Scott Shafer

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Oakland Schools Hope for Kitchen Upgrades If Measure J Approved

By Katharine Mieskowski, Bay Citizen

Public schools in Oakland are looking for major kitchen remodeling with a measure on the November ballot.

If approved, Measure J would authorize the Oakland Unified School District to issue up $475 million in bonds to improve school facilities.

Along with seismic upgrades and lead-paint removal, the bonds could help underwrite a planned overhaul of kitchen facilities in the district, including building a new central kitchen in West Oakland. It’s part of an ongoing effort to improve the food the district serves to students, some 70 percent of whom are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals.

Oakland has made strides toward serving healthier and fresher food in recent years. For instance, the district now buys more fresh fruits and vegetables from within 250 miles of Oakland. There are salad bars at 67 schools.

But it’s infrastructure, not ingredients, that’s become the biggest barrier to making lunches healthier and tastier. Many schools have antiquated kitchens — if they have a kitchen at all.

“It’s a very attractive museum of kitchen dinosaurs,” said Zenobia Barlow, executive director of the Center for Ecoliteracy, a nonprofit advocacy group.

The facilities limit what food can be served.

“A lot of what is served is processed and prepackaged and frozen,” said Ruth Woodruff, who has a first-grader and a fourth-grader attending Chabot Elementary School. “It gets unwrapped and put on trays and heated.” Continue reading

Analysis: It’s Yes on Prop 30 or School Cuts; ‘Everything’ at Stake for Unions in Prop 32

This past weekend marked the start of autumn — and the final sprint to the November 6 election. On The California Report Magazine, host Scott Shafer talked to Anthony York, who covers politics for the Los Angeles Times.

Here’s an edited transcript of their conversation:

Proposition 30 is backed by Governor Jerry Brown and would raise taxes to fund education.

Proposition 30 is backed by Governor Jerry Brown and would raise taxes to fund education. (Image: California Secretary of State)

SCOTT SHAFER: Let’s talk about the November election. Gov. Brown has a lot riding on the outcome, especially with Proposition 30, which would raise income taxes on the wealthy and sales taxes on all of us. The Governor got mixed news from two polls this week. Tell us what they said.

ANTHONY YORK: They said that just about half of voters are still in favor of the Governor’s plan, Proposition 30, and that there are increasing numbers of voters that are unsure. There’s still a lot of uncertainty in these last six to seven weeks of the campaign.

SHAFER: And at the same time, there’s Proposition 38, which would raise income taxes on everyone — mostly millionares — but everyone would take a little bit of a hit. Opinion polls show there is more of a split, a little bit less support, under 50 percent, for Proposition 38. But does that (Proposition 38) add to confusion for voters? Continue reading

The Home Stretch to California’s Surpisingly Hot June Primary

United States Capitol

Tyche Hendricks/KQED

The June 5 primary may look drama free. After all… The presidential contest? Settled. The U.S. Senate race? Not too exciting.

But thanks to retirements, redistricting and California’s new top-two primary, the conventional wisdom about incumbents having safe seats is being turned on it’s head.

Host Scott Shafer moderated the conversation on Forum Friday, zooming in on several hotly-contested Congressional races and analyzing two political reforms that have completely re-shuffled the deck.

He’s joined by:

  • Carla Marinucci, political writer for The San Francisco Chronicle
  • Eric McGhee, research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California and author of “Open Primaries,” a report prepared for PPIC about the possible impacts of Proposition 14
  • Matt Rexroad, Yolo County supervisor, Republican political consultant and founding partner at Meridian Pacific
  • Robert Stern, former president of the Center for Governmental Studies

Take a listen:

Election Road Trip: Inland Empire Voters Seek a Voice in Wake of Recession

Riverside Foreclosure Auction/Scott Shafer

Outside the courthouse in the city of Riverside housing speculators sit in lawn chairs — protected from the mid-day sun by little blue awnings – and place their bids in the daily home foreclosure auction.

The same scene plays out every week day in San Bernardino, Chino, Fontana and other Inland Empire cities. Behind each auction is someone who reached out for the American Dream but couldn’t hold on.

On a road trip to take the political pulse of this growing region, The California Report’s Scott Shafer talked with homeowners losing their grasp and investors scooping up properties at a discount — who say they are re-energizing the area’s economy and helping it recover from the crushing effects of the recession.

But it will take a long time for the Inland Empire to bounce back from the mortgage meltdown. The region boomed in the last decade, then suffered the second highest home foreclosure rate in the country. It still struggles with 13 percent unemployment, higher than the state average.

The recession has left many in the Inland Empire feeling politically irrelevant and overlooked, in spite of the fact that the region is home to 4 million people, larger than many states.

In his reporting, Shafer found people working to create a stronger political voice for the region. And this election year could be key.

Though the Inland Empire has long been a Republican stronghold, many of the new arrivals from coastal cities are more likely to be Democrats. That means that several congressional elections here are now hotly contested. And with both parties campaigning hard, the Inland Empire could get what it’s been craving: attention from politicians.

Listen to Shafer’s story:

 

First Up on KQED’s Election 2012 Road Trip: The Inland Empire

Scott Shafer reporting in the Inland Empire

The California Report’s Scott Shafer just returned from the first stop on a statewide “listening tour” to take the pulse of California voters this election year.

The November election is shaping up to be a referendum on government… “How much government do we want? And who’s going to pay for it?” So we’re framing our election coverage with the question “What’s Government For?”

In Riverside and San Bernardino counties, Shafer heard some surprising answers, such as Republicans feeding the poor and asking government to do more. And he found that the region’s elected officials don’t yet reflect the changing political complexion of its current population.

In the presidential lounge at Riverside’s Mission Inn hang portraits of the presidents who have visited over the years. All but one are Republicans. And the Inland Empire has long been a bastion of the GOP. Four years ago, though, voters went for Barack Obama.

Shafer found that many of the new Democratic voters are transplants from coastal cities like Los Angeles. And many of them are Latinos. But low voter turnout prevents them from having the political clout they could. Shafer met some folks who are trying to change that.

Take a listen:

 

California’s Inland Empire

So what is the Inland Empire?

MAJOR CITIES: Riverside, San Bernardino, Fontana, Moreno Valley, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Corona, Victorville, Murrietta, Temecula

POPULATION: 4.2 million (grew by almost one-third over past decade)

RACE and ETHNICITY: Latino 47%, White 37%, Black 7%, Asian American 6%

MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Warehousing/logistics, service sector, manufacturing, agriculture (once-booming construction and real estate/finance jobs dried up with the mortgage meltdown)

ECONOMIC INDICATORS: 13% unemployment, second highest home foreclosure rate in California, highest poverty rate in California for a metro area larger than 2 million people