By Doug Porter
Washington DC’s Politico.com has posted a story strongly suggesting California Senator Barbara Boxer is on her way out the door in 2016.
It’s been more than two decades since California’s sitting Senators were first elected and a recent USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll indicates voters are ready for a change. A majority of state voters (59%) told pollsters they believed it was time for new blood, even though both incumbents remain popular and would likely win re-election if they sought it..
The Politico story focuses on the back-room maneuvering underway among candidates who may seek Senator Boxer’s seat in 2016. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, billionaire hedge-fund manager and environmentalist Tom Steyer, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom are all mentioned as possible candidates.
A parade of ambitious California public figures, who’ve spent years itching for a shot at the state’s top political offices, are anticipating a shake-up of the state’s political hierarchy that could begin in a matter of weeks with the possible retirement of Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. And some big names — including the mayor of Los Angeles — are already sizing up possible bids to succeed her.
Sources close to Boxer, 74, say the outspoken liberal senator will decide over the holidays whether to seek reelection in 2016 and will announce her plans shortly after the new year. Few of her friends believe she will run for a fifth term. Boxer has stopped raising money and is not taking steps to assemble a campaign. With Republicans taking over the Senate, she is about to relinquish her chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
If she were to step aside, it would be the first big crack in the state’s upper political ranks in years. The last time the governorship was open was in 2010, when Jerry Brown, now 76, romped in a return to the job he first held more than three decades earlier. Boxer and California’s other senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, 81, were elected in 1992.
Body Cameras: Not the Easy Answer
All the hubub over getting the San Diego Police Department to wear cameras, along with the oft-expressed notion that video records would address police misconduct is running to the reality of the great blue wall of we know what’s best for you pesky citizens.
Liam Dillon at Voice of San Diego reports the SDPD views the video records created by the cameras as a way for to gather more evidence in criminal cases, not a tool for transparency.
From Voice of San Diego:
Two weeks ago, when protests in City Heights raged after the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Mo., San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman assured residents that there was a record of everything that happened. SDPD officers were wearing their new body cameras, she said.
“It all boils down to community trust,” Zimmerman told KPBS.
But here’s the thing about those videos. Once again, you aren’t allowed to see them. The police department denied our formal records request for the protest footage.
On KPBS and elsewhere, Zimmerman said she would consider making police body camera videos public in certain circumstances, such as the shooting in Ferguson that left Michael Brown dead at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson. But it’s becoming clear that would only happen in the most extreme situations. So far Zimmerman has denied requests to make camera footage available when officers were involved in shootings and these protests.
At Fusion.Net, a joint media venture of Univision Communications Inc. and the Disney/ABC Television Network, they’ve published research affirming the notion that body cameras really aren’t there for the benefit of the public:
A three-month Fusion investigation that reviewed hundreds of pages of records from five police departments with body camera programs reveals that the way body cameras are used usually serve police more than citizens charging misconduct. And in the data from two cities provided to Fusion, there was little evidence police body cameras reduced police involved shootings or use of force incidents.
One key problem: officers control the record button. They decide when to turn on and off the cameras and have little to fear when violating department policies about recording, Fusion’s analysis found. In many use of force incidents, camera footage doesn’t exist, is only partially available, or can’t be found. And when body cameras are turned on, the footage usually favors the officer’s account, according to police, law enforcement experts and public defenders we spoke with.
“This is one of our biggest concerns – the promise of this technology as a police oversight mechanism will be undermined if individual officers can manipulate what is taped and what isn’t,” ACLU Senior Policy Analyst, Jay Stanley told Fusion.
Lawyer Says SDPD Covered Up Evidence in Shooting Case
10 News has run with a story concerning the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in Mira Mesa back in 2012.
An attorney claims the San Diego Police Department went to great lengths to cover up the fatal shooting of an unarmed man.
These new claims come after a federal judge ruled an officer may have shot Victor Ortega to hurt him, not to defend himself, after Ortega allegedly tried to attack the officer. This is what the family has claimed since the shooting….
…The Ortega family claimed Victor was denied his Fourth Amendment right to a fair trial. Instead, he was shot and killed. The city attorney said that wasn’t a valid claim.
But Judge Burns disagreed and said, “In light of the evidence contradicting McCarthy’s account of events, including some of his own statements,” the claim stands. The city’s motion was denied.
Protests in San Diego and Around the Nation Continue
A Friday night protest over police killings in New York and else where in City Heights took place in the same park as an SDPD toy drive and outdoor family event.
Demonstrators told NBC 7 they plan to hold a “die-in” at the Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park on Fairmont Avenue, where they will lay on the ground like corpses. They will do it for 11 minutes, symbolizing the number of times Garner said he couldn’t breathe before he died…
…The protesters said they do not want to get in the way of the scheduled family night. In fact, some brought toys to contribute to the gift drive.
But they also say it will not stop them from getting their message out into the community. Chanting “I can’t breathe,” the group marched down Fairmont Avenue to Wightman Street, walked to University Avenue and turned back to the park.
Police in Berkley have used tear gas and flash grenades for two nights in a row to quell protests. There have been multiple demonstrations in New York including Grand Central Terminal and Times Square. People also took to the street in North Carolina, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fresno, Salt Lake City, Cleveland, Phoenix and even Anchorage, Alaska.
The next San Diego protest that I am aware of is scheduled for Balboa Park (meeting at the fountain) on Saturday (starting at 10:30am), December 13th. This event is reportedly being organized in solidarity with a national protest march in Washington DC.
The Full Horror of Mexico’s “Disappeared”
Protest marches continue in Mexico as angry citizens refuse to give up in the wake of the kidnapping, and disappearance of 43 students.
The (UK) Telegraph published a story this weekend on just how widespread the killings and disappearances have been in Mexico:
…while ministers claim the case had been handled with “boldness, absolute openness and transparency”, the public does not seem to agree.
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets holding banners proclaiming: “They were taken alive, we want them back alive.”
But this single case, though tragic, is just one among countless kidnappings every day.
Across Mexico 54 people have gone missing every week since 2007, totalling 22,610 missing in eight years…
LA Times Commits Journalism
The Los Angeles Times has launched a four part series revealing harsh conditions and exploitation of the farm workers in Mexico whose labor keeps grocery stores and restaurants stocked with fresh produce year-round. Based 0n what I’ve read in Part One alone, they’ve uncovered a huge story, one that ought to read by every American.
At Rene Produce in Sinaloa, The Times saw hungry laborers hunting for scraps because they could not afford to buy food at the company store.
The grower, which exported $55 million in tomatoes in 2014, supplies supermarkets across the U.S., including Whole Foods, which recently took out full-page newspaper ads promoting its commitment to social responsibility.
Asked for comment, Whole Foods said it did not expect to buy any more produce “directly” from Rene, which it described as a minor supplier.
Wal-Mart, Olive Garden, Safeway, Subway, the Albertsons supermarket chain and the Los Angeles Unified School District.and other retailers are mentioned in the story. One of the distributors cited in the story is Andrew & Williamson of San Diego. For now, everybody is denying everything or any knowledge about the laborers producing the product they sell.
The Times obtained a memo from the Fresh Produce Assn. of the Americas alerting its members to the investigation and coaching them with phrases like:
We at the FPAA know that for over 100 years, Mexico’s farmers have worked to provide consumers with safe, health fruits and vegetables grown in a socially responsible manner, having seen first-hand the steps that growers take to provide safe, reliable employment with fair wages, housing, healthcare and more. When it comes to worker treatment and labor practices, we know that more can always be done and that even today more is being done. We want to help you be able to tell your story about the good things you and your growers do, the things you have been doing for years and the new things you may be implementing to continue to improve.
Read the story. Get mad.
Jack in the Box: Killing Them Softly in North Park
For all the hand wringing that’s gone on over the inconvenience of protests or the (very) occasional acts of violence in recent days, perhaps it would be instructive to take a look at what happens when a group of citizens try to fight for their cause in court.
Back in 2013 residents in North Park sued Jack in the Box over a rebuild re-amok. It was (and is) a classic case of powerful interests running roughshod over the law and city officials doing little or nothing about it.
They’ve been patiently waiting for their day in court. New dates for hearings get set; Jack in the Box lawyers ask for a postponement at the last minute after activists have invested great effort at making the community aware of the hearing.
A November 21st hearing was rescheduled for December 5th. The hearing was cancelled on December 3rd, due to an unspecified conflict with the attorneys representing Jack in the Box. This little game has been played four times now.
It’s especially frustrating because the court date is a hearing for summary judgment which they requested on the grounds that the plaintiffs had no grounds to sue. Each cancellation creates more frustration and discouragement for neighborhood activists, and generating enthusiasm is becoming more difficult.
Attorneys are meeting with Judge Prager today (Monday, Dec. 8th) for another rescheduling. North Park activists are concerned the new date will fall in the middle of the holiday season, making it even more problematic to mobilize residents.
And that, I’d guess, is the strategy for Jack in the Box.
On This Day: 1886- Twenty-five unions found the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in Columbus, Ohio; Cigarmaker’s union leader Samuel Gompers is elected president. The AFL’s founding document’s preamble reads: “A struggle is going on in all of the civilized world between oppressors and oppressed of all countries, between capitalist and laborer…” 1980 -In New York City, Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon to death. Earlier in the day, Lennon had autographed an album for Chapman. 1999 – In Memphis, TN, a jury found that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been the victim of a vast murder conspiracy, not a lone assassin.
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