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.
Joining a picket line or a protest rally can be a scary thing. The world doesn’t stop to think about or care for that cause. Demonstrations attract angry people (on all sides of an issue). They’re messy, noisy, confusing and often frustrating. Yet history proves the cumulative effort of that noise and disruption is what drives real change.
While the focus and noisiest action locally will be retail outlets at San Diego State, smaller actions led by low wage employees and their supporters will be happening around America’s Finest City all day long.
These smaller actions will be low key by design: the lack of legal protections against retaliation and the use of the local gendarmes as enforcers for employers necessitate quick and mobile protests.
(With a little luck, this columnist will be “embedded” for the day and able to produce a first draft of this history as seen by those participating in it.)
Here’s a little history you won’t read in the daily fishwrap: the insurgent movement in the restaurant industry has its roots as a support group for displaced workers in the aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
What started in 2012 as a scattered walkout at fast food restaurants in New York city has grown steadily in scope and size. The protests on April 15, 2015 will be the fifth with workers in multiple cities participating.
It shouldn’t surprise anybody that unions (specifically, the Service Employees International Union) have shown their support for these actions. I can’t imagine anybody else with the time and resources who could take on a complicated organizing project like this.
You certainly won’t see anybody from the (industry-sponsored) Small Business Coalition taking an interest in people fighting for basic survival (other than to exploit them). And you certainly won’t see any of San Diego’s marquee journalists anywhere near “those people.” It’s so much easier to publish stories that get you rewarded with a pat on the back and a craft beer at the next gathering with the minions of the political elite.
Conflicted Interests: San Diegans for Open Government vs inewsource, et al
Speaking of publishing what you’re told to–or, as I like to call it, shining the shoes of the ruling class–attorney Cory Briggs has been in the news a lot lately, and not in a good way.
Following a series of more than a dozen investigative reports questioning his law firm’s practices and procedures, an entity typically listed as plaintiff in Briggs’ legal actions filed suit against KPBS, inewsource and San Diego State University. Here’s the inewsource story about the lawsuit.
Today UT-San Diego gave Briggs the star treatment with an editorial bemoaning legal fees incurred because of public interest lawsuits he has filed over the years.
Briggs, for those of you new to this story, is the legal force behind numerous challenges to the “short cuts” used by downtown developers and their ilk to skirt those pesky rules and regulations put in place to protect the public.
He’s won a few and lost a few of these cases over the years. But his victory over the local hotelier set in blocking the fee-not-a-tax scheme for financing expansion of the Convention Center seems to have been the breaking point for the local establishment.
Using information that could have only been gleaned from a sealed deposition coming out of Brigg’s legal challenges, somebody (my bet is an elected guy with a toupee) tipped off a local non-profit watchdog journalism outfit (inewsource) that Briggs was, in fact, not married to the woman he calls his wife.
The reporters also went digging into Briggs’ caseload, finding smoke–mostly doubtful quotes from other lawyers–but no fire. Much was made of the fact that his non-wife was listed on the incorporation papers of his law firm: this translated into allegations of conflict of interest between her real employer on contracts with the city of San Diego. Rather than having that cloud over their reputation, the environmental consultants at Helix Consulting coughed up an amount equal to the fees Briggs earned in a situation where conflict was alleged.
The City Attorney was quoted or took action based on those articles resulting in actions that generated still more articles, mostly at inewsource. It’s telling that other media outlets (except the UT, which is on Goldsmith’s speed dial) weren’t willing to buy into these “scandals” in a big way. Like I said, lots of smoke, not much fire.
At one point Goldsmith made a big deal–asking for an emergency court ruling– about getting the transcript with Briggs’ significant other’s testimony unsealed, claiming inewsource had filed a California Public Records Act request and the city could get sued for not releasing the transcript in 10 days. That “emergency” request occurred on the same day the request was filed, which amounts to a new record for city efficiency.
Marco Gonzales, another local attorney who represented the witness in the transcript, preempted the legal battle by releasing it to the public a few days later. The shocking information was simply that Briggs wife/non-wife/partner was listed as a vice president in Briggs Law Corp. This has been translated into she’s been “working” for the firm all along.
For those of you who are wondering where the “scandal” is here, I direct you to one of the comments in response to the March 3rd news story about release of the transcript:
I am flummoxed as to the point of all this. Has damage been done to some party? So far I understand that Ms. Cacciatore works in the environmental field and Mr. Briggs engages in lawsuits in the same field, sometimes of people for whom Ms. Cacciatore has worked. I also understand that Ms. Cacciatore is a vice-president of Mr. Briggs’ law firm, perhaps for estate planning purposes. (Another commenter here related a similar situation being a vice-president of his father’s firm, but not participating in it in any meaningful way.) It would seem to me there might be a conflict of interest were Ms. Cacciatore to provided confidential or inside information from her employer or clients to Mr. Briggs, but so far I have read nothing of the sort. A husband and wife (if they are) work in overlapping fields in San Diego. Is that the news?
The timing of the UT-San Diego editorial and the pleas of harassment from inewsource and their supporters don’t change the malodorous nature of the investigative reporting starting this mess.
People who work in glass office buildings shouldn’t throw stones. Especially when your founding editor’s idea of investigative reporting at UT-San Diego was to publish the names and salaries of every single City of San Diego employee. (FYI- It was already public information.) It’s hard to scrape the slime off that journalism gem when you place it in the context of ongoing right wing campaigns to denigrate government employees. Or when you read the kinds of hateful trash left in the comments section daily.
Cory Briggs (who I’ve only met once) may or may not be a knight in shining armor.
The City Attorney has a record of vindictive behavior towards those who cause discomfort to the overlords of the tourism industry.
Then there’s this tidbit form Dorian Hargrove at the Reader that might explain a thing or two:
San Diego city councilmembers voted in closed session on March 24 to appeal a judge’s decision ordering city attorney Jan Goldsmith to turn over 25,000 pages of city emailssent from his private account. Recipients of Goldsmith’s private emails included reporters, fellow members of the League of California Cities, deputy city attorneys, and other elected officials.
Councilmember David Alvarez was the lone “no” vote.
By seeking appellate review, the City of San Diego will be forced to throw more cash at a case that Goldsmith has fought against since late 2013, when attorney Cory Briggs of San Diegans for Open Government sued the city and its top attorney.
For all those in the media whining about harassment (of course it is!), riddle me this: who’s gonna keep the downtown set honest if Cory Briggs gets taken down? Certainly not anybody at inewsource.
Only 19 Months Left ‘till Election Day
Yeah, I saw the video. Hillary Clinton is running for President.
I’ve got better things to do than worry about her campaign for at least the next year. The position of Democratic nominee is hers to lose. It’s better that actual activists should work on actual issues.
But I’ll concede that the announcement is news and share a few views.
Here’s Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:
All of which bring us to the present point in which it is difficult to see anything but a game changing mistake or scandal standing in her way. Because of this all the issues that get hashed out in a primary process – ideology, the future of the party, the ordering and power of constituency groups within a party, political strategy and more – are being played out within her candidacy. So the question is becoming not whether Hillary should be the nominee but what sort of nominee you think she should be. Constituency groups are not sizing up different candidates but trying to define what a Hillary Clinton candidacy and presidency would look like. Al Gore’s candidacy in 2000 had some elements of this. Bill Bradley was his only real challenger. His campaign didn’t have the resources or the candidate to make it a credible one. And Gore, in good ways and bad, was essentially running against himself.
Just today I noticed a report that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who made an early mark as Clinton’s campaign manager in 2000, praised Clinton but declined to go as far as endorsing her, saying he wanted to see her put forward a “vision” for her campaign. I don’t put any huge importance on de Blasio’s mild demurral. It’s just a news item I saw as I was writing this post. It’s probably a mix of the internal dynamics of New York City politics and his own role as a key figure on the left of the Democratic party. But it seems likely to be a pattern for the left of the party – not actually challenging her candidacy but mildly holding out to shape her candidacy and press her to address the issues that animate the left of the party.
We’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Here’s the Gay Blade writing at Daily Kos, stating the obvious:
Whether you like Clinton or not your choices in this election are not going to be between competing policy ideas. Your choice in the 2016 race is going to be between crazy and not crazy. You can vote for the nice lady in the Clinton ad or the nutcase behind Door Number 2. For the overwhelming majority of Americans that choice is going to be a no brainer.
As of April 12th, a wave of sexist commentary posing as informed opinions will be sweeping America. Below is a bingo card for those of you unfortunate enough to get trapped in an airport in the near future with CNN or Faux on the TeeVee.
Submit your filled out cards to Americans for Prosperity, Attn: Charles Koch, 2111 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA. I’m sure they’ll send you some kind of prize.
On This Day: 1919 – Labor leader and Socialist Party founder Eugene V. Debs is imprisoned for opposing American entry into World War I. While in jail he ran for president, received 1 million votes. 1954 – Hank Aaron debuted with the Milwaukee Braves. 1964 – Sidney Poitier became the first black to win an Oscar for best actor. It was for his role in the movie “Lilies of the Field.”
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