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Evan Low and the Latest Civil Rights Fight

Evan Low, mayor of Campbell, was recently asked by the Red Cross to host a blood drive in his city. The problem? Low is a gay, and gay men are banned from donating blood. The ban is an antiquated policy implemented in 1985 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But Low is having none of it.

Nonprofits Funded Labor Council Political Campaigns

Funds from two local non-profit health care foundations made their way to phone banks and mail campaigns of the South Bay Labor Council in 2012 after routing the money through a Measure A’s campaign committee. Both the VMC Foundation and the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation gave more than a quarter-million dollars each—a total of $539,000—to support an 1/8th cent county sales tax measure, Measure A. At least $90,000 of those monies were transferred to the South Bay Labor Council. An incestuous tangle of organizations, directors and consultants characterized the transactions, with common decision-makers on both the giving and receiving ends. None of the organization are willing to discuss how the funds were used and how decisions were made. Former San Jose vice mayor and South Bay Labor Council CEO Cindy Chavez currently heads up the nonprofit SBLC-linked Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA) and sits on the board for the Health Trust and Santa Clara Family Health Foundation.

The Victory Speech

The volunteers who gave us our country back.

Guests started to arrive in force at the Silicon Valley for Obama victory party at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View at around 7:30 pm. The election had already been called. He had won.  And everyone was ecstatic. They walked in looking more stunned than happy. Who could believe it?

The shindig attracted some high-tech politicos and local elected officials, but mostly it was about the campaign volunteers. Silicon Valley for Obama, chaired by former State Controller Steve Westley, had been enormously successful.

Is the Nightmare Nearly Over?

Food for Thought

I have been on vacation the past week and the one question going through my mind as I sat on the beach has been: Is our eight-year-long national nightmare nearly over, or has it just begun? One thing is for sure, the Bush II era will end at noon EST on January 20, a massive failure by any standard of human history. The inheritor of the Bush Republicans’ terrible mess will be faced with the daunting task of pulling the country back from the precipice it has been driven to by the horrendous misjudgments of a shallow president, his deregulatory-feasting party of the wealthy elite, and international political theories of a small group of neocons led by a vice president who has hacked our Constitution and international treaties to bits in pursuit of empire and brutal, Roman-style dominance of the less powerful.

Whatever It Is, I’m Against It

Food for Thought

Your proposition may be good
But let’s have one thing understood—
Whatever it is, I’m against it!

With the approach of every election with state propositions to consider, I start hearing Groucho Marx singing “Whatever it is, I’m Against It” from Horsefeathers in my head. That’s exactly how I feel when I look through the 12 propositions on this year’s ballot. Why are we even being asked to consider most of them?

Numbers Don’t Lie

Food for Thought

What number is 10,217,023,029,529? No, it’s not the largest known prime number recently discovered by mathematicians using powerful computers. It was the amount of the gross national debt at the moment I wrote the number and in the meantime it has grown by almost $10 million. If you are like me and have been trying to make sense of all the big numbers being thrown around these days, it’s nearly impossible. Thanks to my good friend Gray Maxwell, a senior US Senate staffer on Capitol Hill, I have a way to bring the enormity of the situation home by casting the numbers in terms of our city and as individual citizens and thinking about what we could buy with that money.

The 1906 Earthquake

Part IV: Ralph Rambo’s Account Continues

“So Dad whipped up the horse and we made a harried tour of the disrupted city.  Certain sights were implanted in the mind of this 12-year old.  San Francisco suffered most from its great fire.  In that respect San Jose was more fortunate.  The [fire] control was excellent in comparison.  We arrived to see only one fire in progress on Second Street.  Remember this was before fire engines were motorized.  So the team or rather three abreast horses were tied across the street from the Jose Theater.  The fire was just one building, now under control.  But the street was strangely deserted.  Why was there no crowd?  Where were the usual spectators?”

The 1906 Earthquake

Part II

Last week I told of the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in San Jose. San Francisco was another story—one of the greatest tragedies of California history.  Estimates of the dead numbered more than 700, but the true count will never be known.