Monday, March 31, 2008, 09:17 PM - Political developmentsIt was 1974.
I was in law school, living in a ramshackle country house on a corner of a hog farm. The place was about 20 miles from both Chapel Hill (where I was at UNC Law) and Durham (home of Duke's Blue Devils). Surrounded by corn fields and a secluded pond good for little but water moccasins and brave skinnydippers, my abode was in "the sticks". The kind of a place where a guy can pee off the front porch.
I'd do my classes at UNC, grab a North Carolina barbecue, and then head over to the Duke law school library to study before heading out to the hog farm.
Once in a while something would come along to break my routine. Cesar Chavez was one of those things.
Chavez spoke at Duke.
I can remember him vividly. A small man, burning with intensity. He seemed world weary, yet determined. Chavez told the story of his 1965 long march from Delano to Sacramento. His 1969 fast. The efforts to ban el cortito, the short handled hoe. Boycotts of table grapes and lettuce. The ongoing struggle with the growers. His visits at colleges and salons of power across the country to whip up public support for the boycotts.
Important as those things were, it was clear that there was more. Chavez was speaking for people who had no voice, no money, and no prospects for either. It was a struggle that would be ongoing, he said.
I remember that he spoke calmly, and without rancor or bitterness.
It would be a long struggle, he said. There would be some lost battles, and many sacrifices.
I realized he was talking not just about farm workers, but rights of all workers.
I went back to my cold, dilapidated hog-farm house that night. Ran up the creaky stairs to turn on the electric blanket. and then down to the porch. Wasn't in the mood to read that deadly dull contracts law course outline.
Sat in a rocking chair on that big front porch. The skies were clear, the stars brilliant.
And as I sat there, I knew I'd seen-and heard-a bright shining star,,,,,,something that would stay with me all my life.
"Si, se puede".
You can find the text of Chavez' 1984 address to the Commonwealth Club of California by clicking here:
http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeche ... ddress.htm
Wednesday, March 26, 2008, 11:02 PM - Political developmentsMajor healthcare reform this year in California looks dead as a doornail.
Last year's special session failed to produce an airtight deal, and the budget debacle and recession are setting the stage for an ugly legislative session.
But-to its credit-the Schwarzenegger administration appears ready to get tough with healthcare insurers who try to rescind the policies of sick
Blue Shield has filed an appeal in Hailey vs California Physicians Service, requesting the California Supreme Court take the case. The Court of Appeals had upheld some limits on healthcare recissions. The Hailey decision can be seen here:
http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/do ... 035579.PDF
Now the California Department of Managed Care has decided to file an "amicus" brief ("friend of the court" brief) urging the California Supreme Court NOT take up the Hailey case on appeal. If the Supreme Court refuses to review Hailey, Hailey is "the law". Meanwhile, the administration is meeting with insurers to encourage development of new policies on recissions.
Recently there have been high-profile jury verdicts in some cases against insurers who tried to rescind coverage from sick people. Legislative hearings are on the horizon.
Check out today's piece by John Howard and Anthony York in the Capitol Weekly:
http://www.capitolweekly.net/article.ph ... 67binwg6z4
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Monday, March 24, 2008, 11:43 PM - Political developmentsIs graveyard shift work a health risk? Are night shift workers more susceptible to accidents and illness?
As many as 15 million Americans-15% of the work force-work hours other than the day shift. There's some evidence-though controversial-that night shift work makes accidents more likely. The World Health Organization has noted that graveyard shift work may be a risk factor for cancer. The CDC has published research onnight shift work and various maladies..
Stanford and UCSF sleep and neurology researchers are looking into the issue. Who knows? If the epidemiology results are right, perhaps there will be industrial cases making the connection. Something else for those underwriters to worry about?
Doctors-of all people-understand the problem. Any doctor who has taken night call or served marathon shifts as an intern can identify with the problems of the sleep-deprived brain. It's hell to play with our body's circadian rhythms.
Check out a good piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, "Night Shift" by Erin Allday:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... =printable
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Sunday, March 23, 2008, 12:04 PM - Political developmentsHappy Easter.
It's been quite a week. We've been bombarded with images of the nutty
Jeremiah Wright. There's got to be more to James Cone's"Liberation Theology" than Wright's screeds. But just as liberals have their Wright, conservatives have their John Hagee and Pat Robertson.
Growing up in the Bible Belt, I always had a love-hate relationship with the pulpit. Tent revival evangelist A.A. Allen set up his huge tent just a few miles down the road from where I was growing up. You don't know Allen? Here's a link:
Legend has it that when Allen's minions collected offering, they'd toss it up with Allen noting that "what goes up is the Lord's and what comes down is mine". Not a bad business plan.
A country that produces a range of viewpoints-from Reverend Ike, Rev. Eugene Scott, Garner Ted Armstrong and Rev. Cecil Williams to Sinclair Lewis, who had the courage to write " Elmer Gantry"-can't be said to be lacking in diversity on the evangelism front.
But Sunday morning has now turned to Sunday afternoon. Californians
engage in that springtime ritual-washing the car.
Turns out there are lots of dirty car washes out there.
Car washes that ignore labor standards laws. Uninsured for workers' comp. Magnet for illegals, who are then abused. Businesses underpaying workers.
Take a look at the Los Angeles Times piece on these dirty carwashes:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me ... 2975.story
It's another one of the dirty secrets in this modern economy. The people who do the crap jobs-the jobs Americans don't want to do-are often
subjected to illegal treatment. Why? As Bill Clinton famously once said,
because we "could".
Wishing a happy day to all my readers...
Thursday, March 20, 2008, 11:14 PM - Political developmentsThe DWC has now posted proposed regulations on its website dealing with EAMS (the coming electronic paperless system) and voc retraining/return to work.
The regs include proposed new forms to be used in California workers comp cases.
The regs are in a public electronic forum phase, at least til March 25th.
It's not clear why the forum is so short. The DWC might want to consider taking a deep breath to allow a little longer for comments. However, with some past forums there hasn't been all that much public input, so maybe it's a wash.
For those who live and breathe these issues, have at it. Here is the link to the forum:
http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/DWCWCABForum/ ... U_RRTW.htm