By Tina Dupuy
Are the left and the right in this country pretty much the same except for ideology? Are liberals and conservatives basically two sides of the same coin? One side you have one opinion, the other side an opposing view. Are the parties in America symmetrical?
Only the right wing will say yes.
It's a go-to (think lazy) response to any criticism of the right: The left does it too. Even more so, probably.
By Terry O'Day
Nothing is more central to the future of Southern California communities than water. Increasing the sustainability of our cities will require an effective transportation system, improved urban planning, clean air, green energy sources and more. But you can go a day without driving, or even without electricity. But try going a day without water.
This is a good time to reflect on how our communities will provide water for our future. There's a great deal of focus on water policies in California at the moment. And today, in Southern California, there are two competing visions for the future. Deciding between those visions is important to our future economic health, to the state's environment, and to our collective pocketbooks.
By Dan Aiello
Citing California Governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, Jr.'s veto last session of a bill that would have allowed reporters access to prisoners protesting conditions within the state's 33 prisons, reform advocates called on judges, legislators and news media to ignore Brown's claim that the state's prison crisis "is over."
The Brown administration began the past week in court with a motion before the 9th Circuit Federal to vacate the population cap imposed on the state's overcrowded prisons, citing the state's realignment plan as evidence the cap is both dangerous and no longer needed.
By Robert Cruickshank
Last week's big news was the announcement from Governor Jerry Brown that the state budget is out of perennial deficit and looking at several years of surpluses. We'll talk more about what those surpluses mean and how they ought to be used, but it's worth taking a moment to remember how we got here.
Since 2001 or so, California's budget seems to have been in perpetual deficit, with less money coming in than was needed to fund existing public services. While the deficit pressure eased in 2005-06, that didn't last, and by the summer of 2007 the deficits had returned as the housing bubble popped and the country slid into the worst recession in 60 years.
By Lisa Schiff
The New Year marks the half-way point of the academic year for students in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). With a dramatic election finally over, January finds us without the threat of immediate financial catastrophe (thank you voters, for passing Proposition 30), a postponement of the federal funding cliff-hanger until March, three returning incumbent school board members (Rachel Norton, Sandra Fewer and Jill Wynns) and one new commissioner (Matt Haney), and a re-elected President Obama who has committed to staying the course with the existing pernicious federal education programs.
By Christopher Allen
California Progress Report
California Governor Jerry Brown unveiled his 2013-14 budget proposal yesterday, declaring that the state's lean years of budget deficits are over. In place of dramatic spending cuts, the governor's $97.6 billion dollar plan instead offers modest boosts to school funding, along with an expansion of the Medi-Cal program as the state transitions to its Covered California health benefit exchange in compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act.
By Ann Notthoff
What California does makes a difference. When President Obama increased national mileage standards last year, he built on the pioneering work that Senator Fran Pavley started here in 2002. We dream big, we take big steps and when it comes to environmental and public health protection, nobody does it better. With his new budget proposal today, Governor Brown has a chance to build on our state's strong record of environmental and public health protection.
By Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut the news and internet has been abuzz with some variant of "Freedom vs. Gun Control," as if no reasonable rational alternative exists beyond this absolute dichotomy. In the mix is always the Second Amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The Second Amendment has been interpreted both as a right to individual self-defense and, by some, as a check on government, i.e. a right to use force to overthrow a "tyrannical" government.
By Dan Aiello
State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) is following through on his promise to reform California's prisons with the introduction of a homeless rights bill intended to decriminalize homelessness in the Golden State, protecting "some of society's most vulnerable members."
Make no mistake, Assembly Bill 5 is as much prison reform, as it is civil rights, legislation.
Among other things, the proposed law would require legal representation for anyone cited under local loitering, camping or panhandling ordinances.
By Mark Naison
Is Diane Ravitch the George Ball of our generation and education reform our Vietnam?
In the spring and summer of 1965, as US policy makers debated whether to send large numbers of US ground troops to Vietnam to insure that the South Vietnamese government not collapse, a longtime Washington insider named George Ball issued a fierce warning that the policy being recommended would be disastrous. Declaring that the conflict in Vietnam was a “civil war among Asians” not a front of a global struggle against Communism, Ball warned that sending US ground troops would lead to national humiliation no matter how large the force sent or the technological advantage it possessed, because it would cement the character of the war, from the Vietnamese side, as a struggle against a foreign invader.
Ball’s advice needless to say, was disregarded, and the result was exactly as he predicted - a humiliating defeat for the US which extracted a terrifying toll in deaths and ecological damage on the Vietnamese people.