San Bruno to Raise Cost of Developments: Mandated ART forProjects!

Los Angeles has a regulation that when you build office buildings and other complexes, you must put in City approved art. That is why crazy sculptures and fountains that are out of place have been installed. It adds to the cost of a project, meaning the cost of renting or buying is more expensive—for nothing productive. San Bruno, in the Bay Area, is looking at the same policy for the Brisbane section of town.

This is part of the reason California is so expensive—adding art to the cost of a rental! If the community wants art, then let the community buy it—do not force others to have your taste in what a community needs.

“As the Baylands development project started coming to life on the drawing board, resident and art advocate Kevin Fryer saw the necessity to preserve and expand the community’s love for art throughout the city. Fryer, a former commissioner with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, brought this concern to the conversation by calling for an effort to devote a portion of future developments to public art.

After a subcommittee was approved last year to explore how a public-arts ordinance would benefit the community, the City Council approved an ordinance implementing the new Public Places program in October.”

money surplus budget bank

Artist-inspired program calls for public-art component in future Brisbane developments 

By Kamala Silva Wolfe, SF Examiner, 12/28/14

As the Peninsula continues to grow and change, many have lamented what they see as a homogenous theme replicated in nearly every development popping up.

Long-established locals fear losing the heart and soul of the communities they have been a part of, their legacies tainted by outsiders bringing in new construction and a new mindset.

This was the conundrum before Brisbane as officials recently set about navigating one of the largest developments before them. The proposed Brisbane Baylands project encompasses 660 acres along San Francisco Bay and U.S. Highway 101.

For Brisbane, a community nestled into the side of San Bruno Mountain with a population of 4,400, some residents believe such decisions can have a significant impact on the generations to come.

As the Baylands development project started coming to life on the drawing board, resident and art advocate Kevin Fryer saw the necessity to preserve and expand the community’s love for art throughout the city. Fryer, a former commissioner with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, brought this concern to the conversation by calling for an effort to devote a portion of future developments to public art.

After a subcommittee was approved last year to explore how a public-arts ordinance would benefit the community, the City Council approved an ordinance implementing the new Public Places program in October. The committee process had involved Fryer, as well as colleagues Karen Lenz, Bonnie Bologoff and Deputy City Manager Stuart Schillinger.

According to the ordinance, “The purpose of the City’s Art in Public Places Program is to promote the visual arts by requiring the inclusion of a public artwork component in certain new public and private development projects in Brisbane.”

Under the new law, developers will be required to contribute between 0.5 percent and 1 percent of certain building development costs to the Brisbane Public Art Fund as an in-lieu contribution. The specific guidelines on implementing the ordinance may take an additional year.

“The new Public Art Ordinance provides an opportunity for Brisbane to showcase its sense of place through art. I envision pieces that not only inspire our own citizens, but entice others to visit and feel good about their experience in our city,” Brisbane Mayor Pro Tem Cliff Lenz said. “With the ordinance being funded through development, art will be one of the bridges that connect our business community with our residential community.”

Meanwhile, residents and visitors to Brisbane continue to enjoy art through the musical chamber series presenting “Live at Mission Blue,” which is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Brisbane Library and City. Fryer has been the artistic director of this program for the past 10 years and continues working to bring arts to the people.

“In the past, Fryer has worked with the school district to bring students to his workshop,” Schillinger said. “He does a special presentation of one of the artists during school hours. The students watch the performance and then interact with artists from Live at Mission Blue.”

While Fryer’s first love is classical music, he recognizes how art in all forms can touch people, of all ages and backgrounds.

“When I first saw ‘Cupid’s Bow’ up on the San Francisco Embarcadero, I really didn’t like it,” Fryer said. “But it’s grown on me. Recently I walked through this piece of art and felt the power in it. And that is good art. It causes you to question, to transform a person’s way of thinking.”

 

Guv Brown Policies Could Kill Almond Crop

Almonds may be the crop that has expanded the most in California in many years. But, they also need a lot of water. Now thanks to policies created by sensitive liberals and fish, farmers may be forced to cut back on the almonds grown. In the future, the State of California which now controls ALL water in the State (along with the Feds) could tell farmers that they may not use water to grow almonds.

“Farmers in the area where almond production has been most consistent have relied on water from a federally controlled project that draws its supply largely from the Sacramento River. But that source is less reliable because of legal requirements that in a time of scarcity, waterways that nurture California salmon must also get available water flows.

Growers, some very wealthy, tried to get Congress to change those rules but failed. Also, new state groundwater legislation may eventually constrain farmers’ well drilling.”

Government is about to control want in grown in California, how much and by whom. Now is a good time for farmers to buy up politicians instead of land and seed.

Photo courtesy sheagunther, flickr

Photo courtesy sheagunther, flickr

Water Source for Almonds in California May Run Dry

By FELICITY BARRINGER, NY Times, 12/27/14 

TO SEE COMPLETE ARTICLECLICK ON BLUE HEADLINE

 

SACRAMENTO — California’s almond orchards have been thriving over the past decade and now provide an $11 billion annual boost to the state economy. Covering 860,000 acres, they account for 80 percent of world production. But the growth coincides with another record development here — drought — and the extensive water needs of nut trees are posing a sharp challenge to state water policy.

Almonds “have totally changed the game of water in California,” said Antonio Rossmann, a Berkeley lawyer specializing in water issues. “It’s hardened demand in the Central Valley.”

Farmers are planting almonds because, as permanent crops, they do not need to be replanted after every harvest. They have been steadily taking over from cotton and lettuce because they are more lucrative. “That’s the highest and best use of the land,” said Ryan Metzler, 45, who grows almonds near Fresno.

Now the state is putting new controls on the groundwater that has gotten many farmers through the brutal drought — which still looms over the state, despite recent rains — and there is no certainty that the future of almond and pistachio orchards in areas like the western San Joaquin Valley is secure.

State Court Allows Cops to Ignore Impounding Illegal Aliens Cars in Los Angeles

A State Appeals Court upheld the “right” of the Los Angeles Police to allow illegal aliens and other law breakers to continue to drive and keep their cars. Under Chief Beck criminals from foreign countries can not have their cars impounded when a cop finds the driver has an illegal drivers license.. On the other hand, honest American citizens without insurance and/or a license WILL have their cars impounded. In other words—criminals are protected by the police to continue violating the law. Any wonder folks have little trust or respect for government?

“A state appeals court panel Friday overturned a ban on the Los Angeles Police Department’s controversial vehicle impound policy that restricts when officers can seize the cars of unlicensed drivers.

The three-judge panel from California’s second appellate district found unanimously in favor of the LAPD and Chief Charlie Beck. In 2012, when he implemented the impound policy, Beck thrust the department squarely into the contentious debate over the rights of immigrants who are in the country illegally.”

440px-LAPD_officers

State appeals court overturns ban on LAPD’s vehicle impound policy

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By Joel Rubin, LA Times,   12/28/14

TO SEE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK ON BLUE HEADLINE

Under the terms of the policy, called Special Order 7 by the department, if police stop an unlicensed driver who meets several requirements — including having auto insurance, valid identification and no previous convictions for unlicensed driving — officers cannot invoke the part of the state vehicle code that authorizes them to confiscate the vehicle for 30 days, a punishment that comes with costly fines and charges.

In a city with roughly 400,000 immigrants who are in the country illegally and forbidden by state law to obtain driver’s licenses, Beck argued the month long impounds unfairly burdened such drivers, who often have few practical options other than to risk having their cars seized in order to drive to work or take their children to school.

The Police Protective League, the union that represents the LAPD’s rank-and-file officers, and a Los Angeles resident sued over the policy, arguing Beck was illegally attempting to supersede state laws governing vehicle impounds.

Drivers License Sign-Ups for Illegal Aliens Could Trigger Deportations

If I were an illegal alien, I would think twice before I signed up for a California drivers license—as an illegal alien. If we had a Governor or President that enforced the law, you would be admitting to being here illegally—immediate deportation. Or if you have been deported and came back, if you have violated any of our laws(to be an illegal alien you violate State and Federal laws every day), be in big trouble. If you have been in an accident, or have an immigration hearing you ”missed”, you could wind up in your home country—or jail here.

“Although most undocumented immigrants will be able to procure a drivers license without incident, others who applied for licenses in the past under assumed names using stolen social security numbers might want to lawyer-up before they fill out their next application. According to AP News, a new submission might prompt state officials to press fraud charges for their previous fictitious application.”

We could wind up with tens of thousands of legal messes and lives torn apart because liberals prefer law breakers to enforcement of the law.Immigration Obama

Drivers License Sign-Ups for Illegal Aliens Could Trigger Deportations

by Robert Wilde, Breitbart CA,   12/27/14

It’s not going to be all smooth sailing  for illegal immigrants to obtain drivers licenses under the Obama executive amnesty program.

After years of duping law enforcement officials by using fraudulent drivers licenses, many illegal immigrants are now wary of applying for a legal California license which will be available to them on January 2.

Although most undocumented immigrants will be able to procure a drivers license without incident, others who applied for licenses in the past under assumed names using stolen social security numbers might want to lawyer-up before they fill out their next application. According to AP News, a new submission might prompt state officials to press  fraud charges for their previous fictitious application.

Illegal aliens with a prior deportation order or criminal record might want to consider one other caveat when signing up for a legal drivers license. Once the undocumented alien is in the Department of Motor Vehicles system, federal immigration officials and law enforcement can access their information and use it against them.

Alison Kamhi, staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center says that it is important that illegal aliens are aware that there are risks in applying for a drivers license.  Yet, she contends that, “For the vast majority of people, getting a license is a good decision.”

With 1.4 million illegal immigrants now enjoying deportation preferences under Obama amnesty, California’s driver’s license rollout looks to be more prodigious than other states like neighboring Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona.

Yahoo News reported that California hopes to cut down on long lines and numerous written test failures by employing more DMV personnel. Moreover, by providing 180 workshops to counsel immigrants on application procedures and by scheduling appointment-only registrations the overall process should be less chaotic and more efficient.

 

Millennials are gravitating toward entrepreneurship rather than government

There may be some good news in the demographics for the future. The millenials are refusing to go to work for the government. Instead they want to go into private business and the private sector instead. To them government is a wasted effort, with no ethics, little rhythm or reason—to them you have to be a robot or a drone—a person with no ambition or knowledge to work for government. They want challenging—not a 1950’s style–workplace.

“This heightened preference for purpose at work is not just about choosing the right employer; it’s about choosing the right kind of career.

For those with big ambitions, you can divide the choice into two career camps: market entrepreneurs, where success is determined by how much value you create for others, and political technocrats, where success is determined by how much value you reallocate.”

Two types of millenials—those that want to expand freedom and cherish opportunity—and those who are afraid of challenging and prefer a European style of socialism—a dead economy and no future.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image6892849

Millennials are gravitating toward entrepreneurship rather than government

By Matt Warner, Washington Times, 12/25/14

A shift in career ambitions for America’s young and talented is underway — and the future of health care affordability depends on us figuring out how to speed it up.

A decade ago, Richard Florida’s best-selling book, “The Rise of the Creative Class,” proffered a glimpse into the minds of America’s young job seekers, suggesting the best and brightest among them placed a premium on where they work, preferring hip towns to has-been cities. Local governments around the country took the bait and implemented a range of makeover plans and policies designed to attract this wave of employable talent.

Fast-forward to today, and it looks like smart young people are just getting pickier. According to this year’s Millennial Impact Report from the Case Foundation, young people overwhelmingly prioritize workplaces where they feel they make a difference in the world.

This heightened preference for purpose at work is not just about choosing the right employer; it’s about choosing the right kind of career.

For those with big ambitions, you can divide the choice into two career camps: market entrepreneurs, where success is determined by how much value you create for others, and political technocrats, where success is determined by how much value you reallocate.

Obamacare architect and “reallocative” class archetype Jonathan Gruber’s recent fall from grace in the public eye is a fitting exclamation point on an emerging trend that has the federal technocrati worried: According to the Office of Personnel Management, young people don’t want to work for them.

The Wall Street Journal confirmed this with findings from the brand consulting firm Universum that showed the percentage of students interested in working for the federal government has declined over the past four years. While Mr. Gruber technically hangs his hat at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the impact of his infamy is a relevant cultural marker for what will animate the ambitions of the next generation’s best and brightest.

Take, for example, the youngest female self-made billionaire in the United States, Elizabeth Holmes. She recently gave a telling explanation for why she started her diagnostics company, Theranos.

In short, she wanted to save the world and, though international aid was in her DNA, she “started to realize that a company” could be the best vehicle for doing that. She was right. Theranos promises to revolutionize blood testing in the developed and developing worlds by making it easier, quicker and cheaper to get a lot of information from a little drop of blood.

In an era when the seemingly most powerful people and institutions in the world are powerless to deliver on promises of health care access and affordability, Ms. Holmes’ singular achievement demands our careful attention. Had a younger Ms. Holmes failed to see herself making a difference as a value-creating entrepreneur and instead followed her presumed path of reallocating value through international aid, such an incredible contribution to humanity might never have happened.

Mr. Gruber, on the other hand, chose to direct his ambitions through the political process relying on government mandate, not consumer choice, to satisfy people’s needs. According to a recent Gallup poll, however, the majority of people are not satisfied. While his assessment of American voters’ intelligence is a mark against him, Mr. Gruber could have chosen, like Ms. Holmes, to use his considerable brainpower to serve health care consumers through value-creating entrepreneurship.

Just how entrepreneurs like Ms. Holmes choose to channel their creative ambitions can largely determine not just the future of an industry, but also the productive potential of society as a whole. So, how do we get more Ms. Holmeses and fewer Mr. Grubers?

The most recent report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, an annual assessment of entrepreneurial aspirations and attitudes performed through a partnership of London Business School and Babson College, ties beliefs about the attractiveness of becoming a value-creating entrepreneur to two factors: whether society affords such entrepreneurs high status and whether the media cover entrepreneurs in a positive light.

We must ask ourselves: Do our best and brightest aspire to create value, like Elizabeth Holmes, or simply reallocate it, like Jonathan Gruber? Whom we choose to celebrate will influence the answer. If recent trends continue in the United States, more and more talented young people will see through the false heroics of the “reallocative” class and, instead, join the real heroes meeting social needs through market innovation.

⦁ Matt Warner is the vice president of programs and institute relations for Atlas Network.

 

“Exceptional Depravity” in California A double murder in Davis offers vital lessons for juvenile justice reformers.

Our government schools in the big cities, like San Fran and LA, no longer expel or suspend bullies, those that disrupt classes or kids that steal on campus. Instead they use “Restorative Justice”—that is where a bully that does not allow a class to be held is counseled that this is wrong, do not do it again. Why? Because statistics show the majority of those expelled or suspended are minorities. Not enough white or Asia students are harming the decorum of schools—so it must be racist to expel bad students.

A student in the Davis government schools murdered an elderly couple—and the community held a rally in support of the murderer—NOT those killed.

“In politically correct Davis, nobody organized a march or demonstration on behalf of the victims’ families. Instead, a group of Davis High School students launched a “Free Dan Marsh” page on Facebook and school district officials offered counseling for traumatized students. Among the guidance the district offered was information on “how to look out for students who may be vulnerable to self-injury or harm as a response to receiving traumatic information.” Meantime, the People’s Vanguard of Davis, a local left-wing rag billing itself as “a community-based watchdog and news reporting organization,” portrayed Marsh as the victim of a school district that needed to spend more money on mental health. Robert Northup, Chip’s son, told me that the minister of his church said his father, stepmother, and their murderer had “equal stature as victims and were all equally worthy of our empathy.”

Prison_crowded

“Exceptional Depravity” in California

A double murder in Davis offers vital lessons for juvenile justice reformers.

Lloyd Billingsley, City Journal,   12/26/14

On December 12, Yolo County, California, Superior Court Judge David Reed sentenced 17-year-old convicted murderer Daniel Marsh to 52 years-to-life in state prison. Judge Reed rejected Marsh’s lawyer’s contention that such a term, even with possibility of parole, would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The circumstances of the crime and Marsh’s sentencing raise questions about juvenile justice in the Golden State.

Marsh was just 15 years old on April 14, 2013, when he broke into the Davis home of 87 year-old Oliver “Chip” Northup, an attorney and popular bluegrass musician, and his 76 year-old wife, Claudia Maupin, a pastoral associate at the Davis Unitarian church where the couple met. An early report from Davis police said Marsh killed the couple “in way that manifested exceptional depravity.” As testimony at Marsh’s lengthy trial confirmed, this was no exaggeration. Psychologist James Rokop called Marsh a sexual sadist who killed solely to gratify himself. Victoria Hurd, Claudia Maupin’s daughter, told the court that an expert had to restore her mother’s body before she could see it, “just so we could hold her hand and kiss her goodbye.” Marsh “terrorized, tortured” and was “sadistic and without remorse,” continuing to attack Claudia after she pleaded for him to stop.

In October, the jury found that Marsh was sane when he committed the murders. Before handing down the sentence last week, Judge Reed said Marsh “stabbed and tortured and was proud of what he had done.” Indeed, the charges against Marsh included enhancements for use of a deadly weapon, lying in wait, and torture. His girlfriend testified during the trial that Marsh “liked to torture” and had made two other attempts to kill. As Marsh’s own confession made clear, he had tortured both victims for his own pleasure. “It felt great,” he told police after his arrest in June 2013. “It was pure happiness.” In the end, he received an additional year in prison for use of a knife in each murder. But because Marsh is a juvenile, he got no extra prison time for lying in wait or for the torture enhancement.

That was little consolation to the victim’s loved ones, who told the court of their suffering. Mary Northup, Chip’s youngest daughter, took daily walks with her father. “My father’s murder ripped him from us,” she told the court. After the crime, Northrup testified she couldn’t pass the house without breaking down. As for Marsh, “the only thing he learned is that he should not disclose the details of his next murder.” James Northup, one of Chip’s four sons, entered the courtroom in a wheelchair but stood to deliver his statement. On April 6, 2013, he told the court, the family celebrated the birth of his granddaughter, a great-granddaughter to Chip. “We were looking forward to a beautiful spring,” James Northup said. “A week later, Daniel Marsh murdered our joy.” James Northup’s Lou Gehrig’s disease came out of remission soon afterward.

In politically correct Davis, nobody organized a march or demonstration on behalf of the victims’ families. Instead, a group of Davis High School students launched a “Free Dan Marsh” page on Facebook and school district officials offered counseling for traumatized students. Among the guidance the district offered was information on “how to look out for students who may be vulnerable to self-injury or harm as a response to receiving traumatic information.” Meantime, the People’s Vanguard of Davis, a local left-wing rag billing itself as “a community-based watchdog and news reporting organization,” portrayed Marsh as the victim of a school district that needed to spend more money on mental health. Robert Northup, Chip’s son, told me that the minister of his church said his father, stepmother, and their murderer had “equal stature as victims and were all equally worthy of our empathy.”

As it stands now, Marsh will be eligible for parole in 25 years, when he’ll be in his early forties. Judge Reed said Marsh’s prospects for reform “should be treated with caution.” His crimes were neither spontaneous nor haphazard. He planned his killings carefully. What’s more, Marsh understood the limits of current mental health laws in stopping him from “causing harm to himself or others.” In particular, Marsh knew that if he never discussed a specific victim or plan, his therapists were under no obligation to report him to law enforcement. When an adult with a propensity to do harm makes such statements, however, he waives confidentiality. At the very least, that rule should prevail in juvenile cases as well. “My parents might still be alive,” said Victoria Hurd.

Marsh’s trial should also prompt a fresh look at the state’s sentencing guidelines for juveniles. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 ruled that mandatory life sentences without parole for minors violate the Eighth Amendment. Under California law, juveniles have long been ineligible for the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole. But it makes little sense to bar sentence enhancements for torture or lying in wait just because the offender is a juvenile.

Even modest reforms to California’s juvenile sentencing guidelines and mental health laws no doubt would be a tough slog through a legislature dominated by liberal Democrats. But such reforms might help stop the next Daniel Marsh from indulging his “exceptional depravity.”

Lloyd Billingsley attended every day of the Marsh trial and is the author of Exceptional Depravity: Dan Who Likes Dark and Double Murder in Davis, California.

Elias: California Go Slow On New Electronic Voting Efforts

Maybe North Korea was able to hack into the Sony servers and wreck havoc on the company. According to the FBI, on average, 48 Federal agencies are hacked into each day—Including the Defense and Justice Departments. Nationally banks have over 2000 hacks per week. Yet, there are some that still insist we waste time and money looking into electronic voting. How easy would it be for the Chinese or the Russians to elect a President, a Congress or your city council, without anybody knowing? That is the world we live in today.

In California thanks to our very confused Guv Brown and the incoming Secretary of State, Alex Padilia, each of the 58 counties can develop their own system. How easy that would be for hackers to cause chaos.

“His bill, known as SB 360 before it became law, also ended a longstanding requirement that all electronic voting systems be certified at the federal level before they’re used here. It allows counties to develop and sell their own voting systems, something Los Angeles County officials want to do.

Gov. Jerry Brown never explained why he failed to veto this bill, which cried out for rejection because of the many problems encountered by electronic voting systems right up through the November election.

Imagine the frustration of voters who intend to cast ballots for candidates from one party, but find when the machine presents its summary of their choices that it thinks they’ve voted the opposite way. That happened hundreds of times – at least — in November. No one knows how many instances went undetected because voters didn’t review the summary.”

vote count election

Go Slow On New Electronic Voting Efforts

Tom Elias, Santa Monica Mirror,   12/28/14  

The reports came in from all across America during last fall’s election: electronic voting machines were flipping some votes from Republican to Democrat in some states. From Democrat to Republican in others. In one state with several close races, Wisconsin, electronic vote-counting machines registered just 16 votes in a city where about 5,350 persons were known to have cast ballots.

Other reports came from places as diverse as Connecticut and Texas, North Carolina and Illinois, but there were no problems in California. Beware, though, that good news may not last much longer.

Serious potential problems with electronic voting machines built by companies like Diebold and Election Systems & Software became a major fear in the middle of the last decade, and it could happen again.

The earlier worries eased considerably when outgoing California Secretary of State Debra Bowen conducted a “top to bottom” review of all voting systems in the state almost eight years ago, resulting in mothballs for many Diebold, ES&S and other machines that proved hackable in tests conducted here and in Florida.

For the most part, California went back to paper ballots which are counted electronically, making for somewhat slower election results than in many other states, but far fewer questionable results. In the few areas where some votes are cast electronically, there’s always a paper trail to ensure they can be counted accurately later, if needed.

So there have been no serious questions about the outcomes of California elections in about a decade, even though there are some gripes that the process here is too primitive.

One who believes this is Alex Padilla, the former Democratic state senator from the San Fernando Valley portion of Los Angeles who takes over in January as the new secretary of state, California’s top elections officer. Padilla, an MIT graduate and once the youngest president ever of the Los Angeles city council, last year wrote a new law that will allow him – in the new office he was eyeing at the time he pushed the bill – to approve new electronic voting systems that have received no previous certification at all for use in actual elections.

His bill, known as SB 360 before it became law, also ended a longstanding requirement that all electronic voting systems be certified at the federal level before they’re used here. It allows counties to develop and sell their own voting systems, something Los Angeles County officials want to do.

Gov. Jerry Brown never explained why he failed to veto this bill, which cried out for rejection because of the many problems encountered by electronic voting systems right up through the November election.

Imagine the frustration of voters who intend to cast ballots for candidates from one party, but find when the machine presents its summary of their choices that it thinks they’ve voted the opposite way. That happened hundreds of times – at least — in November. No one knows how many instances went undetected because voters didn’t review the summary.

In pushing the bill, Padilla said that “Most California counties purchase their voting systems from…private vendors. (This) has resulted in a patchwork of technologies throughout our state.”

He correctly pointed out that since vendors consider their technology proprietary, it’s tough to determine how easily systems can be hacked. Padilla claimed the answer to the problem is to let counties develop, own and operate their own voting systems. That, he said, “will increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections.”

But there’s no problem with vote integrity in California today. Ever since Bowen got rid of the problem systems, there have been no claims of flipped election results.

In short, if it works, why fix it? But that’s not Padilla’s thinking. Instead, he wants new-fangled devices. But those could open a Pandora’s Box of expensive recounts, legal challenges and deflated public confidence in election results.

The upshot is that Padilla now has the authority to follow up on his own bill, but he would be wise to tread very carefully. Yes, he could authorize use of some new machines in pilot programs during coming elections. But if those systems don’t work well, doubts about Padilla’s wisdom

 

Chair of “Africana Studies” at Cal State Long Beach—CONVICTED Torturer of Women

Ron Karenga was convicted of torturing women, including pouring water down the throat of women, using a hose—today we call that waterboarding—and Obama, Holder, Feinstein, McCain and most people oppose it.

Karenga is also the founder of the holiday “Kwanzaa” founded on racist principles. So when you see a TV station or a pundit on MSNBC wish you a happy Kwanzaa—know that are promoting a phony holiday created by a bigot, a vicious torturer of women (he did go to prison for this) and the Cal State Long Beach Department head of “Africana Studies”.

That is right—Cal State has hired a man who should not be allowed in the presence of women or decent society. They hired a bigot, to teach a bigoted, racist course. Bet you did not know this.

“In 1971, Karenga was sentenced to one to ten years in prison on counts of felonious assault and false imprisonment.[15] One of the victims gave testimony of how Karenga and other men tortured her and another woman. The woman described having been stripped and beaten with an electrical cord. Karenga’s estranged wife, Brenda Lorraine Karenga, testified that she sat on the other woman’s stomach while another man forced water into her mouth through a hose.

A May 14, 1971, article in the Los Angeles Times described the testimony of one of the women:

“Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis’ mouth and placed against Miss Davis’ face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said. They also were hit on the heads with toasters.”[16]

Now your taxes are being used to allow this vicious bigot to teach your children. Proud? Oh, yesterday Los Angeles held its annual Kwanzaa parade—but was cancelled after TEN MINUTES—NO Attendees! Story here.   

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Ron Karenga—Bigot, Criminal–Head of Department at Cal State Long Beach

Wikipedia, 12/26/14

Ron Everett was born in Parsonsburg, Maryland, the fourteenth child and seventh son in the family. His father was a tenant farmer and Baptist minister who employed the family to work fields under an effective sharecropping arrangement.[5] Everett moved to Los Angeles in 1959, joining his older brother who was a teacher there, and attended Los Angeles City College (LACC). He became active with civil rights organizations CORE and SNCC, took an interest in African studies, and was elected as LACC’s first African-American student president.[6] After earning his associate degree, he matriculated at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and earned BA and MA degrees in political science. He studied Swahili, Arabic and other African-related subjects. Among his influences at UCLA was Jamaican anthropologist and Negritudist Councill Taylor who contested the Eurocentric view of alien cultures as primitive.[7] During this period he took the name Karenga (Swahili for “keeper of tradition”) and the title Maulana (Swahili-Arabic for “master teacher”).[5] While pursuing his doctorate at UCLA, he taught African culture classes for local African-Americans and joined a study group called the Circle of Seven.

1960s activism

US Organization

main article US Organization

The Watts Riots broke out as Karenga was a year into his doctoral studies. Karenga and the Circle of Seven established a community organization in the aftermath called US (meaning “Us black people”).[8] The organization joined in several community revival programs and was featured in press reports. Karenga cited Malcolm X‘s Afro-American Unity program as an influence on the US organization’s work:

Malcolm was the major African American thinker that influenced me in terms of nationalism and Pan-Africanism. As you know, towards the end, when Malcolm is expanding his concept of Islam, and of nationalism, he stresses Pan-Africanism in a particular way. And he argues that, and this is where we have the whole idea that cultural revolution and the need for revolution, he argues that we need a cultural revolution, he argues that we must return to Africa culturally and spiritually, even if we can’t go physically. And so that’s a tremendous impact on US.[9]

As racial disturbances spread across the country, Karenga appeared at a series of black power conferences, joining other groups in urging the establishment of a separate political structure for African-Americans.

US became a target of the FBI‘s COINTELPRO and was put on a series of lists describing it as dangerous, revolutionary and committed to armed struggle in the Black Power Movement.[citation needed] US developed a youth component with para-military aspects called the Simba Wachanga which advocated and practiced community self-defense and service to the masses.

Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966[10] to be the first pan-African holiday. He said his goal was to “give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.”[11] It is inspired by African “first fruit” traditions, and the name is derived from the name for the Swahili first fruit celebration, “matunda ya kwanza.”[12] The rituals of the holiday promote African traditions and Nguzo Saba, the “seven principles of African Heritage” that Karenga described as “a communitarian African philosophy”:

  • Umoja (unity)—To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (self-determination)—To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
  • Ujima (collective work and responsibility)—To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
  • Ujamaa (cooperative economics)—To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  • Nia (purpose)—To make our collective vocation the building and development of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  • Kuumba (creativity)—To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  • Imani (faith)—To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Conflict with the Black Panther Party

US engaged in violent competition with the Black Panther Party in their claim to be a revolutionary vanguard. This heightened level of conflict eventually led to a shoot-out at UCLA in 1969 in which two Panthers were killed and a Simba was shot in the back. Following the UCLA shootout, Panthers and US members carried out a series of retaliatory shootings that resulted in at least two more murders of Panthers.[13]

The FBI attempted to aggravate the conflict. Tactics used to foment and aggravate conflict between US and the Panthers included poison-pen letters, defamatory cartoons, agents provocateurs, and creating suspicion of members of each organization as agents.[14]

Conviction for assault

In 1971, Karenga was sentenced to one to ten years in prison on counts of felonious assault and false imprisonment.[15] One of the victims gave testimony of how Karenga and other men tortured her and another woman. The woman described having been stripped and beaten with an electrical cord. Karenga’s estranged wife, Brenda Lorraine Karenga, testified that she sat on the other woman’s stomach while another man forced water into her mouth through a hose.

A May 14, 1971, article in the Los Angeles Times described the testimony of one of the women:

“Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis’ mouth and placed against Miss Davis’ face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said. They also were hit on the heads with toasters.”[16]

Jones and Brenda Karenga testified that Karenga believed the women were conspiring to poison him, which Davis has attributed to a combination of ongoing police pressure and his own drug abuse.[5][17]

Karenga denied any involvement in the torture, and argued that the prosecution was political in nature.[5][18] He was imprisoned at the California Men’s Colony, where he studied and wrote on feminism, Pan-Africanism and other subjects. The US organization fell into disarray during his absence and was disbanded in 1974. After he petitioned several black state officials to support his parole on fair sentencing grounds, it was granted in 1975.[19]

Karenga has declined to discuss the convictions with reporters and does not mention them in biographical materials.[17] During a 2007 appearance at Wabash College he again denied the charges and described himself as a former political prisoner.[20] The convictions nonetheless continue to generate controversy during Kwanzaa celebrations.[17]

Later career

After his parole Karenga re-established the US organization under a new structure. He was awarded his first PhD in 1976 from United States International University (now known as Alliant International University) for a 170-page dissertation entitled “Afro-American Nationalism: Social Strategy and Struggle for Community”. Later in his career, in 1994, he was awarded a second Ph.D., in social ethics, from the University of Southern California (USC), for an 803-page dissertation entitled “Maat, the moral ideal in ancient Egypt: A study in classical African ethics.”

In 1977, he formulated a set of principles called Kawaida, a Swahili term for normal. Karenga called on African Americans to adopt his secular humanism and reject other practices as mythical (Karenga 1977, pp. 14, 23, 24, 27, 44–5).[need quotation to verify]

Karenga is the Chair of the Africana Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach. He is the director of the Kawaida Institute for Pan African Studies and the author of several books, including his “Introduction to Black Studies”, a comprehensive Black/African Studies textbook now in its fourth edition. He is also known for having co-hosted, in 1984, a conference that gave rise to the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations, and in 1995, he sat on the organizing committee and authored the mission statement of the Million Man March.

Karenga delivered a eulogy at the 2001 funeral service of New Black Panther Party leader Khalid Abdul Muhammad, praising him for his organizing activities and commitment to black empowerment.

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Maulana Karenga on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[21]

Farmworkers and the New Civil Rights Struggle – Decertification of Bad–Bigoted– Unions

Attorney Holder creates investigations, send in 100 FBI agents and attorneys to check up on the Ferguson police department. Yet, he allows an organization to try to blackmail farmers and steal from Hispanic farm workers. If a white group did this, they would be run out of the country—and jailed if caught. If they are the United Farm Workers (UFW), they are exalted and welcomed into the bigoted office of the AG.

In the Central Valley the UFW has been trying to steal the paychecks from Hispanic farm workers for years. Even the California AG sides with the attempted theft rather than the workers, who are the potential victims of these unions.

“On August 26, 2014, more than 1,000 angry farmworkers stormed a state labor board office in Visalia, California. For more than three hours, the mostly Latino, mostly immigrant crowd chanted for justice, carrying signs and wearing brightly colored shirts that advertised their cause.

Protests are nothing new in labor relations, of course. But these workers were not union members agitating for higher wages or better conditions. These workers, employed by the Fresno-based Gerawan Farming, Inc., were angrily denouncing California labor authorities for forcing them into a union, the United Farm Workers (UFW). They were protesting collusion between labor bosses and government bureaucrats to impose collective bargaining contracts on them against their will.”

Government and unions are conspiring in the blackmail and extortion attempts of the UFW against Hispanics—when will decent people demand the UFW stop and be dismantled?

BART and Unions present before  state panel

Farmworkers and the New Civil Rights Struggle – Decertification of Bad Unions

ByMatt Patterson, Union Watch, 12/26/14

Summary: It’s a basic civil right: the ability of union members to get rid of a union if it no longer serves its members effectively. Today, that right is being denied to a group of farmworkers in California by officials who refuse to count the votes the workers cast in a decertification election. That denial of rights shows just how little respect the United Farm Workers, founded by Cesar Chavez, gives to its members.

On August 26, 2014, more than 1,000 angry farmworkers stormed a state labor board office in Visalia, California. For more than three hours, the mostly Latino, mostly immigrant crowd chanted for justice, carrying signs and wearing brightly colored shirts that advertised their cause.

Protests are nothing new in labor relations, of course. But these workers were not union members agitating for higher wages or better conditions. These workers, employed by the Fresno-based Gerawan Farming, Inc., were angrily denouncing California labor authorities for forcing them into a union, the United Farm Workers (UFW). They were protesting collusion between labor bosses and government bureaucrats to impose collective bargaining contracts on them against their will.

They were voicing their rejection of the union. They already had high wages and excellent working conditions, they said. They didn’t need the union, and wanted to dissociate themselves from the union.

They voted on decertification in November 2013. As of this writing, the votes have yet to be counted.

The Gerawan workers stand at the forefront of a new and growing front in the broad struggle to advance civil liberties in the United States: Workers fighting for the right not to join a union.

The rise of the United Farm Workers

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1936 established the labor regime that is in effect in the United States to this day. The NLRA gave unions sweeping organizational powers while simultaneously placing severe restrictions on how employers may respond to unionization drives.

With the NLRA, the federal government granted unions effective monopolies on labor. But the agriculture sector was excluded (for a variety of reasons, including, some speculate, to placate Southern politicians dependent on the support of cotton and tobacco manufacturers). The exclusion of the agriculture sector created a vacuum in labor law. Into this vacuum stepped Cesar Chavez.

Chavez, born in Yuma, Arizona, in 1927, began his career as a “community organizer” when he was hired to work for the Community Service Organization (CSO), a group formed by prominent activist Fred Ross. Ross had run labor camps for migrants, including one that, prior to his tenure, had served as an inspiration for The Grapes of Wrath.
Ross was a disciple of Saul Alinsky, the father of left-wing “community organizing.” In 1947, he was hired by Alinsky to organize Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles. Ross formed the CSO to help Latino immigrants navigate the ins and outs of daily life in 1950s California.

Chavez was hired by CSO in 1952. In the early 1960s, he and a small band formed the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA)—part community organizing network, part (unofficial) labor union aimed at mobilizing California’s large fieldworker population, the vast majority of whom, then as now, originate from areas south of the U.S-Mexican border.

In 1965, a rival group of largely Filipino laborers, the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), walked off the job in grape fields in Delano, California. The NFWA, led by Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Gilbert Padilla, voted to join the strike, which gained national attention as “The Cause” (la causa!). In 1966 Chavez made a renowned trek from Delano to the state capital, Sacramento, and the NFWA and AWOC merged and became the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC).

In 1968, Chavez began a hunger strike at the union headquarters in Delano to bring attention to la causa. The move generated support from Robert F. Kennedy, who was running for president. In return for his support, Chavez’s union formally endorsed Kennedy and provided his campaign with crucial support in the run-up to the critical California primary, which Kennedy won. (Kennedy was assassinated just after his victory speech.)

In a multi-year strike against the grape growers, Chavez proved a master at using public-relations tactics to build support for a union effort. An estimated 14 million Americans supported a boycott in sympathy with Chavez and his union, refraining from purchasing California grapes. It worked: In 1969, Delano grape growers caved and signed contracts with UFOC. In 1972, UFOC was subsumed into the AFL-CIO to become the United Farm Workers (UFW) Union.

By 1972, the boycott tactic was Standard Operating Procedure. Time magazine noted that year:

“At the Democratic National Convention in July, the phrase “boycott lettuce” became almost a password. It fell fervently from the lips of any number of heads of delegations, and it was finally consummated as a cause when Ted Kennedy, at the peak of convention excitement, began his speech: “Greetings, fellow lettuce boycotters!”
The idea was to spark a boycott of iceberg lettuce . . . in support of Cesar Chavez’s two-year-old strike against growers in California.”

The UFW faced violent competition from the Teamsters Union, which was organizing workers from the lettuce fields of Salinas. A history of the UFW at PBS.org describes the ugly inter-union conflict:

“The AFL-CIO pledged full support and sent millions of dollars in aid. The Teamsters responded with crews of bikers and toughs hired in Los Angeles to intimidate and attack strikers. Thousands of farmworkers and supporters were jailed, and finally, two UFW strikers were killed on the picket line.”

The UFW faced other hurdles in its struggle to dominate California labor. Though the union won many elections in the 1970s and 1980s, union leaders were unable to capitalize on those victories to produce a sufficient numbers of contracts. The California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, passed in 1975, diminished the union’s ability to use boycotts in its organizing drives, the very tool that proved so potent against the Delano grape growers.

In addition, throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, the UFW was continually plagued with intra-union power struggles as Chavez and other leaders vied for control and debated the future and focus of their organization.

Sometime during the night of April 22-23, 1993, Cesar Chavez died, apparently in his sleep, near Yuma, Arizona, not far from where he had been born 66 years earlier. Union legend has it that the many pressures of forming and running the UFW, including many hunger strikes, contributed to his death.

Upon Chavez’s death, Arturo S. Rodriguez became the UFW’s second president. He remains UFW president to this day.

The Chavez legacy

In California, Chavez has taken on the halo of a sanctified hero, like his idol Gandhi, with countless streets, public places, and charitable organizations bearing his name. The union eagerly exploits and promotes his reputation for tireless and selfless work on behalf of California’s migrant farm community.

But in the years since his death, numerous researchers have peeked behind the UFW curtain and uncovered a different view of Cesar Chavez. The profile of Chavez that emerges from these alternate narratives is that of a power-hungry narcissist who painstakingly built a cult of personality around himself and called it a union.

Chavez’s often-open contempt for the rank-and-file farmworkers has proven especially shocking to many former supporters and sympathizers.

Michael D. Yates, who worked for the UFW in 1977, wrote in the Marxist publication Monthly Review:

“Chavez used every dirty trick in the book to defeat the worker leaders. He slandered them. He sent goons, including his criminal cousin, Manuel Chavez, to threaten and beat them. The union may even have engineered the automobile accident of farm worker leader Cleofas Guzman that left him paralyzed.”

In his often despairing review of Miriam Pawel’s book The Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez’s Farm Worker Movement, Yates admits that Pawel had uncovered

“plenty of evidence of Chavez’s disdain, distrust, even dislike of the rank-and-file for whom he had presumably built his movement. In many unions, talented workers get elected to local union office, and from there, they can actively participate in national union affairs, and sometimes get elected or appointed to higher union office.”

But, Yates notes,

“This was impossible in the UFW, because there were never any local unions. Chavez made all appointments to the staff and tightly controlled those who sat on the UFW board . . . It prevented the formation of power bases that might challenge Chavez.”

Whatever the quirks of Chavez’s personality, this is the question that ultimately matters, especially to farm workers in the fields today who are considering UFW membership: Does the UFW really represent California field labor?
The answer is no.

Shrinking membership

Hundreds of thousands of laborers toil in the Golden State’s abundant fields—450,000 workers, according to a 2006 estimate. The union counts a paltry 10,000 as members, just over two percent.

This low percentage is surprising given the UFW’s decades-long history of intense organizing and its often-outsized political influence. It is especially surprising given the relatively light competition the UFW has faced in targeting California’s vast agriculture sector. In 2012, Golden State farms took in $42.6 billion, accounting for 11.3 percent of America’s total cash farm receipts, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. In fact, more than half of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in the U.S. come from California.

But the vast majority of the state’s 8,500 farms and ranches do not have collective bargaining agreements with the UFW. In fact, as of 2006, only an estimated 20-30 farms had contracts with the union, with some of those farms outside California.

UFW membership has plummeted. It was an estimated 50,000-80,000 in the 1970s (according to PBS; the union is notoriously tight-lipped in these matters). It is roughly 10,000 today. To stanch the bleeding, union officials have turned to gimmicks for raising money, such as offering annual “memberships” for a fee of $40 and providing workers with laminated membership cards that handily double as ID cards.

The union has also openly and actively pursued a variety of non-representational activities, such as instituting charitable organizations for housing and other basic needs. For example, over the course of 15 years, the National Farm Workers Service Center (NFSC) raised $230 million for low-income housing across three states. According to a Los Angeles Times report, though, few actual farmworkers were beneficiaries of that housing, which ironically (and infuriatingly, to many union supporters) was built largely with non-union labor. Paul Chavez, son of Cesar and president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation, is described as giving a half-hearted defense of this use of non-union labor:

“Chavez said that only by paying lower, nonunion wages can he hope to meet the Service Center’s ambitious goal of housing 100,000 people in the next decade.”

It’s a case of a union leaders admitting that union labor is unaffordable.

UFW’s tangled web of finances

Union president Arturo Rodriguez received $94,129 in pay and benefits in 2013, while UFW regional director Armando Elenes made $107,994. The union claims to have paid out some significant sums in 2013 to certain individuals as “cash donations,” including a $75,232 gift to one Maria Thaddeus of Fort Collins, Colorado, whose address is listed as “missing.” Who Ms. Thaddeus is, and what she did to deserve such a large donation from the United Farm Workers, is unclear. (An e-mail to the union’s executive office requesting information about these donations was unanswered at press time.)

Like most unions, the UFW has been heavily engaged in political activity. But the nature of the UFW’s political activity is the reverse of most unions. The Los Angeles Times noted:

“Most unions contribute money to candidates; the UFW collects it instead. Most unions give money to their political action committees; the United Farm Workers PAC pays the union.”

According to its most recent filing with the U.S. Department of Labor, the UFW possessed net assets of approximately $2.62 million in 2013. That year, the union took in roughly $7.12 million, including $3.74 million in agency fees and dues (though how that amount is split between the two categories is unclear).
UFW membership saw a steady decline from the 1980 until the first decade of the 21st century. Then the union’s ranks held steady at around 5,000 members from 2002 to 2012.

Yet the union’s most recent LM-2 form—a form that is filed each year with the U.S. Department of Labor—claims 10,278 members and 339 “agency fee payers” for a total of 10,617 “members/fee payers.” From 2012 to 2103, therefore, the union claims its membership shot up from 4,443 to over 10,000.

The UFW v. Silvia Lopez

What explains this sudden spike in membership in one year? It’s possible that the union decided to count workers from Fresno-based Gerawan Farming, Inc. on its rolls. If so, that would be highly controversial, because those workers are currently engaged in a fierce and protracted legal effort to extricate themselves from association with the union.

The UFW won a representation election at Gerawan in 1990. Gerawan is a family-owned operation that has been harvesting in California’s Central Valley for more than six decades. One of the nation’s largest tree fruit producers, it employs up to 5,000 workers each year (not necessarily all at once; the daily workforce varies depending on the season).

Management contested that election, and it wasn’t until 1992 that state labor authorities certified the results. Union bosses and Gerawan had one bargaining session, but agreed on no contract.

And then the UFW vanished. As CNBC reported, “The UFW never came back, there was never any contract, and Gerawan Farming went back to business.” For almost 20 years nothing was heard from the union, and no dues were collected from Gerawan’s employees. Meanwhile, older workers retired or moved on, replaced by waves of younger workers, many of whom return season after season with their family members, multiple generations working alongside one another.

Then suddenly, in October 2012, owner Dan Gerawan received a letter from the UFW, saying it was ready to negotiate a new contract. According to CNBC’s Jane Wells:

“Unlike the early ’90s, the UFW is now able to take advantage of newer laws in California that force both sides to accept a contract through mandated arbitration by the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board [ALRB]. Gerawan said once arbitration began, the union ‘proposed wage increases that were ridiculous.’”

Silvia Lopez, a single mother and 15-year veteran of the Gerawan fields, was shocked when she was told that she had been working at a unionized company, and appalled that she would be forced to pay three percent of her wages in union dues. Lopez was adamant that she did not want the UFW at Gerawan. “The company has always been very fair,” she said. “They have never robbed the sweat of their workers, they’ve never robbed even a minute of our time. Our checks always have been paid.”

In fact, Gerawan was already paying wages well above the industry average. With the imposition of three percent union dues, what UFW leaders were actually demanding was that the workers labor for less money. That was a position that won them no favors among the Gerawan crew.

Still, since the UFW had previously won a representation election, and since California is not a Right to Work state (a state in which the law allows workers to opt out of union dues and/or membership), the only way for Lopez to get out from under the thumb of the union was decertification. So that’s what she set out to achieve.

In October 2013, Lopez gathered and turned in between 2,700 and 2,800 signatures from co-workers in a petition to decertify to the state labor board, the ALRB. The board, however, refused the signatures, claiming too many were of questionable legitimacy. ALRB regional director Silas Shawver claimed, “There were some serious problems with signatures submitted that appeared to be fraudulent.”

Lopez went to work again collecting signatures and returned within days with a new petition bearing 3,000 names. The board, notorious for its pro-union sympathies, balked. Sources have told the Center for Worker Freedom that Gov. Jerry Brown intervened personally and pressured the board into allowing the Gerawan workers a decertification election. (Brown created the ALRB in the 1970s during his first stint as governor.)

Waiting… waiting…

Voting took place on November 5, 2013. Those ballots have never been counted and, today, are locked up in an ALRB safe, likely at the board’s regional headquarters in Visalia.

The board claims the votes cannot be counted until the various unfair labor practice charges lobbed at Gerawan by the UFW can be investigated. Conveniently for the union, the board also claims to have run out of funds to investigate. In the meantime, the board and the union want to force a contract on the Gerawan workers through the states’ mandatory arbitration process.

The workers are challenging the ALRB’s decision not to count their votes. Last February, they filed suit against the ALRB (specifically, against its board members and regional appointees) for violating their civil liberties. In July, a federal judge assessing the merits of the case ruled the suit could move forward. Lopez celebrated the decision in a statement released through her attorney:

“I am happy that I will get to face the members of the ALRB and regional director at a trial. My co-workers’ and my rights have been denied for more than 280 days. It’s not right. I’m glad that the judge saw that I have a real case and will let part of my lawsuit move forward. All the farmworkers want is to have our votes counted. We will not stop fighting to have our voices heard and our rights protected.”

Certainly the actions of the board constitute a gross violation of any number of Constitutional protections. The 14th Amendment promises that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property.” By forcing workers into a union contract that will extract three percent of their wages against their will, the state of California is undeniably depriving these workers of their property.

Then there is the First Amendment, which prohibits abridgements of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. The idea that government could simply refuse to count the votes from an election, and force people to be members of an organization against their will, would doubtless have horrified the Framers of the U.S. Constitution.

The ALRB has continued to slander the workers and Gerawan management with charges that the company is forcing/intimidating its workers into resisting the union. Those charges infuriate Silvia Lopez. On August 26, she and about a thousand of her co-workers loaded onto buses after working a full day in the fields and descended en masse on the ALRB regional office in Visalia. They held signs reading “Count our Votes!” and they sported shirts emblazoned with the text of the First Amendment and the image of Lady Liberty.

The workers chanted “Don’t take our money!” They gave speeches, and waved an American flag for more than three hours. (The Center for Worker Freedom provided logistical support, including coordinating with local authorities to ensure a safe and peaceful demonstration.) Ms. Lopez presented an ALRB official with a petition bearing nearly 1,000 signatures from Gerawan workers stating that they had not been intimidated or coerced into anti-union activity. The protest drew local, state, and international media coverage, bringing the ALRB and its abuses to the attention of the public.

The protests reverberated in the state capital, thanks in part to a Center for Worker Freedom advertising campaign in Sacramento. Throughout September, CFW ran a series of more than a dozen digital and print billboards addressed to Gov. Jerry Brown, urging him to rein in the agency that he created.

One message that loomed over Sacramento freeways showed an infant and read “Dear Governor Brown: Take Responsibility for Your Baby, Make the ALRB Count the Votes at Gerawan.” Another showed a picture of Lopez with red tape over her mouth labeled “ALRB” and read: “Freedom of Speech Includes Fresno Farm Workers.”

On September 28, Jerry Brown quietly vetoed the union-backed Senate Bill 25, which would essentially have done to every farmworker in the state what is being done to the Gerawan workers in Fresno. It was widely believed that Brown would sign the bill. The fact that he did not, and that he issued a brief statement that night saying that labor election disputes “should be dealt with so the process is balanced and fair,” is perhaps an encouraging sign that the Governor is becoming increasingly troubled by the rogue agency he created four decades ago.

On the ALRB payroll

On September 29, the two parties in the dispute, the UFW/ALRB on one side and the workers/Gerawan on the other, met before an administrative judge in Fresno to plead their respective cases. The hearing was scheduled to continue for quite some time, possibly through January, and was expected to bring forth dozens of witnesses, including Lopez.

A major problem arose: The judge charged with mediating this dispute, Mark Soble, is on the payroll of one of the parties of the dispute. The Center for Worker Freedom reported data gathered and published by Transparent California showing that Soble received over $142,000 in pay and benefits from the ALRB in 2013. Since 2011, he has been paid over $357,000 by the agency, calling into doubt his ability to act as a fair and impartial arbiter in the matter.

In fact, Soble’s sympathies were made apparent on the opening day of the hearing, as he angrily waved a press release from the Center for Worker Freedom advertising a press conference. The press conference had been scheduled for the following Wednesday, across the hall from the hearings at the Radisson Hotel in Fresno. Numerous public officials were invited, including Assemblyman Jim Patterson and Fresno city council members, as well as workers, including Ms. Lopez. The aim was to help give the workers and their supporters a platform on which to present their plight to the public.

In the hearing’s opening moments that Monday, Soble demanded to know if Lopez was behind the planned press conference. Farmworkers present at the hearing said later that they felt intimidated by the Judge’s comments, and feared they would face legal reprisal were they to speak at the press conference. Nevertheless, the press conference took place without incident on October 1, when Ms. Lopez excused herself from the hearing and addressed more than 200 workers, reporters, and elected officials. (The entire press conference can be viewed at http://workerfreedom.org/ca-farmworkers-motivate-and-inspire-elected-officials.)

The judge, like the union and the board before him, underestimated Ms. Lopez, who refuses to surrender the rights granted her by the United States Constitution.

Conclusion

For the UFW, the attempt to take Gerawan by force has been a PR disaster. But the union has had little choice. The organization began and run by Cesar Chavez, and run into the ground by his successors and family members, is facing an existential crisis. Bleeding cash and members, the union needs Gerawan, regardless of the rights or principles that must be destroyed in the process.

Today, the union is desperate for help from other unions, but sources have told CWF that the UFW is being shut out. It has long had a reputation in organized labor as a group that is quick to ask for help, but slow to give it. “They always have their hand out,” noted an insider. Yates, the former UFW staffer who wrote about this union for the Monthly Review, noted, “In a labor movement notorious for corruption and shortchanging the membership, the United Farm Workers has secured a place on the union wall of infamy.”

The irony is that many of the Gerawan workers came to America for more freedom, not less, and for more economic opportunity, not less. In many regions of Mexico and Central and South America, powerful cartels carve up economies with the aid of public officials at the expense of workers and businesses, who get shaken down and shut out. Many of these workers believed it would be different—better—in America. They were wrong.

Still, the Gerawan workers, and others across the country who resist forced unionization, have a tremendous opportunity to advance the cause of civil liberty. The right to work—that is, to work without being forced to pay dues to an unnecessary, predatory third party—is the new civil rights struggle.

California Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who has been championing Ms. Lopez’s cause for more than a year, told CWF: “Silvia and the hundreds of farm workers who are fighting this battle to have their votes counted are the civil rights leaders of our time…. They will not be stopped or silenced by the ALRB or anyone and soon 3,000 voices will become 30,000 voices all with the same message, ‘the UFW doesn’t represent us.’”

For Democratic Party politicians and left-wing activists, there is a tremendous opportunity in the Gerawan mess—a chance to prove that they have the courage of their convictions. Liberals would howl in outrage if workers were forced by Republican officials into dues-paying membership in the National Rifle Association, and rightly so. If liberals really want to take the side of workers, they will be consistent, and demand, in this case, that the workers’ votes be counted.

Unions, like any other organization, should attract members willingly, by persuasion, by demonstrating the value of their services. When they force people into associating with them, it exposes the hollowness of their promises and the fact that opposition to freedom is at the core of their ideology. It exposes just how little respect they have for their members and for those they would have as members.

About the Author:  Matt Patterson is executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom, a special project of Americans for Tax Reform. CWF is “dedicated to educating the public about the cost and consequences of unionization.” This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Labor Watch and is republished here with permission.

No Joke: NIH Spending $433,577 to Find Out What Kids Think of Fat Characters in Movies

Did you know that if your child watches the “Chipmunks” cartoon, or a Shrek cartoon, they could become obese? Did you know there are folks so lacking in common sense and values, that they see promotion of obesity for children as the secret message in a cartoon? Worse, they are spending $433,000 of your tax dollars to prove this absurdity. Wonder why folks have no respect or trust for government?

These are the same folks that use tax dollars to put on dances for elderly farmers, to warn them about the dangers of working on a far—or spend hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars finding out “Why fat girls can’t get dates”.

“Children’s perceptions of “obesogenic” culture in films, or the promotion of excessive weight gain, is the subject of the $433,577 study being conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The researchers have concluded that children’s movies are confusing because they make fun of fat characters, while also promoting unhealthy behaviors like drinking soda and watching television.

The cartoons are not confusing—the researchers are confused and need therapy quickly—they are a danger to themselves and society. We need to do a survey, how many of these crazy grants by NIH were done by people on drugs or granted by people on drugs—that is the bigger question?

Guess Santa has to go!

Photo courtesy of duluoz cats, flickr

Photo courtesy of duluoz cats, flickr

NIH Spending $433,577 to Find Out What Kids Think of Fat Characters in Movies

‘Obesogenic’ culture the subject of government study

BY: Elizabeth Harrington, Washington Free Beacon,   12/24/14
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is spending almost a half million dollars to determine what children think about fat characters in movies.

Children’s perceptions of “obesogenic” culture in films, or the promotion of excessive weight gain, is the subject of the $433,577 study being conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The researchers have concluded that children’s movies are confusing because they make fun of fat characters, while also promoting unhealthy behaviors like drinking soda and watching television.

“Children receive cultural messages about appropriate eating, exercise, and attitudes from a variety of influences, likely including family, friends, schools, religious institutions, and electronic culture (television, movies, and video games),” the grant explains. “One important source of culture in the world for children is children’s movies.”

The grant also claims that minority children watch more movies than others.

“Children have access to many movies and the ability to view them over and over again, contributing to significant daily exposure, more for children from minority backgrounds,” it said. “These movies provide cues to normative behavior and experiences widely shared among similar-age children nationally and even worldwide.”

The study argues that not enough research has been conducted on children’s feelings on obese characters.

“Our team’s preliminary work has examined movies and found top-grossing G- and PG-rated movies depict unhealthy eating and sedentary activity as the norm, while simultaneously mocking overweight characters,” the grant said. “The presentation of obesity, therefore, is condemning with the depiction of unhealthy food and exercise choices as positive.”

“Research examining how children interpret these messages from culture, however, is scant.”

The researchers singled out Kung Fu Panda, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel, and Shrek the Third, for making fat jokes in their first published paper for the study last year.

“These children’s movies offer a discordant presentation about food, exercise and weight status, glamorizing unhealthy eating and sedentary behavior yet condemning obesity itself,” said Eliana M. Perrin, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics in the UNC School of Medicine and lead researcher for the NIH project.

The study found that many children’s movies contain “weight-based stigma” and had “significant ‘obesogenic’ content.”

The project is scheduled to continue until August of next year.