Puerto Rico By the Numbers


 

Home to 3.4 Million Americans

Iowa 3.1 Million Americans

Utah 3 Million Americans

Mississippi 2.9 Million Americans

Arkansas 2.9 Million Americans

Nevada 2.9 Million Americans

Kansas 2.9 Million Americans

New Mexico 2.1 Million Americans

Nebraska 1.9 Million Americans

West Virginia 1.8 Million Americans

Idaho 1.7 Million Americans

There are more Americans In Puerto Rico than Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, District of Columbia, Vermont, Wyoming

 

Travel

New York to Puerto Rico 3.5 Hours

Miami to Puerto Rico 2.5 Hours

Houston to New York 3.5 Hours

Houston to Miami 2.35 Hours

Puerto Rico is closer to the Continental U.S than Alaska or Hawaii

 

Currency: US Dollar

 

51st State?

Through the years there has been discussion about Puerto Rico becoming the 51st State.

On January 17,2017 Puerto Rico’s new representative to Congress pushed a bill that would ratify statehood by 2025.

 

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Sacramentians Must Demand Rent Control !


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Building Boom:  Many new apartments on 16th Street Midtown

“Rent Control in Sacramento?”

Every day renters in the State of California are waking up to 30 day notices on their doors or in the mail notifying them of rent increases of 20% to 50%.  Landlords, aren’t making capital improvements to their properties, or facing major tax increases or fees.  Its simply greed. No where in California is rent increasing faster than the Capitol City.  In fact there are only two other cites in the nation where rents are increasing faster than Sacramento, Arlington Texas and Reno Nevada.

There is currently a shortage of housing and construction workers in the state.

Sacramento’s Mayor Darrell Steinberg says he has “significant concerns” about rent control, saying the city should focus more on finding money for affordable housing and giving tenants additional notice when rents increase. Steinberg said he isn’t outright dismissing rent control, but he’s worried about the “unintended consequences” of discouraging developers from building housing.   Steinberg said much of the issue stems from the fact that Sacramento “is not building enough housing.” “We need to change that and be very aggressive about it,” (sacbee)

The reality is,citizens need relief yesterday.   Locating funding for affordable housing could take years or decades.  High rental costs will only increase homelessness in the city effecting the quality of life for all Sacramentians.

Basics in Bold Print

As of July 2017, average rent for an apartment in Sacramento, CA is $1439 which is a 14.18% increase from last year when the average rent was $1235 , and a 0.14% increase from last month when the average rent was $1437. 

One bedroom apartments in Sacramento rent for $1275 a month on average (a 15.45% increase from last year) and two bedroom apartment rents average $1507 (a 13.27% increase from last year). (source Rent Jungle. Com)

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Wage Growth in Sacramento  5%

Minimum Wage in Sacramento $10.50

Minimum Monthly Income Required for a one bedroom Apartment in $3094.00 or $19.33 an hour.

Maximum Rent for an individual earning Minimum wage $693

(Source: https://www.zillow.com/rent-affordability-calculator/)

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Every night, more than 3,600 people are homeless in Sacramento County, a statistic that’s 30 percent higher than it was in 2015. (SacBee)

Many homeless individuals are employed .According to a 2002 national study by the Urban Institute, about 45 percent of homeless adults had worked in the past 30 days. About 3.5 million people experience some kind of homelessness every year, and about a quarter of them are employed at the time (National Coalition for the Homeless) 

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What is Rent Control?

Rent control is a special set of laws that particular cities adopt. It generally includes rent increase limits and eviction restrictions. Some cities’ rent controls require relocation assistance to be paid to tenants under certain circumstances, and interest on security deposits.

These laws do not apply to other cities, nor to every rental unit in the city. One of the most commonly misunderstood ideas by tenants is that they were under rent control, when they weren’t.

 Los Angeles passed rent control in 1978 amid cries from the landlords that rent control would prevent future apartment construction, so Los Angeles exempted any structure built after October, 1978 as a political compromise. Newer structures [built after 1978] in Los Angeles are not under rent control, at all.

Under the “Costa-Hawkins” law, when a tenant voluntarily leaves or is evicted for most reasons [ie, not 30-day notice, nor after change of a term, for that term], the landlord can raise the rent to ANY AMOUNT for the new tenant, whose rents are thereafter locked into the rent control limits [3% or whatever].  Any rental unit built after 2/1/95, as well as houses and condos, are not under rent restrictions.  Even where these rent restrictions do not apply, eviction protections do continue.

Two new additions to LA Rent Control are worth noting. Ordinance 175130 [3/5/03] now prohibits the landlord from changing terms of tenancy [other than legal rent increases and government required terms] without mutual agreement of the tenant. Ordinance 174501 prohibits landlords from raising the tenant’s portion of rent [eg, beyond the legal 3%] after terminating a rental assistance program, like Section 8; the landlord can get out of the program, but gives up all the assistance money if he does.

Another exclusion applies to single family dwellings: a rented house by itself on a lot is not under rent control, but a duplex or “two on a lot” houses would be under rent control [if built before 1979]. There are other exclusions like college dorms, motels, and hospitals.

Cities that have rent control provide call-in numbers where you can find out whether the area you live in has rent control and whether your unit is registered under that rent control.

    Normally, rent can be increased with a 30-day notice.  However, due to the current wave of rent hikes, effective January 1, 2001, newly revised Civil Code Section 827 requires a 60-day notice if the rent increase will make that year’s increases exceed 10%.  The idea is to give tenants the ability to adjust to gouging rent increases, but not to stop them. The calculation is a little weird; it doesn’t have to be a large rent increase at once, but just the total of increases over a year.  This new law will mostly affect the expensive rentals, which also tend to have proportionately much bigger hikes.  Also, it does not affect yearly leases, but only month-to-month [or shorter] tenancies. This law expires automatically in 2006, unless the Legislature extends the time or makes it permanent.

    For example, if last year in January you were paying $500, and the landlord already raised the rent $25 in July, an increase for more than $25 this January would require a 60-day notice, because the total of increases for the year would be more than $50, 10% of $500. If the increase total was 10% or less for the year, all you get is the 30-day notice. If the year’s rent increases already total 10% and the landlord then wants to increase rent by one dollar, it has to be by 60-day notice, to mitigate the impact.

    The new law also adds 5 days for mailed notices of change of terms of tenancy. A mailed 30-day notice is effective 35 days later; a mailed 60-day notice is effective 65 days later.

How Can We Get Rent Control?

   Rent control is really only necessary where the vacancy rate in the area is below about 5%, because at about that point, landlords don’t worry about having a vacancy by raising the rent or neglecting repairs, and you don’t have much of a choice when you look around. Consequently, rent control is a law passed by cities where the housing market is tight and rents are going up just because landlords are in control of a necessity of life that is in short supply.  Rent control is not likely going to be a state law, because the problem is local.

   There are two ways to get rent control. The easiest but weakest is for your City Council to enact it, as Los Angeles did. The hardest but strongest is where tenants organize and put rent control on the ballot by getting petition signatures [and then the voters approve it], like Santa Monica did. Both of these require tenant voting clout, that a large number of tenants are registered to vote, do vote in the local election, and all vote together. If the City Council enacts it, it would be an ordinance [city law], but the voters can make it a Charter Amendment [a city constitutional change, more powerful].

    Your first step would be to go to the City Council meeting, and during the Oral Presentation portion [or whatever public input is called there], you tell them about the problem and ask if they are considering enacting rent control [like Beverly Hills, Palm Springs, San Francisco, Santa Monica, and other high class towns have], or at least Just Cause Eviction, like Glendale [a notoriously conservative town] has. You want to mention these towns in your presentation, since their first knee-jerk reaction is that “rent control destroys cities,” but they can hardly say that about those cities.

    They say whatever publicly, but you then make an appointment with them individually to see where they personally stand and how far they would go. You might find that Just Cause Eviction is not objectionable, and that they might even agree with paying relocation assistance for tenants of buildings being demolished or going through major rehabilitation or termite fumigation. Avoid being confrontational with them. They don’t want to offend the landlord contributors to their campaigns, but may be sympathetic enough to put their political toe into the water. If you get a majority of them to privately approve of something, one of them has to introduce the idea in public discussion.

   If the City Council is going to enact something, they want to be heroes for doing it, even if it’s short of rent control. While they are getting ready to take that step, you’ll want to be in touch with the local newspaper to talk about your plan to organize tenants for better legal protections. Once you’re in the news, other tenants will start to contact you, and you can form a group that can all go the City Council and amplify what you have said. This public clamor then triggers the City Council’s response to take action, and you’re on your way.  The group thanks the City Council for their concern and they get to see the public reaction to that.  If it’s a good reaction, they are encouraged to do more.

   Meanwhile, you do need to find other tenants who are both motivated to do something by their own situation and willing to put in some time to do it. Senior groups, somereligious institutions, teachers, firemen, labor unions, the local Democratic Club or similar liberal group, some liberal organizations, and a lot of local business owners, can help in various ways to get the word out and help you form a political group. There are a lot of talkers, but few doers, so you want to get volunteers into project-based committees, which naturally filter out the talkers. Here’s a helpful explanation for the new people.

   If you have to get rent control by petition, you might as well have the strongest possible law, since the landlords are not going to fight you any less if the law is weak. They fight dirty all the way, and always have. Election fraud is their main tool. Propaganda, false information, and misleading arguments are all you hear from them. They have the money to buy millions in political advertising, while you’ll be lucky to get out one mailer to the voters.  They will have celebrities and public figures telling the public that Rent Control will bring crime to your city, turn it into a slum, drive down their property values, steal from the landlords, prevent the landlords from being able to pay for repairs, run up millions in taxpayer expenses, and force landlords to evict all their tenants. Here’s some common rent control myths. None of these are true, of course, but unquestioning voters will be persuaded.  On your side, you have public controversy, newsworthiness, talk shows, newspaper stories, TV coverage, and pathetic stories about landlord abuses of vulnerable tenants. The political battle is not over the wording of the law, at all, but over emotional and philosophical issues in general.

   The technical wording of the rent control law requires a lawyer to write. It needs to be constitutional, not prevented by State laws, cover all the loopholes, and effectively create the kinds of protection you want. It has to be clear and organized, so that it can be easily followed and doesn’t end up in court for years. When it is circulated for signatures, there are specific laws that must be followed as to procedure, format, timing, and public information, and you should have a lawyer’s help to make sure that those things are done. This website CAN provide some of that assistance, but as a practical matter, local legal advice is necessary. For a start, here is a draft of a rent control law that you might want to circulate by petition in your city. It can be modified to some extent, easily, but major changes would require a re-drafting because so many things are interconnected within it. [Rent Control Draft]

   Tenant voter registration is an important part of this process. Tenants are so used to not having a say, not having their views considered, not having any power to change their lives, that voting seems inconsistent with how they’ve come to view themselves. Only about 5% of tenants actually vote in local elections. Tenants are truly a politically disenfranchised majority. Landlords are only 2% of the population, but seem to run things, because they leverage their money and power. A 10% tenant voter turnout could change the history of politics in your town. Politicians would stop saying they’re against rent control, and start expressing concern for the abused tenants who need their help. It’s a numbers game, to be sure.

   If you are really sincere about wanting to take action, there are groups like ACORN that will help, for a percentage of your donations. There may already be a tenant group formed in your town, which the local reporters or city clerk might know about, and you can join them. You aren’t the only one thinking like this. (source: http://www.caltenantlaw.com/rent-control/)

In San Francisco:Annual Allowable Rent Increase March 1, 2017 – February 28, 2018 = 2.2%  Most tenants are covered by rent control. This means rents can only be raised by certain amounts per year and the tenant can only be evicted for “just causes.” In addition, some rental units have restrictions on how much the landlord can charge the new tenant due to previous evictions. Tenants who do not have rent control can have their rent increased by any amount at any time with a proper written notice.

Rent control is administered by the San Francisco Rent Board. The Rent Board website has extensive information and you can download the San Francisco Rent Ordinance and Rent Board Rules and Regulations or come to our counseling clinic for more information.One of the more unjust parts of rent control is the capital improvement passthrough. Capital improvements are improvements for the building, the landlord’s investment, which tenants mostly pay for through a passthrough. Not only can the landlord get the tenants to pay for increasing the value of his or her investment, the landlord can then write the cost of the improvements off in their taxes. Capital improvements are things like new windows, a new roof, painting of the exterior of the building,  and other similar improvements to the property which add substantially to the life or value of the property as opposed to routine maintenance. Landlords must complete the work, petition the Rent Board and win approval of the rent increase before the cost can be passed on. Tenants can contest the increases at the hearing on certain grounds, like that the work was never done, or was not necessary, or was done to gentrify the building, but it is difficult to stop such a pass through in its entirety. (Source; https://www.sftu.org/rentcontrol/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The To Do List: ” The Power to the People-The Black Panthers at 50″ Exhibit @ Oakland Museum”


 

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In October of 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale created a radical political party at the forefront of revolutionary change—the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. On the 50th anniversary of its founding, the exhibition All Power to the People provides a contemporary view of the Party and its aims to serve oppressed people and fight injustice.

 

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In the gallery, uncover the history of the Black Panther Party—a history that is often misunderstood. Charismatic Panthers—both men and women—created programs to benefit the people, stood up against power, and earned the admiration of other struggling communities in the US and across the globe. Many still fear the Panthers and are unaware of their motivations and intent. Former Panthers admit some mistakes and acknowledge that their image as militants cast a negative shadow on their legacy.

Rare historical artifacts, never-before-seen photographs, first-person accounts from former Panthers, scholars, and community members, and contemporary art show how the Party continues to influence culture and activism locally, nationally, and internationally.

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The Black Panther story is complex. The Panthers’ ideas were potent, and they continue to inspire many. Visit All Power to the People and reflect more deeply about the Black Panther Party and its place in our shared history.

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All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50 is supported in part by the Ford Foundation, the Oakland Museum Women’s Board, Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins and members of the Donor Forum including Eileen Ash and Frank Arthur, Quinn Delaney and Wayne Jordan, and Peter Pervere and Georgia Cassel.

 

The All Power to the People -Black Panthers at 50

Exhibit Runs until the end of February

The Oakland Museum of California

  1000 Oak St, Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 318-8400

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The Black Panthers began where many national movements begin, in the East San Francisco Bay.  I found the exhibit moving and familiar as I am from the bay area. Even though I saw members of the Panthers on a daily bases, I feared them. This was the time of Dr Kings peaceful resistance.   Some people believe affiliation with the Panthers would lead to trouble. 

Panthers the group was too radical in an area known for radicals.  Although they were cool looking with their perfect afros and black leather jackets they didn’t seem approachable.

One of my many takeaways from the Exhibit, was the age of the Panthers, most were in the twenties.   As a father and someone who remembers being in my twenties,  I remember it being a time of defiance and blind aggression.   Having said that, I didn’t know about the schools, and senior programs.  I didn’t know about food clinics.    I didn’t know.

Many in the government viewed the Panthers as modern day terrorist.  Many in the black community viewed them as saviors.    One could spend hours at the Exhibit, listening to government recordings and watching videos. 

If you live or plan to travel to Cailfornia and this fantastic exhibit to your calender.   Its quite the experience. Bring the entire family.

“Those Who Do Not Learn From History Are Doomed to Repeat it”

CityFella

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Venezuelans now stealing food from school cafeterias as scarcity spreads


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By:Franz von Bergen/Fox News Latino

With the food shortage seriously escalating over the last few months in Venezuela, criminals have thought out a new place to steal from: public schools.

In the past two months, the National Federation of Parents (Fenasopadres) received more than 25 reports of break-ins in schools around the country in which thieves took non-perishable food items from the pantries.

The thieves come after dark and the robbery is usually discovered the next morning, which means no food for hundreds of kids that day – or perhaps that week.

“Most schools don’t have any kind of surveillance despite the many requests we have made to the authorities,” Alexander Ramírez, a representative of Fenasopadres, told Fox News Latino.

With the food scarcity index currently at 82 percent, according to local polling firm Datanalisis, groceries and anything edible have become a precious commodity.

“They steal anything that is available, from wheat for the arepas to butter, milk and vegetables,” Ramírez told FNL.

Most of these products’ prices are government-regulated, which is why they become scarce — it creates a black market where groceries are sold at a higher price, translating into a lucrative business for those people call “bachaqueros.”

“We think they take some food for personal use, but most of it is sold at a higher price,” Ramírez said.

This situation is particularly critical for some children whose nutrition depends almost entirely on the food that they receive at school, given the severity of the economic crisis at home.

In a recent survey, among 2,581 sixth-grade students and 148 teachers from the state of Miranda, which includes part of Caracas, 69 percent said that they are eating less because there is no food in their homes.

According to the survey, conducted last week by Miranda state, 21 percent of the kids said they usually eat at school; 27 percent of the children revealed that school meals had been their sole food source at least one day in the previous week.

As many as 86 percent of the sixth-graders surveyed said they are worried about the possibility of running out of food in their homes.

“The situation is really dramatic. Teachers said that some students have fainted in the middle of a class because of how poorly fed they are,” Ramírez told FNL.

In the Miranda poll, 66.9 percent of the teachers admitted that they believe their students’ health is worse because of the reduced amount of food they are getting.

The survey also showed that children are not receiving the basic diet recommended for their age bracket.

More than 65 percent of those surveyed said that in the previous week they hadn’t had access to milk, cereals, ham or meat. Most of them had been fed rice or arepas, a local dish made of ground maize dough or cooked flour.

“The food served at schools was better in the past. Students used to receive milk every day with their breakfast. Now sometimes they only get a cracker,” Ramírez said.

Despite schools being a somewhat reliable food provider, the widespread scarcity is affecting attendance as well.

The survey showed that 55 percent of the children said they had missed school at least once to stand in a food line with their parents, while 58 percent of the teachers admitted that they had taken days off to shop for groceries.

This year’s school attendance in Miranda has been the lowest since 2011.

Can you solve the ‘simple’ maths exam question confusing adults?


By: Mark Malloy/UK Telegraph

A maths question aimed at seven-year-olds has left many adults confused – but can you work out the correct answer?

The practice exam question for Year 2 pupils was shared on Twitter by Louise Bloxham amid the ongoing debate about the benefits of primary school tests.

It received dozens of replies from users debating the answer after she wrote: “If you think the answer is 65, you would be wrong.”

Ms Bloxham explained the question was posted on a ‘Parents against Primary Testing’ Facebook group where a member insisted the answer, according to the mark scheme, was 46.

However, no evidence has been provided to back up this claim.

It led to many users complaining about the question being too difficult for Year 2 pupils and others suggesting it was “too ambiguous”.

The best way to figure it out is to start by working backwards.

You first have to minus the 17 people who got on the train from the 63, which equals 46.

You then have to add the 19 who got off at the first stop, which equals 65.

For 46 to be the correct answer, as stated by Ms Bloxham, you would have to ignore 19 as a red herring.

Emma Forbes argues: “The last line is very important, as it asks how many on the train to start off.

“And that means that the 19 that get off at the first stop don’t matter as that after the train started so basically 63-17=46.”

Come on Sacramento $12.50 an hour by 2020?


Johnson delivering a quick statement on the allegations. (Credit: CBS13)

Photo CBS/Sacramento

Mayor Kevin Johnson announced a task force is recommending the Sacramento minimum wage increase to $12.50 an hour by 2020.

$12.50 in five years seems more like a punishment than a reward.

Families earning low wages cost local taxpayers in the form of services.

Forbes says Wal Mart employees cost Taxpayers 6.2 billion in public assistance.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/04/15/report-walmart-workers-cost-taxpayers-6-2-billion-in-public-assistance/

$12.50 in 2015 is reasonable, in five years is outrageous. Leaders need a reality check.

GOP Presidential Candidate Scott Walker chooses Professional Basketball over Public Education


By CityFella

Build us a new modern arena by 2017 or we will leave town.  Sacramentians are familiar with this sentence from the National Basketball Associations playbook and by golly, next fall Sacramento will open the ultramodern Golden One Center Downtown, the newest NBA Arena( I mean Entertainment Complex) in the nation.   Until the city of Milwaukee opens its new NBA Arena( I mean Entertainment Complex ) in Downtown Milwaukee in the fall of 2017.

In July, Wisconsin’s Governor and GOP Presidential Candidate Scott Walker cut $250 million dollars from the 13 four-year universities and 13 two-year campuses University of Wisconsin system.  He initially proposed cutting $300 million from the system.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says, Wisconsin is already spending less on higher education than all of its Midwestern neighbors and is one of only six states that have approved or are considering reducing higher education funding for the next fiscal year

On August 12th, Governor Walker signed a bill approving $250 million dollar in public funding for a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks

Bloomberg view calls the signing,”A fly in the face of both Walker’s presidential campaigning as a fiscal conservative and his insistence that there isn’t enough money for things like public education or living wages.”  “Walker can talk all he wants about lowering taxes and cutting waste, but when all is said and done and you include $174 million in bond interest over 20 years, he’s sinking upwards of $400 million into a stadium for a team owned by billionaire hedge-fund managers in a state with a projected 2.2 billion deficit.

The People

Like Sacramento, if the citizens of Milwaukee voted on this arena, it would have failed at the ballot box.   In an Marquette University poll . 67%  of people polled in the Milwaukee Media Market opposed public funding. Statewide only 9% supported public funding for a new arena.

The people of the great state of Wisconsin have low tolerance for public funding for professional sports.  In the early nineties  Major League Baseball (Milwaukee Brewers) wanted a new stadium, it they didn’t get a new stadium (you know).

The citizens didn’t want to fund a new stadium.  Politicians proposed a one percent sale tax increase on the citizens in Milwaukee county and the surrounding counties of Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha.  The taxes was very unpopular.  State Senator George Petak initially promised to vote against the tax and changed his mind at the eleventh hour. A special recall election was held and George Petak became the first Wisconsin legislator to be successfully recalled from office

A combination of Democrats and Republican legislators supported the Arena Deal.   Time will tell if there will be repercussions at the ballot box next year. Citizens are talking notes.

As for Scott Walker, he has some “Splanin” to do.  At one point the fiscal conservation will have to tell the potential voters why he chooses Basketball over Public Education