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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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Will Oakland finally get the first-rate Public Ethics Commission it deserves?

Will Oakland finally get the first-rate Public Ethics Commission it deserves?

Last year, after receiving a citizen compliant, the Alameda County Grand Jury investigated an instance where Oakland’s city contracting, purchasing, and hiring rules were circumvented by a council member to move forward a special project in their district, at a time when many other projects and programs were being cut. Read the Grand Jury report here. The larger issue though, wasn’t the actions of one city council member, but the structural problems that have allowed the ethics lines in Oakland to be fudged more often than they should without any real repercussions. Oakland has had a Public Ethics Commission (PEC) in place to act as a watchdog over local government,…
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The Power of Partnerships in Improving California Elections

The Power of Partnerships in Improving California Elections

Every couple years (at least), we have an election in California — and millions of people vote, but millions more don’t. Does the voting process work for everyone? Could we make it better, more user-friendly? During the June primary, we had a chance to start finding out. Greenlining teamed up with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office – the largest county in the country – to collect feedback from voters about what’s working and what’s not. This cross-sector collaboration grew out of our work together in the Future of California Elections Collaborative (FOCE). FOCE, started by the James Irvine Foundation in 2011, connects civil rights, good government groups, and…
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Unlikely senate duo’s fight for redemption

Unlikely senate duo’s fight for redemption

Here’s something you don’t see every day: two politicians (at least one with serious presidential ambitions) working across party lines to reform the criminal justice system. No, you didn’t misread that sentence. It appears bipartisanship in Washington isn’t dead after all. On Tuesday, Senators Rand Paul (R – KY) and Cory Booker (D – NJ) introduced the REDEEM Act. This bill would, among other things, automatically expunge or seal criminal records of juveniles who commit nonviolent crimes and restore food stamp and welfare benefits for low-level drug offenders who have completed their sentence. The REDEEM Act is a big win for communities of color. Research shows that people of color,…
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From the Hood to the Hill

From the Hood to the Hill

Intern noun [in-turn]  :     A wonderful system set up by and for employers to effectively get morning coffee, make photocopies, and to provide comedic relief in the stressful work day. You can comfortably sit back with a smirk as your interns stumble over the simplest of tasks and rest your pre-carpal tunnel wrists as you assign them data entry projects until their fingers bleed. Luckily for me, Greenlining actually values the contribution that folks still green in their careers make—imagine that!?—and goes above and beyond by immersing college grads in its Summer Associate Program. Technically, it’s not an internship, but internships could be like this. So here I am, week two, standing…
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The Summer Associate Experience in the State Capitol

The Summer Associate Experience in the State Capitol

Who would have thought that a visit to the state Capitol would have a major influence on my perspective of AB 503, a bill that defines charity care and community benefit, requiring transparency from nonprofit hospitals? After three weeks as a Summer Associate, I’ve experienced a mini-paradigm shift. Every Friday, the Summer Associates take on policy issue days. We meet with legislative staff and other organizations to learn about their approaches to creating positive change in their communities. What better place to host our second issue area day, focused on health policy and sponsored by Greenlining’s Bridges to Health team, than the state Capitol? I watched the subtle acts of…
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Formerly Incarcerated Still Confused About Their Right to Vote

Formerly Incarcerated Still Confused About Their Right to Vote

Earlier this week, we convened a community conversation with formerly incarcerated communities in Los Angeles County. We wanted to learn what they know about California elections and the voting process, what they like about the process, and what they wish to change about the process. It’s our hope that by taking what we learn from these conversations and sharing it with election officials and policymakers, we can increase access to our democracy and turnout in underserved communities. One of the biggest issues in formerly incarcerated communities when it comes to voting rights, seems to be that few know they have the right to vote. Over a year ago, I testified…
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National Commission on Voting Rights Releases California Report on Voting Barriers

National Commission on Voting Rights Releases California Report on Voting Barriers

An important new report on voting and elections just came out, which Greenlining is proud to have helped inform. On January 30, 2014, the National Commission on Voting Rights (NCVR), organized by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, convened a hearing at the University of California Hastings College of Law to solicit feedback on the problems that voters continue to face, including: Barriers to the ballot for voters with limited English proficiency Redistricting processes that limit the number of minority seats Racially polarized voting Systemic barriers facing voters with disabilities and voters with felony convictions Drawing on the testimony delivered by California voters, advocates and voting experts, the…
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