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Roundtable: Mexican Election, Welfare Cuts, Fireworks Fail

Evening Edition

Alisa Joyce Barba, senior editor at Fronteras Desk, and Katie Orr, KPBS metro reporter, round up the week's news.

Aired 7/6/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Guests: Alisa Joyce Barba, senior editor, Fronteras Desk

David Rolland, Editor, San Diego CityBeat

Tom Fudge, reporter, KPBS News


Mexicans Return PRI To Power: Enrique Pena Nieto is officially the president-elect of Mexico.

There have been challenges to the election’s legitimacy, and some votes have been recounted. His win marks a resurrection of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), after 12 years out of power but was not the landslide predicted.

He brings with him several state governorships, but will have to negotiate his ambitious plans with Manuel Lopez Obrador’s PRD party, which came in second, and with the ousted PAN, the Mexican National Party.

Pena Nieto has said he wants to reform Pemex, Mexico's giant oil company which was nationalized in the 1930s. Reducing the drug violence and adding jobs are also priorities.

For decades the PRI ruled Mexico with great power and impunity. It was believed to be rife with corruption and was no stranger to strongarm tactics. Pena Nieto has said his government will be "willing to listen and open to criticism."

Budget Cuts Aid To Poorest Californians: Recently passed by the legislature and on the governor’s desk, the state budget features big cuts to impoverished parents.

The 2013 budget hits CalWORKS, the agency which provides assistance to parents as they look for and find work. The cuts are to cash aid, childcare subsidies and job training.

The state had already cut CalWORKS by $780 million between 2009 and 2011. For the 2012-13 budget, Governor Jerry Brown originally proposed a whopping $1.4 billion in further reductions. The final budget was much more generous, but still cut subsidized child-care, and shortened the time-limit for financial assistance, thus providing a barrier to finding and keeping employment.

San Diego’s Epic fireworks Fail: Ok, so it’s not poverty or a national election, but hundreds of thousands of San Diegans were counting on the city’s annual bayfront fireworks show, which was over in approximately 15 seconds.

The explosion of all the fireworks at once is estimated to have cost nearly $500,000 and was broadcast, tweeted and reported about all over the country and even internationally. The Port of San Diego, a major sponsor of the event, expressed disappointment. The company which put on the unexpected event, Garden State Fireworks of New Jersey, said a computer glitch made all 7.000 shells go off simultaneously.

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Avatar for user 'DG'

DG | July 6, 2012 at 12:56 p.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

Re: Budget cuts for poorest. I keep hearing lots of stories about the details of struggles over parceling out shrinking state financial resources to more and more (& increasingly desperate) people across the civic and social spectrum. What I don't hear enough stories about is where the revenues of yesteryear have gone? It seems to me that large corporate "people" have managed to avoid paying state taxes in particular, even as they support and finance political agendas that shrink spending on social programs across the board. Not to mention recent Wall Street shenanigans that have helped pour the wealth of the country into a very few private pockets. It's not that I haven't heard those stories too, but couldn't they be linked a bit more often to the whose pittance has been slashed stories?

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Avatar for user 'blueevey'

blueevey | July 6, 2012 at 1:18 p.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

I tried to call in but I guess I didn't catch the number correctly.

First, rather frustrating and at times humorous to hear one of the panel members struggle to pronounce Pena Nieto's name every single time.

Second, regarding Calworks, the new budget calls for 24 months (2 yrs) IF a recipient doesn't meet qualifications or guidelines for the program. Currently, it's 48 months for any participant. This was reduced from 60 months last year. There's already a system in place for participants that don't meet the monthly hourly guidelines. It takes 2-3 months to sanction and stop someone's cashaid for non participation on a good day! Taking 2 years to transition to the new 24 month guidelines won't diminish the few that work the system to get as much as possible for doing as little as possible. Yes, these people exist. The majority, however, are trying, as much as they possibly can within their own mental and physical abilities, to meet the guidelines and work.

Also, it should be noted, that parents do have an option to opt out of required participation if their child/ren are young enough or for medical reasons. There are some parents that receive cash aid for longer than the maximum years allowed because they are exempted for so long.

Personally, limiting the assistance for those that don't meet the guidelines is an ideal way to make sure that abuse is limited. And unfortunatley, when one's budget--personal, state or federal-- isn't enough, it's necesarry to a) earn more or b) spend less. Ideally, there is always c) both.

However much I absolutely dislike and disagree with the idea of cutting child care, I know it's needed to cut back in every department to balance out the budget. There should have been more cuts in other areas so that childcare wouldn't be so hurt. Childcare is way too expensive as it is now (100/week/child--on the low end) for anyone to afford having to pay more.

As the panel stated, and amazingly, I agreed with (the rest of the commentary on the topic was pissing me off) is that in order to solve the sympton, the issue needs to be fixed. In this case, having everyone be able to sustain their own family. Not necesasrily through employment, there are other options, besides having everyone work.

And now that I've written a novel, I'll stop. Eitherway, this is just the humble opinion of a Mexican (American) social worker with experience in both childcare and Calworks.

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Avatar for user 'blueevey'

blueevey | July 6, 2012 at 1:22 p.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

Re Calworks (again):

Oh! and I forgot to add, this isn't a philosophical issue of 'what goes to whom?' as a panel member stated. It's a very practical issue of what works? Childcare subsidies work. Employment, education and self empowerment work. Discussing a broad topic one knows nothing about, doesn't work.

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