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Investing in Communities of Color Means Investing in ME

Investing in Communities of Color Means Investing in ME

A few weeks ago one of our Health Equity Fellows, Jessica Fuentes, blogged about how her experiences growing up shaped her definition of leadership. I want to continue this series of introductory blogs by talking about one of the projects I am currently working on and how my experiences as a youth informed the decision-making process. Recently I hopped on board a project at The California Endowment (TCE) that enabled me to see my work come full circle: helping to manage a small grant from the Endowment’s communications team to build capacity for youth media. The grant will provide support for an existing youth program in south Sacramento to develop and…
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Reflections From the Capitol: California’s Voter Turnout Problem

Reflections From the Capitol: California’s Voter Turnout Problem

Yesterday I testified at a hearing at the Capitol on Statewide Voter Turnout. Throughout the day, several advocates, researchers, and election officials came before Senate and Assembly members to address the troubling turnout in California’s most recent election: a historically low 42 percent of registered voters voted last November. This number is a wakeup call for those of us working in election reform to ask some important questions about why people aren’t voting and how our state can change that. The hearing gave me and others working in this policy area a chance to provide some answers. In my testimony as a panelist on voter outreach, I discussed language access…
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Memo to Levi Pettit: Fire Your PR Consultants

Memo to Levi Pettit: Fire Your PR Consultants

Levi Pettit, seen leading fellow University of Oklahoma fraternity members in a racist song in that now-infamous video, apologized yesterday, in what was obviously a carefully scripted press conference. The fingerprints of the high-priced public relations advisors his family had hired were all over his remarks, and these PR consultants did this young man no favors. After he read his statement, reporters began asking the obvious questions, like where he learned the offensive song, with its racial slurs and “jokes” about lynching. And Pettit responded with a transparently scripted response, saying, “I’m not here today to talk about where I learned the chant or how it was taught. I’m here…
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Happy Birthday to the Affordable Care Act! It Really Is “A Big *bleepin’* Deal”

Happy Birthday to the Affordable Care Act! It Really Is “A Big *bleepin’* Deal”

It’s been five years since a White House microphone caught Vice President Joe Biden’s not-so-subtle remark to President Obama as the president signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Vice President Biden probably thought he was being poetic as he celebrated the largest overhaul of health care since the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid. While the vice president was more Tupac than Shakespeare, the truth is he was right. I was a freshman in college when the Democratic-controlled House and Senate, still riding high from the historic 2008 election, muscled health care reform to the President’s desk. For months, Congress debated every single provision of the bill, crafting a complex piece…
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Has the San Francisco Chronicle Declared War on Oakland’s Minimum Wage?

Has the San Francisco Chronicle Declared War on Oakland’s Minimum Wage?

As a former reporter and longtime media relations guy, I never rush to accuse news organizations of bias. Most reporters, editors and producers really try to get the story right, and most screwups are just that: screwups, not hit jobs. But the San Francisco Chronicle’s recent coverage of Oakland’s voter-approved minimum wage increase has me wondering whether the paper has an agenda. Two front page stories, both written by reporter Rachel Swan, have gone into great detail about the troubles some industries are having in adjusting to the new wage. On March 13 the paper headlined, “Minimum wage hike hurts Oakland Chinatown,” and today’s headline read, “Oakland wage hike puts…
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The FCC’s Net Neutrality Decision Delivers Greenlining Fifteen Minutes of Internet Fame.

The FCC’s Net Neutrality Decision Delivers Greenlining Fifteen Minutes of Internet Fame.

            Today, the Federal Communications Commission finally published its ruling on net neutrality.  Under those new rules, your Internet provider can’t block or slow Internet traffic, and can’t give preferential treatment to certain kinds of Internet traffic—what we call “paid prioritization.”  The fight over net neutrality has been going on for a good ten years, although the origins of the debate reach back to at least the 1940s. I’m not going to spend an entire blog post explaining the 300-plus page ruling (well, I probably will, but I’ve got to get through the ruling first), but I did want to point out one fun fact:  This awesome sentence comes from…
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Early Spring, Climate Change and Hope for California

Early Spring, Climate Change and Hope for California

Folks around here know I’m an avid gardener. And as I’ve looked around my little garden during the last year, a trend has emerged. Last spring came early. This winter came late and stayed for about five minutes. San Francisco had temperatures hitting the 70s in February. For those of you in warmer climates, please understand: San Francisco temperatures often fail to break into the 70s in August. Things. Are. Not. Normal. Exhibit A: The photo on the left is a lilac in my back yard. It normally starts to grow and get ready to flower around the beginning of April. This year it decided it was spring at the…
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Not Just A Leader, But A Changemaker

Not Just A Leader, But A Changemaker

In continuing the drumbeat my co-fellow, Alheli Cuenca, began by sharing her story, I ask that you join me as I share my exploration of self-leadership and how this journey has led me to become a Health Equity Fellow working on issues at the intersection of policy and philanthropy. I consider myself blessed for growing up surrounded by strong, powerful women and mentors who never placed restrictions on my dreams and instead encouraged me to seek and take advantage of opportunities that would lead me to achieve those dreams. As a child, my naïveté regarding my family’s immigration status never seemed to interfere with my goal of attaining a higher…
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Voting, Elections & Turnout — L.A. Listens to Greenlining

Voting, Elections & Turnout — L.A. Listens to Greenlining

Sometimes, fixing a problem really is as simple as shining a light on it. In October 2013 our Claiming Our Democracy team released a research brief, Odd-Year vs. Even-Year Consolidated Elections in California, authored by Summer Associate Jose P. Hernandez. The report compared turnout and cost per vote cast in cities that hold municipal elections in odd years with the data from cities that hold their local elections on the same days as state and national elections. We found a huge difference: Local election turnout was much, much higher when local elections were combined with elections for president, governor, senator, etc. For example, Los Angeles, which holds local elections in…
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