Female Inmates In California Are Fighting Life-Threatening Wildfires For $1 Per Hour

As the wildfires in California continue to tear across the northern part of the state, all available hands have been on deck to fight the blazes. Over 8,000 firefighters were mobilized by Thursday, according to Cal Fire, but they weren't the only group at the ready. Approximately 200 female inmates fight fires in California as part of an ongoing fire camp program, and they do so for only $1 an hour.

“It's really slave labor," candidate for Lieutenant Governor Gayle McLaughlin says in an interview with Bustle. "It’s saying, 'Hey, we’ll give you a dollar an hour' as if that’s anything at all."


Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day!

The struggle for human rights and dignity never pauses. Today we celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day because everything we do builds on the work of our family who came before. We fight for human rights and dignity because that is justice!
In Richmond, where I have been mayor and a city councilor, the Chevron-Texaco refinery is a major element of our lives. We have sued Chevron over the many thousands of lives it has harmed in our community!
In 2013, I met with fellow community officials in Ecuador to witness damage to the rainforest caused by Chevron. The damage was unimaginable if you live in a state like California - these polluters had dumped billions of gallons of toxic wastewater into the rainforest, and more.

We must stand in solidarity. As California's Lt. Governor, I will fight fracking and pollution in each and every one of our communities. I know so many of you stand with me! California must do more for its indigenous people, even if the federal government refuses to recognize them!

- Gayle


No more fire fighting slave labor

by Gayle McLaughlin, former mayor of Richmond, Calif., and candidate for lieutenant governor of California

As our tortured climate pounds the East with water and leaves much of California tinder dry, Southern California fire season seems to grow worse by the year.

And in our growing need for firefighters, California continues the abusive practice of using pennies-an-hour prison labor to fight these fires. About 4,000 California prisoners fight fires for $1 an hour.

This is abuse, simply.

I want to organize with people everywhere to end all prison slave labor, and to close California private prisons.

I support programs where prisoners can reduce their sentences by working in “conservation camps,” clearing brush to prevent forest fires and fighting the fires themselves. But they must be paid fairly for each day of work – and $1 an hour is not fair pay.

No matter how you may want to dress it up, if you have people working for nothing or almost nothing, you’ve got slave labor, and it is not acceptable. Prisoners must not be used by the state as slave labor for the rest of society.

Here in California, our justice system has gone deeply wrong, in many aspects, including this one.

I want inmates in California to learn new skills, including firefighting, and I want that knowledge and experience to pay off for them once they have served their sentence. Excluding the formerly incarcerated from being hired as civilian firefighters needs to be reviewed and adjusted. California is missing out from hiring some of the most experienced firefighters in the world because of these obstacles.

No matter how you may want to dress it up, if you have people working for nothing or almost nothing, you’ve got slave labor, and it is not acceptable.

We also have to fully restore civil rights to people who are serving their sentences in California prisons. This means that they should have the right to vote for their representatives, including state and national government, as is the case in other states.

Yes, our California inmates (generally speaking) broke the law, and that is why they are in prison, but it is also true that the law of our land too often broke them. The inequality of our laws too commonly cornered many of these persons into a world of despair from where their crimes emerged. Nevertheless, they remain citizens of our nation and state (those who are), and as such they have the right to vote to reform and transform that world of inequality that conditioned their lives.

I want our inmates to have the dignified chance to vote for a better California, for better education, better jobs, better health care, better and affordable housing, better environment, better justice system rules, better living and working conditions. I want them invested in their future, in our collective future.

I want inmates in California to learn new skills, including firefighting, and I want that knowledge and experience to pay off for them once they have served their sentence.

California has too many private for-profit prisons, where the goal of the institution is to reach quotas, not to rehabilitate and reduce jail and prison populations.

I do not want for-profit corporations running private prisons any more. Their goal is to keep the prison filled as long as possible and get paid by inmate and day. Did you know that rates of physical assault are higher in many of California’s eight private prisons, and thousands of California inmates are housed in private prisons in other states, away from family support? These folks are more likely to stay in or return to the prison system. That is money in the bank for the private prisons.

As I see it, both the private corporate prisons and the state of California are abusing the prisoners and both are doing it for a financial interest.

I oppose any obstacles placed on legally mandated early-prison release programs justified by a state government’s concern that it could create a substantial reduction in the number of the “pennies-an-hour prison labor-firefighters.” The depletion of the number of cheap inmate-firefighters is not a valid reason for the state to keep a person from been released.

The state must release those due for release, hire them in a civilian unit and pay them fair wages. That’s a real win-win.

As I see it, both the private corporate prisons and the state of California are abusing the prisoners and both are doing it for a financial interest.

The flames are likely to get higher in the years to come. So let’s be smart and strategic in our response plan. Let’s keep giving California inmates an opportunity to learn firefighting skills and to reduce their sentence lengths, let’s pay them a decent minimum wage, and let’s respect their early release program dates.

Once released, let’s hire them and create with these formally incarcerated firefighters the most efficient and experienced firefighting force in the world. California needs them to save our resources and homes.

Learn more at GayleforCalifornia.org, and email Gayle@gayleforcalifornia.org or phone 510-984-6536 to contact Gayle and her campaign.

https://soundcloud.com/kpfa-fm-94-1-berkeley/gayle-mclaughlin-california-prisoners-fighting-wildfires-are-slave-labor


Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Gracias!

September calls for celebrating Hispanic Heritage month.

I send my greetings and my gratitude to the 15 million Californian Latinos, who constitute the largest demographic group in our state. Nothing happens here without Latinos and we are blessed by the historical, cultural, economical, and socio-political investment the Latino family has made in our state.

Gracias to the Latino family in California -- for everything you bring and all that you share with us every day.

Gracias to those who have made amazing  contributions to social change like Jovita Idar, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Ruben Salazar, Reies López Tijerina, Rodolfo Gonzalez, Rigoberta Manchu, Sonia Sotomayor, Arnulfo Romero, and Oscar Lopez Rivera, just to name a few whose impact we have felt here in California.

Gracias to the ones who do thousands of heroic acts of solidarity during their lives, knowing as Mexican resistance leader Marcos has said, “We are nothing if we walk alone; we are everything when we walk together in step with other dignified feet.”

Gracias to the DACA dreamers who resist racism and xenophobia, and call for all undocumented persons to be included in the solutions.

Gracias to the immigrants who have not forgotten their families in their countries of birth and support them with remittances, and share both their joys and sufferings with their faraway loved ones.

Gracias for the music, the sounds of Spanish, the food, the science, the hard work, the can-do attitude, the “si se puede”,  the good leaders who don’t sell out, the teachers, the poets, the artists, the small business folks, the truck drivers, farm workers, nurses, the mariachis and the jornaleros (day laborers).

Gracias a todos por todo. Thank you all for everything.

I remember the words of Cesar Chavez in San Francisco thirty years ago: “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”

To our Latino hermanos and hermanas: No fear, great pride, much learned. There is no going back.

I’m there with you! Let’s transform our California together.

- Gayle McLaughlin


Rosh Hashanah Greetings to Our Jewish Neighbors

As Jewish communities throughout California and around the world celebrate Rosh Hashanah, I want to extend my warmest greetings. Our Jewish neighbors usher in 5778 facing a U.S. presidential administration that has nurtured white nationalism and racial hatred. At times like this, we must remember to work together with all marginalized communities. We mustn't allow this administration to scapegoat any oppressed people with its neoliberal policies that favor corporations over people, over the environment, and over peace.

By organizing as a unified force against the administration’s oppressive policies, we can create a California that supports all of its people, protects the environment we share, and becomes a society united for world peace.

Shana Tova, a good and sweet year!
- Gayle


Happy Islamic New Year to Our Muslim Neighbors

Today, September 21, 2017, is the Islamic New Year 1439. The word 'Islam' means 'peace.' I offer my warmest greetings and wishes of peace and prosperity to all our Muslim brothers and sisters around the globe

We are living in an era where the U.S. presidential administration is nurturing white supremacist nationalism, religious intolerance and racial hatred at home, and expanded support for oppression across the globe.

I join the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations and the American Muslims for Palestine in condemning the Neo-Nazi and racist groups promoting violence and division in our American society. I also condemn the illegal occupation of Palestine, the discrimination and attacks on Muslin communities everywhere, the U.S. supported war on the Yemeni people, and the recent escalating hostilities with Iran by the U.S. government.

Only with justice and accountability will peace for all be achieved. We must hold our own government and the government of Israel accountable for their violations of international law and the denials of Palestinian rights and the escalation of conflicts in the Middle East.

Today I salute and honor all the members of the Muslim community who in California and elsewhere stand and work for peace, human dignity, justice, freedom and human rights for all peoples.

Let’s create together a California that is an example to the world with people from every race, background, and faith enjoying together the fruits of our work and creativity, preserving the land, guaranteeing justice and equality, sharing our wealth, contributing to humans everywhere,

As-Salaam alei-kum, peace be with you!

- Gayle


How Bernie Sanders is cultivating California for 2020

Bernie Sanders can’t get enough of California.

Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, barnstormed the Golden State ahead of the June 2016 primary like no presidential candidate in recent memory. The front-runner in the party’s nascent 2020 field has returned regularly to campaign for a drug price initiative and to urge support for a universal health care bill similar to one he’s proposed in Washington. His next public event comes Friday in San Francisco at the invitation of the nurses union, among his most vocal supporters.

[...]

Before formally launching his 2016 presidential campaign, he appeared at a community event in the East Bay and endorsed a trio of candidates for local office, including Gayle McLaughlin, who was terming out as Richmond’s Green Party mayor and running for the City Council.

“It was a real solidarity moment for us,” said McLaughlin, now an independent candidate for lieutenant governor who won’t take corporate money. “It showed to me that there was support for Bernie Sanders in the Bay Area.”

Read article


Another new voice was Gayle McLaughlin the former mayor of Richmond, whose recent experience is chillingly relevant to San Pedro.

“Rancho LPG stores 25 million gallons of very explosive and flammable propane and butane gases and there’s no way possible to make these tanks safe,” McLaughlin said. “I speak from some experience. I was serving as mayor of Richmond, Calif. when in August 2012, the local Chevron refinery exploded, and burned for many hours, sending 15,000 people to local hospitals; 19 Chevron refinery workers barely escaped with their lives.

“Years before the fire, Chevron ignored safety demands from the people in city government of Richmond. They gave the same type of empty reassurances that the good people of San Pedro continue to receive from Rancho LPG — ‘It’s all fine and safe.’ Well, after the refinery explosion, Chevron pleaded no contest to criminal neglect  and was mandated to initiate repairs for $25 million, mostly to replace corroded pipes they had refused to fix until now.”

The moral was obvious, she continued.

“It’s all too clear that corporations put profits before people, and companies like Chevron and Rancho LPG gamble with the safety and wellbeing of the community,” McLaughlin said. “Furthermore, too often our regulatory agencies have allowed and enabled these companies to do this gambling at our expense. The fact that other agencies have acted irresponsibly and granted permits to Rancho, and are allowing this disaster in the making does not relieve you, Lt. Gov. Newsom and members of the commission, of your responsibility to protect the lives of the people of California. Use the powers bestowed on you by the state of California to protect the people of California.”

 

Read the rest of the story at Random Length News

Highland Community News: Gayle McLaughlin for Lt. Governor

(Read article)

In 2010, as Mayor of Richmond, CA, I presided over our City Council when we unanimously passed a resolution to boycott the State of Arizona for its SB 1070 law which expanded statewide the massive racial profiling and gross human rights violations that Sheriff Joe Arpaio was leading in Maricopa County.

Six years later, in November 2016, the voters of Maricopa County succeeded in firing the infamous sheriff, and he was recently convicted of criminal contempt for violating a 2011 order that barred him from detaining individuals solely based on suspicions about their legal status. He had ignored this order for years continuing illegal ‘round-ups’ and raids and detaining individuals for further investigation without reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed.
Trump, using his "divide and inflame" tactics, pardoned Arpaio last Friday. Trump threw gasoline into the racial fires. The nation is outraged and polarization has increased. I add my strongest condemnation to this pardon.

Rather than focusing on Trump and his playbook, I invite us to reflect instead on the long march of resistance, repudiation, organizing, and mobilizing that the citizens and residents of Maricopa county carried out, until last November when they successfully voted to reject Arpaio and his policies.

Many good people of Maricopa came together to attempt to recall Arpaio in 2007 and again in 2013. They failed to defeat him electorally on five occasions. But they organized better in 2016 by building coalitions. The “Basta Arpaio” coalition joined those supporting Proposition 206 to increase the state minimum wage. These mutually supportive campaigns went out knocking on doors, educating and registering voters. The good people of Maricopa won, even when Arpaio obtained as many votes in 2016 as he did back in 2000.

My campaign is a progressive grassroots organizing campaign, focused on organizing hundreds of new and existing corporate-free grassroots local organizations. There are important lessons for us in this story. People win with resistance, persistence, organizing, strategizing, building coalitions, not giving up, and embracing all those who want common goals.

Arpaio may have escaped this conviction, but the residents of Maricopa and Arizona have learned the path and the methods to achieve other victories for the people, and even perhaps justice for Arpaio’s crimes which include abuse of power, misuse of funds, racial profiling, failure to investigate sex crimes, improper clearance of cases, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws, and election law violations.

We learn from our experiences, we share our experiences, we build the tools to transform our lives and limit oppression in all its forms.

Today I join all people of good will and in particular our Latina sisters and Latino brothers throughout this nation and we say: This is not over. We want justice. We will organize to have it.


These Cities Are Putting Our Fractious Federal Government to Shame

Gayle McLaughlin led something of a revolution in the small, Bay Area city of Richmond, California. First elected to the mayor’s office there in 2006, McLaughlin and her leftist political organization the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) transformed the city from a de facto company town dominated by the local Chevron refinery into a leading example of the power of progressive municipal politics. Over the last decade, the RPA defeated Chevron-backed candidates at the ballot box, implemented a $15 dollar minimum wage, fought foreclosures during the financial crisis, and, most recently, in 2016, passed the first rent-control law in California in years, among other achievements. The story of this grassroots political movement is one of the gems of the progressive urban renaissance.

Now McLaughlin wants to take RPA’s model and message statewide by becoming California’s next lieutenant governor. On July 18, she stepped down from her seat on the Richmond City Council and embarked on a multi-week tour of Southern California, visiting local progressive groups and rallying them behind her. Unaffiliated with any political party and vociferously supportive of single-payer health care, sanctuary-city policies, and free public college, among other issues, McLaughlin’s campaign hopes to draw on the Sanders-inspired enthusiasm for social democracy that has electrified leftists across the country. The election will take place in 2018.

“This campaign will give me a larger stage and a louder megaphone to get out the message about building local political power,” says McLaughlin. “That is the core message of my campaign: Build local political power in your cities and communities, like the RPA did in Richmond. If we could do it there, if we could get Chevron off our back, we can do it anywhere.”

By Jimmy Tobias

This country’s problems, everyone knows, started long before Trump and will outlast him too. In the United States, in 2016, before our current president took office, police killed at least 309 black people in cities across the country, the Mapping Police Violence project has reported. During the final fiscal year of President Obama’s tenure, federal enforcers deported more than 240,000 undocumented immigrants. A report out last year by the economist Thomas Piketty and his colleagues showed that US income inequality has continued to grow more severe. Private health care in this country is a laughingstock, and will get much worse if the GOP has its way. Our national parks are in disrepair, and our roads and bridges and highways are falling apart. We’re in the midst of a mass-extinction crisis. We’re at war. Climate change has arrived.

This article was produced in partnership with Local Progress, a network of progressive local elected officials, to highlight some of the bold efforts unfolding in cities across the country.

All of these are long-accruing, generational crises. They can’t be blamed on a single administration, no matter how violent and vile, no matter how racist and reactionary. Folks understand that fact. They act on it. And in the last month, as in the many months before, they have been busy, busy, busy: In small cities and huge metropolitan centers, in the heartland and the high plains and beyond, good people have mobilized against ongoing police violence, resisted the deportation state’s creeping authoritarianism, organized against plutocratic tax policies, and launched electoral campaigns with bold and radical platforms, among other promising progressive developments. These are people who, at this very moment, are working to clean up the systemic corruption that has beset us, and of which Trump is just a particularly grotesque consequence. Even last week’s sordid Scaramucci burlesque couldn’t distract them.

CHIEF JUSTICE

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Minneapolis on July 20 and 21 to rally, march, and protest against the killing of Justine Damond, who was shot in her pajamas after calling 911 earlier this month to report a possible rape. As the protesters marched, they called for justice for the multiple victims of Minnesota police violence.

Damond, a 40-year-old yoga teacher from Australia, is only the latest victim in a disgraceful catalog of police killings in and around the city in recent years. Exactly a year and a week before Damond’s murder, local police shot and killed Philando Castile, 32, a beloved figure at the elementary school where he worked, after they pulled him over as he returned home from grocery shopping. Police killed Jamar Clark, 24, in November 2015. In both Castile’s and Clark’s cases, the officers who pulled the triggers were not convicted of any crimes. No one was held accountable.

That could be changing, however. On the second day of protests against Damond’s murder, people blocked off a downtown light-rail station and then flooded into City Hall. When they arrived, Mayor Betsy Hodges was holding a press conference announcing the resignation of Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau.

The chief’s decision to step down, spurred as it was by potent public outrage, may not be enough. As the mayor made the announcement, indignant residents and organizers interrupted her. “We don’t want you as our mayor of Minneapolis anymore,” said activist John Thompson, a friend of Castile’s, according to The Washington Post. “We ask that you take your staff with you. We don’t want you to appoint anyone anymore.”

As cries of “bye-bye Betsy” filled the room, the mayor cut the press conference short.

SEATTLE’S TRUMP CARD

With excited onlookers holdings signs that read “Tax the Rich,” the Seattle City Council voted unanimously on July 10 to levy an income tax on the municipality’s wealthiest residents.

“Today our progressive city is boldly taking on our state’s deeply regressive tax structure—one that’s both unsustainable and unjust,” wrote Mayor Ed Murray on Twitter on the night of the vote.

Seattle’s decision to implement an income tax makes it the first jurisdiction in Washington to do so. No other city in the state, nor the state government itself, collects an income tax, making Washington’s one of the most regressive tax systems in the nation.

The new measure, which grew out of a grassroots campaign called “Trump-Proof Seattle,” will impose a 2.25 percent tax on individual incomes above $250,000 a year. It will also apply to married couples in the city making more than $500,000 a year. The tax is expected to boost Seattle’s budget by roughly $140 million a year, helping offset any financial harm that the Trump administration’s austerity agenda inflicts on the city.

REVENGE OF THE BACKPACKERS

For years, the state of Utah has led a right-wing assault on our federal lands, trying to roll back conservation protections and undermine public control over national forests, national monuments, wildlife refuges, and more. Among other priorities, the state government, as well as Utah’s congressional delegation, backed by dark-money groups tied to the Koch brothers, have sought to transfer millions of acres of federal land to the control of reactionary state and local governments across the West and open up these lands to increased oil and gas drilling. Their aim: to fundamentally weaken, if not destroy, one of this country’s greatest experiments in social democracy—namely, the 600 million acres of public land that belong to all of us and are managed on our behalf by the federal government.

Utah, however, is about to suffer for its plutocratic anti-public-lands agenda. On July 6, the massive outdoor-industry trade show Outdoor Retailer, which for years has hosted its twice-annual event in Salt Lake City, announced officially that it was relocating to Denver, Colorado. The show, which features products from companies like Patagonia, REI, and North Face, decided to leave Salt Lake City for one simple and very sensible reason: It opposes the state’s anti-conservation crusade.

In a statement released earlier this year, in which it previewed its intention to relocate, Outdoor Retailer explicitly tied its move to the “long history of anti-public land sentiment and action stemming from Utah’s state and congressional officials.”

Outdoor Retailer’s decision to make Denver its new home will bring Colorado (and cost Utah) roughly 85,000 visitors and $110 million a year in economic activity. The move, meanwhile, comes as conservation groups and public-lands enthusiasts across the country continue to rally, protest, and otherwise resist the reactionary campaign against public lands and conservation laws, including the Trump administration’s ongoing attempt to gut the Antiquities Act.

ICING OUT ICE

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has inspired fear in immigrant communities for a long time, threatening deportation and, all too often, acting on it. “But,” says Rebecca Kaplan, a City Council member in Oakland, California, “the degree to which they are explicitly being used to go after people who aren’t accused of any crime is way over the top now. They are being used as a tool of intimidation and fear.”

Particularly egregious, Kaplan says, are incidents of ICE officers going to schools to arrest people as they drop their kids off, or to courts to sweep upundocumented immigrants offering testimony or standing trial.

“This is a real threat to people’s safety, the behavior ICE is engaged in,” she adds. “It is important to make clear to the community that we will not collude in that.”

On July 18, the Oakland City Council decided it wouldcollude with ICE no longer when it passed legislation authored by Kaplan that officially cut the municipality’s ties with the federal deportation agency. The resolution terminated a memorandum of understanding the city made with ICE in 2016, during the Obama years, that enabled some local officers to cooperate with ICE agents operating in the area. The decision was meant to reinforce and strengthen Oakland’s commitment to being a sanctuary city.

And Oakland has company. Harris County, Texas, home of Houstonstopped cooperating with ICE in February in response to Trump’s amped-up attacks on immigrants. In March, Los Angeles barred its airport and port police from inquiring about peoples’ immigration status.

ALL PROGRESS IS LOCAL

More than 130 local elected officials from around the country arrived in Austin, Texas, in late July for the annual gathering of Local Progress, a nationwide network of progressive council members, mayors, and more that pushes for “a strong economy, equal justice, livable cities and effective government.” Larry Krasner, the civil-rights attorney running to be Philadelphia’s next district attorney, was there. So was Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, the young leftist member of Chicago’s City Council. Tishaura Jones, the St. Louis treasurer who ran a bold campaign to be the city’s mayor last fall, attended, as did Greg Casar, the Austin city councilman who has led the fight against Texas’s vicious anti-immigrant law SB 4. And there were many others as well—officials from Berkeley to Denver, from Indianapolis to Albany, from Flagstaff to Tacoma to Kansas City.

They came for panels and workshops and meetings on a range of topics, including discussions about strategies to resist Trump’s Department of Justice, fight back against right-wing preemption laws, and build renewable-energy infrastructure at the local level. They also came to protest. During the first day of the gathering, attendees marched to the Texas State Capitol to rally against SB 4, which imposes harsh penalties on cities and local officials that refuse to collaborate with federal immigration law enforcement in the state. Austin, among other Texas cities, has sued to overturn the law.

“Austin is the heart of the battle against SB 4,” says Helen Gym, vice chair of Local Progress and a Philadelphia City Council member. “We decided to gather in Austin just for that reason, because the city itself is a great example of a municipality rising to this political moment, coming up with smart strategies and responding to the needs of its community.”

THINKING LOCALLY, ACTING STATEWIDE

Gayle McLaughlin led something of a revolution in the small, Bay Area city of Richmond, California. First elected to the mayor’s office there in 2006, McLaughlin and her leftist political organization the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) transformed the city from a de facto company town dominated by the local Chevron refinery into a leading example of the power of progressive municipal politics. Over the last decade, the RPA defeated Chevron-backed candidates at the ballot box, implemented a $15 dollar minimum wage, fought foreclosures during the financial crisis, and, most recently, in 2016, passed the first rent-control law in California in years, among other achievements. The story of this grassroots political movement is one of the gems of the progressive urban renaissance.

Now McLaughlin wants to take RPA’s model and message statewide by becoming California’s next lieutenant governor. On July 18, she stepped down from her seat on the Richmond City Council and embarked on a multi-week tour of Southern California, visiting local progressive groups and rallying them behind her. Unaffiliated with any political party and vociferously supportive of single-payer health care, sanctuary-city policies, and free public college, among other issues, McLaughlin’s campaign hopes to draw on the Sanders-inspired enthusiasm for social democracy that has electrified leftists across the country. The election will take place in 2018.

“This campaign will give me a larger stage and a louder megaphone to get out the message about building local political power,” says McLaughlin. “That is the core message of my campaign: Build local political power in your cities and communities, like the RPA did in Richmond. If we could do it there, if we could get Chevron off our back, we can do it anywhere.”