Challenge to 1266 fails

The California secretary of state’s office issued the final full check Monday, February 24, as reported in the Bay Area Reporter.

“It showed that the Privacy for All Students coalition, which sponsored the referendum, needed 540,760 valid signatures. The coalition ended up with only 487,484 valid signatures.

“Called the School Success and Opportunity Act, Assembly Bill 1266 ensures that California public schools are committed to the success of all students, including those transgender-identified. Under the law, transgender students have the right to participate in all school activities like sports teams, and use school facilities like bathrooms based on their gender identity.

In January, random samples taken from petition signature counts in each county qualified the referendum, albeit barely, for a full signature count. As final numbers rolled in on Monday, AB 1266 supporters nodded their approval and celebrated the continued protection of transgender youth in California schools. AB 1266, which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown last summer, went into effect January 1.

“Richard Poppen, an Equality California board member and mathematician, watched the signature counting process closely and relayed regular informative updates to colleagues as each county reported their numbers.

“The process went through in the standard way,” Poppen told the Bay Area Reporter. “Referendum proponents got the full benefit of the statutory process but failed fair and square to meet the threshold. Trans kids will continue to be protected as the legislature intended.”

“Supporters of the new law, including Equality California, the Transgender Law Center, and other groups that came together under the Support All Students campaign, were pleased the referendum failed to qualify, and thus there won’t be a divisive anti-LGBT measure on the November ballot.”

 

More at: http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=69512

California’s beer drought

Along with California’s water supplies and public health, the ongoing drought in the state may have yet another victim to claim: beer.

As ThinkProgress reports, “Lagunitas Brewing Company — one of California’s biggest craft breweries — told NPR last week that the drought is threatening the Russian River,

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where they get the water for their beer. Such sources play a key role in the brewing process — as NPR notes, producers like Coors and Cold Spring Brewing Co. tout their use of water from the Rockies and a Minnesota natural spring, respectively. But if the drought forces Lagunitas to switch from the river to groundwater for its supplies, the heavy minerals in the latter won’t go well with the beer.

“It would be like brewing with Alka-Seltzer,” Jeremy Marshall, Lagunitas’ head brewer, told NPR.

“In some [of the region’s wells] there are taste and odor issues,” added Jay Jasperse, chief engineer with the Sonoma County Water Agency. “You have high nitrate concentrations in places, from agricultural industries, and iron and manganese.”

“Lagunitas does have options: they could switch to another facility in Chicago, and they’re experimenting with a reverse osmosis system to purify the groundwater. But many other breweries also operate off the Russian River, and don’t have the scale and resources to pursue those alternatives.

“During recent tours of California, President Obama explicitly linked the drought to climate change: higher temperatures generally mean faster evaporation and drier conditions in dry areas. Rainfall shifts to longer dry spells broken by heavier deluges — so when precipitation does come, there’s less time for it to add to snowpack or soak into the ground. That means reduced water supplies for reservoirs like Lake Mendocino, which feeds the Russian River. California officials are worried the lake could come close to disappearing in the summer months if the drought continues.

“Beyond water, global warming and the resulting climate change bring shifts in rainfall, stronger storms, droughts, heat waves, and other forms of extreme weather that reduce yields of barely and hops. Heavy rains in Australia and drought in England have damaged barely crops in recent years, and scientists worry the damage could spread to New Zealand as well. A 2009 study suggested the quality of Saaz hops from the Czech Republic has been falling since 1954 due to warmer temperatures. And shifting seasonal patterns started hitting hops crops throughout Europe as early as the 1990s. Continue reading “California’s beer drought”

Student privacy and educational software

A leading California lawmaker plans to introduce state legislation on Thursday that would shore up privacy and security protections for the personal information of students in elementary through high school, a move that could

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alter business practices across the nearly $8 billion education technology software industry, the New York Times reports.

“The bill would prohibit education-related websites, online services and mobile apps for kindergartners through 12th graders from compiling, using or sharing the personal information of those students in California for any reason other than what the school intended or for product maintenance.

“The bill would also prohibit the operators of those services from using or disclosing the information of students in the state for commercial purposes like marketing. It would oblige the firms to encrypt students’ data in transit and at rest, and it would require them to delete a student’s record when it is no longer needed for the purpose the school intended.

“We don’t want to limit the legitimate use of students’ data by schools or teachers,” Senator Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat who is the sponsor of the bill and the president pro tempore of the California Senate, said in a phone interview. “We just think the public policy of California should be that the information you gather from students should be used for their educational benefit and for nothing else.”

“Lawmakers like Mr. Steinberg are part of a growing cohort of children’s advocates who say they believe that regulation has failed to keep pace with the rapid adoption of education software and services by schools across the country.

“A federal law, called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, limits the disclosure of students’ educational records by schools that receive federal funding. But some student advocates contend that an exception in the law, allowing the outsourcing of public school functions to private companies, may reveal personal information, hypothetically making children vulnerable to predatory practices. Continue reading “Student privacy and educational software”

The arts boost California’s economy

The results of the 2013 Otis Report on the Creative Economy were unveiled today at an event produced by Otis

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College of Art and Design, held at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, CA.Speakers included California State Senator Ted Lieu (Chair of the Joint Committee of the Arts, and Chair of the Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee); Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation’s Chief Economist Robert Kleinhenz; Director, Western Region of the Actors Fund Keith McNutt; Otis President Samuel Hoi, California Arts Council Director Craig Watson; and Executive Director of Arts for L.A. Danielle Brazell.

The UCIRA reports that “Otis has commissioned this annual report from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation since 2007, underscoring its commitment to measuring, benchmarking, and assessing trends of the creative economy. The Otis Report was expanded this year to include data for the entire state.

“Significant findings in the 2013 Otis Report on the Creative Economy include:
-In the Los Angeles region, the creative sectors supported 1 in 7 wage and salary jobs, with a net economic output contribution of 10.4% of the region’s gross total.
-The Los Angeles regional creative industries sustained 726,300 workers who earned labor income of $50.6 billion.
-California’s creative economy contributed 7.8% of the gross state product in 2012. Across the state, with a total of 1.4 million workers, the creative industries accounted for directly or indirectly 9.7% of all wage and salary employment, or roughly 1 in 10 jobs.
-Entertainment, fashion, and furniture and the decorative arts were the largest industries in California’s creative economy but nearly 6 of 10 (56%) creative occupations are found outside of the creative industries.
-The Los Angeles region is undisputedly the creative nexus of the state, with over 44% of California’s workers engaged in creative occupations.
-By 2017, creative economy employment will be up by 3.1% or 12,600 jobs from 2012 levels. Creative industry employment in the Los Angeles-Orange County region will total 416,500 wage and salary jobs by 2017.

“The Otis Report has firmly established that the ‘creative economy’ is a powerful force, both in Southern California and in the state,” said Otis President Samuel Hoi. “Signals abound that creativity and innovation are pivotal to the economy and general well-being of people and communities. Artistic services and intellectual capital are inarguably essential to the 21st century economy, which is dynamic, knowledge-based, and increasingly global.”

“Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation’s Chief Economist Robert Kleinhenz stated, “The health of the state economy depends on continued progress in the U.S. economy and among its major trading partners. Improvements in the consumer sector will be front and center in both California and the nation, as households respond to declining unemployment, increases in income, stronger real estate markets, and stock market gains.”An addendum to this year’s Otis Report is “L.A. Creates,” a special report by Director, Western Region of the Actors Fund Keith McNutt, detailing the way in which deliberate, collaborative, and regional efforts can support and develop the region’s creative industries.Lead sponsors for this year’s event are the California Arts Council and Mattel. Other support came from the James Irvine Foundation, Nike, Sony Pictures, City National Bank, The Boeing Company, Ovation, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.On Wednesday, February 12th in Sacramento, CA, the 2013 Otis Report on the Creative Economy will be presented at an informational hearing of the Joint Committee on the Arts. Senator Ted Lieu will convene the hearing in the state’s capitol to examine the role the creative sector plays in the state’s economy. The hearing starts at 10AM and is open to the public.”

 

More at: http://www.ucira.ucsb.edu/creativity-is-serious-business-in-the-state-of-california/

California’s severe water shortage

The punishing drought that has swept California is now threatening the state’s drinking water supply.images

With no sign of rain, 17 rural communities providing water to 40,000 people are in danger of running out within 60 to 120 days, the New York Times reports:

“State officials said that the number was likely to rise in the months ahead after the State Water Project, the main municipal water distribution system, announced on Friday that it did not have enough water to supplement the dwindling supplies of local agencies that provide water to an additional 25 million people. It is first time the project has turned off its spigot in its 54-year history.

“State officials said they were moving to put emergency plans in place. In the worst case, they said drinking water would have to be brought by truck into parched communities and additional wells would have to be drilled to draw on groundwater. The deteriorating situation would likely mean imposing mandatory water conservation measures on homeowners and businesses, who have already been asked to voluntarily reduce their water use by 20 percent.

“Every day this drought goes on we are going to have to tighten the screws on what people are doing” said Gov. Jerry Brown, who was governor during the last major drought here, in 1976-77. This latest development has underscored the urgency of a drought that has already produced parched fields, starving livestock, and pockets of smog. Continue reading “California’s severe water shortage”

AB 1266: Month One

One month ago, California enacted AB 1266, also known as the Success and Opportunity Act, allowing for transgender students to participate in school sports, utilize locker rooms and bathrooms with the gender they identify with most rather than the gender they were biologically assigned by birth.imgres

Convervative groups soon launched a petition drive to repeal the measure, largely organized through churches. Thus far AB 1266 has not created the problems its opponents predicted. Neither have the requisite number of signatures been verfied to place the repeal on the ballot. The count is scheduled for completion on Feb 24.

As Media Matters reports:  “One month after taking effect, California’s new law allowing transgender students to use facilities and participate in programs that match their gender identities hasn’t given rise to the horror stories predicted by the right-wing media, according to school officials around the state.

“On August 12, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed the School Success and Opportunity Act, extending to transgender students statewide rights that had already been recognized by large school districts like Los Angeles Unified School District. The passage of the law, which took effect on January 1, catalyzed a conservative misinformation campaign featuring the false claims that transphobic bullying is “not a big problem,” that the law would allow bathroom “free-for-alls” with students exploiting the law to use opposite-sex restrooms, and that harassment would spike in restrooms and locker rooms.

“In an interview with Equality Matters, Dr. Judy Chiasson, Los Angeles’ program coordinator for Human Relations, Diversity and Equity, said that after nine years of implementing trans-affirmative policies, Los Angeles schools haven’t experienced any of the problems predicted by right-wing critics of the law. Continue reading “AB 1266: Month One”

Chancellor Michael Drake leaves UCI

Michael V. Drake, who as chancellor of UC Irvine enhanced the school’s reputation as a first-rate research institution and boosted enrollment, was named Friday as the new president of Ohio State University. UCI Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Howard Gillman will assume the position of Acting-Chancellor at UCI when Drake vacates the position in June 2014.

The Los Angeles Times reports that “Drake’s appointment was announced

images at a meeting of the Board of Trustees in Columbus. He was the consensus candidate, officials said.

“He is exactly the right leader at the right moment in the university’s history as we address the challenges of affordability and access, while building on the already strong momentum we have generated at Ohio State in increasing the university’s academic excellence,” board Chairman Robert H. Schottenstein said.Drake has served as head of the 28,000-student Irvine campus since 2005. He has a medical degree, a background in administration and a reputation as a prolific fundraiser. He will move to the Ohio campus with 57,000 students, top-flight athletics, and a mission to improve its academic ranking and research focus. He replaces former Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee, who retired in July after six years at the helm. It was his second stint as Ohio State president. Gee, known for his colorful bow ties, left under a cloud after making remarks considered disparaging to Catholics. He is now interim president of West Virginia University.

“In an interview, Drake said that he would always be a fan of Irvine but that the Ohio State post was an opportunity to take on new challenges.”It’s similar work, with a little different focus and scope in a different part of the country,” Drake said. “Ohio State is a wonderful example of a flagship university, a land grant university that is very connected with the community, that’s done wonderful things for the region and nationally and has wonderful potential to do even more.” Drake, 63, will leave the Irvine campus in June. A search committee is expected to begin looking for a replacement in February, UC system President Janet Napolitano said in a statement. Irvine Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Howard Gillman will serve as interim chancellor until the post is filled. Napolitano called Drake a “dedicated and passionate” leader. Continue reading “Chancellor Michael Drake leaves UCI”

CAA awards for Rainer and O’Grady

Two former faculty at the University of California, Irvine, Department of Art will be honored at the upcoming meeting of the College Art Association. Professor Emeritus Yvonne Rainer will receive this year’s “Lifetime Achievement” award for an artist.  Former UCI Assistant Professor Lorraine O’Grady will receive the “Distinguished Feminist Award.”

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As CAA describes the honorees:

“Yvonne Rainer has been instrumental in the movement to merge the visual arts with dance, performance, and filmmaking. As a founder of the Judson Dance Theater (1962) and of the improvisational group Grand Union (1970), Rainer choreographed major dance works for many decades. She has also produced films that have been hailed globally, and her videos have dissolved the barriers between art forms and revealed a new unified vision of the arts. The author of four books and recipient of prestigious fellowships, Rainer was a longtime professor at the University of California, Irvine, where her prodigious talent and innovation has greatly influenced numerous generations of creative people.

“CAA recognizes Lorraine O’Grady for her considerable and important service to the feminist art community, especially in her determined efforts to underscore discrimination and bias through her performance art, photo-based work, writing, teaching, and activism. O’Grady has worked to expand the political content of art, persistently returning to a complicated place that she describes as “where the personal intersects with the historic and cultural.” As part of a small group of women of color in the Women’s Action Coalition, she has used this platform to accentuate the involvement of black women artists in contemporary culture and the perpetual disregard for their contributions. Continue reading “CAA awards for Rainer and O’Grady”

California hate crimes decrease

California declined about 12 percent last year and has dropped by more than one-third over the past decade, the state attorney general’s office said Wednesday.

There were 930 reported hate crimes in 2012, down from 1,060 in 2011 and 1,491 in 2003, reports SF Gate

“Hate crimes based on the victim’s race, ethnicity or national origin dropped 10 percent, from 587 in 2011 to 528 last year. But they still accounted for nearly 57 percent of complaints. Black people have been the most common target, accounting for about one-third of victims in the past decade.

“Hate crimes targeting a victim’s sexual orientation was the next largest category. Reports fell nearly 4 percent, from 244 in 2011 to 235 in 2012.

“Within that category, hate crimes against gay men dropped from 111 in 2011 to 88 last year. But there were 77 crimes targeting gay men in 2003, making that category the only one to show an increase in the 10-year comparison. Those involving a victim’s religion dropped nearly 28 percent last year, from 201 in 2011 to 145 in 2012. Jews were once again the most common target. The reports are submitted to the attorney general’s office by California law enforcement agencies and district attorney’s offices.

“While overall numbers are down this year, any hate crime hurts the people and values of California,” state Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement. Continue reading “California hate crimes decrease”

Transphobia, California-style

The state that brought you Proposition 8 is about to witness another hate campaign.imgres-1

The latest battle in California is over 37 words. They are the final clause in a law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed this summer affirming the rights of transgender students to use facilities and play on sports teams that align with their gender identity. On Friday, groups led by the same strategist who masterminded the successful drive to ban gay marriage in California will submit a petition to the state that could lead to the landmark measure being overturned, reports Time Magazine.

“Opponents of the statute, the first of its kind in the United States, say the language is too broad and that it neglects the privacy rights of most students for the benefit of a few. Supporters say the measure helps foster acceptance for transgender students, who can feel alienated by the rigid gender distinctions of his-or-her bathrooms and school sports teams.

“The law’s challengers need to submit 505,000 valid signatures from California residents, roughly 5% of voters who cast ballots in the most recent governor’s race, to get a referendum to overturn it on the ballot in November. Frank Schubert, the consultant who spearheaded the Proposition 8 effort to ban gay marriage that was overturned by the Supreme Court this summer, has rallied social conservatives. He says by Monday they hope to turn in more than 700,000 signatures, amassed over three months by volunteers, paid workers, direct mail and more than 750 churches.

“Here is the passage at the heart of the matter:

“A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.

“Schubert says there would not be a push for a referendum if the language had included more caveats, like requiring that transgender students had an established history of presenting themselves as male or female. As it’s worded, he believes that non-transgender teenagers will abuse the law, though he concedes there are no documented cases to back up those fears. “Somebody claiming to be a girl can go into the girls’ showers and bathroom and the locker room and can play on the girls sports team,” he says. “There are no procedures to balance the interest of all students.”

 

Read more: Transgender Student Rights: California Law Could Be Challenged | TIME.com http://nation.time.com/2013/11/08/californias-battle-over-transgender-student-rights/#ixzz2k7Ozlk9B

TransActive Education and Advocacy

“Transgender first-graders aren’t the problem. Uninformed adult are,” writes Leela Ginelle of TransActive Education and Advocacy (http://www.transactiveonline.org/index.php) in today’s Advocate.images-1

As California prepares for a fight over AB 1266, which affords rights to transgender students, issues of gender identity are likely to land in the national spotlight in coming months. As Ginelle continues:

“Our culture doesn’t wait for newborns to tell us what gender they are — we decide for them and then put it in writing. As soon as transgender children can speak, however, they correct us, and, increasingly, their parents listen to and affirm them. As we’ve seen recently, this can lead to confusion and even conflict among less-informed adults.

“When Colorado 6-year-old Coy Mathis tried to use the girls’ restroom at her school, the district attempted to block her, leading to a case that drew national attention. The district thought a transgender girl wanting to use the girls’ bathroom was a little weird or that other people might or that someday it might be.

Transgender people have long been stigmatized as mentally disordered. But an outside observer of this case, in which a public school legally fought to prevent a grade schooler from using a bathroom, might draw different conclusions as to who needs help. And they might have a point. TransActive Education and Advocacy is a first-of-its-kind nonprofit that offers counseling and services to transgender children and their families, and trainings to schools, corporations, and other groups. When families contact us, their children are often displaying depression, and that’s common. Eighty-three percent of trans children and youth report ideating taking their own life, and 32 percent report at least one suicide attempt. Suicide is the number 1 cause of death among transgender youth. While every case is different, the cause of these children’s distress is not their transgender identity. Commonly, rejection by their families and the wider community is at the root of their issues. This rejection, a product of blind antitrans prejudice, founded on generations of unquestioned beliefs regarding gender roles, deviance, and “normalcy” and bolstered by a relentlessly negative media, is as pervasive as it is baseless. Continue reading “TransActive Education and Advocacy”

Calif community colleges focussing on help courses

A faculty-led group called the California Acceleration Project has helped 42 of the state’s community colleges offer redesigned, faster versions of remedial math and English tracks. But the group’s co-founders said they would be able to make much more progress if the University of California changed its transfer credit requirements.

As InsideHigher Ed reports: “Remedial courses are widely seen as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to improving college graduation rates, as few students who place into remediation ever earn a degree.images

“The problem is particularly severe for black and Hispanic students, who account for almost half of the California community college system’s total enrollment of 2.4 million. More than 50 percent of black and Hispanic community college students place three or more levels below college mathematics, said Myra Snell, a math professor at Los Medanos College. And only 6 percent of those remedial students will complete a credit-bearing math course within three years of starting the first remedial course.

“A key reason for abysmal pass rates is the length of remedial sequences, argue Snell and Katie Hern, an English instructor at Chabot College, which, like Los Medanos, is a two-year institution located in California. “The lower down you start, the fewer students complete,” Hern said.

“The two instructors decided to do something about the problem. In 2010 they founded the California Acceleration Project. Armed with research from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advanced of Teaching and the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, they encouraged their peers to offer shorter remedial sequences in math and English. Continue reading “Calif community colleges focussing on help courses”

Goodbye Columbus

California could soon be the next state to do away with Columbus Day thanks to a bill proposed by Assembly member Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), reports Huffington Post

“The Native American Day bill, or AB 55, would replace Columbus Day, which falls on the second Monday in October, with “Native American Day.” Assembly member Hernandez proposed the bill Monday.

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“Native American Day is already recognized in California. Gov. Ronald Reagan designated the fourth Friday in September for the day of remembrance in 1968, and it became an official state holiday in 1998. However, neither Columbus Day nor Native American Day are paid state holidays. Columbus Day used to be one for decades, until the recession moved California representatives to eliminate the paid holiday in 2009. Hernandez’s bill would reinstate the paid holiday, which would close down state agencies and give employees a paid day off, but rename it “Native American Day.” The September day of remembrance designated by Reagan would no longer be needed.

“We’re not trying to rewrite history,” said Assemblymember Hernandez in a phone call with The Huffington Post. “We just want to provide recognition and credit to the true discoverers of the land.” When asked about the fact that many Italian-Americans view Columbus Day as a cultural heritage celebration, Assemblymember Hernandez explained that the cultural contributions of an entire community should be viewed separately from the actions of one man. “Why replace it? That’s the day we honor Columbus for discovering the Americas,” said Hernandez. “And that’s very unfair to the original inhabitants.” He then went on to compare Native American Day to Holocaust Remembrance day. “When we honor the victims that have suffered from genocide in Germany, it isn’t to be anti-German,” he explained. “It’s to bring proper recognition to people who have suffered and been displaced. This bill is looking to do that for the original settlers in the Americas.”

 

More at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/columbus-day-native-american-day_n_2451999.html

Transgender name changes to be easier in California

The public and costly process for transgender people to legally change the name and gender on their California birth certificate will be streamlined under a law Gov. Jerry Brown signed this week, reports SF Gate.

“Equality California Executive Director John O’Connor said the legislation is “a huge victory for making the world a more inclusive place for transgender people.” It follows several other key bills supported by the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community that were signed by Brown this year. The governor has until Sunday to act on 206 remaining bills on his desk.

“AB1121 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, allows a transgender person to change the name on their birth certificate without a hearing in open court or publishing their request in a newspaper. Court-ordered name changes are a prerequisite for changing other documents, such as driver’s licenses.

“The process for changing a gender marker on a birth certificate will be an administrative process requiring a doctor’s note indicating the person has undergone a gender transition. Ilona Turner, legal director for the Transgender Law Center, said Atkins’ bill was formed out of concerns from transgender people who were “honestly very nervous about being outed” publicly during the name- or gender-change process. The Transgender Law Center co-sponsored the bill with Equality California.

“A bill to increase access for gay and lesbian couples seeking infertility treatments was also signed Tuesday. AB460 by Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, adds nondiscrimination language to fertility coverage provided under some health plans. While nondiscrimination laws already exist, Ammiano said they are not being followed because of traditional definitions of family planning.” To be classified as infertile under many health plans, a heterosexual married couple must have sex regularly for a year without contraception and without a baby to show for it, Turner said. That definition leaves gay, lesbian or single women unable to use infertility coverage when it’s offered under their health insurance plans.

Continue reading “Transgender name changes to be easier in California”

And now, the three parent family

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday that will allow children in California to have more than two legal parents, a measure opposed by some conservative groups as an attack on the traditional family, the Los Angeles Times reportsimgres-1

“Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said he authored the measure to address the changes in family structure in California, including situations in which same-sex couples have a child with an opposite-sex biological parent.

“The law will allow the courts to recognize three or more legal parents so that custody and financial responsibility can be shared by all those involved in raising a child, Leno said.

“Courts need the ability to recognize these changes so children are supported by the adults that play a central role in loving and caring for them,” Leno said. “It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents so that no child has to endure separation from one of the adults he or she has always known as a parent.”

“The bill was partially a reaction to a 2011 court decision involving a lesbian couple that briefly ended their relationship, according to Leno’s office. One of the women was impregnated by a man before the women resumed their relationship. A fight broke out, putting one of the women in the hospital and the other in jail, but the daughter was sent to foster care because her biological father did not have parental rights.

“Everyone who places the interests of children first and realizes that judges shouldn’t be forced to rule in ways that hurt children should cheer this bill becoming law,” said Ed Howard, senior counsel for the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law.

“SB 274 was opposed by advocates for traditional families, including Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, who said Friday he was disappointed by the governor’s action.

“This is in the long run going to be a mistake,” Dacus said. “The ones who are going to pay the price are not the activists, but it’s going to be children, who will see greater conflict and indecision over matters involving their well-being.” Dacus said having more than two legal parents will create the potential for greater conflict over what is best for a child and result in more complicated court fights.

“Brown vetoed a similar bill last year, and his representatives did not return calls for comment on what changed his mind.”

 

More at: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-brown-bills-parents-20131005,0,7226241.story?track=rss

Calif community colleges eye bachelor’s degree offerings

Community colleges in a growing number of states are offering bachelor’s degrees. Now California and its huge two-year system may join that group, reports InsideHigher Ed

“A committee created by Brice Harris, the system’s chancellor, quietly began meeting last month to mull whether the state’s 112 community colleges should be granted the authority to offer four-year degrees. While the process has just started and has many hurdles to clear, it’s certain to be an attention-grabber in California and beyond.imgres-1

“Not everybody is sold on the idea that community colleges should be in the bachelor’s-degree business, which more than 20 states now allow. Nearby public universities in particular tend to bristle at competition for students and dwindling state dollars.

“Some two-year college leaders and faculty members also worry about “mission creep” and whether striver colleges that seek to become four-year institutions might lose track of their core purpose of providing job training for local students, often from underserved populations. Michigan is the most notable state to take the leap of late, with a new law that allows community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees in a limited number of technical fields. That battle is not over, however, as the state’s four-year institutions continue to fight the legislation. If California followed the lead of states like Michigan and Florida, it could add significant momentum to the trend. The state’s two-year system enrolls 2.4 million students, or one in four community college students nationwide. The move to offer four-year degrees at California community colleges would also pose a challenge to the traditional boundaries that the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education established.That influential framework, which was created in 1960, defined the roles of three tiers of public institutions – the community colleges, California State University and University of California Systems. Each sector has historically served different purposes to eliminate redundancy, with community colleges being the open-admission and transfer institutions.”

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/09/27/two-year-colleges-california-mull-bachelors-degrees#ixzz2gAdp3TlV
Inside Higher Ed

Napolitano’s rocky road

imgres-2The high-profile and surprising choice of former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to head the UC system has fueled criticism over the secret selection process, echoing debates around the country about how higher-education leaders are chosen.

Supporters of a more open method say that better decisions are made when three or four finalists for a university presidency or chancellorship are formally identified to the public, reports today’s Los Angeles Times.  “At that point, faculty and students could have a chance to meet them before a final selection.

“Some public universities in other states are required to do just that, but the UC and Cal State systems usually do not name more than one finalist and do not divulge the closed-door discussions that led to the nomination. Additionally, the final votes by the UC regents and Cal State trustees provide little information about the searches.

“Though widely praised, the selection of Napolitano in July also came as a shock to many outside a relatively small circle of UC regents and other officials. Some activists at California’s public campuses and elsewhere hope to change California’s higher-education hiring procedures.

“We want to see a transparent UC, where the people who are paid out of student tuition money are accountable,” said Caroline McKusick, a leader of UAW 2865, which represents teaching assistants and other student employees in UC. McKusick said that complaints about how Napolitano’s federal agency handled deportations of immigrants who crossed the border illegally should have been publicly aired before she was named as the sole nominee.  Continue reading “Napolitano’s rocky road”

E-cigarettes hit snags in California

E-cigarettes have hit some snags in California.imgres

With fresh memories of how rapidly marijuana dispensaries multiplied and generated controversy, many cities want to slow the spread of electronic cigarette stores until they can figure out the ramifications, reports the LA  Times:

“It’s a fast-growing business: A report by Wells Fargo Securities this summer estimated brick-and-mortar sales for e-cigarettes will top $1 billion this year and bring in an additional $700 million in online sales.

“For many, vaping is a way to cut back on smoking. For others it’s a trendy option that offers varied flavors similar to hookahs and lacks the smell left behind by cigarettes. Although businesses and cities are starting to look at e-cigarettes more closely, the devices can still be used at many more places than allow smoking. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t weighed in on the effects of secondhand vapor, the essentially odorless cloud is far less noticeable than exhaled smoke. But as with pot shops, some have raised concerns about the potential clientele of electronic cigarette stores. And an even larger debate hinges on whether the myriad restrictions that many cities impose on smokers should also apply to vapers. For Jim Basham, Seal Beach’s director of community development, the distinguishing line between pot dispensaries and vaping outlets is a bit blurry. He’s seen e-cigarette stores evolve into hemp shops — and draw with them a ragtag crowd.

“You have other folks with different intentions,” Basham said, “and you can have secondary adverse effects, like crime.” Continue reading “E-cigarettes hit snags in California”

Taking on the “gay panic” defense

The nation’s largest legal organization, meeting in San Francisco, will consider Monday whether to urge lawmakers to clamp down on the “gay panic” defense, in which murder defendants claim they were provoked by a victim’s homosexual advances.

As California has discovered, however, it’s a hard issue to define and even harder to address.

A resolution before the American Bar Association calls for the federal and state governments to prohibit such defenses in noncapital murder cases – or, as a more moderate option, to require antibias jury instructions modeled after a California law enacted after the notorious East Bay slaying of a transgender teenager.

“There’s still plenty of bias out there,” said Stephen Saltzburg, a George Washington University law professor who will present a resolution against “gay panic” defenses to the ABA’s policymaking House of Delegates.

But California’s example raises questions about whether such measures are effective.

In 2002, 17-year-old Gwen Araujo of Newark was choked and beaten to death by two men who said they became enraged when they learned that the person with whom they had just had sexual relations was born male. As one defense lawyer, Michael Thorman, put it, the killing could be traced to Araujo’s “deception and betrayal” of Thorman’s unsuspecting client.

An Alameda County jury deadlocked on first-degree murder charges against the two men in 2004. A second jury convicted them in 2005 of second-degree murder, with sentences of 15 years to life, while rejecting hate-crimes charges.

In response, the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006 enacted the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act, the first law of its kind in the nation. It requires juries in such cases to be instructed that they should not be influenced by the sexual orientation or gender identity of either the victim or the defendant.

Gay rights advocates praised the new law as a possible breakthrough. But it didn’t seem to have much impact in its first known courtroom test.

That case arose from the February 2008 slaying of Larry King, a gay 15-year-old junior high school student in the Ventura County town of Oxnard. A day after King asked 14-year-old classmate Brandon McInerney to be his valentine and called out “Love you, baby” in a hallway, McInerney pulled a pistol out of his backpack in a classroom and shot King in the back of the head.

 

More at: http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Law-group-to-take-up-gay-panic-defense-4722191.php

Gains and losses for transgender rights

This past week the national media featured many stories about California’s newly adopted Assembly Bill 1266 recognizing the rights of transgender students in K-12 schools. While a few other states have put in place similar provisions, California is the first state to address the issue with a statewide law. It’s an encouraging accomplishment.images-1

Meanwhile, things seem to be going in the opposite direction in Florida, as Huffington Post reported today:

“In Miami-Dade, it’s still legal to fire, deny housing, refuse services, or just plain discriminate against an individual for being transgender. That’s because a proposed amendment to protected transgendered people under Miami-Dade County’s anti-discrimination law failed this week — and advocates are blaming “chief obstructionist” Commissioner Lynda Bell in particular. In May, the county’s largest gay rights group, SAVE Dade, introduced a”TransEquality” campaign “to pass a trans-inclusive countywide Human Rights Ordinance” that would amend Miami-Dade’s 1998 anti-discrimination law. The law protects gays and lesbians, but doesn’t include language for transgender rights.

“The proposal seemed on track when, sponsored by Commissioners Bruno Barreiro and Audrey Edmonson, it passed on its first reading with an 11-1 vote — with Bell casting the lone vote against it, according to the Miami Herald. The amendment then went to the Health and Social Services Committee, of which Bell is a member. But before the committee hearing, the Christian Family Coalition of Miami-Dade County — an “ally” of Bell that has previously endorsed her — sent an illustrated emailurging members to show up to a public discussion. It referred to the proposal as “a dangerous law,” warning that it would “force all places to open bathrooms and dressing rooms to ‘transsexuals.'” A second flyer warned the proposal was “another excuse to discriminate against Christians” and could lead to lawsuits against religious schools.”

 

More at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/14/miami-dade-transgender-rights_n_3755340.html