Veteran's Day Should Mean Something More

By Jessica Bartholow

Western Center on Law & Poverty

Yesterday, America took a day to honor the commitment of men and women who have served our country. In California, this day is significant because it is home to more returning veterans than any other state in the Nation.

But for too many veterans, the November 11th holiday is nothing more than a gateway to a stressful holiday season filled with cold months, high utility bills and empty plates. I know this because my dad is a disabled Veteran who suffered for years with untreated and debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We were never invited to a Veteran’s Day parade or a pancake breakfast, just left to find our own way, many times our basic needs going unmet.

Why Is Washington Cutting Safety Nets Now?

By Robert Reich

So how to explain this paradox?

As of November 1 more than 47 million Americans have lost some or all of their food stamp benefits. House Republicans are pushing for further cuts. If the sequester isn’t stopped everything else poor and working-class Americans depend on will be further squeezed.

We’re not talking about a small sliver of America here. Half of all children get food stamps at some point during their childhood. Half of all adults get them sometime between ages 18 and 65. Many employers – including the nation’s largest, Walmart – now pay so little that food stamps are necessary in order to keep food on the family table and other forms of assistance are required to keep a roof overhead.

California Sea Otters Targeted in Defense Authorization Bill

By Michael Jasny

Natural Resources Defense Council

The Senate will shortly be voting on a bill that would allow the U.S. Navy to injure and kill California sea otters, without complying with the core wildlife statutes protecting this threatened species.

Recently, the House added language to this year’s defense authorization bill that outright exempts the Navy from two federal laws, the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, for any harm it causes sea otters off its Southern California bases.

It's Not Safe Out There

By Leo Gerard

United Steelworkers

Anthony Tenny told Clearwater Paper several times that he was concerned about working in excessive red cedar dust at its Lewiston, Idaho, sawmill. But nothing changed. So he reported his fears to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Within a month of OSHA inspecting the plant, Clearwater fired Mr. Tenny ­– despite his six-year tenure, supervisors’ praise and promotions. Five days after Clearwater sacked Mr. Tenny, another worker, John Bergen III, a 10-year Clearwater veteran, died after inadvertently stepping into a gaping opening in the floor of the adjacent paper products plant.

California State Senator Ron Calderon Should Resign

By Dean Preston

Tenants Together

Assemblymember Christina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) deserves credit for being the first state legislator to call on Senator Ron Calderon (D – Montebello) to resign following the release last week of evidence that Calderon accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from an FBI agent as part of an undercover operation. Senator Calderon would be well advised to heed the call or face an escalating campaign from constituents, activists and colleagues who have lost faith in his ability to govern with any credibility.

Water Bond Campaigner Reveals Measure Would Lose 'Pretty Dramatically'

By Dan Bacher

Joe Caves, a "campaign manager" for three successful water bonds, told attendees at a dinner of the Southern California Water Committee (SCWC) on October 24 that the bond that is currently on the 2014 ballot would lose "pretty dramatically."

The legislature doesn't have a very good record of passing successful water bonds, according to Caves.

"The one passed in 2009 was the first one they even managed to get a 2/3rds vote on since 2000," said Caves. "And that one was constructed in a way necessary to put legislative compromises together, but also created elements of it that created opposition to the bond."

Pension Cutters: Bipartisan Slogans, Right-Wing Money

By Gary Cohn

Last week San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed delivered his usual speech about the benefits of slashing the retirement benefits of his city’s public employees – and why he is now pushing for a statewide ballot measure that could dramatically change the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians. Reed’s initiative – which he characterizes as a bipartisan effort and which hasn’t yet qualified for the 2014 ballot — would allow the state and local governments to reduce retirement benefits for current employees for the years of work they perform after the measure’s changes go into effect. What was not usual about Reed’s speech was its setting: The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, 3,000 miles from California.

The Importance of Maintaining Long Distance Passenger Rail

By Robert Cruickshank

Another year, another Congressional Republican attack on Amtrak’s popular long distance rail service.

This time California Republican Jeff Denham is among those seeking to shut down the high ridership service:

In a May hearing, Rep. Jeff Denham, a California Republican and chairman of the railroads subcommittee in the House of Representatives, noted that Amtrak’s long-distance routes lost a combined $600 million in 2012.

“We simply cannot afford to continue these levels of subsidized losses year after year,” Denham said.

Pacific States Aren't Waiting for Congress to Tackle Climate Change, Governors Work Together

By Annie Notthoff

Natural Resources Defense Council

Monday afternoon, the governors of California, Oregon, Washington, and the premier of British Columbia will sign an ambitious Pacific Coast climate and energy action plan that will encompass a population of 53 million in the world’s fifth-largest economic region.

FPPC Levies Record Fines Against Dark Money Groups

By Steve Smith

California Labor Federation

Last Thursday California’s Fair Political Practices Commission sent a strong message to shadowy out-of-state special-interest groups and donors trying to influence our state’s elections by levying record fines for contributions to committees that supported Prop 32 and opposed Prop 30.

According to the Sacramento Bee:

In a campaign finance case watched around the country, California's political watchdog has levied a $1 million fine against two non-profit groups for inappropriately laundering money during last year's ballot initiative wars.