Tuesday, March 31, 2020

SCUSD Aguilar Takes a Big Pay Increase While Schools Closed

Sacramento City Schools Superintendent Aguilar Takes a Big Pay Increase While Schools Closed
Teachers union angry over Aguilar’s pay increase while refusing to pay substitute teachers
By Katy Grimes, March 30, 2020 7:46 am
In March 2019, California Globe reported Sacramento City Unified School District  Superintendent Jorge Aguilar and seven other administrators spent more than $35,000 to attend a six-day conference at the Harvard Business School, while the district teetered on the verge of insolvency, and under the threat of state takeover as it struggled with a $35 million budget gap.

Flash forward one year and SCUSD is still faltering; the district threatened to pink slip teachers right before the March 3 Primary Election. This is likely how the school district managed to convince voters within the Sacramento school district to vote to authorize the district to sell $750 million of bonds to improve schools’ facilities.
While this infusion of funding may stave off the bleeding for now, the Sacramento City Teachers Association just reported, “Superintendent Aguilar has taken a significant pay increase after stating last year that he would not accept a salary increase while the District had significant financial issues.”
In a March 25 email sent to union members titled, “SCUSD to Present Its Draft Plan for Distance Learning Tomorrow (Thursday)District Refuses to Pay Day-to-Day Subs, as the Superintendent Takes His Pay Increase,” the union questions district priorities.
Notably, the district is refusing “to pay short-term, day-to-day substitutes as required by Governor Newsom’s March 13 Executive Order,” during the shutdown of schools over the coronavirus crisis, which SCTA says is “saving the District $44,000 per day or more than $800,000 per month. We asked the District what it intended to spend the money on and received no response.”
SCTA: ‘The financial crisis must be over’
According to documents provided by the Sacramento School District, Superintendent Aguilar’s total compensation climbed from $380,692.47 to $414,818, an increase of $34,126 or 9.0% (see below).
This does not include Mr. Aguilar’s second salary from UC Merced.
The documents showing the SCUSD pay increases are herehere and here.
“In contrast, a day-to-day substitute would have to work 155 out of the 180 instructional days in a school year to just earn the $34,000 in Mr. Aguilar’s salary increase,” SCTA reported. “It would take a substitute 10 years, or more than 1800 days of work–to earn Mr. Aguilar’s full annual compensation package.”
“It is truly unfortunate that SCUSD refuses to rank the economic well-being of staff as a high priority, just as the District put the health of hundreds of SEIU classified members at risk last week,” SCTA said. “As SEIU Local 1021 Chapter President Karla Faucett stated: ‘This is the same administration that treated classified employees like cannon fodder by forcing hundreds of non-essential staff to report to work at the SCUSD central office four days after Governor’s Newsom’s Executive Order closing schools. It’s outrageous that this disregard for SCUSD employees, in this case substitute teachers, is allowed to continue.'”
“The District found the money to increase Mr. Aguilar’s pay. But it doesn’t have to look for money for the substitutes–it’s already provided in the Governor’s Executive Order. Now the District just needs to follow the law.”
SCUSD 2017-18 Superintendent Aguilar pay. (Photo: Screen capture)
A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generatedSCUSD Superintendent Aguilar 2018-19 pay. (Photo: screen captureRecent Posts

Monday, March 30, 2020

Provide Aid To Farm Workers

antiracismdsa: Provide Aid To Farm Workers: ACT NOW: Farm Workers left out  of COVID-19 federal aid What would  Cesar Chavez  say?  E-mail your Congressmembers today. ...

Corporate Malfeasance Keeps Our Families from Having Ventilators

It was 2010 and Newport Medical Instruments, a small medical device company in Costa Mesa, California, was excited. They had just signed a federal contract to design and build up to 40,000 mobile ventilators, which would be placed into the national stockpile in the interest of pandemic preparedness. After SARS and bird flu and swine flu, the government needed to steel itself should a deadly infectious disease go viral.
Newport agreed to deliver the devices at a low-cost, not only to maximize federal purchases but also to build a reputation that could increase sales to other countries and the private sector. The company sent prototypes within a year, and was on track for market approval by 2013.
But before that could happen, Covidien, a larger firm, announced a bid to purchase Newport for $108 million in March 2012. The Federal Trade Commission didn’t even give it a second look; the deal closed in May. And Covidien sold its own ventilators. They weren’t interested in developing a new model that could cut into its existing profits. Covidien immediately asked for more money from the government, and by 2014 they called off the deal because “it was not sufficiently profitable for the company.” The government started over, found another little company to make the ventilators, and they were just about to start delivering them—in mid-2020, too late to assist the immediate COVID-19 crisis.
Amazingly, this maneuver, where a large company buys out an upstart making an innovative product that could outcompete their tried-and-true model, is relatively common. In a 2018 paper called Killer Acquisitions, researchers at Yale and the London Business School found an average of 45 instances per year of pharmaceutical firms buying out competitors developing rival drugs that could cut into their profits, and subsequently putting the new therapeutic on ice. Last October, Roche purchased a small firm called Spark Therapeutics, which was successfully testing a one-time hemophilia A treatment. Roche’s hemophilia drug Hemlibra requires a dosage every four weeks, so they had plenty of incentive to put the one-time drug, or in other words the cure, on the shelf.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Trump Coronavirus

SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: The Trump Coronavirus: I accuse. Over 100,000 will die.  Perhaps millions. Our economy will be set back again- worse than 2008-2012, that will cost homes...

Friday, March 27, 2020

DSA - This is Barbarism

This Is Barbarism

Over 100 years ago, in the midst of the death and destruction of the First World War, German socialist leader Rosa Luxemburg wrote that capitalist society was at a crossroads and would either “transition to socialism or regress into barbarism.” In the 1930s, fascist parties took over Germany and other countries, and they indeed descended into genocidal barbarism.
Today, in the center of western capitalism, the United States, the president, Republican senators, and major financial leaders are calling for an imminent return to business as usual that could kill millions — but at least temporarily save corporate profits. 
This is barbarism.

The Evolving Crisis
There are now nearly half a million confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide, with more than 40,000 confirmed cases in the United States quickly spreading in the South. Our caseload trajectory is rising faster than anywhere else in the world and could soon make the U.S. the center of the global pandemic. 
The virus is ravaging New York’s healthcare system, and in Washington nurses describe their work as analogous to war: “You’re in a battlefield where supplies are limited. The help’s slow to get to you and there’s lots of casualties and … you can’t see the enemy.” Decades of neoliberal austerity have left most local governments and public health systems totally ill-equipped to handle the crisis.
50% of those who die from Covid-19 have dying from secondary bacteria infections, something Mike Davis warnedabout in his critique of big pharma’s drive for profits.
The FDA granted the pharmaceutical giant Gilead seven years of monopoly on its drug, remdesivir, a possible treatment for coronavirus. Gilead is already known for price-gouging life-saving HIV drugs.
Activists with Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) are sounding the alarm about an uptick in violent attacksagainst hundreds of Asian Americans, fueled by Trump’s racist rhetoric.
Stock markets are rallying as investors welcome the latest bailout package. But Fed officials predict unemployment figures as high as 30 percent, which will snowball the economic havoc that’s in store.

Government (In)Action
Across the country, we’re seeing murderous levels of neglect and inaction. With Trump pushing for a return to work by Easter, the new strategy is to starve workers to protect the profits of a few, risking the lives of millions in the process. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to force workers back to work in the epicenter of the US outbreak while he recommended $400M in cuts to Medicaid.
The passing of the buck to state and local governments has resulted in wildly uneven responses across the country. This will only prolong the pandemic.
Democrats have reached a deal with the Trump White House on the largest stimulus package in history — $2 trillion, including $500 billion in corporate aid. Early reports indicate that Bernie succeeded in his fight to add improved unemployment support for workers. Bailouts may be in order, but they must be equitable and put people over profit.We must reject a repeat of the post-2008 corporate giveaway that lined capitalists’ pockets at the expense of workers!
Some local governments have pursued steps guaranteeing rent grace periods, eviction moratoriums, and other relief measures aimed at cushioning the blow for workers. 
Joe Biden broke his week-long silence on Monday with bizarre and jumbled videos and interviews, displaying a lack of basic leadership capacity. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has seen his highest approval ratings as President, with a majority of Americans approving of his handling of the crisis. The leadership vacuum from anyone left of Trump shows why it’s more important than ever for Bernie Sanders to remain on the national stage. Bernie can retool his campaign to lead the charge against coronavirus and disaster capitalism as a surrogate for an absent workers’ party.

Workers Strike Back
The diverse working class is organizing like we’ve never seen — fighting to shutter nonessential businesses to stop the spread of COVID-19 while winning paid time off for workers. Essential workers in healthcare, logistics, transportation, and grocery are fighting to protect themselves and our whole society.
Healthcare: People are stepping up to donate medical supplies to hospitals. It may not be fully sufficient, but this mutual aid is an important and much-needed act of solidarity! East Bay DSA is hosting a digital townhall to hear from frontline healthcare workers in Oakland. Don’t miss it.
Transit: Following Detroit’s example, organized transit workers in Toronto and Alabama won rear boarding and free fares for riders to protect the public and the workers. Union taxi workers in Los Angeles have issued demandsranging from social distancing protocols to the expansion of SNAP for all essential workers.
Logistics: The presidents of two of the largest unions at Bath Iron Works on Tuesday called on the company to close and give employees paid leave for two weeks to protect the company’s 8,000 workers.
Grocery: Grocery workers in Berkeley won a $2/hour raise as hazard pay during the pandemic after gathering over a thousand signatures in their petition. H-E-B workers also won a temporary $2/hour hazard pay raise. Bosses at Kroger are so scared of workers organizing that they banned the website Labor Notes on their wifi. Check out the article that shook them up. Instacart is hiring hundreds of thousands of new workers to handle new demand for delivered groceries. We must support these workers in getting protection, support, and hazard compensation for this frontline work.
Agriculture: In Georgia, Perdue plant workers walked out in protest of their unsafe working conditions and lack of hazard pay.
Coffee Shops: After gathering over 24,000 signatures on a petition demanding the company close stores, Starbucks workers won.
We’re Fighting For the World 
Like Rosa Luxemburg a century ago, democratic socialists are fighting for a just, equal, healthy, and environmentally sustainable world. 
Under capitalism, private profit for billionaires drives our economy, our energy system, our government, and more. This profit is in effect stolen from the labor of millions of exploited, oppressed, overworked, and underpaid workers and from our environment. The pursuit of profit drives the privatization of energy, water, schools, transportation, and healthcare — driving the coronavirus pandemic to cause far more human suffering than it would otherwise. Profit drives the military and prison industrial complexes, the division of workers along the lines of race and nationality, and the devastation of our planet. Capitalism as a social system not only benefits the already rich at the expense of everyone else. 
Democratic socialism is the only cure to the disease that is capitalism. Workers—united across geography, ethnicity, gender, and age—are the ones who will win it.

DSA Announcements
  • Want to organize a COVID-19 response in your workplace or know someone who does? Fill this out, and share it far and wide.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Trump Removed the Scientist Whose Job Was to Warn the U.S. About Virus From China

President Donald Trump loves to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic, but new information surfaced over the weekend that the administration eliminated a position last July that potentially could have helped the US get an earlier jump on a response to the crisis, suggesting the president may need to place blame a little closer to home.
The Trump administration told the United States’ embed at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the position would be defunded, causing her to leave her post in July 2019, according to a report from Reuters’s Marisa Taylor. The embed helped train Chinese pubic health experts and served in part as a liaison between Chinese officials and their counterparts in the US. 
With the administration planning to discontinue the role, the embed return to the US about five months before China began to see its first Covid-19 cases. Under normal circumstances, the embed likely would have passed information about the novel virus to US officials. Instead, Chinese officials were able for weeks to conceal the virus and the threat it posed, leading to a delay in the world’s response to what was then a matter of great concern and is now a pandemic.

Vox news


WASHINGTON (AP) — A series of missteps at the nation’s top public health agency caused a critical shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus, hobbling the federal response as the pandemic spread across the country like wildfire, an Associated Press review found.

President Donald Trump assured Americans early this month that the COVID-19 test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is “perfect” and that “anyone who wants a test can get a test.” But more than two months after the first U.S. case of the new disease was confirmed, many people still cannot get tested.

In the critical month of February, as the virus began taking root in the U.S. population, CDC data shows government labs processed 352 COVID-19 tests — an average of only a dozen per day.

“You cannot fight a fire blindfolded,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, said at a recent briefing. “We cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected.”

The Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the CDC, has begun an internal review to assess its own mistakes. But outside observers and federal health officials have pointed to four primary issues that together hampered the national response — the early decision not to use the test adopted by the World Health Organization, flaws with the more complex test developed by the CDC, government guidelines restricting who could be tested and delays in engaging the private sector to ramp up testing capacity.

Combined with messaging from the White House minimizing the disease, that fueled a lackluster response that missed chances to slow the spread of the virus, they said.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Trump's Bogus Google Claim on Convid 19

SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: Trump's Bogus Google Claim on Convid 19: According to the Washington Post, Trump has lied 1,400 times since becoming President. So, what should we expect ?  On Friday. Presiden...

Friday, March 13, 2020

Teachers, Unions, Respond to the Virus and Trump's Incompetence !

Korean Response

Since January, in response to the coronavirus, the AFT’s attention has been focused on how to ensure the health and safety of our families and communities, particularly those on the frontline of this crisis. Now, since the World Health Organization has labeled the coronavirus a global pandemic, our attention must be on everything: prevention and precaution, treatment, and the short- and long-term economic impact of COVID-19 on families and communities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions that the spread of the new coronavirus will get worse in the United States before it gets better. But we’ve seen that the comprehensive response to COVID-19 in both China and South Korea—where they have used widespread testing and quarantines—appears to have stemmed the spread of the virus and is a very good sign.
The difference in the United States is that we are not fighting COVID-19 with all the tools we need because, unlike China and South Korea, the federal government has cut public health infrastructure and does not have enough tests for the coronavirus to use them preventively, as opposed to when a cluster erupts. Nonetheless, we wanted you to know what the AFT is doing related to preventing, treating and dealing with the long-term impacts of COVID-19 to protect people, prevent the spread and limit the ravages to our economy:
  • We are focused on the health and safety of frontline healthcare providers. This means fighting for proper safety equipment, including N95 masks. It also means pushing for high standards for workplace safety, even as the CDC attempts to roll back safety standards, potentially putting healthcare workers at risk.
  • We are equally focused on the health and safety of children, families and communities, and maintaining as much normalcy as possible. We know that social distancing, limiting who can be in schools beyond students and staff, and closing schools when necessary flattens the curve of exposure to the virus. But we also need to ensure that if (and when) schools close, distance and online learning is done in a positive, equitable and beneficial way—and that children who rely on schools for meals and a safe and welcoming environment have access to those supports.
  • We are supporting efforts to reduce the economic impacts of the pandemic. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has proposed a multibillion-dollar package of policies and programs to fight the spread of COVID-19 and help ensure that our economy and working people and their families are protected. It includes emergency paid sick leave, free coronavirus testing, provisions to protect frontline healthcare workers, and food assistance for seniors and vulnerable children and families. This bill, combined with the initial $8.3 billion in emergency funding to fight the coronavirus, is exactly what’s needed.
The AFT has done numerous information sessions since the coronavirus emerged, and we’ll do the largest telephone town hall to date this Saturday at 2 p.m. Eastern. We will highlight what we know, provide our recommendations and answer your questions. You can sign up for the town hall here.
And right now, you can help by sending a letter to your senators telling them to pass the vital comprehensive package that I mentioned above to protect the health of our families and communities, as well as to address the short- and long-term impacts to their economic well-being. You can send the letter by clicking here.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Bernie Addresses the Nation on the Health and Economic Crisis

Start at 13 min, 

It was a Coup in Bolivia, and Honduras, Facilitated by the OAS and the Trump Administration

Laura Carlsen, 
Experts at MIT recently concluded that there is no statistical evidence of fraud in the results of the Bolivian presidential elections last October. These findings debunk an earlier report by the Organization of American States (OAS), which were used to justify a right-wing coup d’etat in the Andean nation.
“All in all, the OAS’ statistical analysis and conclusions would appear deeply flawed,” the researchers, John Curiel and Jack R. Williams of the Election Data and Science Lab, wrote in the Washington Post. They added that the incumbent, Evo Morales, very likely garnered more than the 10 percent margin needed to avoid a second round vote.
The announcement has caused an international uproar.
The OAS mission’s report alleging “intentional manipulation” to favor Morales’ re-election led to an insurrection by the Bolivian armed forces and ultra right parties, as well as violent conflict in the streets. To date, an interim government headed by a minor member of parliament, Jeanine Añez, remains in power. Scores of pro-Morales protesters were killed in the mayhem that ensued after the regional organization called into question the legitimacy of the electoral process and ignited the chain of events that led to the coup.
As it turns out, Bolivia isn’t the only election where the OAS has played a role in steering results, rather than monitoring and assuring democratic practice.
An analysis of recent election observation missions and statements by Secretary General Luis Almagro reveals a disturbing pattern of bias and a willingness to manipulate events and data for political purposes. More broadly, the Secretary General’s revival of Cold War ideology and allegiance to the Trump administration has created a pattern that consistently favors right-wing governments and forces, while attacking or attempting to eliminate the left in power.
This behavior in a regional forum founded to resolve controversy poses a serious threat to democratic practice as well as the self-determination of nations.
The actions of the OAS Electoral Mission in Bolivia, headed by the Costa Rican Manuel González Sanz, triggered a break with the democratic order, leading not only to the coup but the subsequent killings of pro-Morales protesters by security forces, who specifically targeted indigenous supporters of the nation’s first indigenous president.
Indeed, the OAS accusations of “manipulation” in the Bolivian presidential elections catalyzed violent protests and unleashed massive human rights violations. As if awaiting a cue, armed right-wing forces mobilized to overthrow the elected government. The president and vice president, along with other high-level elected officials of the ruling MAS party, were forced to flee when their houses were set on fire and they came under attack.
Just hours after the polls closed, the OAS mission issued a press release before the vote count was finished, followed up two days later by a preliminary report calling into question Morales’ lead of just over 10 percent. The report cited a “hard to explain” pause in the rapid count and other criticisms of the process.
Based on the report, right-wing forces that had hoped to gain power by forcing Morales into a second round of voting, protested. They were joined by some social organizations, staging demonstrations as well as burning buildings. When the armed forces stepped in threatening a coup, Morales resigned to avoid further bloodshed. A government of ultra-right-wing political figures took power, unleashing the attacks on indigenous peoples and Morales supporters.
An earlier analysis of the OAS reports by the Center for Economic and Policy Research showed that the mission provided no proof of fraud, and that the timing and accusations of the report played a critical political role in the subsequent chain of events. On February 27, the study by the MIT Election Data and Science Lab concluded:
“The OAS’s claim that the stopping of the TREP [Transmission of Preliminary Electoral Results] during the Bolivian election produced an oddity in the voting trend is contradicted by the data. While there was a break in the reporting of votes, the substance of those later-reporting votes could be determined prior to the break. Therefore, we cannot find results that would lead us to the same conclusion as the OAS. We find it is very likely that Morales won the required 10 percentage point margin to win in the first round of the election on October 20, 2019.”
By using its electoral mission to rashly question official elections results, the OAS report contributed to mob violence and the fall of the elected government. The openly racist and misogynist rightwing forces that came to power carried out at least one documented massacre of indigenous peoples.
When national and international voices protested the Bolivian coup d’etat, the OAS Secretary General retorted: “Yes, there was a coup in Bolivia on October 20, when Evo Morales committed electoral fraud” — an unsubstantiated assertion that did not express a consensus view within the organization nor even reflect the language of the mission.
Following publication of the expert analysis, the OAS wrote a letter to the Washington Post, complaining that the study “is not honest, fact-based, or exhaustive.” However, the organization has not presented a full scientific rebuttal or specific reasons for its assertion. In view of the doubts and the dire impact, the Mexican government has demanded an explanation from the OAS. Neither the OAS leadership nor the mission have responded to the request.
There are reports that the OAS followed the political dictates of the U.S. government in precipitating the Bolivian coup. The Los Angeles Times reported:
“Carlos Trujillo, the U.S. ambassador to the OAS, had steered the group’s election-monitoring team to report widespread fraud and pushed the Trump administration to support the ouster of Morales. (The State Department denied Trujillo exercised undue influence on the report and said it respects the autonomy of the OAS. Trujillo, through a spokesman, declined a request for an interview.)”
The OAS’s lack of transparency regarding its mission to Bolivia has compounded suspicions. Unlike other election observations, all of which should be included in the OAS public database, the 2019 Bolivia mission does not appear at all. The OAS press office has not responded to numerous queries regarding the omission of the data on the Bolivian mission, including the names of the members and other pertinent information.
The November 2017 presidential elections in Honduras provide another example of the OAS’s political agenda. That year, right-wing incumbent president Juan Orlando Hernandez ran despite a ban on his seeking re-election, which was suspended by a highly questionable court ruling that declared the constitution itself unconstitutional.
On election night, after announcing that the opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla had established an “irreversible” lead, the Electoral Tribunal shut down the vote count and later returned to announce the incumbent’s unlikely victory amid massive disbelief. The OAS mission questioned the re-election of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, known as JOH by his initials, and announced the elections too dirty to call. Almagro called for new elections.
By contrast, the Trump administration immediately endorsed the Honduran Electoral Tribunal’s position and congratulated Orlando Herndandez on his supposed victory, while pressuring allies to do the same. Following the U.S. lead, Almagro eventually backed down from his insistence on new elections and accepted the incumbent government.
The Hondurans administration brutally repressed widespread popular protests following the election, leaving more than 30 opposition demonstrators dead. While the direct blame lies with the Honduran government, the OAS’s inability to assure or restore clean elections, and its compliance with U.S. policy causing it to reverse its original position, contributed to the breakdown of rule of law in the country.
Today the political crisis continues to claim lives and forces thousands of Hondurans to emigrate every month.
Dominican Republic 
OAS actions in the Dominican Republic’s botched local elections on February 20 again reveal its bias.
The OAS pressured the island government to adopt an automated voting system that went bonkers on polling day. When Dominicans tried to vote, the names of certain candidates did not appear on the screens in nearly half the precincts. T
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.