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Vox: Thank God I don’t work at Whole Foods anymore

June 21, 2017

Thank God I don’t work at Whole Foods anymore.

That was my immediate thought when news broke that Amazon was planning to purchase the organic grocery chain for 13.7 billion dollars. If I still worked the fish counter at Whole Foods, I’d have to work harder and more efficiently — while eating fewer samples — to justify my job over Amazon’s robots.

In 2012, I had a three-month stint as a fishmonger at a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco. I worked at the store in the SoMa neighborhood. My job included organizing the seafood case and cleaning fish to customer preferences. I earned $13 an hour for my services.

But at Whole Foods, being broke didn’t mean we had to go hungry. There were perks — a relaxed atmosphere, 25-cent leftovers at the end of the day, and access to samples from the meat, seafood, and other departments. Amazon knows robots don’t need this kind of margin-eating sustenance.

Read more at Vox…

The Press Democrat: New maps reveal extent of homeless problems in Santa Rosa

June 5, 2017

Santa Rosa Police Officers Jason Brandt and Brian Sinigiani sat in a police van by the Fifth Street underpass during a weekly Wednesday morning homeless encampment cleanup. Those living on the street knew the officers by name, and the officers knew theirs, their addictions and their stories.

Brandt and Sinigiani estimated there are more than 200 chronically homeless in downtown Santa Rosa with whom they are on a first name basis. Nearly all have been offered services, they said.

“We’re trying to take away all of the excuses and break down the barriers to get them off the street,” Sinigiani said. “We’re really social workers with a law enforcement aspect.”

Sinigiani and his partner are among the top sources of referrals to Catholic Charities’ Homeless Outreach Services Team. But they take the law seriously and aren’t afraid to make arrests and write citations. Brandt said he makes more arrests now than he did while working patrol.

Read more at The Press Democrat…

The Press Democrat: Google honors Richard Oakes, Native American activist killed in Sonoma County

May 22, 2017

Google recognized the late Native American activist Richard Oakes on its homepage Monday with an illustrated image of the man who was shot and killed in Sonoma County in 1972 when he was just 30 years old. The honor came on the day Oakes would have turned 75.

Oakes’ killer, the manager of a YMCA camp near Annapolis in northwest Sonoma County, was acquitted for involuntary manslaughter by an all-white jury at the Sonoma County Superior Court in March 1973.

“We are excited to see Google give him recognition today on his birthday,” said Reno Keoni Franklin, chairman of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians, by email. “His passing still haunts us, and the decision to let his killer go is a sad example of the type of injustices that he fought so hard against.”

Read more at The Press Democrat…

The Press Democrat: Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office still notifying ICE on inmates

May 10, 2017

On Friday morning, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office decided not to press felony domestic battery charges against a 32-year-old undocumented immigrant with no prior arrests in the county.

Legal processors at the Sonoma County Jail informed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents the inmate would be released at 2:45 p.m.

But if ICE came then to pick up the man, it was too late. He left the jail before 1 p.m.

Why was ICE notified of an undocumented immigrant against whom misdemeanor charges were dropped, if on May 1 Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas announced he was limiting his office’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities to individuals convicted of serious and violent felonies outlined in the Trust Act, plus 18 other offenses?

The answer is, new computer software that will automatically determine if an undocumented person in custody qualifies for Trust Act protection won’t come online until July 1. The Trust Act, passed in late 2013, prohibits California jails from detaining inmates for noncriminal holds requested by ICE, except in cases of serious and violent felonies.

Read more at The Press Democrat…

Monterey County Weekly: Race and Class, the resegregation of schools

March 9, 2017

The face of the United States is changing rapidly. To look at the face of the future, look no further than public schools. Kids and teens have fewer hang-ups about the identities of their peers. Yet, there is a troubling national trend at hand. While the U.S. is growing more diverse as a whole, its schools are becoming resegregated. Children from different racial, ethnic and income groups are now less likely to find themselves in a classroom with each other than they were two decades ago.

In Monterey County, the changing demographics of schools are more nuanced than the national picture, with schools in the Salinas Valley becoming almost exclusively Latino and Monterey Peninsula schools growing more diverse.

To see how local schools have changed in the past two decades, the Weekly collected and analyzed data from California Department of Education for the 1995-96 and the 2015-16 school years, as well as U.S. Census data from 2000 and 2015 for seven county school districts (see graph, p. 22) that account for the majority of students countywide.

After compiling spreadsheets and crunching numbers, three main trends emerge: White populations are aging faster in comparison to other ethnic groups, in part because their adult children no longer live in the area; many African-American families have left for other regions; and the Latino population continues to increase across the board.

Read more at Monterey County Weekly…

Monterey County Weekly: A look inside the California Electoral College vote.

December 20, 2016

dsc_9286Sitting in a cafe a block from the Capitol building in Sacramento just after 11am on Dec. 19, Vinz Koller anxiously monitors Electoral College votes on the East Coast. He’s contemplating committing a crime in a few hours, by voting against the will of the people in the state of California with his vote in the Electoral College.

The staunch partisan and outgoing chair of the Monterey County Democratic Party supported Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But, in a last-ditch effort to block the presumptive President-elect Donald Trump from ascending to the White House, Koller has fashioned himself as a “Hamilton Elector.”

The goal, spurred by Texas Republican and elector Christopher Suprun, is to get 37 electors for Trump in red states to cast their ballot for someone else, thereby blocking the 270 electoral votes needed to get the presidency. If that were to happen, the president would be decided on Jan. 6 by the U.S. House of Representatives, which would choose from the top three Electoral College vote getters.

Read more at Monterey County Weekly…

Monterey County Weekly: The gig economy and the future of work.

November 23, 2016

5835cc958f9c1-magnifiedDriving his Mazda 3 through the streets of Salinas, Mark Gurley, a 54-year-old fond of Hawaiian shirts, watches his smartphone chirp as he is flagged by a customer through the Uber app. He picks up his customer then drives them to their destination. This is a pattern he follows, around 18 times a day, every day, for nearly 100 hours a week.

“I love Uber,” Gurley says enthusiastically. “It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.”

His use of the word “job” is loaded. That word is at the center of a controversy with 240,000 Uber drivers in California and Massachusetts who filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, arguing they should be classified as employees rather than independent contractors, and should be entitled to recover mileage and expenses.

Uber came to a $100 million settlement with drivers last spring. That settlement was then rejected in August at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Uber drivers were directed to settle their claims through independent arbitration.

Read more at Monterey County Weekly…