By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California
The California State Auditor’s has reported that the Public Utilities Commission’s Intervenor Compensation Program “has generally awarded compensation to intervenors – individuals and groups that represent the interests of utility ratepayers – in accordance with state law.”
The audit report - long awaited by consumer groups and utility corporations - surely dismays AT&T, Verizon and PG&E. The Intervenor Compensation Program provides consumers an effective voice before state regulators when for-profit gas, electric, telecommunications or water utilities seek unwarranted rate hikes, or rules that harm residential ratepayers.
By Claudia Viek
California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity
This legislative session, California missed an opportunity to create a Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program that would have created 5,200 new businesses and 15,000 new jobs - from the ranks of the unemployed. Furthermore, the State missed the opportunity to receive $5.3 million in federal funds committed to run the program.
AB 152, Self-Employment Assistance program (Yamada) would have allowed the unemployed to keep their benefits while starting their own businesses. However, the bill didn’t make it out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee because the Employment Development Division (EDD) estimated that the cost of the program would exceed the $5.3 million available from the federal government.
By Gary Cohn
For more than 30 years each, Cheryl Smith-Vincent and Cheryl Ortega have shared a passion for teaching public school in Southern California. Smith-Vincent teaches third grade at Miles Avenue Elementary School in Huntington Park; before retiring, Ortega taught kindergarten at Logan Street Elementary School in Echo Park. Both women have been jolted by experiences with a little-known statewide policy that requires traditional public schools to share their facilities with charter schools. Ortega says she has seen charter-school children warned against greeting non-charter students who attend the same campus. Smith-Vincent reports that she and her students were pushed out of their classroom prior to a round of important student tests – just to accommodate a charter school that needed the space.
By Larry Collins
San Francisco Community Fishing Association
Sixty years ago, when state and federal agencies built the dams that dewatered the second largest river in California, it might have seemed like a good idea. Now we know better. It was a disaster for salmon and salmon fishermen. Nearly 95 percent of San Joaquin’s flow was diverted. Sixty miles of river ran dry and the salmon – one of California’s most productive runs – was wiped out.
Since then, salmon fishermen have nearly been wiped out as well.
By Rob Perks
Natural Resources Defense Council
All across the country, a shift is taking place. Increasingly, Americans are choosing to live in walkable communities with convenient housing, offering more transportation choices that allow them to live closer to their jobs, and shops and schools, rather than stuck in traffic. Along with the personal freedom these communities provide, it’s exactly the kind of growth our country needs to cut pollution, save money and create a vibrant quality of life.
But for many Americans, whether they live near or far from metropolitan areas, commuting for work is costing them time and money.
By Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
Lee Patisson, a young Navy diver, bitten himself while trying to protect his dog, was recently forced to kill a pit bull that was attacking his pet dog.
According to a San Diego U-T story:
“Pattison said he wants to make it clear that he did not shoot the dog without exhausting what he felt was every other means.
By Dan Bacher
In the latest episode in the Brown administration's "Signgate" scandal, Restore the Delta Thursday released an expert legal opinion finding that the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) confiscation of “Save the Delta! Stop the Tunnels!” signs displayed by Delta land and business owners was done without “any legal basis.”
By Rebecca Band
California Labor Federation
You’ve probably heard it from a colleague, or maybe from a friend or family member:
“Kids these days… they’re just too ambivalent to care about labor unions or workers' rights.”
But as it turns out, that’s just not true. Young people are actually big fans of unions. Fully 61% of young people view labor unions favorably – and that’s more than 10 points higher than the national average, according to a new Pew poll. In fact, young people are the only age group that views unions more favorably than they view corporations.
By Norman Solomon
For more than a month, outrage has been profuse in response to news about NSA surveillance and other evidence that all three branches of the U.S. government are turning Uncle Sam into Big Brother.
Continuing to expose and denounce the assaults on civil liberties is essential. So is supporting Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers - past, present and future. But those vital efforts are far from sufficient.
By Robert Reich
A basic economic principle is government ought to tax what we want to discourage, and not tax what we want to encourage.
For example, if we want less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we should tax carbon polluters. On the other hand, if we want more students from lower-income families to be able to afford college, we shouldn’t put a tax on student loans.
Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, congressional Republicans are intent on doing exactly the opposite.