Looking for San Francisco’s Bill de Blasio? His Name is Ed Lee
by Randy Shaw‚
Dec. 12‚ 2013
With New York City’s election of progressive Bill de Blasio as mayor, I hear many ask: when will San Francisco get its own progressive mayor? The answer is that the city already has such a mayor in Ed Lee, whose progressive record de Blasio would be fortunate to match. This week, Lee announced support for raising the city's minimum wage. Previously, his leadership led to voter approval of a $1.5 billion affordable housing trust fund. Lee is the first San Francisco mayor to prioritize amending the state Ellis Act to reduce evictions, and his economic polices have greatly reduced unemployment. Progressives in NYC will cheer if de Blasio makes similar gains.
But for the primarily white “Bay Guardian progressives," Ed Lee will never be “their” guy. And the irony is that Bill de Blasio would not meet their standards either. After all, NYC’s new progressive mayor backed the massive Atlantic Yards gentrification and displacement strategy for Brooklyn which bypassed public processes and used eminent domain to enrich wealthy developers. Compared to the sixteen highrises and sports arena (the Barclays Center) that comprises Atlantic Yards, 8 Washington’s impact would have been akin to a one-hour change in a loading zone. The San Francisco progressives unhappy with Lee would also find Bill de Blasio wanting, as they would any politician capable of building the broad support necessary to be elected a big-city mayor.
School Beat: New Survey on Parent Engagement
by Lisa Schiff‚
Dec. 12‚ 2013
Parent engagement, a significant factor in a child’s education, was in the news again last week. Results of a survey conducted by EdSource (an education research and awareness group) were released to the public last Thursday, reconfirming the validity of some long-standing, widely accepted ideas while bringing to the surface a few unspoken, somewhat uncomfortable truths.
EdSource contacted over one thousand California parents to find out how much they knew about our state’s new school funding strategy (the Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF), how satisfied they were with their children’s schools, and how interested and able they were to participate in budget decision making. The first and last of these are of particular importance at this moment in California’s public education system, since our newly revised funding and accountability structure--the very LCFF strategy EdSource contacted parents about--has deep community engagement structured directly in it. Given that this engagement is also disturbingly unspecified, parents’ awareness of and willingness to dive in are all the more important.
A Review of Save Our Unions Dispatches from A Movement in Distress
by Carl Finamore‚
Dec. 12‚ 2013
There is still time during the holidays to purchase labor journalist Steve Early’s very readable and quite reflective latest book, Save Our Unions, published by Monthly Review Press.
But books on labor are notoriously misunderstood and conspicuously undersold. This is really too bad. Like other books describing how people live and what they struggle for, Save Our Union records a very human story – a running narrative from an author who was directly reporting, and often directly participating, in the unfolding human drama as it occurred. In 335 pages, Early analyzes the leadership, organization and strategy of the most significant labor struggles, debates and controversies of the past 40 years, right up to now.
Supreme Court Dismisses Mulhall v. Unite Here, Giving Labor a Lucky Escape
by Moshe Marvit‚
Dec. 12‚ 2013
Unions dodged a bullet today when the Supreme Court took the unusual step of dismissing the strange and possibly disastrous case of Mulhall v. Unite Here Local 355 as “improvidently granted.”
Though the dismissal leaves some bad law in place in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Florida, Alabama and Georgia, labor should nonetheless breathe a sigh of relief.
In Mulhall, a Florida casino employee backed by the anti-union National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW) argued that neutrality agreements violate an anti-bribery provision in the Taft Hartley Act of 1947 and therefore constitute a federal crime.
Tenderloin’s New Approach to Safer Streets
by Randy Shaw‚
Dec. 11‚ 2013
Property owners near O’Farrell and Jones Streets have come up with a creative approach to combating drug dealing and problem sidewalk behavior: install planter boxes. The Pacific Bay Inn (which houses formerly homeless persons) recently placed planter boxes in front of its Jones Steet location and they are already being cheered by tenants, workers and others in the area. Longtime Pierre Hotel tenant Karen Taylor says “they make the whole block look nicer.” The Central City SRO Collaborative (CCSRO) will install barrels planted with flowers and vegetables in front of some Tenderloin SRO’s next spring. Such plantings do more than help create safer streets. According to studies in Charles Montgomery’s new Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, will also make Tenderloin residents happier through increased exposure to greenery.
Bay Area Longshore Workers Led the Local Fight Against Apartheid
by Peter Cole‚
Dec. 11‚ 2013
With the passing of Nelson Mandela, our responsibility is to commemorate the global fight against apartheid and—more importantly—follow his lead and push for radical change in our own times. Though a tremendous leader, Mandela sat in prison for decades while millions of people, in South Africa and around the world, built the most impressive global movement in recent history. In the San Francisco Bay area a passionate cadre of longshore workers led the to fight to overthrow the racist, oppressive regime. In November 1984, days after Ronald Reagan’s landslide re-election, members of Local 10 of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) refused to touch South African cargo for eleven days, arguably the most dramatic act in the Bay area, itself a leader in America’s anti-apartheid movement.
NELSON MANDELA peacefully transition to the other side. R.I.P. MADIBA. During the summer, his severe illness kept many of us on edge, touch and go; he lingered a little longer until December 5. He was 95. We knew he would leave us soon, not knowing the exact time or day, The Nobel Peace Prize winner died at his home in Johannesburg. REST, SWEET WARRIOR....YOU FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT!
Mandela was a great man of courage, vision, hope, forgiveness, love for human kind - a graceful man. Madiba, as his family lovingly calls him, spent 27 years behind prison bars in 1962, for his opposition to apartheid, the oppressive, violent system of segregation created by South Africa’s white minority government. He became an international symbol of the struggle for black liberation and universal human rights!
Can Socialists Win Elections in the U.S.?
by Bhaskar Sunkara and Micah Uetricht‚
Dec. 11‚ 2013
Kshama Sawant of Seattle showed socialist victories are possible. Will they spread?
On December 5, fast food workers in over 100 cities carried out their largest mass protest in history. The protests built upon similar events held in fifty cities in August. The national media wrote advance stories on the plight of low-paid fast food workers which even before the protests occurred helped revive national focus on rising inequality in the United States. And considering that the December 5 fast food protests were large, boisterous, and colorful, they would have dominated evening news broadcasts and the following day’s newspapers but for an unforeseen development: legendary freedom fighter Nelson Mandela died in South Africa during the protests. Mandela’s death understandably dominated television news for the balance of the day, while the fast food protests were ignored. While labor and activists groups promoted the protests through social media, traditional media sources continued wall to wall Mandela coverage through December 6, a day which otherwise would have put fast food workers in the spotlight,
While few outside Rush Limbaugh criticized the media for excessive coverage of Mandela, fast food workers and their supporters got a very unlucky break as to the timing of his death. It follows a less dramatic example of media plans going awry when nationwide immigrant rights protests long planned for October 5 were eclipsed by the ongoing government shutdown. Such examples again demonstrate why activists must win through ongoing organizing rather than putting too many eggs in the media basket.
Rally Today Against Urban Green, Ellis Act Eviction Speculators
by Sarah Sherburn-Zimmer and Tina Cheung‚
Dec. 10‚ 2013