As Citizens Clamor for a Better Life,
Downtown Types Scheme to Take it Away
By Doug Porter
After years of suffering through cutbacks and slights of hand, residents from some of San Diego’s poorest neighborhoods packed a City Council public budget hearing last night. An event that in the past might have been focused on saving city services from further budget cuts was instead about creating positive visions and improving people’s lives.
More than 300 hundred people submitted requests to speak to Council members on topics relevant to the needs of their communities in Mayor Bob Filner’s proposed budget for FY 2014. Speakers addressed the hearing in four languages, advocating for free bus passes for needy students, a better bike infrastructure, more library hours and improvements in the way city’s taxicabs are regulated.
Although only 100 of those who signed up actually got to speak for their allotted minute, the size and determination of the groups in attendance made a clear impression on the Council.
Council President Todd Gloria Tweeted a picture of the chamber from his perspective, adding, “I’m happy to see so many San Diegans participating in #sdbudget. All the students who spoke this evening did an excellent job.”
The effort leading up to the packed council chambers was the result of grass roots organizing by the Mid City Community Advocacy Network (CAN) and the Community Budget Alliance, a coalition organized by the Center for Policy Initiatives (CPI).
The Community Budget Alliance presented a PowerPoint to the San Diego City Council with regards to the FY 2014 Proposed Budget. They also organized training sessions earlier this month on how to write and give testimony of two minutes or less during the city-council budget hearings.
The budget process is far from over. Council members memos’ regarding the budget are due next Friday. The council votes in June on the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1st.
More on the ‘Movement’ to Impeach Hizzoner
The contrast between the hundreds of ordinary citizens that turned up for the budget hearings and the backroom barons seeking to maintain the status quo couldn’t be stronger, as a story in the week’s San Diego City Beat by John Lamb demonstrates.
Lamb recounts correspondence with a well-connected political source he dubs “Deep Moat” about a potential effort to mount a recall campaign aimed at unseating Mayor Bob Filner.
From City Beat:
“I think they have the money ($2 million plus) to qualify,” Deep reasoned via email. “They are just waiting to see if [Filner] gives them the ammo they need to rationalize it.”
Moat agreed the most likely candidates for “they” are the philosophically conservative Lincoln Club and local hoteliers, and the money probably isn’t sitting in some smoke-filled vault smoldering for action; rather, it likely floats in the political ether as pledges.
The website domain RecallFilner.com was registered privately in January but remains dormant, so that’s out there, for what it’s worth (as much as a bumper sticker).
Encinitas Yoga Trial: Some Religions Are More Equal Than Others
At a quick glance, the current court proceedings concerning the Yoga-as-physical-fitness program in the EncinitasSchool District might appear as a group of parents suffering from paranoid delusions about Hindu ninjas brainwashing their children. (Sorry, that’s as nice as I can be about describing it.)
But it turns out there’s a lot more to it. It’s not just about pushing the Yoga out. It’s about keeping a certain flavor of fundamentalist Christianity as the only option for young children.
I’m certainly not saying that all the parents participating in this lawsuit are part of this scheme, but if you look closely at the groups supporting their legal cause there’s plenty of reason to be suspicious.
The local press has carried stories over the past day or so about testimony from expert witness Dr. Candy Brown alleging that the practice of Astanga Yoga in public schools is part of a conspiracy by the Jois Foundation.
From a Fox5 News report:
The course curriculum however does not talk about religion and only uses yoga postures and deep breathing.
Dr. Brown testified she believes there’s a conspiracy at work trick students into a spiritual practice.
Judge Meyer asked for clarification, “these Jois trained instructors are just the foot soldier?”
“It’s para para – submitting to one,” Dr. Brown said.
The judge cutting her off said, “you think they have been planted in the district?”
“Well, I think that is the case, yeah,” she answered.
The lawsuit was filed by the National Center for Law and Policy on behalf of Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock, whose children attend one of the district’s nine schools. It contends that Ashtanga yoga is religious in nature and that opting out costs students’ physical education time. It asks that the program be eliminated because it violates church-state separation.
The NationalCenter for Law and Policy is a legal foundation run by an attorney named Dean Broyles, which, according to its website, defends “faith, family and freedom.” His lawsuit argues that the yoga program violates Article I, Section 4 of the California Constitution. That provision is longer than the federal constitution’s First Amendment but essentially provides for the same measure of church-state separation.
Broyles is associated with a group called the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and makes no secret of the fact that he “has received extensive training in pro-family, pro-life and pro-religious liberty matters at ADF’s outstanding National Litigation Academies (NLA). Because of Dean’s pro-bono work, he was invited to receive special training at ADF’s advanced NLA. Dean is proud to be an ADF affiliate attorney and member of ADF’s honor guard.”
The ADF mostly plays the other side of the church-state separation issue. They’ve made it perfectly clear over the years in the full-throated defenses of Christian school groups, telling the courts, the media and the American people that separation is not a valid legal principle. They have no use for separation of church and state when they’re trying to inject fundamentalist Christianity into the public schools.
When ADF perceives to be school promotion of a religion they don’t care for, suddenly the church-state wall is their best friend. Let’s take a look at some of their interconnections. From an article posted on Alternet:
Mary Eady, one of the parents organizing against Encinitas’ yoga program, described to a Times reporter what she sees as religious content: “They’re teaching children how to meditate, how to look for peace and for comfort… It’s meant to shape the way they regulate their emotions.” She characterized the “Sun Salutation,” a basic series of yoga poses in which the student stretches his or her hands to the ceiling, as “a movement sequence that worships the sun god Surya,” and claimed that “yoga, including its physical practice, is very religious indeed.” Her legal representative, Dean Broyles, chief counsel for the Escondido-based National Center for Law & Policy, is even more adamant, asserting that the Sun Salutation constitutes sun-worship.
Eady works at a Christian organization called Truthxchange, whose chief mission is to “respond to the rising tide of neopaganism.” Her lawyer’s organization, NCPL, is an affiliate of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF, formerly the Alliance Defense Fund), a conservative Christian legal advocacy group that has litigated on behalf of evangelical activity in schools and the broader public square. As might be imagined, the ADF takes a dim view of “neopaganism,” whatever that means to them.
The ADF and its allies also invest considerable efforts in seeking to overturn some anti-bullying school guidelines on the grounds that such policies persecute the “Christian perspective” on LGBT rights and that demanding tolerance is a front for promoting “homosexual values.” Finally, let’s consider fundamentalist Good News Clubs, which are presently in well over 3,000 public elementary schools around the country. Good News Clubs, which are sponsored by an organization called the Child Evangelism Fellowship, are ostensibly after-school “Bible study” programs that require parental permission to join. But that description is misleading. Good News Clubs are not about “study,” they are about religious indoctrination. Further, the clubs produce the false but unavoidable impression in very young children that they are part of the school; they set up shop in public school classrooms immediately after the bell rings, so as to appear a seamless part of the school day. And finally, Good News Clubs instructors tell kids attending the clubs to recruit their peers at school.
It turns out that Encinitas public elementary schools that sparked the national outcry over yoga stretching are rife with Good News Clubs: all nine public elementary schools in the district have a club, reported Assistant Superintendent Miyashiro. And their presence has been made possible by the legal firepower of the ADF and lawyers like Dean Broyles. When it comes to unhealthy entanglement between church and school, a classroom of first-graders stretching their hands to the sky seems to be, for now, a matter of far less concern than the well-organized conservative Christian proselytism that is already making deep inroads into public education.
The Child Evangelism Fellowship produces teaching materials used by the Good News Clubs. Among their stated goals is the injection of Young Earth Biblical Creationism, and fear of and contempt for science, into the public schools. And, of course, they’re also big on not-so-subtly using their lessons to “fight state laws California” which “require homosexual indoctrination for all students”.
We’re Nearly the Best When It Comes to Stress
One of the ways a city is perceived (and perceives itself) comes from the numerous surveys that inevitably lead to ‘best’ and ‘worst lists because they’re popular with the public.
Researchers with the Gallop Poll asked 350,000 Americans last year “Did you feel stressed yesterday?” as part of a much larger survey. The results for this particular question have been released as part of a Gallup-Healthways survey on daily stress levels.
And guess what? San Diego is number 5! We beat out other California cities like Sacramento and San Francisco, along with metropolises like Houston and Miami in other parts of the country. Here’s a cool graphic from Huffpo showing our awesomeness at stress.
But we’re gonna have to work harder this year to beat out Los Angeles, which topped list. Maybe we can just cut back on the craft beer a little bit….
On This Day: 1900 – Civil War hero Sgt. William H. Carney became the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor, 37 years after the Battle of Fort Wagner. 1934 – In Bienville Parish, LA, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and killed by Texas Rangers. The bank robbers were riding in a stolen Ford Deluxe. 1979 – “The Kids Are Alright,” Jeff Stein’s documentary compilation of film clips detailing the history of the Who, debuted in New York.
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