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An Open Letter to Comcast

An Open Letter to Comcast

Dear Comcast: I was checking for telecommunications news over at Ars Technica this morning, as I do every day, when I saw the article “Comcast allegedly trying to block CenturyLink from entering its territory.” Now, I’m a sucker for articles about Comcast and the cable/broadband industry (the series over at The Verge is currently my particular favorite). Recently I’ve been shocked – just shocked – to learn that your industry is not robustly competitive. Who knew? And now, to my surprise, I read in Ars Technica that you opposed CenturyLink’s building competing cable systems in Comcast’s markets, because CenturyLink’s buildouts wouldn’t serve the entire community, meaning that CenturyLink might not…
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Race and Justice: a Memory

Race and Justice: a Memory

The ongoing controversies over the police shooting of black teenager Michael Brown and the broader relationship of law enforcement to people of color has stirred up memories of my one and only experience as a juror in a criminal trial. It was a long time ago – early ‘90s, to be exact – but it disturbs me to this day. It was a cocaine possession case from a low-income, predominantly black section of south-central Los Angeles. The defendant, a 50-something African American, seemed not to have a lot of money. His white lawyer was at best barely adequate, certainly not hugely effective. Everything about the defense gave off a low-rent…
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The Character Assassination of Michael Brown Continues

The Character Assassination of Michael Brown Continues

Someone in the Ferguson, Missouri police department is a slow learner. In response to public outrage over the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson, law enforcement officials have responded with a series of revelations, often leaked anonymously, designed to defame a young man who can no longer defend himself. The tactic continues, even though it’s clearly not helping. First there was that surveillance video of Brown allegedly taking part in a petty robbery of a convenience store, an event with no apparent relevance to how events went down when Wilson stopped Brown several minutes later, apparently unaware that Brown might be a suspect. Then there…
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It’s Lonely around Here Today

It’s Lonely around Here Today

Things are eerily quiet around the Greenlining office today. This year’s group of Summer Associates finished up their ten weeks with us last Friday, and without them the place feels strangely empty. Happily, before the end of the month our next batch of Policy Fellows will arrive, and they’ll be with us for a whole year. But the place always feels a bit forlorn right after the Associates leave. Every year the Associates – many of them fresh out of college — hit us like a whirlwind. They bring a fresh burst of energy and idealism that crackles through the air here like electricity, and it’s always more than a…
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Michael Brown, Police and Protests

Michael Brown, Police and Protests

The events unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri are unbelievably disturbing, but the shooting of yet another unarmed black teen and the bizarrely over-the-top police reaction to subsequent protests  are at least provoking some long-overdue discussions of police tactics. Today, Washington Post blogger Radley Balko discusses in detail how some police departments have learned that military-style tactics only alienate communities and increase the dangers for all, officers included. There are alternatives, and some police departments are already using them. His article is worth taking the time to read in full. Balko notes that the political and public discussion about law enforcement often proceeds from a false premise: Policing is often cast as a…
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Where Does the Money Go?

Where Does the Money Go?

I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer a few days before Thanksgiving, after a routine checkup. The C word is never easy to hear, but the prognosis was good and I had no symptoms. My doctor at the time was getting ready to retire, frustrated with the medical industry’s insistence on 15-minute checkup times. She spent the extra time that day giving me a full and rigorous examination, which made all the difference. After the thyroid surgery I recovered well. I had plenty of support from my loved ones. But I didn’t realize at the time that this was just the beginning battle in my war with the medical industry. For…
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Affirmative Action for Fish

Affirmative Action for Fish

I recently spent a few days sightseeing in Seattle, and wandered by the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, a canal-like structure that connects Puget Sound with Lake Union and Lake Washington, enabling boats to navigate the change in elevation between the bodies of water. There, I witnessed an affirmative action program for salmon. You see the locks, like many dams and other man-made structures in waterways used by salmon, create a barrier that prevents the mature salmon from returning to their fresh-water home to spawn. And if they can’t get home, they don’t reproduce, meaning the end of the local salmon population. So the humans who built the locks have created…
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American Injustice: A Book You Must Read

American Injustice: A Book You Must Read

I’m going to stick my neck out and do something I wouldn’t normally do: Recommend a book I haven’t finished reading. But I’m going on vacation in a couple days, and don’t want this to wait: I’ve read enough to know that Matt Taibbi’s “The Divide” is an indispensable guide to what’s wrong with our nation’s system of justice. Taibbi, now with First Look Media, spent years writing brilliant and penetrating articles for Rolling Stone that did more to explain the financial crisis than pretty much anything written by anyone, anywhere. Along the way he’s also written several terrific books. And in the process of reporting all those pieces, he…
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What’s Working and What’s Not: Voter Perspectives on Los Angeles County Election Administration

What’s Working and What’s Not: Voter Perspectives on Los Angeles County Election Administration

In my recent blog post, The Power of Partnerships in Improving California Elections, I told you about a unique partnership between The Greenlining Institute and the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office. We teamed up in June to collect feedback from voters about what’s working about the voting process and what’s not, from the voters’ perspective. Earlier this week, we screened a short video about the collaboration and released the findings from our study during the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials Conference in Orange County. Didn’t see the video? Watch it here. Los Angeles County had noticed a pattern of consistently lower than average turnout in certain communities within the county.…
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Guest Blogger: The Statue of Liberty

Guest Blogger: The Statue of Liberty

EDITOR’S NOTE: We haven’t had a lot of guest bloggers here at Greenlining, but the other day a letter popped into our inbox from none other than the Statue of Liberty herself. She asked if we could pass along her message to the American people, and it seemed like the least we could do. Here’s her letter: Dear Americans, We need to talk. I know it may seem strange that I’m finally speaking up after standing out there in the middle of New York Harbor since 1886, but I think I have the right. Seriously, you try standing out there in the sun, wind, rain and snow 24/7 for nearly…
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