Opinion L.A.
Observations and provocations from The Times' Opinion Staff
Why the Market Basket saga matters to all Americans

For the last several weeks, a massive worker strike has taken place across the Boston-area at the Market Basket grocery store chain. Unlike the recent nationwide fast food strikes, Market Basket workers aren’t risking their livelihoods for higher wages or for better benefits. They’re putting everything on the line to bring back their recently ousted CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas, who was given the boot by his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, the majority shareholder in the company, after a protracted family squabble.

Yes, you read that right. Hundreds, if not thousands, of American workers are walking the streets in protest, putting the economic security of their families at risk, to bring back their boss.

It sounds like a fairy tale. But Arthur T. was no average boss. Under his direction, Market Basket full-time workers started at $12 per hour and could earn upward of $40,000 in salary if they stuck with the company for a number of years.

In addition, as Esquire reports, the company paid “its...

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Now that dogs can dine at restaurants, here are a few rules of decorum

It’s official — restaurants in California can now allow dogs to accompany their people on patios and in other outside areas set aside for dining. Gov. Jerry Brown, whose own dog, a Welsh corgi named Sutter, can be seen frequently strolling with him and his wife and a host of other Sacramento players, announced Thursday that he had signed Assembly Bill 1965 into law. That he would do so, I never doubted.

The bill, authored by Assembly member Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), doesn’t obligate restaurant owners to serve dogs, so to speak, nor does it stop local jurisdictions from prohibiting it. But it eliminates the state prohibition against doing so.

Some restaurants had allowed the practice anyway. When the bill’s sponsor, Judie Mancuso, an animal welfare advocate and president of Social Compassion in Legislation, took her two Chihuahuas out to dinner with her, she found that she would be allowed at one restaurant and not allowed at another -- even if the eateries were just different locations...

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Silly paranoia: Ebola might reach the U.S. via unaccompanied Latino minors

By now we should be inured to the inanities of American politics, but every now and then the craziness just astounds. Witness Andy Tobin, an Arizona state legislative leader running in a three-way Republican primary for a congressional seat now held by Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick.

Border issues are a legitimate local concern in Arizona, which, with other southwestern states, bears the brunt of the flow of illegal immigration, though Arizona hasn’t always handled that stress with aplomb.

Tobin has dragged the discussion to new lows. He told the Tucson Weekly recently that the ebbing flow of unaccompanied minors across the border could expose American citizens to the ebola virus. Which emanates from Africa. Per the Weekly:

“Tobin says he's hearing about worries from constituents that the recent wave of undocumented youth from Central America could cause an Ebola outbreak in the United States.

“‘Anything's now possible,’ Tobin said last week. ‘So if you were to say the Ebola virus has now...

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DEA makes Vicodin harder to obtain legally, but that's half the job

The Drug Enforcement Administration has spent the last decade considering whether to make it harder to obtain the most popular type of narcotic painkiller: "hydrocodone combination" products, such as Vicodin and Lortab. And now it will. But the new restrictions may not have much effect on stopping the abuse of those products until state officials make it harder for addicts to get around the rules.

On Friday, the DEA published a final rule that reclassifies hydrocodone combination products as Schedule II drugs, which is the most restrictive category for controlled substances that have medical uses. As such, they will be available only in non-refillable prescriptions that provide no more than a 90-day supply of the medication.

The change will certainly make it tougher for people to obtain these pills. Some pharmacies don't dispense Schedule II drugs, and some states (though not California) bar nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants from prescribing them. The ban on refills,...

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Why are long-faced progressives trying to ruin the Ice Bucket Challenge?

No sooner, it would seem, does a silly fad materialize that combines hot-weather high jinks, people’s plangent yearning to plaster photos and videos of themselves on social media, and charitable contributions to a worthy cause -- I’m talking about the Ice Bucket Challenge -- than some long-faced progressives come along to throw cold ice onto it.

Even the spectacle of progressive hate-object George W. Bush getting doused over the head by former First Lady Laura Bush among the latest in a laundry list of well-known people to undergo the ice-bucket treatment hasn’t mollified the joyless pundits resolved to leach all the pleasure out of a hot summer afternoon.

Objections to the Ice Bucket Challenge -- in which people dare each other to endure having ice water poured over their heads, or, alternatively, donate $100 to combat the neurodegenerative disorder ALS (or some do the challenge and write a check) -- fall into the following categories:

1. The Ice Bucket Challenge wastes water -- and...

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Why pay a mortgage when you can get away with a bootleg apartment?

Every year in Los Angeles, the city's housing department finds 600 to 700 bootleg apartments created by enterprising property owners who have not bothered to obtain permits. According to a Times article by Emily Alpert Reyes, this activity has brought together an "unusual alliance of landlords and tenants" who want the city to issue an amnesty for those units that meet safety codes.

"Landlords argue that many of these nonconforming apartments are perfectly safe. And tenant advocates say they often provide rare patches of affordable housing in a city of whopping rents," Reyes wrote.

Current practice is to "evict tenants and rip out the unit" after such apartments are discovered, according to Amos Hartson, chief counsel and director of legal services at the Inner City Law Center. Both sides see this as a waste of perfectly good housing.

Reyes wrote: "The details are still being worked out, but backers say the idea is simple: Landlords could come forward and fix plumbing, wiring or other...

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New DWP head Marcie Edwards is ready to tackle conservation challenges

The DWP that Marcie Edwards started working for as a teenager is a different creature now, because California has become a different place.

How she came to head the largest publicly owned utility in the country is a good tale of how women began to get, and to make, opportunities that weren’t possible before.

Edwards’ father, who worked on the power side of the Department of Water and Power, dropped her off at City Hall when she was 19 and said: “You don’t know what you want to do with your life, so until you figure it out, get a city job so I don’t have to worry about you.”

That job was as a DWP clerk. One day a group swept through her office, offering an introduction to  “non-traditional jobs for women.” She asked what in the heck was a non-traditional job? “Get in the van, we’ll show you,” one fellow said.

They toured steam plants and electric substations that kept the lights on, staffed by people in coveralls, not skirts and blouses. At the end she asked, "What do those jobs pay?...

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Cool it on Ice Bucket Challenge, and keep Gov. Brown's dog out of it

As if the parade of publicity-seeking celebrities, newscasters, tech billionaires and past and present politicians dumping pails of ice water on themselves wasn’t tiresome and annoying enough, now we must watch California’s First Dog subjected to this humiliation.

And he didn’t have a choice in the matter like the humans before him.

Yes, someone (perhaps Gov. Jerry Brown, himself?) decided that Brown’s Welsh corgi, Sutter, needed to get in on the gimmick of the Ice Bucket Challenge, the ALS fundraising drive and latest gone-viral craze. A short video on his -- Sutter’s, that is -- Facebook page shows a mysterious hand appearing in the frame with a mini-bucket of water poised over the pooch’s head as he (Sutter again) grumpily barks, knowing nothing good can come of this. The water is dumped,  Sutter shakes it off and looks none the worse for the whole experience.

There was some mild outrage on his Facebook page. “That’s really mean!” someone wrote. But there were more comments along...

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Watch: Leaders discuss what L.A. can learn from Ferguson

We had an unusual gathering at the L.A. Times this afternoon, as County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and City Councilman Bernard C. Parks, not the best of friends, joined journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan, USC professor Jody David Armour and me to talk about the events in Ferguson, Mo., and their implications for Los Angeles.

Parks reflected on his 38-year career as a police officer, which culminated in being named LAPD chief in 1997, while Ridley-Thomas focused on the importance of citizen oversight, a cause he is pushing at the board, where he is lobbying for the creation of a new citizens commission to oversee the L.A. Sheriff’s Department. So far, Ridley-Thomas is a vote short, but he’s continuing, and he stumped for it in our conversation. Parks and Ridley-Thomas ran against each other for supervisor in 2008 (Ridley-Thomas won), and though they didn’t exchange pleasantries today, they did share the stage politely, and Ridley-Thomas even had a few kind words for his former rival.


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It's summertime. Why aren't you on vacation?

My wife and I returned Friday from two weeks of vacation in China, hanging out with one of our sons (posted there with the Peace Corps) and his girlfriend. We were mostly unplugged, wandered miles every day, traipsed the Great Wall and watched pandas, among other exotic (to us) exploits. And that’s what vacations are for – time away from the desk to, as an old friend once described it, get a chance to rub our fur in a different direction for a while.

Who knew we were so rare?

The folks at Vox report, based on recent federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data, that fewer Americans are taking weeklong vacations than in previous decades, for a range of reasons including fear of career repercussions to jobs that don’t offer accrued vacation days. According to Vox:

“Nine million Americans took a week off in July 1976, the peak month each year for summer travel. Yet in July 2014, just seven million did. Keeping in mind that 60 million more Americans have jobs today than in 1976, that adds up to...

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Report the truth -- the whole truth -- on Robin Williams' death

The details of Robin Williams' apparent suicide aren't pretty (not that anyone thought they would be): The beloved actor and comedian was reportedly found by his personal assistant suspended just off the ground by a belt wrapped around his neck. Cuts on his wrist suggest he may have attempted to kill himself one way before succeeding at asphyxiation.

You probably wouldn't know any of this if some enlightened journalists had their way. Those who missed the initial news conference where these details were first reported would have been kept in the dark, because journalists, some people say, don't have to continue reporting the disturbing facts after they've been delivered by the government officials obligated to do so.

Those thinkers are wrong. Journalists' job is to tell the whole story, and nothing less. I speak from experience.

Many years ago while working as a reporter in a small town, I received an obituary call from a local funeral director. The call was routine in every way but...

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Why don't we know how often a Michael Brown is killed by police?

The shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer in suburban St. Louis has spotlighted a wide range of policy questions and social issues, from police training and militarization (evident with the response to the post-shooting protests) to the nation’s black-white divide over perceptions of racism, to the extension of urban-style poverty and unemployment to suburbia. The pivotal question, though, is how often do these killings occur? How often do police gun down unarmed black men on the nation’s streets?

It turns out no one knows, because federal statistics collectors and many local police departments don’t track violent encounters between officers and civilians. A cynic might see something nefarious in that. By not collecting and collating such data, law enforcement can hide the scope of misdeeds from the public as well as civil liberties activists and lawyers for the families of the dead.

But academics like Samuel Walker, who has long been frustrated by the lack of available...

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