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Saturday, August 28, 2010

UC Berkeley Letter To Students On California By Prof Michael O'Hare

 Berkeley Prof. Michael O'Hare 
The UC Berkeley Letter To Students On California by Berkeley Professor Michael O'Hare is one that California Gubernatorial Candidates Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman should see because both are part of the generations that Michael O'Hare points to as essentially responsible for the decline of California, but for different reasons.

Jerry Brown was Governor of California when Prop 13 (also called AB 8), the legislation reducing property taxes to 1 percent, was passed in 1978. Prop 13 us widely pointed to as the legislative device that robbed California of the tax revenue is used to provide the public services it was known for.

Meg Whitman never voted or bothered to register to vote, or participated in California Government and politics, but now thinks she can run the state.  The idea of running for governor somehow entered her head 26 months ago.

Who Is Michael O'Hare?

Michael O'Hare is Professor of Public Policy At The UC Berkeley Goldman School Of Public Policy, where he's chair of that schools undergraduate minor program. He also maintains a blog at Samefacts.com.

This blogger saw the "UC Berkeley Letter" in a group email from the Oakland, California-based Welstone Democratic Club's Yahoo Group, and it was taken his blog entry at Samefacts.com.


August 23rd, 2010
A letter to my students
by Michael O'Hare

Welcome to Berkeley, probably still the best public university in the world. Meet your classmates, the best group of partners you can find anywhere. The percentages for grades on exams, papers, etc. in my courses always add up to 110 percent because that's what I've learned to expect from you, over twenty years in the best job in the world.

That's the good news. The bad news is that you have been the victims of a terrible swindle, denied an inheritance you deserve by contract and by your merits. And you aren't the only ones; victims of this ripoff include the students who were on your left and on your right in high school but didn’t get into Cal, a whole generation stiffed by mine. This letter is an apology, and more usefully, perhaps a signal to start demanding what’s been taken from you so you can pass it on with interest.

Swindle - what happened? Well, before you were born, Californians now dead or in nursing homes made a remarkable deal with the future. (Not from California? Keep reading, lots of this applies to you, with variations.) They agreed to invest money they could have spent on
bigger houses, vacations, clothes, and cars into the world’s greatest educational system, and into building and operating water systems, roads, parks, and other public facilities, an infrastructure that was the envy of the world. They didn’t get everything right: too much
highway and not enough public transportation. But they did a pretty good job.

Young people who enjoyed these ‘loans’ grew up smarter, healthier, and richer than they otherwise would have, and understood that they were supposed to "pay it forward" to future generations, for example by keeping the educational system staffed with lots of dedicated, well-trained teachers, in good buildings and in small classes, with college counselors and up-to-date books. California schools had physical education, art for everyone, music and theater, buildings that looked as though people cared about them, modern languages and ancient
languages, advanced science courses with labs where the equipment worked, and more. They were the envy of the world, and they paid off better than Microsoft stock. Same with our parks, coastal zone protection, and social services.

This deal held until about thirty years ago, when for a variety of reasons, California voters realized that while they had done very well from the existing contract, they could do even better by walking away from their obligations and spending what they had inherited on
themselves. "My kids are finished with school; why should I pay taxes for someone else’s? Posterity never did anything for me!" An army of fake 'leaders; sprang up to pull the moral and fiscal wool over their eyes, and again and again, your parents and their parents lashed out
at government (as though there were something else that could replace it) with tax limits, term limits, safe districts, throw - away - the - key imprisonment no matter the cost, smoke - and - mirrors budgeting, and a rule never to use the words taxes and services in the same paragraph.

Now, your infrastructure is falling to pieces under your feet, and as citizens you are responsible for crudities like closing parks, and inhumanities like closing battered women’s shelters. It's outrageous, inexcusable, that you can't get into the courses you need, but much
worse that Oakland police have stopped taking 911 calls for burglaries and runaway children. If you read what your elected officials say about the state today, you'll see things like "California can't afford" this or that basic government function, and that "we need to make hard choices" to shut down one or another public service, or starve it even more (like your university). Can't afford? The budget deficit that's paralyzing Sacramento is about $500 per person; add another $500 to get back to a public sector we don't have to be ashamed of, and our average income is almost forty times that. Of course we can afford a government that actually works: the fact is that your parents have simply chosen not to have it.

I'm writing this to you because you are the victims of this enormous cheat (though your children will be even worse off if you don't take charge of this ship and steer it). Your education was trashed as California fell to the bottom of US states in school spending, and the
art classes, AP courses, physical education, working toilets, and teaching generally went by the board. Every year I come upon more and more of you who have obviously never had the chance to learn to write plain, clear, English. Every year, fewer and fewer of you read newspapers, speak a foreign language, understand the basics of how government and business actually work, or have the energy to push back intellectually against me or against each other. Or know enough about history, literature, and science to do it effectively! You spent your school years with teachers paid less and less, trained worse and worse, loaded up with more and more mindless administrative duties, and given less and less real support from administrators and staff.

Many of your parents took a hike as well, somehow getting the idea that the schools had taken over their duties to keep you learning, or so beat - up working two jobs each and commuting two hours a day to put food on the table that they couldn't be there for you. A quarter of
your classmates didn't finish high school, discouraged and defeated; but they didn't leave the planet, even if you don't run into them in the gated community you will be tempted to hide out in. They have to eat just like you, and they aren't equipped to do their share of the
work, so you will have to support them.

You need to have a very tough talk with your parents, who are still voting; you can't save your children by yourselves. Equally important, you need to start talking to each other. It's not fair, and you have every reason (except a good one) to keep what you can for yourselves with another couple of decades of mean - spirited tax - cutting and public sector decline. You're my heroes just for surviving what we put you through and making it into my classroom, but I’m asking for more: you can be better than my generation. Take back your state for your kids and start the contract again. There are lots of places you can start, for example, building a transportation system that won't enslave you for two decades as their chauffeur, instead of raising fares and cutting routes in a deadly helix of mediocrity. Lots. Get to work. See you in class!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Movie Trailer : Prince of Broadway, A Lee Daniels Film, September 3rd

Academy Award Nominee Lee Daniels (for Best Director for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire), is using his new fame to advance a movie that's made the way around the festival circuit since 2008: Prince of Broadway.

This movie's gritty, realistic story style focuses on what two young men do when one of them is faced with taking care of a baby boy a woman says belongs to him.

Here's the movie trailer:



Aiden Noesi and Prince Adu
Prince of Broadway, unlike Precious, which had two name actresses in Academy Award-Winner Monique (Best Supporting Actress) and Mariah Carey, as well as Oprah and Tyler Perry to help lure audiences, has a cast of unknowns, including Prince Adu and Victoria Tate making their first film debuts.

Also making his film debut is an adorable little boy named Aiden Noesi, who plays Prince.

Here's the synopsis of Prince of Broadway from the movie's website:



Prince of Broadway is the story of Lucky and Levon, two men whose lives converge in the underbelly of New York's wholesale fashion district. Lucky, an illegal immigrant from Ghana, makes ends meet by soliciting shoppers on the street with knock-off brand merchandise. Levon, an Armenian-Lebanese immigrant, operates an illegal storefront with a concealed back room where counterfeit goods are showcased to interested shoppers. Lucky's world is suddenly turned upside down when a child is thrust into his life by a woman who insists the toddler is his son. While Lucky copes with his new domestic dilemma, Levon struggles to save a marriage that is falling apart. The seedy side of the wholesale district is revealed through a journey that continually confronts the interplay between what is fake and what is real.
Set in the shadow of the Flatiron building and soaked in the colorful bustle of Broadway, the film is as much a brutal drama as it is a tender comedy. Shot in a fast-paced guerilla style that is akin to the hustler lifestyle, the film reveals the lives of immigrants in America seeking ideals of family and love, while creating their own knock-off of the American Dream.


The movie is not directed by Lee Daniels. Sean Baker is writer, producer, director, cameraperson and editor of the film. But the power of Lee Daniels name, coupled with the quick desire to get out information about it, causes some to list Daniels as its director. He's not.

Prince of Broadway opens September 3rd at the Angelika Film Center in New York City, and September 17th at the Sunset 5, Los Angeles.

Visit Prince of Broadway.com.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tom Sherak reelected Academy President; Annette Bening gets post

Tom Sherak
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) or "The Academy," announced late Tuesday evening that Tom Sherak was reelected as President of The Academy by its Board of Governors. It's his second straight one year term of office in AMPAS.

Previously, Sherak served as treasurer of the Academy, and has started his eighth year as a governor representing the Executives Branch.

Joining the wave of good Academy news, Sid Ganis, the Public Relations Branch governor and past Academy president, was elected first vice president.  James L. Brooks and Phil Robinson, both of the Writers Branch, were elected to vice president posts, with Robinson being reelected. It's Brooks first election to a post.

Annette Bening gets post
Annette Bening

Actress Annette Bening, wife of Actor Warren Beatty, was elected to the post of secretary.   It's her first Academy-elected position.

Perhaps Bening will be Academy President one day?

Tom Sherak paid his dues

The reelection to AMPAS as President is a complement to Tom Sherak and his long standing relationships in the Academy and in Hollywood. For 40 years Sherak has been a marketing, distribution and production executive, and currently is a consultant to Marvel Studios and Relativity Media.

Hartford Distributors Manchester, Connecticut shooting deaths at 9

According to The Hartford Courant in Hartford, Connecticut, Omar Thornton, who faced disciplinary action at Hartford Distributors, Inc., opened fire and killed what is now said to be nine people in Manchester, Connecticut, then was shot by police.

Earlier reports were that Omar Thornton shot himself; he did not. It was called a "cop shooting" because Omar Thornton did not put his gun down, so police opened fire.

According to Fox CT News video on the Hartford Courant page, and via the mother of a woman, Kristi Hannah, who dated him for eight months, the shooter, 34-year old Omar Thornton, who's African American, complained of racism to his employers, but they did nothing.

John Hollis, a Teamsters Union official said that Omar Thornton, who was a driver with Hartford Distributors, was a "discipline problem" and the union was bringing Thornton in to "remedy" the problem.

Thornton shot a number of people, and as of this writing, it's not known how many because what once stood at seven killed just rose to nine killed, so we don't know how many were injured in some kind of way. Here's the exact quote from the Hartford Courant regarding Omar Thornton's possible motive for the shooting at Hartford Distributors:

Joanne Hannah, who lives in the Enfield neighborhood where Thornton lived until about a month ago, said her daughter Kristi had dated Thornton for eight years. Thornton, who is black, had complained about being racially harassed at work. Thornton brought his complaints to his superiors, who did nothing about it, she said her daughter told her.


A New Trend: blacks who kill over racism

It seems there's a new and to this blogger, disturbing "small" trend of late where black men are as likely to commit workplace shootings as any white male.

Stephen Hill
The last person that comes to mind was was porn star Stephen Hill in Van Nuys, California, who, in June, went off and killed one person and stabbed another at the Ultima DVD office. Hill was black, and like Thornton, was about to be fired from his job. In Hill's case, he was called a "wacky guy" and no one mentioned racism. But then, no one who was close to him was interviewed at the time.

This is disturbing because I and my generation (I turn 48 tomorrow) was raised to be hardened and to expect racism, to point it out, but to not react violently to it.

Because racism is a mental illness, people who are racist are to be treated with pity and avoided.  That's the way I'm conditioned to think.

Frankly, you just didn't hear of someone black who would open fire and kill anyone over racism. We were instructed that it was a sickness that's "just part of the deal" and something you needed to overcome to be successful.

This small trend says nothing good about the overall mental strength of the next generation of black men. If one who's black and make expects to be successful in America, reacting violently to racism can't be considered an option.

Stay tuned.

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