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Commentary: Partying controls

Saturday June 01, 2002

Today the county Board of Supervisors takes on the Isla Vista party scene. The board will consider giving law enforcement more powers to break up social gatherings and cite party-goers for unruly behavior. Isla Vista’s rowdiness could stand to be taken down a few notches. Officers documented 2,900 alcohol-related crimes in I.V. in 2001. 

Yet the county proposals, when considered along with (University of California, Santa Barbara’s) plans to notify parents when their undergraduate sons or daughter are arrested or cited for public intoxication, raise questions about fairness, civil liberties and privacy protections 

Residents, students, business owners and law enforcement officers shouldn’t miss sharing their thoughts ...(about) an ordinance that would let officers declare a gathering a public nuisance. 

Among the new rules: Parties could be shut down if officers see beer kegs from the sidewalk. Officers could send everyone home and write citations to people who refuse. This provision, unfairly, would only apply to I.V. and not other unincorporated areas. 

Separate from the county, UCSB wants to notify parents when undergraduates are cited or arrested for public intoxication. But remember arrest does not prove guilt. 

UCSB’s scheme relies on an outdated notion of family. Many students may be estranged from one or both of their parents. An appeals process might allow a student to ask that a letter not be sent to a particular parent. Yet this would mean that UCSB would compel a student not convicted of any crime to disclose private family matters to government employees. 


May 21 

Visalia Times Delta: Farmworkers also need leverage to negotiate contracts 

Farm labor negotiations are typically difficult, and California has a long history of contentious relations between management and labor in agriculture. 

Given that history and the frequency by which farmworkers have been thwarted simply by being stonewalled, it seems fair to provide a tool for workers to get growers to bargain in good faith. 

A bill in the Legislature would mandate binding arbitration to end impasses over contract negotiations. It would apply only to farmers whose workers have voted to organize. 

Agriculture management is against it. The state Farm Bureau complains that it would inflict a labor requirement on agriculture that no other business is subject to. 

The United Farm Workers union contends that the provision would not even be necessary if growers bargained with them in good faith, but the union cites dozens of instances where growers refused to sign or live up to a contract. 

Binding arbitration can be an important incentive to both sides to come to an agreement. It in effect puts the proceedings on the clock and guarantees there will be a resolution. Farm workers have traditionally been stymied by stalling tactics or simply by having growers walk away from the table, hire another group of workers and start over. 

We can understand the objections of growers, however, operating as they do in a business with a very narrow margin. 

The solution for both sides, of course, is an adjustment of the basic agriculture economy: Growers should be able to pay farm laborers more. To do that, they need to get more for their produce. When consumers un-derstand they have a role to play in that, too, maybe real reform can take place and some of the tension will go out of grower-worker relations.