Martin, Nina


Nina is an editor for New America Media, the country's first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations.

Has CA's Redistricting Experiment Worked? A Key Reformer Says Yes

By Nina Martin

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Monday, the new California Citizens Redistricting Commission reached an important milestone, approving final political maps for Congress, the state Legislature, and the Board of Equalization. As the state’s political parties and communities of color analyze what the maps mean for the 2012 elections and beyond, NAM’s Nina Martin spoke to a leading proponent of redistricting reform, Common Cause’s executive director Kathay Feng.

How would you assess the work of the redistricting commission? Has it met the expectations of voters and reformers?

New CA Redistricting Maps "Worst-Case Scenario" for Latinos?

By Nina Martin
New America Media

The first batch of political maps by California’s new Citizens Redistricting Commission is having exactly the effect that government reformers intended—shaking up the political status quo by ignoring incumbents and promising to make many statewide elections more competitive.

But the release Friday of proposed maps for new legislative and congressional districts has left Latino civil rights advocates shaking, too— with frustration and anger.

“The proposed congressional maps create a worse-case scenario for Latinos in California,” declared Rosalind Gold, senior director of policy, research and advocacy at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund in Los Angeles. “They do not reflect the growth of the Latino population in the state over the past 10 years.”

Census: In California, More Empty Houses, More Families "Doubling Up"

By Nina Martin
New America Media

The number of empty houses and rental units in California has jumped over the past decade, according to new Census data released Thursday—another sign of how the Great Recession and housing bust have continued to batter the nation’s largest state.

Some 8.1 percent of all housing units in the state were vacant in 2010, up 55 percent from 2000.

Meanwhile, the number of extended-family households jumped by 27 percent and average household size edged up slightly—an indication that many families are sharing their homes in part because young adults and elders can’t afford to live on their own.

While the American dream of homeownership is associated with California perhaps more than any other part of the country, the latest Census data show another reality. As demographers crunch the numbers over the next few days, the portrait that emerges of a state in crisis will be telling, says Hans Johnson, an expert in population and migration issues at the Public Policy Institute of California.

Why the Wal-Mart Case Is So Important to Women, Minorities

By Nina Martin
New America Media

EDITOR’S NOTE: The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments March 29 in the biggest sex-discrimination case in history: Dukes v. Wal-Mart. Many pro-worker advocates are worried that the court—which has made a number of extremely conservative rulings in recent years—will decimate the ability of ordinary people to join together in class actions to sue large, well-financed companies that engage in wrongdoing and discriminate against women and minorities. To understand more about the case, reporter Nina Martin spoke with New America Media’s contributor Irma Herrera, a civil rights attorney who spent almost 15 years as executive director of Equal Rights Advocates, one of the main law firms in the case.

What is this case about?

This is a sex-discrimination case brought by six California women on behalf of female employees at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores across the country. The lead plaintiff, Betty Dukes, started working at the company in 1994 and still works at a Wal-Mart store in the town of Pittsburg, outside San Francisco.

Census: A More Diverse California Means Big Political Changes Ahead

By Nina Martin
New America Media

The most diverse state in the nation became even more so over the past decade, with big shifts in California’s ethnic populations certain to trigger seismic changes in its political landscape as well.

Even as the state’s overall population grew more slowly than at any time in the last century, the Latino and Asian populations experienced robust growth, according to 2010 U.S. Census data released Tuesday. Demographers attribute much of the growth to an infusion of immigrants from places like Central America, South Asia, Korea and the Philippines, though census data on those populations won’t be available for some time.

Who Are Those "Greedy" Public Workers? Blacks and Women

By Nina Martin
New America Media

GOP attacks on public-sector jobs and unions will disproportionately affect blacks and women, according to a new analysis of employment data by a labor-policy specialist from the University of California, Berkeley.

“We found that blacks are much more likely to be employed by the public sector than are whites,” said Steven Pitts, an economist with the university’s Center for Labor Education and Research, where he focuses on employment issues involving the black community.

One in five African-American workers are employed in public sector jobs, Pitts said, versus one in six white workers and one in ten Latino workers. He said blacks are 30 percent more likely to hold such jobs than whites.

New Panel Holds Key to Minority Political Power in California

By Nina Martin
New America Media

A powerful new governmental body has quietly begun a task that will have far-reaching consequences for the rights of minority voters throughout California for years to come.

As all eyes turn to Gov. Jerry Brown, the new Legislature, and their efforts to whip a deeply dysfunctional California into working order, the state’s new Citizens Redistricting Commission has begun its own work almost unnoticed. Yet its decisions will have an enormous impact on who runs California—and the kinds of policies and laws those men and women make—for the next decade and beyond.

Will Attorney General Kamala Harris Take on Foreclosure Crisis?

By Nina Harris
New America Media

As Democrat Kamala Harris takes over today as California’s attorney general, advocates for homeowners facing foreclosure will be cheering loudly—and watching closely.

Around the country, organizations at the frontlines of the foreclosure crisis are counting on Harris—the first woman and first person of color to hold the job of California’s top cop—to use the powers of her new office to investigate, prosecute, and negotiate with businesses that have preyed on vulnerable homeowners and renters. According to advocates, these include not just financial institutions, but also law firms, loan-modification specialists, credit-repair agencies, and debt collectors.

How Latino Workers and Unions Kept California from Going Red

By Nina Martin
New America Media

EDITOR'S NOTE: Latinos have a reputation for being unreliable voters when it comes to turning out on Election Day. Yet in the midterm elections, Latino turnout ensured that California remained a blue state and the U.S. Senate remained under Democratic control. Much of the credit in California goes to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which spent millions supporting Democratic candidates and ballot measures such as Proposition 25, the balanced-budget initiative.

To find out more, NAM talked to Richie Ross, a Democratic political consultant for 37 years and a communications specialist for labor unions across the country, who has been deeply involved in efforts to organize Latinos in California since the Cesar Chavez era.

What has been the biggest insight as you try to understand the political impact of anti-immigration laws like SB 1070, which passed in Arizona this year, and Prop. 187, which passed in California in 1994?