Shaw, Randy


Randy Shaw is the editor and publisher of Beyond Chron, an alternative online daily newspaper, with whose permission this article is republished. Shaw is also the author of the newly released, Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century (University of California Press).

Why Americans Don't Vote

By Randy Shaw

Yesterday was Election Day, but millions of eligible voters did not cast ballots. I used to wonder why Democrats could not prevent such a significant drop off between midterm and presidential election turnouts, until I accepted that many voters quite rationally see their lives unaffected casting ballots.

Many find non-voting to be repellent. Progressives can't believe people think it makes no difference whether a pro-choice, green Democratic Senator like Colorado's Mark Udall defeats the anti-choice, right wing zealot Cory Gardner. There is so much evidence that who we elect makes a real difference that we cannot fathom why the working and lower-income voters who government could most help don't go to the polls.

The Best and Worst of 2013

By Randy Shaw

Beyond Chron

Post- presidential re-election years are rarely memorable, but 2013 was an exception. Nationally, fast food, Walmart and other low-wage workers engaged in their most powerful strikes and protests in decades. President Obama was spurred to call growing inequality the defining issue of our times, reaffirming the Occupy movement's chief message. Immigrant rights activists battled all year for immigration reform, winning Senate passage and putting House Republicans on the defensive.

In Charter School Fantasy World, Teacher Experience Irrelevant

By Randy Shaw

Beyond Chron

As the New York Times reported on August 27, most charter school teachers only remain in the profession for two to five years. In contrast, traditional public school teachers average nearly fourteen years of experience. But in the fantasy world of charter school proponents, far from being a shortcoming this lack of teaching experience is a positive. One charter school official told the Times, “There is a certain comfort level that we have with people who are perhaps going to come into YES Prep and not stay forever.”

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.

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.

For Marriage Equality, It Took a Movement

Randy ShawBy Randy Shaw

The Supreme Court's striking down DOMA and Prop 8 sent a powerful message about the ongoing power of grassroots movements to bring about social change. These rulings could not have come a decade ago. Then, even campaigns for domestic partnerships and civil unions were politically controversial. But the broader activist struggle for marriage equality brought the courts along, just as the African-American civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's brought legal rulings to support that struggle.

Can Elites Convince Victims of Top-Down Policies to Blame Themselves?

Randy ShawBy Randy Shaw

In The Unwinding, New Yorker political writer George Packer argues that elite-driven economic policies have negatively "unwound" the lives of millions of Americans. This view is hardly uncommon, yet the June 9, 2013 Sunday New York Times Book Review found a reviewer - Republican and Times columnist David Brooks - to deny that the nation's elite have "failed." Brooks claims the elite "comes from the finest universities" and is the most "diverse" and "equal opportunity" elite in history - a defense of elite rule and polices that could come from a Jon Stewart parody.

Garcetti, Backed by Tenant Groups, Wins L.A. Mayor's Race

By Randy Shaw

Eric Garcetti has won a 53%-46% victory in the Los Angeles mayor's race following a tough campaign against Wendy Greuel. Greuel sought to become the city's first female mayor, but was a bland candidate from the Valley who failed to energize women voters. Although the media framed the candidates as ideologically similar - the New York Times claimed they "did little to differentiate themselves on major issues like jobs and the city budget" - the city's big landlord and realtor groups backed Greuel, while tenant groups like the Coalition for Economic Survival supported Garcetti. Greuel pledged to decimate the city's vastly improved housing code enforcement program, while Garcetti has long backed tenants and affordable housing. I wrote on April 3 that Greuel faced an "uphill battle," and that New York City's Christine Quinn, another real estate-backed moderate woman candidate, had a greater chance of success. Quinn's chances still look good, particularly because she does not face an opponent as strong as Garcetti.

FEMA Plans Clear-Cutting 85,000 Berkeley and Oakland Trees

By Randy Shaw

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is moving to chop down 22,000 trees in Berkeley's historic Strawberry and Claremont Canyons and over 60,000 more in Oakland. This destructive plan is rapidly moving forward with little publicity, and FEMA cleverly scheduled its three public meetings for mid and late May while UC Berkeley students were in finals or gone for the summer.

Don't Blame Obama for Gun Control Defeat

By Randy Shaw

NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd has never liked Barack Obama, so it was fitting that she blamed him for the Senate's failure to break a GOP-led filibuster on gun control bills. According to Dowd, Obama "doesn't know how to work the system" and "still has not learned how to govern." But while Obama's lack of political skill still bedevils supporters, he did "work the system" to pass gun control.