Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011-07-31 "The Desert in the Valley: How Arizona Style Laws are Already in Effect in Modesto" from "Modesto Anarcho" newspaper
[http://www.modestoanarcho.org/2011/07/desert-in-valley-how-arizona-style-laws.html]
According to a vendor who conducted an interview with Modesto Anarcho last week, a recent raid on the 7th Street Flea Market led to many people including some children being rounded up by I.C.E. (Immigration Customs Enforcement, immigration cops) for deportation. The raid on the flea market was part of a larger crack-down by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) against DVD and CD bootleggers. According to the Modesto Bee [http://www.modbee.com/2011/07/27/1793192/modesto-flea-market-raid-nabs.html]: "Approximately 80 officers were involved in the raid. Besides the FBI, officers from the Stanislaus and Sacramento County Sheriff's Departments and the Sacramento High Tech Crimes Task Force assisted."
What the Modesto Bee article fails to mention and what was reported to Modesto Anarcho, was that ICE agents were also involved in the sting and arrested several people on suspicion of being undocumented. According to the vendor who was interviewed, when FBI agents moved through the market taking bootlegged products, ICE agents also rounded up people who were in the general area, including several young children. According to witnesses, this is the second raid on the flea market in the last year.
In the summer of 2010, the Arizona Governor signed into law SB-1070, the most sweeping immigration legislation in recent US history. The law would legally give police the right to racially profile people and stop anyone at anytime if they were suspected of being in the United States illegally. Once stopped, the suspect would have to provide documentation to prove that they were a legal citizen of the US. As expected, SB-1070 brought on massive protests and much of the bill is currently is tied up in Arizona courts. However, already hundreds of thousands of people have fled the state, fearing the looming police state.
As reported by people living in the South-Side of Modesto who also attend the Flea Market, many people living in the area already carry their "papers" or legal documentation with them at all times. This is done because many people are afraid that they will be stopped by the police at any time and asked to see their ID. If they do not produce their ID's (it is not illegal in California to not have an ID, but police can bring you down to the station if they 'need' to obtain your information) they fear that they will be taken by police and deported. Since California law does not require one to carry their ID at all times, police need a pretext for stopping someone and then obtaining their information (and then determining if they are 'illegal' or not).
Often, many police do not even need a 'legal' reason to ask for someones ID. They can simply ask to see your identification and a person can consent. They can also ask if someone is on probation or parole, giving them the right to stop and question someone. For instance, around the same time as the raid on the Flea Market, a Grayson resident was interviewed by Modesto Anarcho who reported that Grayson police were doing random searches and patrols in cars, asking various residents walking down the street to see their ID's or if they were on probation or parole. These situations (on top of instilling fear in people) give the police chances to catch people on basic parole violations as well as find individuals who may be in the US without 'proper' paperwork. These sweeps also have other motives; the desire to keep people locked into ghettoized areas and make them afraid to organize and fight back.
Checkpoints are also being used more and more as a way in which law enforcement agents in California are able to 'legally" try and find people without papers. At a DUI check point, officers ask to see a person's driver's licence and ask if the person has been drinking. But they also serve as a way of seeing if the person is an immigrant or on probation. Checkpoints can often lead to the police conducting warrant-less searches of cars as well as repossession of cars in the wake of someone being brought in for deportation. Checkpoints aren't just a means to check immigrants; the generate millions in tax-venue both through fines and tickets and through the repossession and later sale of people's cars.
Prisons themselves are also big business, especially privately funded prisons including many immigrant dentition facilities. The corporate run prisons generate literally billions in profits, putting money into the pockets of corporations while hard working people are locked in jail, awaiting deportation. In fact, in Arizona, it was private prison corporations and their lobbies which pushed the hardest for laws such as SB-1070. They knew that when police rounded up immigrants, they would also be ensuring more money in their own pockets. Whether "illegal" or not, corporate prisons stand to gain hundreds of dollars in a single day for each person incarcerated.
Recently, head Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson backed by Board of Supervisor member Bill O'Brien (head of O'Brien's markets), have lobbied the Federal Government to turn the empty beds in the Stanislaus County jail into make-shift holding facilities for immigrant detainees [http://www.modbee.com/2011/05/24/1703205/jail-revenue-considered.html]. The jail would be 'rented-out' to the federal government and would generate money for the county through the detention of people deemed to be 'illegal' by local law enforcement. As Christianson stated, Modesto Bee reported [http://www.modbee.com/2011/05/24/1703205/jail-revenue-considered.html]: "Christianson confirmed a preliminary agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A final deal could be inked in three or four months, he said. ICE would pay the county $110 per day for each "civil detainee," many awaiting hearings for deportation at federal courthouses in Sacramento, Fresno or San Francisco. "
In other words, when people are arrested by law enforcement, they must await deportation hearings by the Federal Government. While waiting, they must be housed by some sort of prison system and under Christianson's plan, many people would be housed right here in Downtown Modesto. Thus, people arrested for being without papers (or simply to determine if they are 'illegal') would be sent to the Stanislaus County jail where they would generate money for the county just by being imprisoned. This would include people stopped in checkpoints, at raids on flea markets, or those stopped on the street by police.
To fight this, we must become aware that law enforcement in our society is not a neutral force and exists to hold in place the divisions of race and class that exist to serve power and wealth. Often routine operations such as traffic stops, checkpoints, and stopping people on the street may result in families being torn apart, lengthy jail sentences, deaths from encounters with officers, as well as profits for corporate and state interests. We must realize that racism is being used to divide poor and working people against each other. We are not made safer by the jails filling with our neighbors and co-workers, nor will it lead to 'more opportunities' for 'legal' Americans or less crime. In rejecting the racist logic that attempts to pit different groups of workers and unemployed people against each other, we must come together in a shared struggle against the forces which profit from repression and the prisons which they proliferate.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

2011-07-30 "Vallejoans, Benicians may face new federal, state representation" by Sarah Rohrs, Jessica A. York and Tony Burchyns from "Vallejo Times-Herald" newspaper
[http://www.timesheraldonline.com/news/ci_18585164]
Lisa Vorderbrueggen of MediaNews Group, the Reporter, Vacaville, and the Associated Press contributed to this article.
---
Newly approved legislative district maps could result in Vallejoans and Benicians having three new veteran lawmakers representing them in Congress, the state Senate and Assembly.
Under the new maps the California Citizens Redistricting Commission approved Friday, representatives for those two cities would shift to U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord.
Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who has represented Vallejo since 1993, would see his district shift from much of Solano County to southern Contra Costa County. Also losing Vallejo would be state Sen. Noreen Evans, who has represented the city for more than seven years - including six in the Assembly. Her successor, Assemblyman Michael Allen, also would see his district shift westward away from Vallejo. Both Evans and Allen are Santa Rosa Democrats.
The redistricting commission's new maps will undergo at least two more weeks of public scrutiny before the citizens panel takes its final vote. Then the maps are expected to face legal challenges from Republicans concerned that the Legislature's balance of power - already weighted in the Democrats' favor - will be further enhanced.
Under the current scenario, Democrats in Sacramento could easily gain a two-thirds majority in the state Senate, although such a threshold is not seen as likely in the lower house. That so-called super majority is required in both chambers to approve tax hikes.
If adopted, the maps could go into effect in time for the 2012 election unless the U.S. Department of Justice rules them inconsistent with the federal Voting Rights Act. Residents could also force the new maps onto a statewide ballot, or a group could file a lawsuit.
California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro swiftly panned the Senate plan and repeated an earlier promise to pursue a referendum if warranted.
Here's a brief look at the possible new political landscape affecting Vallejo, Benicia and American Canyon:
Congress. Thompson would represent Vallejo and Benicia in his new district which extends into Contra Costa County, including a portion of Martinez, Crockett, Mountain View, El Sobrante and Pinole.
Thompson would continue to represent American Canyon and Napa County, but would lose a long and narrow stretch of the coast.
The portion of Martinez where Miller now lives would remain in his new district which would include Concord, Danville and Richmond and other areas of the East Bay.
Miller would no longer have any part of Solano County in his district.
"It's a big change for me," Miller said Friday in between votes on the federal budget. "I think I had a great relationship with the people in Solano County and certainly with Vallejo and Benicia."
He cited the closure and change of Mare Island Naval Shipyard into a housing/jobs center as a chief accomplishment.
The long-time congressman, first elected in 1978, has gone through redistricting four times.
In the proposed changes, Miller also will lose Vacaville, part of Fairfield and Suisun City. Rep. John Garamendi will pick up those areas.
Meanwhile, Thompson said Vallejo and Benicia won't be entirely new areas for him. Thompson represented both cities as as state senator before his 1998 election to Congress.
"I love the town and I love the area and I love the people and I'm well aware of a lot of their issues. If it turns out we're all part of the same district I'll know all the issues and I'll work as hard for them as I work for the people of my current district," Thompson said.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, whose current district stretches from Livermore in the south to Fairfield and the rural areas east of Vacaville and Dixon, would now be in a new stretching from the Fairfield/Vacaville area, through Davis and Woodland in Yolo County and then north taking in part of Yuba, Colusa, Glenn and Lake counties.
Assembly. Bonilla, a former teacher and Contra Costa County supervisor, is in her first term, which expires in November 2012.
Bonilla's chief of staff, Luis Quinonez, said the assemblywoman is planning to run for re-election for the same district next year.
"She's looking forward to meeting with all of the constituents (in Benicia and Vallejo), planning to get up to speed very quickly on them, and working toward resolving any issues," Quinonez said. "She is looking forward to understanding the issues and concerns as well as ideas from the folks in these two cities."
Quinonez said Bonilla's district may remain relatively unchanged by the proposed remapping, other than the addition of the two Solano County cities and Pleasant Hill. The 11th district may also lose the cities of Antioch, Rodeo, Hercules and Pinole.
First term Assemblyman Allen may see his district dramatically changed. It will spread from Santa Rosa west to the Marin County coastline, and south to Sausalito. Allen's first term also ends next year.
A spokesman for Allen was unavailable for comment Friday.
The latest map re-draw for Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada's 11th district, which now includes Benicia, also may jump westward. It would take over Napa County, including American Canyon, run north past Davis and Woodland and into the southern portion of Menocino National Forest, and west to beyond Clear Lake. Yamada is in her second term.
State Senate. Evans' district would lose Benicia, Vallejo, Napa, American Canyon and Napa Valley. Those cities would be picked up in the proposed new District 3, in which Wolk plans to run next year, according to her office.
Wolk's new district would also include the rest of Solano County and parts Yolo County.
Evans could not be reached for comment Friday, but she faces reelection to her second term in 2014.
Elizabeth Patterson, Benicia's mayor, said "the jury's out" on the work of the new redistricting commission.
"It is a grand experiment. These things will either work out as we work really hard to make them work, or it will be a frustrating experience."
She said it could be difficult because Benicia may wind up with four new representatives, requiring time be spent on building - or rebuilding - relationships with the politicians who will represent voters.
2011-07-30 "Chevron headed for a year of record profits; Oil company headed for a record year as gas prices rise" by David R. Baker from "San Francisco Chronicle "
[http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-07-30/business/29831981_1_chevron-quarterly-profit-brian-youngberg-oil-prices]
Buoyed by high oil and gasoline prices, Chevron Corp. on Friday reported earning $7.73 billion in the second quarter, putting the San Ramon company on track for what could be its most profitable year yet.
Chevron, the nation's second-largest oil company, made $13.94 billion in profit for the first half of this year, easily topping its previous record of $11.14 billion in the first half of 2008.
"We have strong momentum entering the second half of the year, and we remain well positioned to deliver long-term growth," said Executive Vice President George Kirkland in a conference call with Wall Street analysts.
Chevron's second-quarter profit, equal to $3.85 per share, represented a 43 percent increase from the same period last year. And it almost set a quarterly record at the 131-year-old company. Only in the third quarter of 2008, when oil prices hit their historic peak of $145 per barrel, did Chevron make more, earning $7.89 billion.
Oil prices haven't approached that level this year. But they have stayed high, trading between $95 and $110 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange for most of the spring and summer. Strong oil demand in Asia and political upheaval in the Middle East have kept prices from falling. Crude closed Friday at $95.70.
"The rise in oil prices this time around has been much more steady than what we saw in '08, when it really was a spike," said Brian Youngberg, senior energy analyst with the Edward Jones investment company. "And even with all the concerns about the global economy and the budget deficit and everything else, oil is holding steady around $100."
During the second quarter, Chevron's sale price for oil in the United States averaged $104 per barrel, up from $71 during the same period last year. As a result, Chevron's profit grew even as its worldwide production of oil and natural gas slipped 2 percent, falling to 2.69 million barrels per day. The company's revenue for the quarter rose 30 percent to hit $68.95 billion.
Other oil giants also posted solid second-quarter profits this week. Exxon Mobil Corp. made $10.68 billion, a 41 percent increase from the same period last year. Royal Dutch Shell's profit nearly doubled, jumping from $4.39 billion in the second quarter of 2010 to $8.66 billion in the three months that ended June 30.
Rising profits may stoke the debate in Washington over ending some of the oil industry's tax breaks, an idea repeatedly pushed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. Chevron seemed eager, on Friday, to deflect that possibility.
Discussing the company's earnings with analysts, Chief Financial Officer Patricia Yarrington touted Chevron's contributions to the national economy, saying Chevron employs nearly 25,000 people in the United States and plans to invest $7 billion here this year.
"We're proud to be a part of an industry that is indispensable to economic growth and competitiveness," she said. "We look forward to working constructively under stable, predictable fiscal and regulatory policies to build a shared prosperity for America and for our shareholders."
For the moment, at least, the debate over oil company taxes has been sidelined in the fight over raising the federal government's debt limit. That fight poses its own risks to the industry. Should the government default and send the economy back into recession, oil prices could fall, just as they did in 2008. That's far from certain, but it remains a possibility.
"That's the biggest downside risk we see to prices right now," said David Kirsch, director of market intelligence for the PFC Energy consulting firm. "None of the sectors of the economy are really showing any strength."

Friday, July 29, 2011

People’s Tribunal on Racism and Police Violence (Investigate the murder of Kenneth Harding!)

[http://peopleshearing.wordpress.com]:
2011-07-29 People’s Hearing: “Charge the SFPD with Murder of Kenneth Harding and Serial Murders in the Black Community!”

* Charge the SFPD with Murder of Kenneth Harding and Serial Murders in the Black Community!
* Unite to Create an Independent Investigation to Indict the Murderers!
* Justice for Kenneth Harding! Stop the Cover-up!
* Stop Pushing Black People out of San Francisco! NO to “Ethnic Cleansing”!

The People’s Hearing on Racism and Police Violence was held earlier this year in Oakland, with the intention of increasing government accountability and organizing alternatives to the government institutions. The Hearing used direct personal testimony about the growing number of police killings and related issues of state violence against targeted communities, racial profiling, and government attacks on people’s political activism. This began an ongoing process that can be applied to the murder of Kenneth Harding by the SFPD. 

On Saturday, July 16, 2011, the SFPD killed Kenneth Harding, a 19 year-old Black man, in the Bayview area of San Francisco. Kenneth had just stepped off of a Muni-Metro train and onto the platform, where police were checking people for proof of fare payment.
Called “checkpoints,” these are common ways of criminalizing poor people, especially in neighborhoods undergoing gentrification and resettlement. Checkpoints have multiple purposes.  They are used to harass and trap people, violating the human right to freedom of movement.  They also help to facilitate the displacement of communities of color and families who come from the Bayview area and have lived there for generations.  Checkpoints allow the police to monitor community members’ movements, putting people of color in great fear and ultimately forcing them to relocate from their homes and neighborhoods to ensure their own safety.  This paves the way for the area to be redeveloped by major corporations and resettled by whites.  In effect, checkpoints are a necessary tool of apartheid and genocide, historically used both in the United States and throughout the world.
The case of Kenneth Harding is a perfect example.  When the police approached Kenneth, he ran for his life and they fired at him repeatedly.  He died at the hands of the police and another life was lost in their ongoing campaign of genocide against the Black Nation.  This terror campaign is happening not only locally and not only to African Americans, but it is happening statewide and nationally, to people of color and poor people overall.
As usual, the police and their corporate media mouthpieces immediately started a campaign to demonize Kenneth and bombard the public with accounts of Kenneth’s criminal record, to make it look like the police actually saved the community from a ruthless predator. Kenneth Harding was the victim here, and his criminal record is irrelevant to, and can in no way justify the crimes the police committed against him.
[Note: To this day the only information about his past comes from a criminal justice system that, given the history of misinformation and false information dished out by “official sources,” we cannot trust.  But IF Kenneth had victimized people, we would respond with restorative justice: to care for people he hurt; help him make amends for harm done and prevent such harm in the future; and to repair damage done to the community by his actions.   In this way, Kenneth Harding coul  have been held accountable by people who actually care about him and value his life.  But instead, he was killed by the SFPD.]
At the time of the encounter, the police knew nothing about Kenneth—only that he was a young Black man, and they would find a way to make his death his own fault. They claimed Kenneth had a gun, but dozens of witnesses on the scene say that he didn’t.  The police said they couldn’t find a gun.  Then they said someone picked it up.  Then they said the gun was recovered elsewhere, and it was a .45. Then, they said no .45 was involved.  Then they said Kenneth was killed with a .380. Now police have the audacity to claim that Kenneth shot and killed himself. Witnesses have been clear, however, that police shot and killed Kenneth as he fled.
The people in Bayview are well aware that the community is under attack and that the system will do everything in its power to protect police terrorists. Bayview residents made that clear when they shouted down S.F. Police Chief Suhr and forced him to leave a community meeting held days after the shooting (that the police organized to tranquilize and paralyze police critics).  There is a long history of police attacks on the Bayview, Hunter’s Point, Double Rock and throughout San Francisco.  And in addition to the unending police abuse, in recent years foreclosures, gentrification, and failed educational systems have driven half of the Black population out of San Francisco.
Since the police and the system have no credibility, the people need an INDEPENDENT investigation and public hearings. The people need to know what happened that day.  The identities and track records of the police who killed Kenneth must be made public, so the police can be held accountable for their actions. We also need public hearings, including testimony from witnesses and the community, and the findings should be gathered and publicized before a world audience. And as this process unfolds, the right of the community to protest and defend against these continued injustices must be upheld and kept sacred.
In addition to holding police accountable for misconduct, the community needs to build formal and informal institutions that can organize our own defense and build the democratic authority of the people and our movements. We need to organize ourselves so that we have alternatives to calling the police and alternatives to using the current, fatally flawed criminal justice system.
2011-07-29 "Three south Vallejo neighborhoods designated 'food deserts'" by Rachel Raskin-Zrihen from "Vallejo Times-Herald" newspaper
[http://www.timesheraldonline.com/ci_18574557]
Source: USDA's Food Desert Locator
---
There are three areas in Solano County designated as "food deserts" by the federal government. All are along the south Vallejo waterfront.
Food deserts are defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as "low-income census tracts where a substantial number or share of residents have low access to a supermarket or large grocery store."
Vallejo's food deserts comprise some 6,500 residents, nearly half of whom are low-income. This is the first time these criteria have been measured and the information comes from 2000 census data, USDA spokeswoman Shelly Ver Ploeg said. Next year's will be based on more recent figures, she said.
Low access to a healthy food retail outlet is defined as being more than 1 mile from a supermarket or large grocery store in urban areas and more than 10 miles in rural areas.
"To qualify as low-income, census tracts must meet the Treasury Department's New Markets Tax Credit program eligibility criteria," the USDA website explains. To qualify as a food desert tract, at least 33 percent of the tract's population or a minimum of 500 people there must have low access to a supermarket or large grocery store, it says.
Roughly 75 percent of these food deserts are in urban areas, where an estimated 13.5 million people live more than a mile from a healthy food source, the site notes.
Wal-Mart, Inc. last week announced measures to address the food desert phenomenon nationwide, but it is unclear if anything is planned for Vallejo.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. issued a press release last week saying corporate officials plan to address this issue nationally by opening some 300 stores in these areas by 2016, though a corporate spokeswoman said "there is nothing to report" regarding any plans in Vallejo. The assistant manager of the American Canyon store -- the closest one to Vallejo -- said he has no knowledge about the company's plans.
More than 40,000 will work in these new stores, the Wal-Mart announcement notes.
These stores will provide access to groceries for more than 800,000 people living in food deserts, it says. Wal-Mart officials made the announcement at the White House last week with First Lady Michelle Obama. The program is part of a push announced in January as part of the First Lady's Partnership for a Healthier America.

Vallejo's 'food desert' areas -
Vallejo's three "food deserts" are all along the south Vallejo waterfront. According to the USDA's food desert locator maps:

1. The first "food desert" is bordered by Interstate 80 and the waterfront, and:
* Contains 3,102 residents, all more than 1 mile from a large grocery store or supermarket.
* Of those, 1,005 or (32.4 percent) are low income.
* Nearly 790, or more than 25 percent, are under age 18.
* More than 390, or about 10 percent, are 65 and older.
* About 10 percent, or 127 of this area's households own no vehicle.

2. The second "food desert" is directly north of the first, also bordered by I-80 and I-780 on the east and the waterfront to the west, and:
* Has some 3,261 residents with low access.
* About 48 percent or 1,566 of them are children.
* Some 333 are seniors.
* More than 18 percent -- 205 households -- have no vehicle.

3. The third "food desert" is north of the second -- bordered by the water on the west, Sutter Street to the east and Florida Street to the north -- and:
* Has 3,261 residents, more than 40 percent, or 1,266 of whom have low access to a large grocery store.
* About 23 percent, or 712, are low income.
* More than 320 are children.
* More than 200 are seniors
* Some 182 households, or 12.5 percent, have no vehicle.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

2011-07-28 "Press Conference to Condemn SFPD Harassment & Jailng of Bayview Youth Organizer"
[http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/07/28/18686308.php]
Press Conference to Condemn SFPD Harassment & Jaiing of Bayview Youth Organizer
When: Thursday, July 28, 12 Noon
Where: San Francisco City Hall, Polk Street
On Sunday July 23rd, in an attempt at police intimidation, a Bayview youth organizer, Debray Carpenter, was arrested at his home. Three days later, Debray was released without the police pressing charges. Debray has been a prominent and out-spoken organizer who has denounced the recent San Francisco Police Department’s violence in the city. We demand: End police terror now!
The press conference on Thursday, July 28, 12 noon at SF City Hall, will demand that the SFPD stop terrorizing and oppressing the Bayview community, especially the Black youth. For too long, the city elite have ignored the crime against Bayview residents. Schools have been neglected to the point that Bayview children must go outside of their community for a good education. Community centers are inaccessible to the people. Racist MUNI checkpoints target residents whose only crime is not having $2. Years of gentrification have given the SFPD an excuse to occupy a historically Black neighborhood. If the youth try to speak out, the police lie, intimidate, and terrorize them. All these injustices must end.
The speakers at the press conference will demand:
- Stop the fare inspection raids
- Transit should be free for all
- End police impunity for the killing of Black youth and the poor
- Compensation for SFPD crimes against the Bayview
- Better schools and community centers for Bayview
- Hands off Debray and his family
Debray Carpenter, Bayview Youth Organizer, 415-875-0638
Jameel Patterson, Bayview Youth Organizer, 415-375-1517

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2011-07-27 "Rohnert Park unions take their case to the public" by SAM SCOTT from "THE PRESS DEMOCRAT"
[http://www.watchsonomacounty.com/2011/07/cities/rohnert-park-unions-take-their-case-to-the-public/]
Rohnert Park public works employees showed up en masse at Tuesday’s City Council meeting in a last-minute attempt to win public support as five months of contract negotiations come to a contentious close.
Union leaders say they’re being asked to shoulder an unfair burden in the city’s attempt to close its budget deficit while administrators escape the same level of pain.
“We gave a lot last year,” electrician Steve Gossage told the council. “We’re giving a lot this year. When does it end? These cuts are really going to hurt.”
Mayor Gina Belforte and City Manager Gabe Gonzalez gave little response to the pleas. Both said they were bound by confidentiality during negotiations, which are set to end Thursday when the council meets in closed session to discuss contracts.
“All I can do is listen,” Beforte said.
In an email last week, Gonzalez wrote that the city’s 15 management and confidential employees, including himself, would have salary and benefits cut by more than 13 percent.
But Jim McIntyre, a city mechanic who heads the Service Employees International Union local, disputed that number, saying those reductions are mostly to perks, not salaries.
Public works employees, meanwhile, are facing a near-certain 11 percent cut in real pay, he said.
In response, the union wants the city to lay off seasonal part-timers, freeze hiring for a year and agree to a two-year contract, he said. He said Tuesday’s turnout at the council meeting was an attempt to win support from the public watching on television and in the audience more than to address the council.
“”We can’t change their minds, but the public can,” he said.
He said he was not optimistic an agreement would be forthcoming Wednesday when negotiators meet with city officials for a final attempt to hammer things out.
By Friday, he said, he expects to be working without a contract under an agreement unilaterally imposed by the city.
Still, he was more optimistic than Angie Smith, president of the 24-member Rohnert Park Employees Association, which represents office workers.
The union met with city leaders earlier Tuesday and got nowhere, she said. She opted not to address council on Tuesday.
“We basically realized we were banging our heads against a wall,” she said.
Earlier this month, the city and its public safety officers union agreed on a contract containing $2.3 million in concessions.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2011-07-26 "Graton tribe to give $500,000 for Tolay Lake park" by BRETT WILKISON from "THE PRESS DEMOCRAT" newspaper
[http://www.watchsonomacounty.com/2011/07/county/graton-tribe-to-give-500000-for-tolay-lake-park/]
The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria are set to donate $500,000 to Sonoma County as part of an agreement to support a long-term plan for Tolay Lake Regional Park and secure an advisory role in the park’s development.
The 3,426-acre park east of Petaluma is seen as a important Native American cultural and historic site in the county.
It was purchased in 2005 and 2007 with $31 million in public funds and private donations, but public access has been limited through a permit program.
A master plan that would enable full public use and guide long-term development has been delayed by funding shortfalls.
Earlier this year, county Regional Parks director Caryl Hart approached Graton Rancheria officials to ask for help paying for the plan.
Given the site’s importance to tribes, Hart said, “my feeling was that it would be a great collaboration.”
The tribe’s $500,000, along with $300,000 from the state Coastal Conservancy, is expected to fully cover the planning work. Selection of a consultant to oversee that process, including public hearings and workshops, is expected within the next few months.
Supervisors are set to vote Aug. 9 on the agreement with the Graton Rancheria. It would make the tribe a “cooperating agency,” meaning that the county “will use the expertise and input of the Graton Tribe to the maximum extent possible, but the County is the lead agency for this project,” according to the proposal. The deal would be in place until completion of the final environmental documents for the park.
Hart said the agreement comes with no strings attached to the tribe’s other projects in the area, including its proposed casino in Rohnert Park.
“This is unconnected to anything else they’re doing in the county,” Hart said.
The deal comes just weeks after Greg Sarris, chairman of the Graton Rancheria, urged state officials to look to tribal casinos as a key source of park funding.
Speaking at a special hearing of the state Assembly parks committee in Santa Rosa in June, Sarris vowed the Graton tribe would contribute $2 million to $5 million a year for 20 years to state and regional parks.
That offer appeared to be contingent upon a compact with the governor to allow gaming at the tribe’s proposed casino.
Sarris and Lorelle Ross, the tribe’s vice-chairwoman, did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.
Tribal contributions to local government are not new. Since 2004, under an agreement with the city of Rohnert Park, the Graton Rancheria has given the city nearly $3 million to support public safety services. Facing a stall in its casino plans, the tribe chose not make its regular $500,000 contribution last year, an opt-out provision built into the agreement. The city’s budget does not count on a donation from the tribe this year.
Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who represents most of Rohnert Park, said the county’s agreement with the tribe, including the donation for Tolay Lake, would not undermine the county’s stance in negotiations over the proposed casino, including discussions about the cost of public services.
“We wouldn’t even be discussing this right now” if that weren’t the case, Zane said. “This is a voluntary donation. It has absolutely no bearing or relationship with the potential impacts of the casino development.”

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Proposal to ELN Coordinating Committee on Immigrant Rights' Work" presented to the 2011-07-24 "ELN Central Committee" by Rodrigo Ibarra from "Sacramento LCLAA (AFL-CIO)" and "Alliance for a Just Immigration Policy", translated from the Spanish by Alan Benjamin and published by "El Organizador"
[http://www.facebook.com/notes/el-organizador/proposal-to-eln-coordinating-committee-on-immigrant-rights-work-from-rodrigo-iba/212946175420090]
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We are facing imminent attacks on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- all in the name of debt-reduction. These attacks are coupled with attacks on collective-bargaining all across the country and with heightened attacks on, and repression against, immigrant workers, particularly undocumented immigrants. The powers-that-be, with this unprecedented assault, are preparing the conditions for a social explosion in this country.
The ELN Action Program calls for building Labor-Community Fightback Committees and Popular Assemblies to promote our overall fight around the central demand of "No Cuts, No Concessions!" -- but also incorporating the other fighting demands of working people and the communities of the oppressed.
It is now time to put this proposal into action. Time is short. The key to our success as the ELN will be our ability to provide an organized framework for workers and the poor to come together, discuss, and take action. Yes, we need to issue appeals to the union and community leaders to take action. But if we are to be effective in building a strong fightback movement, we need to expand our network through organization. These Labor-Community Fightback Committees are the best vehicle to do so. We need to pay special attention at our leadership meetings about how and where we can help get these committees off the ground.
With regard to immigrant workers, it is important that the ELN promote through its web site and its public statements the independent demands and fightback actions of the immigrant rights' movement that are included in Point No. 14 of the Action Program. Immigrant workers are both a central component of the working class, and as such, they are hard hit by all the budget cuts and concessionary demands made by the bosses and the politicians who do their bidding. But they are also members of the community, and they are being scapegoated, criminalized, deported, brutalized and killed by rogue cops (as is occurring today throughout the Central Valley of California) simply because they are Latinos.
The ELN, with its clear independent focus and demands, can help bring together the fighting wing of the immigrant rights' movement -- which has become disenchanted and now angered by Obama's failure to deliver on his promises -- with the fighting wing of the labor movement. It will be necessary for ELN activists and supporters to help build Labor-Community Fightback Committees and local coalitions that tie in the struggle against the budget cuts and concessions with the specific struggles waged by immigrant workers for their rights and dignity.
We here in Sacramento, California, have begun to take action on some of these points. The Sacramento Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) has submitted the resolution adopted July 5 by the San Francisco Labor Council on "No Cuts and Concessions" for a vote of the Sacramento Labor Council.
Through the LCLAA chapter and the coalition work of the Alliance for a Just Immigration Policy, we are taking the main ELN Kent State documents (Action Program, Open Letter to the Labor Movement, and "Statements Are Not Enough") -- which we have translated into Spanish -- to all our community partners to get them involved with us in this fightback against the cuts and concessions. We are especially seeking to involve the folks working on the "Voto en el Exterior" (the struggle of Mexicans abroad to be able to vote in the Mexican elections), in the farmworkers' organizing campaigns, in the May 1st coalitions (particularly the San Francisco May 1st Coalition), and in the anti-police repression work into this broader independent, labor-community fightback effort.
One of our main goals at this point is to get these groups and coalitions to work with us in promoting a large labor-community mass demonstration across California on October 1, combining the fight against the attacks on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid with our specific demands as Latinos. Our goal is also to have this coalition-building for October 1 serve as a springboard for building huge mass mobilizations next May 1st.
During the ELN Conference at Kent State, a series of proposals were made to conduct tours of the immigrant rights' activists present at the conference to places like Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. It will be especially necessary to forge the Black-Brown Alliance in the South, to prevent the bosses from pitting those on the bottom of the heap against each other.
Is it possible for the ELN Coordinating Committee to get in touch with the union president from Savannah, Georgia, or the sister from Atlanta to see if we can begin organizing together a fall tour to build the foundations for the fightback committees and local coalitions that are so desperately needed?
It will also be important for the ELN Coordinating Committee to see if it is possible to organize forums with immigrant rights' activists who are part of the ELN in cities like New York, Detroit, St. Louis and Kansas City. These are all cities where participants at the Kent State Conference said that forums and organizing events could be planned.
The Alliance for Immigrant Rights and Sacramento LCLAA do not have the necessary funds to organize these tours. It will be necessary for the unions and organizations that expressed an interest in organizing the tours to step forward and finance the tours.
Rather than act bilaterally from Sacramento with the sisters and brothers who made these proposals, it would be best if the ELN Coordinating Committee took stock of these proposed tours and got back to the participants in the cities mentioned above to help coordinate the tours and the events needed to lay the groundwork that will make it possible to fully integrate the work in defense of immigrant rights into the ongoing activity of the ELN.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

2011-07-23 "Protests Against Police Brutality Spread Across Central Valley"

from "Modesto Anarcho" [http://www.modestoanarcho.org/2011/07/protests-against-police-brutality.html]:
 This week, protests took place in Stockton, Manteca, and Sacramento around incidents of police brutality and murder. All three demanded answers and the releasing of information by the police in regards to the cause of death of those in question.
On Tuesday 19th, family, friends, and community members marched over 70 strong on the Manteca City Council, demanding answers concerning the shooting death of Ernesto Duenez Jr. [http://www.mantecabulletin.com/section/1/article/25663/].

Also attending the march were several members of James Rivera and Rita Elias' family. Ernesto was killed by Manteca police earlier in June during a traffic stop. Family of Ernesto report that the officer responsible for the fatal shooting was placed back on the force only two weeks after the killing. They demanded that the name of the officer be released as well as video that was taken during the shooting. According to a statement released by the family [http://www.modestoanarcho.org/2011/07/central-valley-movement-against-police.html]: "According to several witnesses, Ernesto posed no threat to the officer as he exited the back of the truck with his hands up. His leg became entangled in the seatbelt and as he fell to the ground he was shot by the officer without hesitation. Each shot ensuring death being the only outcome for Ernest including the final shot to the face. The officer made the decision to use excessive deadly force with such disregard for my cousin's life."
In West Sacramento on Wednesday, July 20th, people rallied against Sacramento police who brutality beat one man while responding to a fight [http://www.sacbee.com/2011/07/20/3783752/protest-against-police-brutality.html?mi_rss=Photo%20Galleries]. Police arrived and beat the man, who later had to be put in crutches and then pushed his wife who was holding their child to the ground.  Close by, another man was filming the incident and police arrested him and took his camera. He now sits in a jail cell awaiting deportation. According to a post on indybay [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/07/19/18685280.php]:
[begin excerpt]
On Sunday July 17th, West Sacramento resident Jesus Castro was arrested and had his camera confiscated by West Sacramento police while videotaping an incident of police brutality. Mr. Castro, who is undocumented, now faces deportation and is currently being held at Yolo County Jail. This follows a pattern of police brutality and discrimination in Yolo County, especially in West Sacramento, where the Latino community has been under siege for several years. This includes so-called gang injunction, which specifically targets Latino youth, forbidding them from dressing in certain colors that the short-sighted authorities believes identifies them as gang members, as well as depriving them of their freedom of association.
[end excerpt]
Sacramento police claim that their own camera did not capture the beating [http://www.fox40.com/videobeta/f9355819-43b6-45ac-9cc9-0bfad359c41f/News/People-Protest-Police-Brutality-in-West-Sacramento], since they were turned "away" from the incident, and they of course aren't releasing the footage of the arrested man, Jesus Castro. Also, it has been reported by attorneys that Castro's cell-phone footage has also been erased, most likely by the police themselves [http://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4549:charges-dropped-against-jesus-castro-victim-of-police-beating-speaks-to-reporters-and-community-members&catid=74:judicial-watch&Itemid=100].

On Friday, July 22nd, between 100 and 150 family members, friends, and supporters braved the hot Stockton streets to demonstrate and remember the brutal shooting death of James Rivera in 2010 [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/07/22/18685715.php].

Protesters rallied outside of the Stockton Police Department HQ and then proceeded to march through Downtown Stockton to the DA's office. Various speakers addressed the crowd and later in the day a BBQ and vigil were held to commemorate James' life.
While these struggles all strive for very basic things: the releasing of a video, the finishing of an investigation - what is important is that they have connected so many people across a very wide region. They have brought together families and friends that are black, white, Chicano, and more, together around a shared experience of police brutality and terror. Together, we can support each other's struggles and give power to the battles that we face in our respective cities. 
2011-07-23 "Napa close to picking medical pot dispensary" by CHANTAL M. LOVELL from "Napa Valley Register"
[http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/napa-close-to-picking-medical-pot-dispensary/article_0e7edddc-b5a8-11e0-a246-001cc4c002e0.html]
It’s taking longer than anticipated for the city to name a preferred medical marijuana dispensary applicant, but the outcome will be worth the wait, city staff said.
The delay — about five months and counting — is due to the closeness with which staff have been reviewing the six nonprofits vying to be Napa’s first dispensary, city planning manager Rick Tooker said last week.
Staff originally estimated the city would name a preferred applicant in January or February, but now expect that to happen in August, according to Desiree Brun, who is managing the process for the city.
“Although the process has certainly taken some time, the council’s ordinance and city staff’s implementation of that ordinance envisioned a comprehensive and thoughtful review of the ‘preferred applicant’ submittals,” Tooker said.
“The management reviewers have met on several occasions to discuss the merits of each application relative to their strengths and weaknesses and interviews of several of the applicants were also conducted.”
Tooker said staff from different departments as well as medical marijuana dispensary specialists have been reviewing the six applications and have yet to make a preliminary recommendation as to which, if any, should open its doors in Napa.
The applicants are: the Grateful Valley Compassion Center, Harmony Health & Wellness Center, Mr. Natural, Inc., Napa Holistic Remedies, Inc., Napa Organics and Remedia.
Applicants are being evaluated for such factors as experience, business and finance plan, records management, supply management, security and a Napa service focus.
Because the ordinance will heavily regulate the chosen dispensary, the city will get the best of the best, Councilmember Peter Mott said.
“We have the luxury of choosing from the best candidates,” Mott said. “We don’t have to settle. Instead of just setting requirements, we went out and said, ‘Give us the best you’ve got.’”
Once the city names a preferred applicant, the other five have 21 days to plead their case further to the city, Brun said. After that, the community development director will make the final decision.
“Once the final determination is made to select an applicant to proceed through the process, then a use permit for a physical location for the dispensary and associated aggregated cultivation facility will take approximately six months to review,” Brun said.
Once the dispensary goes into operation, the city will wait one year before considering whether there is enough need to permit another one, Brun said.
“Realistically, given the fact that the permitting process can take a minimum of six months, the second dispensary may not be up and running until one to two years after the first dispensary opens its doors,” she said.

Applicants -
•The Grateful Valley Compassion Center
•Harmony Health & Wellness Center
•Mr. Natural, Inc.
•Holistic Remedies, Inc.
•Organics and Remedia

Selection criteria -
Experience, business and finance plan, records management, supply management, security and a Napa service focus.

Friday, July 22, 2011

2011-07-22 "Health advocates tout local gardens closer to low-income people" by ISABELLE DILLS from "Napa Valley Register"
[http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/health-advocates-tout-local-gardens-closer-to-low-income-people/article_51eeef94-b431-11e0-b7d4-001cc4c002e0.html]
Thousands of adults and children in Napa County live in households where putting food on the table is an iffy proposition.
These households are considered “food insecure,” and among the 58 counties in California, Napa ranks among the worst.
According to the most recent data from 2005, Napa County ranked 43rd among the state’s 58 counties for food insecurity.
Although it may not be apparent to tourists, or even local residents, Napa County has “pockets of real poverty,” said Karen Smith, public health officer and deputy director of the Napa County Health and Human Services Agency. Calistoga, in particular, has a “huge income gap,” Smith said.
In addition to poorer health, not having enough to eat or eating more junk food can lead to behavioral problems and poor school performance in children, Smith said. It can also lead to obesity and an increased risk of diabetes in adults because cheap food is often the unhealthiest, she said in a presentation to the Local Food Advisory Council earlier this month.
Formed in February, the Local Food Advisory Council wants to promote a more diverse Napa County food system, with healthy foods more accessible to all residents.
At the same time, the county's Public Health Division is working to bring nonprofit organizations and residents together to identify gaps in health care, Smith said.
She wants to bring farmers markets closer to low-income neighborhoods.
Farmers markets play a “huge” role in improving residents’ health, said Karen Schuppert, a Napa Farmers Market board member and chair of the Local Food Advisory Council.
“We have the ultimate climate in an agricultural community, so our infrastructure is already in place,” Schuppert said.
The challenge, however, is to encourage local farmers to grow something other than grapes. “No one’s going to pull up a cabernet vineyard to plant lettuce,” Smith said.
Other challenges include:
• convincing larger, institutional food producers such as jails and hospitals to buy more local food;
• convince consumers to eat healthy and local.
“We have to convert people to wanting healthy and locally grown food,” Smith said. “We also have to make it economically viable.”
To that end, every eligible food vendor at the Napa Farmers Market began accepting Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, which are identification cards for the food stamp program, at the start of this season, Schuppert said.
All food vendors are eligible except those selling food prepared on site. WIC checks — from the Women, Infants and Children program — are also accepted by most vendors who sell fruits, vegetables and cut herbs, she said.
A small step people, neighborhoods and schools can take immediately is growing food in their own gardens, Smith said. It’s especially helpful when schools create their own gardens, because children take what they learn home to their families, she said.
The focus in health care has always been about individual wellness, Smith said. The goal for the county — and what should be the goal for the U.S. — is shifting that focus to health for the whole community, she said.
“This country has enough resources to bring everybody up to a level of good health and wellness,” Smith said.
---
TUESDAY - JULY 19, 2011 - NAPA, CA - As society continues to wrestle with increased obesity, a possible solution is developing a local, sustainable food system like the Tuesday Farmers Market at the Oxbow. A contributing factor to poor eating habits is a high poverty rate, like in Napa County. J.L. Sousa/Register

2011-07-22 "Napa schools face state mandate to include gay history in textbooks" by ISABELLE DILLS from "Napa Valley Register" newspaper
[http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/napa-schools-face-state-mandate-to-include-gay-history-in/article_6432239c-b404-11e0-8dfc-001cc4c002e0.html]
Napa Valley College student Sierra Sander-Hewitt believes the best way to combat bullying is through education and classroom discussion.
“Bullying often stems from ignorance,” said the 18-year-old, who waited until college to come out as bisexual.
Sander-Hewitt, along with many others from the gay community, are hoping a new bill signed by the governor this month will help prevent bullying based on sexual orientation.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill July 14 that will require California public school textbooks to include the history and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
Existing law prohibits school districts from using textbooks or other materials that discriminate against people because of race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin or ancestry. The law includes specific cultural and racial groups, among them are Native Americans, African Americans and European Americans.
This bill revises that list to explicitly prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans as well as people with disabilities.
“History should be honest,” Brown said after signing the bill. “This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books.”
Deb Stallings, a founder of Napa Valley’s Unity League, said she hopes the bill makes public schools safer and more welcoming to gay students.
“Being included in history is so incredibly important,” Stallings said.
The bill becomes law Jan. 1, but it may be several years before the updated textbooks hit the classrooms. Education code prohibits the state board of education from adopting new textbooks until the 2014-15 school year, said Elena Toscano, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at the Napa Valley Unified School District.
Until then, it is up to individual school districts to determine if and how they want to implement the new curriculum.
As with all curriculum updates, the Napa Valley Unified School District will wait to receive implementation guidelines from the state’s Department of Education, Toscano said.
No money is available to pay for new curriculum, and the school district is in the middle of rolling out a language arts update that must be completed first, she said.
“This is why we need to wait for direction from the state on what they expect us to do with new legislation and no funding,” Toscano said. “It’s an interesting — and not unusual — dilemma to have such conflicts in education when decisions regarding budgets and curriculum are made by legislators independent of the Department of Education.”
According to district policy, a Curriculum Committee — made up mainly of teachers and administrators — will be formed to meet with textbook publishers after the new materials have been approved by the Department of Education.
“We select materials to pilot — usually narrowing the program to two choices with a set of criteria,” Toscano said. “These two programs are displayed in the Education Center for parent and community review for several months.”
Teachers on the committee must lead both programs for four to six weeks, and the committee will then weigh the advantages and disadvantages of both programs. The committee makes its recommendation to the school board, which has final approval, Toscano said.
Renee Fannin, a local business owner and Unity member, said she was “thrilled” to see the legislation pass. “We are people’s neighbors, community members and friends, and we deserve to be acknowledged that we exist,” she said.
When Sander-Hewitt thinks back to her high school days, she can’t remember learning anything about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. She hopes those days will soon be over for future generations.
“It’s definitely important for kids who are still finding their identity to know they’re not alone,” Sander-Hewitt said.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Killer Mike goes in on behalf of the disenfranchised in "Burn." The video features Cameos from Oscar Grant's friends & family, Diddy, Machine Gun Kelly, Curren$y, Roach Gigz, Mistah FAB, Philthy Rich, Cool Kids and more

Friday, July 15, 2011

2011-07-15 "Peace activist Brian Willson on book tour" by Kevin Fagan from "San Francisco Chronicle"
[http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-07-15/bay-area/29776281_1_book-tour-peace-activist-brian-willson]
Brian Willson uses hand controls on his bike as he rides along Hessel Road near Sebastopol.
Credit: Brant Ward / The Chronicle
Gliding slowly along the back roads of the Bay Area this week is a white-haired man on a strange, low-slung tricycle powered by hand cranks. His two metal prosthetic legs poke out under his shorts to rest in stirrups, and he never musters more than 10 mph.
Most drivers have blown by in Sonoma, Marin and Contra Costa counties with barely a glance. Some stare. The cyclist never notices, cranking, always cranking - and usually with a big smile on his face.
Little do they know this is one of the most renowned antiwar protesters of the past quarter-century.
He is Brian Willson, and he is on a tour to promote the autobiography he released this month, "Blood on the Tracks." It's a book 24 years in the making - ever since Sept. 1, 1987, when he was run over by a munitions train at the Concord Naval Weapons Station while trying to block it from delivering bombs headed for Central America.

Lost his legs -
Willson lost both legs below the knees and suffered a fractured skull that day. In the years since, he has been in demand at lecture halls and hailed as a pre-eminent voice of peace advocacy by people ranging from activist actors Ed Asner and Kris Kristofferson to Pentagon Papers figure Daniel Ellsberg, who wrote the foreword to his book.
But now, at the age of 70 - his birthday was the Fourth of July - and living in a solar-powered house he built three years ago in Portland, Ore., Willson feels his life is about more than peace protest.
His 440-page book traces his journey from high school baseball star in Ashville, N.Y., to Air Force captain in Vietnam to antiwar figure - and on to today, when he says his most important message is that "we have to all live more simply, because our lifestyle in America is totally unsustainable."

Living small -
"After all the things I've experienced in my life, I think the neolithic village is our model," Willson said the other day as he stopped for lunch at the Sebastopol home of a longtime protest pal, Eszter Freeman. "We'd all be better off living in small, local, self-sufficient communities, using simple tools.
"The lifestyle we've had for the past century, based on fossil fuels that are disappearing and polluting our planet and causing wars, is unhealthy and killing the earth," Willson said. "There's only one ultimate solution - radical downsizing of our lives."
That, Willson said, is why he has undertaken this book tour not in rented cars or buses, but by hand-cycling the 800 miles from Portland to San Francisco, with side routes, over the course of a month.
He started June 25 and will speak at San Francisco's First Unitarian Church at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. After hitting a few final lecture spots, he will board a train July 23 headed back home.

Appeal to young -
He said younger people at his book stops often tell him they didn't know who he was before seeing notices advancing his appearances. The conflicts from the 1980s over El Salvador and Nicaragua have long since given way to arguments over Afghanistan and Iraq, and though Willson still rails against war, his wider mantra of going green and questioning authority means more to some of them than peace activism.
"Brian was much more focused on Central America 25 years ago, but now he's gone deeper into the American way of life," said David Hartsough, a fellow protester in 1987 who protected Willson's exposed brain as he lay, head cracked open, on the tracks.
On Wednesday, Willson's journey brought him back for the first time in many years to the Concord Naval Weapons Station, now mostly shuttered and awaiting civilian re-use. He and Hartsough had a few hours before a book talk, so they drove up to the exact spot where Willson's life changed 24 years ago.

Visit from the law -
They'd been on the tracks for one minute before six Contra Costa County sheriff and U.S. Army security cars swarmed them. They wanted to know if the man with the artificial legs and his companion were terrorists - a label once used by the military to describe Willson back when he was blocking munitions trains.
The whole thing blew over quickly. One cop called Willson "a legend when I was in school," and said he was glad to meet him.
"After all these years, to be stopped like that again," Willson mused with a small chuckle. "I mean really - after all these years?"
Tour blog
A trip blog, tour schedule and description of "Blood on the Tracks," by Brian Willson, can be found at: [bloodonthetracks.info].

Thursday, July 14, 2011

2011-07-14 "Number of homeless students in Sacramento County schools jumps 50%-plus" by Cynthia Hubert from "Sacramento Bee" newspaper
[http://www.sacbee.com/2011/07/14/3768521/number-of-homeless-students-in.html]
In yet another stark measure of the region's difficult economy, Sacramento County schools have seen a marked increase in the number of students whose families do not have a stable home.
The county's school districts counted 7,254 homeless children and youths among their students last year, a jump of more than 50 percent since 2005.
The numbers are part of a comprehensive report on child welfare prepared by the Sacramento County Children's Commission, which was appointed by the county Board of Supervisors. Among other topics, the report looks at child safety, academic achievement, family economics and health.
The statistics on homeless students were collected by school districts, which use federal guidelines to identify children who are in unstable households. Children in "homeless situations" by the federal definition "lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence," and include those who are sleeping in motels, campgrounds, shelters or on the sofas of relatives.
"We're not talking about a family who is renting an apartment with roommates," said Hilary Krogh, coordinator of the county Office of Education's Project TEACH program for homeless children. "These are kids who truly do not have stable housing from night to night."
Krogh works with homeless liaisons within each school district to identify such children and link them with services that help them stay in class. Those services are harder to come by these days because of an increase in demand and cuts in social "safety net" programs, said Krogh and others.
The report's numbers contrast with a federally mandated census conducted on a single night earlier this year. The census documented a drop in the number of men, women and children living on the streets and in shelters in the county.
But that "street count" does not accurately represent the number of school-age children who are homeless, said Bob Erlenbusch, policy director of the Sacramento Housing Alliance.
"We have known for years that the census undercounts families and children," who may not be sleeping in shelters or along the river but "couch surfing" with friends or relatives, he said.
Still, said Erlenbusch, "I was surprised that the number of homeless kids and youth going to school each day had jumped 50 percent in five years. That's a huge number."
Angela Hassel, director of the Mustard Seed School for homeless children in Sacramento, said the numbers are stunning even for people who work with such youngsters on a daily basis.
"It's astounding," said Hassel, whose school's goal is to give children a place to learn until they can return to the public school system and a more stable life.
"Coming to school every day when so much has changed outside of the classroom is a very comforting thing for kids," she said. "They have a routine. They have their teachers and their friends. It helps them get through the other stuff."
Nationally, public schools saw a 38 percent increase in students who were homeless during the period documented in the Sacramento report, said Barbara Duffield of the National Association of Education of Homeless Children and Youth.
In a survey of the top reasons for student homelessness, schools cited the recession and job loss at the top, Duffield said.
Teachers and others who work with homeless children in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District are working extra hours and asking stores and community leaders to pitch in to keep up with the increasing numbers, said Charlene Hunt, the district's homeless liaison.
The county report listed Folsom Cordova fourth in the county in its number of homeless students last year, with 662. Twin Rivers Unified had the most with 1,844.
Hunt and other liaisons, along with teachers, principals and other school staffers, work with the Project TEACH program to screen families for housing instability and hook them up with food, transportation, counseling and other services.
"For one thing, we want families to know that they have the right to stay in their schools when they have to move. They don't have to switch schools every time they go from one place to another," said Krogh.
They also have a legal right to transportation, if needed, to and from school, she said.
But some services for homeless children have vanished with budget cuts, including summer school and after-school programs for many youngsters, she said.
Hunt said she and her staff, along with volunteers, have formed a grass-roots group that provides students with gift cards for shoes, backpacks and other necessities.
"This week I worked with a family that has gone from living in a beautiful neighborhood to being absolutely homeless," she said. "It's typical of what we are seeing with the middle class being affected by job losses and foreclosures."
The district also is seeing people "time out" of assistance programs such as CalWORKs and fall into homelessness, Hunt said.
"In some instances the mother is forced to support the entire family on just food stamps and a couple of hundred dollars in cash aid for the children," she said. "What kind of apartment can you get for that?"
Children who become homeless "are in a stinking war zone," said Hunt. Their concentration slips, and they have trouble finishing assignments.
"They are sleeping in various places, changing schools, losing their friends," she said."All of these things cause trauma in children.
"But I have great faith in their resiliency when they have a mentor and people who care about them and believe in them. If they have that, they can absolutely succeed."


Sunday, July 10, 2011

2010-07-10 "City, county skirt duty to house workers" letter by "Latinos Unidos" to the editor of "Napa Valley Register" newspaper
[http://napavalleyregister.com/news/opinion/mailbag/city-county-skirt-duty-to-house-workers/article_ad93091a-aaa0-11e0-ac68-001cc4c002e0.html]
Hector Olivera, president of Latinos Unidos, and David Grabill, legal counsel for Latinos Unidos
---
Decent affordable housing is a basic human right. Most local governments in areas outside Napa County understand that it’s also good business and good for the environment to provide adequate housing for all income levels close to employment centers. But the Napa County Board of Supervisors has not approved a single unit of affordable housing in many years. County officials eagerly approve new wineries, hotels, restaurants and other businesses, but say that housing for the workers isn’t the county’s concern. Now, one-third of Napa County’s workforce — mostly the lower-income third, and mostly Latino — spend hours commuting to work each day from homes outside the county. Most of them would much prefer to live close to their work if housing were available and affordable.
Latinos Unidos won a court case challenging these discriminatory housing policies in 2004, and the county agreed to allow affordable housing on sites in the Monticello/Atlas Peak area near the city of Napa. But a few months later, county officials helped to block utility service to those sites so no multi-family housing could be built. The Monticello sites have now been dropped from the housing element. Sites in Moskowite Corner, Spanish Flats and other remote areas have been designated for the county’s affordable housing. Those areas are far from work, schools, stores and services, and no affordable housing is likely to get built there in the foreseeable future. The county is also spending thousands of dollars on lobbyists in Sacramento to get laws passed (AB 542 and AB 679) that would more or less exempt the county from approving any affordable housing.
Allowing development of housing on the 150-acre Napa Pipe site could meet the county’s affordable housing needs for many years to come. Development of that site would allow thousands of employees in the nearby business parks, Napa State Hospital and Napa Valley Community College an opportunity to live within walking distance of where they work. But a development proposal for that site has met with stiff opposition from groups opposed to growth, and approval is at best uncertain.
The city of Napa has also done a poor job of providing affordable housing for its workforce. Only a few units of affordable housing have been approved in the last 10 years. The City Council is threatening to block any development of affordable housing on the Napa Pipe site, even though it recently approved a huge resort hotel complex at Stanly Ranch that will create hundreds of lower-wage jobs. Latinos Unidos welcomes the news that the city and the county are both pledging money to support affordable housing, but that funding pledge doesn’t mean the city will actually approve construction of any affordable housing. The 130-unit Alexander Crossing project includes
26 affordable units and comes before the City Council later this month, but faces strong opposition. Two other projects with about
100 affordable units have also been promised funding if the City Council actually approves them next year. But even if all these units somehow gain approval, the city will be far short of meeting its 800-unit regional share of new housing for lower-income families for the seven-year planning period that ends in just 36 months.
Several years ago, at the urging of local wineries, the county allowed construction of three bunkhouses for farmworkers in the St. Helena and Calistoga areas. These facilities help provide a steady labor supply for the wineries, and workers don’t have to sleep in their cars. But temporary shelter in bunkhouses is no substitute for real affordable housing where farmworkers can live with their families and participate in the community. County ordinances make it all but impossible to provide affordable housing for farmworkers in the unincorporated areas.
Latinos Unidos disagrees with Judge Guadagni’s recent decision upholding the county’s housing plan, and we’re considering ways to challenge it. The state agency responsible for reviewing those plans ruled last year that the county did not comply with state law. The court of appeals just last week overturned another decision by Judge Guadagni upholding the city of Napa’s housing plan. Latinos Unidos will continue to advocate for affordable housing until the workers who clean the hotel rooms, cook and serve the restaurant meals, harvest and process the grapes and do all the other jobs that make this county one of the richest in the state, are allowed the opportunity to live in Napa County.

Monday, July 4, 2011

2011-07-06 "Armed Citizens Confront Nazi Checkpoint"

by "Sov3rgn Fr33man" [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/07/06/18683997.php]:
Armed Bay Area residents confronted a nazi "show me your papers" checkpoint in Livermore, California on 4th of July weekend. Police Departments use checkpoints to perform warrantless searches and steal vehicles from undocumented drivers.
 Police Departments use checkpoints to perform warrantless searches and steal vehicles from undocumented drivers. Based on their own statistics, the Livermore PD subjected 1200 drivers to unreasonable searches and only arrested TWO drunk drivers at this checkpoint. That means less than 0.17% of those asked "show me your papers" were drinking! Since 11 vehicles were towed, we can conclude that 82% of the vehicles were stolen from undocumented drivers or people with registration issues.
 We all know the real reason they have these checkpoints. The cities and law enforcement agencies make MILLIONS ($40 million across CA in 2009) from these fascist checkpoints.
 Organize against checkpoints in your area!
 Join Abolish Checkpoints: [http://www.facebook.com/AbolishCheckpoints]

 Checkpoint confronted in Livermore [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4BPf08CWqA]:

Saturday, July 2, 2011

2011-07-02 "Solano College president cuts own benefits, pay by $15,780" from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
[http://www.timesheraldonline.com/ci_18397537]
With Solano Community College facing more reductions due to the state budget crisis, its President Jowel Laguerre has agreed to help shoulder the pain.
Board trustees Thursday approved a plan which will allow Laguerre to take eight furlough days and forego a 1 percent raise that was to go into effect Friday, college spokesman Peter Bostic said.
The president also will give up his $5,000 allowance for fundraising and entertainment, Bostic said.
Solano College's managers previously gave up similar items to help the school weather another round of fiscal cuts, officials said.
Laguerre's furlough days, and other cuts in pay will amount to $15,780.50.
He will take his furlough days sometime between July 1 and June of next year.
Bostic said Laguerre's concessions amount to a "fair share" of reductions everyone at the school will need to make.
"If everybody does a fair share we can get there," Bostic said.
Uncertainties in the state budget led to a 25 percent cut in Solano College's summer school, and nearly 200 cuts in classes.
The newly passed state budget calls for another $400 million in reduced funding for community colleges.
Laguerre previously said the school may need to make more reductions mid-year.
Meanwhile, college officials have been negotiating with teachers and classified staff on new contracts.
2011-06-26 "Homelessness in California is now punishable by a year in jail. Free Gary Johnson!" by Steven Argue [steveargue2 [at] yahoo.com] from "Liberation News"
[https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/liberation_news]
For protesting on the county steps against Santa Cruz laws that make it illegal for the homeless to sleep at night, homeless activists Gary Johnson (no relation to Becky Johnson) and Attorney Ed Frey were sentenced to 6 months in jail on June 10th. Bail was set for Ed Frey, pending appeal, at $50,000. Their only act of civil disobedience was sleeping. This occurred at their three month protest called “Peace Camp 2010”. Revealing the political nature of the draconian sentences, Judge Gallagher told homeless activist Gary Johnson that he “could get some sleep in jail” before they were dragged away in chains for their 6 month sentences. The law they were protesting makes it illegal for the homeless to sleep at night, outside or in a vehicle.
On Friday, June 24, after two weeks in jail, Ed Frey was released on bail pending appeal with his bail of $50,000 dollars reduced to $110. Supporters quickly passed the hat and Ed Frey was released from jail on bail. Gary Johnson still sits in jail.
Also convicted for sleeping at the protest were Arthur Bishoff and Collette Connolly. A fifth protester, Christopher Doyon didn’t show up for the kangaroo court trial and bench warrant was issued. A sixth protester, Eliot Anderson was freed by a hung jury that failed to convict him. A juror said of the case, Anderson should not have to gas his dog to try to get into a shelter to legally sleep.
Many potential jurors were upset by the fact that they were to sit through a two week trial for the “crime” of sleep. One example was an elementary school teacher who said, "When I first came to Santa Cruz, I lived in my van for three years. During that time, I was hassled, arrested, and jailed. There is no way I could be impartial in this case considering the pain these people are suffering." A number of potential jurors said such things, but of course they never made it on to the jury. People who are aware of what is going on generally don’t make it onto juries in the United States. Those less aware people who made it onto the jury were told, in a typical manner, that they weren’t allowed to have their own opinions. In the oft repeated mantra of blind stupidity and injustice in America’s capitalist courts, Judge Gallagher told the jury, "Even if you disagree with the law, you must follow the law."
The four protesters were convicted of state anti-lodging law 647(E) for sleeping at the protest. Arthur Bishoff and Collette Connolly did not show up for the absurdity of sentencing and warrants were issued. Ed Frey and Gary Johnson were offered 400 hours of Community Service and 3 years probation for sleeping. In response, Gary Johnson, homeless, asked, "How can I take probation to obey all laws, when you've defined "sleeping" as lodging to the jury, making it a misdemeanor crime? How can I not sleep for six months during probation?" On basic principle and inability to comply, both Gary Johnson and Attorney Ed Frey turned down probation.
This was reminiscent of an earlier Santa Cruz case where Sandy Loranger did time in jail for feeding the homeless soup. When the judge offered her counseling instead of jail Sandy Loranger replied, "If feeding my fellow people is a crime, I am beyond rehabilitation."
The protest Gary Johnson, Ed Frey, Arthur Bishoff, and Collette Connolly were prosecuted for was peaceful in nature with the only act of civil disobedience being the illegal act of sleep outside. Basic protest facilities were included with Attorney Ed Frey providing the protesters with a needed port-a-potty. This helped provide the homeless with a safe place to sleep for months, despite the city government’s failure to provide such needed relief for its citizens.
The protest also shamed the city government into modifying the city’s law that makes it illegal for the homeless to sleep at night by providing a dismissal of the charges in court if the homeless being charged with sleep can show that they were on the waiting list for the insufficient shelter provided at the Homeless Service Center at the time they were ticketed. Other protests in the 1990s shamed the Santa Cruz City government into reducing the fine for sleeping at night outside or in a vehicle, but the Santa Cruz City Council continued to keep sleep at night for the homeless illegal at that time as well.
During those protests in the 1990s activists were arrested and brutalized by the infamously repressive Santa Cruz Police. Activist B.D. was tackled off his soap box and pepper sprayed by the Santa Cruz Police for giving a speech in favor of the homeless in front of numerous eyewitnesses and a video camera. In 1998 this author was beaten and arrested, spending four days in jail, for exercising my First Amendment right to distribute literature. It was literature in favor of rights for the homeless and opposed to police brutality.
The law for which Gary Johnson and Ed Frey were arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced was Penal Code Section 647(E), for “unlawful lodging”. This is a California state law. It was also recently used in August 2010 by the Santa Barbara Police to ticket Courtney Caswell-Peyton, a Santa Barbara disabled woman who fell asleep in her wheel chair. She showed-up for court worried about the possibility of getting her first conviction for any crime. Facing strong protest in that case, the Santa Barbara DA dismissed the charge in the “interests of justice”. While happy about not being convicted, she left court saying she was still homeless and questioning why she had no place to sleep.
Unlike the Santa Barbara dismissal, Gary Johnson, Ed Frey, Arthur Bishoff, and Collette Connolly were convicted in the notoriously bad Santa Cruz courts. Judge Gallagher is making an example of them for standing-up against the anti-homeless laws of Santa Cruz. The suspected reason cops charged the four with the state law rather than the Santa Cruz anti-sleeping law was a loophole where city laws didn’t apply because the protest was on county property. But, as a cop once told this author, “this is Santa Cruz; we can find a law for anything”. And find a law they did.
In 1983 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an earlier version of Penal Code Section 647(E) was unconstitutional in the case of Kolender v. Lawson. It was an anti-vagrancy law that was brought to the supreme court after it was used by San Diego Police to repeatedly harass a Black man with dread locks who was committing no real crime. As a result of that Supreme Court ruling that version of Penal Code Section 647(E) was repealed by the state legislature in 2008.
Since the overturning of the original 647(E) a new version was passed by the State Legislature which states, “Who lodges in any building, structure, vehicle, or place, whether public or private, without the permission of the owner or person entitled to the possession or in control of it” “are guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor". Lodging is being used as a euphemism for sleeping here. This is the law the four protesters were convicted under.
In May 2011, this anti-homeless law 647 (E) was made even worse with the State Legislature making a second violation punishable of up to a year in jail and $2,000 fine. So now homelessness in the state of California is punishable by up to a year in jail if one is caught doing it twice.
Voting for this worsened anti-homeless law were Democrats and Republicans alike, including local Santa Cruz Democrat and darling of many reformist liberals, Bill Monning. Monning voted for that increased penalty at the same time that the people who actually stand-up for human rights were fighting the constitutionality of the law in court with their freedom on the line.
Here is a full list of those who voted for the worsened anti-homeless law: Achadjian, Allen, Ammiano, Atkins, Beall, Beth Gaines, Bill Berryhill, Block, Blumenfield, Bonilla, Bradford, Brownley, Buchanan, Butler, Campos, Carter, Charles Calderon, Chesbro, Cook, Davis, Dickinson, Donnelly, Eng, Feuer, Fletcher, Fong, Fuentes, Furutani, Galgiani, Gatto, Gordon, Grove, Hagman, Halderman, Hall, Harkey, Hayashi, Hill, Huber, Hueso, Huffman, Jeffries, John A. Pérez, Jones, Knight, Lara, Logue, Ma, Mansoor, Mendoza, Miller, Monning, Morrell, Nestande, Nielsen, Norby, Olsen, Pan, Perea, Silva, Skinner, Smyth, Solorio, Swanson, V. Manuel Pérez, Valadao, Wagner, Wieckowski, Williams, and Yamada.
None voted against.
As the California state government, dominated by Democrats, passes anti-working class austerity and extremely harsh anti-homeless legislation, the Democrat holding power in Washington, Obama, wages wars in an increasing number of the world’s countries for the profit of arms manufacturers, oil corporations, and other imperialist capitalists and locks-up suspected whistle blower on U.S. crimes against humanity, Bradley Manning, under intolerable conditions. Bradley Manning is accused of releasing the helicopter footage that shows U.S. troops nonchalantly gunning down civilians including journalists, first aid respondents, and children in cold blood. Instead of charges of murder for those who committed it, it is Bradley Manning who goes to prison under Obama. Likewise, billions that could be used in a saner society for housing, healthcare, and education are squandered on war.
Meanwhile, the local Democrats in power in Santa Cruz send out their county and city cops to silence protests for human rights for the homeless, support legislation against immigrants like the “Secure Communities” program, and threaten to cut the already meager wages of In Home Support Workers, wages needed to provide the care that helps keep the disabled, elderly, and dying in their homes. While Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty supports the city’s anti-homeless laws, police repression, and has signed on with the anti-immigrant “Secure Communities” program, he opposes measures that would help fight homelessness like an increase in the minimum wage and has been part of carrying out austerity that includes the lay-off of workers and cuts in homeless services while at the same time hiring more cops.
[ ... ]
Free Gary Johnson! Overturn the Convictions of Ed Frey, Arthur Bishoff, Collette Connolly! Hands Off Christopher Doyon! End Laws making it Illegal for the Homeless to Sleep at Night! Seize Housing From the Banks for those Who Need Housing! For a Nation Wide Jobs Program Building Housing for All!

2011-06-28 "Gary Johnson is Out on Bail!" from Steven Argue -
Forwarded message from Gary Johnson: "I JUST got out on bail (pending Appeal), from (eventually Minimum) Medium Security Jail in Watsonville (aka The Farm)."

Photo by Liberation News. Daily protests at the Santa Cruz Courthouse from 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM Monday through Friday demanding freedom for protesters convicted of sleeping.
2011-07-02 Update on the Case of Gary Johnson
Gary Johnson was released from jail earlier this week PENDING APPEAL, after over two weeks in jail. Like Attorney Ed Frey, he still faces the continuation of his 6 month in jail sentence for sleeping at the “Peace Camp 2010” protest against anti-sleeping laws.
This week the following motion in solidarity with the case was passed by the Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality & State Repression regarding these cases and laws:
“The "Oscar Grant Committee, to Stop Police Brutality and State Repression" considers the Santa Cruz ordinance against "sleeping in public" to be UNJUST . particularly in the light of the ongoing housing crisis spreading across the country, where millions of people have been turned out of their homes do to the ongoing economic depression.
“We demand that all the charges against Homeless Rights Organizer Gary Johnson and others arrested, that occurred as a result of the peaceful non-violent homeless rights protest be dropped and any convictions overturned.
“We offer our solidarity and support to Gary Johnson and his supporters in the struggle for Human Rights and Dignity for the homeless.”
******* Send messages of support for Gary Johnson, Ed Frey, Arthur Bishoff, Collette Connolly, and Christopher Doyon and opposition to these laws to: steveargue2@yahoo.com
2011-06-09 "Next Steps for Ethnic Media -- Fighting for Low-Power TV" by Eric K. Arnold
[http://newamericamedia.org/2011/06/next-steps-for-ethnic-media----fighting-for-low-power-tv.php]
Arnold wrote this article as part of a partnership between the G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism and New America Media, in a media policy reporting fellowship sponsored by The Media Consortium.
---
OAKLAND, Calif.--Most people in the San Francisco Bay Area won’t find the FilAm Network on cable, but many of the region’s more than 300,000 Filipino residents have no other access to FilAm’s array of local news and feature programs that the channel carries in Tagalog and English.
Through a little-known, community-friendly medium called low-power television (LPTV), the Bay Area’s Filipinos have their own station in Tagalog and English. What’s more, other ethnic communities can tune in to entire channels with programs in their own native tongues, such as Mandarin, Vietnamese and Hindi.
LPTV is also free, a major advantage for many low-income and immigrant populations for whom costly cable television packages are beyond reach.
LPTV has been around for decades, although largely under the media radar. But its 2009 conversion to digital technology, which permits a station to “multiplex”--or clone--its signal, increased LPTV’s programming possibilities and therefore its profile in communities nationwide.
For example, KAXT, a Class-A LPTV station based in San Jose, was able to create a dozen channels, each ideal for community programming, which serve many ethnic groups or niches. Moreover, the technical quality can be as good as most anything available on the airwaves.
Multiplexing represents a potential game-changer for televised diversity. Yet advocates have had to fight for LPTV’s life—often against mega-media corporations and in the halls of lawmakers and regulatory agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Digital Haves and Have-Nots -
LPTV’s history illustrates what’s become known as the “digital divide” – the technology gap separating ethnic, immigrant and low-income communities from their usually whiter and wealthier counterparts.
Originally instituted in the early 1980s as a response to the onslaught of pay-TV networks, LPTV was designed to serve the public interest by offering free programming and easier access for underserved communities. Unlike cable or full-power TV, LPTV is mandated by federal law to carry both local news and children’s programming.
As of 2009, there were almost 2,500 LPTV stations in the United States--roughly twice the number of full-power stations. Nationally, about 30 percent of LPTV stations are owned by women and minorities--compared to three percent of full-power and cable stations.
According to KAXT vice-president Ravi Kapur, “There’s more diversity in low-power television than any other medium.”
Gilbert Dean Arcillas, who started the FilAm Network at KAXT, said his channel “gives a voice and a face to the community” that makes a significant addition to the area's limited programming for the Filipino American community.
The shows on FilAm work with Arcillas to make sure the local Filipino American community is represented. Recent stories on the channel have ranged from the ongoing phenomenon of champion boxer Manny Pacquiao to “Birdman Mike” Parayno, an Asian American studies teacher who hosts a jazz barbeque each weekend at his Berkeley home.

A Model for Multicultural Broadcasting -
Since its inception during the Reagan administration, the LPTV format has been overshadowed by network and cable TV, both in terms of viewer awareness and political and economic clout with policymakers. That, media blogger David Oxenford has written, is probably because “many of these stations operate in rural areas or serve minority or other specialized audiences, perhaps explaining the lack of coverage in the mainstream media.”
KAXT’s Kapur explained at the FCC’s Media Ownership Conference in May that digital television could finally level the playing field “by allowing stations to broadcast multiple streams of programming at the same time.”
Since KAXT converted from analog to the multichannel digital signal, its new business model has involved leasing all of its channels out to ethnic programmers. Besides Arcillas, some of KATX’s other producers are Andrew Kao, who programs TVHS, a Taiwanese station, and Khoi Nguyen, who programs the Vietnamese channel, Que Hong.
“How many Vietnamese programs have you seen on NBC?” said KAXT President Warren Trumbly.
The issue of diversity is a personal one for Kapur. Growing up in the San Francisco area as a person of Indian descent, he said, “I knew that the Indian community was being grossly ignored in mass media. I knew the Filipino community I grew up around in South San Francisco and Daly City were being completely ignored, as was the region’s emerging Vietnamese community.”
Kapur figured, “If we can do something just to serve those three communities, we [would] have something viable and beneficial.”
Calling itself “the most diverse television station in America,” KAXT’s new format also offers African American, Spanish-language and English-language programs.

A Medium for Many Voices -
By spurring the creation of local news and information for ethnic populations in their own native languages, Trumbly said, KAXT is developing media entrepreneurs in those communities, as well as building relationships and helping small businesses that can’t afford to advertise on larger stations.
Kapur, a former television reporter, took the helm of Diya TV, the first-ever Hindi-language channel in America. The station also broadcasts local news in other Indian dialects—Punjabi and Marathi—as well as in English.
“We started from ground zero,” said Andrew Kao. He had no previous experience in television broadcasting when he started TVHS a year ago. His channel “provides a lot of information for the Mandarin-speaking community and the Taiwanese community,” he said. “Nobody did that before.”
In the months ahead, Kao plans to add more programs to meet the Mandarin community’s interests, such as real estate investment in the United States and financial investment in Asia.
Khoi Nguyen, who launched Vietnamese channel Que Hong, is among KAXT’s most experienced broadcasters. He arrived with an 18-year background in radio and TV. That included a stint producing occasional half-hour segments for SBTN, a Vietnamese channel on the local Comcast system. (It is only available to cable subscribers of Comcast’s Xfinity package, not to basic subscribers.)
Before the advent of digital LPTV, Nguyen said, “You couldn’t have your own channel. The price to lease was too high. You can’t even have one hour a day.”
Besides its lower cost, Nguyen said, digital LPTV is better and faster than analog TV. The programming on Que Hong includes four daily news segments--world, U.S., Vietnamese and local—filling specific needs of the Bay Area’s Vietnamese immigrant population.
Nguyen added that Que Hong has made it possible for the local Vietnamese community to do things like raise money for the funeral expenses of a low-income refugee who had died.
Although Nguyen voices the hopefulness of many communities when he speaks of a “bright future for local TV in digital,” serious legal, regulatory and technological obstacles are lurking for KAXT and other LPTV stations.

Low-Power television (LPTV) stations were created in the 1980s to serve local public interests with more educational, children’s and local programming than their cable and network counterparts were willing to offer. When LPTV went digital in 2009, the new technology meant that one station could clone its signal into many channels to serve community niches and ethnic concerns in many languages.
With the advent of the digital media revolution, though, corporate-media interests—with the backing of Washington—have increasingly eyed LPTV’s thin slices of the broadcast spectrum in hopes of grabbing many for themselves.
Complicating matters, federal rules have stymied much of LPTV’s growth. For instance, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers LPTV a secondary service not protected under the law from interference or displacement by broadcasters.
So stations such as KAXT, serving much of the San Francisco Bay Area, have no rights of guaranteed placement on cable systems and thus no federal protections against the reallocation of their spectrums to other broadcasters.
LPTV has been allowed to survive, yet the U.S. government “hasn’t done much to allow it to thrive,” said KAXT’s attorney, Peter Tannenwald.
LPTV operators around the country took a major hit in 2005, when the FCC announced the nation would undergo the conversion to digital TV. As the public scrambled to get its instructions and, in some cases, digital boxes, few knew that the commission also mandated that it would reallocate or take back 25 percent of previously assigned frequencies. Full-power broadcasters were guaranteed a place in the new order, but as second-class citizens of the airwaves, many LPTV stations simply ceased to exist.
Even though LPTV addresses the needs of underserved communities and promotes localism, major media and regulators argue that broadband Internet technology could fill that gap instead.

Internet Falls Short for Blacks, Latinos -
As KAXT’s Tannenwald explains, “The FCC thinks that the Internet is a sufficient vehicle” for digital diversity issues.
However, a higher percentage of people in minority and ethnic communities have less access to a computer than other demographic groups. Less than half of African Americans and Latinos have broadband access, according to a 2010 Commerce Department survey--well below the national average of almost two-thirds.
That proportion drops even lower in other ethnic immigrant communities. Yet, almost every household has a TV, even if it doesn’t have cable.
The FCC has made few efforts to promote LPTV as a tool for increasing diversity on the airwaves, despite the recommendation of the commission’s own Advisory Committee on Diversity. That panel has urged the FCC to “enhance the abilities of minorities and women to participate in telecommunications.”
The FCC has also rebuffed recent efforts by LPTV programmers to explore emerging technology that could allow them to expand their spectrum to utilize broadband. This resistance to an inclusive policy is raising concerns that the commission is motivated more by financial interests than public interest.
Media policy blogger Brendan Holland echoed media advocates last February when he suggested the FCC might be trying to nip LPTV’s greater development in the bud for fear of "foregoing the revenues that would come from an auction of reclaimed television spectrum."

LPTV Denied “Must-Carry” on Cable -
Another barrier is LPTV’s exclusion from “must-carry” requirements, which state that locally licensed television stations must be carried on a cable provider's system. This policy, which Congress enacted in 1992, continues to hinder LPTV’s expansion.
Not being able to grab a foothold in the cable market is a major source of frustration for KAXT’s owners and programmers. Kapur recounted how, after waiting a year to get a meeting with Comcast executives, he made his pitch only to be told to come back a year later.
Andrew Kao worries that he’s not able to reach more affluent members of the Chinese-speaking community. They can afford cable subscriptions but could also benefit from more programming in their own language than currently offered.
Although LPTV stations, such as KAXT, represent the potential for using emerging technology to broadcast the voices of underserved and minority communities--which could narrow the digital divide if given a chance—they face an uphill struggle as long as the federal government and big corporate interests continue to hold the telecommunications industry in an iron grip.

Digital Dictionary -
Analog Television: The original television format. This technology was phased out in 2009. By 2015, digital technology will replace almost all analog frequencies on the television spectrum.
Audio-Only Channel: Comparable to radio frequencies being aired on TV stations, this programming is often used for news or music by digital TV stations.
Digital Diversity: The inclusion of diverse, multicultural voices in emerging and existing technology, such as broadband and digital TV.
Digital Divide: The technology gap separating haves and have-nots in the new media environment. One effect is digital exclusion, whereby underserved communities with limited access to new technology have few opportunities to get services comparable to those that wealthier, technologically enabled populations can afford.
Digital Television (DTV): This term represents frequencies transmitted along a digital signal path. It replaces analog TV and allows stations to broadcast multiple signals over the same frequency.
Full-power TV: Network stations, such as NBC, CBS, and ABC affiliates, which are guaranteed placement on cable operators' local systems.
Low-power TV: LPTV, a medium designed for the public interest, offers free programming and easier access for underserved communities. These stations are required to provide more educational, children's and local programming than their cable and network counterparts. LPTV is not guaranteed placement on cable systems and has no federal protections against having broadcasters take over their small slice of the broadcast spectrum.
Multiplexing: A technology making it possible for a DTV station to split its spectrum into several channels, all broadcasting on the same frequency.