California Editorial Rdp
Santa Cruz Sentinel on culture of sexual abuse and harassment needing to change
Make it stop.
Not the daily cavalcade of reports of sexual harassment and abuse by powerful men against women.
No, men need to stop.
Stop accepting and perpetuating a culture within fields such as politics, journalism and entertainment that has for many, many years not only tolerated boorish and sometimes criminal behavior but deliberately turned a blind eye toward both.
Every day there seems to be a new disgusting revelation.
This week’s name of shame: Charlie Rose, who is — was — a major news figure for PBS and CBS, and who is 75 years old. But his age, even subtracting a few years to match the reports from women he abused, wasn’t an issue. But his position of power was.
And that’s what you see, over and over and over in these reports.
Mostly women, usually younger, trying to break into high profile fields or land coveted roles, and who are preyed upon by men in high places for sexual favors or for some kind of perverted gratification.
And while men acting badly toward women has been around for all of recorded history, the behavior seems even more egregious in our time where the pervasive eyes of social media and click-bait journalism are on the prowl for anything that might scintillate an audience.
And these accounts certainly do that.
But the torrent of accusations and reports didn’t start with Harvey Weinstein or even Roy Moore.
Leaders who are personally corrupted and seemingly get away with contemptible behavior have tremendous influence on other leaders and influential persons.
And the degradations of two U.S. presidents, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, set a low bar indeed.
Clinton idolized John F. Kennedy, whose numerous affairs were actually national security concerns during his presidency, which ended with an assassin’s bullets on this day in 1963.
Clinton’s affairs, including allegations of rape and using his office for sex with a White House intern, also involved lies and a deliberate smearing of the reputations and motives of the women who accused him. It nearly brought his presidency to an end; if similar accounts surfaced today, he almost certainly would have been tossed from office. Sadly, in another era of hyper partisanship, many women continued to support Clinton, despite the lies and cover-ups, and he escaped impeachment.
Trump is on his third marriage, and has a reputation as a serial sexual predator, even if he has never formally been accused or sanctioned. The infamous Access Hollywood videos only confirmed his opinion and treatment of women. But many Republicans continued to support him and he used the Clinton White House as a counterweight in the 2016 election to obfuscate his own behavior.
And many Christians, especially in the deep South, continue to support Roy Moore in his bid to become a Republican senator, despite numerous and credible reports that as an adult in his 30s he was frequently on the prowl for underage girls.
And the lists roll on: Democratic senators John Conyers and Al Franken; California Democratic state Sen. Tony Mendoza and Democratic Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra; Amazon Studios head Roy Price; filmmakers James Toback, Brett Ratner and hip-hop music mogul Russell Simmons; actors Kevin Spacey and John Travolta (with younger men), along with actors Jeffrey Tambor and Ed Westwick; comedian Louis C.K.; and in the media, New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush, Michael Oreskes, news chief at NPR; Lockhart Steele, editorial director of Vox Media; and Mark Halperin NBC News and MSNBC contributor, and co-author of “Game Change.”
And that’s just a partial list.
Some defenders of the abusers say that the women were willing accomplices, only too willing to go along in exchange for career advancement and only coming forward now because it’s become the cause du jour.
The truth is that far too many women have been silenced out of fear, shame and the knowledge they’d never be believed.
Good thing, then, that there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, nothing concealed that will not be brought out into the open. Even powerful men can’t escape the truth.
Los Angeles Times on the grim reality behind your Thanksgiving turkey
Observing an annual pre-Thanksgiving rite, President Trump pardoned two big white fluffy turkeys Tuesday in a photo op at the White House. (Named Drumstick and Wishbone, the birds will end up at an enclosure on the campus of Virginia Tech.) That leaves 46 million other turkeys that won’t get pardoned. Instead, they’ll wind up on someone’s dinner table during this holiday season, a fate that is expected to befall about 245 million gobblers all told this year. And none of them will make the journey from farm to table via the Willard InterContinental Hotel, where Drumstick and Wishbone hung out before Drumstick was ceremoniously presented to Trump.
No animals raised on factory farms are kept and killed under worse conditions than turkeys and chickens, which make up most of the animals raised for food in the U.S. Nearly 9 billion chickens are slaughtered each year for food. And because poultry is exempt from the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforces, there are not even minimum federal standards governing how they live or die.
Turkeys and so-called broiler chickens are genetically bred to grow fast (to satisfy our love for breast meat) and, typically, grow so big that they can barely walk by the time they are killed. As a result, they can suffer from painful skeletal disorders and leg deformities. The vast majority spend their short lives (about 47 days for chickens) in artificially lit, windowless, barren warehouse barns. So that turkeys won’t peck one another in these crowded barns, their beaks are painfully trimmed.
When it’s time to slaughter them, the live birds are shackled upside down on a conveyor belt, paralyzed by electrified water and then dragged over mechanical throat-cutting blades. The birds are supposed to be stunned unconscious by the electrified water, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the birds miss the blades and end up tumbling into the tanks of scalding water, where they drown. These methods are so cruel that they would be prohibited by federal welfare laws — if the animals in question were cows or pigs.
These are the grim realities behind Americans’ traditional Thanksgiving meal. But there are ways to make life and death somewhat better for the turkeys that wind up on your table. Of course, we could all just eat less turkey and chicken, which would reduce the demand for these animals. But to make a bigger impact, the major buyers of chicken and turkey meat need to push their suppliers to adopt less grisly practices.
The Humane Society of the U.S. has launched a campaign to get producers to pledge to raise healthier, less bloated birds, to provide them with better living conditions — more space, more stimulating environments and more sunlight — and, perhaps most important, to render the birds unconscious before they are shackled and slaughtered. The campaign also seeks to persuade buyers to obtain meat only from producers that honor this pledge. Meanwhile, Temple Grandin, the animal science professor known for designing more humane procedures for slaughtering beef cattle, has called for “controlled atmosphere stunning,” a process of using gas to make the birds unconscious before they get shackled for slaughter.
Just as pressure from animal welfare advocates, consumers and California voters led poultry farmers to free egg-laying hens from tiny cages, industry is now responding to similar pressure to implement more humane conditions for turkeys and broiler chickens. Whole Foods announced last year that it would begin to replace meat from fast-growing chickens with products from slower-growing breeds that are given more space. Perdue Farms Inc., a major chicken producer, has changed some of its plants and has incorporated gas stunning at its turkey plant in Indiana. And nearly 70 companies have signed on to the Humane Society’s campaign, including Burger King, Subway, Aramark and Panera. Many of these companies have put out new policy statements of commitment to obtaining poultry only from producers that raise smaller chickens and render them unconscious before shackling them.
Installing new procedures takes time and money. All the buyers and producers that have signed on to the Humane Society campaign have agreed to fully convert to a new system by 2024. Companies should be held to that time frame, and more should be encouraged to take that pledge. If enough consumers demand it, companies will do it. That’s not too much to ask for the sake of the bird you’ll be carving up on Thanksgiving.
The Modesto Bee on the value of the sweet potato
Sweet potatoes don’t have the value of almonds, the panache of pinot noir grapes or the personality of heirloom tomatoes. But this time of year, no family Thanksgiving feast would be complete without them.
So today we rise to write an ode to the humble sweet potato (a distant cousin of non-sweet potatoes), and to the farmers who produce them. Turns out, most of them live nearby.
California is the second largest sweet potato-producing state, after North Carolina, Ag Alert, the California Farm Bureau’s publication, noted recently. And the most recent statewide crop report ranked sweet potatoes No. 39 in total value, at about $216 million. That’s a tick above plums but a click behind pasture and garlic.
Merced County, by far, grows the most sweet potatoes in California - with roughly 80 farms producing nearly 90 percent of the state’s entire crop. They’re Merced County’s fifth most valuable crop, worth $195 million last year, and there is an entire Sweet Potato Festival dedicated to the tuber every September.
Thanks to the Merced River, the county’s sandy soil is ideal for sweet potatoes, says Scott Stoddard, a UC Ag Extension adviser who counts sweet potatoes among his specialties. Unlike, say, citrus, which is being hit by citrus greening disease, sweet potatoes haven’t been struck by pestilence, beyond nematodes (which are always are a bane).
Virtually all of the commercially grown sweet potatoes not produced in Merced County are grown in Stanislaus - where the crop was valued at $27 million in 2016.
Farmers in both counties produce a wider variety of sweet potatoes than do North Carolina growers. California sweet potatoes are, fittingly, multicolored — orange, white, red, purple. The purple is known by various names: Japanese, Oriental, Okinawan; its flavor is subtle and they’re pretty.
At D&S Farms in Atwater, Mike Duarte grows eight varieties with his partner, David Souza, and their families. They pack and ship them across the West, but a lot of what they grow lands in Europe and Canada.
Duarte is the third generation of his family to farm in California, and his daughter and her family are the fourth. “It has been pretty good livelihood,” he said.
This year’s harvest was large, so prices are low - bad for D&S but good for consumers.
Here’s what’s bad for all of us: a labor shortage. Sweet potatoes are far more labor intensive than, say, almonds. “We’ve had a hard time getting people and getting them to stay,” Duarte said.
Perhaps, at some point, Congress will summon the gumption to overhaul immigration law - benefiting both the agriculture and technology industries and providing a more humane route into the U.S. We’re not holding our breath.
Some growers call sweet potatoes the world’s healthiest vegetable, packed potassium, iron, magnesium, vitamins A, B, C and D and lots of fiber. They help your skin, your immune system and can lower stress. And they’re low-calorie, too - at least until you cover them in brown sugar or marshmallows.
At some point, some bad cook (or a corporation, according to Los Angeles Magazine) got the notion that sweet potatoes paired well with marshmallows. That is blasphemy, except maybe in a pie.
A lot of sweet potatoes will be eaten across America on Thursday. Whether baked, whipped, candied, or (heaven help us) smothered in marshmallows, we will enjoy them - as usual. Perhaps more than usual, knowing their nutritional benefit and where they come from. Right here.
The San Diego Union-Tribune on University of California president, regents failing Californians in audit fiasco
On Aug. 5, 2016, University of California President Janet Napolitano sent a letter to the UC Board of Regents explaining why she had placed UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi on administrative leave and ordered an investigation of her conduct. Napolitano’s first sentence said Katehi exercised “poor judgment” and was “not candid” about her actions in various campus controversies, including her role in hiring family members and awarding contracts. Napolitano added that the investigation had established that the chancellor “repeatedly misled UC leadership, the UC Davis community and the public about matters that would cast her in a negative light” and that she had violated UC ethics standards that require university employees to “conduct themselves ethically, honestly and with integrity in all dealings.” Four days later, Katehi resigned.
That history is crucial to remember when contemplating a new independent report commissioned by the regents and prepared by former state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno and lawyers from Hueston Henningan on how the University of California’s Office of the President blatantly interfered with an attempt to assess its performance.
The report detailed how in October 2016, state Auditor Elaine Howle sent survey questions to officials at UC’s 10 campuses to grade Napolitano’s office in various categories — and specifically noted responses should be confidential. Yet after hearing of Howle’s request, Seth Grossman, Napolitano’s chief of staff, and Bernie Jones, her deputy chief of staff, coordinated an effort to have the president’s office review the responses from each campus. Subsequently, UC San Diego, UC Irvine and UC Santa Cruz changed their responses to remove criticism of the president’s office and to strengthen praise.
At a state legislative hearing in May, in the Moreno report and again in a Monday telephone interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board, Napolitano insisted that while she approved a plan to have her office review survey responses, it was because campuses wanted her office’s help and because she wanted to ensure the responses were accurate. Napolitano wants the public to believe that her aides Grossman and Jones — who she said resigned abruptly last week for “family reasons” — independently decided to pressure campus officials to make her office look good.
This is preposterous. While Moreno’s report finds no smoking gun showing Napolitano dictating how the surveys be handled, it comes close. It shows that campus officials perceived themselves as under pressure to not cast the president’s office in a negative light with “dirty laundry.” It shows her initial statements about the surveys created “a chilling effect.” And it shows chancellors didn’t seek help with their responses at all — contrary to Napolitano’s claims — and that when UC Santa Cruz sent in its response to Howle without running it by the president’s office, Chancellor George Blumenthal got what he described as a “furious” call from Napolitano. The UC president said her tone that day was measured and her concern was Blumenthal hadn’t reviewed the response — not that her office hadn’t seen it. But the evidence is cumulatively bad.
UC Santa Cruz subsequently rewrote its response. One “poor” and three “fair” ratings became “good.” Three “good” ratings became “exceptional.” No wonder Howle told the Legislature in May that in 17 years as state auditor, she’d never seen such improper behavior from an agency she was reviewing.
Yet last week, UC regents responded to these disclosures not by seriously considering removing Napolitano but by buying her cover story. They admonished her for accepting an office culture in which this manipulation of a state audit occurred — then “quickly and unanimously” backed her continued leadership, according to board chairman George Kieffer. This is inconsistent with the high standards for behavior of UC officials outlined by Napolitano herself in her letter about Katehi.
The U-T Editorial Board isn’t calling for Napolitano to resign — yet. But it’s hard to have faith in her or the UC regents now. They failed Californians — and need to prove they’ll “conduct themselves ethically, honestly and with integrity in all dealings.”
Ventura County Star on Simi Valley nonprofit project deserving support
For more than a decade, Simi Valley community leaders have envisioned opening a “one-stop” center offering health, social service and other assistance for the needy at a single, central location.
The idea has seen so many fits and starts that it would have been easy for supporters to give up. Consider, for example, what Bob Huber said in 2010 as chairman of the project’s main proponent back then, the Simi Valley Community Foundation, before he even became the city’s mayor:
“We have been working toward the creation of a Human Services Facility since 2004, and it is exciting to know that it will finally become a reality.”
Seven years later, the project has a new lead proponent, a new location and another new lease on life. We hope this is not another false start, because we believe Simi Valley needs this project, and we encourage the community to again rally behind it.
The boost came this month from the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, which approved an option for the Free Clinic of Simi Valley to lease a county-owned building to house the center. The building, at 2003 Royal Ave., has been vacant since the county moved its Simi Valley offices to Madera Road in 2016.
County Supervisor Peter Foy and his staff deserve kudos for suggesting the site. “I am confident our community will rally behind this effort and the Free Clinic will be in full operation before the end of next year,” Foy said.
Under the deal, the Free Clinic must raise $1.5 million for needed improvements to the building and complete them within 18 months, with the option of asking for a year extension. In return, it would get a rent-free, 10-year lease.
The clinic would be the anchor tenant and occupy about half the space, offering medical, dental, vision, family counseling and legal aid services to low-income residents. Executive Director Fred Bauermeister said he also has commitments from Interface Children & Family Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County, the Many Mansions nonprofit housing group and others to set up shop at the center.
The Community Foundation had led the “Under One Roof” project for about a decade, planning to use a city-owned building on Alamo Street. But its slow progress completely fell apart this year after a former executive director was caught stealing $45,000 from the foundation.
The foundation raised a significant amount of money for the project — possibly up to $1 million — and we urge it to consider pledging that money to the Free Clinic effort now. Other charities, businesses and individuals in the region also need to help out.
We hope to continue saying what we said about the project in an editorial seven years ago: “It is encouraging to see how civic leadership, persistence and vision are producing progress on this worthwhile Simi Valley project.”