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Jim Hightower: Should Gig Giants Keep Gigging Workers? | Columnists

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Especially prominent in this year of pandemic disease, mass job losses and ever-spreading inequality are citizen initiatives to start restoring worker rights and income. These illustrate the importance of direct ballot lawmaking: When public officials and corporate hierarchies snub people’s needs or carelessly harm them, the initiative is a democratic path for asserting The People’s will. If lawmakers don’t act, the people can!

Here are some big public policies people clearly want but lawmakers consistently ignore: Pay for family leave time; restrict the power of Big Money in our elections; stop rent gouging by greedy corporate landlords; assert real public oversight to stop police abuses.

Now the good news: You don’t have to vote for Sen. Foghorn or Gov. Blowhard in the futile hope that they’ll ever work to pass such progressive policies. Rather, each of the above ideas is on the ballot next Tuesday in various states across the country — do-it-yourself democracy in action!

Of course, democracy can be messy, and bypassing the backroom chicanery of legislative bodies doesn’t necessarily bypass the insider power of Big Money. But at least ballot initiatives force moneyed interests to do their avaricious dirty work outside, allowing us commoners to glimpse their greed.

That’s certainly the case of a money-soaked mega-fight underway in California over Prop 22. Uber, Lyft and other multibillion-dollar behemoths have amassed their billions by claiming that their hundreds of thousands of workers are independent contractors, not employees. Therefore, say the corporations, they don’t have to provide health care or comply with basic labor protections. This year, though, a new California law rejected this blatant corporate ruse, at last allowing employees to get the essential benefits due to them. However, rather than do right by the people who do their work, a cabal of these giants has ponied up more than $200 million to try ramming through Prop 22. This self-serving corporate ballot measure openly asserts that they’re above the law, entitled to exploit their low-paid, no-benefit workforce (and a study says 8 in 10 of gig workers are people of color). If you wonder why our fabulously rich nation keeps sinking deeper into self-destructive inequality, look no further than Prop 22. It’s such a piece of plutocratic nastiness that, to get their way, the handful of profiteers behind it are running the most expensive and one of the most underhanded PR campaigns in the history of ballot initiatives.

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Latin music star Maluma’s Sept. 12 Pechanga Arena San Diego gig is dormant venue’s first new show of 2021

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The announcement that reggaeton-music star Maluma will perform Sept. 12 at Pechanga Arena San Diego is newsworthy for more than just musical reasons or his past collaborations with Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and Madonna.

Maluma’s concert, part of the U.S. leg of the Colombian singer’s Papi Juancho 2021 World Tour, is the first new 2021 concert to be announced at Pechanga Arena. It also appears to be the first major new concert by any pop artist, at any indoor or outdoor San Diego County venue, to be announced this year — as opposed to a concert that was postponed from 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the exception of drive-in performances, no ticketed concerts or live events are currently allowed under San Diego County and California state health regulations. Even so, Maluma’s Pechanga Arena show will be a full-capacity performance. All 13,500 tickets will go on sale Friday, apart from those allotted to a Maluma fan club pre-sale, which began today.

“The show’s promoter and Pechanga Arena San Diego understand that if local health guidelines do not allow for a full house on the event date, the show will be rescheduled,” said Kristi Reedy, the venue’s marketing director, in response to questions from the Union-Tribune.

“Pechanga Arena San Diego continues to work with event organizers and promoter partners in anticipation of a return of live events. This includes the advance sale of tickets for future events that are being scheduled.”

The concert and live events industry came shuddering to a halt last March because of the pandemic. As a result, lost 2020 income in the U.S. alone was estimated to exceed $9 billion, with losses of about $16 billion in the rest of the world.

On Jan. 29, the 2021 editions of both the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals in Indio were canceled outright, after being postponed from last April to last October to this April. Also canceled were the 2020 editions of two San Diego festivals, KAABOO and Wonderfront.

In an October Union-Tribune article, the majority of concert and festival experts interviewed predicted that their industry would not be able to fully return to normal until 2022, although some held out hope a partial reopening of their industry could begin in late summer or early fall. It remains to be seen if the timing of Maluma’s 23-city U.S. arena tour, which is scheduled to open Sept. 2 in Sacramento and conclude Oct. 24 in Chicago, will be propitious or premature.

The tour is being produced by Cardenas Marketing Network, which in a statement said that it “will follow and comply with recommendations and guidelines imposed by governmental authorities and public health departments.”

As of this writing, the first scheduled concert this year at Pechanga Arena is a performance by James Taylor and Jackson Browne on May 29 — one year to the day from their postponed 2020 concert at the same venue. The original concert was part of Taylor’s joint tour with Browne, who was later diagnosed with COVID-19.

Regardless of the timing, Pechanga Arena — which for decades was known as the San Diego Sports Arena — is eager to resume operations with new health measures in place that could serve as a template for other concert and live events venues. The venue is operated by ASM Global, which is co-owned by AEG, the producer of the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals. ASM Global was selected last August by then-San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer to build a new arena and create an entertainment district on the 48-acre city site that houses Pechanga Arena.

“When Pechanga Arena receives approval from our local health officials to reopen, we will be deploying VenueShield, ASM Global’s comprehensive and industry-leading reopening program,” Reedy, the San Diego venue’s marketing director, said. “… Rest assured that all policies will be aligned with — and informed by — public health authorities, medical and industry experts.”

Tickets for Maluma are priced from $55.50 to $406.50 each. They go on sale to the general public Friday at 10 a.m. at axs.com.



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Fri 9 AM | Exchange Exemplar: Gig Work, Heaven Or Hell? – Jefferson Public Radio

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GIG inks wind offtake with Danone in Poland – reNews

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Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (GIG) has signed an agreement with Danone companies in Poland to supply renewable energy through a 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

The power will be provided by GIG’s Jozwin wind farm, which was acquired by the business last year.

Route-to-market and balancing services will be provided by Axpo Polska, with Axpo also acting as the intermediary with food giant Danone, which will use Axpo as their licenced electricity provider.

This PPA will support Danone’s current decarbonisation goals as its Polish operations make up 6% of the business’ total energy usage around the world.

Danone is part of RE100, a collection of the companies that have committed to using 100% renewable electricity.

Danone’s commitment is to reach 100% of renewable electricity by 2030. 

At the end of 2020, Danone exceeded its previous target of 50% by 2020, getting 54.3% of its electricity from renewable sources.

GIG Europe head Edward Northam said: “This agreement shows our ability to work in partnership with our customers, in this case Danone, to develop bespoke solutions under challenging market conditions.

“Having understood Danone’s specific needs, GIG in partnership with Axpo, has created and delivered a solution that meets Danone’s energy and carbon reduction ambitions in a cost-effective manner.”

GIG has now supported 18 corporates with PPAs, equating to 3GW of renewables capacity.

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