August 2013

California Communities Spend $428M Annually to Keep Trash Out Of Waterways

By Leila Monroe

Natural resources Defense Council

Today, NRDC’s plastic pollution team released a new report showing that California communities are spending nearly half a billion dollars annually in preventing trash from polluting the state’s beaches, rivers and ocean. The $428,000,000 spent by California’s cities and towns covers the cost of six activities related to reducing solid waste in waterways: river and beach clean-up; street sweeping; installation of stormwater capture devices; stormwater drain cleaning and maintenance; manual cleanup of litter; and public education.

California's Already Fracked

By Jenesse Miller

California League of Conservation Voters

California is already fracked. We demand answers.

Today and for the last 60 years, oil and gas companies frack California without public notice. They inject acid into the ground, and they hide their "frack jobs." They pump secret chemicals underground. They won't tell, and they don't have to tell – not even if you live next door. And it's about to get even worse.

Demand to know the truth about fracking in California. Tell your Assemblymember to support SB 4, the environmental bill that forces Big Oil to answer to the public.

Nationwide Fast-Food Strike Set for August 29

By Mike Hall


The growing movement for a living wage and justice for fast-food and other low-wage workers will reach another milestone next week with a nationwide strike set for Aug. 29.

Following the success and public support of a walkout in eight cities earlier this month, those workers and the community, faith and labor groups that back them are calling on fast-food and low-wage retail workers across the nation to join them in the fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.

The March on Washington: 1963 and 2013

By Martin Bennett and Fred Glass

Fifty years ago, on August 28, 1963, the nation witnessed the largest march in its history. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom lives on in popular memory as the moment when Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his iconic “I Had A Dream” speech and called for racial integration and reconciliation in America. Most Americans today point to the emergence of a substantial black middle class and the election of the first African American President as evidence of our progress towards that goal.

HSR Opponents' Audit Request Denied

Author Robert CruickshankBy Robert Cruickshank

Earlier this month two Republican Assemblymembers requested an audit of the California High Speed Rail Authority’s land acquisition process in the Central Valley. As expected, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee denied their request last Thursday:

Assemblymen Jim Patterson, of Fresno, and Frank Bigelow, of O’Neals, said they feared Central Valley landowners were being treated unfairly as the California High-Speed Rail Authority moves to acquire land for the project.

May Budget Revise: Oliver Twist vs. Great Expectations

Sheila KuehlBy Sheila Kuehl

In Charles Dickens' early and dark novel, Oliver Twist, an orphan is condemned to the poorhouse and forced to labor for an undertaker. He escapes to London only to be recruited into a gang of child pickpockets. The book presents an unrelenting view of poverty and the social ills that come with it. Dickens' much later novel, Great Expectations, in contrast, sets out a more hopeful view of what could happen if a poor orphan got a little help, set a course for himself, and chose good over evil. The new proposed budget presented by the Governor to the Legislature in May, after April tax revenues were tallied, generally dubbed "The May Revise", presented the same sort of choices for the Governor and the Legislature, with the choice greatly dependent on whose revenue projections would gain acceptance.

Obamacare Choice: Navigation or Conflagration

By Leo Gerard

United Steelworkers

So many challenging choices for young people today! And it’s not just between Vine and Instagram. More importantly, it’s between burn-baby-burn and health insurance security.

FreedomWorks, a Tea Party don’t-think tank, is urging young adults to be rebels with a self-destructive cause. “Stick it to the man,” FreedomWorks urges young people. It tells them to do so by filming themselves burning homemade “Obamacare” cards and “Vining” the video explaining why they are Obamacare refuseniks as flames lick their fingertips.

Senate Suspends Anti-LifeLine AB 1407

By Randy Shaw

Beyond Chron

On August 19, tenants from San Francisco’s Central City SRO Collaborative (CCSRO) hit the halls of the state capitol and got the Senate Appropriations Committee to stop AB 1407, the Anti-LifeLine bill, in its tracks. There has been growing opposition to AB 1407 as word spread that it would shift control of LifeLine from the California PUC to AT&T, raising phone rates for 1.2 million Californians. SRO tenants would be particularly impacted, which is why the CCSRO brought a van full of tenants to tell the legislators that AB 1407 should be defeated. The Appropriations Committee appeared to share the tenants concern, suspending the bill until it could have more time to assess its impact. In Sacramento terms, that’s a big victory for LifeLine.

California Legislators Call for Offshore Oil Fracking Investigation

Author & fisherman Dan BacherBy Dan Bacher

Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) and eight other California lawmakers are calling on the Department of Interior and Environmental Protection Agency to investigate reports of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) beneath the seabed floor off the California Coast.

The legislators are asking for a strict review and possible new regulations of fracking in the ocean - less than 8 months after the completion of a network of questionable state "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling and spills, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

Behind the Stirring Among Low-Wage Workers

By Rev. Dick Gillett

Something is happening among our low-wage workers in America.

Is the ghost of the Occupy movement stirring?

Probably, but maybe more. In just one astonishing week recently, the Seattle Times—a newspaper not known for being pro-labor—featured worker protests either as the lead story or prominently in the paper:

  • On July 23 in the City of SeaTac, in a meeting jammed with workers and faith leaders, the city council reluctantly qualified a Good Jobs Initiative for the November ballot. The initiative would establish the city’s minimum wage at $15 an hour for hotel, restaurant workers and others, including workers at SeaTac airport.

SB 440: Strengthening Pathways to Four Year Degrees

By Michele Siqueiros

The Campaign for College Opportunity

The key to meeting our economy’s demand for a skilled workforce lies within California’s Community Colleges. Serving over two million students annually, community colleges provide an affordable and valuable opportunity in every community across our state and serve a diverse student body. Whether a student is attending straight from high school, part time as they work a full time job and raise a family, or while searching for a new job and trying to upgrade his/her skills, community colleges are California’s gateway to higher education.

What Should We Think About The Arrests at JPMorgan Chase?

By Richard Eskow

Four years after Wall Street’s malfeasance dealt a telling blow the economy, and long after tens of billions of dollars have been paid out for banker fraud, reports say that we’re about to see the first arrests of Wall Street bank employees. What’s more, the suspects work at JPMorgan Chase – a banks which, ironically enough, politicians and pundits insisted was the “good bank” after the financial crisis hit in 2008.

In fact, Chase CEO Jamie Dimon spent years speaking out forcefully against additional bank regulation. (Lately, not so much …)

Financial cases can seem complicated. What should we think about these recent announcements in the “London Whale” case?

Growing Opposition to AT&T's Attack on LifeLine Program

Randy ShawBy Randy Shaw

Beyond Chron

As we described on July 10, the California State Legislature is moving toward passing AB 1407, an AT &T backed measure that would devastate the state’s LifeLine phone program. The Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee voted 6-1 in favor of the bill on July 8, and the Senate Appropriations Committee votes on August 19. AT&T is used to getting its way in Sacramento, but the 1.2 million low-income Californians whose phone rates will jump under AB 1407 are finding surprising support from influential forces.

Oil Lobby Leads California Spending as Ocean Fracking Proceeds

By Dan Bacher

Some may consider California to be a "green" state and the "environmental leader" of the nation, but that delusion is quickly dispelled once one actually looks at who spends the most on lobbying in California - the oil industry.

The Western States Petroleum Association spent the most on lobbying in Sacramento in the first six months of 2013 of any interest group, according to quarterly documents released by the California Secretary of State.

The association spent $1,023,069.78 in the first quarter and $1,285,720.17 in the second quarter, a total of $2,308,789.95, to lobby legislators and other state officials.

Troubled Young People Deserve Compassion, Not Punishment

By Lizzie Buchen

Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

At the turn of the 20th Century, Lucy Flower, my grandmother’s great grandmother, established the world’s first juvenile court inside the Cook County courthouse in central Chicago.

Flower, who had been orphaned, was horrified by the misery and bleak futures of the city’s poorest children, and believed their criminal behaviors should be handled differently than that of adults. She and the other early “child-savers” viewed children and young teenagers as victims, neglected by their parents and by society, who still had the potential to get their lives on track. After finding success in Chicago, separate courts for young people, which focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment, were soon established nationwide.