Columns

Taxes and Inequality in California: Who Pays a Bigger Share?

April 20, 2015 by Jim Miller

cal tax formBy Jim Miller

Last week was Tax Day and with it came the annual ritual of bemoaning our ever-rising taxes and complaining about the endless growth of big government.

Indeed just a few days after Tax Day, I gave a talk at a local college on the history of income inequality and workers’ struggles in which I made a comparison between the stark odds workers face today in the Fight for $15 with the similarly steep hill they faced 100 years ago before the rise of the American Labor Movement and the reforms that came with the New Deal.

As is usually the case, however, a few folks in the audience just could not get their heads around the idea that it was not all government’s fault.

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Restaurant Review: Portuguese Market and Cafe in Point Loma

April 14, 2015 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Restaurant Review: Portuguese Market and Cafe in Point Loma

By Judi Curry

Portuguese Market and Cafe

2818 Avenida de Portugal
San Diego, CA 92106

I received a call telling me about a place that was so good that I needed to try it. Well, Barbara, I agree. The meal was delightful. The restaurant is on the backside of the Portuguese Hall. I have been to many “fiestas” held there and had no idea that there was also a restaurant. I found out that it has only been opened since July, 2014,

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Conversations at the Catfish Club: “The Answer is Love”

April 14, 2015 by Ernie McCray

The Answer is LoveBy Ernie McCray

I sat at a Catfish Club luncheon the other day listening to Leon Williams and Reverend George Walker Smith converse about days of yore and their thoughts about today’s world.

Leon was the first black to hold a seat with the San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

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Teachers and Students Fight for 15

April 13, 2015 by Jim Miller

faculty forward

By Jim Miller

I have noted in this column that, “most colleges in America run on the backs of adjunct instructors who don’t receive the same pay for the same work as do the shrinking pool of full-time faculty” and that the “Exploitation of contingent labor is not just a problem for employees at Starbucks, Walmart, and fast food chains where workers are fighting for $15 an hour; it is an epidemic in the academy as well.”

Fight for 15 organizers will be at 4 PM at Scripps Cottage on San Diego State University’s campus, we will stand with them as teachers and students from across the city will come together with workers, community activists, people of faith, and others to call for basic fairness and economic justice for all working people.

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Ending Racial Profiling (Or Not) at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club Forum

April 7, 2015 by Ernie McCray

Skin ColorBy Ernie McCray

A couple of weeks or so ago I dined with a number of friendly folks at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club forum that asked, concerning Community-Police Relations, “Can we build a safer San Diego together?”

The answer seemed to be “Yeah, we can,” …

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What the World Needs Now is Empathy

April 1, 2015 by Ernie McCray

EmpathyBy Ernie McCray

I look around me,
breathing in deeply
as I reflect on the totality
of what I see.
Before me, a man lays sleeping
on a downtown street
that jumps with a crisp
four/four time Hip-Hop beat,
bouncing from an upbeat retreat,
where folks hang out,
chillaxed to the max
as it’s the “Thank God it’s Friday,”

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Baseball is Not a Metaphor

March 30, 2015 by Jim Miller

dugoutBy Jim Miller

Baseball season is here again and with it comes one of the last times in my only son’s fleeting childhood that I have the opportunity to help coach his team. This brings much joy and more suffering because, as we all know, most of the game involves failure.

When you watch young people pitch, they throw balls more often than not. And when they try to hit, they strike out a lot. It’s a house of pain.

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The Public Education Reporting Charade

March 23, 2015 by Jim Miller

What if it turned out that education reform, with its teacher-blaming assumptions, got it all wrong in the first place?

By Jim Miller

war on educationRecently, with “California’s Public Education Charade,” UT-San Diego shocked no one by publishing yet another anti-union, teacher-bashing editorial that attacks California’s “dominant Democratic Party” for believing that “what’s good for the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers is good for California. And what’s good for students, who cares?”

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Watching Dreams of ‘Home’ Come True

March 17, 2015 by Ernie McCray

unnamedBy Ernie McCray

I’ve attended many a wedding in my life, even conducting a few in rhythm and rhyme that got people to say “Hey, that was pretty nice.”

But I have never witnessed a marriage that was as special as the one I showed up for on the last day of this past February.

It was beyond nice. It was magical. Sweet. Soulful. Teary. Poignant. Smiley. Earthy. Inspiring. Cosmic. Fun. Invigorating. Both lighthearted and sincere. A journey “home” proceeded over by the groom’s brother-in-law.

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The Battle Over Trans-Pacific Partnership: Elizabeth Warren Strikes Back Against the Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

March 16, 2015 by Jim Miller

stop-tpp-700By Jim Miller

Just as the folks in the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) were gearing up to marginalize the progressive wing of the Democratic Party leading up to the 2016 election, Elizabeth Warren struck back with what even CNN reported as “a push to kill major trade negotiations” being championed by President Obama and previously supported by Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton

And it’s a very good thing that Warren has elevated the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the national media because proponents of this deal have done everything they can to keep the details secret.

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Scott Peters and the “New Democrats” Take Aim at the Warren Wing of the Party

March 13, 2015 by Jim Miller

…And Other Sordid Tales

Scott Peters Between the HeadsBy Jim Miller

This week a “right to work” bill that will gut the union movement in Wisconsin is likely to hit Governor Scott Walker’s desk and no doubt he will sign it.

While there is much discussion in Democratic circles of how Walker is doing this to position himself even more solidly on the right to please potential Republican primary voters, there is much less discussion about how this latest assault on workers’ rights helps speed the runaway train heading toward plutocracy that is the United States.

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Helping Young People Discover the ‘Truths’ In Life

March 13, 2015 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Ernie McCray on stageI love my life, especially my moments with kids. Recently I had the pleasure, along with a teenage Latina friend of mine, of talking to an assembly of young people, most of them Latino, in Chula Vista, about something they’re confronted with regularly: whether to join or not join the military.

We were doing so because we hate to see our children being sucked into the war machine by Uncle Sam who loves to play with their innocence.

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Restaurant Review: Little Lion in South Ocean Beach

March 3, 2015 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Restaurant Review:  Little Lion in South Ocean Beach

Restaurant Review

Little Lion
1424 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92107

I have been anticipating my first meal at the “Little Lion” ever since I heard it was getting ready to open. (The old “Belgian Lion” was always one of my favorite restaurants and I was sorry to see it close. ) … We went on a Friday morning, around 10:45am, and it was not crowded at all. There were three tables being used, and because of the cold breeze no one was eating outside.

I have reviewed three separate restaurants at this location. It is a very small eatery; very limited room, but charming at the same time. I was prepared to rave about the restaurant to everyone. Let me start by saying that the food was excellent. …

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Joining Spirit with the Billions of Us Human Beings

March 2, 2015 by Ernie McCray
[caption id="attachment_123238" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Lao Tzu humanity quote (Image: Flickr – Hartwig HKD)[/caption]

By Ernie McCray

I was driving and turned my radio to 89.5, KPBS, and there was a conversation going on about “7 Billion Others,” an exhibit that’s opening in the U.S. for the first time – at San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA): February 21 to September 13.

I liked what I was hearing and googled around and found, on the MOPA website, 45 questions written for visitors to the exhibit to answer so that they can find in themselves that spark that resides in us all and connects us to the journey of human beings featured in the video project.

My answer to the first question was: Ernest Charles McCray; age 76; retired school principal; widower; American as in United States of America.

Here are my replies to the other questions, based on what first came to my mind:

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Have You Been To a Foreign Country In the Past Few Weeks?

February 24, 2015 by Judi Curry

By Judi Curry

Sundog_looking_east[1]That seems to be the question everyone is asking since the Ebola epidemic started affecting people in the United States. My usual answer would be “no” but I now have changed that and say, “I’ve been to North Dakota in the past few weeks. Does that count?”

It’s obvious that I know that North Dakota is not a “foreign country” in the true sense of the meaning, but I’ve learned so much about the State that was foreign to me before.

How many of you know what a “sun dog” is? Living in San Diego my dog is frequently in the sun, but that’s not what is meant in North Dakota – and other communities nearby.

Sun dogs are an atmospheric phenomenon caused by the refraction of sunlight through ice crystals such as those hosted in cirrus clouds. A number of specific conditions must prevail for this phenomenon to form: the sun must be in the sky, usually less than 45 degrees from the horizon, and in the same horizontal plane as the viewer.

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Judi Curry: Host to 413 Foreign Exchange Students Over 23 Years

February 23, 2015 by Staff
Thumbnail image for Judi Curry: Host to 413 Foreign Exchange Students Over 23 Years

Our own Judi Curry, who writes a column here on the OB Rag as “The Widder Curry” has finally received some attention that’s due her.

As a host to foreign exchange students since 1992, Judi has had 413 of these foreign students in her home.

The local CBS News affiliate found her recently. Their reporter Abbie Alford interviewed Judi …

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A Call to Action on the Labor Crisis in Higher Ed: Colleges Are Running On the Backs of Underpaid Part-Timers

February 23, 2015 by Jim Miller

February 25th is National Adjunct Walkout Day

national-adjunct-day-posterBy Jim Miller

As I have noted here recently, the successful assault on public sector unionism has marched hand in hand with the surge of income inequality and the erosion of the American middle class. Of course, central to this is the ongoing war on teachers’ unions and the nationwide trend toward austerity budgets in state capitols across the country.

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‘Some Things Never Change’- Point Loma’s Perry’s Café

February 20, 2015 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for ‘Some Things Never Change’- Point Loma’s Perry’s Café

Restaurant Review

“Perry’s Café”
4610 Pacific Highway
San Diego, CA 92110
619-291-7121

It has been years since I have had breakfast at Perry’s. It was a place that my husband and I used to go to frequently and always enjoyed the meals we had there. However, since he passed away, I find it difficult to frequent those places that we patronized, because it always brings back memories that I would just as soon forget.

However, one of the members of my widow support group – Ro – had a birthday today that we wanted to celebrate, and she chose “Perry’s” as the place she would like to go. Interesting enough, all of us had been there with our spouses, with the exception of Candy. We asked the very nice waitress when Perry’s opened, …

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Sometimes the Simple Things Are the Most Fun – the Zion Market

February 18, 2015 by Judi Curry

Zion produce sectionTry going to the Zion Market in Clairemont Mesa some day

By Judi Curry

As much as I hate to admit it, I have a birthday coming up at the end of the week. As a general rule I would just as soon forget the day and move right on to the next one.

Perhaps many of you know that I am a “host mother” to foreign language students in the US to hone their English skills. My latest student is the 413th student I have housed since 1992, when my husband and I began this adventure. I have had students from all over the world—each one unique in their own way—and with the exception of only three students that I asked to have removed from my home, it has been a wonderful experience.

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A Path Chosen in Black History

February 17, 2015 by Ernie McCray
Thumbnail image for A Path Chosen in Black History

by Ernie McCray

When I look back at my own little chapter of Black History, I feel grateful that I found a path that enabled me to survive a society that sought to deny me a life of dignity.

I, unknowingly, set out on this path on my first day of school, when my knuckles were, seemingly, knocked to kingdom come because I had dozed off, as if I had a choice in a room sizzling at 100 and some degrees with a fan (itself struggling to stay awake) blowing across a pail of water as though that could lower the temperature in that room to any degree. I swear I heard that fan wheeze. Talking, Tucson, Arizona, August or September of 1943.

I remember thinking, back then, as I looked at my hands, surprised to see my knuckles still there, “What the hell kind of welcome was that?” And I knew, as much as a five-year old can know such things, that someday I would be a teacher.

I would observe goings on in every school I ever attended, thinking of what I might have done differently if I had been the teacher. I’d imagine how I would have made lessons come alive, or more relevant to students’ lives.

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The Widder Curry: “I met the Human GPS Man today.”

February 11, 2015 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for The Widder Curry: “I met the Human GPS Man today.”

Seven months ago I was fortunate enough to meet the only “Human GPS” man in the world. At the time I knew he was “different” – but I didn’t know to what extent his talent included. Until today, that is.

I drive a Toyota and take it to the Mission Gorge Toyota dealer for maintenance on the car. Last July I took the car in for its 10,000 mile check up – except it only had 7700 miles on it – and had to leave it at the dealership for close to five hours. I took the courtesy shuttle home, and that was when I met the GPS man – Steve Shank. (That day he took five us to our separate homes – and he drove all over San Diego County delivering us to our residences without checking a map or GPS.)

I was the last person he took home and we talked and exchanged information about ourselves until I was dropped off. I also took the shuttle back to pick up my car and Steve was the driver.

He had told me that he was in the Navy for four years – deployed to Viet Nam three different times. When he decided to leave the Navy he applied for a job with the Post Office and was hired the day after he was discharged.

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Poetry From Ernie McCray: “Caught Up in the Beat of Superbowl Sunday”

February 9, 2015 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Katy Perry came out singing to a funky beat.
Next thing I know I was up
dancing on my old ass size 14 feet.
Every thing was mellow and sweet,
coming out the speaker in four-four time,unnamed
and, before my behind
got reassigned
to that chair of mine
at the end of halftime,
I was jamming
with Lenny Kravitz
and Missy Elliott too,
who looked like she had been cut in two,
since the last time I had seen her
doing the do.

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Dispatches from the Class War (On You)

February 9, 2015 by Jim Miller

class-warfare-fight-backBy Jim Miller

Last July, after the Harris v. Quinn decision took the first step toward gutting the power of public sector unions in America I noted that case “pretty much guarantees that we’ll see more cases brought to the high court aiming to send American labor into a death spiral.”

As legal observers commented at the time, this Supreme Court usually moves in a two-step process, starting with a narrow decision that then sets the precedent for a broader and more extreme move to the right in a subsequent decision.

Well, the case that will provide the pretext for that radical step has made its way up the food chain and will likely be heard by America’s highest court.

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San Diego Labor Goes Green: New Environmental Caucus Formed

February 2, 2015 by Jim Miller

“Let’s be clear, climate change is the most important issue facing all of us for the rest of our lives.” –John Harrity, President of the Connecticut State Council of Machinists

green planetBy Jim Miller & Micah Mitrosky

We are facing a historic environmental crisis that threatens our present and future survival. Think Progress pithily summarized the conclusions of last year’s United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, noting that:

The world’s top scientists and governments have issued their bluntest plea yet to the world: Slash carbon pollution now (at a very low cost) or risk “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” Scientists have “high confidence” these devastating impacts occur “even with adaptation” — if we keep doing little or nothing.

A short list of the many catastrophic effects that unchecked climate change may bring includes severe drought, dangerous wildfires, increased disease, threatened food systems due to Dust Bowl-like conditions, ocean acidification, more global conflict over resources, economic collapse, and mass extinction.

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Stories from Young Minds Taking the Stage

January 29, 2015 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

The Playwrights Project has been producing plays written by dramatists, under age 19, for 30 years.

It all begins with the California Young Playwrights Contest, a statewide competition.

This year there were 581 entrants, way more than usual, and the stories of eight extremely talented writers made it to the stage – at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre at the Old Globe, no less.

Four of the plays earned full production and four are performed as staged readings – and I mean “staged,” because the Playwrights Project has no bounds when it comes to creative performances.

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Honoring Martin’s Dream Beyond MLK Day

January 27, 2015 by Ernie McCray

MLK Caricuture

By Ernie McCray

Martin Luther King. A loving man with the loveliest of dreams. After seeing “Selma,” which told the story of that chapter in the Civil Rights Movement powerfully well, I just had to write something about this dear man.

I didn’t know what I wanted to say until I happened upon a caricature that captured the very essence of how I often see him in my mind’s eye, as I think of him every now and then. How can I not in this world we live in?

The pose he struck in the portrait made me wonder what was going on in his head and based on what my friend, *Rabbi Ben Kamin, recently had to say about him in an examiner.com essay, he could have been thinking about a range of things.

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The State Of the Union: Obama is an Eisenhower Republican

January 26, 2015 by Jim Miller

obama-eisenhower3By Jim Miller

Last week, President Obama gave a pretty good speech in which he outlined a series of solid progressive policy proposals along with a few very bad ideas like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

What was most telling about the response to his speech, however, was how glowing the praise was in some quarters for what, in essence, was a fairly pedestrian list of things to do: …

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We Need Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Fierce Urgency of Now”: Beyond Our Current Failure of Imagination

January 19, 2015 by Jim Miller
Thumbnail image for We Need Martin Luther King Jr.’s  “Fierce Urgency of Now”: Beyond Our Current Failure of Imagination

By Jim Miller

It’s the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and we will be greeted, as is the case these days, with lots of empty gestures and vanilla rhetoric that erases the radical nature of King’s legacy and neuters the impact of his ideas. As I have noted in years past, King was not a moderate whose only idea was that we should all just get along and respect each other. He was a provocative thinker and activist who challenged the core values of our society both then and now.

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“Death with Dignity” Focus of League of Women Voters

January 13, 2015 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for “Death with Dignity” Focus of League of Women Voters

“If You Like Sleep, You’ll Like Death Even Better”

A summary of the League of Women Voters meeting on “Death with Dignity”

The LWV has scheduled 9 different discussion places for the “Death with Dignity” topic.

On January 12th the discussion was held at the Point Loma Library. The turn-out was disappointing to me – three men and nine women, plus the three female moderators. The discussion, although slow at first, was interesting as the small audience began to participate. The moderators were Nancy Witt, Shirley Walkoe and Jeanne Brown.

Jeanne led the discussion by handing out a statistical page of Assisted Suicide Laws by State. We found out that three states have passed legislation permitting physician-assisted suicide: – Oregon, Vermont and Washington. …

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“Steal Heaven” at the San Diego Rep Is a Must See

January 12, 2015 by Ernie McCray

imageBy Ernie McCray

This New Year, 2015, was already moving along nicely for me, but it shifted into high gear the other night when Maria and I went to see the San Diego RepertoryTheatre’s “Steal Heaven,” a play written by one of my favorite theater artists, Herbert Siguenza. This multitalented actor, playwright, director and producer is a founding member of Culture Clash, a performance group known for its rich satirical look at the world and its politics – from a Chicano perspective. I’ve loved everything they’ve ever done.

Siguenza’s “Steal Heaven,” was right in line with all his good work and it was just what I needed as I look forward to, hopefully, a long future of trying to change this world into a more civil home for human beings. I know, good luck with that, Charlie, but it’s what I wake up every morning to do.

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