Wednesday, January 31, 2007

It's Over. The Workers Win...

A settlement has been reached, giving the workers practically everything they've asked for, while giving the hotel owners a few face-saving concessions. There will be no referrendum in May.

Looks like the Chamber knew they were gonna get rolled and raised the white flag while there was still time. Good on 'em.

Now, if you wanna see something fun, go to Mayor Sam's place place and check out L.A'.s right-wing bitter-enders in full bitch and moan mode over this. Who knew it was possible to get so upset about poverty-level workers getting a raise?

I'll have some behind-the-scenes analysis of this settlement tomorrow.

In the meantime, celebrate, yo!

Labor Girds For Battle, Just In Case...

So today is D-Day... the day we'll finally find out if the Living Wage hits the ballot, or if a deal gets struck. But labor and progressives have been preparing as though the election were a certainty, and here's what those preparations have looked like:

Last Thursday, LAANE (the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy) held its community strategizing session, to prepare for the (possible) May 15th ballot initiative concerning the Living Wage for hotel workers on Century Blvd. The LA Greens were present (as always), this time represented by Linda Piera-Avila (a super Green who's got a long history of involvement in this fight). Warren Furutani facilitated the meeting, Eric Garcetti was present, and so was the typical murderers row of representatives of progressive L.A., all to hear the game plan.

So what's the game plan?

Well, ASSUMING THIS ELECTION TAKES PLACE, we gotta get 75,000 (+1) voters in Los Angeles to vote "yes" on this initiative. Out of L.A.'s 1.5 million voters, probably only 150,000 are gonna show up for this special election. About 25,000 of those will be union voters, meaning just 50,000 more "yes" votes have to be found in all of Los Angeles.

Doable? Absolutely yes.

The opposition's strategy will be to divide L.A.'s workers, essentially asking, "How come they get a raise and not you?" Note that, within the Chamber of Commerce, the line is a bit different: "Stop the Living Wage on Century Blvd., or else it'll spead across Los Angeles." The only problem is that that's a tricky message to trot out in front of the average L.A. voter: Stop this pay raise, or else next time it may be YOU that get's a raise! Might not work, that. So divide and conquer will be their weapon.

Our response will be to reframe this divide as being between the hotels on one side and the people of L.A. on the other. Lifting these workers out of poverty (or, rather, allowing these workers to lift *themselves* out of poverty) will help make our communities stronger, our streets safer, our schools more effective. It'll be good for all of us. Good for the hotels, good for the workers, good for Los Angeles. Not only is this an effective message, it has the side benefit of being true.

Another strategy the hotels will seize on will be to highlight the unions' involvement in this fight and attempt to take the spotlight off of the actual workers that would benefit from a living wage. In other words, the hotels (and the L.A. Chamber of Commerce) will attempt to depict the living wage fight as UNITE-HERE's little pet project, far removed from the interests of the workers on Century, or of the average Angeleno. Naturally, we're gonna attempt to do the opposite: pushing union faces and voices to the rear of the crowd, and putting volunteer community spokespersons, clergy, and, last but not least, the actual workers to the forefront of this campaign. So if, between now and May, you never actually see anyone on the local news talking about this campaign with a UNITE-HERE button on, it means somebody's doing something right.

Though this fight is local, it's got national implications, as it'd set a national precedent. Thus, it's gonna get national attention. The California Restaurant Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will fight this living wage measure with big money trucked in from corporate kitties nationwide. The workers of Los Angeles can't hope to match the dollars those guys are gonna throw down, nor can they match the reach demonstrated by this city's two major newspapers (both of whom have stated and demonstrated a clear anti-worker bias when it comes to this living wage ordinance).

But the workers do have a huge pool of volunteer manpower from which to draw, and L.A.'s progressives have a rare opportunity to play offense, rather than defense, in the fight to improve the lives of ordinary Angelenos. My gut says, and the polls say likewise, that the workers are gonna win this one, and it won't even be close.

So is it gonna happen? Will the hotel owners decided to waste the taxpayers' money by calling for a special election, instead of simply doing right by their own workers?

We'll find out in, like, 6 hours.

Thanks to him, the unwritten rules are just the rules

Roger Gray is a leading proponent in Southern California for the notion that the Green Party should build within the local government structures. Over at his blog, One SoCal Green, Roger has written a two-part guide to "the unwritten rules" of getting appointed to local commissions that would be useful to Greens or anyone else who wants to become "a recognized community activist or stakeholder." Although Roger admits that these tips might not be enough in Los Angeles proper (he lives in quaint Pasadena), in the comments he points to a guide to Los Angeles City Commissions (pdf) that can at least get those of us trying to make it in the big city started.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I don't like to toot my own horn, but...

...hey look, it's me! Counting homeless people in L.A. County!

You can read all about it in the Santa Monica Lookout, here.

And it seems our recent first-person write-up on the LA Homeless Count has touched off some continuing chit-chat around the L.A. blogosphere. Hey, we're just happy to be participating in the conversation. Who knows? Maybe something good may even come of it. So if you're so inclined, check out what they've been saying at Mayor Sam, Central City East, and LA's Homeless Blog (didn't know that LA's homeless had a blog, did ya? Now you do.).

Monday, January 29, 2007

Living Wage: Go Ahead, Hotels. Make Our Day.

A recent poll (like, veeeery recent) has been conducted of likely voters in L.A. on the question of the LAX-area hotel workers' living wage. If it *does* go on the ballot, would it pass?

Turns out, yes. In a landslide.

"A new poll just released by Working Californians shows that by a 74% to 23% margin, Los Angeles likely voters support the living wage ordinance passed by the City Council. If this issue is on a special city election ballot this spring, the likelihood of the $9.30 per hour (plus $1.25 per hour to be contributed to health care benefits) is likely to be upheld according to the polling memo...

The poll was conducted of 800 voters in the City of Los Angeles who vote in municipal elections. The numbers are quite strong across many different demographic, geographic, and political groups and a majority (51%) say they have decided to definitely support it, while another 22% are probable supporters or leaning for it. Only 14% say they will definitely oppose it and only 3% are undecided."

Translation: a slam-effing-dunk for the workers. You think the hotels know this? I bet they do.

Man, I almost HOPE the hotels stick to their guns and bring this to the ballot, 'cause it'll be so fun to watch 'em cry in May.

Come on, hotels, I'm daring ya!

Living Wage: 2 Days And Counting...

The City Council now has 2 short days to decide whether or not to call a special election over the LAX-area hotel workers' living wage measure. Evidently negotiations continue between the hotels and the workers, while the City Council is left holding its breath.

Exactly what is there to negotiate? The buzz I had heard was that the Chamber of Commerce wants a promise from the labor community of no further living wage measures within the city. But Rick Orlov of the Daily News hears something different:

Both sides said negotiations now center on whether hotel workers who earn tips would remain at the minimum wage or get the higher living wage.

"I think we have most everything else resolved," said council President Eric Garcetti, who has been representing the City Council in the talks. "That seems to be the last issue to be decided and I think we are 80 (percent) to 90 percent there."

Again, the clock is ticking, with a Wednesday deadline to schedule this special election. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, L.A.'s progressive and labor community is proceeding under the assumption that the negotiations will fail and that the special election *will* happen. This past Thursday was the oh-come-all-ye-progressives strategy session at LAANE, in which the game plan was laid out for victory in May. And we LA Greens were present, natch. So check back here on Wednesday (when we find out for certain if this election's going down) for a rundown on the meeting and a sneak peek at how the workers and the community are gonna straight-up kick some mega-hotel ass.

More coverage of L.A. Gangs

The New York Times has a follow-up to its earlier story on gang violence in Los Angeles.
With a reporter and photographer allowed to accompany him for several hours of his nearly 12-hour shift, Officer Robbins offered a primer on the 204th Street gang.

He knows its history, how it broke long ago from Tortilla Flats, now a bitter rival.

He knows its numbers: more than 100 members, with about 30 hard-core devotees, relatively small for a Los Angeles gang, some of which number into the thousands.

He knows that it earns money dealing marijuana and methamphetamine, but that the income is not enough for several members, who have legitimate day jobs.

He knows that members of 204th Street dislike blacks, who are the newer arrivals in the neighborhood, and he has learned from members that their disdain arises from racial hatred and rivalry with black gang members they accuse of dealing drugs on their turf.
Elsewhere, David Zahniser had a very interesting cover story in the L.A. Weekly about tactics to prevent murder in Los Angeles, and an equally interesting response to the Advancement Project report on gangs.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Anti-war march in Los Angeles

Anti-war protesters carry fake casketsSeveral thousand Angelenos braved bad weather today to protest the war in Iraq. From the LA Times story:
In L.A., many in the crowd of several thousand people carried signs that said "Impeach Bush" as they prepared to march.

"The Democrats, like the Republicans, voted for this war because they, like the Republicans, believe that the oil in Iraq belongs to us," Jim Lafferty, director of the National Lawyers Guild, told the crowd gathered outside the local Democratic Party headquarters. "This is just the beginning of what is going to be a new degree of militancy in this movement."

Karen Pose, who has been protesting the U.S. involvement in Iraq since before the invasion nearly four years ago, said protesters wanted to send a clear message to Democrats as well as Republicans. That's why Los Angeles organizers chose to begin the march at Democratic headquarters, she said.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Them Martini Republic folks are cynical...

The fine gents at Martini Republic link to our note on the LA Homeless Count and, well, they wanna hear some poop:

Guy—let us know, what do your bosses say? What are your instructions? How certain are you of the legitimacy of the count? Here’s our recent post on the homeless count, with links to all kinds of previous items.

To answer the question quite frankly, I'm *not* certain of the legitimacy of the count. I think the fact that LAHSA is relying so heavily on the homeless to count themselves is a major problem. At the location I was dispatched from on Tuesday night, paid counters (who, again, were by and large homeless people) outnumbered unpaid volunteers by about 5-to-1. And to be honest, the paid counters seemed significantly more interested in getting paid ($10 per hour in *cash*, remember) than in providing civic service.

That's not to say that I blame 'em. If I were homeless, I too would just want the cash. But what was to stop these small teams of paid counters (two or three per census tract) from taking their clipboard, map and tally sheet to the closest Taco Bell, hanging out, jotting down some imaginary numbers, and then returning several hours later (at the latest time possible, of course, in order to maximize the payoff)? Nothing, that's what, except for their own sense of self-motivation and personal responsibility. Well that's hunky dory, in theory, but if those homeless folks had access currently to self-motivation and personal responsibility, they wouldn't be homeless folks.

My guess is that LAHSA knows all of this. We unpaid volunteers were generally given much more in the way of verbal love 'n kisses at the training session than were paid workers, and we unpaid volunteers were also promised our choice of assignments, while paid workers were told they had to go where they were sent, like it or not. Given their druthers, I'm sure LAHSA would rather have pulled this whole thing off with 1,500 civic-minded, unpaid volunteers and just told the homeless to simply stay put and be counted. Or even better, I'm sure LAHSA would rather have skipped this whole business and determined LA County's homeless population via estimates and statitistical sampling (like they used to before Bush's new HUD rules came into effect in '05). LAHSA had neither of the above luxuries, and so they had to resort to Plan C: Pay the homeless to count the homeless.

So anyway, the short answer to the question is, no, I wouldn't bet my life on the legitimacy of this count.

And as for Martini Republic's earlier prognostication (vis a vis this count):

"Cynical prediction: all figures will point towards preserving and even augmenting the containment zone, and as we will see slightly more accurate counts this year and every subsequent year, accuracy in counting will be spun as “improvement” in homelessness, and that our policy is working."

I just don't know. Personally, I came away impressed by the sincerity of the LAHSA staff who trained and dispatched us. If those staffers are representative of the administrators they work for (I know, big "if"), then maybe this whole thing wasn't in service of some nefarious plan to hermetically seal the county's homeless in a 6-block jar. Maybe this whole thing really was just LAHSA doing what Uncle Sam said they had to.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's 2am, Do You Know Where Your Homeless Are?

What'd you do on Tuesday night? I spent my night, between 8pm and 2am, counting homeless people in L.A. County, alongside several hundred of my closest friends.

Why does L.A. County have to count its homeless population? Well, partly because LAHSA wants to know where in LA County the homeless are located so as to serve them better. But mostly 'cause George W. Bush's HUD says we have to. See, local estimates and statistical sampling ain't good enough for HUD. Nope. HUD says every county in the nation's gotta count their homeless, one by one, all at once, or no federal money for you. And you gotta do it every two years, to boot. Maybe that's not so tough for, say, Alexandria, VA (homeless population: 515). But for LA, it's a gargantuan undertaking... a practically-futile, bi-annual search for 82,291 homeless needles in America's most populous county-wide haystack.*

Thanks, HUD. Thanks a bunch.

To pull this off this feat, LAHSA managed to scare up 1,500 homeless counters, and if you're curious just who it is that's out there counting the homeless people, why, it's mainly the homeless people themselves. To be sure, a certain number of the counters are lefty/Green Party unpaid volunteers with too much free time on their hands (like myself), augmented by some number of good-hearted retirees still burdened by that quaint old tradition that used be called civic conscience, as well as a handful of county employees who've been browbeaten into pitching in. But it appears that the bulk of the counters are homeless folks, attracted to the task by the two elements listed below (not necessarily in order of importance):
1) a genuine desire to pitch in and make a positive contribution to one's community
2) a $10/hour cash stipend, on 6 hours of work, payable at the evening's end

My team consisted of me and two homeless women from a transitional housing facility in South L.A. We were to be followed by a reporter named Olin from the Santa Monica Lookout. We were given a map of a census tract that was, in shape and size, almost exactly like a precinct walking map. Only instead of knocking on doors and hectoring those inside to vote for Peter Camejo, we were tromping around in their back alleys, looking for homeless people.

Of course, practical issues arose, as they will when you're counting those who historically defy counting. Was that guy hanging out in the alley a homeless man, or just some guy hanging out in the alley? Did the men bunking in cruddy long-stay motels on Pico count as homeless? Did that camper trailer on the corner of Grant St. by the Jack in the Box have people living inside of it? What about that abandoned flophouse with a door ajar? Should we have ventured inside and looked for squatters? And what about that prostitute in the alley behind the baby furniture store on Pico and Lincoln? Was she homeless?

In the end, there wasn't all that much excitement in store for the three of us (four, if you count Olin). The upper middle-class corner of Santa Monica we'd been assigned to canvas was not exactly ground central for the displaced, it appears, as several hours of on-foot hunting yielded five confirmed homeless people (we didn't count the prostitute, or the long-stay motel folks, though we did count the guy hanging out in the alley).

Oh well.

The count continues for one more night, so if you see someone poking around in the alley behind your house, don't shoot him or her! He or she is just me, counting the homeless people who are also poking around in the alley behind your house.

*Note: the 82,291 homeless figure was arrived at via LA's last point-in-time count, in 2005. That number, of course, gave LA the dubious distinction of having the largest homeless population in the country. We're #1!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mr. President, is your economy running?

Dikembe MutomboI got home barely in time to hear the President defend his war strategy ("I ask you to give it a chance to work."--what was that line about "won't get fooled again"?) and thank Dikembe Mutombo (above) for his charitable works.

I found the full State of the Union text, and here are some thoughts.

First of all, it's hard to take the President seriously when he starts out with bromides about "being willing to cross that aisle", or reads laughers like "Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America's economy running and America's environment clean." Hmmm, I guess we environmentalists should be using more energy then!

Actually, it's nice to see him talk about energy conservation and alternative and renewable energy, even if he is late to the party and still a bit of an awkward wallflower.

For a speech that was billed as heavy on domestic issues, the President spent little time dispensing with his domestic agenda. He spend far more time in his comfort zone: confusing the war on terror and the war on Iraq and riffing on the evil plans of the terrorists. He is right, of course, when he says that "every one of us wishes that this war [in Iraq] were over and won." Unfortunately, most of us believe that we have already lost.

It is hard to see how our continued military presence in Iraq is going to make things better for Iraqis, who have suffered from the President's misguided strategy (which he still defends in this speech) to "stay on the offense" and "take the fight to the enemy."

Monday, January 22, 2007

Los Angeles, You Have a Gang Problem

The spotlight has been on L.A.'s gang problem this month, with the release of The Advancement Project's City-Council sponsored report on the problem. (You can download the full report at their website.)

According to another recent report on gangs, from the Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the two U.S. cities with the biggest gang problems are Los Angeles and Chicago. "More than half the homicides in Los Angeles and Chicago were documented as gang-related (59 percent and 53 percent, respectively) in 2001."

According to the Advancement Project report (of which I've only read part), "Los Angeles is the gang capital of the world," with an estimated 40,000 gang members. The report chides Los Angeles for lacking an ambitious anti-gang agenda and settling for narrowly-targeted programs and containment of gangs to certain neighborhoods. ("A resident in LAPD’s West LA Division faces a 1 in 78,000 chance of being murdered. In the Southeast Division of LAPD, the chances are 1 in 2,200...").

Most of the press coverage of the report (and the Mayor's subsequent press conference) seems to follow the lead of the New York Times article on the subject, "Racial Hate Feeds a Gang War’s Senseless Killing". So I was surprised that the Advancement Project report hardly mentions the racial aspect of the gang problem.

This raises a few questions in my mind:

-Is the Advancement Project right to downplay the tensions between African Americans and Latinos as a cause of the gang problem, or is the New York Times using race to sensationalize the issue?

-Are poor "Black-Brown" relations at the root of increased gang violence, or a repercussion of it, or a separate problem altogether?

-Does the hype over the "Black-Brown" issue exacerbate the problem or simply shed light on a real problem in Los Angeles?

What do you think?

Please Steve, Don't Hurt 'Em

It's been great fun watching Steve Lopez tear L.A.'s transit czar, Jaime de la Vega, a new one over de la Vega's personal vehicle choice: a Hummer. Yesterday's column was the best one yet. Sure, this fracas is one of appearance rather than substance. And okay, it's unfair to scapegoat this one guy's vehicle choice as though he, singlehandedly, were clogging up the Sepulveda pass on a daily basis. But it's yummy (if light) reading for L.A. progressives, and a welcome shot of lefty-juice in a major media market where truly progressive voices are fewer and fewer (seemingly in inverse porportion to the increase in formal influence that L.A. progressives have attained in City Hall).

To be an L.A. progressive reading Steve Lopez is to be reminded of what FDR said about Somoza (or of what Cordell Hull said about Trujillo, depending on who you believe): "He may be a son of a bitch, but at least he's our son of a bitch."

A year and a half ago, when the workers at the Glendale Hilton took the leap of declaring their intent to unionize, Steve Lopez was there. I happened to have been there too. What the workers did took serious, um, balls... walking en masse through the back door, into the manager's office, to tell their employers, face to face, that they demanded a livable wage and health benefits. They knew they were risking harassment, retribution, or maybe outright firing. I saw many of the employess visibly shaking with fear as they confronted their employers. Heck, *I* was afraid, and I had no personal stake in the outcome. I was just there as a supportive community member. And the presence of supportive community and clergy in that office at that moment was important to the workers.

But the presence of Steve Lopez was vital.

Given the risk they were taking on that day, the workers needed the assurance that someone with a big megaphone had their backs. Steve Lopez was the guy with the megaphone. And I believe that helped the workers summon and maintain the courage to tell the owners of the Glendale Hilton what they needed to be told: that they are human beings with families to support, not interchangable parts to be held down to the lowest possible cost-per-unit. And I believe that his presence helped guarantee that the Assistant General Manager (the guy who ended up hearing the workers out) would tread very carefully in responding to the workers' demands.

I'm glad to see that Steve is still kicking some ass.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Everyone Else Is Voting, So Why Can’t We?

In a city with such a strong progressive presence in the halls of power, and with such a verdant immigrants’ rights movement, why does L.A. have no progressive movement to extend the vote to non-citizen immigrants?

New York City used to allow non-citizens the right to vote in school board elections (until citizen-elected school boards were disbanded in 2002). Chicago still allows all community residents and parents of children in schools, regardless of citizenship, to vote in school council elections. San Francisco, in 2004, voted on a ballot measure that would’ve allowed parents of all children in the San Francisco school system to vote in school board elections, regardless of their immigration or citizenship status (it narrowly failed).

Where’s L.A.’s movement for immigrant suffrage?

It makes sense, folks. Not only does it make sense in school board elections (the more parents take an interest in the workings of the LAUSD, the better off the LAUSD will be, and thus, the better off L.A. will be). It makes sense in all local elections. Non-citizen immigrants pay taxes here, they own homes and small businesses here, they employ and are employed here, they consume L.A.’s water and power, they utilize L.A.’s transit systems, they drive on L.A.’s roads.

They deserve a say in L.A.’s governance. Why is no one saying so?

Here's a guess why: Antonio Villaraigosa.

See, Antonio Villariagosa wants to be governor some day. Perhaps president some day after that. What are his chances if he's known as the guy who let immigrants vote in his city? Slim. And he knows it. So he'd be very, very wary of supporting an immigrant suffrage law in Los Angeles. Which is something that L.A.'s progressive community and immigrants rights community also knows. So the question is this: are L.A.'s influential progressives and immigrants rights folks willing to push the mayor to do something that he doesn't want to do?

To do so is to risk remanding yourself outside of the mayor's big tent o' progressives (out with the Bus Riders' Union and the South Central Farmers). But to not do so is to miss an opportunity to improve the lives of L.A.'s immigrant community.

Which is worse?

Deal or No Deal

No doubt by now you’ve heard all about the Living Wage law that the city passed for the 12 large hotels on Century Blvd., and the fact that the hotels (backed by the LA Chamber of Commerce) have gathered enough signatures to force the Living Wage law onto the ballot as a citywide referendum in the hopes of killing it. (For a primer, you can read more here.)

But hidden in the story (as alluded to recently by Rick Orlov of the Daily News) is an angle that has largely gone unnoticed…

The hotels - which likely could have avoided the entire battle by agreeing to allow unions to organize a year ago - now have indicated they are open to some type of compromise.

Compromise? What kind of compromise is being discussed?

Here’s the answer, according to my labor/community organizer buddies close to this situation:

The Chamber of Commerce would apparently be willing to accept the new living wage law on Century Blvd., if the city and/or the unions would make some sort of agreement not to ever again push any sort of living wage ordinance into law anywhere else in Los Angeles. (An agreement that would, on its face, prevent an L.A.-wide citywide living wage ordinance—of the sort that’s recently taken effect in San Francisco—from being passed).

The mayor, evidently, would favor such an agreement (or at least is open to considering it)… in fact he tried to retroactively insert such language into the referendum that would be trotted before the voters, a move that was nixed by the City Clerk. For their part, the unions and their allies in the progressive community have said "no way" to any such deal, and their supporters in council outnumber the Chamber's supporters on this one (basically, just Smith and Zine). Presumably, talks continue, but there we are at the moment.

But the interesting question is: why would the Chamber of Commerce agree to such a deal at all? The answer: they probably know they’re gonna lose when this goes before the voters (likely sometime in May). First, the Chamber of Commerce apparently was hoping this wouldn’t get to the ballot at all. Evidently the strategy was to gather the signatures and then hope the city backs down (as happened when the city passed a short-lived law banning lap dances). This time, though, the city council didn’t blink.

Second, this’ll be a special election, all by itself on the city ballot, which means the Chamber knows it’ll have to somehow motivate L.A.’s voters to get off their butts and go to the polls for the sole reason of denying other people a pay raise. Seems like a tough sell. Stack that up against the labor community’s proven GOTV power (just ask Arnold about that) and the burgeoning power of the immigrants’ rights community (the great preponderance of Century Blvd. hotel workers are immigrants and people of color), and it’s starting to look like an expensive defeat for the Chamber of Commerce.

Which brings up point number three: this is gonna be expensive for the Chamber. Already they spent $2 million just to gather the signatures. It’ll cost at least $5 million for the Chamber to run the campaign, and probably much more… a tab that the Chamber will wish to pass largely on to the 12 hotels on Century Blvd. But the hotels may very well have second thoughts about paying, in part because some of the hotels aren’t totally on board with this fight in the first place, and also because the hotels need that money for their own anti-union fight. $5 million spent on mailers and commercials around Los Angeles bashing the living wage is $5 million they’d no longer be able to spend within their own walls on union-busting consultants and counter-union actions. That's bad enough for them. But to blow the $5 million on an election they're gonna lose...

You're starting to see why the Chamber might be in a compromising mood.

Another LA Green Comes Aboard

My name is Patrick Meighan, and Michael is graciously sharing his corner of the LA blogosphere with me. (Thanks, Michael)

In my last few months reading LA’s political blogs, I’ve found plenty of reactionary conservative boards, I’ve found center left comment hubs, I’ve found a truly great single-issue blog written by someone who happens to be a progressive, and I’ve found some LA-based progressive blogs that seem to want to talk mostly about places other than L.A.

Fer heck’s sakes, this is the biggest progressive city in the world! Is there no site dedicated to discussing the fight for social justice, economic justice and environmental justice right here in L.A.?

Well, to my mind, that’s what this site is, and that's what I can help to contribue more of. I’m excited to be a part of it. (Thanks again, Michael)

Like Michael, I’m a Green. But you won’t find me spending too much time dithering over internal Green Party crap. There’s no time for that. We got a city to save.

So let’s get crackin’.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Introducing Patrick Meighan

Helping me keep my resolution to update this blog more often will be its newest writer, Patrick Meighan. Patrick will bring his humor, and a more tabloid sensibility, to this site, with a focus on Los Angeles politics, particularly social justice issues.

I'll let him say the rest.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Your boy is back

The bounce is back...

After my post-election sabbatical, I am going to be posting regularly again to this site. My goal is for Vibes Watch to be updated at least five times per week. And there is another announcement coming very soon.

To get us started, here are some upcoming events:

Jan. 18 - Fundraiser for at The Echo, 1822 W. Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park. Starts at 8:30PM. $5. Featuring local bands.

Jan. 27 - March and Rally to Send Message to Bush and Congress: Bring the Troops Home Now and Stop Funding the War
Who: January 27 Action Coalition (representing groups from all over Southern California)
Where: Downtown Los Angeles. Rally at Democratic Party Office (888 S. Figueroa St, LA, CA 90017) and March to Federal Building (300 N. Los Angeles, LA, CA 90012)
When: Saturday, January 27th, Noon
Why: Bring The Troops Home Now! Stop Funding the War!

Feb. 9 - Ralph Nader in L.A. to screen An Unreasonable Man, a film about his career. At the NuArt.

March 2 - Screening of "American Blackout". A movie about the 2000 and 2004 voting problems in Florida & Ohio w/ Rep. Cynthia McKinney; Fundraiser for Pacifica. More details on this one as the time approaches.