Month: May 2011

Despite undocumented status, day laborers are demanding their rights

Jose Cruz stood on the corner of a well-trafficked gas station in San Francisco’s Mission District. The cars passed him by. Drivers rarely stopped to look at Cruz on this recent morning. The Mexican immigrant is a day laborer, and like thousands of workers who stand on the street corner looking for work, Cruz hopes to make enough money to pay his rent and food and other basic needs. And like many who seek daily work on street corners, Cruz is vulnerable to being cheated out of his wages.

Ruling could shake up prison policy

The U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring California to reduce overcrowding in its prisons has triggered an outcry from legislators and the criminal justice community about the possibility of thousands of dangerous felons being released to the streets before the end of their terms. That’s not likely to happen.

Gays, lesbians suffer health disparities

LGBT patients, according to a March report by the Institute of Medicine, have unique healthcare needs and concerns – just like other minorities. The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research also revealed in March that older LGBT adults in California have higher rates of chronic disease, mental distress and isolation than heterosexuals.

Data analysis partnership may help police and community

A recent partnership between the Oakland Police Department and a local not-for-profit is giving police sophisticated data about crime trends in the city. The data isn’t just changing policing methods – it’s offering residents detailed information about what’s going on in their neighborhoods.

Government payrolls shrinking. Really.

In this time of crushing budget deficits and guaranteed public pension plans, one sentiment seems widespread among voters: government always grows. Even with cutbacks and a floundering economy, many Americans clearly believe that government only gets bigger.

Locals could get more power to tax

A pot tax for police? How about sin taxes for schools? California lawmakers are tip-toeing toward giving cities and schools broad new authority to ask voters those questions. But whether Democrats are truly serious or merely feinting during intense negotiations to place taxes on a future state ballot will probably not be answered until later this summer.

Student success linked to student health

California faces a devastating future because too many students are not graduating or are in remediation classes at college, especially children of color and lower income students. Too many kids are disengaged and don’t care if they drop out, stay in school or just get by.

Deborah White of Fontana fishes on a recent Saturday afternoon at the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in Long Beach. Outreach programs have helped White and other anglers learn about the dangers of contaminated fish.

Anglers still flock to piers, despite contaminated fish

Fontana resident Deborah White has spent most of her life fishing along the Los Angeles County coast. “I’ve been fishing down here since I was knee-high to a duck,” she said this month while fishing at the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in Long Beach. And for most of her life, White and her husband Ray – along with other anglers – have had to be careful about which fish they eat.

Policy Periscope: Child Care and Jerry Brown 2.0

After months of budget battles, California’s child care system was ultimately pared down with a sharp scalpel, as were most health and social service programs. For child care it was a triple whammy – sharp reductions in reimbursement rates for licensed and unlicensed providers, increased fees and more restrictive income eligibility for parents, and a 15 percent across-the-board cut to all preschool and child care programs (excluding two programs that support parents in welfare-to-work).

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