Patt Morrison for January 10, 2011

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Jerry Brown’s budget – a day of reckoning

“Painful,” “a tough budget for tough times,” “a day of reckoning”… this is how the newly sworn in Governor Jerry Brown described his budget plan, the details of which he announced this morning. Brown is now responsible for the U.S. state with the biggest economy, the most numerous population and the reddest of red budget deficits - $28 billion. Digging California out of this hole won’t be easy, and he’ll very likely face opposition from lawmakers, unions, educators and every other group that will be affected by the promised cuts. An austerity budget, no gimmicks, no gridlock… just how is that going to work?
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Gabrielle Giffords was a gun-owning, Second Amendment advocate—the Congresswoman from Arizona, a state with perhaps the most lenient gun laws in the country, had at one point owned a Glock pistol, which is the same model of gun that was used to shoot her and 20 other people on Saturday. Among the many public policy issues that will be debated in the aftermath of the shooting, which gravely injured Rep. Giffords and killed six others, is gun control and whether any specific legislation or better enforcement of existing laws could have prevented or otherwise mitigated the damage done by the shooter Jared Lee Loughner. The ammunition magazine used by Loughner carried 31 bullets in it, enabling him to shoot 20 people in roughly 15 seconds—that clip could have been restricted in its availability if the assault weapons ban bill, which expired at the end of 2004, was renewed. Arizona is also one of the few states that permits residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit, which could have played a role in stopping Loughner’s rampage. Will the shooting of Rep. Giffords and her constituents have any impact on future gun laws?
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Even as the economy is struggling back to its feet, what are the major concerns for African Americans in the current political and economic climate? With his Poor People’s Campaign, started in 1967, Dr. King targeted income and housing relief for all the poor, not just blacks below the poverty line. Where are we 44 years later? Unemployment among the poor is extremely high, high school drop-out rates soar, obtaining housing and good nutrition is a challenge in low-income areas, and equality of justice sometimes seems impossible. Should we just give up on King’s dream? Reverend Eric Lee, of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater LA, and Professor Eddie Glaude of Princeton say no. What say you?
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