Month: January 2011

Second federal judge rules against health reform law

A second federal judge has ruled that the federal health reform law passed last year violates the US Constitution, matching the two judges who have affirmed the law’s legality. The dueling opinions all but ensure that the matter will be decided in the Supreme Court.

Safe Routes to School: Minimizing the Liability Risks

More than a decade ago California led the way for the “Safe Routes to School” movement, an international effort aimed at making it safer and more appealing for kids to use their own power to get to and from school. Mapping out routes, organizing groups of young walkers and bicyclists, and funding street and sidewalk improvements are some of the hallmarks of Safe Routes to School programs. Despite all the advantages, we’ve found that school districts are sometimes afraid to launch a Safe Routes to School program. Why? Because they’re worried about being sued if an injury occurs. But liability fears shouldn’t stop school districts from supporting these programs.

New poll shows support for Brown’s budget

Californians are not too fond of Gov. Jerry Brown so far and they don’t quite understand the state’s budget mess, but they seem to like the ideas that Brown has put on the table for solving the state’s fiscal predicament, according to a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California.

A schoolyard comes back to life

Gay Olivos loves Willard Intermediate School. It’s a family thing. Olivos, her father and grandfather graduated from the Santa Ana junior high on the corner of Ross Street and Washington Avenue. Her family’s history is here, and Olivos wants to preserve the place that holds so many good memories.

A Second Chance in Salinas

Brian Contreras created 2nd Chance in Salinas, California in 1989 after a shooting took place outside of his home. For the last twenty-two years the non-profit has worked to address the city’s growing problems with gang violence and empower residents.

Bleak employment numbers obscure good news in California economy

The headline numbers in today’s California employment report (12.5% unemployment and a 4,900 job gain) give a misleading reading of the improvements in the California economy during the pat two months. Job growth in November, originally reported 1,600, was revised upward to 30,500 based on gains in manufacturing, retail trade and services. And the job growth for December includes losses of 15,400 government jobs and additional losses of another 3,200 construction jobs.

Walmart joins healthy foods movement

If there were still any doubt that the healthy foods movement has reached critical mass, it was dispelled Thursday when Walmart jumped on the bandwagon with promises to improve the nutritional content of food it sells in its superstores. The retail giant vowed to force its suppliers to reduce the sugar and sodium content of the food it sells and eliminate trans fats from the products on its shelves. The company also pledged to bring down the price of healthy foods so that they are on par with less healthy fare.

Senator sees opportunity for change amid crisis

If every crisis also presents an opportunity, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier thinks the state’s current predicament makes this an ideal time to restructure the way government operates. DeSaulnier, a former Concord city councilman and Contra Costa County supervisor, has seen California government from just about every level, and he has seen its dysfunction. Now he is chairman of the Senate budget subcommittee that deals with health and human servivces programs, and he is hoping to use the crisis to drive innovation and collaboration into the system. I caught up with DeSaulnier last week at the Working Families Summit in Sacramento, and discussed his take on the problem and potential solutions.

Foreclosures causing human, fiscal pain

Hundreds of thousands of hard working families have lost their housing while millions of other troubled borrowers continue to desperately seek modifications so they can keep their homes. California continues to suffer from severe devastation from the economic crisis that was largely fueled by the collapse of the housing market. The state has come to be known as “ground zero” in the national foreclosure crisis due to rampant predatory lending and the sudden bursting of the housing price bubble.

A path forward for California

Californians want a path forward – one right step after another. We need to make government work again and support economic recovery so families can pay their bills and keep their homes. A stronger economy means reinvestment in better schools, smarter criminal justice systems, and more effective safety nets.

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