By Doug Porter
While many San Diegans are focused on the election promises of the four major candidates contending for top job at city hall, interim Mayor Todd Gloria’s made one move that could have a serious impact on the conversations taking place about services and neighborhood.
Fox 5 San Diego reports the iMayor has retained the services of former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith (no relation to the City Attorney) as an efficiency expert.
Known as an expert in privatizing city governments, his claim to fame comes via aggressive programs government services and selling them out to the private sector.
From Fox 5:
The republican’s been praised by conservatives, but blasted by critics accusing him of granting public contracts to wealthy contributors to his mayoral campaign, according to an investigation by City Limits online magazine.
His measures are also reported to have resulted in hundreds of government worker layoffs.
More recently, Goldsmith served as Deputy Mayor of New York City, brought in by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to help him run the city more efficiently. That didn’t go as planned, he resigned 14 months into the job after being arrested for domestic violence, but was reportedly never criminally charged.
It occurs to me that if you’re auctioning off city services, the private entities taking over will be drawn to where the money is, i.e., downtown and non-core neighborhoods.
Goldsmith will take home $125,000 for his consulting services.
It’s Not a Revolution, But It’s Start
A UCSD geophysicist named Brad Werner is at the center of Naomi Klein’s latest essay entitled “How science is telling us all to revolt” published the UK’s New Statesman this week.
Here’s the lede:
In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.
But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).
Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”
The gist of the article is that many scientists are now feeling compelled towards environmental activism as a result of governmental indifference towards mounting evidence that “our entire economic paradigm is a threat to ecological stability. And indeed that challenging this economic paradigm – through mass-movement counter-pressure – is humanity’s best shot at avoiding catastrophe.”
It’s an eye opening read from the author of the The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
Dumping Fossil Fuels to Save the Planet
Activist Bill McKibben, of 350.org fame has an article in The Guardian about world wide efforts to encourage institutional divestment from fossil fuel stocks. The argument he says, is that public entities “can’t both simultaneously decry the wreckage of the climate and try to profit from it for a few more years.”
The mayor of Seattle explained that his city was already spending millions building seawalls – what sense did it make to invest in the companies making that work necessary? The trustees of San Francisco State University recognised that it made no sense to have, on the one hand, a physics department understanding climate change and on the other hand, an endowment full of oil and gas stocks. The United Churchof Christ, which traces its roots back to the Pilgrims, decided it couldn’t pay the pastor by investing in companies that are running Genesis backwards.
This same opportunity is becoming part of a worldwide debate. From Africa come some of the loudest voices demanding divestment: Desmond Tutu, who watched the effectiveness of the movement a generation ago when it was stock in apartheid-tainted companies that was at issue, has asked us to take up the same tool. “If you could see the drought and famine in Africa, you would understand why,” he says.
The obvious question in examining such an effort is “what good will this do?” After all, somebody’s still going to buy those stocks and its not likely fossil fuel companies are going become unprofitable anytime soon.
Everyone involved in this campaign understands that divestment won’t in fact bankrupt Exxon or BP or Shell, but they also understand how important it is to politically bankrupt them. These are now rogue industries, committed to burning more carbon than any government on earth thinks would be safe to burn. Their irresponsibility belongs to their executives and boards of directors – but it also belongs to anyone who holds their shares. If you think that climate change is a true crisis, then the time has come to sever your ties.
SF Chron Drops the “R” Word
NBC Sports reports The San Francisco Chronicle has decided to no longer print the name of Washington DC’s football team. An internal memo was issued last week, just one month before a scheduled Monday night game (Nov. 25th) between the 49ers and Washington.
Today representatives from the Oneida Indian Nation are meeting with NFL executives regarding their opposition to continued use of the team’s name. Team owner Daniel Snyder has repeated told the press that he has no plans to change the name.
Energy Drink Gives the Wrong Kind of Wings
The NY Daily News reported on Monday about what they believe is the first wrongful death suit against Red Bull, filed by the family of a 33 year-old construction worker who died of a heart attack during a basketball game soon after he consumed a can of the popular energy drink.
From Think Progress:
The family’s lawyer, Ilya Novofastovsky, said she hopes that the lawsuit will bring even more attention to energy drinks at a time when an increasing number of companies infuse foods and beverages with caffeine, taurine, and other stimulants — some of which aren’t strictly regulated.
“[The ingredients] are more dangerous than what Red Bull lets on,” said Novofastovsky.
Emergency room visits caused by energy drinks more than doubled in the past five years, according to government data. Many of these drinks get around FDA guidelines regulating additives by classifying themselves as “dietary supplements” rather than “drinks” — something which may change as the FDA reexamines the potential harms of energy products.
These drinks may be especially harmful to younger Americans, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). In June, the doctor’s group formally endorsed banning the marketing of energy drinks to children under the age of 18.
Coming Next Spring to a Theater Near You
Here’s the trailer for the upcoming biopic about civil-rights activist and labor organizer Cesar Chavez, titled “Cesar Chavez: An American Hero”.
Michael Pena, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, John Malkovich, Jacob Vargas, Michael Cudlitz, John Ortiz, Wes Bentley, Julian Sands, Gabriel Mann, Kevin Dunn, Yancey Arias, and Mark Moses are all cast in this story chronicling the birth of a modern American movement led by famed civil rights leader and labor organizer, Cesar Chavez.
“Torn between his duties as a husband and father and his commitment to bringing dignity and justice to others, Chavez embraced non-violence as he battled greed and prejudice in his struggle for the rights of farm workers. His triumphant journey is a remarkable testament to the power of one individual’s ability to change the system.”
The movie was directed by Mexican-born actor Diego Luna from a screenplay written by “Hotel Rwanda” co-scribe Keir Pearson. It opens in April, 2014. (h/t Brent Beltrán)
On This Day: 1831 – Escaped slave Nat Turner was apprehended in Southampton County, VA, several weeks after leading the bloodiest slave uprising in American history. 1938 – Orson Welles’ “The War of the Worlds” aired on CBS radio. The belief that the realistic radio dramatization was a live news event about a Martian invasion caused panic among listeners. 1988 – Kurt Cobain smashed his very first guitar.
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