After the horrific mass shooting of elementary school kids in Connecticut today, the Oakland Unified School District sent out the following message to parents and guardians on how to talk to children about community violence. It's written by Dr. David Fassler, a child and adolescent psychiatrist practicing in Burlington, Vermont. He is also a clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine:
"Once again, parents and teachers are faced with the challenge of discussing a tragic incident of community violence with children. Although these may be difficult conversations, they are also important. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to talk with children about such traumatic events. However, here are some suggestions that may be helpful:
A new poll shows that large majorities of Oakland residents want better maintenance of city roads, an increased emphasis on public safety, and better programs and services for youth. The poll, commissioned by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, also showed that majorities of city residents expressed support for spending more money on libraries and parks and recreation. However, the survey, conducted by longtime East Bay pollster Alex Evans, did not ask residents how they propose to pay for the programs and services they said they want. In the past, Oakland voters have expressed desires for more services, but then have voted down revenue measures that would have paid for them.
For months, Governor Jerry Brown has been calling on supporters of rival tax measures to abandon them in favor of his own. Brown has argued that if there are multiple tax proposals on the November ballot, voters will reject all of them out of frustration or confusion. It’s highly debatable as to whether the governor’s argument is correct, but if it is, then it’s becoming increasingly clear that his tax proposal, the most regressive of the three vying for the ballot, is the one that should be dropped.
1. President Obama’s chances of winning reelection suddenly look very strong, as Republicans dig in for a long, nasty presidential primary season. On Saturday night, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich trounced Mitt Romney in the South Carolina primary, snuffing out Romney’s hopes of securing the nomination quickly. The GOP race also has turned ugly — and promises to get even uglier — amid revelations that Gingrich had demanded an open marriage from his second wife, and that Romney has stashed up to $32 million in offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands and has been paying a lower tax rate than the vast majority of Americans. All the while, the president gets to remain above the fray as the GOP presidential hopefuls bloody each other.
The future looks grim for young people who've just entered the workforce, according to a new study by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. Apparently, young people are more likely to retire in poverty, owing to the fact that most employers now require their workers to invest in 401K accounts, rather than offering benefit pension plans, which used to guarantee a smooth retirement in the old days. As The Daily Cal reported yesterday, 401K plans are risky, because they won't pay dividends if the market does poorly, or if the individual doesn't invest wisely. As the study's editor Nari Rhee told Daily Cal reporter Christopher Yee, "We don't all have the skills to game the system." Fortunately, Rhee's research might have legs: Los Angeles senator Kevin de Leon is working on a bill that would address some of these issues. Call it a dubious silver lining.
Following on the heels of San Francisco and Oakland, Richmond began the process of ratifying ordinance that would grant municipal ID cards to anyone living in the city, the Contra Costa Times reports. Designed specifically to benefit undocumented immigrants, transgender people, and indigents, the law would grant any cardholder access to city services, regardless of federal ID or green card status. That would mean that anyone with a municipal card could open a bank account in Richmond. City council members added a few perks to sweeten the pot for all residents — like adding access to libraries — so that the cards wouldn't become a stigma for certain populations. And so far, the law appears to be gaining momentum. It's passed two out of three required city council votes so far, and should go on the books July 5, if all goes according to plan. Not surprisingly, detractors say it would encourage illegal immigration.
Just because two months have passed and we've turned our attention to wondering why James was voted off American Idol, that doesn't mean Japan has recovered from its tsunami — or that relief efforts aren't still desperately needed.
1. The City of Oakland will soon begin issuing municipal identification cards to residents who may otherwise have difficulty in obtaining proper IDs, the Trib reports. Under the program authored by Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente and Mayor-elect Jean Quan, the municipal IDs also will work as debit cards — a nationwide first. The municipal IDs also will be honored by Oakland cops, and city officials hope that the IDs will encourage people who witness crimes or are crime victims to cooperate with police officers.
Among those to whom reports of “economic recovery” sting, count sections of Richmond, Oakland, and Contra Costa County, where the two-year-old housing crisis lingers in the form of faded for-sale signs and boarded-up windows. Those communities suffer from some of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, but this week they got some consolation. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a new round of grants to address blight and abandonment. In the Bay Area, Oakland was awarded just over $2 million, Contra Costa County $1.9 million, and Richmond $1.2 million.
Larry Bush of the regional HUD office points to parts of Oakland where houses unable to sell accelerate the decline of entire neighborhoods. “This money could be used to buy some of those homes and bring them up to decent condition,” he said, and then be made available for low- to moderate-income homebuyers who have gone through a homeowner counseling program. Funding for the so-called Neighborhood Stabilization Program is provided under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed into law this summer, and is intended to be implemented ASAP. Once HUD issues guidelines for the funding, municipalities must propose how they will spend it, and Bush says we could see the money before Christmas time.