Colorado still remember John Hickenlooper’s crack after the state
legalized marijuana, a move he opposed: “Don’t break out the Cheetos or
Goldfish too quickly.”
Hickenlooper, the governor at the time of the 2012 initiative allowing
recreational use of cannabis, eventually changed his mind. He
acknowledged that fears of increased use by children did not
materialize, and he boasted of the tax revenues for social programs that
regulated sales delivered.
Entering the Democratic presidential race this month,
Mr. Hickenlooper joined a field already jammed with pro-legalization
candidates, a reflection of swiftly changing public opinion since
Colorado became one of the first of 10 states with legal recreational
The issue today is a pillar of progressive politics, but not because of graying hippies who like their Rocky Mountain High. Rather, for many Democrats, legalization has become a litmus test for candidates’ commitment to equal treatment for all races in policing and criminal justice as well as fighting economic inequality.
A Democrat who is not on board with
legalization or addressing it in terms of repairing harms brought by
prohibition for decades is going to have a tough time convincing any
voter they’re serious about racial justice,” said Vincent M.
Southerland, executive director of the Center on Race, Inequality and
the Law at New York University Law School.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey last month introduced the pointedly named Marijuana Justice Act,
which would remove the drug from the federal list of controlled
substances and expunge past convictions. Supporters note that
African-Americans are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, even though rates of use are similar.
not enough to legalize marijuana at the federal level — we should also
help those who have suffered due to its prohibition,” Mr. Booker said in
A brief conversation with Muni Transit Car Cleaner Lead Person, Valerie Taybron, led to spewing an emotional colloquy on why she has been unable to retire from SFMTA. She stated that she and others are victims of the mismanagement of their retirement funds, and of years of service. When digging deeper into what was seemingly an obvious error in paperwork, or maybe a simple accounting mistake has opened up Pandora’s box of gross internal mismanagement on surprising levels. Sexual harassment allegations and retaliation has hit transportation giant, San Francisco MUNI. Court documents show that Key management officials at Muni have been under investigation for not only blatant harassment, but also the mismanagement that has plagued SFMTA that has led to endless litigation.
Richmond Resident Valerie Taybron is preparing her case with
authorities to address not only the sexual harassment allegations, but also
retaliation and racial discrimination actions.
Most recently Muni Chief, John Haley stepped down from Sexual Harassment
charges towards his assistant, Sabrina Suzuki, who filed a suit, which led to
his early retirement. In an SF Examiner article released on October 31, 2018,
the problem runs deep with approximately 60 women giving written testimony to
the SFMTA on October 22 addressing sexual harassment allegations. In 2016
Sherri Anderson, a SFMTA employee was another victim of sexual harassment and
retaliation by management that recently settled her case based on court
documents. (Case #: CGC-16-555748)
Although Ms. Taybron has her own separate complaints against Muni, it
is well documented that her case is not an isolated incident. She has reported her allegations to Ed
Reiskin, General Manager Public Transportation, John Haley Deputy Director,
Donald Ellison, Deputy Director of HR, and Hector Cardenas Local of 1021 with
no resolution, or an attempted investigation. Employees suggest that not only
are a good number of sexual harassment issues ignored by management, but also
accusers have been continually retaliated against for their complaints.
In the case of Joycelyn Lampkin, a Muni
car cleaner, who alleged sexual harassment by her supervisor, Darryl Person,
she filed an official grievance with the HR EEO supervisor Maria Valdez with no
resolve. After Mrs. Lampkin took some
time off, she returned to work and inquired about the results of the
investigation and Mrs. Valdez responded to the alleged incident by stating, and
I quote, “You will rot in hell before I will do anything,” per Mrs.
Lampkin. Much like in the recent
February 12th Examiner article that spotlighted change, women who
formed SFMTA change see the first change in the stepping down of Mr. Donald
In a complaint written on October 17, to Mr. Ed Reiskin by Ms.
Taybron, she alleged that her complaints were intentionally ignored because she
was an African-American Female who had previously won a judgment for similar
complaints in the past. Lee Summerlot, the Acting Deputy Director at the time,
supplied Taybron with surveillance footage of the theft of her personal
property along with tracking for her case. (Continued)…
Ms. Valerie Taybron, Muni Car Cleaner
Lead Person, alleges that not only has the harassment continued, but it has
also taken on the form of retaliation. “MUNI management, John Catanach, Acting
Deputy Director, and Berry Gehret, supervisor, have allowed me to be violated
by being sexually harassed, exposed to continued death threats on the job, the
stealing of my personal belongings, denied opportunity on promotions, and
maliciously stealing from my 40 years of service so that I cannot retire.” stated
Ms. Taybron. Mr. Taybron also alleged
that after she took a fall on the job and that Mr. Gehret refused to call an
ambulance for assistance. This continued effort to retaliate against her
compounds the mismanagement and harassment abuse.
Ms. Taybron has mentioned that she has
gone to the retirement board and Michael Guess, Asst. Manager of Retirement for
11 years to date in hopes of retiring with her full benefits. She was
repeatedly denied because of suspiciously missing files that substantiate her
retirement. On October 28, she submitted
a request for documents to Kate McClure, Senior benefits analyst, which Taybron
stated should have only taken three days based on advisement from her union.
She has yet to receive the documents.
The HR department is currently under
investigation among other issues, for pressuring the closure of pending cases
without investigations. As of 11-28-18 Ms. Taybron has yet to receive proper
paperwork for her retirement and her complete years of service. Per Ms. Taybron, Management called her on
11/8/18 to set up a meeting involving a separate issue, however Ms. Taybron
would not agree to meet in person without her representatives. Hector Cardenas, the Union Senior Operations
Manager surprisingly informed Ms. Taybron that he did not get involved with
retirement issues. Mr. Cardenas also represents the Parking Controllers within
the same union who most recently came out in their harassment allegations and
blasted him for not supporting them on allegations of sexual harassment with no
Muni Execs have their hands full as a
result of mismanagement. They are currently also in a racial discrimination
case with a Muni employee, Mr. Sampson Asrot who was denied a promotion as a
Mechanic supervisor who he contends was purposely overlooked. This court case is still pending with a
continuance in January of 2019. Per
court documents, it appears that a number of issues surfaced in this case
within the discovery process have caught the attention of Government
officials. They are currently
investigating other serious issues as they have their eyes set on further
sanctions. (Case #: CGC16-552737)
Muni is not alone. Sexual harassment is
currently going strong in San Francisco, which is even affecting the tech
giant, Google. They most recently ousted close to 50 people in the last two
years for sexual harassment in the workplace. None of those fired individuals
received exit packages. Muni’s systemic
management problems are running deeper than their ongoing discrimination,
retaliation and sexual harassment issues.
In a September 2018 Examiner article, even Sarita Britt, the former
highest-ranking SFMTA female official stated, “They don’t do thorough investigations.”
Muni is just another SF City and County
Department that is suffering from sexual harassment and discrimination
issues. After numerous attempts to
contact Muni management, Ed Reiskin and Mr. Canatch as well as Mr. Paul Rose in
the media division for a statement, they have not responded, or
commented to date.
Accusers say that its time SFMTA
management to step up and resolve their internal management issues so the
company can run more efficiently. Ms. Taybron apparently has to stand in line
and wait her day in court. “My lawyer is currently preparing my complaint,” she
stated. Mayor London Breed has gotten
involved because these cases and judgments are undoubtedly costing the city
significant resources that trickle down to a single bus fare of MUNI customers
His interview tried to diminish the actor’s critics as “trolls” and “haters” rather than spotlighting the real-world consequences of his own words, ‘The Fosters’ and ‘Good Trouble’ writer Kris Rehl writes for The Hollywood Reporter.
Watching Kevin Hart’s interview on The Ellen Degeneres Show, I was shocked to see Ellen throw her weight behind his self-victimization. How could this saga go on without Hart taking any real responsibility? “It’s tough for me because it was an attack, a malicious attack on my character, to end me,” Hart said. When I was a freshman at NYU, a straight guy who lived in my dorm called me a faggot. When I told him he couldn’t talk to me like that, he physically assaulted me, a few steps from my front door. That was a malicious attack. I was 18, alone and spiraled into depression. It’s hard to sympathize with Hart playing the victim of outrage when he contributed to this culture of violence toward gay men. I’m glad he has grown and stopped using that slur, but his decade-old tweets reached a larger audience when he was offered the Oscar hosting gig. He keeps referencing an old apology that most people haven’t seen, and his fans continue to defend this homophobia, making it even more important that he use larger platforms like going on Ellen to denounce the type of violence he “joked” about inflicting on his potentially gay son. It’s now his responsibility (and, by extension, Ellen’s) to make sure his fan base understands the deeply rooted effects of homophobia in our culture. If Hart has grown like he claims, it’s time for him to listen, learn and speak out. I believe in the power of television — it’s changed my life, and it’s why I’m a writer. A 2015 Variety survey showed that The Ellen Degeneres Show was more influential in changing audiences’ minds about same-sex marriage than any other media. But Ellen, for all the good she’s accomplished for the gay community, is not our spokesperson. She also isn’t a gay man, the group that Hart’s violent jokes targeted. Only three days ago, I was walking through Griffith Park with my boyfriend when a man got off a bus, saw us, and screamed “fag” at us multiple times. So I was incredibly disappointed with how Ellen advocated for Hart, diminishing his critics as “trolls” and “haters” rather than spotlighting the real-world consequences of Hart’s words, the people they’ve emboldened and the ones they affect.
So much of Hollywood, even trailblazers like Ellen, can be quick to brush queer people aside. It’s not OK to be openly homophobic like it used to be, but the overwhelming majority of gay actors still can’t come out until after they make it. Every June, studios trot out their floats at Pride as a show of strong allyship despite featuring next to no LGBTQ characters in their major releases. Every gay writer I know has a story where they’ve been told their script or pitch is “too gay.” Homophobia may now be closeted here in Hollywood, but it’s something that queer people have to deal with every day.
I’m not sure how the Academy could honor a movie about conversion therapy and homophobia at their ceremony this year when their host refuses to acknowledge his complicity in that same discriminatory culture. But if Hart doesn’t make things right, I would like to nominate Billy Porter or RuPaul or A Star Is Born’s Shangela to host, because representation matters.
is a story passed along in my family that makes me smile. It centers on
a nephew of mine. When he was 7 years old, his grandfather and another
relative died in the same week, and he grew curious about death in the
months that followed. At one point, a teacher tried to explain the
concept of heaven to him. “When you go there, you’ll see everyone you
love all in the same place,” she said.
Thanksgiving is upon us, and for me that means lots and lots of family. I have a gracious aunt who hosts 30 to 40 family members every year at her home in Pennsylvania, and I will be heading there again. When we are not eating, we’ll be cherishing the new babies, cracking jokes until they go too far and catching up on one anothers joys and struggles.
He thought about it, and then replied: “Oh, so it’s like Thanksgiving?”
Whatever form your holiday takes, don’t forget to thank all the people who create a little scrap of heaven here on earth, on this day and every day. Here’s some of our favorite articles about the holiday, both serious and fun, that you can dig into when you aren’t tucking into turkey or pie.