Author David Pepper argues that state governments have become a key reason for the erosion of rights and America’s drift from democracy.
“We just don’t have the luxury to be despondent.”
A three-part series of interviews about the influence of neoliberalism on our politics and economics.
California looks to ease the strain put on its vulnerable undocumented workforce.
The view from Lemon Hill, a working-class community where stress and anxiety rule the day.
Major hotel chains are considering making daily room cleaning an exception rather than the norm.
Alberto Carvalho, a proponent of school choice, oversaw a growth of magnet and charter schools in Miami.
Cervantes, a progressive policy expert, explains what has and hasn’t changed for immigrant workers under the Biden administration.
Democratic Assemblymember Ash Kalra is proposing a bill to jump-start the process, but Big Medicine will fight to kill it.
The oil and gas industry could jeopardize federal funding to clean up the state’s thousands of abandoned and leaking wells.
I spent last Saturday morning at the five-acre Annenberg Community Beach House complex which, as far as I know, is the only publicly accessible beach facility on the entire coast of our great state. About 200 of us were gathered to honor the 31-year tenure of Barbara Stinchfield, a Santa Monica city staffer who led the effort to finance, design, build and manage the newly opened beach facility for community use.
With a public pool, playground, shaded seating areas, outdoor fountain, public meeting rooms and an indoor-outdoor reception room, the complex, located on the “Gold Coast” adjacent to high-end beach homes, offers ordinary people the beauty of the California beachfront in a tastefully designed building – just what the wealthy can afford to buy in a private beach club.
The “private sector” would have had no incentive to build a public facility like this since it generates no profit and its primary mission is service to the public.
The morning after covering the New Hampshire primary, American Prospect and Washington Post commentator Harold Meyerson was getting over a bad cold, but answered a few questions about whether the conservative electorate was becoming more sympathetic to populist pitches.
Frying Pan News: All of a sudden pro-business presidential candidates have been backpedaling or “clarifying” the red-meat comments that they’ve been throwing to their base – comments deriding Americans who are too lazy to be millionaires, or celebrating the joy of firing people. Are candidates suddenly feeling the average person’s pain?
Harold Meyerson: I think Mitt Romney crossed the line when he said he likes firing people. When Romney says it his background as a venture capitalist comes into play. As an actor he’s precisely the guy central casting would send to play a Wall Street executive.
FPN: So you don’t think the Republican candidates will be playing the populist card?
On February 1, 2012, I will be out of a job. That’s because at 12:01 a.m., more than 400 California redevelopment agencies will go out of business, including the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (LACRA), where I have served as a volunteer (meaning unpaid) commissioner for nine-and-a-half years. California’s $6 billion annual economic development program used by cities to revitalize distressed neighborhoods will disappear.
This is happening because of the legislature’s adoption of Assembly Bill 26X, which was upheld by the California Supreme Court on December 29, 2011. While the consequences for me are different than for the hundreds of LACRA employees who will eventually lose their livelihoods, it’s still a personal blow.
Because, for nine-and-a-half years I have devoted a significant amount of volunteer time to making redevelopment a winning proposition for low-income communities in Los Angeles. While I admit that I have not always been successful,
(Editor’s Note: This post by Zak Rosen first appeared on Yes Magazine.)
For nearly a decade, Gloria Lowe was a final-line inspector for Ford Motor Company, checking new Mustangs as they rolled off an assembly line in Dearborn, Michigan. She worked at the River Rouge Complex, a hulking, mile-long structure that, back in the 1930s, employed as many as 100,000 people. By the time Gloria started working there, just a fraction of the workers remained. (Since the year 2000, metropolitan Detroit has lost about 200,000 manufacturing jobs, despite experiencing a slight gain since 2009.)
Then one day, in 1999, Gloria was on her way back into the plant after parking yet another Mustang when an automated, two-thousand pound metal door came loose and crashed down on her head. She was diagnosed with left-side nerve damage from the top of her brain down through her feet,
Meet Charles Scott Howard, Job Killer. Mr. Howard, 51, seems an unlikely actor to play this dreaded role – he’s been a Kentucky coal miner for three decades. The rough-hewn Howard has earned the lasting hatred of Big Coal by shutting down mining operations whenever he’s felt his workplace was unsafe. And by speaking to government officials and the media, he has become a figure feared by corporate America – a whistleblower.
For years Howard has documented dangerous conditions in mines — usually subterranean hell holes owned by Arch Coal Inc. For calling attention to escapeways flooded with waist-high water, poorly hung ventilation curtains and worn-out mine seals that separate combustible vapors, Howard has lived an almost seasonal employment cycle of being fired, blackballed and then, thanks to his lawyer’s efforts, reinstated.
“Howard’s career,” wrote Dave Jamieson, in an absorbing Huffington Post profile last September, “has coincided with the decline of unions in mining and other American industries,
My wife and I are bird nuts. Our weekends are spent hiking around the hills of Los Angeles with binoculars in hand. I have a somewhat louder jaunt and am sometimes given a scowl from Christine if I unintentionally flush a bird from its tree before either of us can get a good look. She’s a much better birder. She’s quiet and aware. She knows the calls, the chirps, trills and quacks.
“Listen to that goldfinch,” I’ll tell her.
“You think that’s a goldfinch?” she’ll smirk. We argue about the call until a scrub jay flutters out of the tree in front of us. As I say, she has a really good ear.
My fascination with birds started with the condor — the largest flying land bird in North America and one of the world’s most highly profiled endangered birds.
In the mid ’80s my Dad’s cattle ranch outside of Glennville,
(Editor’s Note: This feature first appeared on Huffington Post.)
With one statement January 5, Newt Gingrich, who constantly reminds voters about his past as a college professor, managed to mangle the facts while resorting to old-fashioned racist stereotypes to gain votes. With his poll numbers sinking, and his presidential campaign desperate, Gingrich told a crowd at a senior citizens center in Plymouth, N.H., “I’m prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”
“The fact is, if I become your nominee we will make the key test very simple: Food stamps versus paychecks,” said Gingrich hoping to appeal to conservative white voters in New Hampshire and in upcoming primaries in South Carolina, Florida and other southern states. “Obama is the best food stamp president in American history.
I have danced in more than 50 music videos, with artists such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, Prince and many, many others.
Every dancer’s worst work experience, I can guarantee you, has happened on a music video. It is a crapshoot for each video we accept. The music video industry is the dance world’s lawless Wild West. That is why we have decided to stand up for ourselves.
It’s About Time music video dancers have a fair union contract. If you see me or my fellow dancers on the Grammys, we are working under a union contract. If you see us in movies, commercials, or Dancing with the Stars, for example, we have a union contract. But when you watch dancers perform in music videos, we are working without a union contract and without basic protections on the job and no hope of insurance or pension benefits.
Recently the Frying Pan ran an interview with DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL players’ association, in which he responded to people who thought the 2011 players dispute with owners was a “fight between millionaires and billionaires.”
Smith pointed out that a lot of people’s livelihoods depend on professional sports, and lockouts hurt them even more than they hurt players. But there’s a bigger question raised by this issue – and one that highlights a conflict deep at the heart of American cultural beliefs. Who has a moral right (not the legal right or the logistical need, but the moral right) to the proceeds of an enterprise — the people who do the work or the people who front the money? We say we value hard work, but do we really value it more than the right of people who already have money to make even more?
As dismal as things may seem, we Californians actually have a few things to look forward to. The fruits of reform efforts are ripening, with three common-sense laws making their influential debuts.
This new year will see a much-needed shake-up of the State Assembly and Senate. For decades legislators drew their own districts, ones that favored incumbents and decreased voters’ power. Thanks to the California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission created in 2008 and further empowered in 2010, our state finally has fair and honest State Assembly, State Senate and U.S. Congressional districts. Many current representatives find themselves in districts they are unlikely to win next year, and are making decisions to move to “safer” districts. This will pit many voters against Sacramento’s staunch culture of incumbency when party leaders run candidates in areas they haven’t represented in the past.
Voters will see another change at the ballots in the coming year.