Monday, February 28, 2011

Resolution on Wisconsin and the Fight Against Union-Busting and For No Concessions For Workers (adopted unanimously by the Delegates' Meeting of the San Francisco Labor Council on Monday, February 28, 2011)
- Hundreds of thousands of union members in Wisconsin and across the country have mobilized to kill Governor Scott Walker's "Budget Repair Bill," which, in the name of balancing the state budget and erasing a $3.6 billion deficit that public-sector workers did not create, would effectively destroy public sector unions in Wisconsin and gut the benefits of 200,000 Wisconsin public sector employees while increasing their health-care costs.
- Statistics show that state employees on average earn less than those in the private sector with comparable education and experience, and that they have often taken modest or no wage increases to continue to build retirement security for themselves and their families.
- Similar bills are being proposed in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states -- all with the aim of dismantling public sector workers' collective-bargaining rights, busting their unions, privatizing public services, and imposing massive cuts and concessions in terms of jobs, wages and benefits.
- All these bills are seeking to blame and punish working people for budget crises that originated not from workers -- both union and non-union -- but from corporate greed: As USW President Leo Gerard told a Rally for Wisconsin at the union's headquarters in Pittsburgh on Feb. 24, "The people who do the work are not the problem. The problem is the political system that has given tax breaks to the rich and the ultra-rich. The pension mess in America wasn't caused by workers having gold-plated pensions. It was caused by Wall Street taking the gold out of our pensions."
- The total states' budget deficits, estimated at $124 billion, are rising because of the lack of jobs, leading to major tax revenue falloff, and because of huge tax breaks for the wealthy and loopholes for the corporations.
- Unionists and their community allies are marching in Wisconsin and throughout the nation to demand an end to union-busting and the budget cuts, following the lead of the South Central Federation of Labor in Wisconsin and of National Nurses United Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro, who, in a recent article in the Huffington Post, wrote, "Working people did not create the recession or the budgetary crisis facing federal, state and local governments -- and there can be NO more concessions, period."
- The Obama administration is proposing $1.1 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years -- cuts that are further crippling cash-strapped states and dismantling countless programs that provide assistance to low-income people.
- On Feb. 2, 2011, the AFL-CIO reported that there are now 27 million people in this country who are unemployed or in need of full-time work (in Wisconsin alone 55,000 factories have been closed over the past 10 years);
- AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, in his address at the National Press Club on Jan. 19, 2011, affirmed that, "[w]e have a jobs crisis which after three years is still raging, squeezing families, devastating our poorest communities and stunting the futures of young adults. Yet politicians of both parties tell us that we can -- and should -- do nothing."
- The AFL-CIO has gone on record demanding that the federal government create millions of jobs by taxing Wall Street, and demanding that there be no cuts to Social Security and Medicare, while arguing that the best way to fight the deficit is to create jobs.
- Since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars together have cost $1.05 trillion and with projected future costs, the total will exceed $5 trillion, and what the United States will spend in 2011 on Afghanistan alone would cover all of the state budget deficits combined, with money left over for other needs.
- Wall Street and the corporations are sitting on more than $2 trillion in federal bailout funds, refusing to invest them to create jobs in the United States as they seek more profitable investments in offshore and other speculative ventures.
- The Federal Reserve reported in August 2010 that it had loaned $9 trillion to financial institutions in the bailouts since 2008. This includes loans to all kinds of financial institutions, not just banks, but insurance companies, mutual funds, investment banks, and finance companies. Also on the list were failing foreign banks.
- There is plenty of funding available if we change our priorities.
- The San Francisco Labor Council supports the struggle waged by labor and its allies in Wisconsin against the union-busting and the budget cuts, and urges the AFL-CIO and Change to Win to get behind the call issued by NNU Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro to mobilize against any and all concessions in every state across the country.
- The San Francisco Labor Council calls on the AFL-CIO and Change to Win to organize massive demonstrations in major cities across the country to demand that the federal government bail out the cash-strapped states through one or more of the following: a national mass public works program to put 27 million people back to work now; taxing Wall Street and raising taxes on the rich and on corporations; a major and systematic reduction in the Pentagon budget, with funds redirected to create jobs and meet human needs; and/or the repossession of improperly used federal bailout funds that are sitting idly in the Wall Street coffers.
- The San Francisco Labor Council -- given the immediacy of the crisis facing the states across the country -- calls on the AFL-CIO and Change to Win to demand that the federal government press the Federal Reserve to provide a $1 trillion "bridge loan" to the public pension funds that are in extreme stress and to launch an Emergency National Jobs Creation Program. If the Fed can loan $9 trillion to Wall Street and the banks, including foreign banks, that caused the recent financial meltdown, it can extend immediately a $1 trillion "bridge loan" to fund an historic jobs creation program and a public pension fund stress relief plan. This $1 trillion "bridge loan" would also not raise the U.S. budget deficit by a penny, as it would be used to jump-start the economy and would be repaid once the new tax revenue inflows come in.
- The San Francisco Labor Council will send this resolution for concurrence to the California Labor Federation and to the national AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C.
Resolution respectfully submitted by:
- Alan Benjamin (OPEIU Local 3)
- Conny Ford (OPEIU Local 3)
- Denis Mosgofian, (GCC Local 4N, IBT)
- Ann Robertson (California Faculty Association)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011-02-27 "Bankrupt Vallejo becomes magnet for hookers; Neighbors, decimated police force overwhelmed" by Kevin Fagan from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
Eight p.m. on a Friday in Vallejo. An icy fog cut through Dog Girl's thin, plaid coat as she scanned the passing cars, looking for a john to drift by. She clutched her pet Chihuahua tight and grimaced.
"It's rough out here, but rougher in Oakland," she said. "And I'd never be able to take my dog with me for tricks there - we've been beaten up before. But here, nobody cares what you do. I can make good money here.
"And if I have my dog I make a little extra. Some guys like that. Sick."
A man in a gray Toyota sedan pulled up.
"You working?" he said, leaning out the window.
"Fifty bucks, and it's gotta be in a motel," said Dog Girl, a street name - she did not want to be identified for fear of being arrested. "Too cold outside."
"Get in."
The skinny streetwalker in her late 30s had driven over from her home in Berkeley, and she'd been on the corner of Sonoma Boulevard and Ohio Street for only 10 minutes. But it's typical to be picked up that fast in Vallejo these days.
There's a job boom for hookers in this economically battered town of 117,000 - and it's drawing women from all over the West.
It's also drawing a community-wide effort to tamp down the problem.
Vallejo has been hit hard by red-ink budgets and police cutbacks. That doesn't make it unique in the Bay Area - other cities that historically have battled prostitution, such as Oakland and Hayward, are suffering from similar problems.
Those cities, however, still have the resources to take on prostitution. FBI agents joined Oakland, Hayward and other cities' police recently to break up child and Asian prostitution rings. Oakland's city attorney went to court in December to shut down three motels where hookers allegedly ply their trade.
But Vallejo has not been as lucky.
It is so broke that in 2008 it became the first California city to declare bankruptcy over entrenched budgetary problems. City officials have had to trim the police force from 155 to 90, leaving the remaining officers with little time to haul in hookers and johns - and word of this traveled fast in the street trade.
As a result, streetwalkers and pimps have come from as far away as Oregon and Mexico to work Vallejo.
Turning tricks in Vallejo pays anything from a $2 crack rock, for the most desperate, to $500 a day for the most organized who take Internet bookings or have good pimp connections. The full range of streetwalkers is on display in tight dresses or pants and high heels 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in the northwestern part of town just a few blocks from City Hall.
Prostitutes have hawked their services in the area since Vallejo's founding 150 years ago as a maritime town. Easily accessible by freeways - Highway 29 runs right through the middle - it's a region of wide streets with small businesses scattered among spacious old Victorians.
Many of those homes retain their stylishness and, thanks to the housing collapse, can be had for bargain prices. Gentrification has spread in recent years along Alabama, Marin, Sacramento and Kentucky streets.
Which makes the explosion of hookers all the more vexing to the locals.
"Vallejo is a really nice town, and we'd all like to see it live up to its bones," she said. "That can't happen if we see hookers every time we look outside our windows."
The problem isn't just on the sidewalks.
There are also tricks being turned by homeless hookers occupying the growing stock of abandoned houses. Two such squat-brothels, near the corner of Sonoma Boulevard and York Street, had their windows and doors broken in for easier access last month and were littered with used needles and condoms.
Longtime local prostitutes and pimps feel the sting of competition from the newcomers who drive in from out of town, and sometimes get into screaming disputes on the sidewalk.
"I had two pimps fight each other in my front yard in August, and before you knew it five people were involved," said Kathy Beistel, 47, who lives in the core trouble area. "I called the cops, but they never came so I went outside myself and yelled at them, chased them away.
"That's how I became block captain of my neighborhood watch group."
There's little joy on the other side of the equation.
"It's always been a hard job, with all these new ho's it's just so much harder," one longtime street hooker with no teeth, a 43-year-old woman known as Toothless, said one afternoon on busy Sonoma Boulevard. "I was up all night. There are so many, they push me around. I work too hard.
"I wish I could find another life."
Organizers are also looking into starting rehabilitation programs for hookers and johns to help them turn away from the trade, rather than have them spend a short jail stint and resume their behavior. Pimps are mostly being targeted for arrest.
Task force leaders are in talks with area police agencies to get help with patrols, and are exploring grant funding.
Meanwhile, at least 20 neighborhood watch groups have formed what some call "ho patrols" to walk their streets and ask streetwalkers, pimps and johns to go elsewhere. Beistel leads one of the more active ones several times a month.
Many fed-up residents are taking matters into their own hands. Some pour lard or cooking oil on yard fences to prevent hookers from sitting on them as they wait for johns, and others spray prostitutes with hoses if they linger too long.
"I have two little girls inside, and I can't let either of them go outside unless I'm with them now," 40-year-old Tera Rollins said, right after dumping a half-gallon of cooking oil on her front fence one recent afternoon on Marin Street to chase away two suggestively clad women.
"You think it's fair I have to explain to my 9-year-old what a prostitute is?" she said, eyes blazing with rage. "It's sickening."
But these efforts are all works in progress.
For now, a "for sale" spirit on the streets prevails.
"The word is out," said retired Vallejo police Sgt. Bob Sampayan, who helps lead the mayoral task force. "This is where you come if you want to walk the streets, and we're getting them from everywhere.
"Nevada, Oregon, Los Angeles - you name it," said Sampayan, crime prevention coordinator for the Fighting Back community organization. "They all know this is the place to come."
As worried as city leaders are, the police themselves are more exasperated.
"What can we do?" Officer John Cunningham said one recent evening as he packed a woman he suspected of hooking into the back seat of his car. "We don't have enough time to do everything. I just booked two burglary suspects, I have a ton of calls backed up, and then we get calls from residents about this girl. We're overwhelmed."
The woman, thirtysomething Chandra Brown, was on probation for a prostitution conviction in 2010. She'd been walking slowly past City Park on Marin Street, and a man who approached her furtively dashed away when Cunningham and his partner, Officer Shane Bower, pulled up in their cruiser.
"You know, we're here because we got some calls that you are here selling," Bower told Brown.
"Don't know what you're talking about," she mumbled from the back seat.
"Get lost or we're going to arrest you for prostitution again," Cunningham said, letting her out of the car. Brown hurried away into the park.
"There are girls like her from all over," Bower said. "They hear that we have fewer cops and fewer pimps here, and there are tons of customers. The younger and prettier ones are coming from Walnut Creek, Texas, Minnesota, Nevada. And then we have the long-timers who have always been here. There are just too many.
"The minute we put them in jail, another group takes their place."
Last year, Vallejo police arrested 80 people for prostitution, 25 percent more than the previous year, according to the mayoral task force. That doesn't count the hundreds of interactions like the one with Brown.
Nevertheless, she has high hopes for the city's new effort.
"These are women who, most of all, need help," said Foreman, who as manager of Youth and Family Services Rosewood House, a rehabilitation center for addicted women, has counseled street prostitutes for years. "They are mothers, daughters and sisters, and who knows what kind of dysfunctional family backgrounds they've had.
"If they had alternatives and more stable lives, they wouldn't have to do this work," Foreman said. "But with the recession hurting everyone, it just makes sense you'd see more of them out there. If we can set up good programs, not just for the women but for the johns, we can make a permanent difference."
It will take a lot of elbow grease, everyone involved agrees.
"We have no funding, so we're trying to use the resources we already have," said Mayor Davis. "But we have sheer determination. We are going to get this done, and we will be an inspiration for other cities."

Friday, February 25, 2011

2011-02-25 "SF State Faculty Blast Administration on Spending; As university braces for steep academic cuts, spending on marketing and administration has grown, report finds" by Jennifer Gollan from "Bay Citizen" online journal
Despite a yawning budget gap, San Francisco State University continues to spend hefty sums on administrators’ salaries and non-academic expenses, leaders of the university’s faculty union say.
For example, between 2006 and 2009, marketing and other non-academic costs increased 28 percent, or $5 million. Over the same period, expenditures for instruction, including faculty salaries, grew by 18 percent, or $23 million, according to a new report commissioned by the university’s faculty union.
“We are calling on the administration to take as hard a look at the non-academic costs as the academic costs,” said Ramon Castellblanch, president the California Faculty Association's San Francisco State University chapter, which represents 1,500 professors and others. “There are high administrative costs here.”
The 78-page report, released Thursday, comes as the university braces for deep cuts and perhaps other cost-saving measures to cushion next year's $26 million budget shortfall, which could increase to $32 million, depending on the state budget. The university is considering a proposal to consolidate its eight academic colleges into six next year. The plan calls for folding parts of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences into other academic colleges and recalibrating the College of Education to save $1 million. It is unclear whether there will be any faculty layoffs next year.
“The administration at San Francisco State is not devoting enough resources to the core academic mission,” said Howard Bunsis, an accounting professor at Eastern Michigan University who was hired to perform the review of SF State’s financial statements at the request of the university’s faculty.
Ellen Griffin, a spokeswoman for San Francisco State University, declined to comment Thursday, saying she had not had the opportunity to review the report.
Among the other findings in the report: The average salary and benefit package for each of the university’s 149 administrators was $156,000 in the 2009-10 academic year. By contrast, the highest-ranking faculty members earned an average of $117,000 for salary and benefits in the same year, according to figures provided by the university.
In addition, between 1998 and 2009, SF State saw enrollment jump 21 percent, or from roughly 20,359 to 24,612 students. Over the same period, the size of the faculty shrank by 5 percent, from 1,006 to 953 instructors.
“Many students are taking classes sitting in the aisles of their classrooms and in many cases not getting the classes they need,” said Bunsis, who is treasurer of the Eastern Michigan University chapter of the American Association of University Professors, an organization that represents faculty at public and private universities nationwide. “The university is not putting its resources into the classroom, they are putting them into administrative costs.”
2011-02-24 "Wisconsin Solidarity Rally in Oakland, CA: A video love letter"
Length: 3:30
With less than 24 hours notice, union members in the Bay Area called a rally in front of the state building in downtown Oakland to express their solidarity with workers fighting for their rights in Madison, Wisconsin. This one was for people who couldn't make it up to Sacramento, where a larger California solidarity rally had been scheduled at the same time. 300 showed up in Oakland for a spirited outpouring of feeling; speakers and interviewees include members of a dozen unions.

2011-02-24 "Green Party of California supports public worker protests in Wisconsin, California and other states; Greens urge more 'pushing back' to preserve workers' rights"
SACRAMENTO – In response to the Wisconsin protests – and sympathetic actions in California and other states by public employees this week to preserve their rights to collective bargaining – the Green Party of California affirmed its support for unionized public workers across California and nation.
The Green Party said it urges more protests against corporate-influenced attacks to reduce benefits and even eliminate collective bargaining – as suggested in recent legislation introduced in the California State Legislature, and threatened by anti-union forces by way of a California state initiative to end public union collective bargaining rights and other benefits.
"At long last, Americans are pushing back against the rule of our country by corporate oligarchies. We've been inspired by the courage of people in countries like Egypt and Tunisia, and now by public employees in Wisconsin," said Laura Wells, 2010 Green Party candidate for Governor of California
"This is more than a struggle to preserve benefits and collective bargaining rights in a single state. It's about saving the infrastructure of our democracy and preventing the U.S. from lapsing into a new Robber Baron Era reminiscent of the late 19th century.
"We hope that the fire of protest spreads to every state where such budgets are proposed, whether by Democrats in California or Republicans in Wisconsin. It’s a thrill to see working people take back their rights, their freedoms and their financial security," she said.
Noting that many public workers have forgone pay increases for years and experienced furloughs and benefit cuts, the Green Party of California praised the unions who have already agreed to concessions to help during the budget crisis. Republicans, and some Democrats, are simply using the crisis to break the unions, Greens said.
The GPCA also noted it has had a long-standing platform plank that supports the "fundamental" right to belong to an independent, democratic, member-run, labor union and that the widespread existence of such unions is vital to ensure a more democratic and just society.
Green Party of California
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Contact: Laura Wells 510.504.42
Derek Iverson 323.481.8984
Cres Vellucci 916.996.9170

2011-02-24 "IVAW stands in Solidarity with Public Employee Unions; We Are Public Employees Too!"
Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) calls on all U.S. military service members to refuse and resist any mobilization against workers organizing to protect their basic rights. IVAW stands in solidarity with the multitude gathered in Madison, Wisconsin and many other cities to defend their unions.
We believe military service members are public employees too. It is dishonorable to suggest that military personnel should be deployed against teachers, health care providers, firefighters, police officers, and other government employees, many of whom are themselves serving in the National Guard.
Workers with prior military service often seek jobs in the public sector because government agencies are the only employers that follow hiring preferences for veterans as a matter of law. According to the Army Times, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed at a rate of 15.2%, higher than the national average. The picture is even worse for African American veterans who face nearly double the rate of unemployment. Protecting the rights of workers in public sector unions ensures that veterans have a chance to secure a decent job, earning a living wage and good benefits.
Madison, WI is ground zero for a fight that will likely define the relationship between public sector unions and the governments that employ them for decades to come. Similar to the federal government's defeat of the 1980 Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) strike, which signaled the beginning of a thirty-year decline of real wages, benefits, and union membership for private sector workers. What happens in Madison today is likely to affect whether governments across the country can destroy a decent standard of living for public sector workers in the future.
Governor Scott Walker recently stated that he was preparing the National Guard to respond to “labor unrest” following the introduction of union-busting legislation in Wisconsin. Governor Walker has attempted to justify this attack on collective bargaining by pointing to state budget shortfalls. Missing from this explanation is an acknowledgment that these deficits have been created and exacerbated by the ongoing trillion dollar wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, federal and local governments across the U.S. are cutting back on the public sector.
Troops have been called out in the past against worker strikes, campus protests, and urban uprisings. However, recent events in Egypt and numerous examples from U.S. history have shown that service members have the power to side with the people and refuse to use violence against their fellow citizens. Troops activated for duty in Madison, WI will have to decide if public sector workers are really the enemy. IVAW says they are not and that troops should support workers fighting for decent jobs, wages, and benefits.
We know firsthand that the U.S. military is already overextended from a decade at war. Through our Operation Recovery campaign, we have been fighting for the right of our troops to heal, rather than being involuntarily redeployed with severe physical and psychological injuries. Adding another mission to an already overburdened military for the purposes of suppressing the rights of workers is irresponsible and not worthy of our service.
2011-02-25 "Arcata Endeavor REFUSES to Give Food Boxes to HOUSELESS PEOPLE"  by peopleproject
John Shelter and crew have, once again, further degraded the integrity and services of the Arcata Endeavor, the only food bank/pantry in Arcata. People who cannot PROVE THAT THEY HAVE A RESIDENCE in Arcata cannot get a food box. Do the funders know that homeless people are banned from receiving food? Do the community donors who donate food and money know that homeless people will get NOTHING from those donations?
The poverty pimps have got to go. The mission of the food endeavor is to feed hungry people. This is disgraceful.
Check out the website: []
And notice that in the “Community Resources” page, the Arcata Endeavor is advertising the link for online Sun Valley Floral Farms Job Applications!
The poverty pimps have got to go. People getting fat while refusing to share with hungry people?!
Everyone deserves to eat.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Feb 19th - Stop Naval Testing!
Humboldt Demonstrating On The Bay -End of F. St.
We're not simply asking for delay, but we're demanding the rescinding of the permits to proceed with these war tests.
Nationally inspired by the efforts of Agricultural Defense Coalition of Mendocino [] to end this brutality locally
Coalition Against Naval Weapons Testing and killing of Marine life . . . connecting with native tribes, environmental, legal and other groups nationwide.
Contributing research and report>
Communities For Justice and Peace, Humboldt County
sending out reports and research studies, exposing media bias and holding government accountable

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2011-02-22 "Wisconsin Public Workers Protests Spill Over To Concord's Mt. Diablo School District"
Monday, February 21, 2011
Contact: Rosa Cabrera 925.586-4302 or 916.996-9170
Attn: Daybook/Assignment Desk for Tuesday
Spill Over to Concord's Mt. Diablo School District;
School Employees Hold Joint Briefing and Protest Tuesday
CONCORD – Encouraged by huge public worker protests in Wisconsin after politicians there attempted to outlaw public unions, hundreds of public school employees at the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) plan to hold big demonstrations Tuesday.
Details will be disclosed at a news conference TUESDAY, 10 a.m. in front of Monte Gardens Elementary (3841 Larkspur Drive, Concord). Representatives from Local 1, CSEA, CTA, MDEA and NEA unions will be in attendance representing thousands of employees.
Later TUESDAY, 5-7 p.m., a "BLUE" DEMONSTRATION, featuring hundreds of "blue" MDUSD workers responsible for keeping schools safe, clean, transporting and feeding students and teaching them, will be held prior to the MDUSD board meeting at Monte Gardens.
As in Wisconsin, school employee unions are charging that the district is using the excuse of budget cuts to destroy the unions and collective bargaining.
The employees have offered proposals, rejected by MDUSD, that would save the district millions of dollars. Further cuts, they say, will make it impossible to provide safe and clean classrooms as well as a good education to students.
The district, they said, has not negotiated in good faith, forcing talks to go to the "fact-finding" stage – one step away from a strike.
“Our proposals, including furlough days and a willingness to share in the sacrifice in response to the budget crisis, would save the district millions of dollars. But the district has refused our offers. We have been looking for MDUSD to provide hope for our members - that when things get better for the district, they will get better for us, too,” said Rosa Cabrera of Local 1.
The employees include those from Local One, California School Employees Association and Mount Diablo Education Association who provide food service, office, technology, classroom assistance, custodial service, landscape and maintenance duties, and classroom instruction.

2011-02-22 "Mt. Diablo school employees to rally against closures"
CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- The Mount Diablo School District voted to shut down Glenbrook Middle School and Holbrook Elementary, which was expected. But a third school may still have to close, and parents say they had no clue Westwood Elementary was in danger, along with Silverwood.
Hundreds of public school employees from the Mt. Diablo Unified School District plan to protest tonight outside the school board meeting where members will discuss the possible closure of another school.
District officials already agreed to close Glenbrook Middle School and Holbrooke Elementary School next fall. Board members now have to decide on a third school, either Silverwood elementary or Westwood elementary.
The public school employees claim that the district is using the excuse of budget cuts to destroy the unions and collective bargaining.
2011-02-22 "On the (Micro)grid: Bottom-up energy innovation takes off in Marin" by Peter Asmus, open forum published in "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
Most folks are gung-ho on the amazing power of wireless communications technology. Yet in my Marin County town, citizens are up in arms, blockading trucks and opposing the mandatory installation of SmartMeters - pulsing wireless signals about real-time energy usage so Pacific Gas and Electric Co. knows exactly how much power I consume, and when. Unfortunately, PG&E and other utilities have been slow to recognize that a top-down "one size fits all" approach to modernizing our aging, dinosaur electricity grid is not the only path forward.
PG&E has somehow been able to galvanize a constituency opposed to SmartMeters that reaches to both the left and the right of the political spectrum. Tea Party moms and pops are joining hands (at least temporarily) with ex-hippies. Scientists are also now engaged, warning about the possible health impacts of a completely wireless world running our communications and power systems.
SmartMeter opponents have been bolstered by recent developments. Last month, a study by Sage and Associates claimed that wireless SmartMeters may cause neurological symptoms such as headache, sleep disruption, restlessness, tremors, cognitive impairment and tinnitus, as well as increased cancer risk and heart problems. The Marin County Board of Supervisors also passed an emergency ordinance that effectively creates a one-year moratorium on SmartMeter installations in unincorporated Marin (which includes my West Marin home). Meanwhile, the list of counties looking to ban wireless SmartMeters continues to grow, with Santa Cruz and Mendocino joining Marin, and Monterey perhaps soon to follow.
If the truth be known, the Marin Clean Energy program - which allows the county to decide where the power comes from to keep the lights on while still plugged into PG&E's electric grid - will only succeed in its goals of relying on local, indigenous renewable resources if more technology to monitor time and volume of energy use is integrated into our homes, businesses and communities. There has to be some level of knowledge of when a solar or wind system is on or off in order to manage such a decentralized grid for the greater good.
Luckily there are choices. An alternative to the utility top-down smart grid could be "microgrids," little islands of self-sufficiency that could be created at city halls or community centers, strategically placed farms and ranches, and even new master-planned subdivisions. By this summer, every large community hall in West Marin will be powered by solar power, setting the stage for future "microgrids" to provide emergency power during natural disasters. If investments are also made in devices that can store the energy from the sun, each one of these public buildings can serve as emergency shelters not dependent upon finite, polluting fossil fuels. New storage technologies - such as lithium ion batteries (also to be installed in tomorrow's plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) - are one promising possibility.
The Marin Agricultural Wind Collaborative has been working quietly behind the scenes, lining up enough willing landowners to develop "community wind" projects owned by locals - rather than developed by large corporations. They would also feature smaller wind turbines that might not raise the same kind of opposition as the gigantic machines manufactured by companies such as General Electric that now populate Texas. This "community wind" approach was pioneered in Denmark decades ago.
The Marin collaborative organizers claim they have garnered enough sites and agreements and political support to meet the power needs of 25,000 average California homes, or roughly 12 percent of all of Marin County's peak power supply.
Microgrids could also create islands of energy self-sufficiency for entire new residential communities. In Lucas Valley, which straddles West Marin and Highway 101, plans are moving forward with a master-planned community for 85 to 100 residents featuring homes equipped with a technology called "PlotWatt." It offers device-by-device details on energy consumption in every home, more detailed and more useful data than PG&E's SmartMeters will ever be able to deliver. This new community is being designed for self-sufficiency from the very start, drawing as much power from local resources, and filling in the rest from Marin Clean Energy's increasingly green portfolio.
In the long run, the push to empower consumers with more real-time information so they can reduce electricity consumption when prices are high is inevitable, and a logical evolution of technology trends. Still unanswered is consumer acceptance of the idea of taking more responsibility for on-site energy management.
The experiments going on in my own backyard will go a long way in determining whether the bottom-up strategy will work better, or will also be sabotaged by a uniquely American preoccupation with entitlement and the freedom to simply waste energy.
2011-02-22 "MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Oakland pot farms draw feds' heat; Denver's thrive" by Matthai Kuruvila from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
There's a regulated medical pot farm of 120,000 square feet in downtown Denver, foods laced with marijuana are licensed throughout Colorado, and there are more than 1,200 permitted cannabis growers in that state.
Yet, Oakland, which has yet to license a single pot farmer, is the one attracting the heat from federal law enforcement.
In Mendocino County, licensed medical marijuana farmers have the sheriff's office come to their cannabis plots and zip-tie up to 99 plants to mark their legality.
But in Alameda County, local law enforcement has suggested that Oakland's City Council members might face prosecution if their approved pot farm law is implemented.
In the still nascent era of medical marijuana regulation, the federal government allows the size, profits and distribution of medical marijuana farms to vary greatly. So the law enforcement brushback not only surprised Oakland leaders, but it also made waves among licensed medical marijuana growers around the country. No other jurisdiction's pot farm plans appear to have attracted this level of censure.
A big reason for the difference is that in Colorado, the state Legislature crafted its medical cannabis laws, which regulate for-profit marijuana farming as well as an edible and inhaled pot production and distribution system. The measure was signed by a Republican governor and the state Department of Revenue took in some $9 million in licensing fees.
California's Prop. 215, which legalized medical marijuana, allows only patients, caregivers and collectives to grow and distribute marijuana for medicinal purposes. It's supposed to be a nonprofit venture.
The result in Oakland and much of the state is that marijuana legally sold in dispensaries often comes from ad hoc, illegal plots in basements or vacant buildings. Oakland leaders say this invites robberies, fires through shoddy wiring and neighborhood troubles. Growing, Oakland officials say, should be done in industrial zones.
"If medical marijuana is legal in this state, there has to be some way to legally grow the product," said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.
Oakland's plan, approved by the council in July, allowed for the creation of four farms - of unlimited size - that could sell to any dispensary they choose. It required no relationship between growers and patients themselves - as required by Prop. 215 - and law enforcement officials warned city officials they could be prosecuted if they licensed such farms.
Also in apparent violation of state law, Oakland's ordinance - since set aside by the council - seemed to allow growers to profit heavily from the sale of cannabis.
Strictly adhering to state law is critical because federal authorities have said that is how they decide whether to crack down, from state to state, on what defines medical marijuana.
"Oakland's law wasn't even close to being legal under state law," said Matt Kumin, a San Francisco attorney who specializes in cannabis law.
Many believe the reasons Oakland's plans have been shot down also have to do with the particular ambitions of Oakland leaders to be pioneers - and the industrial scale on which they've tried to accomplish that.
"Size matters to the federal government," said Kumin. He added that Oakland's plan to have farms with no size limits in a state with almost no regulations on growing "was blatantly poking the bear."
The city has long been a forerunner in medical marijuana, a legacy the council wants to promote. Its four current dispensaries attract patients from around the state and take in $28 million annually in revenue. Harborside Health Center, which is believed to be the largest legal dispensary in the world, has 72,000 registered patients - more patients than many medical marijuana states.
The result is that Oakland's marijuana laws have impact, said Dale Gieringer, California director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "Oakland is in a league of its own."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

2011-01-17 "Leaders at King Celebration Call for Community Unity to Overcome Chaos; Reminders of challenges mix with messages of hope at Monday's parade and rally" by Betty Buginas from "El Cerrito Patch"
The subtitle of El Cerrito’s Dr. Martin Luther King celebration, “From Chaos to Community,” proved a fitting theme as hundreds of residents of El Cerrito and surrounding communities gathered in the gym of El Cerrito High School Monday to talk of nonviolence and love.
Celebrated on a campus that has experienced shock and tears over the off-campus killing of 16-year-old student Gene Grisby a week earlier, the moving celebration carried special meaning as speaker after speaker talked of the power of a united community to overcome violence. At the same time, the speeches were laced with reminders of the violence around us — the 2009 killing of Oscar Grant by a BART police officer and the Jan. 8 shooting spree in Arizona targeting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — and challenges such as AIDS and homelessness.
Monday’s event began as marchers gathered before 9 a.m. in the D.M.V. parking lot, unfurling banners and unloading horses and band instruments. The high school’s marching band and the Bay Area Line Dancers provided early entertainment, as some of the groups joining the march were introduced, including organizations from the high school such as the Black Student Union, Asian Student Union and the Gay Straight Alliance.
The sun broke through the morning fog as the marchers headed onto Kearney Street, led by the band and escorted by police officers who kept traffic at bay to make way for the parade. A variety of community organizations were represented, such as the El Cerrito Democratic Club and the Japanese American Citizens League. Many others marched with family, friends, classmates and church members. All five City Council members marched in the parade, as did West Contra Costa school board member Madeline Kronenberg.
Three other school board members, Antonio Medrano, Charles Ramsey, and Tony Thurmond, and superintendent Bruce Harter were at the rally, part of a crowd of several hundred people who filled the gym for a program emceed by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner.
“Every day we must take in the message of Dr. King, especially in times like now when violence is all around us,” said Skinner.
Rev Henry C. Washington, executive director of Operation Richmond, said King’s message must be “not on our lips but in our hearts. ” Skinner introduced Washington as a leader in the effort to eliminate violence in the East Bay.
“I’m sure some of you are aware of the violence that has hit our community recently,” said Jason Reimann, principal of El Cerrito High. “I work with young people every day. I see its (violence’s) impact every day. But I also see the impact of the work of the community. As a community there is nothing we cannot achieve.”
Mayor Ann Cheng urged the crowd, “Be the future. You can’t wait for other people to do it.”
Skinner presented an award to county Supervisor John Gioia for his ongoing support for the event. Gioia said it is organizer Patricia Durham “who reminds us of how important it is to come together as a community.”
Gioia said the community has serious issues to discuss, adding, “We cannot demonize people who disagree with us.”
Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, uncle of Oscar Grant, thanked community members for embracing his family in the wake of his nephew’s killing New Year’s Day 2009, and demanding justice. “Thank you Dr. King for your dream. Thank you to the community for embracing that dream.”
Minister Keith Muhammad, who joined Johnson at the podium, said, “We must make it our personal business, when there is injustice, as Dr. King did, to involve ourselves.”
Keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Darrell Wesley noted that the parade’s theme comes from Dr. King’s book, Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community.
“We are in the midst of chaos,” Wesley repeated several times, citing such examples as Grant’s shooting, the shooting that killed six and injured Giffords and 13 others, and the impact of AIDS on the black community.
“We can move from chaos to community,” he said. “King’s answer can be summed up in one word: love.” He added, “You have to love yourself first or else your neighbor is in a whole lot of trouble.”
Interwoven with the speeches were presentations by students and performances, including those of praise dancers Divine Elevation and the Bay Area Line Dancers.
“We’ve definitely seen chaos in the past week,” principal Reimann said afterward. “Today we saw the community come together.”

Saturday, February 19, 2011

New Radically Independent Radio Show in Santa Cruz County

"The Propaganda Hour"
Hosted by Savva Vassiliev, the "Propaganda Hour" is broadcast every Saturday at Noon on 540 AM to Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, or streaming online at [].
Previous show topics include 9/11, Egypt & health-care with funnyman Ramsey Moore and Election Reform & Ron Paul with Christina Tobin.
Previous guests include Mark Hinkle, Wayne Allyn Root, Lawrence Samuels along with upcoming guests like Ed Clark and Steve Kubby.
Help support another alternative politics radio show by advertising your business: 75 ads for every hundred dollars, up to 300 commercials for 400 dollars,
You won't find that offer anywhere else!
The radio station is the most popular Liberal (and Libertarian) radio station in all of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties with up to 5,000 local listeners and even more that can listen online from anywhere.
Savva Vassiliev is the Vice-Chair of the Monterey County Libertarian Party and organizer for the "Libertarian-Progressive Coalition", and can be contacted at:

Past episode archive sample:
* [] 4.4 MB
* [] 12.1 MB
* [] 5.7 MB

"You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it." ~Malcolm X


Friday, February 18, 2011


Press Conference: the Killing of a Farm Worker "Luis Gutierrez Navarro
Press Conference by LABOR & CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS, to question U.S. Department of Justice Investigation in the Killing of a Farm Worker "Luis Gutierrez Navarro by Yolo County Sheriffs Deputies.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18 th, 2011 - 10:30 AM
5TH STREET & I STREET, (Front Bldg)
501 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Contact : (916) 712-4251 cell
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement AFL-CIO
Press Conference - FRIDAY February 18th, 2011 10:30 am,
Labor & Civil Rights groups and members of the Gutierrez Family will be present and will respond to the Department of Justice's conclusion & questionable "Investigation".
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement AFL-CIO
LULAC West Sacramento
Yolo County Justice Coalition
Chicano Consortium
Citizens for Truth and Justice
Union Civica Primero de Mayo
Frente de Mexicanos en el Exterior, Union Civica Primero de Mayo,
Yolo community activists/residents
Nation of Islam

Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011-02-17 "City Attorney Dennis Herrera Files Lawsuit Against Six San Francisco Stores for Selling Crack Pipes " by Helene Goupil
SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – San Francisco’s City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, is filing a lawsuit against six local stores for selling crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia.
Herrera said that the stores are located in the Ingleside, Excelsior and Outer Mission neighborhoods.
The lawsuit states that the stores violated state code by displaying and selling paraphernalia used to consume cocaine and methamphetamine, and they created a public nuisance by "injecting illegal drug paraphernalia into the stream of commerce," according to lawsuit documents.
"The police have been to these stores numerous times," said Jack Song, a spokesman for Herrera. "The stores are aware of the issue, but they are still selling these illegal products."
An employee at a store included in the lawsuit, Smokes Etc. near 16th and Guerrero streets, said officers came by his store last month.
"He told us to take it off the shelf, so we took it off the shelf," said the employee, who did not wish to be named.
Herrera has encountered some concern over how officials can prove the stores sell pipes to smoke cocaine and not some other use, Song said.
"It's not a flower vase," he said. "It's a crack pipe, and it's used for smoking crack."
In addition to Smokes Etc., the stores involved in the lawsuit are Mission Gifts and Tobacco at 4784 Mission St.; House of Cigarettes at 912 Geneva Ave.; Platinum Smoke Shop at 5901 Mission St.; Tobacco Plaza Center at 3008 16th St.; and Rock On at 4447 Mission St.
Rock On is across the street from the Excelsior library.
"It's near a library. It's near a community center," Song said. "These areas have a lot of kids and families."
Song said it's important to target the stores instead of individuals themselves because the shops become hotspots for hardened drug users.
"These aren't people on medical marijuana," he said. "They're using illegal drugs."
The stores face $2,500 for each violation in the lawsuit, and they could face court-ordered injunctions.
“We hope this case sets an example for other stores," Song said.
2011-02-17 "Regional food council must serve people" letter by R. Warren Flint, Ph.D. [Napa] to the "Napa Valley Register" newspaper
Finally, after promise of the creation of a Napa County Food Council in April 2010, the council has apparently been appointed by the county board of supervisors.
I hope the protracted time to appointment does not imply the council’s rate of work and progress on important issues. I also hope the supervisors and county agricultural commissioner put enough foresight into their appointment of council members to meet the many challenges facing this group and to have the most experienced minds in the county working on this very important issue.
The creation of a regional food council in the present-day emphasis on community sustainability implies resilient and secure food systems able to provide healthy and safe nutrition to everyone. That means efficiency and knowing what you are eating, where it came from and not having to serve, for example, lettuce at your dinner table that has traveled an average of 1,200 miles to reach your home. I hope the council is able to quickly convene the county grape-growers to explore all opportunities and alternatives for using their capital and resources toward creating diversified agriculture strategies and a more sustainable local food system that serves the Napa region directly and is efficiently able to be distributed.
In the sense of measuring and guaranteeing that all council recommendations and actions will be sustainable, I hope there are members of the council able to carry out the fractal analysis of sustainability strategies related to developing and enhancing a regional food system. In sustainable decision-making, a strategy is judged not only for its ecological, economic and social equity capacities. The evaluation also drills down to a deeper understanding of, for example, the ecologic-equity elements, the equity-ecologic elements, the economic-ecological elements and the equity-economic elements.
I also hope the council is not going to be so parochial that it does not seek resources from other places in its deliberations. “Creative Change” provides an excellent set of resources on the topic of “Food, Farming and Community.” And then there are the Glynwood Sustainable Farming programs. Although (unfortunately) not a member of this Napa County Food Council, my experience tells me that the deliberations and design of council strategies should be a lot more than simply about food.
If the ultimate goal of this council is to design affordable food security strategies, which it should in order to truly serve the people of this bioregion, then dialogue should promote regionwide sustainability issues including social equity (equal access to food for all people), regional self-sufficiency, economic balance and environmental stewardship. The council should be able to guarantee through its work that every producer has the opportunity to make money (profits can easily exceed costs because of existing grape-growing infrastructure), all people in the Napa Valley bioregion will have access to affordable and safe food, and the health and integrity of the regional environment will be an integral part of all decision-making.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2011-02-15 "San Francisco Peace and Freedom Party Resolution On Defense Of Park Merced Residents & CSU Public Education System"
The San Francisco Peace and Freedom Party opposes the efforts of billionaire developers and their supporters in the San Francisco Planning commission and San Francisco Board of Supervisors to bulldoze 1500 rent controlled apartments in Park Merced. The forcing out of working class residents who have lived in these homes for decades must be halted now.
We also protest the continued privatization of the CSU system through their corporate controlled Trustees through the SFSU-CSU Foundation of University Park North & University Park SOUTH.
This development privatization scheme is taking place at the same time that working class students are facing higher fees forcing them out of the University.
We also protest the tax budget plan of Goveror Jerry Brown that will cut $500 million from the CSU system and will force further privatization and destruction of the public education system.
We support a capital tax of 25% on the billionaires in California and a democratic structure in the CSU system with the election of trustees from the students, staff and the communities.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Free University of San Francisco

Founded by Alan Kaufman []
- The following video shows the introductions of the participants at the initial organizing meeting for FUSF: []
- 2011-01-11 "Revolution 101 - CAREERS AND ED ISSUE: Free University of San Francisco takes a run at the system" by Caitlin Donohue from "San Francisco Bay Guardian" newspaper:

2011-01-21 "The Historic First Teach-in of THE FREE UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO: 'Teach-In' Defies Privatization Of Higher Ed, scheduled for Sat & Sun., Feb. 5&6, 2011"
Contact: Alan Kaufman (415) 573-5766
Mila Salazar
Former Green presidential candidate David Keith Cobb, SF Poet Laureate Diane Di Prima, former President Board of Supervisors Matt Gonzalez, Outlaw Poet Alan Kaufman , V.Vale and Charles Gatewood of RE/Search, Environmentalists Martin Holden and Sharon Beals, and Bobby Coleman of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade will take a stand against corporate privatization of Higher Ed by banding together with supporters from around the Bay Area to launch the FREE UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO: a money-free university-level institution for anyone who wants to enroll.
The Teach-in will take place on February 5&6, offering university-level lecture classes cost-free from some of the brightest lights in the Bay Area.
All classes listed below take place at Viracocha, 998 Valencia Street@21st, the Mission District, SF, CA
Sat., 9:30-11:30 AM “Criminal Procedure and Sentencing”
Instructor: MATT GONZALEZ is an attorney and former president of San Francisco County's Board of Supervisors.

Sat. 11:30-1:30 “Jack Kerouac, Thelonious Monk and Jackson Pollack”
Instructor: ALAN KAUFMAN is author of Matches (Little, Brown), Jew Boy (Fromm/FSG) and editor of ‘The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry’ and ‘The Outlaw Bible of American Literature/co-edited with Barney Rosset (Basic Books/Perseus)

Sat., 2-4 PM “Vision and the Visionary Poem”
Instructor: DIANE DI PRIMA is the Poet Laureate of San Francisco and a Beat legend.
She is the author of 43 books of poetry and prose, including Pieces of a Song (City Lights) and her memoir, “Recollections of My Life as a Woman” (Viking/Penguin).

Sat. 2-4PM "San Francisco Labor History and the Great Strike of 1934"
Instructor: BOBBY COLEMAN is an attorney and co-founder of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade.


Sun., 9-11:00 AM “Restoring San Francisco's Urban Wildlands”
Instructors: MARTIN HOLDEN is a writer, restoration ecologist, and partner in University Press Books, Berkeley. SHARON BEALS is a Bay Area environmentalist and professional photographer, specializing in native habitats and restoration efforts. Her most recent book, Nest: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them (Chronicle Books) will be in bookstores in May.

Sun: 11:30-1:30 RE/Search Publications: V. Vale and Charles Gatewood
V.VALE , publisher of RE/Search Publications and CHARLES GATEWOOD, legendary underground photographer will present and discuss. The books in the RE/Search library are a constant source of imagination, curiosity and challenge to all preconceived notions of the world. An abiding interest in transgressive lifestyles manifested RE/Search’s best-selling volume Modern Primitives, as well as Modern Pagans and Angry Women.
Presented will be a 25 minute DVD in which Vale explains the conception and growth of the ideas behind "Modern Primitives," as well as giving a small publishing history of RE/Search. San Francisco photographer Charles Gatewood has been studying and documenting alternative culture since the mid-1960s. In 1977, Gatewood began collaborating with V. Vale, and he was a major contributor to the Re/Search books Modern Primitives and Modern Pagans.

Sun., 2-4PM “Abolishing Corporate Personhood to Create Authentic Democracy”
Instructor: DAVID COBB was the Green Party candidate for President of The United States in 2004. He is currently a national spokesperson for Move To Amend, a national coalition calling for a constitutional amendment to abolish of “Corporate Personhood."


Monday, February 7, 6-7:45 PM:
TITLE: Marx from Modernity to Postmodernity (labor, time, fantasy)
LECTURER: Susan Shin Hee Park
OBJECTIVE: use a Cultural Studies approach to engage students in a discourse about a theoretical topic with immediate socio-political, concrete applications

Monday, February 7, 8-9:45
John Cage and the Spirit of Dada
Instructor: John Smalley
This class examines the life and work of American composer John Cage (1912–1992) in relation to the early 20th-century avant-garde art movement known as Dada.

Tuesday, February 8, 6-7:50 PM
Lecturers: Jordan Bohall and Elena Granik
Title: Critical Thinking (Introduction to Logic)
This special session of “Critical Thinking” aims to give a thorough understanding of the rudiments of logic.

Tuesday, February 8, 8-10 PM
Introduction to Nietzsche
Lecturers: Evan Karp and Andrew Paul Nelson
Brief introduction to the life of Friedrich Nietzsche, with a reading of select passages from various works with a special emphasis on Thus Spoke Zarathustra and a discussion on the themes and style that make this book so unique and important.

STAY TUNED FOR MANY MORE CLASSES, COURSE TITLES AND OTHER DETAILS....AND PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS HISTORIC OCCASION! Your attendance is your stand against the corporate privatization of university education. Join us!

Free University LINKS:

San Francisco Chronicle: []
San Francisco Bay Guardian: []
Education News: []

2011-02-28 "Free University of San Francisco - worth the price?" by Caille Millner from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
The Free University of San Francisco, run out of a store basement in the Mission District, is a philosophical conundrum. The university, launched with a series of lectures on Feb. 5, has no grades, no official curriculum, no paid (much less tenured) teachers, no accreditation and no campus. Crucially, it also has no tuition. But the people who would be most likely to benefit from a free education - lower-income people and people of color - also are the least likely to show up. Does anyone care?
This country doesn't have a future unless it does a better job of creating educational access for its citizens. The cost of not having a college degree, for instance, has never been higher for a young person's long-term prospects - both financial and social. At the same time, the cost of getting a college degree has become prohibitive for the working class - and increasingly, the middle class.
California's community colleges - still the best deal in this state - are oversubscribed and overrun. So putting aside all of its revolutionary rhetoric, a place like the Free University of San Francisco could have a real, tangible, practical impact on its students. If it wants that.
I fear that it doesn't want that, however. Here's the university's current course schedule: "Evidence," "Literary Rebels," "Art Seminar," "Minorities and the Critical Decade," "History and Political Poetry," "The Essential Plato and Aristotle" and "Intro to Western Music."
The people who want to take classes like these can afford to pay for them.
"You're going to attract people who have degrees already, is my guess, with that kind of curriculum," Anthony Lising Antonio, an associate professor of education at Stanford University, told me. "People who have enough money and stability to pursue this. It's learning for learning's sake, which is good, but is not what's driving low-income folks to go to college."
So here we have the conundrum, and it is a conundrum taking place all over the higher education community. There's nothing wrong with the Free University's approach. In today's shifting, chaotic world, a liberal arts education might be a person's best bet for developing the skills needed to flow and bend with radical job changes and uncertain employment opportunities.
But for a variety of reasons, those who are most in need of higher education are unlikely to seek out liberal arts courses. If they're the first in their families to go to college, they're under pressure to make the huge investment pay off, and liberal arts courses have no immediate practical applications.
There's a social component, too - lower-income people don't know many liberal arts graduates, don't get assistance in choosing majors and careers, and feel (rightly) intimidated by environments where there's no one from a similar background.
That's part of the reason that online, for-profit colleges have been so successful at recruiting these students. "They focus on technical education, practical education," Antonio said. "And they have a very aggressive financial aid outreach. That's part of their model."
Of course, those for-profit colleges haven't been so good at graduating their students or getting them into income-earning professions. That's why they're under investigation.
And that's where we come back to the Free University. Courses in, say, database management or electrical engineering might be tedious, but they might have a bigger positive impact on San Francisco than the current curriculum.
With the state's public universities increasingly unable to provide an affordable education to Californians, a practical curriculum might even be a more revolutionary approach. In today's economy, it might even attract a large number of college graduates.
Imagine the possibilities if that were to happen - how exciting would it be if stratified San Francisco finally had a place with a diverse student body, made up of people from different economic classes? A place for different people to share their ideas and strategies? What better education could there be?
I know, I know. But that's the power of education - it teaches you how to dream.

2011-02-19 "At the Free University, in a Store Basement, the Tuition Price Is Right" by Reyhan Harmanci from ""
A version of this article appeared in print on February 20, 2011, on page A27A of the
"New York Times" newspaper National edition
The newest university to open its doors in San Francisco has no official curriculum, no accredited course work, no grades and no paid teachers.
In an age of escalating college costs, however, the Free University of San Francisco — which resides in the basement of Viracocha, a store in the Mission District — has one very large thing going for it: no tuition fees.
Conceived by Alan Kaufman, 59, a poet and former instructor at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, the Free University is an oh-so-San Francisco experiment in divorcing education from commerce.
“We don’t need walls, we don’t need desks to impart knowledge,” Mr. Kaufman said. “The idea of a free university is that it’s monetarily free, free of constraints, free of any kind of administration.”
The Free University kicked off Feb. 5 with a weekend of lectures. It was billed as a teach-in, where local luminaries like Diane di Prima, the Beat poet, and Matt Gonzalez, the former San Francisco mayoral candidate, held forth on a number of subjects. Class titles like “Abolishing Corporate Personhood to Create Authentic Democracy” and “Restoring San Francisco’s Urban Wildlands” drew hundreds of students.
On March 6, the university will begin a cycle of seven five-week classes. After that, Mr. Kaufman said, students can expect both 5- and 10-week courses. Another teach-in is scheduled for June.
Mr. Kaufman, who has long bridled against traditional education, came up with the idea for a free university in December. With the encouragement of Mr. Gonzalez, who is best known nationally as Ralph Nader’s Green Party vice-presidential running mate, the project was born.
A loose collective of about 50 people is the institution’s sole decision-making body.
Mr. Kaufman is working on a plan that would expand the concept even further. Nine colleges within the university — including a law school with Mr. Gonzalez as dean and an art school headed by Chuck Sperry, a printmaker — will be put to the collective for approval. Each school will have one female dean and one male dean to achieve gender parity.
“Call us crazies, San Francisco crazies, but we’re doing it anyways,” said Mr. Kaufman, his Brooklyn accent apparent even after 20 years of Bay Area residence. “We believe that we are a system-changing revolution.”
The makeshift school may be unusual but is hardly unique. “There’s a long history of free universities in this country, and the Bay Area in particular,” said John Hurst, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley.
But today’s rising cost of higher education makes the project newly relevant. According to the Project on Student Debt, a nonprofit research organization, the average California student holds about $17,000 in debt; student debt totals nearly $1 trillion nationwide. College tuition has increased 400 percent since the 1980s, a faster rate than that of escalating health care costs.
Robert Cohen, a professor of history and education at New York University, compared the Free University to the Freedom Schools established in the South during the civil rights movement of the 1960s — although then the issue was access more than cost.
“This is a kind of response to commodification of knowledge,” he said. “There’s no free public higher education in California anymore.”
The big question, of course, is how long the Free University can remain in session with volunteer teachers. Mr. Hurst wasn’t hopeful about Free University’s long-term survival without any financial exchange.
“The model has to be built on sustainability,” he said. “None of the ones that have been free-free have served for very long. Would that they could. Sooner or later, people have to live.”
Still, students and teachers — often interchangeable roles at the Free University — are hopeful.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” admitted Evan Karp, a writer and Web site founder. Along with Andrew Paul Nelson, Mr. Karp taught a class on Friedrich Nietzsche. “Everyone was passionate,” Mr. Karp said of his students. “Certainly, that was what I wanted out of a university experience that I didn’t get.”
Even if the Free University doesn’t last, its concept could spread. “Once you show that there’s a hunger for these kind of courses, maybe other institutions will pick up on it,” Mr. Cohen said, “Lawyers do pro bono work. Why can’t universities?”

2011-02-06 "New university aims to take money out of equation" by Kamala Kelkar from "San Francisco Examiner" newspaper
Renowned author Alan Kaufman said he first conceived of his idea for a free school six years ago when he transformed his Academy of Art University pop-culture class into a protest campaigning for freedom of speech.
Now, Kaufman’s dream has blossomed into the Free University of San Francisco, where the courses taught in the classy Mission district antique store Viracocha are indeed on the house.
The university kicked off its classes last weekend with several fascinating, counterculture “teachers” with captivating stories to tell.
On Sunday, famed alternative publisher V. Vale and photographer Charles Gatewood told a class of about 25 students how they published the influential book “Modern Primitives” in 1989. The book, which celebrated tattoo artistry and body piercing, is credited with setting off the boom in both art forms.
That discussion was sandwiched between “Restoring San Francisco’s Urban Wildlands” and “Abolishing Corporate Personhood to Create Authentic Democracy.”
In a basement usually used for cozy art shows, Vale and Gatewood told their stories to men and women of all ages, shapes and hair colors.
It was the second day of class at the 998 Valencia St. store, which appropriately sells vintage typewriters, furniture and knickknacks. Kaufman said when he led a class Saturday about famed poet Jack Kerouac, jazz pianist Thelonious Monk and painter Jackson Pollock, “It was filled to the rafters.”
The author, who was instrumental in the development of the spoken-word scene in American literature, thanked a list of several supporters and fellow instructors, such as former supervisor and mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez and attorney Bobby Coleman, the co-founder of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade, who all taught Saturday.
Although the university’s debut comes at a time when college tuitions are skyrocketing nationwide, Kaufman said he was really motivated by a desire to create a community free from monetary shackles.
“It’s about liberation,” he said. “The revolutionary essence of this is ‘free.’”
“We’re a lefty university,” he said jokingly, noting he lost his job at the Academy of Art after initiating a walkout to object the dismissal of a student and a teacher over First Amendment issues.
Students such as Sonia Lei, 24, who moved to the Mission district recently after graduating from Dartmouth College, appreciated the effort.
“It’s amazing,” said Lei, who attended classes both days.
Samples from course catalog
The Free University of San Francisco started classes this past weekend and will continue to offer them at the antique shop Viracocha at 998 Valencia St.
6–7:45 p.m. “Marx from Modernity to Postmodernity” with Susan Shin Hee Park
8–9:45 p.m. “John Cage and the Spirit of Dada” with John Smalley
6–7:50 p.m. “Critical Thinking (Introduction to Logic)” with Jordan Bohall and Elena Granik
8–10 p.m. “Introduction to Nietzsche” with Evan Karp and Andrew Paul Nelson
Learning curve: Alan Kaufman, far left, speaks to students at his new Free University of San Francisco at the Viracocha antiques store in the Mission district Sunday.

2011-02-08 "The Free University of San Francisco kicks off teaching -- to a lot of white people" by Caitlin Donohue from "San Francisco Bay Guardian" newspaper
“A piece of blank paper means anything you want can happen,” SF beat poet laureate Diane Di Prima was imparting a rare free lecture on shamanic poetry, the marquee event of this weekend's popular first Free University of San Francisco teach-in at Viracocha. She had a packed the antique store-community center's first floor showroom, encouraging in regards to the FUSF collective's run at making free education available to all. But if the Free University wants to teach the world, why are the vast majority of its students – let's not parse words here – white?
“Diversity outreach, that is absolutely one of our top priorities,” says FUSF organizer Alan Kaufman when the point was brought up in a phone interview with the Guardian yesterday. “We're one of the most racially polarized cities, even in the progressive community. It's something that needs to be explored and discussed.” Kaufman said that as the collective that runs the university moves forward, FUSF is actively working to involve minority community members – especially undocumented immigrants, one of SF's populations who surely are among the least-served by the town's would-be progressive creative institutions.
It does seem like FUSF has the capacity to be a source of radical academia and community in the city. This weekend's teach-in (which continues through tonight, Tues/8) attracted capacity crowds to many of its popular hour-and-a-half long courses: Di Prima's “19th Century Visionary Poetry,” Kaufman's “Jack Kerouac, Thelonius Monk and Jackson Pollack,” and David Cobb's “Abolishing Corporate Personhood to Create Authentic Democracy” among them. Though FUSF's plan for six to eight week classes in the future and another teach-in may be a stretch to replace the value of an actual university degree for students, the success of its initial weekend course schedule does say that some people in the city are ready to rethink the way we view teaching. After all, as Kaufman reminded us, the cost of a four year degree at Stanford is now pegged at a quarter of a million dollars. “That can't last.”
But if it's going to be SF's new center of alternative, cost-free education, FUSF has to appeal to more than just the aging hippies and earnest intellectual young people who attended this weekend's teach-in.
How? Well, that's the question, really – one that many creative institutions in San Francisco have yet to resolve, if they've tackled it at all. “We're going to need to come up with new answers because the new answers are not working.” Kaufman mentioned that he is particularly impressed by the way SF's queer community has celebrated its diversity.
“I feel like there are reasons why different groups don't get involved in the beginning of these things.” Writer Maisha Johnson is one of the only African Americans who has been involved with the Free University planning meetings since she heard about its first get-togethers through her involvement in literary events like Quiet Lightening. “For me, living in San Francisco, it's hard to find out where the black community gathers. A lot of the time, the assumption is you go to Oakland for acitivities with people of color.”
“If you're looking at organizational power in San Francisco, it usually runs along lines of whiteness, maleness, and straightness. The only way to break down those social divisions is for people that don't feel like they're that similar to collaborate,” says Mumbles, a spoken word poet who is helping to organize an artist resource center called Merchants of Reality.
Mumbles says that the goal of Merchants of Reality – which plans to operate out of SoMa's Anon Gallery and Climate Theater -- will be “to help artists commercialize themselves so that others don't do it for them.” Its a pragmatic mission, one that will even involve what Mumbles refers to as the “realty community” in order to help artists find studio space in the abandoned buildings that dot the SF landscape. The center will also include darkroom facilities, digital video setup, screen-printing equipment, help finding studio space, and a possible performance venue, all for use by artists who normally don't have the opportunity to use professional-grade equipment and materials, presumably many non-white artists and performers.
Kaufman and Mumbles think that Merchants of Reality and the Free University can benefit from each other. “Space sharing is one way community can be developed,” says Kaufman, who told us the two groups are looking at ways to overlap each others' missions in the hope of broadening the community of both organizations.
Of course, its about more than organizational partners. "It requires more of an explicit effort to reach out to other communities," says Johnson who will be a part of FUSF's outreach committee and, adding that she's heartened by the university's chances to diversify itself. "Right now it's really open to people to come in and work on their own vision." Kaufman agreed that expanding FUSF's audience means working towards a curriculum that everyone finds useful and illuminating, incorporating classes and promotional materials in different languages, and connecting those typically excluded from professorships in the United States teaching positions. “There's whole areas of education that others might know about that we might not consider,” he said.
“I believe our university will become famous among universities – come to be known as the 'Zorro' of universities,” said Kaufman in an address to the university community. (Printed copies of his four addresses were available by the class sign-in sheets at this weekend's teach-in.) High hopes -- but if the school is meant to make a real difference in progressive education, it'll have to find a way to bring its message to everyone.
Free University of San Francisco's first teach-in
(Started Feb. 5)
Tues/8 classes:
6-7:50 p.m.: "Critical Thinking (Introduction to Logic)"
w/ Jordan Bohall and Elena Granik
8-10 p.m.: "Introduction to Nietzsche"
w/ Evan Karp and Andrew Paul Nelson
998 Valencia, SF
2011-02-14 "Oakland Teachers’ Union Joins Growing Opposition to Civil Gang Injunctions
Monday’s Hearing Will Determine Possible Start Date for City Attorney’s Proposed Two-Square Mile “Safety Zone”
OAKLAND, CA. One week after representatives of 3,000 Oakland teachers endorsed a resolution condemning the use of “gang injunctions” in Oakland, an Alameda County Superior Court judge will consider whether or not to delay proceedings on a proposed Fruitvale “safety zone.”
On Monday, February 7, the Representative Council of the Oakland Education Association endorsed, without opposition, the following resolution:
New Business Item # 1: the Oakland Education Association condemns the use of the civil gang injunctions in Oakland. Furthermore, the OEA urges its members to attend the February 22, 2011 meeting of the Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee, to be held at City Hall, beginning at 5:30 p.m., to express the position of Oakland teachers. Finally, the OEA urges its members to support the “Week of Action” of the Stop the Injunction Coalition for the week of February 28 through March 4, 2011, including the Coalition’s plans to conduct solidarity actions with teachers on the statewide day of action to defend public education on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.
Representatives from the Oakland’s citywide Stop the Injunctions Coalition welcomed the teachers’ support. “We are tremendously appreciative that the OEA has joined the struggle against these unlawful ‘safety zones’ that serve to oppress and divide poor and working people,” stated Aurora Lopez, a Fruitvale-based organizer who opposes the injunctions. “Like the teachers, we believe that our governments should be investing in schools and community development, not prisons and police.”
Monday’s hearing in the case of People ex rel. John Russo v. Norteños, et al. will determine the possible start date of the proposed gang injunction for the Fruitvale neighborhood. The injunction, as proposed, would cover two square miles of East Oakland – throwing a virtual net over more than 15,000 residences. Volunteer attorneys who are opposing the injunction will be asking the Superior Court to delay a ruling in order to allow defendants the opportunity to prepare their respective cases. “Most of the defendants have only had legal counsel for approximately seven days,” explained Michael Siegel, one of five volunteer attorneys who are working to represent up to 30 defendants. “We hope the Court will recognize that the defendants need more time in order to review the charges against them and raise opposition to any false and erroneous allegations.”
Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Communications Director, Critical Resistance
ph. 510.444.0484
c. 510.517.6612
What: Case Management Conference, People v. Norteños
When: Monday, February 14, 2010, 2:00 p.m.
Where: Alameda County Administration Building, 1221 Oak Street, Oakland

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2011-02-13 "Oakland Teachers’ Union Joins Growing Opposition to Civil Gang Injunctions; Monday’s Hearing Will Determine Possible Start Date for City Attorney’s Proposed Two-Square Mile Safety Zone" by Michael Siegel
OAKLAND, CA. One week after representatives of 3,000 Oakland teachers endorsed a resolution condemning the use of “gang injunctions” in Oakland, an Alameda County Superior Court judge will consider whether or not to delay proceedings on a proposed Fruitvale “safety zone.”
On Monday, February 7, the Representative Council of the Oakland Education Association endorsed, without opposition, the following resolution:
New Business Item # 1: the Oakland Education Association condemns the use of the civil gang injunctions in Oakland. Furthermore, the OEA urges its members to attend the February 22, 2011 meeting of the Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee, to be held at City Hall, beginning at 5:30 p.m., to express the position of Oakland teachers. Finally, the OEA urges its members to support the “Week of Action” of the Stop the Injunction Coalition for the week of February 28 through March 4, 2011, including the Coalition’s plans to conduct solidarity actions with teachers on the statewide day of action to defend public education on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.
Representatives from the Oakland’s citywide Stop the Injunctions Coalition welcomed the teachers’ support. “We are tremendously appreciative that the OEA has joined the struggle against these unlawful ‘safety zones’ that serve to oppress and divide poor and working people,” stated Aurora Lopez, a Fruitvale-based organizer who opposes the injunctions. “Like the teachers, we believe that our governments should be investing in schools and community development, not prisons and police.”
Monday’s hearing in the case of People ex rel. John Russo v. Norteños, et al. will determine the possible start date of the proposed gang injunction for the Fruitvale neighborhood. The injunction, as proposed, would cover two square miles of East Oakland – throwing a virtual net over more than 15,000 residences. Volunteer attorneys who are opposing the injunction will be asking the Superior Court to delay a ruling in order to allow defendants the opportunity to prepare their respective cases. “Most of the defendants have only had legal counsel for approximately seven days,” explained Michael Siegel, one of five volunteer attorneys who are working to represent up to 30 defendants. “We hope the Court will recognize that the defendants need more time in order to review the charges against them and raise opposition to any false and erroneous allegations.”

Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Communications Director, Critical Resistance
ph. 510.444.0484
c. 510.517.6612
What: Case Management Conference, People v. Norteños
When: Monday, February 14, 2010, 2:00 p.m.
Where: Alameda County Administration Building, 1221 Oak Street, Oakland
2011-02-13 "Bay Area meetings condemn foreclosures and evictions" by Judy Greenspan
Political activists and community organizers, many of them facing home foreclosures themselves, took an active role in a series of meetings and rallies in the San Francisco Bay area the first week of February. In Bayview, San Francisco’s largest African-American community and in the mostly Latino/a working-class suburb of Antioch, they began building a fightback movement to demand an end to all foreclosures and evictions.
The featured speaker at all of the events was Jerry Goldberg, an organizer and people’s lawyer with the Detroit-based Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs. Prior to the public meetings, organizing sessions were held in East Bay communities.
Bayview-Hunters Pointe up until recently has experienced a full 48 percent of San Francisco’s foreclosures. So it should have been no surprise that homeowners, tenants and community activists gathered at Bayview’s Grace Tabernacle Church to hear Goldberg on Feb. 3 and to participate in a community speakout. Dave Welsh, an organizer with the Bail Out the People Movement, chaired the meeting.
Willie Ratcliff, a local contractor and publisher of the San Francisco BayView National Black Newspaper, spoke about the struggle being waged to create jobs and win community control of new construction in Bayview. Ratcliff’s construction company was originally chosen to build the neighborhood library. Ratcliff recently found out that the job was transferred to a large, outside contractor.
The BayView newspaper had printed a quarter page flyer promoting this anti-foreclosure meeting.
Showing the impact of this issue, Rene Gonzalvez, also from the church and an organizer of a group that monitors labor standards for oppressed workers and of a campaign for local hires on city contracts; local activists Marie Harrison and Naim Harrison; and Global Women’s Strike Nell Myhand all joined the effort. Some of these organizers were challenging their own foreclosures.
Antioch, about 45 minutes from San Francisco, has been devastated by foreclosures. Workers who earn about $30,000 a year or who have now lost their jobs got lured into mortgages with principals of $300,000 or more whose interest rates keep going up, leading to massive home losses. People also came to the Feb. 4 meeting from surrounding Contra Costa County, which leads California in foreclosures.
The meeting, which was translated into Spanish, took place in the parking lot of the community center with loudspeakers and a large banner calling for a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. It was all put together by the community organizers.
Delia Aguilar, whose home was placed in foreclosure last year, and Guillermo Briceno of Nuestra Casa Community Services, were major forces behind the Antioch meeting. Aguilar also attended the San Francisco meeting and gave moving testimony about her fight to stay in her home. Led by local organizers, plans are underway to build a strong movement for a moratorium against foreclosures and evictions.
Goldberg’s talks included a history of “the war against poor and working people” in Detroit and around the country, first through job loss and now through foreclosures and evictions. The Detroit organizer noted that the first moratorium against foreclosures was won in the 1930s through direct action. Goldberg, who exposed the rotten role of the banks, urged people to get involved politically and demand that “Housing is a Right!”
Many community members came out to the rallies with their legal paperwork in hand and Goldberg, who is an attorney in Michigan, gave as much advice as he could. While he admitted winning a few legal cases in the courts, he gave example after example of how much more powerful the struggle became when people organized. “For every one case that I have won, I’ve lost 10,” Goldberg said. “But when we have taken direct action by mobilizing the community to stand up, we have been able to win some real victories,” he added.
2011-02-13 "Oscar Grant’s Uncle Reaches Out To East Oakland Youth" from Fox News
OAKLAND, Calif. -- East Oakland is one of the Bay Area’s most violent neighborhoods, but one man is trying to change that by targeting the area’s younger residents.
Cephus Johnson, uncle to the late Oscar Grant, has been working the streets looking to connect with Oakland’s youth. His goal? To empower East Oakland's residents so they can lead crime-free lives.
On Saturday, the Oscar Grant Foundation launched a day of empowerment and opportunity. The event was held in the East Oakland Youth Development Center. Johnson said he connected with services Oakland teenagers may not seek out on their own, such as job training programs and signing up for college tours.
“We have to get to the heart and soul of the issue within in the community,” Johnson said. “By going through this process there is a beginning of empowerment within themselves.”
Javier Niceler of Hayward volunteered at Saturday’s event, but he once sought help from Johnson’s foundation.
Niceler said he once spent time in prison for burglary and assault on an officer. “Either prison was going to make me or break me. It broke me,” he said.
Once out of prison, Niceler said the foundation opened his eyes to another world and provided him with direction.
“Now I can live my life as an adult and be successful and know that when my kids grow up that’s not the type of life they’ll want to live,” he said.

Friday, February 11, 2011

San Francisco civil rights

2011-02-11 "SF Protests Over Demolishment Of Park Merced Working Class Housing" by Labor Video Project
Capitalist developers with the support of corrupt members of the SF Board of Supervisors are seeking to demolish over 1000 rent controlled units in Park Merced mostly housing working class workers and retired workers.
This frontal attack on working class residents is also being funded by the corporate controlled CSU and San Francisco State College.
Developers who are supported by the San Francisco State University Corporate trustees are seeking to destroy over 1500 rent controlled units.
Margaret Leahy, a professor at San Francisco State University and '68 SF State Striker is one of the residents who might be thrown out of her home if this passes at the San Francisco Board Of Supervisors.
She and other opponents of this attack on working class housing spoke before a hearing on 2/10/2011 at SF City Hall. The destruction of working class housing is taking place under Democratic mayors and a Democratic controlled board of supervisors.
View the video