April 27, 2020

Robert Phillips: Taking on the Inequities Laid Bare by COVID-19

Bio Robert Phillips () leads the strategic direction, fiscal stewardship, daily operations, and overall management of Alluma as CEO. A healthcare advocate and philanthropist, Robert joined the Board of Alluma (then Social Interest Solutions) in...

Robert Phillips



Robert Phillips (@rphillipsalluma) leads the strategic direction, fiscal stewardship, daily operations, and overall management of Alluma as CEO. A healthcare advocate and philanthropist, Robert joined the Board of Alluma (then Social Interest Solutions) in 2006, and became President of the Board and CEO in 2017.

Robert has been acting on his commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of communities in the U.S. and California for over 25 years. He played a crucial role in strategic philanthropic and advocacy efforts to improve the health of children and youth of color, expand health coverage to all children in California, modernize enrollment into public programs using technology solutions, and implement electronic health records in community clinics. His leadership at Alluma builds from experience at the California Endowment, Sierra Health Foundation, PolicyLink, AFL-CIO, SEIU, and Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit and Strategy. Decade after decade he has been proactively gaining the tools to lead changemakers in building what we need to achieve the economic well-being we aspire to as a society. 



News Roundup  

Sharing economy implodes as people stay home

 The sharing economy has imploded amidst sharply reduced demand for things like ride or apartment-sharing as Americans shelter in place. Lyft announced that it would be laying off 17% of its workforce, with more layoffs to come. Uber’s Chief Technology Officer stepped down as the company announced that it would be laying off some 20% of its workforce. And Axios reports that Airbnb took on two, separate, $1 billion loans in April alone.

Study: Sextortionists netted some $500k in five months

 Sextortion has been on the rise according to a new report from cybersecurity firm Sophos. The company found that so-called sextortionists – criminals who blackmail people for thousands of dollars in exchange for not revealing their online porn habits and sexual predilections – have raked in some $500k. Interestingly, most people didn’t fall for the scheme which involved paying into a bitcoin wallet set up by the perpetrators, just .5% of targets paid into the wallet, according to the report. Still the amount of money these criminals raised from such a low response rate was enough to raise some red flags.

Hate groups and tech

 Technology continues to enable hate speech and white supremacy as some investors have become unwitting funders of companies owned by white supremacists. The Tech Transparency project found about 125 militant groups on Facebook promoting a second Civil War, or “boogaloo”, as they refer to it. Also, Softbank has apparently invested in surveillance firm Banjo whose CEO, according to OneZero, apparently admitted to helping a KKK member shoot up a synagogue. According to the report, Damien Patton admitted to being involved with the Dixie Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Pretty sobering when you think about the fact that this is a surveillance firm he’s running.

Banks and consumer advocates want a limited return to robocalling       

 Banks and some consumer advocates, usually foes in their lobbying efforts, are both advocating for an exception to the general ban on robocalling Congress passed last year. The exception would allow robocalls in cases where the robocalls are designed to inform the public about financial relief. I think we can all anticipate the can of worms that would be opened there – give banks an inch and they’ll take a yard. Pretty soon banks will be calling you for any reason at all.

Abortion via telemedicine

Pam Belluck of the New York Times wrote a piece on pregnant women seeking abortions via telemedicine. A company call TelAbortion, which the F.D.A. has approved to run during the Trump administration, serves as something of a middleman between doctors and patients by facilitating telemedicine appointments and the mailing of abortion medication. Lots of questions regarding conflicts of law issues as each state has different abortion regulations. But you can find the story in the New York Times and we’ve linked to it in the show notes.

Federal judge approves Baltimore spy initiative

A Republican judge appointed by George W. Bush gave the greenlight to the City of Baltimore’s aerial surveillance program citing a “highly relevant” amount of violence “afflicting the city of Baltimore”. The ACLU had sued the City of Baltimore back on April 9th for the spy plane program arguing that it is an unconstitutional invasion of personal privacy and the 4th Amendment guarantee of freedom from unreasonable government searches. More in Baltimore Magazine.

Democrats push to increase broadband access in next stimulus

The Hill reports that Democrats in both chambers of Congress are pushing for more funding to improve broadband for people who can’t access internet service that’s fast enough to do things like participate in remote work or distance learning. Senators Blumenthal and Markey, as well as Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, participated in a livestream with several advocacy organizations arguing for lower broadband prices. The 12 organizations hosting the livestream also circulated a petition containing 110,000 signatures urging guaranteed access to broadband as part of the next stimulus.

Fox News fires Diamond & Silk

Fox News has fired controversial commentators Diamond & Silk, whose real names are Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, from their Fox Nation streaming service. The rabid Trump supporters have repeatedly promoted unsubstantiated conspiracy theories such as the claims that the World Health Organization is able to turn the coronavirus on and off at will, that Bill Gates is hiding the vaccine as a way to control the population, and that 5G causes the coronavirus to spread.