Short Cuts

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#MeToo Peskin

News that District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin is an alcoholic bully, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Bay Area 7, and elsewhere shocked pretty much nobody.  Peskin has been bursting into angry, expletive-soaked, personal attacks on boatloads of people for two decades or more, often calling colleagues, enemies, frenemies, anyone late-night to give them a thing or two.  What should be shocking, though, is the political establishment’s – including District 10 Supervisor Shaman Walton’s – willingness to clam up about, and even defend, behavior that, if directed at women, Blacks, Asian-Americans, or any specific identity group would be grounds for severe shunning. Apparently, in Progressive Town it’s okay to be an all-purpose, well-oiled, equal opportunity tyrant, a generalist, so to speak. Bully, yes!  Bigot, no!   

Not So Sweet

Last month, Dandelion Chocolate initiated layoffs and cuts that’ll affect about 40 percent of its workforce. The “bean-to-bar” business discharged a “number” of employees, citing economic challenges like a slow summer season and reopening pace, affecting all departments, levels, and roles: chocolate makers, educators, human resources, facilities and others. Some employees had been working there for years. “This is not something we do lightly as our goal has been to keep as many team members whole as possible through the pandemic,”Dandelion’s chief executive officer and co-founder Todd Masonis said in a statement.  Dandelion started in 2010, and is known for its chocolate, cookies and cocoa. Its main retail location is at 740 Valencia Street; in 2019 it opened a headquarters and factory at 16th Street, at the site of the View’s former printing press. It also has an outpost at the Ferry Building, a cafe in Las Vegas, and retail outlet in Japan. The chocolate factory and cafe on 16th Street are closed presently.

United We Stand

Last month, in a National Labor Relations Board-sanctioned election to decide whether 480 American Automobile Association insurance agents in Northern California should unionize, 257 workers voting in favor, 174 against. Five ballots were contested, caste by employees who resigned before their ballots were submitted. Eighty-eight percent of eligible workers participated, compared to the average for NLRB union elections of 56 percent, according to Tom Woods, a business agent for Teamsters Local 665, which now represents AAA workers. “While we are disappointed in this result, we will accept whatever election outcome is certified by the NLRB, and look forward to moving forward from this process,” said Osh O’Crowley, chief sales officer of AAA Northern California, in an email statement sent to union leadership. 

New Talent

PlayGround has selected this year’s Producing Fellows, to engage in communications, development, artistic or theatre management:  Lindsey Abbott,a Sonoma State University graduate; Daniel Benitez, a queer activist and Princeton University graduate; Caroline Portante, Poltergeist Theatre Project member studying with Stella Adler Conservatory; and Wallace Yan,a University of California, Irvine graduate and Bay Area artisan. The fellowship program was launched during the 2019-20 season, just two weeks before California shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic…California College of the Arts elected Lorna Meyer Calas as Board of Trustees chair for a three-year term. Calas, a managing director with Merrill Lynch’s Private Wealth Management Group, has been a CCA trustee since 2001, most recently serving as board secretary. She succeeds Arthur Gensler, who was board chair from 2017 until his death last May.

Gross Domestic Leadership

There’s constant media chatter about America’s rivalry with China, Russia’s global belligerence, Italy’s incompetence, and the like. Amidst this prattle is the reality of each country’s economic heft, as measured by gross domestic product.  GDP is a flawed indicator, smushing together expenditures responding to disasters, such as wildfires, with more productive spending on things like organic produce. Still, these defects are loosely systematic across nations, making GDP a decent gauge of comparative economic capacity.  From this perspective, the United States’ $21.4 trillion is notably higher than China’s $14.3 trillion. India, the world’s sixth largest economy but second biggest by population, is an astonishingly low $2.59 trillion.  In eighth place, Italy is a quite respectable $1.85 trillion.  Russia is eleventh: $1.46 trillion.  California’s $3.1 trillion is about the size of both these countries combined, not so much less than $3.9 trillion Germany, fourth biggest, behind Japan’s $5.1 trillion.