Long Beach hotel workers and community activists made history Tuesday, passing a living wage ballot measure that will help lift 2,000 people in that city’s tourism industry out of poverty.
Long Beach was one of three cities nationwide that passed minimum wage measures (San Jose and Albuquerque were the others), and the only one that enacted a law with paid sick leave. Workers at Long Beach’s large hotels will now earn at least $13 per hour and will have five paid sick days a year.
The passage of Measure N is the culmination of a multi-year effort by LAANE, UNITE HERE! (the union representing tourism industry workers) and the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community to build grassroots power in Long Beach, a city that for decades has been dominated by business interests largely disinterested in the huge numbers of working poor. Beginning with a large-scale civic engagement project,
For me, especially once Mitt Romney named Paul Ryan as his running mate, the presidential race became a contest between two Americas: one traditional, Christian, white and wealthy; the other was, well, the Other — a pioneering America of varied ethnicities, incomes and spiritual traditions. The Rainbow Coalition that Jesse Jackson first named a generation ago has come to fruition and it’s a bright day for America. Obama garnered 70 percent of the Latino vote, 70 percent of the Asian vote, 93 of the black vote, 73 percent of the gay vote and close to 60 percent of the female vote. We once again proved that this country is always changing, and that change is our strength.
Obama’s victory is thus history’s victory, the people’s victory, and a victory for all those who believe we succeed best and most when we work together across the so-called “lines” that tradition and history have often put between people.
When asked by prospective employers to describe my life’s work, I generally say that I have toiled as a writer on the extreme fringes of the entertainment industry, and most of that in New York. I’m far more familiar with the fantasies peddled by the world of movies and the theater than the one that was being sold this year to Californians by a consortium of billionaires, religious cranks, hedge-fund managers and libertarian extremists bent on financially kneecapping California labor out of the state’s political picture.
Yet when Frying Pan News offered me an election-season gig as a Prop. 32 research assistant to investigative reporter Matthew Fleischer, I didn’t hesitate. I mean, I was no less qualified to look into the issue than the average voter.
No sooner did I begin to track down Prop. 32’s backers than they began emerging as a virtual Who’s Who of the same well-heeled special interests that their initiative was promising to weed out: Bizarre,
Triumph of the Numbers
Signing off last night, Brian Williams on NBC said something about how the presidential election defied the very idea of prognostication. All night the result was characterized as a surprise, which makes sense given how often television analysts before the election described this race as a toss-up, or too close to call.
Last night was the first time I’d watched any television news since Obama’s 2008 win and it was a good reminder why. Tuesday morning I searched for election predictions, and came up with 11 sites that crunched the numbers and made predictions1. All 11 predicted an Obama victory. One of the 11 expected Obama to lose Colorado, and two expected him to lose Virginia, but the rest were up in the air only about Florida (which was genuinely too close to call).
There was, in the run-up, a fair bit of criticism of such predictions,
It’s a curious feeling, this brown-becoming, the “Latino vote” hurling itself over the fence as it were, saving Barack Obama from the ignominy of becoming the first black president to lose a reelection bid. I’ve been writing about the potential of the Latino vote going on three decades, and although we’ve had inklings of what kind of power it can wield (such as when it modestly pushed a few swing states toward George Bush in 2004), this time it’s at the center of the electoral narrative.
There was George Will on ABC, minutes after the election was called, talking about how Barack Obama could now put “immigration reform front and center, giving the Republicans a reef upon which they can wreck themselves.” Brian Williams and all the old school network anchors welcomed the “non-Cuban Hispanic” cohort (read: Mexicans, Central Americans, Puerto Ricans) to the national story.
It’s a curious feeling because,