How Hollywood’s Autism Fantasies Undermine Autism Employment

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director, whose newest book is The Autism Job Club (with R. Holden).

In a recent Curb Your Enthusiasm episode (Season 9, “Namaste”) Larry David pretends to be on the autism spectrum to win sympathy from an African-American mechanic he has insulted. Of course, as widely noted in the autism blogosphere, this is insensitive and inappropriate. But there is more honesty (and humor) in this one scene than in all of the fantasy that Hollywood continues to put out on autism this fall–including through such high-profile shows as The Good Doctor and Atypical. Here’s why we should take notice.

For the past decade, autism has exploded in popular culture, so that it is simply impossible to turn on the television or go to the movies without an autism reference or character on the autism spectrum. When I started in the autism community in 1991, Rain Man, was the main and near sole autism reference in popular culture. In just the past five years, more than twenty movies and television shows have appeared with characters on the autism spectrum—to say nothing of tens of memoirs, novels, and young adult fiction.     An adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon’s popular 2003 book featuring a teen on the autism spectrum, is winning applause on Broadway.

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Following the ‘Pence Rule’ in the Workplace Will Get You Sued 

Tom Spiggle
Founder of the Spiggle Law Firm

In the wake of ongoing sexual misconduct allegations in Hollywood, Congress and the media, some male bosses are thinking of adopting what is known as the “Pence Rule.”

Common among evangelical Christians, the rule is based on the practices of Southern Baptist minister Billy Graham, who refused to eat, travel or meet alone with any woman who was not his wife.

The rule gained new attention earlier this year when it was revealed that Vice President Mike Pence follows a variation of it, refusing even to attend events where alcohol is served without his wife.

But what works for Billy Graham — or even Mike Pence — could get you in a lot of legal trouble.

The Pence Rule, by definition, means treating male and female employees differently. Under this principle, a man in management could privately meet with another male employee, but not a female one. Anyone who spends time in an office knows that often the really important conversations in the workplace occur with the door closed.

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LA City Hall Spendoholics Rip Off DWP Ratepayers

Jack Humphreville
LA Watchdog writer for CityWatch, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and Publisher of the Recycler

On Tuesday, November 28, the politically appointed Board of Water and Power Commissioners rubber stamped the transfer of $242 million of Ratepayer money from the DWP’s debt burdened Power System to City Hall without any meaningful discussion.

There was no documentation that disclosed how the Department determined the $242 million transfer.  Nor did the Board address in any detail the legality of this transfer despite the fact that this so called fee is really a tax pursuant to Proposition 26 (The Supermajority Vote to Pass New Fees and Taxes).

Needless to say, the Department of Water and Power has a pressing need for this money.

DWP could use this cash to update its infrastructure, fund its ambitious capital expenditure program, or invest in renewable energy projects.  Alternatively, the Department could reduce the Power System’s ever increasing debt load (now approaching $9 billion) or pay down some of its unfunded retirement liabilities that exceed $4.8 billion (71% funded) as of June 30, 2016.  This money could also be used to offset the 20-25% increase in our power rates that went into effect last year.

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Will Bay Area political crowd trump LA yet again?

Steven Greenhut
Greenhut writes for American Spectator, Reason and the Orange County Register.

It’s been a fait accompli that Gavin Newsom, the former San Francisco mayor and current lieutenant governor, will be California’s next governor after the iconic Jerry Brown heads off into the sunset next year. Moonbeam is a hard act to follow, having served as the state’s youngest and oldest chief executive, but it’s too bad California can’t at least muster a feisty and contentious political debate before crowning another Bay Area pol as successor.

You know, where politicians actually debate issues, take varying political stances and give voters a choice rather than a coronation.

It’s hard to understand Southern California’s inability to exert much clout at the highest levels of California government. Brown is from Oakland. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, the former state attorney general who got here start under the tutelage of former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, already is touted as the inevitable Democratic nominee for president.

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Quick Notes on the SoCal Wildfires

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a local state of emergency on the Skirball Fire in the Sepulveda Pass section of West Los Angeles and the Creek Fire in the northern San Fernando Valley. One of the officials who oversees the implementation of the declaration is Deputy Mayor for Homeland Security and Public Safety for the City of Los Angeles Jeff Gorrell. Many know Gorrell as the former state assemblyman who represented sections of Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

Wall Street Journal Publisher and Fox media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s house was directly threatened by the Skirball Fire. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s residence is also in the “ready” area – not set for evacuation but residents are told to be ready if the evacuation order comes.

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New Water Rules for Marijuana Growers

Henry McCann
Research associate at the PPIC Water Policy Center

Marijuana growers who plan on growing cannabis on private land next season will encounter new state requirements to address the crop’s impact on California’s creeks and streams. The success of the policy will be tested by the state’s ability to bring growers into the legal cannabis sector. Currently, an estimated 80% of the state’s cannabis crop is grown for the black market.

The CalCannabis cultivation licensing system is a new program by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for permitting the crop to be grown legally on private land. The State Water Board recently adopted interim policies that will affect the license, including checks on a grower’s water rights, restrictions on the diversion of water for irrigating cannabis crops, and site-specific requirements to control runoff into local streams from growing operations. Many elements of the new statewide requirements are based on pioneering regional efforts to regulate cannabis cultivation in the North Coast.

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Los Angeles Public Officials are not Serious about Solving Homelessness

Susan Shelley
Columnist and member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group, and the author of the book, "How Trump Won."

If you thought voter approval of two new taxes in Los Angeles to provide housing and services to the homeless would mean our government officials had no more excuses to ignore the problem, guess again.

The new excuse for doing nothing about homelessness is, “We need more time.”

That was the word from L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who recently wrote an opinion piece published in this newspaper, co-authored with L.A. Family Housing president and CEO Stephanie Klasky-Gamer.

“Practically everyone we talk to has opinions and advice,” they wrote, dismissing the ideas from “well-meaning people who voted for H and HHH” as “magic-bullet solutions” and “Band-Aids.”

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Taxpayers Second Victims in Harassment Cases

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

In light of the sexual harassment charges that have encircled the legislature, last month Assemblyman Kevin McCarty said he would introduce a bill that would require convicted sexual harassers to pay out of their own pocket instead of taxpayers compensating victims. McCarty’s bill should go further to protect taxpayers.

Taxpayers are also victims when sexual harassment by government officials leads to settlements out of the public purse. But it is not only the payouts to the victims that cost taxpayers money. Investigations by outside law firms looking into potential harassment are also done on the taxpayers’ dime.

With the accusations made by lobbyist Pamela Lopez against Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced the assembly would be hiring an outside law firm to investigate the allegations. When sexual harassment charges were made against Sen. Tony Mendoza, senate president Kevin de León declared that the senate would hire an outside law firm to look at the charges against Mendoza.

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Backlash ripples through California politics after women denounce sexual harassment

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

With sexual harassment and assault allegations ricocheting through the state Capitol, two female lobbyists say they soon faced the consequences of speaking out—a state senator who suddenly wanted to avoid meeting with them.

A client of theirs relayed that the senator wanted women excluded from a meeting at a nearby watering hole. The reason: The senator and some of his colleagues had decided that, with accusations of bad behavior mounting against their fellow legislators, it would be safer to simply stop having drinks with lobbyists who happen to be female.

“Cutting off an entire gender from that access is clearly harmful,” said lobbyist Jodi Hicks, whose client alerted her of the senator’s intent. “If we are saying we need to change the culture, this is the opposite of that.”

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Eric Garcetti for president? Really?

Joel Kotkin
Editor of and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

Someone may be putting something in the Los Angeles water supply. In the past months, two unlikely L.A.-based presidential contenders — Mayor Eric Garcetti and Disney Chief Robert Iger — have been floated in the media, including in the New York Times.

But before we start worrying about how an L.A.-based president might affect traffic (after all this is the big issue in Southern California), we might want to confront political reality. In both cases, the case for our local heroes’ candidacies is weak at best, and delusional at worst.

The Disney fantasies

The Iger case is, if anything easier to dismiss. Iger can sell himself, like Trump, as a business success story, and with probably far-fewer questionable business transactions. Yet Iger, trying to run as a progressive in an increasingly left-wing Democratic Party, will face numerous challenges that dwarfs those faced by Trump.

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