Janet Yellen’s Accent

Posted on July 19, 2014 by

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is quickly mastering “fedspeak,” a language all its own, designed to explain yet obscure our nation’s monetary policy.  Each phrase uttered during congressional committee testimony is carefully crafted and articulated to avoid “spooking the markets.” But when I watch Yellen, I hear more than a report on “labor market participation” [...]

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Harris v. Quinn and the Next President

Posted on July 5, 2014 by

The Supreme Court’s latest assault on the Labor Movement – Harris vs. Quinn – shows how essential it is for Democrats to win the White House in 2016. The 5-4 decision stops unions from collecting fees from nonmembers who provide home-care services through a government agency. It seems like a narrow ruling, but it’s a [...]

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Venice Car People

Posted on June 21, 2014 by

Beach Front Walk in Venice at sunrise looks like coastal California’s refugee camp with sleeping bags, tents and cardboard covers sheltering hundreds of poor, mostly unemployed “residents,” some disturbed and deranged. Homeless on the beach in L.A. is still homeless but might be the most tolerable option.  The warmth and beachy, bohemian atmosphere make this [...]

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Back to the Future in L.A.

Posted on June 12, 2014 by

The downtown portion of  the Los Angeles River will be liberated. Plans and money are now in place to “dechannelize” the waterway and recreate a living breathing river with adjacent parks, other urban amenities and – yes – high-end residential and commercial development. Hats off to the Friends of the L.A. River for its vision [...]

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Unions, Climate Change and “Keystone”

Posted on June 1, 2014 by

Critics of the EPA’s proposed rules to curb carbon emissions are quick to cite opposition by some key unions. While pushback by Mine Workers, IBEW, Boilermakers and others will be used by coal industry advocates to fight Obama’s climate change agenda, union influence on the policy won’t amount to much. The administration will have its [...]

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Blaming Obama

Posted on May 25, 2014 by

In a recent critique of Barack Obama, Jeffery St. Claire derides the president for “piously” lecturing African-Americans on the “state of their lives.” According to St. Claire – editor of the Left Wing Counterpunch – Obama is a “master of casual condescension.  His true gift as an orator” he writes, “is in making you feel [...]

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Dear Gov. Perry

Posted on May 18, 2014 by

Dear Gov. Perry: We know how much you enjoy visiting California and using your considerable charm and wit to persuade owners to move their companies to Texas. Behind closed doors I bet you let your hair down with some well-rehearsed and derisive talking points about the California Air Resources Board, CalOSHA, our workers comp system [...]

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Five Years a Blogger

Posted on May 10, 2014 by

I knew – when I began posting in May, 2009 – I was making a long-term commitment.  Along the way, friends would ask about starting their own blog, and I’d usually give the same advice: do it regularly; it doesn’t have to be everyday; but there has to be some consistency. Many bloggers get restless, [...]

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Can the Cops Take Your Cell Phone?

Posted on May 3, 2014 by

Addicted to cells and tablets, Americans are submitting to data-mining corporations revving up for their internet takeover and law enforcement agencies eager for evidence. Just this week, as the FCC looks to retreat on net neutrality, the Supreme Court hears why cops should be able to seize your cell phone when you’re stopped in your [...]

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Power Shifts for L.A. “Supes”

Posted on April 26, 2014 by

I would learn that L.A. was one of more than 80 cities in the County of  Los Angeles, a county covering 4,000 square miles with more people than 43 states.  Two thirds of the land, I would discover, are in what’s called “unincorporated” areas out of which seven new cities – Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, [...]

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You’re Fired!

Posted on April 19, 2014 by

“You’re Fired!” The Boss has spoken and, for most American workers, that’s the end of the story.  Proving race-based discrimination – or other forms of bias depending on what state you’re in – could get your job back but that’s not easy and takes a long time. Without an individual contract, civil service or union [...]

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The Biggest Mistakes of my Life?

Posted on March 29, 2014 by

Solo Accordion I started playing the accordion when I was 11 and was very good at it.  We couldn’t afford a piano and there wasn’t enough room for one in our apartment in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.  It was my mothers’ idea but I always felt that the accordion was a dumb instrument with a clownish sound. [...]

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Writing on the Train

Posted on March 17, 2014 by

More than thirty years ago, Amtrak paid for my train fare and sleeper in return for a travel story. This week, the rail passenger service rolls out a promotion which will select 24 writers for an “Amtrak Residency.”   A December New Yorker story about writing on trains created a social media buzz which Amtrak has [...]

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Begging the Bosses

Posted on March 7, 2014 by

In promoting his plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, President Obama hits the right notes: Working full-time shouldn’t mean living in poverty A higher minimum wage pumps money into the economy, stimulates consumption and lifts the overall standard of living For companies, paying employees more is the right thing to [...]

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Internet Withdrawal

Posted on March 2, 2014 by

Customers waiting in line at the bank or post office pass the time these days tickling their smart-phones.  A good way, I suppose, to cope with impatience, prevent anxiety and feel productive.  There’s probably less “small talk” – chitchat among strangers – than there used to be.  And maybe that’s too bad. When I’m stuck [...]

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Tom Bradley’s Los Angeles

Posted on February 15, 2014 by

With its dominant anti-union business class, racist and brutal police force and bigoted and provincial mayor, Los Angeles was a backwater city through the early 1970s. Its transition to a world-class, cosmopolitan, diverse and liberal metropolitan region began 40 years ago with the election of Tom Bradley, an African-American former LAPD officer who built an [...]

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