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S.F. agency OKs free Muni for low-income kids

Source: 
SF Gate
Low-income youths could soon ride San Francisco's Muni for free, while drivers who park in the city on Sundays might have to pay up.

Those controversial proposals were approved Tuesday by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Board of Directors, which unanimously passed the budget for Muni, parking, traffic and taxis over the next two years.

Yet for those programs to become reality, the budget still has to clear several hurdles that include gaining the Board of Supervisors' approval.

Overall, the budget calls for spending $821 million in the new fiscal year that begins July 1, and $840.5 million the following year. That plan is projected to close deficits of $19.6 million and $33.6 million, respectively.

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Free Muni for all youths

Source: 
SF Gate

Big yellow school buses are disappearing as the San Francisco Unified School District reduces the number of buses and routes to contend with education budget cuts. As a result, more and more families must shoulder the cost of transporting their children to school. Recent Municipal Transportation Agency board meetings have seen an outpouring of support from political leaders, community organizations and residents testifying in support of free Muni fares for all young people.

Obama proposes new rule for immigrant families

Source: 
LA Times

Illegal immigrants who are immediate relatives of citizens could stay in the U.S. while applying for permanent residency. The goal is to reduce a family's time apart.



WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is proposing to make it easier for illegal immigrants who are immediate family members of American citizens to apply for permanent residency, a move that could affect as many as 1 million of the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.

The new rule, which the Department of Homeland Security will post for public comment Monday, would reduce the time illegal immigrants are separated from their American families while seeking legal status, immigration officials said. Currently, such immigrants must leave the country to apply for a legal visa, often leading to long stints away as they await resolution of their applications.

The proposal is the latest move by the administration to use its executive powers to revise immigration procedures without changing the law. It reflects an effort by President Obama to improve his standing among those Latino voters who feel he has not met his 2008 campaign promise to pursue comprehensive immigration reform.

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You Got a Problem? Well, Now You Do

Source: 
Colorlines

Trayvon Martin had it coming, or so we will soon be led to believe. The surely unattractive details of his short life as a black man in America will tumble forward—his troubles in school, the weed baggie that got him suspended, the altercation in which police and George Zimmerman claim he was the aggressor. He was a maladjusted, Negro man-child, so ferocious he could kill an armed man with his bare hands. He had to die.

Yesterday, local law enforcement offered a preview of this old, familiar narrative when someone leaked Zimmerman’s account of the night to the Orlando Sentinel. According to the Sentinel, Zimmerman had given up his hunt of Martin and was returning to his SUV when the 17-year-old caught him by surprise. Do you have a problem, Martin is said to have asked, before answering for himself, “Well, you do now.” He reportedly began pummelling Zimmerman, leading the armed man to shoot and kill.

Sadly, it’s necessary to point out that there isn’t an imaginable scenario in which an armed man can shoot an unarmed child to death and it be okay. But set that obvious fact to the side. Trayvon Martin did in fact have it coming. He was born black and male in the United States and was thus marked for death. The cruelness of our economy and of our criminal justice system isn’t reserved for men or for black people. But there is a particularly gendered and particularly racist way in which black men are set upon in this country, most acutely those who don’t have the resources to push back. And it has a very long, still relevant history.

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Get Onboard: It's Time To Stop Hating The Bus

Source: 
NPR

Everyone loves to hate riding the bus — passengers complain about cleanliness, overcrowding, timeliness and inefficiency. In a piece for Salon.com, writer Will Doig argues that disliking the bus is "practically an American pastime," but buses are key to improving mass transit. Doig thinks that rather than spending money on expensive new systems like light rail or streetcars, cities should focus on making buses better.

"I think when people say that they don't like the bus," he tells NPR's Neal Conan, "what they're really saying is that they like the train better than the bus. And there are a lot of really good reasons for that."

Doig (who admits he took the subway to the studio for this interview) says the appeals of trains — design, reliability, comfort and frequency — could easily be incorporated into bus systems. And some cities are already doing that by aiming to employ bus rapid transit, or BRT.

The biggest and most effective approach is removing the bus from traffic. "If you can give it its own lane that's physically separated from cars so that even people who want to drive in the bus lane are unable to, that's the key, and you'll be zipping through the city in no time," says Doig.

Doig explains why buses have an image problem and the things cities around the world are doing to improve bus transit.

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Transit Justice on KPFA's Morning Mix - March 26, 2012

Bob Allen, director of transportation justice, Urban Habitat and Larry Hanley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, speak on transportation justice on KPFA's Morning Mix with with Adrienne and Steve that aired March 26, 2012 at 8:00am. Listen to an edited version of the segment here (or download). Visit, KPFA to hear the full version.

Bob Allen, Director of Transportation Justice. His background and experience include community planning and policy work both in the United States and overseas with international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). While at UH, Bob led the successful 2008 Campaign to help pass a regional measure, Measure VV, which raised funds to keep bus passes affordable for seniors, youth, and disabled riders. Currently, Bob is leading UH’s efforts on federal and state transportation advocacy. Bob received both his Bachelors Degree in Political Science and History and his Masters in Public Administration from Rutgers University.

Race, Gender, and Occupy

Source: 
Al Jazeera

A version of this article originally appeared on the Al Jazeera website
http://louisianajusticeinstitute.blogspot.com/2012/03/race-gender-and-occupy-by-sweta-vohra.html


At a recent panel discussion on the Occupy movement, a left-leaning professor from New York University speculated that identity politics - the prioritizing of issues of race and gender in movements for justice - could be a plot funded by the CIA to undermine activism. While most commentators do not go this far, the idea that activists who focus on these issues are "undermining the struggle" has a long history within progressive organizing. And in Occupy Wall Street encampments around the country these debates have often exploded into public view.

Mayor says youth could see lower Muni cost Read more at the San Francisco Examiner

Source: 
SF Examiner


The movement to make Muni free for San Francisco youth is gaining traction.

According to an activist group, proposals to be advanced at an April 3 hearing before the Municipal Transportation Agency’s board will include a reduced monthly pass cost of $5, free Muni for low-income youth and free Muni for all youth.

Jane Martin, POWER’s political director, said the options were discussed this week with Mayor Ed Lee and MTA Executive Director Ed Reiskin as part of a two- to three-year pilot program. Thursday, Lee told a group of students that he’s working hard to lower the cost of transit for them, adding that they should avoid buying a car.
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SF Muni should give students a free ride

Source: 
SF Gate
Letting students ride Muni for free is an appealing idea that City Hall is all but certain to adopt. Eliminating fares makes it easier for kids to get to school, cuts the bills for parents and helps reduce traffic congestion in San Francisco.

But the idea means a fare-box hit of $4 million to $7.9 million for the under-funded transit system facing a $23 million deficit. The money factor is giving the Metropolitan Transportation Agency, which runs Muni, pause while it searches for the right mix of funds and rules for the program.
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Thousands of Kids Lost From Parents In U.S. Deportation System

Source: 
Colorlines


Clara’s eldest kid was 6 years old and her youngest just a year old when it happened. Josefina’s baby was 9 months. All three children were ripped from their mothers and sent to live in foster homes with strangers. Clara and Josefina, sisters in their early 30s who lived together in a small northern New Mexico town, had done nothing to harm their children or to elicit the attention of the child welfare department. Yet one morning last year, their family was shattered when federal immigration authorities detained both sisters. Clara and Josefina were deported four months later. For a year, they had no contact with their children.

The sun was rising on a late summer morning in Farmington. Clara (all parents’ names in this story have been changed) was asleep inside the trailer that she shared with the children and Josefina, who was finishing a night shift at the local restaurant where both sisters worked. Clara says she was jolted awake by the sound of banging and yelling. A group of uniformed officers, some marked with ICE, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and others DEA, for Drug Enforcement Administration, burst through the door.

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