June 2012

Speaker John A. Pérez Praises the SCOTUS Decision to Uphold Affordable Care Act

SACRAMENTO – In this Democratic weekly radio address, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) talks about the importance of the US Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which will benefit millions of Californians previously denied coverage because of preexisting conditions, allow children to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26 and will prevent people from going bankrupt due to an illness or injury. Speaker Pérez, who authored legislation implementing a key component of the Affordable Care Act creating California’s Health Care Exchange, said this is an especially important victory for California, allowing people access to more affordable and comprehensive healthcare coverage.

Walmart at 50: Still Greedy After All These Years

By Bobbi Murray
The Frying Pan

Walmart soon turns 50.  What better time for a makeover, a little freshening up –a rebranding, perhaps? Maybe a new look to go along with a move from the ‘burbs to the Big City.

The Big W is hoping a fresh face will help as it moves to crack an urban market worth as much as $100 billion. Walmart has overbuilt in rural and suburban areas to the point of cannibalization, one Walmart Supercenter devouring the profits of the other. The loser is left to die—and the vacant space is left to whatever retailer can afford to move in (and is not a Walmart competitor) A PBS documentary reported in 2001 that Walmart had left behind more than 25 million square feet of unoccupied space across the country.

Workers' Comp Doesn't Work

By Sam Gold

It hasn’t since the insurance industry got their claws into it, and it won’t until their sphere of influence is sufficiently reduced to a point where the system can achieve it’s primary goal: compensating the occupationally injured for their inability to compete in an ever changing workplace and getting them back to work as quickly as possible.

All the occupationally injured ask for is a little respect and dignity and maybe a bit of help dealing with what can sometimes be insurmountable odds. Yet, the truth just seems to get swept by the wayside and replaced by rhetoric meant to paint the injured workers as crooks and frauds and a drain and burden on society.

Thirty-Six Groups Demand Return To “Policy Before Plumbing”

By Dan Bacher

Thirty-six California fishing, environmental and consumer advocacy organizations on June 27 demanded that the Obama administration delay the imminent announcement of a peripheral canal or tunnel proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) until “fundamental details” are made available.

“The Departments of Interior and Commerce are poised to join with the State of California to recommend the construction of a multi-billion dollar plumbing project before defining how much it will cost, how it will be operated, or how much water it will produce without environmental damage,” the groups wrote in a joint letter to Ken Salazar, Secretary of Interior, and Rebecca Blank, Secretary of Commerce.

California + Quebec = Good News for the Climate

By Erica Morehouse
Environmental Defense Fund

The State of California and the Canadian province of Quebec are worlds apart in many ways – they are, of course, under different governments, in different nations, and their economies are separated by both geography and currency. But they share a common goal: tackling the problem of climate change while stimulating economic growth by putting a price on carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed link between the two jurisdictions represents a transformative step for North America, and could jumpstart a broader regional effort to combat the threat of climate change and create a prosperous clean energy economy.

Affordable Care Act Upheld! Full Speed Ahead!

By Anthony Wright
Health Access California

Earlier this morning the Supreme Court largely upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act - landmark legislation that will provide new consumer protections and secure and expand access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans regardless of age, income, or pre-existing condition.

This Supreme Court decision upholds the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land, and removes a cloud over its implementation. California now has the ability to go full speed ahead to ensure that millions of Californians enjoy these new options and consumer protections.

Sending Goldman Sachs a Message: If You Continue To Rip Off Oakland, We Will Stop Doing Business With You

By Beth Kean, ACCE, and Felipe Cuevas, SEIU 1021 Public Works Employee, City of Oakland

Wall Street banks caused an economic crisis that has wreaked havoc on our communities and brought our city and state budgets to the brink. Now even as Oakland communities are reeling from devastating cuts to neighborhood services, banks continue to rip off Oakland taxpayers for millions through a toxic financial deal.  This week, we stood up for Oakland communities and stood up to Goldman Sachs.

Time To Kill The Death Penalty?

By John J. Donohue
National Bureau of Economic Research

Forty years ago this week, the U.S. Supreme Court in Furman v. Georgia struck down the death penalty on the ground that it was applied in an arbitrary manner. Four years later, the Supreme Court accepted the constitutionality of “new and improved” death penalty statutes that were supposed to eliminate the defects condemned in Furman. In bringing back the death penalty in 1976, the Court also cited studies suggesting that executions save lives.   

Four decades later, there is plenty of evidence that the death penalty continues to be applied in an unfair manner and not a shred of evidence that the death penalty deters.

Are Toxic Chemicals In Your Home Your Problem?

By Christina Medina and Rebecca Fuoco

On Sunday an unusual and quirky red carpet award show in Hollywood brought the normally faceless and intangible issue of chemical exposure and regulation to life. The Third Annual “Toxies”, an event put on by Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles and Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy, featured actors in colorful costumes in-character as toxic chemicals accepting “awards” for the harm they are doing to the American public.

D.W. Moffett who stars in the ABC Family series Switched at Birth and TV Land’s Happily Divorced emceed the event portraying Tex Doolittle, an agent who promotes positive PR for the chemicals by twisting or even denying evidence of their toxicity, the role played in real life by chemical industry lobbyists.

The Impact Of The Supreme Court Decision On Health Care May Not Be What You Think

By Anthony Wright
Health Access

Lots of ink has been spilled on the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, but it's unclear that the public has a clear sense of what is at stake. Like with the law itself, the Supreme Court case is broad and far-reaching, and prone to misinformation. So here are two under-reported angles to covering the lead-up to the Supreme Court decision, and its immediate aftermath.

1. The impact of striking down the whole law will be much bigger and more immediate than you think.

Potential California School Sports Cuts Would Hit Students on Many Levels

By Sharee Lopez
New America Media

To gymnast Lindsey Oliver, 18, a senior at Woodrow Wilson Classical High School in Long Beach, her daily gym classes are her motivation for going to school.

“If I don’t do well enough in my classes, I won’t be able to be in gymnastics,” said Oliver, who must maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average in order to stay in sports.

Oliver said her coach would often allow her and her classmates to apply workout time to their homework to get their grades up if need be. “Being in gymnastics has helped boost my grades as I have more incentive to try [hard] in school, so that I could compete,” said Oliver.

Karl Rove’s Supreme Court

By Randy Shaw
Beyond Chron

As the nation awaits the Supreme Court revoking all or part of the landmark health care law, Karl Rove’s control of the Court’s agenda is clear. Rove’s core goals since George W. Bush became President are threefold: unleash unlimited campaign spending, defund unions, trial lawyers and other key Democratic contributors, and limit challenges to unbridled corporate power.

Rove picked Roberts and Alito to enact this political agenda, which they have done. Rove had no problem with the Arizona immigration ruling, which supposedly showed that the Court majority is more than Republican political activists; he wants Republicans to attract Latino votes and Bush backed immigration reform through 2007. I know from my years in law school and as an attorney that many still believe that federal judges base decisions on legal analysis not politics, but Rove and the current Supreme Court have dealt a death blow to such naiveté.

Robin Hood Tax: Economic Justice

By Leo Gerard

Robin Hood popped up all across America last week. A bunch of green-suited Merry Men protested in front of Wall Street bank branches in 15 cities.

Another felt-hatted group demonstrated in Washington D.C. during J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon's testimony about why his bank shouldn’t submit to regulation even after flushing $2 billion down the toilet. The biggest band of Robin Hoods appeared on dollar bills -- a pointy hat drawn on George's head and the words “Robin Hood tax” written below.

Efforts to Help Struggling Students Pass Exit Exam Are Too Little, Too Late

By the Public Policy Institute of California

State-funded support services for students who fail the California High School Exit Exam in grade 10 have helped only a small percentage of students go on to pass the test and obtain their diplomas, according to a report released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

The PPIC report assesses the impact of two state laws allocating funds to districts for tutoring and other services to help students pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), which is administered several times before the end of grade 12. One law, AB 128, funds tutoring and other support for students primarily in grades 11 and 12. A second, AB 347, provides two additional years of support for students to re-enroll in school if they have failed to pass the exam by the end of grade 12.

California Dreamin' in Decline

By Al Hernandez-Santana
Cal State Rural Health Association

In the ho-hum news feed out of Sacramento, there is now a Groundhog Day quality of apparently never ending bad budget deficits. However, amidst all the anti-climax discussions of a final compromise on welfare and child care cuts between Democrats and the governor, one story deserving of attention that didn't blow through the roof is the impending elimination of a very popular health program for children. Namely the Healthy Families program that today covers close to 875,000 children would disappear over a one-year period and those kids will be transferred to Medi-Cal for their health care needs.

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Some of Arizona's SB 1070

By Duane Campbell

The U.S. Supreme court today struck down most provisions of the Arizona law SB 1070 while sustaining one of its most controversial provisions.

The court sustained the “show me your papers” provision of the law that requires state law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest.

The most conservative members of the court voted to sustain the entire law. Imagine this.  Judges who consider themselves conservative support a law that requires all persons to carry papers to show their immigration/citizenship status.   This is a practice most often found in repressive regimes such as that of Syria or Nazi Germany.

California's Legislators Can Resuscitate the Master Plan

By Professor Bob Meister

This week's budget endgame presents leaders in the Senate and Assembly with a rare opportunity to stand up for the California Master Plan for Higher Education by challenging the financial incentive that UC campuses now have to enroll non-resident students in place of Californians.

UC describes this policy as though it were self-evident: each campus gets to "keep" the money it generates from non-resident students. But until 2007, out-of-state tuition revenues went to the UC system as a whole, and before the 1990s they went right back to the state. So, we have here a relatively recent policy change in which UC's central administration is giving individual campuses the incentive to compete against each other for the non-resident students by giving them the entire revenue difference, which is currently in excess of $20,000 per student -the amount by which out-of-state tuition exceeds the sum of in-state tuition, plus state support.

Minimum Wage Doomsayers Still Wrong After 74 Years

By Donald Cohen
The Cry Wolf Project

Few American institutions have been subjected to such a consistent stream of vitriol and assault as the minimum wage, which celebrates its 74th birthday this week. The first federal minimum wage was established when FDR signed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) on June 25, 1938. The FLSA also established the eight-hour day, paid overtime and child labor protections into federal law. Since then, it has been amended nine times to expand coverage and to raise the wage to keep it in line with the nation’s economic growth.

Business leaders, industry associations, politicians and more recently think tanks have opposed the FLSA and every legislative amendment since. They said it would destroy American civilization, kill jobs and hurt black people. Business owners predicted they would be forced into bankruptcy.

Bad News: We’re No Longer the Nation’s Biggest Nuts

By Peter Schrag

It’s just a half-century since California was widely regarded as the nation’s cradle of kookiness. It was because of the sunshine, famously said Jesse Unruh, the “Big Daddy” speaker of the Assembly in the 1960s, that we grow so many fruits and nuts.

The evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, one of America’s first radio preachers, built her mega-church here; it was from Southern California that she reportedly vanished into the Pacific in 1926 and, claiming to have been kidnapped, mysteriously reappeared (in Mexico) a month later. The media, of course, ate it up.

Systems Change In An Era Of Crime Decline

By Scott MacDonald
Santa Cruz County Probation Department

California is engaging in one of the biggest criminal justice reform implementations in history.  The direction the reform will take is dependent on strong leadership and political will at the local level.  It is an opportunity for justice administrators to implement systems change and reduce the local systems reliance on incarceration. By focusing reform on systems change – that is evaluating the trajectory offenders undergo within the local justice system – counties can be more successful at developing targeted interventions that reduce the failures that lead to unnecessary incarceration, and provide community based opportunities to implement programs targeted to reduce recidivism.