…]

As Secret Trade Talks Reveal Cracks, Demonstrators Aim Death Blows at TPP

stop tpp banner

Pacific trade deal opponents hope that if Atlanta round fails, pro-corporate TPP could be knocked off track indefinitely

By Deidre Fulton / CommonDreams

As trade ministers from around the world continued meeting in Atlanta on Thursday for final-stretch negotiations on the corporate-friendly Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), civil society groups demonstrated on the streets in a final salvo against a deal they describe as “a wholesale auction of our rights, our freedoms, and our democracy to multinational corporations who put profits over people.”

“They’re getting close, but we can stop them,” reads the Citizens Trade Campaign’s call-to-action. “If we do, and the Atlanta round fails, many believe the TPP could be knocked off track indefinitely.”   [Read more…]

Oregon College Massacre, More Gun Nut Excuses


By Doug Porter

A very disturbed 26-year-old man killed nine people and injured seven others at a community college in Oregon on October 1st. He was killed in a gunfight with police officers responding to 911 calls.

The President made his 15th appearance to address the nation following a mass shooting. He was obviously very angry and frustrated.

The blowback from the right edge of the flat-earthers was, as usual, both ignorant and infuriating.   [Read more…]

SANDAG’s Gary Gallegos: ‘Transit is not going to work for every person in the region’

Gary Gallegos

By Sam Ollinger / BikeSD

“We are not going to put everybody on a bike, we are not going to take everybody out of their car, transit is not going to work for every person in the region.” – Gary Gallegos, executive director of SANDAG, San Diego’s Metropolitan Planning Organization. January 8, 2014.

“the SANDAG plan is to spend more than half the $204 billion on mass transit, adding five new Trolley lines, 32 new rapid bus lines and 275 miles of new bikeways, as well as 160 miles of freeway lanes intended to help transit and encourage carpools and van pools. The net effect would be to reduce county greenhouse gas emissions by considerably more than state targets.” – UT Editorial Board

I don’t know what sort of drugs the UT Editorial Board is consuming, because if they bothered to read SANDAG’s own analysis they would have seen that implementing the existing Regional Transportation Plan (scheduled for a SANDAG board vote on October 9th) in its current form is going to increase the region’s greenhouse gas emissions.   [Read more…]

University Contract Workers Wages –Or Lack Thereof– in the Crosshairs


By Doug Porter

Today (Oct 1), some contract employees working on University of California facilities will be seeing a pay hike to $13 an hour. The university system is California’s third largest employer and the largest employer in San Diego.

Earlier this year UC President Janet Napolitano announced a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a three-year roll-out for all workers, including contract ones, and today’s bump is just the first stage.  

Or maybe they won’t be seeing that raise. The Los Angeles Times reports the Department of Labor has launched an investigation into long-time contractor Performance First Building Services failure to pay overtime to workers cleaning up after sporting events at UC Berkeley.   [Read more…]

To Cut Costs, College Students Are Buying Less Food and Even Going Hungry

Students in classroom

By Sara Goldrick-Rab, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Katharine Broton, University of Wisconsin-Madison / The Conversation

Studies have long shown that a college student’s odds of achieving financial security and a better quality of life improve when he or she earns a degree.

But what are some of the obstacles that prevent degree attainment?

At the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, we study the challenges that students from low- and moderate-income households face in attaining a college degree. Chief among these are the many hurdles created by the high price of college. Paying the price of attending college, we find, changes who attends and for how long, as well as the college experience itself – what classes students take, the grades they earn, the activities in which they engage and even with whom they interact.

Our recent research shows an alarming trend on college campuses: an increasing number of students tell us that they are struggling in college, sometimes even dropping out, because they can’t afford enough of life’s basic necessity – food.   [Read more…]

I Hope We Can Finally Just Let Adam and Steve Be

Marriage Equality

(No Matter What our Beliefs Happen to Be)

This Kim Davis situation is just too familiar for my liking, too much like it has always been in this country based on what I’ve seen in 77 years.

I mean I have no idea what this woman’s work entails in a day. But one of her tasks seems, to me, like a dream job, where all she’d have to do is a little soft shoe with jazz hands and a big smile and sing: “Howdy do. Congratulations, you two. Here’s your marriage license. Toddle-oo!”

But she can only do that for “Adam and Eve.” “Adam and Steve” or any woman whose honey is a she has to be insulted by her for all the world to see because of what her scripture has taught her to believe.   [Read more…]

Nuclear Shutdown News for September 2015 – the Costs of San Onofre


Disaster Capitalism and the Shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Plant

By Michael Steinberg /Black Rain Press

This story starts with a clandestine dinner in Warsaw, Poland. Present are Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utility Commission, and Stephen Pickett, a high ranking official with Southern California Edison, a major electrical utility.

It is March 2013, the same month SCE announced the unexpected permanent shutdown of its San Onofre Nuclear Power Station.

No nukers were elated. But their joy later turns to disappointment and then outrage when the CPUC subsequently hands down a decision that leaves us on the hook for billions of dollars in costs supposedly related to the shutdown of San Onofre.

How did this happen, and so relatively quickly?   [Read more…]

Why We Must End Upward Pre-Distribution to the Rich

sdfp income-inequality

By Robert Reich / RobertReich.Org

You often hear inequality has widened because globalization and technological change have made most people less competitive, while making the best educated more competitive.

There’s some truth to this. The tasks most people used to do can now be done more cheaply by lower-paid workers abroad or by computer-driven machines.

But this common explanation overlooks a critically important phenomenon: the increasing concentration of political power in a corporate and financial elite that has been able to influence the rules by which the economy runs.   [Read more…]

Bush AND Obama Both Responsible for Screwing Up the Middle East

army teamwork

Regime Change Was Their Common Theme

By John Lawrence

Obama wanted it to be part of his legacy that he ended two wars, those in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were started by his predecessor, George W Bush along with his vice President Dick Cheney. Only it’s not working out entirely as he planned, and he’s coming in for a lot of criticism from, among others, Cheney himself. In a new book, Exceptional, Why the World Needs a Powerful America, written with daughter Liz Cheney, Cheney criticizes Obama while defending his own legacy. Cheney has been in full self-rehabilitation mode ever since he stepped down as George W Bush’s brain.

The criticism now is that Obama left Iraq too soon and thus created a power vacuum that ISIS has filled. No doubt ISIS stepped into the vacuum created by the departure of Saddam Hussein, but the part that Cheney is missing is that his administration took out Saddam for no valid reason whatsoever and created the power vacuum in the first place. As long as Saddam was in power, no group such as al Qaeda or ISIS could possibly have gained a foothold in Iraq.

As Colin Powell said recently on Meet the Press, and I paraphrase, you can’t take out the guy at the top if there is no structure beneath him to support a stable government and expect good results. Certainly neither George W Bush, who wanted to create western style democracies in the Middle East using war as a means, nor Barack Obama, who wanted to do the same thing by encouraging the youth to rise up after getting rid of despicable dictators, have achieved the results they were hoping for.   [Read more…]

Congressional Values: “Zippidy do-da, zippidy day.”


By Doug Porter

Speaker of the House John Boehner was singing the classic Disney ditty as he walked in for a Friday morning press conference where he shocked just about everybody by announcing his resignation.

While Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is considered a probable successor to Boehner as Speaker, it’s worthwhile to look at the recently concluded 10th annual Value Voters Summit for some context about the changes taking place.

It was, after all, the crowd at the political conference for American social conservative activists that gave a standing ovation after hearing news of the Ohio congressman’s resignation.   [Read more…]

Taking the Leap: Imagine a New World

healthy planet

By Jim Miller

Last week the Pope came to America and delivered his groundbreaking message about the interrelated problems of climate change and economic inequality as well as the moral imperative to act to address them.  

We heard this message at the same time we learned that we have lost half the world’s marine animals since 1970 and that Exxon’s own research had confirmed the human role in climate change decades ago even as they were heavily funding efforts to block solutions.  During all of this, we were also reminded that every GOP candidate for President has absolutely nothing to offer in the face of this deadly threat.  

Clearly we need to change the game and do it quickly.  But how?     [Read more…]

Carlsbad Referendum Signatures Stun Caruso, City Council Pals

via Citizens for North County Facebook

Strawberry Field Owner’s Campaign Donations Revealed

By Richard Riehl

It must have been quite a shock for L.A.’s Caruso Affiliated executives to see the stack of signed petitions delivered to the Carlsbad city clerk’s office last Thursday. The 9,000 signers of the referendum petition are calling for a public vote on the developer’s plan for a lagoon-view shopping center, as promised in the title of the initiative, Measure to be Submitted Directly to the Voters.

When the Carlsbad city Council unanimously approved his plan on August 25, Caruso had already spent nearly $3 million on signature gatherers and a blizzard of glossy, full-color mailers to persuade 20,000 Carlsbadians that his plan to build a shopping mall was all about saving the Strawberry Fields.

The day after the council voted, a grassroots group, Citizens for North County, announced its plan to launch a referendum drive. Caruso had to redouble his marketing campaign. But this time his mailers, accompanied by daily prime time TV ads, featured headshot photos of and quotes from all five city Council members, as well as the owner of the Strawberry Fields. Each repeated the lie that signing the referendum would destroy the Strawberry Fields, despite the promise of Prop D to preserve them, passed by voters in 2006. The Caruso mailer included a detachable, postage-paid card to return to the city clerk for signers of the referendum to have their names withdrawn.   [Read more…]

The Movement for a Balanced Transportation Future In the San Diego Region

Photo by Roebot

By Monique López, policy advocate at Environmental Health Coalition

We all need to move, and how we move influences our quality of life. The time of our commute, the safety of our sidewalks, the quality of our air and the type of transportation options we have determine how well we live our lives. On October 9, 2015, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) will decide how to invest $204 billion into our region’s transportation infrastructure.

This decision is critical to our livelihood. That much investment will have a tremendous impact on the lives of everyone in our region, particularly the lives of those in San Diego’s urban core where freeways intersect neighborhoods and transit, biking and walking infrastructure is scarce.

How these funds are invested will determine whether our region takes a step toward becoming a forward-thinking, sustainable place or whether we remain driving in circles, stuck in the incessant traffic jam that is our car-first mentality.   [Read more…]

California’s Renewables Progress Commendable But Emission Of Global CO2 Still Exponential

Photo by Atmospheric Infrared Sounder

By Frank Thomas

California continues its remarkable legislative breakthroughs in going green under the SB 350 Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015. Legislation just passed sets two goals for 2030: 50% of state utility power from renewables and a 50% increase in energy efficiency of buildings. The provision for a 50% reduction in petroleum use for cars and trucks failed to pass as did the SB 32 bill that sets GHG emission targets for 2030 and 2050.

Still, the sweeping new mandates passed call for DOUBLING energy efficiency and using renewables for HALF of California’s electricity generation by 2030. It is uncertain how fast and to what extent transportation electrification will proceed California’s aim to step up its commitment to clean energy acknowledges the scientific reality we humans don’t have the luxury of lots of time to transition FAST to renewable energy and much improved energy efficiency.   [Read more…]

What Happened To the Central American Refugee Crisis?

Photo by Tony Webster

By Vanessa Ceceña

Minors and families chose, and continue to choose, the dangerous and lengthy journey from Central American to the U.S.-Mexico border, simply because it’s a more appealing option than remaining in their communities of origin.

Many flee the proliferation of gang violence, the continued lack of economic opportunities. Others travel to reunify with family members whom they have not seen for years. Last year we witnessed the greatest surge of Central Americans arriving to our border seeking refuge. By the end of fiscal year 2015, a total of 26,685 unaccompanied minors had arrived at the Southwest U.S.-Mexico border.   [Read more…]

Poverty and Pollution in San Diego, Bike Lane Madness in Coronado, Labor Troubles in Oceanside


By Doug Porter

America’s Finest City and its neighbors have got a lot of work to do.

The Center on Policy Initiatives has finished crunching the 2014 census data released last week, finding the number of San Diegans living in official poverty continues to increase. Seniors, children and minority populations are disproportionally impacted, with 41.5% of adults living in poverty reporting they had jobs in 2014.

The Climate Action Campaign and Circulate San Diego released a report on Wednesday critical of regional planning proposals, saying current efforts will undermine one of the main goals of the city’s climate action plan.

The icing on the cake for the day was a report from KPBS about a successful effort in Coronado to halt additional bike lanes based on citizen complaints about “paint stripe pollution.”   [Read more…]

DeMaio-Reed Pension Measure Flops, For Now


By Doug Porter

Former City Councilman Carl DeMaio, along with former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, are headed back to the drawing board, following the failure of their latest pension “reform” ballot proposal to gain traction in California.

DeMaio and Reed were hoping to attract funding and political support for a pension reform initiative involving voter approval for each and every future plan throughout the state, negating what is now part of the collective bargaining process.

The California Republican Party failed to endorse the measure during its Anaheim convention last weekend. DeMaio and Reed cried foul last month after the State Attorney General’s office gave the proposed reforms ballot language not to their liking.   [Read more…]