Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011-03-31 "Equation in Wisconsin was used in Vallejo" letter by John Riley to the editor of "American Canyon Eagle" newspaper
[http://napavalleyregister.com/eagle/news/opinion/mailbag/article_912e30ba-5b4a-11e0-ab98-001cc4c03286.html]
Jon Riley is executive director of the Napa-Solano Central Labor Council.
---
I recently had the unique opportunity to address a group of History and Economics classes at a local private high school. I was asked to address the students on the history of unions and how the current events sweeping the country impact their lives. One student asked what would it be like if we did not have unions?
As I looked out at the 40 or so students the first thing that came to mind was that I would be addressing a totally different looking group of students! I told them that the fact that the racial makeup of the class in front of me was reflective of our society as a whole, a very diverse group of young men and women that make up the melting pot we call California, and that unfortunately the students I would be addressing in that situation would probably look a lot more like me, white.
So let’s reflect on the question. What would it be like without unions? Based on the fact that organized Labor has been instrumental in raising the financial status of all workers in this country, union and non-union alike, and also factor in labors role in the success of every civil rights movement in this country’s history from the suffrage movement, the struggle for racial equality to the gay rights and immigration battles that continue today, one would only be left to guess what gains we would have enjoyed if the “organized” were removed from “organized Labor.” Pretty meaty stuff for a group of 17 and 18 year olds with their whole lives ahead of them, but they seemed to make the connection that what is transpiring in Wisconsin is about a little bit more than getting a budget balanced.
But if it is not about keeping employee costs in line then what is all the commotion about? Well some argue, and I happen to agree, that this is about using political influence to punish your enemy and silence their ability to speak with one voice. It is about paying back your political supporters to further an agenda. Just old fashioned politics! We have seen it happen every time we have a change in the majority of the leadership of any national, state, county and city elected body. If they can convince those with little or nothing that those with a job with benefits are the cause of their current situation, they keep the focus away from their political backers who in some cases not only refuse to pay their share of taxes, but also just perpetrated the largest financial fraud in the history of our country.
Our government, federal, state and local all run on taxes, and if our largest banks and corporations pay less taxes than an average worker, or attempt to control revenue sources, then it becomes a little problematic when trying to provide the services that all of us have come to expect. But then when you factor in that the single most expensive costs in providing those services is the workers’ salaries and benefits and that the cost on the benefit side of the equation is tied directly to the stock market (remember that little fraud thing), of course those costs are going to skyrocket and appear unsustainable! And if we can use questionable news sources to convince the people that those wage and benefit costs alone are bankrupting our communities, while at the same time, through legislation, take away the one organized voice against those same abuses, you have just accomplished what the railroad and industrial barons attempted to do but failed. But more importantly for them they have also taken away their political opponents most organized and funded resource as they fight to protect the civil rights fought for over two generations. Remember the equation: cut off the funding source by eliminating the tax base through deregulation and shelters or driving away business, plus use an increase in the cost of employee benefits caused by fraud and abuse of Wall Street to blame the workforce, plus turn public opinion against them through a corrupt news source, (multiplied by) using the legal or legislative process take away their ability to collectively bargain equals game over!
So then what? Well, I guess we will find out the answer to the question “what if there were no unions,” and in the process find out how important they are to the advancement and protection of our civil rights movement in this country. And I will let you in on a little secret; I know how it turns out because I saw the same equation used right in Vallejo.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011-03-30 “Reyes plans academic shuffle for SCC” by Vonique Stricklen from "Solano Tempest" newspaper
[http://www.solanotempest.net/campus/reyes-plans-academic-shuffle-for-scc-1.2131624]
A plan to shift and combine academic disciplines while reducing deans is being pushed forward in the face of a looming budget deficit at Solano Community College.
After a month of revision and feedback J. Arturo Reyes, executive vice president of academic and student affairs, will present his draft proposed reorganization plan to Solano Community College's Superintendent and President Jowel C. Laguerre.
The plan for reorganization was expedited in light of Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to balance the state's budget. According to Reyes, the reorganization will create efficiency within the academic departments that could possibly contribute positively to the SCC's budget deficit.
The plan proposes that certain disciplines will be shifted and combined into different departments with similar structures for better continuity and communication. Nursing, for example, requires massive reporting and compliance issues in addition to different budgets and grants.
By putting such career and technical education courses under one dean, Reyes foresees "richer communication" among the departments.
"I think it's going to mean that the dialogue and the conversation is going to be more meaningful to the people put in that place," Reyes said. "At this college in the past we have had difficulty with our ability to monitor those type of things."
Reyes had brought on several constituents and formed an advisory committee while drafting the reorganization plan. The committee members include Senate President Thomas Watkins, Susanna Crawford, Emily Blair, Cynthia Simon, Sheryl Scott, Debbie Latrel Williams, and President of ASCC Mary Parmer.
The proposal has been reviewed at various levels at SCC for feedback as far up as the faculty Senate.
"We're trying to be open; we're trying to be transparent," Reyes said.
Laguerre will review and eventually determine how the proposal is to be interpreted. From there the proposal will go on to the board of trustees.
The plan should help SCC meet its spending goals and reduce its expenditures, Reyes said.
The reorganization may be implemented May 2011, Reyes said.

STUDENT POWER!

2011-03-30 "Big Regent Is Watching You!" by Rebel 2
[http://ucrebelradio.com/2011/03/30/big-regent-is-watching-you/]
Along with the recent discovery of an administrative infiltration of activists’ circles at UC Davis and surveillance at UC Berkeley (read here and here), it has just come to our attention that the administrative violence is rampant and quite widespread.
Information suggesting that UCIPD has been working with the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center, a local Joint Terrorism Task Force affiliated with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI’s National Security Network, to monitor student protests and student activists has just become available after John Bruning, a local activist on the UC Irvine campus, retrieved the information requested as per a public records request made earlier in January. He comments, “I don’t know what the relationship is, other than that a member of OCIAC, also a Detective with the Huntington Beach PD SWAT Team, forwarded a YouTube video of the protest I was arrested at in November 2009 to Sgt. Arnold with my name in the subject line.” Due to “public safety exceptions”, 24 pages of the report were redacted.
[click on image]
Because, as UC Davis professor Joshua Clover writes in an op-ed in UC Davis’ California Aggie [http://theaggie.org/article/2011/03/29/guest-opinion-private-eyes-real-surveillance-false-denials-from-administration],
[begin excerpt]
Over the last year, the UC Davis administration has pursued an extensive program to place staffers in and around student-worker protest. They have done so not, as you might expect, to join in the struggle against indecent cuts and backdoor privatization, but to deliver surveillance on participants.
[end excerpt]
And, because this problem as it is being discovered is endemic to the overall institution, we
recommend that all activists who have participated in previous actions throughout the UC in the past three years make public records requests from their institutions. The Big Regent is watching you!
2011-03-30 "City of Oakland Shuts Down Novella Carpenter's Urban Farmstand" by Ellen Cushing from "East Bay Express" newspaper
[http://www.eastbayexpress.com/gyrobase/blogs/Post?id=92510&year=2011&month=03&day=30&basename=city-of-oakland-shuts-down-novella-carpenters-urban-farmstand&cb=bff9485377259f7dc941dabab3140eae&sort=desc&mode=print]
The war on fun strikes again!
The victim this time: None other than mild-mannered urban farmer notorious hoodlum Novella Carpenter and her insurgent backyard chard operation, long known for threatening the lives and livelihoods of Oakland's upstanding citizens with reckless abandon and utter disregard for the rule of law.
According to our BFFAEs at SFist [http://sfist.com/2011/03/30/city_of_oakland_shuts_down.php], the Oakland-based author, activist, and foodie (and former winner of EBX's prestigious "best hippie" award) has been slapped with non-compliance — and a hefty fine — for violating a city code she didn't even know existed.
Here's the deal, via Carpenter's blog [http://ghosttownfarm.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/farmstand-canceled-due-to-the-city-of-oakland/]:
[begin excerpt]
After getting off the plane from Salt Lake City and making my way home to a cup of tea, I sit down at my kitchen table and I see this guy in a City of Oakland car taking photos of my garden. I go down and he said I’m out of compliance for “agricultural activities”. I’m supposed to get a Conditional Use Permit for growing chard. The annual fee: $2500.
Last year, when I bought my lot, I went to the planning department to find out what I needed to get a business license and all that stuff. The very nice planning person told me that by the spring, the City of Oakland would be changing the laws about urban agriculture in the city, so I should just wait. Guess that hasn’t happened.
The photo taking city guy said they are going to use me as an example, and that I’ll get fined around $5000 for non-compliance. All of this was triggered by one person, who complained to the animal control, who then passed it on to the city, who is now making my life hell. I said to the guy-one person caused this, that’s not fair. “Life’s not fair,” he replied. What about City Slicker Farms? Or People’s Grocery? I asked, two urban farming non-profits in Oakland. No one has complained about them. And they say one person can’t make a difference!
[end excerpt]
Carpenter has, wisely, canceled her pop-up farmstand until further notice :-(

Novella Carpenter, for the People!
baby chicks = every miscreant's secret weapon
2011-03-30 "We marched with César" by CYNTHIA MORENO from "Vida En El Valle" magazine
[http://www.vidaenelvalle.com/2011/03/30/867394/we-marched-with-cesar.html]
FRESNO -- Before César Estrada Chávez launched his farmworker movement in Delano almost half a century ago, he was a community organizer for the Community Service Organization in the 1950s.
So was Gilbert Padilla.
The two left the organization because it didn't want to "do much for farm labor," according to Padilla.
Padilla -- who now lives in Fresno with his wife, Esther, a former Fresno City Councilmember -- resigned his secretary-treasurer position with the United Farm Workers in October 1980 over philosophical differences over the direction the union would take.
"After we left the union, I never spoke with César again," said Gilbert.
"The union was my whole life -- I gave it more priority than my family, often uprooting my children from their school and friends to unknown destinations," Gilbert wrote in an essay for www.farmworkermovement.org. "I never thought of leaving the union, and I wanted to grow old working in the union on behalf of farmworkers."
Gilbert was born in Los Baños to farmworking parents from Zacatecas, México. The family lived in Azusa, and Gilbert, one of eight children, was born in a labor camp during harvest season.
Esther was born in Fowler to a farmworking family from Coahuila, México. Her father worked in area fields instead of following the harvest. Esther was one of 12 children.
The couple played an effective role with the UFW.
Gilbert and Chávez became unpaid organizers for the National Farm Workers Association after leaving CSO.
"Everyone who came in to the organization didn't do it for power or for glory, but to change a population of people in this country that was completely disenfranchised," said Gilbert in a recent interview.
Farmworkers were omitted from federal legislation like Social Security, worker's compensation and unemployment insurance, said Gilbert.
"I did it because I went to the labor camps and worked with braceros and I had a lot of anger towards the growers. I wanted to change things because everyone that was there came from there," said Gilbert. "Esther is a good example. She became involved because she remembered her father getting paid a couple hundred bucks a month for his life's work."
"My father didn't want us to be farmworkers like him," said Esther, whose parents attended segregated schools in San Bernardino County.
Esther earned a bachelor's degree in Social Work at Fresno State University and later led the Head Start program at the Fresno County Economic Opportunities Commission until "the union eagle plucked me up."
Both remember the night they met at a UFW organizing event in the Parlier Head Start building.
While talking to a fellow organizer, Gilbert noticed Esther standing by the doorway. She "had her hair parted down the middle, was wearing a poncho and had a big smile on her face," said Gilbert.
Esther had heard rumors throughout the day that a "big shot organizer was in town" and decided to attend the meeting.
Their work together, first as friends, then, later as husband and wife, would add to the organizing efforts led by Chavez.
Esther met Chávez for the first time in the late 60s.
"It was the year of the Kennedys, the Chicano movement and of voter registration. There were no laws. It was a hassle to get people to become citizens and I was just ... in awe of meeting him. I thought he was the greatest thing since apple pie," said Esther.
Chávez picked Gilbert to organize in Tulare and Fresno counties.
"There were about 70,000 farmworkers in Fresno at that time. They came to pick figs, olives and fruit. There were no machines to do the work," recalled Gilbert.
Gilbert's organizing efforts caught Esther's attention.
"It wasn't César that did everything. That is a common misconception. There were people all across the Valley doing stuff locally," said Esther. "I know Gilbert was doing a knock-out job of organizing farm workers in his area and he had several strikes going on.
"He would put together huge events and coordinated all of them. They were wonderful. He had danzantes and mariachis and the whole string of things to entertain and rally people. I was very impressed."
The strikes and boycotts came with consequences.
"I was arrested in Tulare once. When people were arrested, they usually weren't bailed out," said Gilbert. "Police officers would go through picket lines, pick someone and take them. When I was arrested, they knew who I was."
Esther recalls a picket line at a Fresno winery where "a winery owner pulled a rifle on us."
"At that point, if we were going to negotiate anything, we knew it had to be the women to go out into the fields and talk to growers. They wouldn't dare fire a shot at a woman" said Esther.
Farmworkers won wages of $1.75 an hour, toilets in the fields, vacations, drinking water and medical plans.
Gilbert and Esther helped direct farmworkers to cities across the country or organize boycotts against grapes, wine and then lettuce.
"Farmworking families had stability, good wages, and benefits and were able to put their kids through an education. They weren't just roaming around from Texas to California as they had in the past. As the union continued to organize, the situation got better and better for them," said Esther.
As Esther became more involved with organizing efforts, she faced with a difficult decision.
"I was a social worker at the time I met Gilbert, and they were planning a strike and he asked for my help writing letters and acquiring food vouchers for the workers," said Esther, who would put in extra time after her regular work to help the union.
When organizing efforts started to expand, she quit her job.
Esther says the decision was unwelcome news for her family.
"They thought I was crazy, but I will tell you this: As a social worker, I don' think I would have had that kind of experience unless you are really dedicated to helping make a difference or making a change, which was what I was hoping to do," said Esther.
The couple's time with the union was coming to an end because Gilbert felt Chávez was focusing too much attention on leading a social movement instead of organizing farmworkers.
"He was the best man in my daughter's wedding and he was a close friend, but he changed," said Gilbert. "Notoriety and power and money change people to the point where they become a different person; and, in this case, I feel he just didn't want to organize workers anymore."
When Chávez's March 31 state holiday arrives, the couple experience bittersweet memories.
"I want to make it clear that if César hadn't changed, I would have still been part of that movement. I would never have resigned," said Gilbert.
Esther agrees.
"I think it's good to remember him because he is one of the few icons in the Chicano community that people can look up to. Young kids don't know about César. But, they need to commemorate the whole movement, not just him as an individual," said Esther.
The couple hopes that the UFW will regain its strength.
"No one is out there on the forefront. People are not out there talking about the union and what needs to be done. They don't know that there was a whole lot of sacrifice for a whole lot of people. Some died for the union," said Esther.
Al Rojas, Hero of the People
2011-03-30 "The story of Al Rojas" from "Vida en el Valle" magazine
[http://www.vidaenelvalle.com/2011/03/30/867323/the-story-of-al-rojas.html]
One of the persons in Sacramento who lived and worked shoulder to shoulder next to the farmworker leader César Chávez was Al Rojas, current president of the Front of Mexicans Abroad.
The 79-year-old Rojas has been one of the leading activists on behalf of fair causes, especially among the Latino community. This fighting spirit and ideals of Chávez's is what has kept him involved in community activism.
Rojas remembers Chávez with admiration and respect from the moment he met him in 1961, when he was 21 years old. Chávez had just started the struggle for the rights of agricultural workers in California during the 60s.
"The first time I had contact with Chávez was because a group of workers in the Oxnard area wanted the ranchers to provide us with new equipment to work in the field because what we had was very old and was no longer useful. We needed some organizational support. He helped us because he was an organizer of Community Service Organization (CSO), and that's how we met," said Rojas.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2011-03-29 "Union Workers Protest at Napa State Hospital: As state Department of Mental Health officials held a "Safety Summit" inside, employee unions protested at the gates of the hospital where one staffer was murdered last fall and many have been assaulted" by Louisa Hufstader from "the Patch" news journal
[http://napa.patch.com/articles/videos-union-workers-protest-at-napa-valley-hospital]
Napa State Hospital employees and union representatives staged a protest at the hospital entrance Monday, the same day the state Department of Mental Health was scheduled to hold a “Safety Summit” on the hospital grounds.
Protesters carried signs and chanted “What do we want? Safety!” as they marched back and forth in front of the hospital driveway and across the Napa-Vallejo Highway, occasionally saluted by a horn blast of solidarity from a passing truck or car.
Hospital employees have become increasingly outspoken about conditions at the state institution in south Napa since employee Donna Gross was strangled to death there last October, allegedly by a patient who stole her cigarettes and pocket money. Her accused killer, Jess Massey, has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial in the Napa County jail.
Gross's murder was followed in December by the brutal beating of therapist George Anderson by patient Sean Bouchie, who was subsequently found incompetent to stand trial and returned to the hospital.
Another Napa State patient was jailed for the attempted rape of a female hospital staffer earlier this month and is being evaluated to see if he is competent to stand trial.
Monday’s rally included a series of short speeches from union officials and Napa State employees, several of whom evoked the specter of Gross’s violent death and complained that officials were taking no action to make the hospital safer.
“Why are they having another meeting five months after Donna Gross was murdered?” asked social worker Corinne Weaver.
“Every single union was invited to attend this meeting today and you know what we said? ‘No. We’re tired of hearing you talk. We want to see results,’” Weaver continued.
Connie Steele, who works in the medical billing department at the hospital, said she has been threatened when her work brings her into the wards where “forensic” patients have been sent by the courts after committing violent crimes.
Several speakers cited a daily assault rate of three staffers and seven patients at the embattled hospital, which has seen its forensic population rise sharply in recent years.
Maj Yazidi, a 30-year Napa State employee and Napa resident, said workers need to take more action, including rotating sick-outs at the hospital and sit-ins at the Napa offices of state legislators.
"We have to do it at the local level, so the people who live in this community of Napa ... feel that their colleagies, their neighbors are being threatened by violence every day," Yazidi said.
For more from Monday’s rally, including excerpts from speeches by Weaver, Steele and Napa State recreation therapist Zach Hatton and Weaver's complete remarks, watch the videos in our gallery.

STUDENT POWER!

2011-03-29 "Taking the fight into the Capitol" by Melody Fitzgerald
SACRAMENTO, Calif.--When California community college students converged on the Capitol building here on March 14 to demonstrate in defense of funding for public education, most eagerly rallied behind messages like "Tax the rich, not the poor" and "Save our schools," but the primary message delivered by event organizers left many students wondering about the purpose of the rally.
The demonstration was organized by the California State Student Association (CSSA) and the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC), and they deserve credit for busing in more 5,000 students from far-flung corners of this sprawling state.
But instead of taking a stand against Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed 2011-12 state budget, which would cut at least $1.4 billion from California's public higher education system, the CSSA and SSCCC advocated support for Gov. Brown's budget plans and reserved their criticism only for the minority Republican faction in the state legislature.
The CSSA and SSCCC raised the slogan "Let us vote!" in support of Gov. Brown's proposal for a referendum to extend temporary personal income, sales and vehicle-licensing tax increases on a June special election ballot, an effort which Republicans in the state legislature are attempting to block.
But Jerry Brown's budget plans must be opposed.
First, thousands of Californian students can afford no more concessions to the public education budget cutters and will be denied access if the budget shrinks again. Second, Jerry Brown's "tax package" relies far too much on regressive taxes that burden lower-income taxpayers more than the wealthy.
We must reject this mentality of "shared sacrifice." California is a land of fabulous riches. A concern for equality should inspire us to advocate the only just solution to this state's budget crisis: tax the rich and corporations!
CSSA/SSCCC's support for the "let us vote" campaign highlighted a disconnect between the aspirations of the hundreds of students who bused to the rally, some from as far away as southern California, and the event organizers, who seemed to be rallying in support of the budget cuts rather than against them.
Support for progressive taxation appeared widespread among the assembled students, most of whom view more cuts to their education as unacceptable. Among the marching crowd, a large banner declaring "Tax the rich" carried by students at Community College of San Francisco was among the favorites, eliciting cheers as many students, including some of the event staff, posed for pictures with it.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
MIDWAY THROUGH the rally, a radical contingent formed by a coalition of students from across the Bay Area and beyond seized the moment and gathered together those interested in more militant action in order to attempt a sit-in inside the Capitol building. With growing popular support from the larger crowd, the radicalized students pressed their way to the front of the rally to demand access to the Capitol.
There, they were met with strong opposition by the CSSA and SSCCC event staff, who were prepared to defend Jerry Brown's Capitol steps. The CSSA and SSCCC had no intention of meeting the demands of a growing number of students chanting, "Let us in!"
CSSA and SSCCC event staff then made attempts to drown the students out by chanting over the PA system, "Let us vote!" followed by appeals to the crowd to maintain a "peaceful demonstration" and to remain "respectful"--in other words, to accept the restriction, imposed by the organizers, that the rally should be an entirely tame affair.
After being forcibly denied access through the front doors, the student militants were funneled to the side entrance, where they were able to enter the Capitol rotunda anyway. Chanting "Tax the rich!" and "Save our schools!" with the support of about 75 students, police told the protesters to stop immediately and then forcefully removed them from the Capitol, isolating the core group from the rest of the protesters.
Student activists learned a few important lessons in organizing the more militant action. "We underestimated the extent to which the event staff was committed to preventing students from getting into the Capitol building through the front door," said Alex Schmaus, a student at the Community College of San Francisco. "It shows the gap between the anger and resentment expressed by the crowd broadly and the politics from the front about capitulating to Brown's budget plan."
Schmaus views the events not as a defeat but rather a successful effort to give confidence to more radical student activists. With more organization ahead of time, it would have been possible to offer a compelling political alternative to the relatively mild message of the event's organizers.
Students are aware of a growing need to organize themselves if they are to cohere a force capable of challenging the ever-increasing cuts to public education in the state of California. "There was a sense of community during the march and an awareness from the students that a more meaningful movement can be born," said Adriana of Chabot Community College in Hayward. "We need to tax the rich and not the poor."
2011-03-29 "Santa Rosa pot dispensary can stay open – for now" by Steve Hart from "Press-Democrat" newspaper"
[http://www.watchsonomacounty.com/2011/03/county/santa-rosa-pot-dispensary-can-stay-open-for-now/]
Sonoma County has lost a bid to shut down a medical marijuana dispensary on the eastern outskirts of Santa Rosa, where it has been operating for months without a permit.
A judge ruled earlier this month that Valley of the Moon Collective can stay open while it seeks a county permit.
But county planners are recommending against a permit for the pot club, saying it’s too close to homes and a martial arts studio that serves about 60 children. Under terms of a March 3 court order, the dispensary must shut its doors if it can’t get a permit.
A hearing is scheduled April 28 in Santa Rosa before the county Board of Zoning Adjustments.
Supporters are circulating a petition asking that the dispensary be allowed to stay. But some neighbors oppose the business, saying it doesn’t fit in the semi-rural location.
The nonprofit marijuana dispensary opened last September in Valley of the Moon Plaza, a small retail center at Highway 12 and Melita Road, between the Skyhawk and Oakmont subdivisions. It is located in county territory just outside Santa Rosa’s city limits.
The cooperative is made up of local patients, said Scot Candell, a San Rafael attorney who represents Valley of the Moon Collective.
Its website said the group “is committed to providing natural alternative medicines in a physically safe and socially responsible manner, following all state and local laws.”
Another online directory shows it offers different varieties of marijuana with names such as “Headband,” “Trainwreck,” “Purple Hammer,” “Mendo Madness,” “Twinkie” and “Grape Ape.”
Staff members who declined to give their names said Monday it serves many elderly patients, including people from the nearby Oakmont and Spring Lake Village retirement communities. They said there haven’t been any problems since it opened last fall.
But a medical marijuana dispensary doesn’t belong in the same building as a martial arts studio that caters to children, said Monica Miramontez, who owns Miramontez Family Taekwondo & Fitness Center, three doors down from the collective. About 60 children take her classes, she said.
“Parents aren’t comfortable letting their kids walk around here,” said Miramontez.
Miramontez, who has operated the studio for 8 years, said she can’t afford to move. The commercial center also has a dry cleaner, frame shop, gas station and convenience store.
Sonoma County filed suit against the dispensary in February, following a complaint and inspection by a code enforcement officer. The business doesn’t have a permit and is in violation of zoning laws, the county said.
The collective responded that it tried to obtain a use permit but was told none were available because the county’s medical marijuana ordinance had been struck down by the courts.
Candell said the dispensary was following state law and guidelines from the state Attorney General’s office.
The county’s medical marijuana ordinance has since been upheld and the collective applied for a permit.
Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau ruled the collective can stay open until the county acts on its application.
In a letter last month to the collective, county planner Steve Padovan said his department will recommend denial because the location doesn’t meet county standards.
Under the rules, marijuana dispensaries can’t be within 100 feet of homes or within 1,000 feet of a facility that primarily serves people under age 18.

STUDENT POWER!

201-03-29 "Taking the fight into the Capitol" by Melody Fitzgerald
[http://socialistworker.org/2011/03/29/taking-the-fight-to-the-capitol]
SACRAMENTO, Calif.--When California community college students converged on the Capitol building here on March 14 to demonstrate in defense of funding for public education, most eagerly rallied behind messages like "Tax the rich, not the poor" and "Save our schools," but the primary message delivered by event organizers left many students wondering about the purpose of the rally.
The demonstration was organized by the California State Student Association (CSSA) and the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC), and they deserve credit for busing in more 5,000 students from far-flung corners of this sprawling state.
But instead of taking a stand against Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed 2011-12 state budget, which would cut at least $1.4 billion from California's public higher education system, the CSSA and SSCCC advocated support for Gov. Brown's budget plans and reserved their criticism only for the minority Republican faction in the state legislature.
The CSSA and SSCCC raised the slogan "Let us vote!" in support of Gov. Brown's proposal for a referendum to extend temporary personal income, sales and vehicle-licensing tax increases on a June special election ballot, an effort which Republicans in the state legislature are attempting to block.
But Jerry Brown's budget plans must be opposed.
First, thousands of Californian students can afford no more concessions to the public education budget cutters and will be denied access if the budget shrinks again. Second, Jerry Brown's "tax package" relies far too much on regressive taxes that burden lower-income taxpayers more than the wealthy.
We must reject this mentality of "shared sacrifice." California is a land of fabulous riches. A concern for equality should inspire us to advocate the only just solution to this state's budget crisis: tax the rich and corporations!
CSSA/SSCCC's support for the "let us vote" campaign highlighted a disconnect between the aspirations of the hundreds of students who bused to the rally, some from as far away as southern California, and the event organizers, who seemed to be rallying in support of the budget cuts rather than against them.
Support for progressive taxation appeared widespread among the assembled students, most of whom view more cuts to their education as unacceptable. Among the marching crowd, a large banner declaring "Tax the rich" carried by students at Community College of San Francisco was among the favorites, eliciting cheers as many students, including some of the event staff, posed for pictures with it.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
MIDWAY THROUGH the rally, a radical contingent formed by a coalition of students from across the Bay Area and beyond seized the moment and gathered together those interested in more militant action in order to attempt a sit-in inside the Capitol building. With growing popular support from the larger crowd, the radicalized students pressed their way to the front of the rally to demand access to the Capitol.
There, they were met with strong opposition by the CSSA and SSCCC event staff, who were prepared to defend Jerry Brown's Capitol steps. The CSSA and SSCCC had no intention of meeting the demands of a growing number of students chanting, "Let us in!"
CSSA and SSCCC event staff then made attempts to drown the students out by chanting over the PA system, "Let us vote!" followed by appeals to the crowd to maintain a "peaceful demonstration" and to remain "respectful"--in other words, to accept the restriction, imposed by the organizers, that the rally should be an entirely tame affair.
After being forcibly denied access through the front doors, the student militants were funneled to the side entrance, where they were able to enter the Capitol rotunda anyway. Chanting "Tax the rich!" and "Save our schools!" with the support of about 75 students, police told the protesters to stop immediately and then forcefully removed them from the Capitol, isolating the core group from the rest of the protesters.
Student activists learned a few important lessons in organizing the more militant action. "We underestimated the extent to which the event staff was committed to preventing students from getting into the Capitol building through the front door," said Alex Schmaus, a student at the Community College of San Francisco. "It shows the gap between the anger and resentment expressed by the crowd broadly and the politics from the front about capitulating to Brown's budget plan."
Schmaus views the events not as a defeat but rather a successful effort to give confidence to more radical student activists. With more organization ahead of time, it would have been possible to offer a compelling political alternative to the relatively mild message of the event's organizers.
Students are aware of a growing need to organize themselves if they are to cohere a force capable of challenging the ever-increasing cuts to public education in the state of California. "There was a sense of community during the march and an awareness from the students that a more meaningful movement can be born," said Adriana of Chabot Community College in Hayward. "We need to tax the rich and not the poor."

Monday, March 28, 2011

2011-03-28 "What is really happening in the Bayview Hunters Point with the residents in peril?" by Francisco Da Costa, Director of "Environmental Justice Advocacy"
[http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/03/28/18675784.php]
The Bayview Hunters Point (BVHP) has been home to many Samoans, Blacks, Whites, Native Americans, Latinos, Asians, others for last sixty years, plus. Most of those who made their homes in the BVHP were attached in one way or the other to the U.S. Navy and the various operations - linked to World War II; mostly - the building and repair of war ships. The Bayview Hunters Point also provided a lot of employees to the City and county of San Francisco, the Hospitality Services - and most worked hard and owned their homes.
The population of San Francisco is about 816,000 and we San Franciscans are mostly content with our City and County of San Francisco.
Some drab SF City leaders will talk about affordable housing and when the time comes - they mostly want to have these affordable housing in the Bayview Hunters Point.
In the past many of the affordable housing, mostly cheap, poorly built have been built on what is better know as "Brown Fields".
Case in point the cheap affordable housing by Aurelious Walker - of the True Hope Church - by Candlestick Point. Built on land prone to liquefaction and flooding - but what is more - contaminated.
The Hunters Point Shipyard is very toxic from the various experiments and the very toxic elements left by the U.S. Navy. Early in the 1950s - the U.S. Navy experimented with Depleted Uranium - the same depleted Uranium used to make bombs and ammunition.
Animals used in experiments in the Bikini Island experiments; all of them linked to Atomic bombs. Large animals, exposed to large amount of radiation - were buried all over the Hunters Point Shipyard. There is a document named the Final Historical Radiological Assessment Report - that is a must read and can be found in the SF Main Library but also in the Library on 3rd Street by Revere. There is nothing like being educated on issues - and the worst enemies you can have on your side - is utter ignorance and arrogance.
In recent years a Rogue Developer, Lennar - bombarded the entire Bayview Hunters Point with toxic dust, dangerous particulates, Asbestos friables, and of course the radiological contamination that is very well documented and know the world over.
One Atomic Bomb left the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and was dropped over Japan - our legacy of the adverse impacts done to the innocent people of Japan.
Today, mostly Black sell outs - think they can cooperated with the U.S. Navy and the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency - to receive some little money and sell out the community. These vermin want to facilitate in the Early Transfer of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. These fools have NO understanding of the facts and trust the lying U.S. Navy at the expense of selling out the constituents of the Bayview Hunters Point.
Of course the U.S. has to pay retribution and the U.S. Navy is mandated to clean up the entire Shipyard to Residential Standards or at least to the highest level possible.
All stated in Proposition P that passed by 87% in the year 2000. This mandate has yet to be followed first by the U.S. Navy that thinks it is above the law. The City and County of San Francisco that has been pandering to the U.S. Navy, the SF Redevelopment Agency, and to Rogue Developers like Lennar that want to develop contaminated land to make money and foster GREED.
Caught in the mix are the Samoans, the Blacks, poor Whites, Latinos, Native American, Asians - those that live in Public Housing and those that chose to buy homes and make the Bayview Hunters Point - their home.
70% of the people in the Bayview Hunters Point own their home. The rest rent - and most of those that rent live in Public Housing or Affordable Housing such as Northridge Housing managed by the John Stewart Property Management. Others in the thousands by Apartment Investment Management Company (AIMCO).
You can google the two rascal companies and learn a lot. John Stewart was once fired from the i infamous Fanny Mae and has his finger - all over the Tenderloin and the Single Residential Occupancy (SROs) units, Treasure Island and affordable housing there, the Presidio of San Francisco. He made his money a long time ago - managing the infamous Geneva Towers and those that are old enough can tell you horror stories about the John Stewart Company.
The demographics of the Bayview Hunters Point have drastically changed. Today, African Americans make about 25% of the entire population, with Asians are about 35%, Latino 20%, Whites 10%, and the rest shared by Native Americans and others.
More and more Blacks are leaving the Bayview Hunters Point because they are not given opportunities.
The sell outs Blacks have not read - two documents :
1. The Unfinished Agenda - that predicted what is happen now.
2. The Out-Migration - a document by some sell outs - about the current diaspora.
However, at all the meetings linked with the BVHP Project Area Committee, the Citizens Advisory Committee, and now the fake Facilitation going on with the U.S. Navy - mostly Blacks are carrying on the damage and selling out the community.
All of what is happening in the Bayview Hunters Point is done by design.
There are EVIL people the likes of the Pacific Heights Mafia, others at City Hall, fake, shallow Representatives that call themselves Supervisors - but, work for the MACHINE - who continue to harm the community at large in the Bayview Hunters Point and San Francisco in general.
Missing, in the equation are the Polynesians - mostly the Samoans who played an important role but were used - in any and every way possible to the detriment of the Ploynesians nay the Samoan community.
Many of the Polynesians chose to live in Public Housing in deplorable conditions - hoping against hope they would be helped. Today, in droves they have been evicted and no one - says a word about this injustice.
I have worked hard to help the Samoans - I cannot say that of the Tongan and others that belong as a whole to the Polynesian community. I have kept good relations with the decent Samoan pastors, the Matias that matter, and have some good support among those Samoans that matter.
One Pastor that I trust is Alex Toeaina - he may not know how much I respect him - but I do keep him in the loop and it was God that brought him to me - I wish I had met him a long time ago - but God has His way - and I have to accept what I get in the fight against the forces of EVIL.
The many Samoans and Tongans who are my good friends - are an asset in this fight against injustice. Recently, I shared some good experiences with my friends from Rapa Nui and the many Tongans and Samoans, Native Americans and others that participated in a protest in front of the Chileans Consulate.
San Francisco City Hall has chosen some Samoan Leaders to give them some grants and use them. The Samoan leaders, that are decent know the crooked ones that have sold them out. As I said for now I have Pastor Alex Toeania and All Islanders Gathering As One (AIGA1) to back me up.
The Samoans in San Francisco mostly those that live in Public Housing - be it Potrero Hill, Sunnydale, Hunters View, Oakdale, by Alemany Public Housing - know they have been promised much - and have been deceived.
Some of them have know this for some time now - but, it is left to the leadership to do something. That is all I can say - as the final salvo to the imminent disaster that is waiting to happen - much like an approaching TSUNAMI.
This City and County of San Francisco with our sordid San Francisco Supervisors - especially those represent the residents who live in Public Housing - are shallow, inept, and have chosen to do nothing about the on going poor rehabilitation, future one to one housing, health and safety issues, and a host of other Quality of Life Issues - that these jerks promised to take care of - but now are hiding behind their soiled desks at City Hall.
They all will be exposed in due time.
The present dire Economic situation does not help much. God in his infinite wisdom - because of the dire economic situation got rid of the SF Redevelopment Agency and come July, 2011 they will be DEAD. That is non existent and one of the best actions Jerry Brown could have done as the Governor of the Great State of California.
HOPE SF is dead too - and Property Managers and developers - like the John Stewart Company, the Bridge Developers, and Mercy Housing have all been exposed and most of them caught with their pants down and skirts down; and their hands in the cookie jar.
Never, ever try to fool the innocent and the poor - have compassion, and if you folks that try to use the poor think you will succeed I have news for you. You will drown in the CESSPOOL of your own making - and in drowning and being disgraced - remember, you all scumbags brought it on yourselves.
The same hold good for Angelo King, Doris Vincent, Veronica Hunnicutt, Aurelious Walker, the many other sell outs that sold out the Bayview Hunters Point community - adversely impacting our Elders, our children - decent people who put their faith in Community Of Opportunity and a thug like Dwayne Jones. The many other ploys and machinations - created by the SF Redevelopment Agency that is now DEAD. All of you have blood on your hands.
Remember, Marcia Rosen, Jesse Blout, Michael Cohen, Tiffany Bohee, Diane Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Sophie Maxwell, Linda Richardson, and a host of other minions of those that did evil and thought they would succeed.
The blood of the Elders and the children that you all have adversely impacted - in upon you and your children.
It is not too late to educate yourselves on issues and fight for what is right - I say this to the people who are decent. The likes of Lynne Brown, Espanola Jackson, Marlene Tran, Pastor Ernest Jackson, Jarone Brown, Jamo Muhammad, Michael Boyd, Bob Simpson, Maurice Campbell, Maurice Tatum (aka Suleiman), Alicia Swartz, Eric Brooks, Joshua Arce, Leon Mohammad, Franzo King, Christopher Mohammad, Tony Kelly, and a few others that may not want me to mention their names.
One thing I know for sure - with God on your side you always win - it may take some time but if you pray, do good, you will WIN.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

2011-03-27 "Vacaville man injured by explosive device hidden in newspaper" by Carla Rivera
[http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/03/explosive-devise-hidden-in-newspaper-injures-vacaville-man.html]
An explosive device wrapped in a newspaper exploded in a residential neighborhood in Vacaville on Sunday, seriously injuring a man and forcing the evacuation of more than a dozen homes.
The explosion on Cashel Circle occurred about 10:20 a.m. when the unidentified man went to his driveway to retrieve the Sunday paper, said Mark Mazzaferro, a spokesman for the city, about midway between San Francisco and Sacramento.
The man was airlifted to a local hospital and his condition was unknown, Mazzaferro said. It was unclear whether the victim was targeted or whether it was a random attack. There was also no information on the type of device used.
Authorities evacuated 12 to 14 homes in the surrounding cul-de-sac, while investigators from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives and a bomb squad from nearby Travis Air Force Base searched for more explosives.
Police detectives were also canvassing the community for information on anyone acting suspiciously Saturday night or Sunday morning, Mazzaferro said. Residents within a one-mile radius of the explosion were advised not to approach any suspicious packages.
2011-03-27 "A life committed to grass-roots organizing" By CHRIS SMITH from "THE PRESS DEMOCRAT" daily newspaper
[http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110327/ARTICLES/110329579/1350?p=1&tc=pg&tc=ar]
He's 30 years old, Latino, bilingual, well-read and college educated. He lives in Santa Rosa, he's single and good looking and has forged himself into one of Sonoma County's new generation of community leaders. And he is not Efren Carrillo.
People sometimes ask Davin Cardenas if he aspires to follow the example of Carrillo, who was 27 when he won election as a Sonoma County supervisor, and seek public office.
“Not right now,” said Cardenas, who, unlike the Mexican-born and once-impoverished Carrillo, started out as a middle-class kid in suburban Orange County.
For the present, he's feeling challenged and fulfilled by his work organizing immigrants, students, workers, conservationists and others into a force competing for local power against better-financed interests.
Explaining why he feels no urgency to seek political office, Cardenas said, “Democracy is kept alive by the politicized as much as by the politicians.”
His name first hit the newspaper in 2004, when he'd left Sonoma State University with a liberal studies degree and was organizing the undocumented workers who'd long massed on street corners in Graton into a labor collective.
Cardenas left his position as paid organizer with the Graton Day Labor Center, housed since fall of 2007 in a former portable classroom, and he's just gone to work for the North Bay Organizing Project. It's an effort by nearly a dozen local, liberal advocacy groups to build a grassroots power base “for social justice and public policy reform.”
Member organizations include the Committee for Immigrant Rights of Sonoma County, Living Wage Coalition, MoveOn Sonoma County, Graton Day Labor Center, MEChAcq, LandPaths/Bayer Farm, Roseland English for Adult Learners and Sonoma County Conservation Action. The Quakers' Redwood Forest Friends Meeting is in the process of joining.
Cardenas was there when about hundreds of people met weeks ago at Santa Rosa City Hall to set the project's inaugural objectives. The assembly agreed to seek to impact two local issues: police agencies' impounding of cars from unlicensed drivers, and what kind of residences, workplaces and modes of transportation will surround stations of the planned SMART commuter-rail system.
Cardenas will work with two task forces of about 50 people each that will advocate for undocumented immigrants who currently cannot receive a driver's license, and for people who seek to live and work near SMART stations and to have convenient, non-vehicular access to them.
Cardenas traces his interest in organizing and making leaders of traditional underdogs to the books he read while growing up in Mission Viejo with his Mexico-born mother and Texas-born dad.
Forced by his parents to speak and read Spanish, a requirement for which he became grateful, he discovered the works of Uruguayan Eduardo Galeano and other writers critical of American and European abuses in Latin America, including the support of dictators.
“I began to find my best friends in those authors and historical figures,” Cardenas said. His reading taught him “how the development of the north came at the under-development of the south.”
After graduating from Aliso Niguel High School in 1999, he left Orange County to enroll in SSU's Hutchins School of Liberal Studies. He took to the “small class size, lots of literature, reading, writing and lots of opinionating.”
Cardenas joined the campus MEChA group, part of a nationwide Latino network with a formal goal of using education to strive for “a society free of imperialism, racism, sexism and homophobia,” and later pitched in to donate clothing, food and English lessons to the immigrants who clustered in Graton and hoped to find work.
“We were trying to test ourselves, to challenge ourselves to get off campus,” he said. “We wanted to get involved in a larger struggle.”
That volunteer work led to him becoming the first paid organizer of the fledging Graton Day Labor Center. He said his seven years in the post taught him to forge relationships and foster grassroots leaders, and taught him about himself.
How does Cardenas respond to encouragement that he run for public office? “I don't pay too much attention,” he said.
“I want to be a great professional organizer,” he said. “I love the theory and I love the practice. It's a job that asks us who we are and forces us to confront our personal challenges, which is pretty cool.”

Saturday, March 26, 2011

2011-03-26 "César Chávez's grandson inspires Vallejo students from MIT Academy" by Lanz Christian Bañes from "Vallejo Times-Herald" newspaper
[http://www.timesheraldonline.com/ci_17705971]
For a few brief moments Friday, Vallejo thundered with the iconic words, "Sí, se puede."
"It's not just a catchy phrase. It's a way of life, of living. It's a mindset," said Juan Chávez Villarino.
Villarino's legendary grandfather César Chávez used the saying, roughly translated to, "Yes, it can be done," to organize Central Valley farm workers in strikes and civil disobedience in the struggle for better working conditions.
And it was that phrase that inspired Barack Obama to coin his presidential campaign slogan of "Yes, we can."
Chávez would go on to co-found the National Farm Workers Association, which evolved into the United Farm Workers. March 31, Chávez' birthday, is celebrated in California as César Chávez Day.
Wearing a red UFW shirt, Villarino, 28, spoke to Mare Island Technology Academy at the behest of a Spanish II class members. They called the César E. Chávez Foundation, which sent Villarino.
"It's pretty cool they took that initiative," said Villarino, whose speech emphasized the importance of education.
Villarino is a recent University of California, Santa Cruz graduate. Chávez himself had to drop out of school in eighth grade to help support his family, Villarino said, who told the students they should pursue their educations.
"(Chávez) was a product of his environment. He had to leave school to support his family. If he could, he would have stayed there," Villarino said.
Villarino described his grandfather as a man who sacrificed a chance at a comfortable life to become the voice of those who could not speak for themselves. Like many of his cousins, Villarino was born on the Delano farm that was Chávez's home and headquarters.
It was in Delano, that Filipino-American farm workers led by Larry Itliong initiated a strike and boycott against grape growers in 1965. They were joined by Chávez's organization, largely made up of Mexican-Americans. Villarino said his grandfather emphasized nonviolent civil disobedience -- to the point of going on hunger strikes -- even when threatened with violence.
"It's a way of revolting against the status quo ... not with guns, but with picket signs," Villarino told the students, assembled in the gym of nearby Continentals of Omega Boys and Girls Club.
As legend has it, the Filipino-Americans and Mexican-Americans would begin their meetings with a "unity" or "solidarity" clap to bridge the language barrier. The clap would start slow and in unison before speeding up and ending in cheering.
Villarino led the students in the solidarity clap at the beginning and end of his presentation. The students also answered Villarino's question of "¿Se puede?" ("Is it possible?") with Chávez's famous "Sí, se peude."
A grape boycott lasted five years, leading to a significant victory for farm workers' rights and propelling Chávez to national attention. His work would take him across the globe, Villarino said.
"(But) when he was home, he made time for his family," Villarino said, remembering softball games and his 32 cousins taking long, agonizing turns to open their Christmas presents one at a time.
Villarino said he is proud of his grandfather and the legacy he left behind, admiring him for his wisdom despite only achieving an eighth-grade education.
"Imagine what he could have done heading off to a four-year university," Villarino said.

Juan Ch vez Villarino, the grandson of UFW founder C\ésar Ch vez, speaks to students of Vallejo's MIT Academy about the legacy of his grandfather and the importance of continuing to improve and strive for excellence. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)
2011-03-26 "10-Point Plan for Local Revenue to Save Quality Public Education in Oakland" by Ben Visnick, Past President/OEA
Ben Visnick currently teaches USA History and Driver Education at Oakland High School. His wife is a guidance counselor at Skyline High and his son is a student at Montera Middle School.
(labor donated) http://oaklandea.org

On March 26th, the Oakland Education Association (OEA) teacher's union responded to over 500 layoff notices by holding a town hall in Oakland's City Hall to establish consensus between teachers, parents, students and elected officials so that solutions can be found and implemented to avoid the potential massive layoffs and disruption in Oakland schools. The 10-Point Plan is a guide to raising revenue locally that California is set to deny school districts statewide.
While the current Oakland Board of Education (BOE) correctly laments the fact that state and federal resources are dwindling, they have done nothing collectively since regaining “local control” to hold corporate Oakland accountable for an increase in funds to our public schools. Instead, the BOE continues to vote for charter schools which drain students and revenue from Oakland Unified (OUSD). Meanwhile, the Alameda County Office of Education rubber stamps rejected Oakland charters which lead to further lay-offs of unionized educators and classified employees as well as more decentralized inefficiencies in the operation of our public schools. Therefore, it is time to raise/save revenue here in Oakland and Alameda County for our beleaguered school districts.
We cannot count on Governor Jerry Brown. His attempt to reach accommodation with Republican politicians has already led to more cutbacks in higher education/social services and threatens us with two-tier pension “reform”. Therefore, Oakland must serve as a model for what California legislators should be doing to promote progressive taxation to solve the worst budget crisis since the Great Depression.
Local Proposals for Progressive Taxation

1) We need local taxation which exempts middle and low income homeowners and renters in Oakland. Very high income residents here can afford to pay more for the common wealth of our society. The top 1% receives almost 25% of all income in the USA and Oakland, California, is no exception. A Graduated Oakland Income Tax on single wage earners making over the Social Security Cap (currently $106,800) can be instituted at a rate which begins at 1% for payroll income over the cap. For example, a single person either residing or working in Oakland earning $125,000 per year could pay 1% to the city and school district ($125,000-$106,800) on $18,200 or $182 per year. Ultra high single income earners would pay 2% starting with $206,800, 3% at $306,800, etc. Two-income wage earning families would start paying the local Oakland income tax at $206,800. Million dollar earners would, of course, pay most of this local tax which should be a joint city/school district effort.
Let’s see how this local income tax would work. Oakland residents Governor Jerry Brown, Alameda County Superintendent Sheila Jordan, and Oakland Superintendent Tony Smith would all be required to pay this tax because they earn over $106,800 as a single person or over $206,800 as a two-income married couple. We will use Tony Smith and his $265,000 annual salary here as an example. Tony is married and we assume his wife is not currently working. He would pay 2% on the difference between $265,000 and $106,800 or 2% of $158,200 for a total of $3,164. Is this too much for highly paid managers like Dr. Smith to pay to the city and school district?

2) We also need additional corporate taxes targeted at the most profitable Oakland businesses. The following companies will not leave the public Port of Oakland and are a fair source of tax revenue for our city and school district:
Southwest Airlines, Federal Express, United Parcel Service, American President Lines, Matson Shipping, Union Pacific, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe
A simple tax on every container or airline ticket to be paid by these companies could provide many millions for our young people’s education and save the city millions of dollars for the cost of incarceration and poverty in the future.

3) While our professional sports teams are owned by multi-millionaires, they have shown no substantive concern for the neighboring youth of East Oakland. One owner, Lew Wolff, has continued to disrespect this city with his stated desire to move the 4-time World Champion Oakland Athletics to San Jose! Instead, he, Al Davis, and Joe Lacob need to become a part of, not apart from, this community by agreeing to pay for a ticket surcharge on luxury suites, courtside, and box seats for the affluent fans who use our public Oakland/Alameda County Coliseum/Arena facilities for their sporting pleasure.

Saving Revenue -
4) Internally, the OUSD has done a poor job of managing its facilities. There are way too many schools and “schools within schools” that waste resources by requiring more principals and vice principals than are necessary for quality education. For example, there are over 30 separate secondary schools in OUSD! Furthermore, head teachers can be elected by their peers to oversee schools which could eliminate many administrators who have been out of the classroom for decades. Understaffed small schools have never been and are especially not now sustainable in Oakland. McClymonds, Fremont, and Castlemont High must be reconfigured with a full curriculum that includes field trips, a library, counselors, AP classes, foreign language choices, art and music, journalism, debate, drama, physical education options, driver/safety education, and career academies along with A-G classes.

5) In Alameda County, the existence of very small school districts requires more economies of scale. If Piedmont and Albany can share a fire chief while Emeryville and Piedmont share paramedic and animal control services, there is no reason why school districts cannot do the same. Oakland Superintendent Tony Smith ran Emeryville USD when it was coming out of state control and knows the limitations of small districts. Both Emeryville and Piedmont can share services with Oakland USD, while also working with the Peralta Community Colleges for expanded public/public partnerships to save student programs and the jobs of certificated and classified school employees while cutting administrative overhead. The lack of leadership from the Alameda County Office of Education on the above common sense proposal is striking.

Giving Something Back -
6) Vendors who earn significant profits from OUSD and the City of Oakland must step up their support for the citizens of our city by freezing and reducing their rates. Whether it is Keenan Associates, Kaiser Permanente, Health Net, Delta Dental, or Vision Service Plan, these companies owe our youth nothing less.

7) P, G&E, AT&T, and Waste Management must also contribute to solving the economic crisis facing our city’s fire, safety, and educational institutions. They, too, must freeze and reduce the rates they charge the public.

Human Resources vs. Modernization -
8) As we watch the devastation caused by the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami, one is reminded that the headquarters of the OUSD resides in a building (1025 Second Avenue) that is not earthquake safe under the Education Code. Yet children and adults attend meetings in its inadequate Board Meeting Room and central office workers are at risk on a daily basis. Demolishing this unsafe building and leasing the valuable land next to Lake Merritt’s Channel is long overdue. It would raise revenue and allow the down-sized administration to move to a safer district location.
It is a fact that as OUSD seeks to lay-off hundreds of educators the district’s schools are being renovated with local and state bond money. Ironically, Oakland will soon have first class school facilities without the teachers to staff them!
During this emergency financial crisis, the state must allow some funds for buildings to be shifted temporarily to human resources with voter approval. It makes no sense to have new physical plants without physical education and physical science instructors!

Enrollment Numbers and Site Budgeting -
9) Part of the financial problems facing urban and rural school districts relates to a past change in the state funding of schools based on “Average Daily Attendance” (ADA) as a percentage of actual enrollment. In the 1990s, school districts received funds for all enrolled students including those who were truant or ill. Now, our individual Oakland schools lose roughly between 1% and 10% of their funds due to the change in state law which eliminated ADA for absent and sick students. This state policy is exacerbated by OUSD’s own “Results Based Budgeting” (RBB) policy which penalizes the budgets of our flatland school neighborhoods where tardiness and absenteeism are generally greater.
School sites are also being told that they must hire “consultants” with Title I and Grant monies rather than spend this categorical revenue directly in the classroom. This places OUSD under the 55% state requirement for minimum instructional expenditures while tens of millions of dollars is spent on private programs that often demonstrate little success in improving the academic and social needs of our students.
The state must return to funding California public schools based on actual enrollment so that we have the resources to hire anti-truancy workers and more guidance counselors to get our youth off the streets and into the classrooms. Furthermore, OUSD needs to abandon RBB which encourages school principals to practice age discrimination in hiring and retaining experienced staff. Due to RBB, many Oakland elementary schools have a disproportionate number of new and “cheaper” teachers because veteran teachers are too “expensive” for their limited budgets. Much of the so-called debt OUSD owes to the State of California is based on the lack of ADA due to the above along with the fiscal mismanagement of OUSD under state control from 2002 to 2009.
That is why it is both morally and financially proper for the superintendent and school board along with mayor and city council to demand that the debt to the state be canceled immediately!

Why is there Always Money for War and Bail Outs? -
10) Finally, a growing percentage of the budgets of school district, city, county, and state governments is consumed by debt service paid to large banks, hedge funds, and insurance companies. It is time to raise the demand that the current and future generations of children and youth not be sacrificed to the greedy capitalists running Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Chase as well as the AIGs of this nation who are bailed out while they foreclose on the homes of many of the students we teach. The school districts and cities of America must not file for bankruptcy, but collectively tell the banks and bond holders that we are canceling their usurious interest payments to save our schools, fire departments, public hospitals, transportation infrastructure, and services for the disabled and destitute.

The above draft plan is offered based on my experience as an Oakland public schools teacher/parent and OEA leader for over 30 years. Your ideas and comments are welcome whether you are a teacher, school employee, parent, city employee, student or Oakland citizen concerned with the future of public education and essential services.

Friday, March 25, 2011

2011-03-25 "Right To Share Food No. 1"
Hello, My name is Michael “Waterman” Hubman of the charity Watercorps and organizer with the Right To Share Food Coalition. Right To Share Food was formed in response to the June 2, 2010 take down by government of the Towne Avenue Soup Line, and continued harassment by government of ongoing efforts to feed the poor and homeless population of Skid Row Los Angeles. Prior to the take down of the soup line, volunteers from the World Agape Drop In Center had been feeding the poor and homeless of Eastern Skid Row Los Angeles six days a week at the same location for over five years.
The Right To Share Food Extravaganza II (The first one happened on September 30, 2010.) was scheduled to take place on Sunday March 20, 2011. The date for this event was selected to coincide with the vernal equinox and first day of spring. We had no way of knowing that mother nature had arranged for a fast moving cold front and rain storm  to sweep through the region that very day. This weather event also managed to drench the runners, staff and spectators of the Los Angeles Marathon.
The players at this Right To Share Food Event were Tanya and her group with GuerilLA Food Not Bombs, James and his group from World Share (formally World Agape), General Dogon of LA CAN and myself.
My day started in the morning when I visited three groups who were feeding the homeless and the poor on Gladys Street and Towne Avenue . I invited them to our event, and encouraged them to join our coalition. I said that it was important to organize to defend their right to share food. All of the feeders were glad to hear that they had friends who were sticking up for them and their right to share food. One lady told me; “you mean you are for us and not against us?”
After my visit with the feeders, I spent the rest of the morning with James at World Share puzzling over the Doppler Radar images on line. Would we get a break in the weather? Not likely. It looked like our event was scheduled for the middle of the storm.
At one in the afternoon, I went to the corner of Sixth and Towne to sit in my car and greet anyone who happened to show up for our event. I sat and watched as sheets of rain fell on the empty street. All of the players were prepared to come out and get drenched. Tanya and her group were cooking James and General Dogon were ready to go. I told them to stay dry and hold up until I called. Then it occurred to me that we should move this event indoors to World Share. I called and cleared it with James. I called Tanya and General Dogon with the change of venue.
I drove around and verbally invited anyone who was still out on the street, mostly on San Julian Street and at The Midnight Mission courtyard, to come and enjoy a hot meal and to eat inside.
Tanya arrived with a great vegetarian meal. I told the people who were assembled that today’s meal was special in that we were celebrating our right to share food. Tanya and her group served up rice beans and vegetable soup.
General Dogon spoke about his history as a lifelong resident of Skid Row. He talked about Skid Row Los Angeles being the most heavily policed place in America . He spoke about the human and civil rights work done at LA CAN.
I spoke about the history and development of Right To Share Food. I spoke about the right to share food being a fundamental human right. I said that we believe that our right to share food is protected under the freedom of association clause of the first amendment of the constitution.
For the first time; I publicly advocated for the recall of Councilmember Perry.  I said I had  been avoiding talking about recall until I could secure some backing for such an effort. I said that the recall concept was not going anywhere unless we started talking about it.
I closed by saying that Councilmember Perry thought she was just dumping on some little people when she caused the shutdown of the Towne Avenue Soup Line. She did not know that by causing the take down of the soup line that she was jump starting the right to share food movement.
James thanked every one for coming. We put away the food. James started the movie that had been paused for the Right To Share Food event.
All in all; we had a good day.
Please read the following Right To Share Food Position Paper.


"Right To Share Food"
At Right To Share Food, we believe that sharing food with our brothers and sisters is a fundamental human right. We believe that sharing food is a constitutionally protected activity, guaranteed under the freedom of association clause of the first amendment of The Constitution of the United States of America . We believe that sharing food outside and in public is an equally protected activity. Our goal is to promote cooperation among people in order to exercise and defend this right.
---
Hello,
Let me introduce myself. My name is Michael Hubman. I am the founder and the facilitator of Right To Share Food and member of Right To Share Food Coalition. Since 2007 I have been lobbying on behalf of the human and civil rights of homeless people. I operate Watercorps, a charity that gives bulk drinking water to the homeless people living on the streets of Skid Row Los Angeles.
You might ask; why do we feel the need to organize and lobby to protect and exercise our right to share food? The answer is, that it is a common occurrence in contemporary society, for those who are morally and spiritually motivated, to want to help others who find themselves in a state of need. This state of need is often manifested by poverty, homelessness and destitution. Those who desire to come to the aid of their less fortunate brothers and sisters, commonly express this aid by sharing food.
Conflict occurs when government, most often municipalities, attempt to effect social engineering by restricting or forbidding the sharing of food on public property, the commons and even private property. I liken this kind of social engineering by cities to wildlife management. The problem is, we are talking about our human brothers and sisters, and not unwanted pigeons or other pesky wild life. Why?
I can’t speak for these municipal wild life managers. I can only guess. My guess as to why the sovereign would act in such a selfish and mean spirited manner is greed. Poverty and homelessness are commonly viewed by some who are not similarly afflicted as messy and unsightly. The sight of homeless and poor people lining up to receive a charitable meal makes it hard to convince oneself and others that all is well in their area of interest. When poverty and homelessness are not sufficiently hidden and dispersed, it tends to raise concerns among some who would worry about depressed commerce and property values.
When homeless people gather in public, especially in numbers, they often generate a response by government to harass them with the goal of dispersing them. The dispersing of the homeless to make them less visible robs them of community and society and denies them their right to associate. Harassing the people who want to share food and aid the homeless and poor is just another tactic to disperse them and deny them the right to associate and assemble.
Sincerely, Michael Hubman [714-746-1203] [714-746-1203] [michaelcirclewider@yahoo.com][waterman@watercorps.net]
[http://www.watercorps.net]         
[http://www.righttosharefood.org] (aka) [http://www.rtsf.us]
[http://www.CASCI.us]  (Coalition for the Abolition of Safer Cities Initiative)
[http://www.MEANESTCITY.us]  (This is a link to the 191 Pg. human rights report.)
[http://www.PLEJ.us]  (Peoples Lobby for Economic Justice)
Please Mail us a check. Michael Hubman / Watercorps 620 E. First St. Los Angeles CA 90012 



2010-10-04 "Defending the right to share food: Skid Row’s community picnic" by Carly Gillis
[http://www.laactivist.com/2010/10/04/defending-the-right-to-share-food-skid-row%e2%80%99s-community-picnic/]
Themes of empowerment and social responsibility permeated a community picnic in Skid Row on Thursday, Sept. 30. The event was both a festival and a protest against the alleged rise in citations against charities distributing food to the homeless in downtown.
Groups from the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), Los Angles Catholic Worker, Food Not Bombs, World Agape Church, Hunger Action LA, Coalition LA and others gathered at Towne Avenue between Sixth and Seventh Streets to distribute food and supplies, free of charge.
Dozens of homeless and Skid Row residents filed into quiet lines while organizers rallied in defense of their community.
“They are directly targeting folks down here,” said General Dogon, organizer for LA CAN. “We got to stand up and get involved. It’s going to take all of us to do it.”
The event was the culmination of months of planning by the groups. Three months prior to the event, the World Agape Church food line, which had been in operation for over five years, was closed by the Los Angeles County Health Department.
Volunteers that participate in similar social outreach banded together soon afterward to protest this and the alleged rise in policing the distribution of free food.
Kay Chung, manager at World Agape Church, is looking into obtaining a permit to restart the food line. The church is lead by Korean missionaries with headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. Chung grew up during the Korean War. The help his family received from other countries during that time inspired him to help others.
“I was so young. I remember getting dried milk and corn from the United States,” said Chung. “Now the economic conditions are growing better … so now we can spread money to homeless people.”
The first organizers set up their supplies at 3 p.m. A wide variety of handouts were available and not limited to food. Toiletries, clothing and even healthy cookbooks were given out freely. For hungry attendees, the organizers provided ice cream, fruit, hamburgers, Acai drinks, doughnuts, soup, pasta and more.
Drum circles and a group of guitarists and singers entertained the crowds. Songs like “Let My People Go” and “Wade in the Water” wafted through the air [http://www.laactivist.com/?attachment_id=706], along with the scent of burning sage.
Mike Wisniewski, a server at the LA Catholic Worker, spoke about tangentially related frustrations regarding the LAPD’s Safer Cities Initiative (SCI). In 2006, the police department dispatched an fifty additional officers to the fifty square blocks of Skid Row.
“I think it’s demoralizing, inhumane, and really atrocious,” said Wisniewski. “All it does is have a demoralizing effect on everyone that’s affected by it, including us who serve.”
Along with perpetuating negative connotations, SCI is also described as ineffective. SCI has even come under scrutiny by UCLA faculty Gary Blasi and graduate student Forrest Stuart. In 2008, they released a report on SCI titled “Has the Safer Cities Initiative in Skid Row Reduced Serious Crime?” [http://cdn.law.ucla.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/missing%20files/did_safer_cities_reduce_crime_in_skid_row.pdf]
“We found that, as to overall serious or violent crime, the reduction of crime in the SCI deployment area was not statistically significant from the reduction in the non-SCI area,” stated Blasi and Stuart in their report.
Event organizers frequently spoke in opposition to SCI. Dogon urged all in attendance to sign a petition against it. Taking up a mobile loudspeaker, he announced that a preliminary petition was delivered to LAPD’s Central Division before the event which included 3,500 signatures. Dogon hoped to get another petition organized at the event.
Michael Hubman of Watercorps, a water distribution charity, first brought the closing of World Agape Church’s soup line to the attention of LA CAN. Hubman maintains that SCI and the actions against the homeless of the area is less about the improvement of the area and more about a class war.
“We believe that sharing food with our brothers and sisters is a fundamental human right,” said Hubman. “We’re talking about our human brothers and sisters, not unwanted pigeons or pesky wildlife.”
Nevylle Flagg once worked at World Agape Church. Although he stopped volunteering in August of 2009, he decided to be a part of Thursday’s action as soon as he heard about the closure of the soup line.
“The red shirts would stop by and give us garbage bags, talk to us, help us,” said Flagg, referring to the uniform color of security hired by area businesses. “That’s why this is so weird. Somewhere in May or June the politics flipped and now they’re starting to attack us.”
Many of the attendees were grateful for the palatable variety available at the picnic, beyond just its quality. Many unanimously preferred food given by independent organizations over “bland” food given out at missions.
“Mission food? I feel like I’ve gotten more messed up on mission food than I have on the street,” said Skid Row resident Tony Johnson. “[Mission food] comes from food banks, and a lot of it is either expired or close to its expiration date.”
Bilal Ali, organizer for Coalition LA, performed a spoken-word poem for the event. The piece was entitled “Happy Anniversary” in reference to the fourth anniversary of SCI [http://www.laactivist.com/?attachment_id=713].
“Happy anniversary, for making it a crime to be poor, for making it a crime to sleep on a concrete floor,” read Ali. “Hail, hail to the new Rome, where you’re no longer welcome so take your poor ass to find a new home. …
They may beat us, they may mistreat us, but they ain’t never going to defeat us.”
Although police patrols frequently circled the event, no direct action was taken to close or limit the organizers’ activities.
Activists plan to continue having community picnics in Skid Row, however a future date has not yet been set.

People line up for food provided by Food Not Bombs. The charity served fruit, salad, stir fry and bread as part of a picnic on Skid Row to defend what organizers call their “right to share food,” which they feel has been under attack by the LAPD and Health Dept. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)

 General Dogon, an organizer for LA CAN, stands on Towne Avenue and speaks to Skid Row residents in line for food. “This is our community,” he tells them. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)

 A member of World Agape hands a box of juice to a man in line for food. Along with juice, World Agape provided hamburgers, doughnuts, ice cream, grapefruit and clothing. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)
 
During a speech given by an organizer, an SUV pulled up along side. Its passengers displayed patronizing/instigating gestures towards the crowd. Organizers say the passengers were LAPD in civilian clothes. During the picnic, many LAPD patrol cars were witnessed slowing down while its officers glared at people in line for food. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)

Members of LA Catholic Worker provide music for the picnic. The charity also served lentil soup. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)

Bilal Ali, with help from a djembe player from Skid Row Playez, performs his spoken word poem. Speaking in meter and in opposition to the LAPD’s Safer Cities Initiative, Ali says to the crowd, “We’re too legit to quit.” (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)
 


2011-03-25 "SmartMeter opt out comes with sticker shock" by Jason Walsh from "Pacific Sun" newspaper
Pacific Gas and Electric has developed an opt-out option for energy customers who don't want the controversial radio-emitting SmartMeters used at their residences—and it's going to cost them.
In a press release released March 24, PG&E laid out the CPUC-ordered opt-out: for between $135 and $270 the utility will disconnect the wireless part of the meter; for between $14 and $20 per month a technician will come out to read the meter, as they've done for decades.
SmartMeters employ radio-frequency technology that monitors household usage digitally and sends the information to PG&E. Critics have said people shouldn't be forced into being exposed to the low-level radiation emitted by the meters; they've also questioned the possibility of improper use of the information collected by PG&E—a charge that gained credence last year when SmartMeter officials were caught spying on anti-SmartMeter Internet chatrooms and disguising their identities to gain information about SmartMeter protests.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2011-03-23 "License to Lend: One of only a handful of its kind in the country, the Santa Rosa Tool Library expands to downtown storefront" by Leilani Clark from "Northbay Bohemian" newspaper
[http://www.bohemian.com/bohemian/03.23.11/news-1112.html]
For Dustin Zuckerman, it's all about the tools. The founder and executive director of the Santa Rosa Tool Library asks just three things of his board members: (1) to accept that a fee will never be charged for the library's services; (2) to realize that the organization will never promote sociopolitical causes; and (3) to understand that the organization exists for one thing—loaning out tools.
"The biggest challenge has been trying to keep it simple," says Zuckerman. "Too many libraries have folded because they got too ambitious at the beginning."
Zuckerman began the Santa Rosa Tool Library with decidedly humble ambitions in August 2008, running it out of his one-bedroom apartment where tools inhabited every space ("Except for maybe the refrigerator," he says, not joking). But on April 4, one of Sonoma County's most unique community resources will make its biggest leap yet—into a downtown storefront on Fifth Street, fulfilling one of Zuckerman's earliest visions for the venture.
Modeled after tool libraries in Berkeley and Oakland (Portland, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Columbus also have them, but few other major cities do), the tool library's idea was originally conceived after Zuckerman bought a $35 tool that he only used once. He started cataloguing his own tools on a Microsoft Word document, and created a system whereby people could borrow and share saws, sanders and hammers instead of buying new ones.
As first reported in the Bohemian in 2008, the tool library's process is simple. First, patrons register by filling out a borrower's agreement with a valid photo ID and a recent piece of mail with a matching address. Patrons can then choose from hundreds of tools, which can be checked out for between four and seven days. Late fees are just $1 to $2.
Zuckerman, who works days at the Santa Rosa Junior College library, will run the downtown front desk from 5pm to 7pm on weekday afternoons. In an innovative co-working situation, the tool library shares space with an architect and two attorneys in a spacious, high-ceilinged brick building. Zuckerman says the shared arrangement keeps overhead low, so that the library can focus on accumulating more tools and creating as efficient a system as possible.
"I started the tool library based on the premise of whether there was a need for this service," says Zuckerman, seated between buckets of saws and empty shelves in a back room soon to be filled with rentable tools. "If I start to see that there seems to be a need for the service, let's let it grow based on the demand." Now, with over 600 patrons and increased media attention, it's clear that the community is clamoring for services like this one.
Zuckerman attributes the positive response to the organization's roots in two tried and true institutions: a tool rental company and a public library. "We don't charge a membership fee, we don't hold a credit card number. There's no barrier to using the library. It's very palatable," says Zuckerman.
With the new storefront, he looks toward an increased level of confidence from both patrons and potential funders, especially as the tool library takes on an expanded public presence. "We've received funding, but when you are run out of a house, it doesn't quite give the confidence that you have something that could sustain itself," says Zuckerman.
While one could presume large hardware outfits like Friedman's Home Improvement fearing the tool library cutting into their profits, the locally owned Friedman's has actually donated resources to the library—including two large shopping carts, which will be converted into dollies for transporting the bigger items. "Folks are so much more in tune with collaborating and sharing resources, especially in this county," says Zuckerman. "It just gets people excited. It's kind of a feel-good type of thing."

The Santa Rosa Tool Library opens Monday, April 4, at 642 Fifth St., Santa Rosa. Monday-Friday, 5pm-7pm; Saturday, 9am-2pm. 707.576.0590. www.borrowtools.org.
2011-03-18 "3 charged in 'white power' attack in S.F." by Henry K. Lee from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
[http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/03/17/BAKK1IE1LR.DTL]
Three men have been charged with assault and hate crimes for allegedly yelling "white power" while attacking two men from Mexico in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood, authorities said Thursday.
Robert Allen, 38, Anthony Weston, 32, and Justin Meskan, 29, all of San Francisco, assaulted the two men outside a bar on O'Farrell Street on Nov. 10, prosecutors said. The defendants yelled "white power" during the attack, during which one victim was knocked to the ground and punched and kicked until he lost consciousness, authorities said.
The second victim was attacked when he tried to help the first one, who was hospitalized, investigators said.
Prosecutors said no words were exchanged between the two groups of men, and that the attack apparently was unprovoked.
All three defendants pleaded not guilty Thursday in Superior Court to charges of assault, battery and enhancements alleging that the attack was a hate crime and caused great bodily injury.