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Social Justice Shorts



This past Friday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger jumped into the budgetary breach with a plan to miraculously rescue 100 state parks from closing (the same 100 he had personally and unilaterally elected to close, but okay. A niggling point).

The story is that the governor brought out his budget crunchers and told them to go forth and find enough savings elsewhere to be able to keep the parks open with minor cutbacks and partial closures to a few parks. Not a perfect solution but much better than shuttering 100 of California’s precious public wildland spaces. That, Arnold! Such a problem solver!

But what, one wonders caused this sudden change of heart?

Could it maybe have been the looming threat of nasty lawsuits and the possible loss of millions of dollars in federal grants?

Yep. Looks like it. In another one of his excellent essays on state and national parks, civil rights lawyer and City Project head, Robert Garcia, pointed out rather presciently, just before Arnold had his come-to-Jesus cost cutting session, that it had been recently been brought to Schwarzenegger’s attention that closing the parks would cost a hell of a lot more—in legal bills and funding losses—than keeping them open.

Here’s a clip:

[The National Park Service] told the governor in June that state park closures would violate the contracts the state signed to receive $286 million in federal funds for 67 parks under the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and could jeopardize hundreds of millions more in future funds. The land for another six state parks could also revert to the federal government. (Read the NY Times article.)

Months after the plan to close state parks was announced, the department’s lawyers finally got around to analyzing the law earlier this month in a memo that was promptly leaked and posted on the Internet. (Read the Mercury News Article on the memo.)

The memo outlines about eight reasons why closing state parks would raise serious problems under contract, property and environmental laws…..

[Here’s the rest of Garcia’s essay.
And here’s the memo.]

PS: Try to catch Ken Burns series on the National Parks before it’s over. It’s fantastically good.


In Monday’s LA Times, David Savage gave a preview
of the case that the Supreme Court will consider in November to determine whether or not life without parole for minors who didn’t kill constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

At issue is whether it is cruel and unusual punishment to imprison a minor until he or she dies when the crime does not involve murder.

According to Amnesty International, “The United States is the only country in the world that does not comply with the norm against imposing life-without-parole sentences on juveniles.”

Nearly all of the estimated 2,500 U.S. prisoners serving life terms for juvenile crimes, the group said, were guilty either of murder or of participating in a crime that led to a homicide. But 109 inmates are serving life sentences for other crimes committed when they were younger than 18.


The question will be an early test of whether Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a former prosecutor, will align herself with the court’s tough-on-crime conservatives or join with its liberals to strike down prison policies perceived as going too far.

Here, by the way, is a past look at California’s LWOP kids.


Okay, he didn’t say those words exactly, but in last week’s NY Times interview, University of California president Yudof said some things that were a bit flip sounding given how drastic the cuts have been at the state’s UCs.

For instance there was this:

.Being president of the University of California is like being manager of a cemetery: there are many people under you, but no one is listening. I listen to them.

(“…like being a manager of a cemetery?” Okay, so faculty and staff are either dead to him—or the undead. Hard to tell.)

And, regarding his salary (Yudof makes $540,000 plus $228,000 a year toward his pension plan, plus an annual $120,000 housing allowance, totaling: $888,000 a year), when asked what he thought about the suggestion that no administrator at a state university needs to earn more than the president of the United States, ($400,000), Yudof said:

Will you throw in Air Force One and the White House?

Yudof may or may not be good for the UCs (there are a lot of people lately weighing in on the NOT side of things)—but, given the hits the university system, its employees and its students are taking, a little diplomacy would go along way, dude.


This isn’t a social justice issue, but many people—myself included— are sending positive thoughts the direction of USC running back, Stafon Johnson, who went though 6 hours of surgery Monday after a weight room accident in which a weight bar fell on his throat.


  • Thanks for posting this Celeste!!! Way to focus on the REAL important issues California has to deal with. Even if Arnold changed his mind…at least California parks and its visitors will benefit from it. California’s budget is in crisis and if nothing more doing a triage of priorities for funding is better use of the states’ time and funds. Instead of focusing on the negative, this is a great way of looking for something positive. Sure it isn’t perfect but nothing is…but we do what we can with the limited budget and resources.

    Amazing that your fans aren’t commenting on this and still personally attacking each other…instead of focusing on the topic or issues which make better contributions to society.

    Prayers and thoughts goes out to Johnson. Keeping fingers crossed for the Trojans! Fight on!

  • Celeste, reg considers the word “niggling” to be racist.

    Let me get this straight…closing the parks and letting them return to nature disqualifies the state from receiving money from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

  • On the LWOP kids, the courts weighed the evidence against them individually and based upon the law and the facts. Social justice advocates want them lumped together and their terms shortened. Where were these advocates during the trial and sentencing? I think that I’ll trust the courts on this one.

    – – –

    On the UC President, your subtitle is misleading. You know full well that he was only saying that the people under him are not listening.

    I don’t think that one can say that his salary is out of line, especially when you consider what he could make running a company of the same size in private industry. Still, I think that he should take an appropriate cut if others are forced to take one.

    The next time that Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” wants a suggestion for a show, I’ll suggest that he try managing a bunch of elistist, overpaid, and whiny teachers who couldn’t make a decent living outside of colleges.

    – – –

    Horrible news about Stafon Johnson. I pray for his full recovery.

    This is a rare but real injury in weight lifting. It appears that safety provisions were in place, so I was surprised when I read the below from another article:

    (Coach Pete Carroll) said players he coached lost control of the weight bar before but never had it fall on their throat. …According to sources, Johnson was being spotted by an assistant strength coach but it did not prevent the injury.

    A serious injury like this reminds me of Tyrone Prothro, a superb wide receiver for Alabama, whose leg snapped in a game. He never could play again and could barely walk. I was at a game a couple of years after his injury in which they let him “run in” the game ball with the entire stadium cheering and supporting him. I knew that his pain and trials had made him more of a man, and that football, his coach, and the supporters behind him had prepared Prothro for life’s problems and may have kept him from a worse life on the streets.

    Whether or not Johnson will play again is not known, but his true character and the lessons from Coach Carroll will, likewise, help him through this and to remain a winner.

  • How many times do you think the Woodster will make nasty generalizations about teachers before he remembers that Celeste works as a professor?

  • What Mavis wrote: nasty generalizations about teachers before he remembers that Celeste works as a professor.

    About what I wrote: elistist, overpaid, and whiny teachers who couldn’t make a decent living outside of colleges.

    Mavis, the insult is that I was talking about one type of teacher and you lumped Celeste into that group. You must think that Celeste falls into the category of “elitist, overpaid, and whiny” and that she “couldn’t make a decent living outside of colleges.” Now, you’re really the one insulting her.

    Celeste is an adjucnt instructor. They don’t make nearly the pay of full-time professors, receive no benefits, get the worst class times, and have no tenure. Also, I have been an adjunct instructor, but I knew the difference between myself and liberal arts professors.

    Celeste’s full-time job is as a journalist. She writes books, articles, does investigations, and, I hear, that she has a blog. She is making a living outside of colleges. If Celeste were to be asked what was her field, I assure you that she would say that she was a journalist — not a teacher.

    Anyway, I know that Celeste is a liberal, and I don’t mind stating my views about liberals. Isn’t it more important to say what we believe at this site rather than saying what others would like to hear?

    Oh, wait. Don’t you guys say bad things about me all the time without worrying how I would feel about it? I guess maybe I’m not guilty of anything that you’re not. It’s just that you think it’s okay to attack personally the people who think rather than feel.

  • Woody, since you hate socialism and love capitalism so much, I’ll read your entire diatribe in comment #6 for $20. Otherwise, I’m skipping right over it.

  • Hah, Sisco! You should be paying me for the privilege. Consider these comments free samples of my upcoming book in which I hope to upstage that liberal Glenn Beck.

  • Interesting read I came upon this morning after reading your posting about National Parks and Ken Burns. The article talked about how Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill creating the first national park at Yellowstone in 1872 and 8 years before that Abraham Lincoln had signed legislation protecting the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove. It also had photos of Teddy Roosevelt camping with John Muir, quoting Roosevelt “This has been the grandest day of my life.” Amazing what nature inspires in all of us, from presidents to conservationist or your average hiker.

    Californians, especially kids, would be so robbed of this source of inspiration (and education) about the world at large if the California parks were to be closed. Who knows which park will inspire the future leaders of the world or even the future president of the United States.

    And of course…Californians would be robbed of hope if education itself were denied to our students today. The UC system needs definite corrections starting at the top! Why the heck are we paying housing allowance? I can’t even imagine that rationale behind that.

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