Syed: From OC to DC, Yes to Hate


Sanctuary cities and counties have measurably lower crime rates and stronger economies than their non-sanctuary counterparts. But Orange County’s Board of Supervisors doesn’t care about keeping us safe, keeping us employed, or keeping our public budgets balanced. Last Tuesday, they voted 4-0 in favor of joining a Trump Administration lawsuit against the California Values Act, a state law that prevents law enforcement from working with immigrations and customs enforcement (ICE), with exceptions made for situations concerning undocumented immigrants who are felons.


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Why Anaheim's low-wage workers struggle to keep a roof over their heads

As reported on PBS NewsHour: Away from the tourist attractions of Anaheim, California, housing is a daily challenge for minimum-wage workers who play a vital role in the region’s booming economy. Even for those who work full-time, garages, spare bedrooms, motel rooms, cars and tents have become shelters of necessity in an area with some of the highest housing costs in the country. Special correspondent Cat Wise reports. 

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Working for the Mouse: A survey of Disneyland employees

Disneyland Resort is one of the most well-known, popular, and iconic theme parks in the world.1 Disneyland Resorts best-known characters and attractions are woven into Americas national culture and recognized and celebrated around the world. In 2016, 27.2 million people visited the Anaheim, California theme park. It generated over $3 billion in revenues for the Walt Disney Company.

Disneyland employees report high instances of homelessness, food insecurity, ever-shifting work schedules, extra-long commutes, and low wages. While there is national attention on the minimum wage and have been successful local efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than 85% of Disneyland workers earn less than $15 an hour. Notwithstanding their economic hardships, more than three-quarters (80%) of employees say they are proud of the work I do at the Disneyland Resort.

Despite steep increases in the cost of housing and other necessities, Disneyland workers have suffered steady pay cuts and continue to struggle to make ends meet.

  • The average hourly wage for Disneyland Resort workers in real dollars dropped 15% from 2000 to 2017, from $15.80 to $13.36.

  • Almost three-quarters (73%) say that they do not earn enough money to cover basic expenses every month.

    Disneyland employees worry about keeping a roof over their heads.

  • Over half (56%) of Disneyland Resort employees report concerns about being evicted from their homes or apartments.

  • More than one out of ten (11%) Disneyland Resort employees including 13% of employees with young children report having been homeless or not having a place of their own place to sleep in the past two years.

  • Over half (52%) of workers who rent their housing are overcrowded - squeezing too many family members, roommates or even multiple families into a unit that is too small to accommodate the number of occupants.



By Day, a Sunny Smile for Disney Visitors. By Night, an Uneasy Sleep in a Car.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — On Disneyland’s Main Street, Emily Bertola spends hours working on her feet, embroidering names onto mouse ears at the Mad Hatter shop, where she has been an employee for the last two years. She usually offers visitors the sunny smile she was trained to give.

None of her customers know that for months, she slept in the back of her truck, showering at the park before her shift.

Her struggle is hardly unique to Disneyland.

Orange County is known for its affluence, and for its tourist industry. But the thousands of workers who keep its resorts, restaurants and hotels running are sometimes struggling to stay afloat.

As the state grapples with soaring housing costs, workers in California earning just above the minimum wage find it difficult to pay for basic costs. Many employees at Disneyland have moved farther inland, driving hours each day to work. Others, like Ms. Bertola, have opted to move from couch-to-couch or sleep in their cars for months at a time.


Disney's profit surges in the first quarter, but revenue disappoints amid struggles in media networks

Walt Disney Co. delivered stronger-than-expected profit in the first quarter — thanks partly to a federal tax cut — but its revenue dipped below Wall Street's estimates as the Burbank company saw continued declines at its ESPN cable channels and ABC broadcast network.

Disney reported net income of $4.42 billion, up 78% from a year earlier, boosted by a $1.6-billion one-time tax benefit from the new federal income tax legislation.

Analysts had predicted adjusted earnings per share of $1.61 on revenue of $15.5 billion, according to FactSet, and Disney delivered adjusted per-share earnings of $1.89 on revenue of $15.4 billion, up 4%.

Disney's earnings report comes amid a period of turbulence for global markets — on Monday the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 1,175 points before gaining 567 points a day later — and the company's performance is sure to be scrutinized by anxious investors.



Tenants, landlords clash over rent control in Santa Ana

Tenants and landlord groups debated rent control before the Santa Ana City Council Tuesday, Feb. 6, clashing over the merits of the controversial law in the majority renter city.

A study session about whether rent control helps or harms rent-burdened tenants drew about 40 speakers on both sides of the issue, amid cheers and applause from supporters for both positions.

“I can tell you, rent control does not work,” business owner Frank Alvarez, a board member of the Apartment Association of Orange County, told the council. “I’ve seen the issues with maintenance. I’ve seen the issues with blight. … It’s detrimental to investment.”



Disneyland workers offer mixed reactions to $1,000 bonus

If Denise Anderson, a 27-year costume worker at Disneyland, gets a one-time, $1,000 bonus this year, she has no illusions that it will better her life in the long run.

“Working for Disneyland, you live paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “Maybe I could use it to pay off a medical bill that’s been hanging over my head.”

The Walt Disney Co. announced this week that as “a result of the recently enacted tax reform” law signed by President Donald Trump in December, it would pay out one-time, $1,000 cash bonuses to 125,000 full- and part-time non-executive employees.

It will also spend $50 million this year, and $25 million going forward, to subsidize training and education for 88,000 hourly workers.

RELATED: 125,000 Disney employees getting $1,000 bonus, access to $50 million educational fund

The company, with annual revenues of $55 billion, is among more than a dozen businesses, including AT&T, Wal-Mart and Verizon, that recently announced bonuses.

But a sentence in the company’s press release has raised alarm among the company’s 30,000 Disneyland employees, most of whom belong to one of the park’s 26 unions.



Briceño: Why We March

After the repeated attacks this year on the rights of women, immigrants, and the poor, it is more important than ever to organize across all social justice movements and make our voices heard. This time last year, 20,000 people stood in the streets of Santa Ana unified on women’s rights, social justice, and human rights. We marched to show that we are here and our voices are loud and strong. On Saturday January 20, 2018 we will take another step to support human rights and lift our voices in solidarity.

As a single mother on my journey from a front desk agent to becoming the co-president of an important Union in our region, I learned how important it is to advocate for myself and to teach others how to do the same. This journey continues as we come together at the 2018 O.C. Women’s March. There is much to stand up and march for.

I march for immigrant, low-wage women to have a voice on the job and equity in pay. I march for the mother who made a dangerous journey from a war torn country and works her fingers to the bone to provide a safe, healthy life for her little ones. She deserves a fair chance and fair pay for the work she has put in.

I march for the father who’s committed his life to helping the American economy thrive by building a business that supports our community. He shouldn’t be taken from his family over a policy. Family members shouldn’t be forcefully ripped apart from one another.

I march for their daughter and son, who dream of a future in the only place they have ever lived and known. They deserve safety, opportunity, and chance to hope – and most importantly, they deserve to sleep each night with loving parents nearby, not mourning their loss or living in fear of an ICE raid.

I march to keep immigrant families together. I march for comprehensive immigration reform.

Why do you march?

On January 20th, I will be at the second annual O.C. Women’s March in downtown Santa Ana, and I hope to see you there in solidary with us, for all the reasons you march.



Say No to Short Term Rentals in Garden Grove

Everyone deserves to live and work in safe, friendly, and clean communities. Short term rentals threaten to disrupt that for Garden Grove residents.

Over the past few months, the city of Garden Grove has reported an increase in resident complaints about short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods. As a neighboring city to popular tourist destinations such as Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, and other destinations, Garden Grove is an attractive location for tourists. Currently, renting a private house or room for less than 30 days is illegal in the city of Garden Grove, and it’s in the city’s best interest to maintain that status.

Short term rental (STR) corporations hide STR’s negative effects. In reality, the STR industry imposes its business costs onto residents, neighborhoods, and cities.

STRs consist of rented-out homes, apartments and other living spaces for short-term stays. STR corporations that offer these services, like AirBnB, publicize people could “optimize one’s greatest asset,” by helping them rent out their homes to make additional money to pay off their mortgages or purchase necessary items.” However, while some individuals may benefit from some profit, the presence of STRs in a neighborhood introduces a host of problems by creating unregulated mini hotels.



Four County GOP Congressional Seats Targeted in 2018

Four Orange County Congressional Districts that pundits predict will be competitive races in November’s national election fight to control the House of Representatives have been flooded with 32 candidates as Democrats target the Republican-held seats and gear up for the June primary.

“It’s unbelievable, the record breaking numbers of candidates,” Orange County Democratic Party Chairwoman Fran Sdao said. “We typically have a hard time finding a Democrat to run, so this year we have the opposite problem.”

Democrats need to take at least 24 House seats throughout the country in order to win control. Currently, the House has 239 Republicans, 193 Democrats and three vacancies. The June 5 primary will narrow the Orange County field to the top two vote getters in each Congressional district, regardless of political party.