• Thumbnail  For years firefighters and environmentalists have warned of the dangers from upholstered furniture treated with flame-retardant chemicals that are linked to cancer, decreased fertility, hormone disruption and lower IQ development. Although state safety regulations allow the use of flame retardants, they are not required — the choice is left to manufacturers. Today Californians wishing to buy a sofa or [...]

  • Thumbnailhttp://vimeo.com/96550170 A Taylor Farms security gate Last April, when Federico Lopez and his sanitation team were ordered to clean a Taylor Farms storage area, the 23-year-old didn’t like what he saw. “I went into the hallway that they expected me to clean,” Lopez remembers. “There was pigeon feces, dead pigeons, dead bats and black mold. I’m [...]

  • Thumbnail Jim Araby was dead asleep when his cell phone rang at 6 a.m. last June. Until then the labor activist had been enjoying an idyllic family vacation in Guerneville, on Sonoma County’s Russian River. But the number appearing on his phone told him the call was from Sacramento, suggesting bad news. The voice he now [...]

  • Thumbnailhttp://vimeo.com/92009141 Marin County is one of California’s most liberal regions and, with its iconic redwoods and stunning coastline, it is also a power center for environmental activism. And so, when a bill to give the state Coastal Commission authority to levy fines against shoreline despoilers came for a vote in the state Assembly in 2013, it [...]

  • http://vimeo.com/90490198 In California, a state where nearly  seven million  residents admit to speaking little or no English, having access to a professional interpreter can mean the difference between life and death in hospitals. With so many Californians at daily risk, a new bill would ensure that patients with limited English proficiency receive correct medical treatment. The law, [...]

  • ThumbnailAn election campaign now being fought almost completely out of public view could radically alter the way California’s school children are taught. If Marshall Tuck unseats incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the state’s public education system could become a laboratory for a movement that prizes privatization and places a high value on student test [...]

  • Thumbnail Andrea Vidales makes $9 an hour taking care of a blind Korean War veteran and an elderly couple in their Merced County homes. Under California’s  In-Home Supportive Services  (IHSS) program, she spends about 60 hours every week bathing her clients, preparing their meals, cleaning house, paying their bills, driving them to doctors and dealing with other aspects [...]

  • ThumbnailTo appreciate the value of a community college education, consider the transformation of Shanell Williams. By the time she was a teenager, Williams was constantly getting into trouble on the streets of San Francisco’s Fillmore District. Her abuse of drugs and alcohol, along with a difficult family life, would lead her into the juvenile justice system, [...]

  • Gary Cohn wrote a new diary post: My Body Isn’t 40 Anymore: Three Faces of Retirement

    2013-11-19 11:12:31View | Delete

    Thumbnail It’s official: America has entered a retirement crisis. Or, as  Forbes understatedly put it, “the greatest retirement crisis in the history of the world.” And, while the causes are manifold — the demographic bulge of baby boomers leaving the fulltime workforce; greater worker longevity; the  disastrous, 30-year shift from traditional defined benefit pensions to costly 401(k)-style plans — [...]

  • Gary Cohn wrote a new diary post: Pension Cutters: Bipartisan Slogans, Right-Wing Money

    2013-10-31 10:36:08View | Delete

    ThumbnailLast week San Jose Mayor  Chuck Reed  delivered his usual speech about the benefits of slashing the retirement benefits of his city’s public employees – and why he is now pushing for a statewide ballot measure that could dramatically change the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians. Reed’s initiative – which he characterizes as a bipartisan effort [...]

  • Gary Cohn wrote a new diary post: Virtual Schools: Cyber Pie in the Sky?

    2013-10-22 11:24:22View | Delete

    ThumbnailSandy Hellebrand was concerned. She needed to find a school that could educate her son Gabriel, who has autism and was about to enter high school. Hellebrand thought she had found the perfect solution: She would enroll Gabriel and her two younger children in Sky Mountain Charter School, one of a rapidly-growing number of virtual schools [...]

  • Gary Cohn wrote a new diary post: California Pension-Cutting Ballot Initiative Revealed

    2013-09-26 10:04:15View | Delete

    ThumbnailIn a move to slash the retirement benefits of public employees in California, a group of mostly conservative policy advocates has been working behind the scenes on a possible 2014 ballot initiative. A copy of the still-secret draft initiative, which could dramatically impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians and send a signal nationwide, [...]

  • ThumbnailWhen Kentucky’s legislature adopted a bill intended to transform the Bluegrass State’s troubled pension system last spring, state officials were ecstatic. Signing the bill into law on April 4, Democratic governor Steve Beshear hailed it as groundbreaking legislation that would “solve the most pressing financial problem facing our state – our monstrous unfunded pension liability and [...]

  • Gary Cohn wrote a new diary post: Slash and Burn: The War Against California Pensions

    2013-09-03 13:33:14View | Delete

    ThumbnailBenjamin Gamboa doesn’t know John Arnold, but they are linked by a shared concern over the fate of public-employee pensions in California. “I’m proud to have a pension,” the 30-year-old Gamboa says. “I believe every American should have a pension.” The two men live in very different worlds. Gamboa is a research analyst at Crafton Hills [...]

  • Thumbnail A language barrier can have serious consequences for medical care. Maria Guevara had been trying to get pregnant for three years when she saw a doctor at Los Angeles County General hospital in 2008. She was understandably thrilled, then, to learn she was indeed three months pregnant at the time of her visit. As Guevara [...]

  • Gary Cohn wrote a new diary post: Prop. 32 Ghost Looms Over Lawsuit Against Teachers Union

    2013-07-31 12:04:32View | Delete

    Thumbnail Last November unions won a resounding victory when voters defeated  Proposition 32 , a ballot measure that would have crippled labor’s political influence in California, partly by barring public-employee unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. The initiative, which enjoyed a huge lead in early opinion polls, was heavily funded by wealthy conservatives and far-right groups. [...]

  • Gary Cohn wrote a new diary post: Why Charter Schools Are Tearing Public Campuses Apart

    2013-07-17 08:04:35View | Delete

    Thumbnail Co-location allows charter schools to further drain the resources of public schools. For more than 30 years each, Cheryl Smith-Vincent and Cheryl Ortega have shared a passion for teaching public school in Southern California. Smith-Vincent teaches third grade at Miles Avenue Elementary School in Huntington Park; before retiring, Ortega taught kindergarten at Logan Street Elementary [...]

  • Gary Cohn wrote a new diary post: How Enterprise Zones Are Killing the California Dream

    2013-05-29 10:14:16View | Delete

    ThumbnailThe following story is part of California Exposé , an investigative series from Frying Pan News . John Thomas and Hans Burkhardt have a lot in common. For more than 17 years each man had a good paying union job, with health and pension benefits, near San Francisco Bay. Thomas worked as a warehouseman for  VWR International , a medical supply company [...]