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I like Miguel Santiago personally. I’ve spent much of my life as a union man all the way from lowly inside organizer all the way to First Vice President of a union local. But I have to mete out criticism where it is due.
The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Committee On Political Education (COPE) voted to endorse Miguel recently to succeed John A. Perez in the 53rd Assembly District where Miguel was recently hired to be District Director. COPE did so apparently knowing full well that for years, Miguel has owned a significant amount of stock (somewhere between $10,000-$100,000 worth) in the most rabid anti-union company in America — no, not WalMart: HOME DEPOT.
“Words may show a man’s wit, actions his meaning.”
― Benjamin Franklin
Would you invest your union’s pension fund in Apartheid South Africa? Or buy shares in Stolichnaya Vodka while our LGBT brothers and sisters are being persecuted in Russia? Closer to home would you sink money into WalMart stock? If these sound like rhetorical questions to you then you have to wonder why Assembly Candidate and L.A. Community College Board Trustee Miguel Santiago openly discloses on his Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests that he owns Home Depot stock!
If you’re even remotely left of center and claim to be pro-union, how can you ratify corporate bad behavior by being a long term stockholder in a firm like Home Depot and to profit from that bad behavior. Home Depot has 340,000 employees who could sure benefit from being unionized.
Home Depot is at the forefront of the anti-union movement in America. Just before founding Home Depot, Bernie Marcus and his partner Arthur Blank were both fired by their boss, Sanford Sigoloff, for setting up an improper fund to fight the unionization of Handy Dandy stores in San Jose, California.
On October 17, 2009, Marcus and Rick Berman (who runs the anti-labor “Center for Union Facts”) co-chaired a national conference call for corporate CEOs to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), during which Marcus made the following statements [Huffington Post, 2/27/09]:
“This is the demise of a civilization,” said Marcus. “This is how a civilization disappears. I am sitting here as an elder statesman and I’m watching this happen and I don’t believe it.”
Donations of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars were needed, it was argued, to prevent America from turning “into France.”
“If a retailer has not gotten involved in this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to [former Sen.] Norm Coleman and all these other guys, they should be shot. They should be thrown out their goddamn jobs,” Marcus declared.
Earlier he argued: “As a shareholder, if I knew the CEO of the company wasn’t doing anything on [EFCA]… I would sue the son of a bitch… I’m so angry at some of these CEOs, I can’t even believe the stupidity that is involved here.”
On March 22, 2014 6 pm to 10 pm, I’ll be giving a speech about one of my late mentors, African American activist Margaret Wright, at 1422 Engracia Ave Torrance. For details on the event and RSVP info, go to:
“Grandma Margaret” as she was affectionately called was founder of Women Against Racism (WAR) and the United Parents Council of Watts (Los Angeles). She was featured in The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Life_and_Times_of_Rosie_the_Riveter], a film I really relate to because my mother was at the same time a “Wanda the Welder” at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in World War II [http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/05/27/wanda-the-welder/]. She also served for years as the Black Panther Party Minister of Education. She was beaten by the LAPD for leading the picketing of 99% black Manual Arts High School to get rid of the Mormon principal (at a time when the Mormons preached that black people could not go to heaven…..). In 1969, she was the leader of the “Valley State 19,” at then San Fernando Valley State College (Now CSU Northridge, my alma mater) who were arrested for supposedly kidnapping Delmar Oviatt, racist college president, who refused to take action against a track coach who’d kicked a black athlete in the ass and called him a “dumb nigger.” The Valley State 19 was part of a larger case demanding the establishment of Pan African Studies and Chicano Studies at CSUN; as the Pan African Studies Department puts it on its website:
The Pan African Studies (PAS) Department was founded by the Black Student Union (BSU) due to racism and unequal educational opportunities at CSUN (formerly San Fernando Valley State College). Students fought, protested and demanded that the President establish the Department. On November 4, 1968, the BSU took over the Administration Building (currently Student Services Building) in the CSUN’s President’s office, in order to address these inequities and underrepresentation of Black students and faculty. On 1-8-69 and 1-9-69 the BSU, other CSUN student groups, and Black community members held massive demonstrations in the “free speech” area (formerly in front of the Matador Bookstore) demanding that the CSUN administration honor the November 4th agreement. The administration responded with a massive show of force by the Los Angeles Police Department, who were brought on campus to squelch and prevent these mass demonstrations. There were many occasions of excessive police violence and brutality, and 275 students were arrested. Several student activists were charged with felony crimes, and were tried, convicted, and served time in prison. This is the only university in the U.S. that charged Black student activists with felony crimes during the struggle to establish a Black Studies Department.
During her trial, 300 black children picketed the courthouse with “Free Grandma” buttons and picket signs.
In 1972, when I was not quite 17 years old, I was the youngest delegate to the People’s Party national convention (July 26-30 in St. Louis). I wrote the party’s platform plank–the first in history for any political party in the world–on “Ageism,” and wrote the official minority economics plank–an explicitly socialist proposal (which was endorsed by such party luminaries as Carl Braden [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Braden] of the Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF) and Fred Stover of the U.S. Farmers Association [http://uipress.lib.uiowa.edu/bdi/DetailsPage.aspx?id=367]). Virtually the entire California delegation supported my plank–with the exception of some of those who would later form the so-called “Unity Caucus” in 1974 which opposed declaring PFP to be a “feminist socialist” organization.
Julius Hobson, leader of the District of Columbia Statehood Party and a member of the DC School Board was running for the Vice Presidential nomination (Dr. Benjamin Spock was nominated for President). Julius was a great guy, but was disabled from cancer (I met with him and his wife to discuss the possibility of laetrile treatment, a whole other story) and realistically would be unable to campaign. Hobson was well known due to his Hobson vs. Hansen U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down so-called “tracking system” educational programs as discriminatory against minority students [http://prezi.com/5clp1zz2lz7l/hobson-vs-hansen-1967/].
Concerned about the inability of Julius to make it out to the West Coast to campaign, Kay McGlachlin and Marge Buckley got the California delegation to fly Margaret Wright to fly to St. Louis and seek the Vice Presidential nomination. Sherman Gehrke (heir to the American Can Company fortune), who’d popped for the California delegation’s three room suite at the St. Louis Gateway hotel, bought Margaret’s airline ticket.
Margaret unfortunately lost this last-minute impromptu bid for the nomination, but she left an indelible impression on the People’s Party nationally. Margaret, Barbara Honig, Gary Silbiger, and I flew back from St. Louis so that we could give a report about the People’s Party convention, its platform, and the Spock-Hobson ticket on her KPFK-FM radio show–the first time I’d appeared on live radio but certainly as I would find, not the last.
In 1976, Margaret came back to win the People’s Party/Peace & Freedom Party nomination for President, again at a St. Louis convention, this time with Dr. Benjamin Spock as her Vice Presidential running mate. Upon accepting the California PFP nomination, with fist raised in a “Black Power” salute, Margaret said:
I’ve been discriminated against because I’m a woman, because I’m Black, because I’m poor, because I’m fat, because I’m left handed.
When Margaret raised her fist in a “power salute,” it was considered radical. When John Kerry did so during his 2004 Presidential campaign, such a statement had finally become more or less mainstream, underscoring Ambrose Bierce’s assertion in The Devil’s Dictionary that “Radicalism is the conservativism of tomorrow injected into the affairs of today.”
Senate Bill 1234 (Kuehl) of 2004 (http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=200320040SB1234&search_keywords=), sponsored by Equality California, enacted a comprehensive hate crime law for California, including a new, standardized, more inclusive definition of the term “hate crime.” The law as passed requires state and local agencies to do various things:
1. It requires the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to develop a two-hour tele-course that law enforcement agencies can use to train their officers. Several of us served as subject-matter experts to POST in developing the course, which to my way of thinking turned out very well. No one has any figures on how many agencies have used it to train how many officers.
2. The law requires POST to develop a model general order on hate crimes and recommend that all law enforcement agencies adopt it. General orders are formal policies that law enforcement agencies adopt and hold their officers to: (https://post.ca.gov/hate-crimes.aspx) Few if any agencies adopted it verbatim, but a company called Lexipol, which most California law enforcement agencies pay to develop general orders for them, made some minor changes and sent it to its clients, and most agencies adopted it.
3. It requires all state and local agencies to use the new definition of “hate crimes” exclusively. This includes in the hate-crime brochures that state law for a long time has required all law enforcement agencies to develop and give to victims and the public. Few agencies actually have such a brochure, and few of any of them use the new definition. Some agencies that have old hate-crime general orders also use older definitions, often omitting such protected characteristics as gender, sexual orientation, and disability.
Shortly after Governor Schwarzenegger signed the Kuehl bill into law, a California-wide coalition of civil rights organizations started asking Attorney General Jerry Brown to survey law enforcement agencies on their compliance with the law. He rebuffed us (although, we found out two years later, actually did do the survey). On Attorney General Kamala Harris’s first day in office, the coalition delivered a letter to her making the same request, but she has been even less responsive than Brown had been.
The latest outrage taking place in Sonoma County in the wake of the shooting of Andy Lopez by Deputy Gelhaus involves threats and humiliating treatment by Santa Rosa Plaza security officers who forced patrons, including women, to remove their shirts in public. According to a letter by Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez (JCAL) attorney Jonathan Melrod to mall management:
This is to inform you in your capacity as owners and operators of the Santa Rosa Plaza of an incident that occurred on February 17, 2014 (Presidents’ Day). On this Monday, uniformed security guards at Simon’s Santa Rosa Plaza perpetrated multiple acts on the Mall property in the upstairs Food Court that directly contravened your patrons’ First Amendment Rights to free and unfettered speech, as well as racially targeted and harassed Latino patrons. Such flagrant disregard for lawful rights and the treatment of Latino patrons as second-class citizens will not be tolerated by the Santa Rosa community.Earlier in the afternoon on Presidents’ Day, many Santa Rosa youth, known locally as Andys Youth, and others peacefully marched under the banner of Justice for Andy Lopez. For your edification, Andy Lopez was a 13-year-old Latino boy shot and killed by a Sonoma County Sheriffs Deputy on October 22, 2013. The march proceeded peacefully and without incident through downtown Santa Rosa and concluded with a rally in front of the Santa Rosa Police Department where many of the young people poignantly spoke about the heart-wrenching loss of their friend and peer Andy.Following the march, a number of the participants, including Andy’s parents Sujey and Rodrigo, visited the food court at the Santa Rosa Plaza to eat. At approximately 5:30pm, a contingent of Mall security guards approached the table at which Sujey, Rodrigo, their children and accompanying friends were eating. The security guards, who refused to provide their names, but who are on video in our possession, rudely and aggressively “instructed” the Lopez family and their friends to remove their t-shirts, which bore slogans such as “RIP Andy” and “Justice for Andy Lopez”. If they refused to remove their shirts, they were told that they had to leave the Mall.The security guards specifically targeted only Latino patrons wearing Andy t-shirts. In fact, just one half hour earlier a white activist had walked in the front door of the Mall directly in front of the very same security guards without so much as a second-glance. Under any interpretation, the demand that Latino patrons, as a target group, remove their shirts was discriminatory and effectively treated a particular ethnic group as second-class citizens with limited free speech rights. Further, the actions by the security guards were a direct affront to the publics’ constitutionally protected First Amendment Rights – particularly the sacrosanct right of free speech – ironic as this occurred on Presidents’ Day.
Mark A. Payne, Senior Associate General Counsel for the Plaza responded saying in part that, “Like you, Santa Rosa Plaza was shocked to learn that individual officers employed by the Plaza’s third party Security subcontractor elected to approach members of the group and ask them to remove the ‘RIP Andy’ or Justice for ‘Andy Lopez’ t-shirts that they were wearing.” This is my response to him:
February 20, 2014
Mark A. Payne, Senior Associate General Counsel
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mr. Payne:
I have seen your response to Attorney Jonathan Melrod regarding the actions of security officers at the Santa Rosa Plaza. As a former seven-term chair of the board of the California Association of Licensed Investigators, I appreciate the difficulty of selecting competent security contractors and the further difficulty of keeping them in line with a client’s expectations.
Security officers guarding malls and other retail establishments should be trained to have at least a common sense understanding of their obligations under the Unruh Civil Rights Act as interpreted by the California Supreme Court in In Re Cox (1970) 3 C 3rd 205 and the implications of the subsequently passed Ralph and Bane civil rights acts in connection with that decision. As your letter to Mr. Melrod indicates that the actions in question were done by employees of a security contractor, I am requesting that you identify for me the name of the contracting firm and provide me with the company’s Private Patrol Operator (PPO) license.
It is my intention to report these serious violations by that company to the appropriate authorities at the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.
Thanking you for your prompt attention, I remain,
Jan B. Tucker
State Director, California League of Latin American Citizens
The Bane, Ralph and Unruh Civil Rights Acts all provide for minimum civil penalties to the victims of such violations. The Bane and Ralph civil penalties are potentially $25,000 each for each violation against each defendant, so the victims are looking at not less than $50,000 each not counting damages or punitive damages that the law provides should a jury find the security guards guilty.
AB 1780 has been introduced into the California legislature as a “spot bill,” a bill that is essentially a place holder in the legislative process until the actual language of the bill is negotiated with the bill sponsor (which in this case is the Bring Hollywood Home Foundation) and other interested parties and formalized through the legislative counsel’s office. AB 1780 at this point declares the intent of the legislature (the road map for what AB 1780 is intended to accomplish) to enact “…a transferable tax credit for specified motion pictures in an amount equal to 20% of production and post production expenditures…”
A couple of interesting points. Republican State Assembly Member and candidate for Governor in the June primary Tim Donnelly is the bill’s official author. With Democrats usually falling all over themselves to suck up to the elites of the Hollywood corporate establishment (major donors to their campaigns) one might normally wonder why no Democrat would agree to carry this bill. The problem is that Bring Hollywood Home Foundation (BHHF) is more interested in promoting jobs for the working class of the movie industry through independent production, an anathema to the corporate controlled film studios.
United Parking/United Valet Parking Inc. (UVP) holds Los Angeles City Business Licenses for over 100 lots and is licensed by the Los Angeles City Police Commission to operate them. As is typical in “pay to play” politics in Los Angeles, the company and its owner over the years have contributed thousands of dollars to Los Angeles politicians they consider to be friendly or at least in their interests to get or keep in office. Most recently, on December 30, 2013, the company gave $700 to City Council member Jose Huizar who’s facing a big re-election fight because of allegations that he sexually harassed female staff members.
UVP routinely violates Sections 6400 and 6401 of the Labor Code, and Section 42.00(c)(1) of the Los Angeles Municipal Code by having their employees stand out in the street in traffic to solicit motorists to park in their lots:
Sections 6400 and 6401 of the California Labor Code require companies to keep their employees safe and not permit inherently unsafe work (like standing in the middle of the street during traffic) while LAMC 42.00(c)(1) provides that:
No person shall on any street offer for sale, solicit the employment of, or announce by any means the availability of, any goods, wares, merchandise, services or facilities, or solicit patrons for or advertise any show, exhibition, entertainment, tour, excursion, sight-seeing trip, or real estate viewing or inspection trip. (Amended by Ord. No. 182,708, Eff. 10/20/13.)
In all my years as as a private investigator and former union organizer and labor union official I have never actually heard of an employer stealing tips from its own employees. I have heard of restaurants who required waitresses to share tips with other employees, like busboys or chefs, but at least there’s a rational basis for the practice (and it’s rare). But UVP is currently being sued for a policy that’s just beyond the pale of civilized corporate behavior.
In Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC529988, UVP and its owner, Kenny Sabet, are being sued for, amongst other things, deeming the tips earned by their employees to be company property and requiring those tips to be turned over to their supervisors at the end of each shift. This is really sick. Click the link below to see a copy of the civil complaint filed in Case No. BC 529988:
What should you do about this?
If a garment factory in Bangladesh is producing shirts for American markets and the workers are being exploited, then you stop buying from the companies that sell those products and let them know why. If an American tech company is selling computers made in China under sub-standard labor conditions, same standard applies: engage in a secondary boycott of those selling the computers, because you can’t do anything directly to otherwise influence the manufacturers.
So, please don’t do business with any of these establishments unless they pledge to fire United Valet Parking and get in a decent and humane operator to manage their parking and valet services:
8478 Melrose Ave. West Hollywood, CA 90069
Chloe Boutique Melrose Place
8448 Melrose Place Los Angeles CA 90069
Comme Ca Restaurant
8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90069 323-782-1104
Fig & Olive
8490 Melrose Place
West Hollywood, CA 90069
310 360 9100
Fogo de Chao
133 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211
11777 San Vicente Blvd, Brentwood, CA 90049
Le Petit Bistro
631 N La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
8474 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90048
8460 Melrose Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90069
246 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
8485 Melrose Place. Los Angeles, CA 90069. 323.655.1088
903 N La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Oscar de la Renta
8446 Melrose Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90069
9575 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Serge Normant @ John Frieda Salon
8440 Melrose Place, West Hollywood, California 90069
9575 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035
755 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069
Taste on Melrose
8454 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069
55 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
It’s bad enough to die in custody; do they really have to abuse you after your demise? Here’s the latest from a Whistle Blower in the jail system who reports that an inmate in Los Angeles Mens Central Jail Module 4200 hanged himself:
….an inmate in mens central jail LA hung himself yesterday Jan. 29 2014 then when the coroner arrived, they put the body on a stretcher and the body fell off at some point going up the stairs ….