Politics

Thumbnail image for San Diego’s Family Jewels Losing Their Luster

San Diego’s Family Jewels Losing Their Luster

by Doug Porter 04.17.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

It’s been a bad week for cherished institutions in America’s Finest City. Our blessed football team, our world famous zoo, our info-tainment water park, and the mayor’s Hope Diamond of re-development all find themselves in trouble of one sort or another.

You might even say business as usual is getting unusual for San Diego. While a few instances of bad news do not constitute an omen of fundamental change, there’s reasons to believe we have not seen the end of these wannabe sordid sagas.

Then there are the shenanigans taking place in the electoral arena. Jacquie Atkinson is challenging Rep. Scott Peters. Supervisor Dave Roberts is in some kind of trouble. And those pesky House Republicans are after funding studying climate change, Again.

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Thumbnail image for Super Sized #Fightfor15 Protests, Value Meal Press Coverage

Super Sized #Fightfor15 Protests, Value Meal Press Coverage

by Doug Porter 04.16.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter 

I spent most of yesterday traveling around San Diego with roughly three dozen fast food workers. The local version of the nationwide Fight for 15 movement made a statement at ten locations around town, taking to the streets both in North Park and downtown. 

The mostly brown and black workers on the bus were those who’d committed to taking a day off from work (there were others that came and went) to let the world know they wanted a better life. Two were older, having spent more than two decades in the business. Some had families to support. Some brought their kids along. Others were trying to go to community college on a fast food paycheck. All of them believed they could make a difference, even if they were just paying it forward. 

Many of these strikers shared their personal stories with TV and radio station reporters along the way. Some spoke up at the rally capping off the day. But the real story was the amazing level of grit and determination. There was a strong consciousness of this day being about larger issues motivating them as much if not more than their own personal dilemmas. 

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Thumbnail image for California water restrictions must include Nestlé, Big Ag and Big Oil!

California water restrictions must include Nestlé, Big Ag and Big Oil!

by At Large 04.16.2015 Activism

by Dan Bacher

The mainstream media, state officials and corporate “environmental” groups have for years tried to portray California as the “green” leader of the nation. In reality, California suffers from some of the greatest environmental degradation of any state in the nation, since corporate agribusiness, the oil industry and other big money interests control the majority of the state’s politicians and exert inordinate influence over the state’s environmental policies.

California is currently in a state of emergency, with NASA scientists saying that California has only about one year of water left in reserves, according to Food and Water Watch. This is largely due to the gross mismanagement of California’s reservoirs, rivers and groundwater supplies, during a record drought, to serve the 1 percent.

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Thumbnail image for Legal Complaint Filed against Civic San Diego in San Diego Superior Court

Legal Complaint Filed against Civic San Diego in San Diego Superior Court

by At Large 04.15.2015 Business

Plaintiffs seek community benefits and oversight of public funds

Editor Note: SDFP readers have requested more information about the legal complaint filed by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa, a CivicSD Boardmember. We are providing their news release and a link to the complete filing below without analysis at this time.

The Petitioners are requesting legal declarations from the Superior Court which clarify the duties and responsibilities between the City of San Diego and CivicSD in regard to economic and community development. The legal complaint also seeks by its lawsuit to create public transparency over public-private development, safeguard taxpayers with oversight of public resources, and establish a baseline of community benefits for development derived from public resources.

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Thumbnail image for On Equal Pay Day (and Every Other Day) Trickle-Down Continues to Fail

On Equal Pay Day (and Every Other Day) Trickle-Down Continues to Fail

by Doug Porter 04.14.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

The second Tuesday in April marks the observance of Equal Pay Day. This calendar date hypothetically represents the length of time past New Years’ Day many women must work at the same job in order to match what men make in a year.

The day is a symbolic means of illustrating the differences in pay existing throughout the economy based on gender, despite legislative actions aimed a rectifying the problem dating back to 1869.  The National Committee on Pay Equity offers up a variety of programs for addressing inequities tied to gender.

This pay gap is one important part of a much larger picture of discrimination and inequality rampant in the Millennial Gilded Age.

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Thumbnail image for Civic San Diego – Like a Hole in the Head

Civic San Diego – Like a Hole in the Head

by Norma Damashek 04.14.2015 Columns

By Norma Damashek

We need it like a loch im kopf.  A hole in the head.  It’s what people in the old days would say about a bad situation.  It’s what I say about Civic San Diego –the reincarnation of our former downtown redevelopment agency.

We need Civic San Diego like a hole in the head.  It’s time to get rid of it.

A quick backtrack:  It’s been three years since redevelopment agencies throughout California were terminated and instructed to wind downtheir uncompleted redevelopment projects and make good on their financial obligations.  Other cities complied by doing the job in-house, under public supervision.

Not so in San Diego.  To take care of the job in our city, former mayor Jerry Sanders created an unaccountable, autonomous corporation named Civic San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for Buy Now Pay Later: How San Diego School Districts Were Hoodwinked by Wall Street

Buy Now Pay Later: How San Diego School Districts Were Hoodwinked by Wall Street

by John Lawrence 04.14.2015 Business

By John Lawrence

In 2009 then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law AB 1388 which eliminated prudent controls over how much debt school districts could enter into. Wall Street bankers then swarmed all over the state promoting Capital Appreciation Bonds (CABs), the equivalent of payday loans for school districts.

One fantastic advantage of these loans was the “buy now, pay later” aspect. School districts could get their money now and not have to raise taxes on current residents. Easy money. There would not have to be any payments made for 20 years. Current residents would be off the hook. But their children and grandchildren would enter an era of crushing debt when the bill became due.

And Wall Street is patient, very patient.

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Thumbnail image for Let’s Make History: Going All In for $15 on April 15th

Let’s Make History: Going All In for $15 on April 15th

by Doug Porter 04.13.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

What started out as protests against wages paid to workers in fast food restaurants in a few big cities has become a nationwide movement, encompassing retail, home care, security, child care, and airport workers, along with adjunct college professors.

On Wednesday, April 15th, while much of the traditional news media is camped outside post offices trying to interview the vanishing breed of Luddites using snail mail to file their taxes, these modern-day fighters for fair wages will be protesting in over 200 cities nationwide.

As was true with the civil rights movement of the 20th century, an increasing number of persons of conscience are joining in with those brave enough to challenge an injustice.If you’re aware of the ever-increasing level of economic inequality and sick of the system that primarily rewards those at top, this is an opportunity to spend a few hours doing something more than tsk-tsking at articles posted in social media.

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Thumbnail image for Teachers and Students Fight for 15

Teachers and Students Fight for 15

by Jim Miller 04.13.2015 Activism

By Jim Miller

Last February, in the lead up to the National Adjunct Day of Action, I noted in this column that, “most colleges in America run on the backs of adjunct instructors who don’t receive the same pay for the same work as do the shrinking pool of full-time faculty” and that the “Exploitation of contingent labor is not just a problem for employees at Starbucks, Walmart, and fast food chains where workers are fighting for $15 an hour; it is an epidemic in the academy as well.”

During that day of protest, Fight for 15 organizers stood with us and this week, on 4/15 at 4 PM at Scripps Cottage on San Diego State University’s campus, we will stand with them as teachers and students from across the city will come together with workers, community activists, people of faith, and others to call for basic fairness and economic justice for all working people.

In doing so we will be joining a movement that has taken root across the county.

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Thumbnail image for Conversations at the Catfish Club: The Answer is Love

Conversations at the Catfish Club: The Answer is Love

by Ernie McCray 04.13.2015 Columns

By Ernie McCray

I sat at a Catfish Club luncheon the other day listening to Leon Williams and Reverend George Walker Smith converse about days of yore and their thoughts about today’s world.

Leon was the first black to hold a seat with the San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

He spoke of the moments in time when he was into making our city and county governments more inclusive and more service oriented and more respectful of citizens. He touched on the area’s redevelopment movement when neglected communities started getting the attention they deserved and needed and had gone without forever.

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Thumbnail image for Playing Russian Roulette With California’s Water Supply

Playing Russian Roulette With California’s Water Supply

by Doug Porter 04.10.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

The intensity of the Blame Game is ratcheting up as California reels from the impact of a multi-year drought and the outline of a statewide plan to deal with it emerges. Today we’ll wander through some of the news coverage from around the state, ending up with ideas under discussion that go beyond the current planning.

Draft rules by the State Water Resources Board released on Tuesday place the heaviest conservation burden on cities and towns with the highest rates of per-capita water consumption. The San Diego County Water Authority says these rules are unfair to areas that have already instituted policies aimed at reducing use and increasing supplies.

As things stand now, State water officials will announce specific conservation regulations May 5th, and with implementation set for June 1st. Local agencies supplied by the Water Authority would have to cut back 20% to 35% percent under the proposed restrictions.

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Thumbnail image for Fight215.org Coalition Launches to Amplify Opposition to the NSA’s Mass Surveillance

Fight215.org Coalition Launches to Amplify Opposition to the NSA’s Mass Surveillance

by Source 04.10.2015 Activism

By Nadia Kayyali / Deep Links Blog

A coalition of 34 organizations from across the political spectrum is launching Fight215.org today to help concerned individuals contact lawmakers and demand an end to NSA’s unconstitutional mass surveillance under the Patriot Act.

The launch coincides with the countdown to the expiration of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the NSA claims justifies bulk collection of the phone records of millions of innocent people.

The 34 groups and companies joining Fight215 (see a full list at the bottom of this post) have come together to send a clear message: the politics of fear doesn’t trump the Constitution. The unconstitutional bulk collection of phone records must end now.

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Thumbnail image for Police Body Cameras: The Lessons of Albuquerque

Police Body Cameras: The Lessons of Albuquerque

by Source 04.10.2015 Courts, Justice

By Jay Stanley / ACLU Blog of Rights

Police body-worn cameras are a subject about which many people have differing intuitions. Some activists tell us they worry we are mistaken in conditionally supporting the technology; that it will become a tool for increasingly police power, but not oversight. Others point to situations in which the cameras have been crucial in bringing justice—or at least in exposing injustice. In light of such debates, the troubled police department in Albuquerque provides an interesting case study.

The Albuquerque department has been the subject of a Justice Department investigation, which found in a damning report that “Albuquerque police officers often use deadly force in circumstances where there is no imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm to officers or others,” and often used unnecessary less-than-lethal force “without regard for the subject’s safety or the level of threat encountered.” At the same time, the Albuquerque police department actually uses body cameras, which were adopted in 2012 in the wake of controversy over police shootings, along with a requirement that officers use them to document civilian encounters.

However, the cameras have hardly proven to be a solution to the department’s problems.

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Thumbnail image for Californians Won’t Take the Drought Seriously Until Government Takes the Drought Seriously With These 5 Measures

Californians Won’t Take the Drought Seriously Until Government Takes the Drought Seriously With These 5 Measures

by Frank Gormlie 04.09.2015 Economy

Californians want immediate action from their government

The citizens of California will not take the drought seriously until they see that their government is taking the drought seriously. Until government at all levels – from the state to the smallest township – shows Californians that it is enacting measures to immediately deal with the drought – now in its 4th year – people in this state won’t face up to the drought themselves.

And until government enacts these 5 measures – at a minimum – , government is not taking the drought seriously:

1. Ban All Fracking

California must ban all fracking immediately – the process by which oil companies use to extract oil.

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Thumbnail image for The White House’s New Executive Order On Cyber Crime is (Unfortunately) No Joke

The White House’s New Executive Order On Cyber Crime is (Unfortunately) No Joke

by Source 04.09.2015 Activism

By Nadia Kayyali and Kurt Opsahl / DeepLinks Blog

On the morning of April 1st, the White House issued a new executive order (EO) that asserts that malicious “cyber-enabled activities” are a national threat, declares a national emergency, and establishes sanctions and other consequences for individuals and entities.

While computer and information security is certainly very important, this EO could dangerously backfire, and chill the very security research that is necessary to protect people from malicious attacks.

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Thumbnail image for Another Day, Another Black Human Becomes a Hashtag: Video Shows Cop Shooting SC Man in the Back

Another Day, Another Black Human Becomes a Hashtag: Video Shows Cop Shooting SC Man in the Back

by Doug Porter 04.08.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

In the thirty-one days following release of the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing report, an average of three people per day were killed by police in the United States, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

South Carolina Officer Michael Thomas Slager was charged with first-degree murder for the shooting death of Walter Scott yesterday after a video surfaced showing him firing eight shots into the back of a fleeing, unarmed man. The cop was white. The dead man was black. The incident started with a traffic stop for a broken tail light.

Initial news coverage based on police reports said “the dead man fought with an officer over his Taser before deadly force was employed.” For two days he and the North Charleston police were apparently unaware that a video of the entire incident existed. An all-too-familiar script was followed by both department and the local news media.

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Thumbnail image for Imagine a Coalition Unifying Black Lives Matter, LGBT Equality, and the Fight for a Living Wage.

Imagine a Coalition Unifying Black Lives Matter, LGBT Equality, and the Fight for a Living Wage.

by Source 04.08.2015 Activism

By Ian Reifowitz / Daily Kos

Silos are dangerous. I’m not talking about the kind that house nuclear missiles, but rather the metaphorical kind, the kind that divide people who could and should be working together toward a shared goal. Too often, progressives have found themselves divided into these kinds of silos, for example, with women—themselves typically divided by race and ethnicity—fighting for gender equality, LGBT folks fighting for gay rights, unions and workers fighting for labor rights, and on and on.To some degree, these divisions are understandable. Part of the way a marginalized group empowers itself is by creating a movement in which its members play a predominant role.

At the end of the day, however, the goal of a political movement ought not to be solely or even primarily to help those who actively participate to feel empowered—as important as that is— but rather to achieve specific policy or other concrete aims that improve the lives of all those whom the movement represents. The movement must be a means to an end, not an end unto itself. Achieving those ends requires marshaling as much support as possible, and that means each group must break out of its silo and support one another’s causes.

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Thumbnail image for Todd Gloria Declares for 78th Assembly Seat Race

Todd Gloria Declares for 78th Assembly Seat Race

by Doug Porter 04.07.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

The political reshuffle for 2016 is officially underway in San Diego. City Councilman Todd Gloria has announced his candidacy for the 78th Assembly seat, currently held by soon-to-be termed-out Toni Atkins.

Democratic activist Sarah Boot, who’d declared an interest in running for the job and received an endorsement from Atkins, has thrown her support to Gloria. Former interim City Councilman Ed Harris has also announced his intention to run for the 78th as a Democrat.

This morning’s announcement puts an end to speculation about Gloria running against incumbent Mayor Kevin Faulconer. (Which I’ve said repeatedly wasn’t going to happen.) If the scenario I’ve heard about holds true, we’ll see an announcement from Assemblywoman Atkins later in the year saying she’s going to be the high profile Democrat to oppose Faulconer.

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Thumbnail image for Extreme Weather Watch: March 2015

Extreme Weather Watch: March 2015

by John Lawrence 04.07.2015 Environment

By John Lawrence

Vanuatu is a small island in the Pacific that was effectively wiped out by a Category 5 cyclone. It is emblematic of the plight of small islands at the mercy of global warming. On March 17, Cyclone Pam swept through the Pacific island nation, an archipelago of over 200 islands located in the South Pacific and home to approximately 270,000 people. Packing winds of up to 155 miles per hour, the cyclone caused widespread devastation.

Around 75,000 people were left in need of emergency shelter, and 96 per cent of food crops were destroyed. Since most of Vanuatu’s food comes from subsistence farming, there is a disastrous food shortage in the wake of the storm. 95% of homes were destroyed. Tens of thousands of people were left homeless. There is little or no drinking water and people are drinking sea water to stay alive.

There was very little loss of life considering the magnitude of the destruction. That was because buildings there are made of natural materials and not construction grade masonry. Chunks of falling masonry are what actually kills people.

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Thumbnail image for Can John Oliver Do for Mass Surveillance What He Did for Net Neutrality?

Can John Oliver Do for Mass Surveillance What He Did for Net Neutrality?

by Source 04.07.2015 Culture

By Joan McCarter/Daily Kos

On Sunday, John Oliver had what is easily the most educational and fun half hour of journalism on the surveillance state that you’re ever likely to see, including an interview with Edward Snowden.

What John Oliver did for net neutrality last summer, he’s doing now for an issue that’s pretty damned important, too. Namely, the government sucking up all your electronic communications in the name of national security.

As he points out in opening the segment, June 1 is a key date: that’s when Section 215 of the Patriot Act has to be renewed, tweaked, or ended.

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Thumbnail image for Yoga in Encinitas, Gays in Indiana: The Bigots of the Right Fight On

Yoga in Encinitas, Gays in Indiana: The Bigots of the Right Fight On

by Doug Porter 04.06.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter 

The 4th District Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court ruling allowing yoga to be taught as a form of physical fitness instruction in Encinitas schools. The lawsuit in question was brought by parents of two students who claimed the practice promoted Hinduism and inhibited Christianity. 

The court of public opinion forced the Indiana state legislature to amend its special version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act saying it cannot be used as a legal defense to discriminate against patrons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

You don’t have to look very hard at the backers of the lawsuit and the original version of that legislation to discover that they were pursuing the same agenda. These instances are about furthering the cause of social conservatives to impose their standards of society. This is what they would call fighting the “war on religion.” 

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Thumbnail image for Ending Racial Profiling (Or Not) at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club Forum

Ending Racial Profiling (Or Not) at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club Forum

by Ernie McCray 04.06.2015 Activism

By Ernie McCray

A couple of weeks or so ago I dined with a number of friendly folks at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club forum that asked, concerning Community-Police Relations, “Can we build a safer San Diego together?”

The answer seemed to be “Yeah, we can,” as panelists, in a room where smiles drifted in the air like tissues in a breeze, talked of everyone chipping in to find good cops and of how we all need to shed our various biases, as “Trust is fragile.” And it was good to know that the wearing of “body worn cameras” is going kind of nice.

I drove home convinced that there are some people truly dedicated to making relations better between the police and people they’ve harassed for centuries.

But the Tyrannosaurus Rex sitting smack dab in the middle of the discussion, “racial profiling,” was glossed over as though it was just a slight hiccup in the way of sound relationships between “Mr. Do Right” and angry black folks, rather than it being “The Problem!!!!!!!!!!”

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Thumbnail image for California’s Drought of Ideas: Why Jerry Brown’s Executive Order Misses the Mark

California’s Drought of Ideas: Why Jerry Brown’s Executive Order Misses the Mark

by Jim Miller 04.06.2015 Columns

By Jim Miller

California’s epic drought has finally made its way to the front page. Last week, Jerry Brown signed an executive order mandating the first-ever water restrictions in our state.

At the press conference announcing the move Brown observed that, “People should realize we are in a new era. The idea of your nice little green lawn getting watered every day, those days are past.”

However much one might agree with that statement, it must be said that the Governor’s order does not do nearly enough to go after agribusiness and big oil as many have been calling for leading up to Brown’s move. Adam Scow of Food and Water Watch put it succinctly, “In the midst of a severe drought, the governor continues to allow corporate farms and oil interests to deplete and pollute our precious groundwater resources that are crucial for saving water.”

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Thumbnail image for Can One Union Save the Post Office?

Can One Union Save the Post Office?

by Source 04.06.2015 Activism

By David Morris / Common Dreams

Let’s begin with the bad news. The U.S. Post Office, the oldest, most respected and ubiquitous of all public institutions is fast disappearing.

In recent years management has shuttered half the nation’s mail processing plants and put 10 percent of all local post offices up for sale.  A third of all post offices, most of them in rural areas, have had their hours slashed.

Hundreds of full time, highly experienced postmasters knowledgeable about the people and the communities they serve have been dumped unceremoniously, often replaced by part timers. Ever larger portions of traditional post office operations— trucking, mail processing and mail handling– have been privatized. Close to 200,000 middle class jobs have disappeared.

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Thumbnail image for Will Mickey D’s Dollar Deal Super-Size April 15 Protests?

Will Mickey D’s Dollar Deal Super-Size April 15 Protests?

by Doug Porter 04.03.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

The national ‘conversation’ about inequality shifted a bit this week with a press release from fast food giant McDonald’s announcing it was planning a pay raise for employees of its company-owned stores.

The significance of the announcement isn’t the extra dollar on top of whatever is the local minimum wage for the less than 10% of the company’s workers. WalMart, Target, and a growing number of other large retailers operations have made similar announcements in recent months.

These pay increases are too little, too late. A study released by Americans for Tax Fairness earlier this week says increases to $9 (in 2015) and even $10 (in 2016) will still leave  workers dependent on food stamps, Medicaid and six other taxpayer-funded programs to survive. And McDonald’s announcement has simply added fuel to the fire in the bellies of low wage workers planning on staging protests nation-wide on April 15th.

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