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Stateside With Rosalea: Who Goes There?

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Who Goes There?

::The candidate from another planet::

This weekend's SF Chronicle features as article about how politicians are turning more and more to the Web to court voters. The gubernatorial candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party--Phil Angelides--is reported in the article to have said in an interview with the Chron's editorial board that when one of his campaign staffers suggested using, he asked, "What's MySpace?"

Excuse me? What planet exactly is Angelides from? For at least the past 18 months the media has been full of stories about MySpace, particularly in relation to a couple of murders and the way in which the website is used by child predators. A recent current affairs program showed how easy it was for children to be set up on MySpace to meet people they didn't know even if their parents were talking with them about how to behave safely on the Internet.

So does this mean that Angelides doesn't talk to his daughters--who are in one of his campaign ads saying what a great dad he is--about Internet safety? Does it mean he's completely out of touch with one of the issues that is at the forefront of people's daily conversations here in the US, including in the state he wants to govern?

It certainly seems to mean that he's out of touch with the legislation that was introduced into the California state legislature in December 2004 and approved by Governor Schwarzenegger in October 2005 rejigging the crime of making contact with minors to include on-line contact.

Because that law mandates the state to seize computer equipment without reimbursing local agencies and school districts if it's their property, you'd think Phil Angelides--as State Treasurer--would have been apprised of the financial aspects of the bill at the very least. After all, the California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state, so this was a special exemption.

To add insult to idiocy, one of his other campaign ads says "People you trust, trust Phil Angelides." Those people? California's U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer--who backed down on challenging the validity of the 2004 election results in Ohio--and Dianne Feinstein--who backed down on challenging the President's plan to go to war in Iraq.

::The nameless::

I had an up-close and personal taste of the racial dynamics here in the Bay Area this week when I stayed home from work on Tuesday because my "slumlord" as he jokingly calls himself had hired a contractor to re-do my bathroom. The contractor is a school friend of the guy in the next-door apartment who lives off his retired mother and does odd jobs for my landlady while his wife works to put four kids through school.

By way of interpreting the US code for you, when people argue that immigrants are good for the US economy because they do jobs that Americans refuse to do, for the most part they're saying "jobs that African Americans refuse to do because they can get welfare instead." So let me slay that stereotype straight up by saying that both the contractor and the plumber were African Americans.

On the other hand, the guy who actually did the tiling work was referred to by my neighbour, the contractor, the plumber, and the landlady consistently as "that Mexican." In fact, he had a name--Israel--and he did a damned good job of the tiling, working long hours without a break last Saturday. By Tuesday, he'd moved on to the next apartment in the block to tile that bathroom.

The contractor on the other hand, didn't even bother with the pretence of wearing work clothes, but drove a big pick-up truck with a sign on the door and dropped in every now and then to see what was happening. On Tuesday this included asking the day labourer he had seemingly picked up down the street to lay new vinyl on the floor of my bathroom if he knew how to lay vinyl.

So now let me fess up to my own rudeness--I didn't introduce myself or ask that jornalera's name. While he lay the vinyl, I was ensconced in my room transcribing an interview with an elderly African American woman who was paralysed as the result of an operation for spinal cancer but who was so determined to walk again that it broke your heart to hear her speak. But that’s another story.

Were it not for my taking an upaid day off work to be at home, a person who was seemingly completely unknown to both the contractor and the tiler would have been alone in my home all day. Remember those hidden camera exposes done by--was it TV3?—of the things that contractors get up to when you’re not there? Well, at least those contractors had business addresses.

For two diametrically opposed views on day labourers--upon whom so many contractors, business people, and ordinary folks rely to do grunt work when moving, landscaping, or remodelling--see these two sites:



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