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Our Top Stories of 2019

Our reporting began with the Los Angeles teachers strike and included coverage of the immigration, housing and climate crises.




Rally preparing for Los Angeles teachers strike. (Photo: Bill Raden)

No doubt 2019 will be remembered for the impeachment of Donald Trump, but there was big news beyond the congressional rebuke of the 45th president, and Capital & Main was there to cover it.

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The year began with the Los Angeles teachers meta-strike, an epic rain-soaked affair that nevertheless galvanized support for a badly underfunded and much-maligned public education system. Capital & Main produced daily coverage, including a video diary of one striking teacher.

Trump’s assault on immigrants escalated to a fever pitch. As senior reporter Robin Urevich wrote, California detention facilities were plagued by safety problems, while a group of detainees filed a lawsuit claiming they were forced to work without pay. But toward the end of 2019, California passed a law banning the use of private prisons and detention centers, setting up another fight with immigration hard-liners.

In Mexico City, contributor Trebor Healey wrote, some of those deported from the U.S. found themselves banding together in a makeshift community dubbed “Little L.A.,” seeking food, shelter and work. On the American side of the border, contributor Sasha Abramsky chronicled the economic challenges facing both immigrants and the native-born of the Imperial Valley, where residents eke by in the shadow of California agribusiness.

Further north, in the city of Milpitas, investigative reporter Joe Rubin exposed a lead contamination scandal stemming from a poorly maintained gun range that had scattered lead dust at an adjacent kids gymnastics center. Rubin’s reporting on the state’s failure to protect workers and communities from lead poisoning implicated the California Department of Public Health – and also played a pivotal role in the passage of a new law that will compel the state to investigate cases of workplace lead contamination.

Another Capital & Main investigation, by Angelika Albaladejo, raised fundamental questions about the rights of mothers trying to protect themselves and their kids from abusive partners. The cruelties of California’s unaffordable housing market took center stage in a piece by senior reporter Jessica Goodheart that profiled the upheaval of eviction through the eyes of a 7-year-old girl.

With the Trump administration trumpeting the strong economy, Capital & Main launched a year-long series looking at the harsh reality facing tens of millions of Americans. “United States of Inequality,” a partnership with the Guardian US, Fast Company and the American Prospect, featured on-the-ground reporting from key electoral battlegrounds like Erie, Pennsylvania, where, as Goodheart wrote, some poor residents have given up on voting. In Arizona, now considered a top battleground state, even those who can’t vote have joined one of the largest voter mobilization efforts in the country, as Devin Boone reported.

As 2019 wound down, Democratic presidential hopefuls descended on California, a state whose high rates of poverty and inequality are constantly being challenged by grassroots social movements, like the kind that led Disneyland workers to sue for higher wages.

Expect more of the same in 2020 – and, as always, Capital & Main will be there to bring you the story.

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