Author: HectorMBarajas

For more than two decades Hector Barajas has received national recognition for his political, legislative, and media experience. In 2012, the Hearst Corporation recognized Hector as one of the 20 Latino Political Stars nationwide. In 2014, Campaigns and Elections magazine named him one of the Top 50 Influencers in the United States. As on-air analyst for Univision and Telemundo, Hector also provides regular commentary to Sacramento’s News10, Bloomberg News, and The New York Times, along with other publications and media outlets.

The Human Cost of Our Pollution-Free, First-World State

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 40,000 children work daily in the mines picking and checking the rocks for presence of “chocolate-brown streaks” of cobalt, an essential raw material necessary for the batteries that power electric vehicles.

Barbara Jones of the Daily Mail recently wrote that, “Almost every big motor manufacturer striving to produce millions of electric vehicles buys its cobalt from the impoverished central African state. It is the world’s biggest producer, with 60 per cent of the planet’s reserves. The cobalt is mined by unregulated labour and transported to Asia where battery manufacturers use it to make their products lighter, longer-lasting and rechargeable.”

Jones continued, “Cobalt is such a health hazard that it has a respiratory disease named after it – cobalt lung, a form of pneumonia which causes coughing and leads to permanent incapacity and even death. Even simply eating vegetables grown in local soil can cause vomiting and diarrhea, thyroid damage and fatal lung diseases, while birds and fish cannot survive in the area.

No one knows quite how many children have died mining cobalt in the Katanga region in the south-east of the country.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4764208/Child-miners-aged-four-living-hell-Earth.html 

California just enacted a $3-billion state subsidy program specifically for electric cars made by Tesla Motors. Tesla’s production will soon reach its limit for federal tax rebates, good for the first 200,000 electric vehicles sold in the United States. Business Insider noted, “Given Tesla’s ambitious U.S. sales forecast for its Model 3, it will hit the 200,000 vehicle limit in 2018, after which the phase-out begins. A year later, the subsidies are gone. Losing a $7,500 subsidy on a $35,000 car is a huge deal.”

A big deal indeed: When Hong Kong discontinued its equivalent subsidy, Tesla’s sales in the Chinese city dropped from tens of thousands to ZERO.

Todd C. Frankel of the Washington Post wrote that, “Most Tesla models use batteries from Panasonic, which buys cobalt from Southeast Asia and Congo. Replacement batteries for Tesla are manufactured by LG Chem.” 

As California’s political leaders herald electric vehicles as the future backbone of our state’s private transportation system, they must not forget Barbara Jones’ cautionary warning: “Free from pollution, such ideals mean nothing for the children condemned to life of hellish misery in the race to achieve its target.”

Time to Amazon California’s Food Supply

California’s elites have seized on Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods with a demand of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: “revolutionize the nation’s food system” by demanding that its food come from local organic farmers and ranchers, with the goal that food “can never be cheap.”


The big question that the rest of us, non-elite, have to ask: How much of a dent in our wallet will this “food revolution” cause?

To answer that question, Alice Waters, a Bay Area chef who brought seasonal and organic food to her restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, recently told the Washington Post, “People [need to] understand that food can be affordable, but it can never be cheap.” Waters then went on to talk about having shoppers pay $28 for an organic chicken.

The current average price for a whole chicken at Costco, Safeway, and WinCo Foods is around $8.50 – $13.00.

The food snobs like Waters don’t seem to understand that not everyone can afford to pay $28 for a whole chicken. The same goes for our fruits and vegetables.

The goal should be to make all food readily available for everyone. This includes our middle and working class communities that live in urban and rural areas that may not have easy access to grocery stores.

In California alone, it is estimated that more than a million people live in food deserts, meaning that they do not have easy access to a grocery store.


A few years ago, national and regional grocers worked together with First Lady Michelle Obama “to bring fresh foods to impoverished neighborhoods by opening and expanding more than 1,500 U.S. grocery stores in those [food desert] areas.” Also, “In California, a $200-million California FreshWorks Fund will provide financing at or below market rates to encourage grocers to set up shop in under-served communities.”

In 2015, United Ways of California issued a report, Struggling to Get By, where they found that 31% of California households did not have sufficient income to meet their basic costs of living. That includes 51% of Latino households and 40% of African American households. In addition, just over half of all California households with children under the age of six fall below the Real Cost Measure.


If people want to pay $75 at Chez Panisse for some sheep’s-milk ricotta and amaranth greens ravioli with basil and a grilled duck breast, it is their decision. But most Californians are living paycheck to paycheck and are just struggling to get by.

As Amazon revamps our food delivery system, it should devote itself to making fresh produce available for all – not designer organic food that only the Alice Waters types can afford.

The Activists Are Coming: How California Real Estate Companies & Property Owners Can Prepare for Attacks on Their Businesses

By Hector Barajas & Stevan Allen

California’s housing community is under attack by activists who have organized renters, foreclosed homeowners and minority based groups to help stage press conferences, local media interviews and protest marches under the banner of housing and tenant rights.

Too many property owners, real estate companies and housing organizations are caught flatfooted and don’t have a strategy when they see their reputations disparaged on the evening news.

In the past two years, three of our clients were confronted by various housing and renter activists’ organizations. These were not organic community groups, but rather orchestrated movements funded by the nation’s largest foundations, political contributors and politically motivated NGOs. Their aim was never really about helping tenants. Rather their hidden agenda was really about stopping development, putting pressure on lawmakers to regulate banking institutions and trying to strong-arm the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to sell their distressed properties to nonprofits and “mission-driven” organizations.

Pushing back on attacks from housing/tenant activists is crucial. It begins by being prepared, having a game plan in place and adhering to the following tips:

  • Everything Needs to be Written Down. How long has the tenant been in the property? How long since they last paid rent? Are there any complaints against the owner for health and safety reasons? Have you made any “cash-for-keys” offer?
  • Develop a Timeline. When dealing with the purchase of a foreclosed property, you need to have a timeline put together – from delinquency to the recent sale of the property. In California, the average foreclosure process takes 429 days and 1,123 days for a property to go from the delinquency stage to when the home is sold to a new owner; the entire process takes well over three years. By outlining the entire process and the current situation, the reporter(s) will get to better understand your side of the story and be more critical of highly emotional arguments activists tend to promote.
  • Put a Communications Plan in Place. Work with internal communications staff or outside consultants to develop protocols, draft media statements, approval processes, designate a spokesperson and identify third-party advocates who can speak on your behalf.
  • Run Everything Through Your Attorney & Public Affairs Team. Talk with your team to avoid any potential libel claims and to avoid any confusion of terms and dates in the timeline that you developed. All external communications should be vetted and approved in accordance with the communications plan.
  • Don’t Talk with a Reporter at the Property in Question. It could be a set up. The last thing you want is to get shouted down by the activists and elevate an already hostile situation. Avoid any direct confrontations. The activists will be videotaping everything. You will be made to look defensive, callous and as though you’re trying to hide something or avoid the truth.
  • Be Proactive, Tell a Story & Protect Your Reputation. We advise our clients to begin documenting their story. Develop YouTube clips of when you purchased a distressed home. Document the neighborhood, the condition of the property, and every step taken to get the home suitable for sale. Then, record the journey of the new homeowner from when they start the loan process, to the day she or he gets the keys to their new home – follow up a year later to get their testimonial. Populate your social media platforms with: newspaper articles where you are quoted, awards or events where you have been recognized for helping the local community, memberships in community based organizations, memberships in nonprofits and images of you leading a seminar on ethical property management.

With the advent of digital media, there are a tremendous amount of social media sites where you can write, manage and house your material. You need to build vast amounts of goodwill, should you have the unfortunate luck of dealing with California’s housing and tenant activists. Without any archived videos, news stories and/or testimonials, you are just playing defense, until the legal system runs its course and your reputation will suffer.

It is highly likely the activists will become more aggressive in the coming year. The good news is that real estate companies, property managers and housing organizations have positive stories to tell and can develop an effective plan that will help them respond to any attack. The key is to plan ahead and don’t wait until the protestors are on you doorstep before you start dealing with a potential crisis.

Hector Barajas & Stevan Allen are partners at Merino, Barajas & Allen, a California strategic communications and public affairs firm. http://www.MBAINC360.com 

PoliticFact does a PolitiHack Job on Oroville Dam Crisis

Chris Nichols of PolitiFact recently looked at a claim by Assemblyman Travis Allen that the current Oroville Dam crisis “was entirely avoidable.” Here are the comments Nichols purportedly reviewed:

The Oroville dam failure was entirely avoidable: California passed a $7.5 Billion water bond in 2014 but Jerry Brown didn’t spend $1 on new water storage or improvements to existing infrastructure like Oroville,” Allen said in a press release on Feb. 13, 2017.

Nichols rated the claim by Allen “mostly false,” but here’s where Nichols/PolitiFact got it wrong:

First, Nichols uses the environmentalist FERC complaint to argue out of both sides of his mouth, that, on the one hand, ‘it was anticipated” and on the other, “No one could have known.” These are Nichols’ exact words: “But there’s no evidence, at this point, that state officials knew the dam’s main spillway was in jeopardy, something Allen does not point out.”

So, Riddle Me This, Batman: Nichols tries to distinguish between operating and managing without explaining how come there are PHOTOS showing obvious water seepage and repairs being made on the main spillway in 2013 at the exact point of the initial crater formation, something managing the dam entails, but operating it does not.

2013_Oroville

Just Ask An Expert: Anyone who know structural concrete construction — or anyone making a simple phone call to someone who works in large-scale concrete project construction — knows that if water is flowing or seeping under the foundation, slumping, cracking and failure are not far in the future.

Management, Not Operations: With a dam holding over 3 million acre-feet a few yards upstream, finding the source of that water seeping was a matter that should have been of great concern. It apparently wasn’t. That’s a management decision, not an operational one (operators control how much water goes down the spillway, into the hydropower plant, etc.).

It is also management’s responsibility to note that the generator outflows would be compromised in the event of the emergency spillway filling the river channel with debris from the unpaved hillside (as pointed out to FERC and DWR in the environmental complaint). Proper planning for such debris dams would be to raise the generator water outlet height or install a check dam between the dam’s base and the main spillway to prevent sediment and debris from eddying upriver to clog the generator plant outlets.

Again, that’s management’s decision to make, not operations.

Proposition 1 Water Storage Bond Funds: Nichols was also critical about Assemblyman Allen’s comment that, “Jerry Brown didn’t spend $1 on new water storage or improvements to existing infrastructure like Oroville.”

Nichols concludes that, Allen’s additional claim that the state has yet to spend bond money on new water storage projects, ignores the fact that that money was precluded from being spent until December 2016.”

Proposition 1 Water Bond (2014) specifically excluded funds from being spent until December 2016.  What Nichols ignores is that the Prop. 1 was passed two years ago and with a 5 year drought, and currently floods, there still isn’t a single project listed on the state website as appropriate for funding.

It’s over two months since Proposition 1 money COULD be spent. With all the emergencies, water needs and shovel ready projects, you would think that the state would have broken ground January 1st.

There is also $168 million left in the Burns-Porter Act authorization, for which local needs and flood control were included in its purpose. With money in hand, no one seems to be leading by setting dam safety as a priority in the state budget, along with other decaying infrastructure.

Politifact’s Conclusions Are: MOSTLY FALSE: They ignore critical facts that give an entirely different impression. 

PolitiFact owes Assemblyman Travis Allen an apology, a retraction of its review and I give Chris Nichols 4 HATCHETS for his hack job on this story.

hatchethatchethatchethatchet

 

Xavier Becerra Gets No Love

Setting aside the snub of hiring Eric Holder to do the job Attorney General Xavier Becerra is supposed appointed and confirmed to do, Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon was recently on Univision’s weekend political show Conexión. DeLeon talked about immigration, Donald Trump, defending California’s rights and the like. He mentioned Eric Holder several times, but failed to mention Xavier Becerra.

If California politics was a 90’s sitcom, Becerra would be Screech from “Saved by the Bell” – he is part of the cast, but no one seems to cares.

screechxavier

Transcript and video file below:

TV Anchor Jairo Diaz Pedraza: Thank you very much Sergio Flores. Well we have the senator, the president [pro tempore] of the Senate, Kevin de León to answer these questions about the contract with Eric Holder for legal help in case of the possible… a possible trial against the Trump administration. Welcome Mr. León.

Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León: Thank you Jairo!

Jairo Diaz Pedraza: Tell us… tell us why hire Eric Holder?

Kevin de León: Well, I think that the candidacy of the President-elect is a threat, a real threat to our community, of the real interests of a great state like the great state of California. As the leader of the Senate, my role was to accept everything to defend the rights of our policies on the environment, climate change, health care, and the defense of the human rights of immigrants. I decided with my colleague, the Speaker of the Assembly, Anthony Rendon to contract the legal services of the ex-prosecutor of the country, the whole country of the United States under President Barack Obama, Mr. Eric Holder. To give us strategic legal tactics forbetter said, about what you can and cannot do to an administrator who continues to threaten the values of a great state like the state of California.

Jairo Diaz Pedraza: How much will the state of California be paying Mr. Holder?

Kevin de León: It’s $25,000 a month. We split half of this bill, $12,500, from the Senate and $12,500 from the Assembly. But I think that…

Jairo Diaz Pedraza: For four years or for how long?

Kevin de León: For three months.

Jairo Diaz Pedraza: Three months.

Kevin de León: And then we are going to re-negotiate. I think that it’s a payment, or [rather] a small investment in comparison to what is at stake. We have billions of dollars hanging by a thread right now.

Jairo Diaz Pedraza: With the decision of President Trump?

Kevin de León: [Yes,] with the decision of President Trump.

Jairo Diaz Pedraza: For example, how much would you take away? How much are we talking about Senator?

Kevin de León: It can be billions; it can be twenty, forty, sixty billion dollars. It’s not known yet, for example…

Jairo Diaz Pedraza: In which sectors?

Kevin de León: In medical care, the ACA that is the health care coverage of President Obama. It’s $20 billion that we receive every year for the more than 6.5 million people that are already enrolled in this medical care program.

Jairo Diaz Pedraza: Sure.

Kevin de León: Of Obamacare. If the plan is to destroy and diminish the funds, as soon as possible, according to the statements of the Republicans in Congress as well as President-elect Trump, we will be left with a $20 billion dollar deficit in the budget in the state of California. That is true.

Jairo Diaz Pedraza: Senator, There are 800,000 undocumented people who obtained their driver’s licenses. The federal government could demand the government of California to hand over all that information of the undocumented [people] for them to be able to locate and deport them.

Kevin de León: Look, [let’s] make this very clear, because I was the one who negotiated the driver’s licenses for the more than 800,000 people that can drive their cars today without the fear, without the terror, of having their car confiscated by a tow truck. Or much worse, being deported for being undocumented. The files, the personal data, are at this moment frozen in the records of the state of California. So that means, in a nutshell, if the federal government comes and says that they want access to that data, we will not give it to them. Now or later, today or tomorrow, or the next day, we will not hand over that data because that is personal data that belongs to the state of California, not the federal government.

Jairo Diaz Pedraza: In 30 seconds Senator, a message for the undocumented [people] that are going to live these next four years with Donald Trump.

Kevin de León: Well, we have to organize, we have to do everything possible, and my role is to do everything possible to defend the interests, promoting the necessary polices. In defense matters in a given case, if there are raids, massive deportations, the local police will not cooperate with the federal government. [We will] intervene in the deportation[s]. If someone has a crime, for example: a violent criminal, a violent bandit, an assassin, a [drug] trafficker, that’s another thing. But the majority of our working people are hardworking people.

Jairo Diaz Pedraza: Thank you very much Senator Kevin de León for being here on Conexión California

Kevin de León: No Jairo, it’s a pleasure for me. Thank you very much.

Jairo Diaz Pedraza: Thank you very much. Let’s take a break.

Video Filehttps://youtu.be/dDqfNiZRDl4

California Democrats Sanctuary Includes Violent Criminals

As published on Fox and Hounds Daily

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) have been clear that they oppose California allowing the state or its sanctuary cities from cooperating with immigration officials unless the individual committed a violent crime.

Under California law, throwing acid at someone or rape of an unconscious, intoxicated or mentally ill victim is not considered a violent crime. Neither is vehicular manslaughter, assault with a deadly weapon, arson, solicitation of murder or exploding a destructive device or explosive with intent to injure. 

A recent article by Jazmine Ulloa, Los Angeles Times, makes this clear distinction:

After being accused of rape, Andrew Luster jumped his $1-million bail and was later captured in Mexico by a bounty hunter on TV.

Ventura County prosecutors said he drugged three women and videotaped the assaults, and a jury convicted him of 86 counts of poisoning, sexual battery and rape of an unconscious or intoxicated person. But with none of his offenses listed among the 23 crimes that California considers “violent” felonies in its penal code….

In drawing the line at crime violence, why would Kevin de Leon and Anthony Rendon extend sanctuary and protection to predators like Andrew Luster?

While Eric Holder will be in Sacramento tomorrow, collecting his $25,000 a-month-taxpayer-funded-check from the state’s taxpayers via our Legislature, he needs to be the adult in the room and ask the Democratic leadership to remove their rose-colored glasses and realize that there are distinctions between “hardened criminals,” “undocumented immigrants,” and those who perpetrate the abbreviated state list of “violent crimes.”

Ending “sanctuary city” ordinances does not mean that law enforcement in those communities become “quasi immigration enforcement officers.” Rather, it reopens the door to the real need of providing continued cooperation between law enforcement and immigration officials and ensuring societally dangerous and violent criminals are identified, detained and deported. They should also include those convicted of gang activities, rape, arson or those who sexually assault the elderly or mentally ill victims.

The following crimes are not covered by the definition of violent crimes under recently passed Proposition 57:

Here is short list of crimes California does not consider violent: 

・ Vehicular manslaughter

・ Human trafficking involving a minor

・ Battery with personal infliction of serious bodily injury

・ Throwing acid or flammable substance

・ Assault with a deadly weapon

・ Assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer or firefighter

・ Discharging firearm at an occupied dwelling, building, vehicle or airport

・ Rape where victim legally capable of giving consent

・ Rape by intoxicating substance

・ Rape where victim unconscious of the act

・ Rape/sodomy/oral copulation of unconscious person or by use of date rape drugs

・ Rape by threat of public official

・ Inflicting corporal injury on a child

・ Domestic violence

・ Arson of a structure or forest land

・ Arson of property

・ Solicitation to commit murder

・ Grand theft firearm

・ Assault with a deadly weapon by state prison inmate

・ Any felony involving the personal use of a deadly weapon

・ Holding a hostage by state prison inmate

・ Exploding a destructive device or explosive with intent to injure

Part 1: The “Please, Don’t Hit Me” Party

After spending a few days in Washington, D.C. interacting with party leaders and activists from across the country, listening to their stories and asking questions about their organizational structure and how they communicate to the public; It became clear that the battle ground members and those leading the massive marches in DC and yesterday in Berkeley, are fighters, willing to push back and take on the challenge, while many, California Republicans, have adopted the, “Please, Don’t Hit Me” strategy.

California Democrats deserve credit, for taking almost any issue and converting it into a crisis. They use this approach to mobilize thousands of people through email, social media and community organizations; with a unified voice, they blame it all on Republicans.

A few weeks ago they began spending $25,000 a month of taxpayer money to hire former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, nearly a month before Donald J. Trump took the oath of office, because of Trump’s campaign speeches.

Trump was sworn in office just ten days ago and when Holder was hired, no one knew what policies or changes he would actually suggest to congress, or who will fill all of the Secretary posts, or what executive orders he will undo. This single move, of hiring Eric Holder blanketed the airways, newspapers, social media, and was used to mobilize communities around the notion that: Donald Trump is dangerous to California and we need protection.

California Democrats charged that Trump would attack California on climate change, immigration, Obamacare, and stated, “‘[Holder] will be our lead litigator, and he will have a legal team of expert lawyers on the issues of climate change, women and civil rights, the environment, immigration, voting rights — to name just a few,’ Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said in an interview.”

The best part of this Democratic strategy is the claim that it is being done in the name of bipartisanship, when the actions taken have been strictly partisan.

As an example, the California Democratic leadership has said, they fear Donald Trump will begin with massive deportations, yet Trump’s last comments dealt with deporting only undocumented immigrants that are criminals and finding a solution for the rest. Where was that anger and fear, when President Obama was deporting three million immigrants? Why wasn’t Eric Holder hired then? The reason is that the Democrats’ strategy is to blame Republicans, as Republicans sit idle and accept the blame.

1397257258000-voices-deportation-15-1

While some Republicans are comfortable with their crumbs, others are afraid of reprisal and some just lack a spine.

7c955df668430b37e7ab988c5e6e0287

The Democratic Party has controlled both houses of the state legislature for the better part of 20 years. Yet opposition research, policy challenges, and contrasts usually happen during the election season, when it should be occurring 24-hours, 365 days out of the year.

There should be other opinions and challenges inserted into the conversation and that requires a new strategy of a willingness to “push back,” rather than the tendency to not act and simply say, “Please, Don’t Hit Me.”

Policy Making Through Social Media Relationships

By: Hector Barajas & Bryan Merica

With the stroke of a few keys on a laptop or phone, our entire society is empowered to organize, mobilize and bombard policy makers with ideas for change or to highlight an army ready to act in opposition to a policy – such is the power of our digital age.

Too many groups continue to live in a time when developing and molding policy required the transmission of those ideas based on preexisting relationships between an organization and politicians, with regulatory bodies of government and/or other decision makers.

The digital world has irreversibly shifted the landscape of how people gather information, how we communicate, and how policy gets shaped. Like so many tectonic shifts, many of these changes have been incremental and often unnoticed, but the cumulative effect is dramatic.

telephone social network blue

Under the old rules of the game, those who could afford to pay for better representation would often gain greater access and better results – these rules don’t necessary apply online. The new rules are based on the creative and viral nature of digital content to offer an entirely new avenue into the public affairs arena.

In California, 80 percent of our population is using the Internet and more than 16 million are on Facebook. Of those 16 million Facebook users, each person spends approximately an hour of their time each day on this specific social media platform alone.

From posting pictures, memes, inspirational quotes, watching videos, and catching up with friends and family. Facebook provides us with a glimpse on how organizations and associations are failing to use the latest modes of communication to their detriment.

Social media Use

Social Media Usage By Age

Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post, “98 personal data points that Facebook uses to target ads to you” writes:

“While you’re logged onto Facebook, for instance, the network can see virtually every other website you visit. Even when you’re logged off, Facebook knows much of your browsing: It’s alerted every time you load a page with a “Like” or “share” button, or an advertisement sourced from its Atlas network. Facebook also provides publishers with a piece of code, called Facebook Pixel, that they (and by extension, Facebook) can use to log their Facebook-using visitors.”

“On top of that, Facebook offers marketers the option to target ads according to data compiled by firms like Experian, Acxiom and Epsilon.” 

“When combined with the information you’ve already given Facebook, through your profile and your clicks, you end up with what is arguably the most complete consumer profile on earth: a snapshot not only of your Facebook activity, but your behaviors elsewhere in the online (and offline!) worlds.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Understanding digital insights such as these provides campaigns with the opportunity to develop novel solutions. While Facebook is the current “Social Media King,” there are dozens of other social media platforms with their own unique reach and audience:

  • Twitter provides unparalleled access to policymakers and political insiders
  • LinkedIn gives an avenue for issue-based content to reach relevant professional circles
  • Pinterest is ideal for reaching audiences like parents and teachers
  • Instagram is one of the best avenues for reaching millennials
  • Snapchat reaches even younger audiences with location-relevant content
  • YouTube is a major channel for delivering engaging video content to a wide range of audiences.

These are just a few examples from a constantly shifting landscape. Most successful organizations utilize a combination of platforms to communicate with their target audience.

Relationships with policymakers are important, but in this digital age, you need to tell your story to get people involved in your cause and to build a community beyond your membership. While these efforts take time, building an army today that can support or oppose a cause, depending on how a politician or regulatory body responds, is vital in influencing key decisions. Ultimately, the cause and/or the client will be well served.

***

With two decades of political, legislative, and media experience, Hector Barajas has a proven track record of assisting clients with attaining their public policy goals by effectively communicating through the press, social media, and directly to decision makers. 

Bryan Merica’s 20 years of experience working in the technology industry drives him to continually deliver novel and modern solutions to his public affairs clients.

Amazing Saturday Night Fight: James DeGale vs. Badou Jack

While this deviates from my normal postings, I couldn’t help but write about an amazing duo that fought their hearts-out this past weekend.

Boxing fans were treated to an amazing fight as James DeGale (Age 30; Birthplace: England; Record: 23-1-1; Current International Boxing Federation Super Middleweight Champion) met Badou Jack (Age: 33; Birthplace: Sweden; Record 20-1-3; Current World Boxing Council Super Middleweight Champion) in a unification match this past Saturday, January 14, 2017, in Brooklyn, New York.

What a way to start the New Year!

It was a battle of two 168-pound technicians, with tremendous punching power, who stood toe-to-toe and fought from the beginning of each round to the very last second.

ref

 (Here is referee Arthur Merchante, Jr. who caught Jack’s left hand at the end of the fifth round – See Video Here)

The 12-rounds of high drama included more than 1,300 punches thrown, but in the end, the judges scored the fight: A MAJORITY DRAW.

In the post fight interviews, they each rightly believed they had won the fight and for this boxing novice, they both deserved to win. In the end, it was the sport of boxing that was the clear winner.

I hope to see a rematch between these two warriors.

A Lesson for California – Mexico in Peril over Increased Gas Prices

As Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government increased gas prices by 30 cents a gallon on New Year’s Day, the Mexican people took to the streets in protest, blocking roads, burning debris, blocking gasoline service stations and waving banners asking for Peña Neito to resign.

15875420_247888952299413_3764069142877100496_o

The gasolinazo – the gasoline price hike – prompted taxi cab drivers, truckers, agricultural workers and other irate citizens to block the main highways into Mexico City this past week.

“Outside one gas station in the centre of the captial, Manuel López, a mechanic, stood defiantly in front of the pumps. Ironically, López does not own a car – he sold it because of Mexico’s ongoing economic downturn – but he said the size and shock of the gasolinazo had sent him into the streets.

‘It’s an economic issue,’ said López, 24. ‘Salaries are not very good. If gasoline goes up, it provokes an inflation in the cost of the items we consume daily,’ he added, reciting a list of common complaints among Mexicans. ‘The first thing that gets hit are people’s pocketbooks.’”

As the gazolinazo takes center stage in Mexico, in their northern neighbor of California, several Democrat legislators have introduced their own gas tax proposal that could drive the current gasoline tax of 58.83 cents to 70.83 cents per gallon.

Like clockwork, Democrats introduce a handful of gas tax measures like Senate Bill 350 and oil severance, while the California Air Resources Board (a government agency appointed by Governor Jerry Brown) is looking at its own set of gas-hike proposals.

Since the Great Recession, California’s economy has been growing. Unemployment is down, more than two million have been created in a six-year span, but this recovery hasn’t been shared equally by all. As Dan Walters of The Sacramento Bee recently noted, “The technology-heavy San Francisco Bay Area has almost single-handedly lifted California’s economy and while other regions are better off than they were during the depths of the recession, their recoveries have been more sluggish. The question hanging over the state, therefore, is whether technology can continue to buoy its economy, or whether another recession is just waiting to happen.”

8-26-14-brown-kdl-el_presidente

A 2015 report by United Ways of California, Struggling to Get By, noted, “One in three California households (31%) do not have sufficient income to meet their basic costs of living. This is three times the proportion officially considered poor in California, according to the Federal Poverty Level that averages low cost-of-living states with those that have higher cost-of-living, such as California.

Households led by people of color are disproportionately likely to have incomes too low to make up the difference. State statistics show 51% of Latino households and 40% of African-American households have incomes below the Real Cost Measure. They are followed by Asian-American households (28%) and Caucasian households (20%).”

Even with the two million new jobs — with the largest gains made in low-paying restaurant, hotel and retail industries — and a slowly rebounding economy, will California Democrats follow the lead of Mexican President Enrique Peña Neito and create our own regressive gasolinazo to unfairly punish the poor?