By Doug Porter
The six hundred forty six columns and stories I’ve written about San Diego in this space over the past 27 months have led me to an awareness of just how vital activism has become in this community.
Howard Zinn, loathed by right-wingers everywhere, writes from the perspective that activism and social movements are driving forces in history.This is different from the heroes/villains methodology or the feast/famine/war/peace way [how the mass media see the world] of understanding the course of events.
This week in San Diego is, I think, a validation of Zinn’s approach. Even as battles were lost (the Chamber of Misery’s minimum wage referendum), other struggles were victorious (the taxi drivers’ quest for reform). This weekend’s People’s Climate March in downtown is just one manifestation of 2700 other rallies around the world making the point that the world can no longer afford to delay substantive action on this issue.
Today’s column will discuss some of the many fronts for activism in San Diego and around the nation.
The San Diego People’s Climate March
Our homegrown version of this demonstration is supported by dozens of environmental, health, labor, spirituals and civic organizations and was organized locally by San Diego 350. A website has been set up to provide more information at: http://www.peoplesclimatesd.
Sunday at 12:30 people will start gathering at City Hall. Council President Todd Gloria will talk about the importance of a strong Climate Action Plan for the City.
On Monday the City Council will be voting on a resolution that lays out the Council’s expectations for the Mayor to move forward immediately with a strong, measurable climate action plan for the City of San Diego, a sentiment that will be echoed in pledge cards collected from march participants.
From there, people will march down Broadway to America Plaza (the Trolley station at Kettner) where Monique Lopez of the Environmental Health Coalition, will talk about transportation choices and policies including transit, biking, carpooling and more…
Then it’s off to the North side of the County Administration Building ( 1700 Pacific Highway) were there will be live music and speakers, including: Richard Barrera, Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO and Board Member, San Diego Unified School District, City Council member David Alvarez, high school student Gloriana Xia, and Kevin Beiser, President, San Diego Unified School District.
Organizers of the national march in New York city are calling this day “an invitation to change everything. The premise for this world wide protest comes from an upcoming gathering of world leaders in New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.
The People’s Climate March organizers, who have created a national coalition of over 1400 groups, say:
With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history. We’ll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.
A Victory for Taxi Drivers
Nearly 400 (!) people showed up for a City Council committee hearing yesterday about Councilwoman Marti Emerald proposal to lift a the cap on taxi cab permits.
Emerald (who worked as a taxi driver earlier in life) was not able to attend yesterday’s hearing before the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee because she is being treated for breast cancer.
The three remaining members of the committee unanimously voted to send the mater to the full council for consideration.
From UT-San Diego;
The potential upending of the city’s system for owning permits has exposed deep rifts in the cab industry. The two sides traded sometimes sharply worded accusations during a hearing that drew an overflow crowd of more than 300. Some owners accused drivers of lying about the supposed low wages they make, while drivers claimed the owners have effectively forced them into indentured servitude.
“The permit holders have been trying to abuse drivers for a long time,” said Mikaiil Hussein, a former cabdriver who now is president of the advocacy group, United Taxi Workers of San Diego. “I lost my job in 2009 when I advocated for taxi drivers. No one wanted to hire me. We need drivers to be lifted up. We need all permits to be available to leased drivers.”
The reality, owners told the council committee on Thursday, is that lifting the cap will deflate the value of the permits they said they worked hard to purchase and flood the market with more cabs at a time when demand for taxis is not growing. Meanwhile, there’s increased competition from ride sharing services like Uber.
Reflections on the CPI Gala
Thursday night’s gala dinner for the Center on Policy Initiatives was reflective of the increasing importance attached to issues of inequality by organized labor and community based groups. The gathering was organized around the theme of “Superheroes for Economic Justice.”
Speakers included Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, UFCW President Mickey Kasparian, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, CPI Executive Director Claire Crawford, Manpower, Inc co-owner Mel Katz, entrepreneur Barbara Bry, City Council President Todd Gloria and Councilman David Alvarez.
The real heroes, as Gloria and Alvarez noted, were the fast food workers who’ve dared to stand up to protest their wages and working conditions. A group of more than a dozen of these folks got a standing ovation from the packed (!) ballroom at the Wyndham San Diego Bayside.
What struck me as I munched on my banquet meal #401 was the incredible array of individuals, causes and organizations, all of who have dedicated some part of their lives towards working for social, political and economic justice. I’m pretty sure the multi-generational, multi-racial crowd at the CPI Gala stood in sharp contrast to the Lincoln Club gathering at Doug Manchester’s Grand Del Mar last night.
Is That Apple Rotten? SEIU Protests iPhone 6 Release
As Apple stores were rolling out the latest iPhone version on Friday, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) held informational protests at stores in 20 locations around the country, including Los Angeles, Orange County, and Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego.
The protests were triggered by recent Wall Street Journal and USA Today articles, a new report asserts big tech companies in Silicon Valley are creating a growing “invisible workforce of minority workers who clean, guard, maintain and cook on tech campuses every day, often for poverty-level wages and without benefits.”
From USA Today:
“This is the new Silicon Valley model. Companies have two work forces: their professional work force and their contract work force,” said Russell Hancock, president and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley. “It’s a bifurcated system. You have the high-end work force: the architects, coders and sophisticated PhDs, and you invest heavily in them and feed them and create this cocoon-like environment that answers their every need. And then, on the other hand, you need armies of people doing basic functions, so you set up a separate and distinct system for them.”
Local and national supporters were out to call on Apple – whose iPhone products have generated over $70 billion in revenues in 2014 alone – to lead the way towards fixing the country’s grave economic imbalance by making sure all workers who contribute to the industry’s success have good, family-supporting jobs.
Banned Book Week- Defending the Freedom to Read
It’s that time again. Every year the American Library Association reminds us just how eager some people are to control the messages we receive. This year’s theme is: “Defend the Freedom to Read: It’s Everybody’s Job.”
From the ALA website:
The ALA promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them.
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.
Here’s the Top Ten List of Books Challenged in 2013 as reported by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom:
Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
Looking for Alaska, by John Green Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
Bone (series), by Jeff Smith Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence
On This Day: 1957 – The U.S. conducted its first underground nuclear test. The test took place in the Nevada desert. 1979 – The first MUSE concert took place. The Musicians United for Safe Energy was better known as “No-Nukes. 1986 – U.S. health officials announced that AZT, though an experimental drug, would be made available to AIDS patients.
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