Over 400,000 elderly and disabled California residents depend on the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program to keep them living safely and independently at home. Nearly half this number live in Los Angeles County. Over the last few weeks my colleagues have written articles that illustrate L.A. County caregivers’ need for a living wage and show the positive economic impact of that wage for all L.A. residents.
I am an in-home caregiver for my daughter Elizabeth, who suffers a mental disability. She is 21 years old, has autism and needs fulltime supervision. Any parent who has an autistic child understands the unique challenges we must deal with on a daily basis — such as my daughter needing to go to a special school, having to work with social workers who check in on her, juggling multiple doctors and administering her different medications throughout the day.
I am writing this article because I know my daughter deserves the very best care.
Community members recently wrapped up the three-pronged Long Beach Rising! civic-engagement program aimed at increasing residents’ participation in local politics. I’ve been part of the civic-engagement committee, which formed in November 2011 to address low voter turnout in local elections —particularly from people of color and low-income communities.
From the outset committee members knew we wanted to do something about the persistent disparities in voter participation (and the consequences this has for city policy), but didn’t have a blueprint for this sort of endeavor. So we set out to create one.
From the start there was a high level of enthusiasm, with members from nearly 20 community organizations convening last November to begin planning Long Beach Rising! This process was facilitated by the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community.
In January, 35 people graduated from our inaugural training program.
The federation eloquently and accurately inveighs against “excessive corporate influence” in the political process, calling for “greater balance . . . transparency and disclosure . . . restoring Congress’ ability to regulate campaign spending,” and “abolishing corporate ‘personhood.’” If necessary, the AFL states, we should pass a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. To be sure, all of these things are true: Citizens United is bad for democracy in general, and especially bad for labor, as it makes the political playing field further unbalanced in favor of corporations and the wealthy.
In the spirit of full accounting, though, let’s acknowledge that the ruling does give labor something: For the first time in the modern history of a presidential race,
We’re thoroughly non-partisan here at Frying Pan News, but still we get many questions about voting. Most of them are about American Idol, but once in a while someone wants to know about elected officials. And while we still won’t tell you how to vote (though Professor Wagstaff’s dictum isn’t a bad place to start), we can happily answer some of your process questions.
Q: Hey, I heard a lot recently about voters “making mischief” in the presidential primary in Michigan. ’Sup with that?
A: It’s true—at least it’s true that you heard a lot about it, though there’s little evidence of any actual mischief-making. But some states do allow (just about) anyone to vote in (just about) any primary. In Michigan, the story goes, some Democrats – convinced that Romney would be the stronger opponent in the fall – crossed party lines to vote for Santorum in the primary,
Since when did one’s mode of transportation become about politics? Who ever thought that riding one’s bike to the grocery store, taking the bus to work or driving to run errands could be a sign of one’s political stripes?
In some cities, such as New York and San Francisco, riding the train defines the experience of everyone living there. Entire movies, books and blogs have documented the romance and day-to-day life of riding public transit and navigating busy sidewalks. Can you even imagine what a New York free of subways, buses and pedestrians would look like? Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, you’re on the train.
Just ask Mitt.
Mitt Romney is among a vocal set of Republicans who have decided that certain forms of transportation are more democratic than others; he subscribes to the belief that roads are a given right of Americans, but that public transit is not.
Frying Pan News writer Donald Cohen appears on television tonight in a segment of KCET’s SoCal Connected to discuss El Segundo’s alleged sweetheart tax deal with the Chevron oil corporation, whose local refinery has long dominated the town’s commerce and politics.
The case became a scandal when El Segundo’s city manager, Doug Willmore, was sacked after he purportedly dug up details of a 1994 agreement between Chevron and city officials that codified the company’s low tax payments in perpetuity.
On a recent Wednesday I was walking to my job at the RH restaurant inside the Hyatt Andaz Hotel on the Sunset Strip. Per my daily routine, I stepped into Starbucks to get my double-shot caramel macchiato. Near the window I sat near a blonde woman who was chatting it up with a dark-haired man in a suit. Weird, I thought to myself. That looks like Callista Gingrich, the third wife of Newt Gingrich and potential First Lady of the United States.
If it wasn’t her, this woman could’ve have easily passed for her body double. Were she an actress with any talent she could secure the spousal role if Hollywood decided to do a bio of Newt’s campaign, which I imagine would merely be the retelling of Don Quixote. Hollywood, are you listening? The Quixotic Adventure of Newt Gingrich has a nice ring to it.
I waved to the valet guys in front of the hotel while still on the sidewalk and then I saw IT.
We’re currently riding a serious wave of attacks on labor unions from politicians. (Generally, but not exclusively, this has come from the GOP.) We all know about the assaults on public employee unions that started last year in Wisconsin, and have spread across the country, with proposed or enacted legislation in states such as Michigan, Ohio (subsequently repealed by voters), Indiana, and most egregiously, Arizona.
And then there’s the resurgence of so-called Right to Work legislation, which was just signed into law in Indiana, which became the first state to go RTW since Oklahoma in 2001. (That makes 23 right to work states overall.) Similar legislation is pending elsewhere, including Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, and New Hampshire. Even states that are already right to work, like South Carolina, just want to get a little right to workier.
With Romney needing to establish more conservative cred,
On and off for two years – between 1988 and 1993 – I worked at the law firm of Latham and Watkins, representing some of the most powerful developers and corporations in Los Angeles. I vividly remember going down to the council chambers in City Hall, standing at the rope separating the public from council members and watching my colleagues pull lawmakers over to lay out what needed to be done in support of a development proposal or a big city contract. I would look around the council chambers and – unless there was some rare public controversy that brought a lot of people down to City Hall – I would see only white lawyers and lobbyists dressed in fancy suits who essentially owned the place.
When I left Latham and Watkins and helped to start LAANE in 1993, I resolved to bring the knowledge of developer lobbyists into our work and get thousands of real people from all stripes down to City Hall.
The skirmish of words in El Segundo over its city manager’s proposal to raise local taxes on that city’s largest business, Chevron Oil, has suddenly become a full-fledged legal war, with the official making explosive accusations against both El Segundo’s government and Chevron. The story, which Donald Cohen has been following for Frying Pan News, began with Doug Willmore’s efforts to bring the giant refinery’s taxes in line with the taxes paid by other California oil companies. Willmore was subsequently fired on February 9 by El Segundo’s city council.
In response, the ousted city manager has filed a governmental claim against El Segundo, a forerunner to a lawsuit. In it, Willmore claims that:
(Note: This post first appeared on Philanthropy New York’s Smart Assets blog.)
By Beth Herz
Leading the charge on an issue can bring an organization’s work into the spotlight—and sometimes also under a microscope. Madeline Janis, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), learned this when her own organization’s work came under scrutiny for less-than-benevolent reasons. While under her leadership, LAANE learned that an unnamed political ops firm was conducting a careful investigation of all of its records, apparently intending to find fodder for a smear campaign.
On November 29th, Philanthropy New York hosted a funders briefing to discuss the rise of this type of political attack on advocacy work and the roles foundations can play in responding. The briefing’s two panels included Madeline Janis’s story and a case study from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood.
El Segundo city manager Doug Willmore didn’t know who he was messing with.
In January, 2012 the L.A. Times reported that El Segundo, home to a huge Chevron refinery, was considering raising the oil giant’s taxes to help meet the demands of a growing town. Refineries around the state pay far higher taxes to their local governments than Chevron does – which is why Willmore figured the proposal made sense.
Chevron’s El Segundo tax bill is $5 million, far less than other cities receive from their refineries. Torrance got $9.8 million from Exxon Mobil and Carson got $10.2 million from BP. Chevron paid $15.4 million to Richmond for its Northern California facility.
Chevron, of course, wants to hold on to its growing profits and is fighting hard against any tax increase. When the proposal first came forward Chevron reacted with disbelief that the proposal would be made public before they knew about it.
It’s about 6 p.m. and I’m speed-walking to the Seventh and Figueroa Red Line stop to make sure I catch the train after work. At 6:10, the train promptly arrives at the platform and I’m home in 12 minutes. Fortunately, I never have to think twice about hopping on that train or worry about whether the train will shut down or collapse. I also have a convenient alternative to sitting in traffic, and while riding the train I feel secure knowing that our subway system was safely built by skilled hands thanks to government investment in our transit system.
But with the state of the economy and all the talk about the decline of our infrastructure in the United States, I wonder if I have taken what public transportation we have for granted. Then I say to myself, “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.” (Pun may or may not be intended.)
Here in Los Angeles,
(Note: Brian Beutler’s post first appeared on Talking Points Memo. Frying Pan News presents it here as a snapshot of the Congressional fight over the future of America’s social safety net and does not intend it to be an endorsement of one political party or criticism of another.)
The GOP’s accession to reality on the payroll tax cut is being cast as a key victory for Democrats and President Obama. Republicans caved, the payroll tax will almost certainly be renewed, and the economy won’t take a tough hit just as the recovery’s beginning to accelerate.
But it also reveals a flaw — a potentially huge flaw — in the conservative movement’s generational strategy to roll back the federal safety net.
These might sound like two wildly disparate issues, but they’re actually variations on a years-long theme.
“Creative destruction” has been widely invoked again since Newt Gingrich began attacking Mitt Romney’s record at the private-equity firm, Bain Capital. Of course, the term is a perennial favorite with business writers. But in response to Gingrich’s attacks, Romney and his allies have insisted that Bain exemplifies “creative destruction,” the closely-linked glory and pain of unfettered capitalism.
“Creative destruction,” the concept, however, carries a more mixed message than many of Romney’s defenders may think. In fact, it points to deep problems that face conservatives whenever they argue that ordinary people should look past the ugly and brutal side of economic life. The phrase was first used by the Austrian economist, Joseph Schumpeter, in his 1942 book, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. It referred to a phenomenon Schumpeter had been writing about for decades, a process bound up with entrepreneurship and innovation.
Entrepreneurs, Schumpeter argued, were no ordinary businesspeople. Entrepreneurs were visionaries,
It seems inevitable that national coverage of the Occupy movement has been dying down. The sporadic stories I read are of arrests of occupiers in different cities, but I surmise that this too will eventually become old hat in the media and we will soon settle our attentions wholeheartedly on the presidential election, which in my opinion is a real shame.
I’ve grown weary of our gerrymandered elections. For a country that holds freedom of choice so dear to American life, I find it odd and disheartening that we are really only given two parties to choose from. The consumer in me gets depressed every election cycle. It’s akin to going to Ben and Jerry’s and being told that you can only have chocolate or vanilla.
My sincere hope is that this year the narrative is different. I am pinning my hopes on the Occupy movement to resurrect itself to the national news media and overshadow our fixed-choice election for the presidency.
(This post originally appeared February 8 on the author’s Switchboard blog.)
Yesterday, the Bureau of Sanitation for the City of L.A. released its recommendations for fixing the inefficiencies in L.A.’s waste system. After more than a year of careful consideration, the Bureau determined that an exclusive franchise system with 11 franchise zones for the commercial and multi-family sectors would provide the best solution to increasing recycling and minimizing the burden that waste collection imposes on L.A. residents.
As I have written before, the commercial and multi-family sectors are responsible for approximately 70 percent of the waste L.A. sends to landfills, so it is an important nut to crack to meet the City’s zero waste goals. I have written several blogs on this issue and on the benefits of going to zero waste ranging from reducing our dependence on polluting and space hogging landfills to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to creating more jobs.
It’s not known if the Tea Party will ever be identified by one color, the way our two dominant political parties are. With red and blue already taken, it’s tempting to guess that the Tea Party would embrace – well, white. In any case, it won’t be green. Consider a February 4 New York Times piece, which spells out the tireless campaign waged by the movement against any legislation tilting toward a sustainable environment. Some of the laws vehemently contested include:
The reason for Tea Party opposition to these seemingly uncontroversial undertakings is a deep suspicion of an obscure and nonbinding United Nations resolution passed in 1992.
Sometimes a simple statement can provide a window onto a worldview; in this case, the arrogance of privilege.
The City of El Segundo, home to a huge Chevron refinery, is considering raising the oil giant’s taxes to help meet the demands of a growing town. Refineries around the state pay far higher taxes to their local governments than Chevron does. The proposal would bring Chevron in line with its competitors and in line with a common sense definition of fairness.
Chevron, of course, wants to hold on to its growing profits and is fighting hard against any tax increase. It is doing the same at its Richmond, California refinery. In 2011, the company asked Contra Costa County to lower its assessed property value from $1.8 billion in 2007 and $1.15 billion in 2008. Contra Costa assessed the property value at $3 billion. If an appeals board rules in Chevron’s favor,
(Note: Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins’ post first appeared yesterday on Green for All.)
America is not used to playing catch-up, not since World War II. We’ve built a massive, unparalleled economy through an always-evolving blend of entrepreneurship, public and private investment, and innovation.
We still lead the rest of the world, but we’ve slowed. Stumbled. Meanwhile our competitors are picking up speed – particularly in key sectors that promise long-term growth.
President Obama is presenting his [third] State of the Union address tonight, at the outset of a year that will culminate with a fiercely contested battle for his position. It may be the President’s last opportunity to establish the agenda that America needs in order to be competitive over the long term – while putting people to work immediately.
It is a moment for boldness – a time at which the President can outline a plan of action that shifts America’s focus to the future,