Bruce Blog

Meister: Walker won in Wisconsin, but so did labor

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com.

Yes, labor lost its attempt to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, one of the most virulent labor opponents anywhere.  But as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka declared, the heated election campaign was "not the end of the story, but just the beginning."

The campaign, triggered by Walker all but eliminating the collective bargaining rights of most of Wisconsin's 380,000 public employees, showed that labor is quite capable of mounting major drives against anti-labor politicians, a lesson that won't be lost on unions or their opponents.

Read more »

Vote yes on Prop A for competitive bidding for garbage and against Recology monopoly

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As a reporter for the old Redwood City Tribune in 1965 or so, I got a call one day from the late  Luman Drake, then an indefatigable environmental activist in Brisbane.  “Bruce,” he said, “you are good at exposing scandals on the Peninsula, but you have missed the biggest scandal of them all. Garbage, garbage in the Bay off Brisbane, garbage alongside the Bay Shore going into San Francisco.”

He then outlined for me, his voice rising in anger, how the scavengers of an early era had muscled through a longtime contract to dump San Francisco’s garbage into the bay alongside the Bay Shore freeway.  And, he said, they are still doing it. Why can’t you fight it? I asked naively.

“Fight it, fight it,” he replied. “The scavengers are the most powerful political force in San Francisco and there’s not a goddamn thing we can do about it.” I checked out his story, then and through the years, and he was right.  Everyone driving in and out of San Francisco could watch with horror  for years as the scavengers kept dumping San Francisco garbage into a big chunk of the bay.  (Note the oral history from Drake and then Mayor Paul Goercke and others who fought the losing fight for years to kick out the scavengers from Brisbane.) http://legendarymarketingenius.com/oralhistorySBMW.html)

Five decades later, the scavengers are still a preeminent political power in San Francisco. The scavengers (now Recology) have operated since 1932 without competitive bidding, without regulation of its high residential and commercial rates, without a franchise fee, and without any real oversight. Finally, after all these years as king of the hill, Recology’s monopoly is being challenged by Proposition A, an initiative aimed at forcing Recology for the first time to undergo competitive bidding and thereby save city residents and businesses millions of dollars  in rates and service. Read more »

Dick Meister: Two big tests for labor

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By Dick Meister

 Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

Helping get President Obama re-elected tops organized labor's political agenda. But for now, unions are rightly focusing on special elections this month in Wisconsin and Arizona, where other labor-friendly Democrats are being challenged by labor foes.

Coming up first, on June 5, is the Wisconsin election to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who's been labor's public enemy No. 1 for his blatant anti-union policies. He's been acclaimed by anti-labor forces nationwide and as widely attacked by labor.

Both sides see the election as highly symbolic, a possible guide for those seeking to limit the union rights of public employees and other workers or, conversely, for those attempting to halt the spread of Walker-like attacks on collective bargaining in private and public employment alike. Read more »

Dick Meister: Make it a truly happy graduation day

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By Dick Meister

 

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

It's that grand time of the year for high school and college seniors. Time for graduation. Time for them to enter the world of full-time work.  Conventional wisdom insists their education will enable them to find good job opportunities and financial rewards.

 A new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows, however, that recent graduates are generally having far more problems with the job market than conventional wisdom would  suggest.

 The basic economic facts make that all too clear. Consider these EPI findings : Read more »

Sup. Cohen answers some Impertinent Questions on sunshine

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b3 Note:  I sent some Impertinent Questions to the supervisors who voted against Bruce Wolfe, an excellent task force member,  and for Todd David (See other sunshine blogs.) To their credit, Sups.Elsbernd and Malia Cohen responded, Sup. David Chiu said he could not make the deadline but would reply with a new deadline.  Sups.Wiener and Farrell and Carmen Chiu have not responded.

Dear Bruce -
It was nice to see you the other night at the Potrero Hill Boosters dinner. I believe very strongly in the Sunshine Ordinance, transparency and efficiency in government. I also believe that the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force is an essential component of ensuring that our City departments are open with members of the public. As I mentioned in my comments on Tuesday, I have significant concerns with opinions of some of the Task Force's members that the City Charter does not apply to them in the same manner as it applies to all other elected and appointed bodies in the City. Read more »

Stop the presses: Sup. Elsbernd blasts B3 for Impertinent Questions on sunshine

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Elsbern answers Impertinent Questions from B3 and  James Chaffee (Scroll down)

        First off,  to your reference about still looking for me at Que
Syrah, or one of the other great West Portal establishments, you have been
saying this to me repeatedly for a long time now.  Initially, it was a bit
funny, a nice little inside joke (although since you post on your blog our
e-mail exchanges, not so "inside") between a couple of people who really do
not see eye to eye on many issues.Read more »

City attorney responds on sunshine task force attacks

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B3 note: Here are responses from City Attorney Dennis Herrera to Impertinent Questions from B3 on why the city attorney helped facilitate the supervisorial attack on the sunshine ordinance and task force (See previous B3 sunshine blogs).

Regarding recommended SOTF candidates

Section 67.30 (a) of the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance provides that the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force's eleven voting members be "appointed by the Board of Supervisors."  That same section designates that a total of four members be appointed by the Board from names submitted for consideration by: the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists; the League of Women Voters; and New California Media.  I'm informed that when the Board's Rules Committee conducted its hearing and interviewed SOTF applicants, only one person was recommended for each seat by these entities.  The Rules Committee then continued action on those seats until the entities submitted additional names.  Legally, there is nothing problematic about such a continuance.

Regarding designated seats

Section 67.30 (a) includes specific designations for each of the seats on the SOTF.  It additionally provides that one of those seats be a person with a disability, although it does not prescribe which of the 11 seats be designated to a person with a disability.  I'll be honest here: I'm not aware of whether Mr. Todd has a disability or not.  But given that the Board still has to fill four remaining vacant SOTF seats, it will comply with the Sunshine Ordinance so long as one of the SOTF seats is timely filled by "a member of the public who is physically handicapped and who has demonstrated interest in citizen access and participation in local government." Read more »

Sunshine eclipse: Supervisors ramp up their war on sunshine

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And so the San Francisco supervisors ramped up their war on sunshine on Tuesday (May 22) when they rejected five qualified candidates for the sunshine task force and substituted five in experienced in candidates with no experience or visible qualifications.

Read more »

Dan Rather exclusive: The health of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is "dire"

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In his  familiar "this reporter has been told" style on CBS television, former CBS anchor Dan Rather sends out an "exclusive" report from his home state of Texas.  I can hear his gravely Texas voice from his old anchor chair. The good thing about Rather was that he was a real reporter and editor and that  shows  regularly in his Dan Rather Reports, an excellent one man news operation. I said at the time and I say now that he got a raw deal from CBS. More: that CBS handled Walter Cronkite badly (forcing him to retire at 65) and they handled Rather badly by firing him over a story on President Bush's MIA days as a Vietnam era reservist. Whether he was right or  wrong on the details of this  particular story, he had a distinguished record for years of breaking and covering major stories for CBS and 60 Minutes television shows.  Scroll down for information on how to sign up for Dan Rather Reports.   b3

DALLAS (May 30, 2012)

“DAN RATHER REPORTS” EXCLUSIVE:  THE HEALTH OF VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ IS “DIRE”                                                     
HDNet's Dan Rather (Anchor and Managing Editor of “Dan Rather Reports”) has filed this exclusive, in his own words:

“This reporter has been told that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive cancer that has ‘entered the end stage.’  The information and the quote come from a highly respected source close to Chavez and who is in a position to know his medical condition and history. This source says the prognosis is dire and that Chavez is now not expected to live ‘more than a couple of months at most.’  Chavez is running for re-election in Venezuela but several sources--including the one who revealed the exact kind of cancer-- have told me that they believe it is doubtful the dictator will live to see the results. Read more »

Memorial Day in Rock Rapids, Iowa, circa 1940s to 1950s

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(Reprinted by popular demand)

When I was growing up in my hometown of Rock Rapids, Iowa, a farming community of 2,800 in the northwest corner of the state, Memorial Day was the official start of summer.

We headed off to YMCA camp at Camp Foster on West Okiboji Lake and Boy Scout camp at Lake Shetek in southwestern Minnesota. The less fortunate were trundled off to Bible School at the Methodist Church.

As I remember it, Memorial Day always seemed to be a glorious sunny day and full of action for Rock Rapids. The high school band in black and white uniform would march down Main Street under the baton of the local high school band teacher (in my day, Jim White.) A parade would feature floats carrying our town’s veterans of the First and Second World wars, young men I knew who suddenly were wearing their old uniforms. And there was for many years a veteran of the Spanish American War named Jess Callahan prominently displayed in a convertible. Lots of flags would be flying and the Rex Strait American Legion Post and Veterans of Foreign Wars would be out in force. We never really knew who Rex Strait was, except that he was said to be the first Rock Rapids boy to die in World War I and the post was named after him. Read more »