I went down to the Bayfront Hilton on Monday and snapped a few pictures. There were a couple of hundred people there and plenty of press. Speakers included Lorena Gonzalez, Congressman Bob Filner, the Citizens Trade Campaign, the Machinists Union, the Longshoremen, United and Friends of the Earth addressed the crowd. Meanwhile, the six hundred lobbyists and their friends were inside the hotel plotting in secret to create a Pacific Rim Trade Agreement. [Read more…]
July 2, 2012—Two Members of San Diego’s Congressional delegation are among 130 Representatives who have signed a letter calling for an end to the secrecy surrounding negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement. Delegates from nine pacific rim nations are meeting in San Diego this week for the 13th round of negotiations on the pact. The letter cites “reports [that] indicate the agreement is likely to repeat, rather than improve upon, the existing trade template—including the weakening of Buy America provisions, providing extraordinary investor-state privileges, and restricting access to lifesaving medicines in developing nations, to name a few.” The trade pact meetings at San Diego’s Bayfront Hilton, which begin today, are expected to be the target of protests throughout the week,
Big Tobacco to join the negotiations… According to a report in the San Diego Reader, lobbyists from Phillip Morris and other big tobacco firms will be in attendance at the (TPP) negotiations, hoping to encourage trade rules to circumvent or overturn public health measures designed to reduce smoking. Activists from the Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health released a statement saying: “Big Tobacco is coming to San Diego, one of the most anti-smoking cities in the U.S., to push their ‘Merchants of Death’ agenda through the Trans Pacific Partnership.” [Read more…]
June 29, 2012—The Supreme Court’s ruling upholding most of the Affordable Health Act dominates today’s newspapers and internet chatter around the country. There’s no escaping it. The Attorney General of the United States was held in contempt of Congress yesterday, Europe’s leaders may have finally found a way to salvage the Euro, and scientists have finally figured out why modern tomatoes have no flavor, but today none of that matters so much. The significance and the potential benefits/consequences of the high court’s decision rules the news world.
So we’ll join the chattering mediaoids right after this unpaid political announcement: By characterizing the health care law as “Obamacare” the news media (and even some politicos who ought to know better) are carrying water for the right wingers who have used every dirty trick in the book to defeat, undermine or repeal the Affordable Health Care Act. Even just saying the “Health Care Act” is fine. The right has spent twenty years fighting any semblance of a national policy on health care for one good reason: once people see the benefits of a rational care system (and the one under discussion here barely qualifies), they are less inclined to buy into the meme that all government is bad that is at the core of the right wing’s philosophy. So. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Don’t say or write the world. It’s lazy. And it’s wrong. Got it? Thank you! [Read more…]
June 28, 2012—It’s a great day for millions of American families and children who will have certainty of health care benefits and affordable care under a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that substantially upheld President Obama’s healthcare plan. The majority agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance (the individual mandate) is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court didn’t decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding. Here’s a (pdf) copy of the court’s ruling.
It wasn’t such a great day for CNN and Fox News. CNN was first out of the box as the decision was being announced and they got it wrong, claiming that the court had ruled to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Over at Fox, the silence was deafening—perhaps it was technical difficulties—as their streaming on-line coverage was replaced by a color test pattern and a scheduled chat room feature failed to start on time. As one wag put it, “It’s a good thing they have health insurance over at Fox, there’s gotta be a bunch of heart attacks happening now.” None-the-less, the Fox News website persisted in using the term “Obamacare” which has developed into conserv-speak for “our healthcare program is ‘don’t get sick’”. [Read more…]
June 27, 2012- You can’t have it both ways… The San Diego City Council yesterday refused to fund legal representation for city employees who may be called to testify in lawsuits challenging the recently approved Proposition B, a measure that seeks to fundamentally restructure the city’s pension system. This decision means that Mayor Jerry Sanders, Councilman Kevin Falconer and Councilman Carl DeMaio, who campaigned for and contended that their support of the Pension Proposition was as private citizens, will have to pay their own legal fees. A handful of other city employees were also affected by the decision.
San Diego is facing lawsuits from its unions and the state Public Employment Relations Board, who claim officials violated the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act by failing to negotiate terms of the initiative with labor prior to placing it on the ballot. Since the mayor and these councilmen were among the primary boosters of the measure, the unions contend that their actions amounted to city sponsorship.
Filner’s on fire… Congressman (and mayoral candidate) Bob Filner appeared on Rachel Maddow’s NSNBC program last night to talk about veterans’ issues. He didn’t mince words in his criticisms of the Veterans Administration, saying that their health care system is ‘so bad,’ vets are dying or even committing suicide while waiting for adjudication of claims. [Read more…]
June 26, 2012 – A diverse coalition of groups has announced plans for ongoing protests aimed at trade negotiators meeting in San Diego next week for the 13th round of talks aimed at the creation of a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade zone that would include the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, with a “docking agreement” that other countries can join over time. Canada, Japan and Mexico are currently pressing to do so.. Describing the proposals being discussed at the confab as “NAFTA on steroids”, the Citizens Trade Campaign is seeking to draw attention to the fact that approximately 600 corporate lobbyists have access to the TPP negotiating texts, while the public has been barred from reviewing what trade negotiators have been proposing.
A leaked TPP document demonstrates that the group is considering a dispute resolution process that would grant transnational corporations special authority to challenge countries’ laws, regulations and court decisions in international tribunals that circumvent domestic judicial systems. Of further concern is the impact of the agreement on jobs, wages, agriculture, migration, the environment, consumer safety, financial regulations, Internet protocols, government procurement and more. Negotiations on the proposed pact will be held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel from July 2 – 10. [Read more…]
June 25, 2012 – Seven thousand members of the San Diego Education Association, a group you’re probably familiar with as the “teacher’s union” starting voting on a new contract yesterday and already questions are being raised about the fairness of the voting process. The vote is to decide whether to approve a tentative revision of their contract with the San Diego Unified School District that calls for teachers to defer scheduled pay raises in order to save the jobs of nearly 1,500 district employees facing layoffs due to the District’s ongoing budget crisis. Teachers will be given five unpaid days off, with 14 more furlough days to be added if Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to raise taxes fails at the ballot box in November. The SDUSD Board of Trustees voted to approve the contract last Thursday.
The Breakfast Club Action Group, a dissident bloc of teachers which has actively campaigned against the agreement, complained on Sunday via a blog post and email that many SDEA members were being disenfranchised by the requirement that they vote in person within a three-day window ending Tuesday. They also pointed out that a basic security measure SDEA has taken with paper ballot elections in the past has been discontinued for this election. [Read more…]
While a small group of protesters rallied in downtown San Diego to protest the Koch confab in Carlsbad, Charles and David Koch, who tied as the fourth richest Americans on the 2012 Forbes list, were holding their secret reception and biannual fundraiser in Carlsbad. The Koch event, billed as “Path to Freedom 2012” completely took over the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort where rooms start at $1,250 a night. Security was tight, but not so tight that a reporter from Buzzfeed wasn’t prevented from sneaking in by trekking across the golf course. The only major breach of security at a Koch confab was in 2011, when advance notice of a Koch confab at the enclave of Rancho Mirage in the California desert led to raucous demonstrations outside the event. [Read more…]
June 22, 2012 – It didn’t take long yesterday for news to spreadthat San Diego’s daily dead tree news operation had decided to monetize its internet operations by charging customers for access once they’d passed a monthly limit of fifteen page views. And, by the end of the day, savvy local computer users were spreading the word on methods to bypass the company’s paywall.
Bridgepoint in the crosshairs… San Diego has a long history of really big companies dominating the local landscape that crash and burn, leaving economic devastation inn their wake. During the 1960s, for instance, U.S. National Bank and the Westgate Corporation dominated the local landscape, only to collapse as the financial machinations of its owner C. Arnholt Smith were exposed. Today’s really big player is Bridgepoint Education. Its name and influence are at the top of the local economic scene. And while DailyFinance.com considers Bridgepoint stock to be “perfect”, i.e., the stock that provides everything you could possibly want, there are cracks opening around the edges of the giant that portend poorly for the future.
June 21, 2012- Today’s round-up of stories leads off with the announcement by Doug Manchester’s UT-San Diego that they will begin charging for access effective today. Readers will be blocked after a “free sample” of 15 pages each month. Pricing will include an introductory rate of 99 cents per week for the first month and $3.49 a week thereafter. I suspect that one unintended effect of this move will be to reduce the comments to on-line versions of their stories, which are always amusing and usually mindless right wing drivel. The Starting Line will continue to bring you highlights and low lights of Papa Doug’s madness Monday-thru Friday.
Foodies throughout California are all aware that just a few days remain before the State’s ban on Foie Gras takes effect. Troy Johnson’s article in this month’s San Diego Magazine does a great job of telling the story about what’s going on here. [Read more…]
June 20, 2012 – Today’s Big Story is the deal announced yesterday between the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) and the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). Negotiations over the past three weeks produced a proposed settlement that would purportedly save (SDUSD) $68 million, return 1372 pink slipped teachers to classrooms in September, defer a series of pay raises promised by the district two years ago, and extend five unpaid furlough days for an additional two years. Two weeks of additional furlough days would be added next year if two new state tax measures fail in November’s general election. The anticipated settlement comes just days before the Board of Education is scheduled to adopt a final budget for the 2012-13 school year. It must be supported by more than 50 percent of union members, plus school board approval. The SDEA will begin a campaign this week to educate teachers about the agreement via phone calls, electronic posts and meetings. One gets the sense from press accounts that this is all but a done deal…
But wait a minute!… The Breakfast Club Action Group, a dissident teachers group spawned by concerns that the SDEA leadership was being less than forthright with the rank and file union members, is crying foul. Saying that the SDEA leadership approved the pact in a session closed to membership, the group posted an essay on its website calling the proposal a “horrible deal” that amounts to a 17.42 % pay cut and disputing the claim that the number of rescinded pink slips is real. [Read more…]
June 19. 2012—Grass roots activism around the world leads the news wrap up today. In San Diego, cities around the world and in cyberspace citizens are and have been expressing their frustrations and hopes for a better world.
National Robin Hood Day demonstrations…. Rallies in San Diego and 14 other cities across the country at noon today kick off a national campaign to institute a Wall Street tax that would produce billions for the public good. This Financial Transaction Tax, called the “Robin Hood Tax,” is a levy of less than half of a percent on trades in derivatives, stocks, bonds and foreign currencies. According to the campaign, economists estimate that $350 billion could be raised each year for health care, jobs, education, infrastructure and various other needs, which may help rejuvenate the economy. The campaign states that it is pushing for “a tax for the people.” [Read more…]