By Doug Porter
The political struggle over allowing the president fast track authority in negotiating a Pacific Rim trade deal is coming to a head.
A coalition of labor, environment, faith and community groups converged on the offices of Congressman Scott Peters yesterday, vowing not to leave until he committed to a position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The occupation/sit-in ended Thursday evening after the group received word via the labor council’s Richard Barrera that the Congressman had agreed to face-to-face meeting to further discuss his position on the issue.
125 Days and Counting
The local coalition opposing the measure includes the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, the Communications Workers of America, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the California Nurses Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, 350.org and Citizens Trade and the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice.
The coalition has been communicating with Congressman Peters since January, expressing concerns the TPP will lead to the loss of American jobs and the degradation of environmental standards.
On April 23 the group staged a protest at Peters’ office. His refusal to announce a position one way or the other is frustrating for protest participants, given that many of them worked to re-elect the congressman during a highly contested 2014 campaign.
Thursday’s sit-in featured phone banking to constituents from his office, urging them to contact Peters on TPP and fast track authority.
More Protests Coming
The stop TPP campaign will be participating in the annual March Against Monsanto rally on Saturday, May 23 by the big fountain in Balboa Park.
Environmental activists, including Sierra Club San Diego, SD County Democrats for Environmental Action and Women Occupy SD are staging an anti-TPP event aimed at Rep. Peters at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at 4:30pm on Wednesday May 27th.
Next Thursday, May 28, starting at noon there will be an anti-TPP rally & sit-in at Congresswoman Susan Davis’ office (2700 Adams Ave). Once again, activists are promising to not leave the building until they hear an answer on how she will vote.
Meanwhile, in Washington DC
It is increasingly clear that this issue will be settled in the House of Representatives. The measure cleared an important hurdle in the Senate following an intensive lobbying effort by the Obama administration.
From the Washington Post:
On a vote of 62 to 38, the measure for fast-track authority received just enough Democratic support to keep it moving, following a last-ditch lobbying effort by Obama and his top advisers. The fate of the legislation, known as the Trade Promotion Authority, hung in the balance for more than 30 minutes during the vote.
In unusually dramatic fashion, more than a dozen senators from both parties negotiated the last details of the legislation and side issues, trading paper amid long conversations that moved throughout the Senate. At one point during the vote, according to a senator and senior aides, Obama made one more phone call to make a final pitch to Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a linchpin in securing the last votes needed for the victory, who was huddling with other Democrats in the cloakroom just off the Senate floor.
Krugman Opposes TPP
Saying “[t]he selling of the 12-nation Pacific Rim pact has the feel of a snow job,” the New York Times’ Paul Krugman came out against the TPP in his Friday column.
The Nobel prize winning economist has generally been one of the administration’s biggest supporters.
As I see it, the big problem here is one of trust.
International economic agreements are, inevitably, complex, and you don’t want to find out at the last minute — just before an up-or-down, all-or-nothing vote — that a lot of bad stuff has been incorporated into the text. So you want reassurance that the people negotiating the deal are listening to valid concerns, that they are serving the national interest rather than the interests of well-connected corporations.
Instead of addressing real concerns, however, the Obama administration has been dismissive, trying to portray skeptics as uninformed hacks who don’t understand the virtues of trade. But they’re not: the skeptics have on balance been more right than wrong about issues like dispute settlement, and the only really hackish economics I’ve seen in this debate is coming from supporters of the trade pact.
It’s really disappointing and disheartening to see this kind of thing from a White House that has, as I said, been quite forthright on other issues. And the fact that the administration evidently doesn’t feel that it can make an honest case for the Trans-Pacific Partnership suggests that this isn’t a deal we should support.
Oh, Happy Days. Maybe
UT San Diego is now (once again) the San Diego Union-Tribune. The buyout deal with the Los Angeles Times was completed on Thursday.
A new COO for the paper has been named; other than Papa Doug leaving the building, nothing else has changed for the time being.When it comes to the editorial department, history is still being re-written at the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Today’s paper features an editorial blathering about how great it was that a compromise on the One Paseo deal was reached. The Barrio Logan Community Plan and the minimum wage referendum are mentioned as examples of where “people of goodwill on both sides have sought reasonable compromises, but none were achieved.”
Really? How can they have forgotten the compromise on Barrio Logan negotiated by Councilman Alvarez and rejected after the fact? Or do they really not remember Todd Gloria all but begging the Chamber to come to the table on the minimum wage?
One thing is for sure: never has there been a media acquisition greeted with such enthusiasm by journalists facing possible layoffs. (as the company seeks to implement joint operating efficiencies.)
As Dave Roberts’ World Turns…
The soap opera at the county building continued yesterday.
Supervisor Dave Roberts’ recently acquired damage control specialist, also known as Gary Gartner, told the assembled media at the county building on Thursday that allegations of misconduct were “false, defamatory, and will be refuted.”
Pages of documents were distributed, along with a statement from an employee alleged to be having an inappropriate relationship with the supervisor saying “Let me be perfectly clear about this, I am a heterosexual male.”
And then.. this…via NBC7 News:
A second unhappy, former county employee has filed a claim against San Diego County, alleging Supervisor Dave Roberts misappropriated county funds and county officials failed to protect her as a whistleblower.
Glynnis Vaughan, whose resignation led to a series of stories by NBC7 Investigates, said she is owed $475,000 for her treatment while working for Roberts. Her attorney Lynne Lasry filed the claim late Thursday evening.
Here’s the closing on the Union-Tribune story:
So far Roberts hasn’t publicly addressed the allegations.
“Very soon he will be speaking to the media, because he would like to,” Gartner said.
Vaughn claim references the supervisors’ grant program, along with a claim of gender discrimination.
FAST FACT: Did you know that if a Supervisor resigns, the governor appoints a replacement to fill the remainder of the term? That would be very be interesting. (I got some bad info. Sorry about that.)
NEW FAST FACT: In 1982 the voters of San Diego County approved a change to the charter allowing the sitting board of supervisors to appoint a successor or call for a special election.
Grand Jury Report on SDUSD Doesn’t Name Names (But I Do)
An inquiry by the San Diego County Grand Jury into allegations of misconduct by a school board trustee concludes that yes, there was misconduct, but since there were no actual rules about the acts involved, not much can be done.
And this report was sanitized: all names were excluded.
Here’s the meat and potatoes from that report:
The 2014/2015 San Diego County Grand Jury found the San Diego Unified School District Board of Trustees Code of Conduct, Conflict of Interest Policy and Board Governance Manual are not sufficient to prevent Trustees from exerting undue influence in matters involving a particular school within their district.
I wrote about the incidents triggering this investigation last July.
(I was not a disinterested observer; my daughter graduated from the high school in question in 2014). Here’s a snip from the story:
Mitzi Lizarraga ran San Diego Unified’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) for seven years. Test scores improved, the school was named one of the best in the country repeatedly over the past 4 years and students were sought after by prestigious colleges and universities.
On Tuesday, June 10th, two days before graduation this year, she was gone. Students and staff were told Ms. Lizarraga was attending to an urgent and personal matter. “Interim” Principal Dr. Jenna Pesavento would be tasked with handing out diplomas to departing seniors…
…In the weeks following her disappearance from the school, parents have come to believe that Trustee [Marnie] Foster’s interventions with Principal Lizarraga on behalf of her son were the primary reason for her sudden departure.
Ms Lizarraga is now principal at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA).
Back to the Grand Jury report:
Witnesses reported that in the matter of the Common Application School Report (CASR) certain conduct was of concern because the CASR for a particular student (the child of a trustee) may have been modified without justification. The CASR is relied upon by colleges and universities to evaluate whether a student should be admitted for study. It is confidential and is not to be distributed to unauthorized persons. It was reported that the CASR was improperly released to the parent/trustee and was subsequently superseded by a second CASR, created by a different staff member. The Grand Jury was not able to find a single other instance that resulted in a new CASR based upon a complaint by a parent or trustee. But the Grand Jury was able to determine that two different CASRs were created for the student in question.
There’s more to this story, including other allegations of misconduct and inappropriate interventions. But I guess it’s just like beating a dead horse at this point.
So the school lost a great principal. Business as usual in San Diego.
Mugging a City, for Fun and Profit
Keep in mind that the city of San Diego has basically offered to fork over a billion dollars to the Chargers and that’s still not enough. The league isn’t even subtle about it: After the CSAG revealed its plan, reports came down that NFL officials felt it requires “too much team money.”
This is basically billionaire-owner speak for, “This is a stick-up.” And time and again, cities fail to learn from their mistakes and approach their teams with their hands up, begging them to take the money and not run.
On This Day: 1909 – While white locomotive firemen on the Georgia Railroad strike, blacks hired as replacements were whipped and stoned—not by the union men, but by white citizens outraged that blacks are being hired over whites. The Engineers union threatened to stop work because their members are being affected by the violence. 1955 – A scheduled dance to be headlined by Fats Domino was canceled by police in Bridgeport, Connecticut because “rock and roll dances might be featured.” 2002 – In Birmingham, AL, a jury convicted former Ku Klux Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry of murder in the 1963 church bombing that killed four girls.
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