Archive: May 2015

  1. Vote . . . Or Else

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    Los Angeles just held an election, and nearly no one came.  Okay, so 85,628 is not really no one, but it’s still only 8.6% of the total number of registered voters eligible for Tuesday’s important City Council and Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member runoff elections. To those hardy voters who braved paper cuts (to vote by mail) and beautiful sunny weather (to vote in person), we thank you for participating in one of the most important duties of a citizen in a representative democracy. For those of you who sat it out, let’s talk about the appropriate punishment.  This month (only slightly in despair) we look at the stick instead of the carrot approach to improving voter turnout. On the flip-side, we examine the rise of “alt-labor” and its promise to mobilize workers to forge a more equitable economy.  As we head into the shopping frenzy of Memorial Day weekend, let’s recall that Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who died in service of our country.  Let’s reflect on how we honor the sacrifices of those who died by building a stronger democracy and more inclusive economy.


    Cecilia V. Estolano, Jennifer LeSar, Katherine A. Perez-Estolano

  2. Making All Votes Count

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    These days, it seems that post-election coverage in the U.S. often comes with a hefty dose of consternation about the future of our electorate. With each election, our national voting rates seem to hit another historic low. During the 2014 midterm elections, just 37 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot, registering the lowest turnout for a federal election since World War II. At the same time, voting in many parts of the country is becoming more difficult. A weakened Voting Rights Act coupled with attempts by some state legislatures to limit access to the polls has had the effect of making it more burdensome for citizens to exercise this fundamental right. Likewise, institutionalized gerrymandering and the outsized influence of wealthy political donors give many citizens the impression that their single vote is largely inconsequential. With these impediments in place, how do we move toward a voting system where our electorate is more engaged and more representative of our nation’s diversity? The most obvious answer may be to require every eligible voter to cast a ballot on Election Day. (more…)

  3. New Directions for Labor

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    The U.S. economy is on the rebound, but not everyone is sharing in the prosperity. As the nation continues to grapple with issues of income inequality, a shrinking middle class, and wage stagnation for low- and middle-income workers, we take a look at how labor unions are mobilizing to address the structural problems of the present economy. Our nation’s tried and true advocates for the middle class are rethinking their role in the American labor movement by embracing non-traditional methods to build power, expand their influence, and secure legislative and policy wins for low-wage workers – even though, paradoxically, these workers may not become union members. Faced with this evolving economic landscape, how is the U.S. labor movement transforming itself to stay relevant, empower workers, and maintain a self-sustaining organizational model? (more…)

  4. May Revise Brings Redevelopment Dissolution Tweaks

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    Last week Governor Brown released a revised 2015-2016 budget that accounted for greater-than-expected growth in the state’s tax rolls. The panoply of talking heads, advocates, and policy wonks have already dissected the potential effects the new budget may have on higher education, the state’s rainy day fund, and the state’s social safety net. So instead of rehashing those stories, we’re focusing our attention on updates to the redevelopment dissolution process. (more…)

  5. Manufacturing Universities Bill

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    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has introduced a new bipartisan bill, the Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015, this spring. The bill aims to expand the nation’s pipeline of qualified manufacturing professionals and address the lingering concern about the skills gap in the manufacturing industry. (more…)

  6. OneNYC Focuses on Equity

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    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio recently introduced OneNYC, an environmental plan with an emphasis on economic sustainability and addressing issues of income inequality. It is the nation’s largest urban poverty reduction effort, pledging to lift 800,000 residents out of poverty, reduce racial disparities in premature mortality, and create 500,000 housing units. (more…)

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