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Nurses Call on U.S. Hospitals to Better Prepare for Ebola

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National Nurses United

Following reports that a Dallas hospital failed to hospitalize a patient infected with the Ebola virus and failed to properly communicate essential information to caregivers about his health status, National Nurses United is stepping up the call on U.S. hospitals to immediately upgrade emergency preparations for Ebola in the U.S.

“At a rally of 1,000 nurses last week in Las Vegas, we warned that it was just a matter of time in an interconnected world that we would see Ebola in the U.S. Now, everyone should recognize that Texas is not an island either, and as we’ve heard from nurses across the U.S., hospitals here are not ready to confront this deadly disease,” said NNU executive director RoseAnn DeMoro.

As one step, NNU members from the California Nurses Association Wednesday met with officials of Kaiser Permanente, the largest hospital chain in California, proposing Kaiser immediately upgrade its pandemic disease preparedness, including planning, communications, hands on training and availability of proper protective equipment, including Hazmat suits, the most effective protective gear.

Kaiser said that Hazmat suits are not needed, even though nurses, doctors and other health workers have been infected and died in what the World Health Organization calls “unprecedented” numbers in West Africa.

Kaiser also insists its hospitals are prepared, despite an experience at a Kaiser hospital in Sacramento in August demonstrating the scope of the problem when a patient who it was feared had been exposed to Ebola came to the hospital.

No information was given to staff until after the potential exposure was reported by local media, even though the patient had already been in the hospital for two days and had come in contact with many RNs and other staff. Outraged RNs then marched on hospital officials protesting the mishandling of the situation and demanding proper education, training, and equipment for frontline nurses.

The Sacramento example, and Kaiser’s response this week “is very alarming to frontline nurses,” said CNA co-president Zenei Cortez, a Kaiser RN. “Whatever Kaiser is doing, their plans have never included any frontline nurses who would be the first ones to come into contact with patients exposed to any pandemic disease. It shows a total disregard for protecting patients, staff, and the wider public,” said Cortez.

Preliminary results of an NNU survey released this week showed Kaiser is hardly unique. The survey of hundreds of nurses in more than 200 hospitals in 25 states has found that more than 60 percent say their hospital is not prepared for the Ebola virus. More than 80 percent say their hospital has not communicated to them any policy regarding potential admission of patients infected by Ebola. Another 30 percent say their hospital has insufficient supplies of eye protection and fluid resistant gowns.

The Dallas case, where the infected patient was sent home after arriving at the hospital, hardly provides any reassurance, said NNU today.

Media reports have indicated that the Dallas patient’s exposure was not properly communicated to hospital staff. Hospital officials reportedly told the media they had done one drill, “but nurses and other hospital staff work around the clock. One drill is hardly sufficient,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN, director of NNU’s Registered Nurse Response Network which is coordinating NNU’s Ebola response.

NNU is calling for all U.S. hospitals to immediately implement a full emergency preparedness plan for Ebola, or other disease outbreaks. That includes:

  • Full training of hospital personnel along with proper protocols and training materials for responding to outbreaks
  • Adequate supplies of Hazmat suits and other personal protective equipment
  • Properly equipped isolation rooms to assure patient, visitor and staff safety
  • Sufficient staffing to supplement nurses and other health workers who need to care for patients in isolation.

NNU is also calling for significant increases in provision of aid, financial, personnel, and protective equipment, from the U.S., other governments, and private corporate interests to the nations in West Africa directly affected to contain and stop the spread of Ebola.


Chuch Idelson is the Communications Director for the California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee.

Big Oil Brown Greenwashes His Legacy at UN Climate Summit

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Jerry Brown, one of the worst governors for fish, water and the environment in California history, spoke to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City Tuesday in a cynical attempt to greenwash his deplorable environmental record.

During his U.N. address, Governor Brown touted California’s controversial carbon trading policies as an example of “innovative climate strategies.”

“The California story is a very hopeful one,” Brown gushed. “It’s a story of Republican and Democratic governors pioneering innovative climate strategies. It’s not been easy, it’s not without contest, but we’re making real progress.”

“I believe that from the bottom up, we can make real impact and we need to join together,” added Governor Brown. “We’re signing MOUs with Quebec and British Columbia, with Mexico, with states in China and wherever we can find partners, because we know we have to do it all.”

Brown’s remarks at the summit are available here.

In a video message ahead of the Summit, Brown claimed, “We are carrying on because we know in California that carbon pollution kills, it undermines our environment, and, long-term, it’s an economic loser. We face an existential challenge with the changes in our climate. The time to act is now. The place to look is California.”

Yes, California, now under attack by the anti-environmental policies and carbon trading greenwashing campaign by Governor Brown, is definitely “the place to look” for one example after another of environmental destruction.

Once known as “Governor Moonbeam” for his quirkiness and eccentricities during his first two administrations from 1975 to 1983, has in his third administration transformed himself into “Big Oil Brown.”

According to Jessie McKinley in the New York Times, The “Governor Moonbeam” nickname “was coined by Mike Royko, the famed Chicago columnist, who in 1976 said that Mr. Brown appeared to be attracting ‘the moonbeam vote; which in Chicago political parlance meant young, idealistic and nontraditional.”

Thirty-eight years later, Oil Change International, a research, communication, and advocacy organization focused on “exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy” has given Brown a new nickname, “Big Oil Brown,” for the large contributions he has received from oil companies and his support of fracking. The web page dedicated to “Big Oil Brown” features Jerry attired in a suit and cowboy hat like a Texas oil baron right next to an oil rig.

“California’s Governor Jerry Brown has a problem: he wants to be seen as a climate champion who understands the science and takes this crisis seriously. At the same time, he just proposed new fracking rules in California that would amount to a gift to Big Oil. He can’t have it both ways,” according to the web page.

The group has also created a spoof ad about “Jerry Brown’s Frackwater Cologne.”

Leaders of environmental organizations, Indian Tribes and fishing groups are upset that Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4, the green light for fracking bill that clears the path for expanded fracking in California, in September 2013. The last minute amendments to the bill by the oil industry were so odious that they spurred the League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund to withdraw their support at the last minute for the already weak legislation.

The bill made California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of fracking permits optional and prevents imposing a moratorium on fracking for 15 months.

Big Oil strongly supported the amended version of Senate Bill 4 that Brown signed. Just ask Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, who praised the governor’s signing of Senate Bill 4 for creating the “environmental” platform to expand fracking in California.

“With the signing of Senate Bill 4, California has the toughest regulations of hydraulic fracturing and other energy production technologies in the country,” said Reheis-Boyd. “While SB 4’s requirements went significantly farther than the petroleum industry felt was necessary, we now have an environmental platform on which California can look toward the opportunity to responsibly develop the enormous potential energy resource contained in the Monterey Shale formation.

Brown has received over $2 million from Big Oil

Brown signed the bill after receiving at least $2,014,570.22 from fossil fuel interests since his race for Attorney General in 2006. (http://www.bigoilbrown.org/frackwater/)

In the 2014 election cycle, four oil companies have contributed a total of $161,000 to the Brown campaign to date, according to Oil Change International. Occidental Petroleum has given $27,200, the maximum legally allowed. Edison and Chevron have both contributed $27,200 twice, once for the primary election and another for the general election. Phillips 66 has nearly maxed out with a $25,000 contribution. Fossil fuel industry contributions in 2010 Governor’s race were $198,451.22.

Proposition 30, one of the Governor’s signature policy initiatives in 2012, was also heavily funded by Big Oil. The oil and gas companies contributed over $1,118,418 to the campaign, including $500,000 from Occidental Petroleum.

It gets worse. Opponents of Proposition 1, the controversial State Water Bond, on September 20 criticized Governor Jerry Brown and the backers of Prop. 1 for taking over $2.8 million raised to enact a tax increase for public education through Proposition 30 and diverting it to their campaign to pass “the biggest dam-building program in California history!”

Carolee Krieger, No on Prop. 1 leader and California Water Impact Network (CWIN) Executive Director, said, “The governor is using a legal loophole to divert donations for public education to back his deadbeat dams, pork programs and subsidies for huge agribusiness. None of the donors of this $2.8 million left over from Prop. 30 could have had any idea their money would be spent on this water bond.”

In addition, fossil fuel industry interests have donated $355,000 to Brown’s two Oakland charter schools since 2006. In 2013 alone, Occidental Petroleum gave The Oakland Military Institute $150,000 at Brown’s behest.

Brown backs carbon trading, Delta death tunnels

But the Governor’s signing of the green light to fracking bill is just one of the many attacks on the environment that Brown has engaged in.

Governor Brown is an avid supporter of the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+) that allows Northern Hemisphere polluters to buy forest carbon offset credits from the global South. Brown is trying to link an agreement among Chiapas, Mexico; Acre, Brazil; and California, to AB32, which commits to a 25% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for 2020, and an 80% reduction for 2050).

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, exposed the impact of Brown’s REDD policies on the environment and indigenous peoples when he spoke at a protest against Brown’s failed environmental policies in San Francisco on October 17, 2013 when Brown was slated to receive environmental leadership award by the Blue Green Alliance. Brown didn’t show up.

“Despite being awarded, as I speak, for his supposed environmentalism, Governor Brown is moving ahead with a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples

This policy privatizes the air we breathe. Commodifies the clouds. Buy and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the Sacred.

This policy is called carbon trading and REDD. REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. But REDD really means Reaping profits from Evictions, land grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of biodiversity. REDD does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source. And REDD may result in the biggest land grab of the last 500 years.”

Brown has also rushed the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels, a $67 billion boondoggle that will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and numerous other fish species, as well as imperiling salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath Rivers. The plan would take large tracts of fertile Delta farmland out of production in order to irrigate drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, all under the guise of “habitat restoration.”

Every scientific panel, ranging from the Independent Delta Science Board to the National Academy of Sciences, has criticized the flawed “science” behind the twin tunnel plan.

More recently, the state and federal governments decided to delay the proposed project following the 43-page comment letter by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) slamming the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) said the controversial plan to construct two 35-mile long tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to divert Sacramento River water to “agricultural plantations” in the deserts of southern California “was placed on life support” when the California Department of Water Resources announced that a revised EIR/EIS would be delayed until sometime in 2015.

“BDCP’s friends and family anxiously expressed hope that an infusion of additional millions of dollars and months of treatment would enable the project to recover,” quipped Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director. “However, the EPA comments coming on top of some 4,500 pages of searing reviews by municipalities, counties and water agencies that would be adversely impacted by the project, almost 2,000 pages of highly critical comments by environmental and fishing organizations, hundreds of pages of harsh analyses by government agencies and stinging comments from many thousands of California citizens reveal that BDCP is suffering from a congenital terminal illness.

Brown administration exported record amounts of Delta water

The Brown administration also authorized the export of record water amounts of water from the Delta in 2011 – 6,520,000 acre-feet, 217,000 acre feet more than the previous record of 6,303,000 acre feet set in 2005 under Schwarzenegger. Most of this water went to corporate agribusiness, including mega-farmers irrigating unsustainable, selenium-laced land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The record water exports spurred massive fish kills at the state and federal Delta pumps. The Brown administration “salvaged” a record of nearly 9 million Sacramento splittail and over 2 million salmon, steelhead, striped bass, largemouth bass, threadfin shad, white catfish and sturgeon in the Delta export pumping facilities in 2011. Since the actual number of fish killed in the pumps is at least 5 to 10 times those reported, the actual number of fish killed is probably 55 million to 110 million.

More recently, Governor and the Obama administration oversaw the systematic emptying of Folsom and other northern California reservoirs last year during a record drought, imperiling struggling salmon and steelhead populations and local water supplies.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the Brown and Obama administration’s anti-fish and pro-agribusiness policies have resulted in pushing Delta fish populations closer to extinction. A Delta fish survey released by the California Department of Wildlife in January 2014 confirms the continuing collapse of the ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

The 2013 indices (a relative number of abundance) for Delta smelt, a federal and state endangered species, and American shad were the second lowest in the 46 years of the survey. The striped bass index was tied for third lowest, while the longfin smelt and threadfin shad indices were the eighth and fifth lowest, respectively, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

Oil lobbyist-overseen marine “protection”

Brown has also forged ahead with one of the worst environmental programs of the Schwarzenegger regime, the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. In one of the most egregious conflicts of interests in modern California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, as well as serving on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. (http://intercontinentalcry.org/the-five-inconvenient-truths-about-the-ml…)

It is no surprise that the alleged “marine protected areas” fast-tracked under the Schwarzenegger and Brown administrations fail to protect the ocean from pollution, fracking, offshore oil drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

In fact, a Freedom of Information Act and Associated Press investigation last year revealed that Southern California marine waters were fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years.

Much of the fracking took place while the Western States Petroleum Association president was overseeing the creation of the oil industry-friendly “marine protected areas.” Does anybody think there might have been a conflict of interest here?

Brown’s relentless march to environmental destruction

Other abysmal environmental policies of the “Green Energy Governor” include the following:

Department of Conservation Shake-Up: Brown fired Acting Director Derk Chernow and Oil and Gas Supervisor Elena Miller and appointed oil industry-friendly Mark Nechodom in 2011, amidst claims by the oil industry and their political allies that the two officials weren’t granting permits quickly and easily enough. As a result, risky injection oil drilling permits increased by 18 percent. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/12/30/18703640.php)

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA): Brown is trying to weaken or even eliminate CEQA, one of California’s greatest environmental laws, to fast-track big developments for giant corporations like Walmart, Berkshire Hathaway, General Electric, Valero and Chevron.

Clear cutting in the Sierra Nevada: Brown is doing nothing to stop Sierra Pacific Industries from clear cutting forests, destroying wildlife habitat, and contributing to climate change.

“Theme Park” Wetlands: The Department of Fish and Wildlife under the Jerry Brown administration is working with the Annenberg Foundation to bulldoze a section of the Ballona Wetlands to build an interpretive center and help with the “restoration” of the land around the center.

As I have documented in article after article, Brown, rather than a being an “environmental leader” or “climate leader” as some proclaim, appears to be on a relentless march to the destruction of fish, water and the environment. He has definitely earned the nickname of “Big Oil Brown.”

For more information about Brown’s abysmal environmental policies, go here or here.


This article was originally published at Indybay.

Agribusiness Welfare Makes Water "Scarce" In California

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How would you like to have a 90-year, interest free mortgage, with no principle payments for the first 50 years? If you are fortunate enough to be one of more than 270 federal water contractors in California – that’s the deal.

It has become gospel truth: “Water is a scarce resource in California.” But the gospel is a deception sustained by years of governmental interference in the basic laws of supply and demand.

There’s no doubt the drought has been tough on Californians this year, with ongoing water shortages impacting people, farmers, fish and wildlife across the state. But relief will not come until we address the underlying cause of these shortages, which is not due just to the whims of Mother Nature or population growth. The real culprit is a sweetheart deal from the federal government to subsidize cheap water for irrigated crops. In fact, water in this State is not scarce at all – it is simply a grossly under-priced commodity.

More than fourteen years and three presidents ago, many, including myself, sounded the alarm about how the federal government creates water shortages in California by promising excessive amounts of cheap subsidized water to agriculture, which then produces a demand for water that can’t be met even in the best of times. In the waning days of a lame duck Clinton Administration, contracts signed decades before that locked in these massive subsidies were finally terminating. Yet rather than negotiate reasonable terms reflecting social and economic changes over the last half century, a few government bureaucrats and outgunned government lawyers renewed these contracts for another twenty-five or forty years with huge subsidies intact, thereby perpetuating this agribusiness welfare for another generation.

While the alarm we raised went unheard in 2000, today, due to a recent unanimous court decision, the federal government has another opportunity to end its role in contributing to California’s ongoing water crises. And it is my hope that this President will have the good sense to address this problem once and for all.

Here’s how we got here. In the early twentieth century, the Bureau of Reclamation built the massive Central Valley Project (CVP) with federal funds, placing dams across the rivers raging down from California’s Sierra Nevada range, and linking the reservoirs with a network of canals and pumps. Almost all of that water went to irrigate crops in the rich soils of the arid Central Valley, producing bounteous harvests.

The original contract terms were quite generous, with prices ranging from $2 to $25 per acre-foot. Today, the CVP has contracts to sell 9.5 million acre-feet of water annually, or enough water to cover the entire state of New Jersey under more than 2 feet of water. These contracts continue to charge most agricultural contractors less than $50 per acre-foot of water, with some paying less than $8 per acre-foot, even though the free market price for agricultural water in the Central Valley is exceeding $2,000 per acre-foot this year. Even in non-drought years, water retails to urban agencies for $1,000 per acre-foot or more.

However the Bureau rationalized this charity in the last century, the current irrationality generated by these contracts is stunning. The single largest crop in California is hay and alfalfa, primarily for cattle feed. These low-value forage crops account for more than 1.5 million acres in California, almost double the acreage of any other crop in the state. It takes 7,000 gallons of water per day to feed and water one cow, about 200 times my daily water consumption. In the last decade, much of California agriculture has migrated towards planting more water-intensive crops, with thirsty almonds and pistachios nearly doubling in acreage. Close to a million acres are planted in flood-irrigated rice and cotton, global commodities that are generally in surplus supply. In short, we’re making the problem worse, because of the government-created illusion of water abundance.

As federal taxpayers subsidize the growth of water-intensive agriculture in California, we get the side benefits of trashing California’s environment and destroying the commercial fishing industry. California’s once-famous year-round salmon runs are decimated, many fish species are hovering near extinction and drinking water quality in the region has declined as freshwater is pumped south. The cost of restoring just a fraction of this once rich ecosystem is estimated at $7 billion, with a substantial portion to repair damage caused from excessive water diversion by the CVP and the companion State Water Project. Why have diversions from the environment been so high? Because the price was too low!

Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon. The federal appeals court in California recently determined in an 11-0 decision that the Department of Interior should take another look at these long-term delivery contracts and make sure they’re compatible with keeping our rivers and stream healthy. That gives the Obama Administration the opening to revisit pricing and other terms in the contracts, require the users of Central Valley Project water to pay their fair share, and reduce the artificially fueled demand for water in California. At hand is the opportunity to reduce federal water subsidies that are destroying California’s environment, to reduce the “scarcity” created by under-pricing such a valuable commodity, and to restore equity by making all California water users fairly share the cost of their water.

For this crucial opportunity, we taxpayers need the best possible negotiator at the table, representing our interests and the environment’s. So far the contractors’ hired guns have the upper hand, effectively blocking even modest attempts to revamp the contracts. Instead of relying on bureaucrats who administer the status quo subsidy system, the government should be hiring the toughest, most effective negotiating talent available. When the Justice Department decided to take on Microsoft, it did not try to staff it in­ house. It hired David Boies …and won.

As long as the federal government is willing to price California water at a small fraction of its true value, there will never be enough to serve the demands of agricultural and urban consumers. And the devastated riparian and estuary ecosystems of this state will not get a fraction of the water they need to repair themselves.

Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor has invested an enormous amount of his personal time and energy in trying to solve California’s intractable water problems. His most durable and important legacy would be to ensure that the government seizes this once-in-a-generation opportunity to rectify the one federal policy responsible more than any other factor for creating water ”scarcity” where in fact there is abundance. The taxpayers, and the salmon, will be indebted to him.


George A. Miller is a retired mutual fund manager for the Income Fund of America. He lives in San Francisco.

Prop 8 Resentment Lingers in District Attorney Race

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In California’s Capitol, the County District Attorney’s race is open for the first time in two decades with the announced retirement of Jan Scully.

One of the candidates, Anne Marie Schubert, the gay sister of the architect of California’s notorious anti-gay marriage ballot initiative, Proposition 8, is running as a conservative law and order candidate endorsed by every major law enforcement association and correctional officer’s union.

Public records show both Schuberts are registered as Republicans, while the candidate’s two opponents, Maggy Krell and Todd Leras, are registered Democrats.

Ms. Schubert’s oldest brother, Frank, made millions of dollars stripping away equal marriage rights of homosexuals at the ballot box in California and Maine in 2008. Because of the familial connection to the fight against marriage equality, Ms. Schubert’s run for District Attorney has proven to be divisive among the region’s LGBT advocacy community.

“I don’t hold Anne Marie accountable for the actions of her brother,” Darrick Lawson, the past president of Sacramento’s Rainbow Chamber of Commerce whose group surprised many with its recent endorsement of Schubert’s leading opponent, Krell. “I hold her accountable for her own actions, and more importantly, her own inactions.

“I believe there is one Californian in 2008 who was uniquely qualified to make a difference during the Prop 8 campaign, and that was Anne Marie Schubert. If she had stood on the Capitol steps with her partner and their two children, the debate would have changed immediately,” Lawson claimed.

While Frank Schubert designed a successful campaign that promoted the idea that children would somehow be damaged or diminished to be knowledgable of same-sex unions, his sister and now candidate for District Attorney worked and lived in Sacramento with her Domestic Partner, Julie Greenberg, raising two young children the approximate age of the young boy, Joey Wirthlin, politically exploited by her brother to get California voters to strip away the right of their gay fellow citizens to marry.

“We are all accountable for the choices we make and fail to make in our lives, and I think her silence during prop 8 is hard to justify,” Lawson told California Progress Report (CPR).

Christine Allen, a spokesperson for Marriage Equality USA, a national organization that continues to fight for marriage equality, agreed with Lawson that Schubert’s coming out would have impacted the prop 8 debate.

“She absolutely would have been a gamechanger,” Allen, who lives in Sacramento, told CPR. “There is no doubt.”

Allen points out the current disclosure that Charles Cooper, the attorney who defended prop 8 before the US Supreme Court has now “changed his position” since his daughter announced her plans to marry her same-sex partner.

“The most powerful message is that even our opponents have gay and lesbian members of their family and regardless of what they choose to sayt publicly in the heat of the campaign, historically weve often found that their personal behavior and private beliefs are very different. Unfortunately, we too often learn this after the election, and after voters have been misled.”

California Progress Report made several attempts to reach Ms. Schubert for a response to the comments of Lawson and Allen, but calls to the campaign number and an email and calls to campaign manager, Dave Gilliard, were not returned.

When asked about Anne Marie Schubert’s friends within the Sacramento community who likewise remained quiet about Frank Schubert’s extended family including a same-sex couple with children, with at least one Christmas party reported at the couple’s home which Frank Schubert attended, Allen responded, “I appreciate that there was a code of silence in the name of friendship, however, without a doubt it would have been better for the community as a whole if that silence had been broken.”

Kathi Finnerty, one of the founding members of SacLegal, the local LGBT association of lawyers, and an active member of LGBT rights-focused Stonewall Democratic Club, supports the Republican Schubert who she’s known “professionally” for a decade.

Finnerty said she knows Anne Marie and her brother Frank and claims Ms. Schubert’s silence during Prop 8 is not as cut and dry as it might seem.

While Finnerty wished to be “considerate of Anne Marie’s right to privacy” she told CPR that there may have been other, personal reasons why Ms. Schubert did not hold a press conference on the Capitol Steps celebrating her family.

“She’s now single,” Finnerty said, asking readers to draw their own conclusions to why she might not have been so public about her relationship.

Finnerty told CPR that Schubert was dating but Finnerty had not yet met Ms. Schubert’s current girlfriend.

Schubert has since claimed to be in a relationship in an article appearing last week in the Sacramento Bee.

Finnerty challenges any presumption that Schubert does not have LGBT support in the county. While most of Sacramento’s LGBT organizations are rooted within the City of Sacramento, Sacramento County has many lesbian and gay individuals who are not represented by the organizations. Rainbow’s Chamber of Commerce, for example, had only around 45 votes cast to endorse a candidate for District Attorney.

Finnerty’s own group, Stonewall Democrats, however, support Krell. SACLEGAL is not able to endorse candidates, however, CPR spoke with two other SACLEGAL members, Jo Michaels and Natalie Bustamente, who together were only able to name one other Schubert supporter in their organization besides Finnerty.

As evidence of the LGBT support Finnerty claimed Schubert has, she told CPR she was hosting a “meet and greet” for Schubert last Friday night and expected “between 40 to 50,” to attend. Finnerty said the event “was not a media event,” and declined to name any of the attendees, referring to the T Street home of the party as being owned by ‘Liz’.”

In addition to Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, Maggy Krell has the coveted endorsement of Sacramento’s last citizen mayor, Anne Rudin, widely admired and beloved by a Sacramento LGBT community who literally began their campaign for equality in 1972 when Rudin demanded police stop harrassing a transgendered woman named Velma Starr. The now 89 year-old Rudin, fondly referred to by many in the LGBT community as “Mother Mayor,” for implementation of anti-discrimination ordinances in housing and employment for LGBT and those living with HIV/AIDS, told CPR, “I’ve known Maggy for a long time and know her to be both fair and principled,” said Rudin.

Todd Leras, a United States District Attorney who entered too late for any LGBT organization endorsement, was the only candidate to tell the BAR that he supported eliminating felony convictions for simple drug possession. “I supported SB 649 (Leno).”

SB 649, which would have made simple possession of Opiates a wobbler, giving District Attorneys the flexibility to charge possession as a misdemeanor or felony, was not endorsed by a single county DA. Leras told CPR, “They don’t want to be accountable for the disparity between races and classes,” said Leras, who believes SB 649 would have made DA’s more responsible by creating a record of who and how often they prosecuted with a life-altering felony conviction.

Leras’ father, a Santa Rosa farmer, told the BAR at the candidate’s debate at the McGeorge School of Law last week that Leras cried when his lifelong friend told him he was gay. “Not because he was unhappy he was gay, because he felt so bad” his friend felt he couldn’t share that with Leras.

Leras’ father said he was proud of his son when he asked that friend to be his best man.

For Ms. Schubert, there appears to be a similar vision shared with her brother as a conservative, but there also appear to be differences. Frank Schubert has said his devout interpretation of the Humanae Vitae doctrine of Catholic faith, one that holds as sacred the sanctity of life and by measure then only supports marriage for those couples able to procreate, is the reason he opposes, by faith, marriage equality for all citizens. Ms. Schubert, however, defied the same Catholic Doctrine by co-chairing the No on Prop 34 campaign to stop the repeal of the Death Penalty. Catholics are primarily those who hold vigil outside a prison when someone is scheduled for execution by the state.

Any weekend gardener breaks the law by accidentally pulling out a California Poppy while weeding, but whether or not that offense is worthy of prosecution by the county District Attorney is determined by the California county in which you live.

Whether counties spend money on prosecuting and inmate housing and ignore recidivism rates, or whether more money is spent on reform, correction and rehabilitation programs in Sacramento County, will be determined by who wins this election.

In Sacramento County, centrally located between the conservative eastern counties that are considered part of the Mormon Corridor and sphere of influence, or the more progressive coastal counties of the golden state, the fight is on for control of how justice will be served.


Dan Aiello is the Sacramento reporter for the California Progress Report.

Why Classroom Experience Matters

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Marcos Breton, a veteran columnist for The Sacramento Bee, one of 30 newspapers The McClatchy Co. publishes, did it. In “Sacramento’s teachers have won this battle,” April 13, 2014, he bashes these union members, and inverts logic:

According to him, kids in the Sacramento City Unified School District’s poor neighborhood schools and Jonathan P. Raymond, former superintendent of Sac City and 2006 graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy, won when the Sacramento City Teachers Association lost. Breton writes: “It was Raymond who beat the union in court, allowing the district to sidestep teacher seniority rules at low-income campuses as a means of making sure nothing got in the way of putting strong teachers in struggling schools.”

The context to Breton’s column was the SCUSD’s April 9 withdrawal from the California Office to Reform Education waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind. Rick Miller is CORE’s executive director, and Principal in Capitol Impact, LLC (limited liability company), a private consulting firm, with West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon and Sacramento City Councilmember Jay Schenirer.

The SCTA played a role in the SCUSD’s withdrawal from the CORE waiver in part through joining forces with other unions and activist community groups. SCTA allies included the Service Employees International Union, Local 1021, the Black Parallel School Board and Hmong Innovating Politics: solidarity works.

I return to Breton. His remark against teacher seniority does not add up.

Breton assumes what he fails to explain: how and why experienced teachers are weak, and what actors and factors weaken them for the poor students in their classrooms.

These are no academic debate points. We know that the seniority of SCUSD teachers, years of learning the craft of classroom instruction with kids from varied backgrounds, in part determines these workers’ pay.

Apparently, Breton views this contractual arrangement as shortchanging low-income students. By his reasoning, readers might expect a brief explanation of what makes teachers with much less experience, say recent university graduates with Teach for America, a group that gets funds from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, so effective.

Readers deserve such information but Breton fails to deliver it. Instead, he uncritically repeats myths that defy reason, blaming experienced teachers for the socioeconomic fates of poor kids.

It is worth noting that education reform groups like Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, headquartered in Sacramento, agree with Breton and Raymond’s sour view of teacher seniority. Apparently, the more time they have on the job weakens their skills.

Wait a minute. Who among us seeks out less experienced professionals for their services?

Who chooses to patronize inexperienced barbers, bus drivers, dentists, doctors, electricians, financial advisors, home health aides, nurses, painters, plumbers, roofers, and welders? When does a lack of experience qualify as an asset?

I dare say those who freely choose professionals with less versus more experience are in the minority. Am I wrong?

Why should parents of poor kids desire less experienced teachers as a public policy to strengthen their children’s achievement? All things equal, more time practicing an occupation improves one’s performance.

Broadly speaking, learning involves making mistakes, and learning from them under the tutelage of others. Teaching is a social process.

This process for classroom teachers takes four or five years to master, said Duane Campbell, an emeritus professor of bilingual education at Sacramento State University, who directs the Institute for Democracy and Education, in a C-SPAN 2014 award-winning video, “Protecting Public Education,” that Preeya Patel, Jacklyn Hughes, and Cherrish Hardy, juniors at Franklin High School in Elk Grove, Calif., produced. To watch their video, which in full disclosure features an interview with this journalist, visit: http://www.studentcam.org/winners14.htm

The view that “practice makes perfect” rings true in and out of the classroom. Of course, the ideal of perfection exists only as a dictionary word, and not an actual thing in the world.

By way of disclosure, my late mother was an SCTA member. She taught primary grade students in the SCUSD for decades, and a former first-grade student of hers helms the Sacramento Public Library Foundation now.

Education reform that targets teacher seniority occurs in a socioeconomic context, decades of policies that have redistributed income from labor to capital. Public school teachers with years of experience did not drive this policy trend.

Meanwhile in the pages of The Sacramento Bee, Breton supports the myth that inexperienced teachers are the solution to what ails kids attending low-income schools. His is a bid to weaken the status of teachers with seniority in the court of public opinion.

That court also opens to activist community groups in alliance with unions in opposition to the corporate agenda to reform public schools. All rise?


Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Email sethsandronsky@gmail.com. This article was originally published at Counterpunch.