Monday, November 20, 2017

Shooting straight on state gas tax measure

Editorial: Shooting straight on state gas tax measure

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra speaks during an interview with the Associated Press. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra speaks during an interview with the Associated Press. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File) 
California has a long history of election meddling by state attorneys general who try to put a thumb on the scale before voters weigh in on ballot measures.
Now Xavier Becerra is using his entire fist to squash attempts to repeal the state’s new 12-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase and $25 to $175 boost in annual vehicle registration fees.
Repealing the taxes championed by Gov. Jerry Brown would be terrible for California, whose roads and bridges have deteriorated to a dangerous degree over the past decade. But the attorney general is stooping to new lows of electoral deception to try to stop it, and that’s just plain wrong.
The issue is an initiative by Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, to repeal the increased tax and fees. He hopes to qualify it for the November 2018 election.
Becerra insisted that the title on the signature petitions make no mention of repealing “taxes and fees.” Instead, he directed that it say it would “repeal revenues” for road repair and transportation funding.
Seriously. “Repeal revenues.” Whatever that means.
Becerra’s obfuscation is a pathetic attempt to hide the truth and discourage voters from signing the petitions. That is essentially what Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley concluded when Allen appealed the attorney general’s petition language.
The judge called Becerra’s title and summary “confusing, misleading, and likely to create prejudice against the proposed measure.” It “obscures the chief purpose of the initiative: repeal of the recently enacted taxes and fees.”
Frawley ordered new language, explicitly stating that the initiative would repeal those taxes and fees.
Becerra appealed to the state Court of Appeal, saying the judge overstepped his authority. Last week, the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento ruled in Becerra’s favor, deciding that his summation of the initiative was “neutrally presented.” State law gives the attorney general “considerable latitude” in writing the official description, the court ruled.
Common sense tells us Frawley got the substance right. Allen says he will appeal the decision, taking it to the state Supreme Court.
While this fight is over the initiative petition language, the attorney general also controls the wording on the ballot and the short summary in the ballot pamphlet. In each case, the wording is supposed to be true, impartial and convey the measure’s chief purposes and points.
But, like his predecessors, Becerra, who must stand for election next year, is using his power over initiatives to sway voters and score political points with supporters — in this case to protect the governor’s transportation tax plan. It was Brown who earlier this year appointed Becerra to replace Kamala Harris as attorney general.
There’s a remedy for this. The responsibility for presenting clear information to voters should be taken away from politicians and turned over to the non-partisan state legislative analyst.
Political leaders aren’t big on giving up power. So it will probably take a good-government initiative to get it done. We can only imagine what that petition title might say.

Marinwood CSD approves $77k plus "Martha Stewart" Fire Kitchen makeover- November 2017

The Fire Department wins approval of the "Martha Stewart" Kitchen makeover featuring luxury appliances like a $4500 Viking stove, custom cabinetry.  Lea Kleinman-Green argues that to "determine price" we must approve the $77,000 makeover and then deal with the contractor adjustments after the fact. The rest of the Marinwood CSD board eventually agrees unanimously.  Only months before the CSD REFUSED a generous $25,000 gift for less fancy kitchen by falsely claiming it was ILLEGAL to take the contribution.  The winning contractors have ties to people in the community.    The TAXPAYERS ARE BEING SCREWED.  In other business, the CSD is considering reorganization of the fire department in secret meetings.  The fire chief Tom Roach has not attended the last two meetings but no announcement has been made if he is on disability.  If he retires with his fat lifetime pension at age 50 (?) with a disability like recent firefighters, a large portion of his income is TAX FREE.   Again, the Marinwood CSD agree to this outrageous abuse of taxpayers like blind sheep.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Miller Landslide Repaired but still no agreement with the Marinwood CSD.

Apparently, the Marinwood CSD is not budging with the landslide repairs on the Miller property and would rather risk a law suit.  Eric Dreikosen, general manager feels that the law is on his side.



There is nothing so precious as Liberty

There was once a Wolf who got very little to eat because the Dogs of the village were so wide awake and watchful. He was really nothing but skin and bones, and it made him very downhearted to think of it.

One night this Wolf happened to fall in with a fine fat House Dog who had wandered a little too far from home. The Wolf would gladly have eaten him then and there, but the House Dog looked strong enough to leave his marks should he try it. So the Wolf spoke very humbly to the Dog, complimenting him on his fine appearance.

"You can be as well-fed as I am if you want to," replied the Dog. "Leave the woods; there you live miserably. Why, you have to fight hard for every bite you get. Follow my example and you will get along beautifully."

"What must I do?" asked the Wolf.

"Hardly anything," answered the House Dog. "Chase people who carry canes, bark at beggars, and fawn on the people of the house. In return you will get tidbits of every kind, chicken bones, choice bits of meat, sugar, cake, and much more beside, not to speak of kind words and caresses."

The Wolf had such a beautiful vision of his coming happiness that he almost wept. But just then he noticed that the hair on the Dog's neck was worn and the skin was chafed.

"What is that on your neck?"

"Nothing at all," replied the Dog.

"What! nothing!"

"Oh, just a trifle!"

"But please tell me."

"Perhaps you see the mark of the collar to which my chain is fastened."

"What! A chain!" cried the Wolf. "Don't you go wherever you please?"

"Not always! But what's the difference?" replied the Dog.

"All the difference in the world! I don't care a rap for your feasts and I wouldn't take all the tender young lambs in the world at that price." And away ran the Wolf to the woods.

There is nothing worth so much as liberty.


Important video. I would love to hear the rebuttal of Ezra Rapport by a constitutional scholar. No where does he mention the people right to self govern. His justification of "states authority" is positively socialist in concept. It changes our democracy into a authoritarian central planning model. I understand that Ezra Rapport was a his prior life.

I posed the question about how to rebuff Ezra Rapport's argument and received this response from a friend:

There are many arguments for local control but not based on the US Constitution. In the system of federalism, The federal and state governments co-exist as soverigns. The Constitution reserves the powers that belong to the federal government, and these pre-empt any contrary state or local laws. Anything not reserved to the feds belongs to the states to do as they please, as long as not in conflict with the Bill of Rights or other constitutional provisions. In contrast, the state and cities are not separate sovereigns. The cities are subordinate to the state, and derive any and all of their powers from what the state grants. The state has authority to delegate its powers to agencies, and has done so here. This is the constitutional explanation. As used here, I would argue it is bad governance, but it is constitutional.

Here are a few other comments: 

Constitutionally, he is right.

Just like, after the Reichstag fire in 1933, Hindenburg’s Reichstag Fire Decree suspending basic rights and allowed detention without trail, followed by Hitler getting the Enabling Act passed by the new Reichstag to respond to the emergency, and Hitler taking over as sole dictator of Germany after the death of Hindenburg, Hitler became all-powerful in a perfectly legal manner.

Remember the sequence in Star Wars III where Palpatine convinces the Senate to convert the Republic into the Empire with him as Emperor?

Guess what it was based on?

“A republic, if you can keep it.”

And this one:

Rapport may be correct that the state can subdivide into regional agencies, but this does not permit it to do so without democratic representation. Here is the portion of the Constitution, Article IV, Section 4: The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence. 

Article 4 Section 3 of the Constitution HERE

YIMBY s soak up developers cash to fund Astroturf Activism

The YIMBYs throw a gala from Mission Local on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Battle for the California Desert: Why is the Government Driving Folks off Their Land?

The Antelope Valley is a vast patch of desert on the outskirts of Los Angeles County, and a segment of the few rugged individualists who live out there increasingly are finding themselves the targets of armed raids from local code enforcement agents, who've assembled into task forces called Nuisance Abatement Teams (NATs).

The plight of the Valley's desert dwellers made regional headlines when county officials ordered the destruction of Phonehenge: a towering, colorful castle constructed out of telephone poles by retired phone technician Kim Fahey. Fahey was imprisoned and charged with several misdemeanors.

But Fahey is just one of many who've been targeted by the NATs, which were assembled at the request of County Supervisor Mike Antonovich in 2006. LA Weekly reporter Mars Melnicoff wrote an in-depth article in which she exposed the county's tactic of badgering residents with minor, but costly, code violations until they face little choice but to vacate the land altogether.

"They're picking on the the people who are the most defenseless and have the least resources," says Melnicoff. collaborated with Melnicoff to talk with some of the NAT's targets, such as retired veteran Joey Gallo, who might face homelessness if he's forced to leave his house, and local pastor Oscar Castaneda, who says he's already given up the fight and is in the process of moving off the land he and his wife have lived on for 22 years. And, while Antonovich declined an interview, we did catch up with him at a public meeting in order to ask the big question at the center of all this: Why the sudden enforcement of these codes against people living in the middle of the desert, who seemingly are affecting no one?

Writer-Producers: Zach Weissmueller and Tim Cavanaugh. Associate Producer: Mars Melnicoff. Camera: Alex Manning and Weissmueller; edited by Weissmueller.

Approximately 9:48.

Music by

Friday, November 17, 2017

Donald Trump's Family Fortune was built with Affordable Housing Profits

Donald Trump's father built his 400 million dollar estate with Affordable Housing.

Most people think of Donald Trump as the brash developer of Casinos, Golf Courses and Luxury properties.  Not too many people know that his family fortune was built by on the foundation that his father Fred Trump (1905-1999) built with affordable housing in the New York area

[Fred]Trump embarked on a career as an entrepreneur through real estate development, building, and operating affordable rental housing via large apartment complexes in New York City, including more than 27,000 low-income multifamily apartments and row houses in the neighborhoods of Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay, Flatbush, and Brighton Beach in Brooklyn and Flushing and Jamaica Estates in Queens.[2]

The next time you hear about "non-profit developers" remember that there is huge money in public sector housing development.  A business must be organized as a non profit corporation to qualify for HUD financing.

The business plan may be different than market rate housing but it is very profitable just the same.  The average low income apartment costs $250,000 to $500,000 per unit  making it far more expensive per square foot than market rate real estate.

Remember that "low income" only refers to the resident.  Everyone else makes a very healthy living.  That is why developers love One Bay Area Plan and the mandate for low income housing.  

Low income housing provides greater certainty for profits at lower risk.

Just ask Donald Trump!

Holiday travel begins. Enjoy the ride.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Rebuttal to "Forceful solutions to Regionalism"

A Rebuttal to the San Francisco Gate Opinion piece. 

A need for Regional Thinking

Editor's Note: A reader sent me the following rebuttal to the opinion piece published in the the SF GATE HERE.   The commentary is published in bold type and the original article in italics.

"A giant tunneling machine dubbed Elizabeth is burrowing under London, part
of a $25 billion regional train line scheduled to open in 2018. The finished
product is intended to alleviate suffocating traffic, ease pressure on housing
costs and share growth across a booming urban center, not just the inner core."

London has a vast network of surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition software, voice recognition,  cellular and digital surveillance.  Do we want to imitate London?
What works for London, doesn't necessarily work for us.

"Those problems, if not the solution, should get the Bay Area thinking. Our
locale shares London’s anxiety about the future and the next steps to improve

I have no anxiety about London's problems.
"Costly housing and inadequate transit are concerns that occupy Bay Area
residents nearly every day, topics taken on in The Chronicle’s “City on the
Edge” editorial series. As the expansive London plan shows, these
shortcomings can’t be isolated to the big-city center. They’re regional
concerns, taking in dozens of communities."

Anyone who understands regionalism sees it for what it is, an end run around
our representative government and our democratic process. Never a good thing
even if you think you're solving a problem.

"Other areas — notably the vast region surrounding New York that includes
New Jersey and Pennsylvania — are moving in the same direction as London.
It’s time there, as well as here, for serious improvements that move beyond
the normal boundaries and levels of planning."

This language appears to be an attempt to create a reality that does not exist. I
hope your readers don't fall for it.

"An emphasis on commuter lines that reach deep into the areas surrounding
city centers is one element."

Who asked we the people if this is what we want?

"Another is regional government that oversees and enforces policies on a
broad scale." 

Regional government is unrepresentative and is a shadow government to our
own. A very dangerous thing as those who have studied history know.

"Portland, Ore., has a wide-angle lens on development over an area taking in
the city and its suburbs."

Please look at the problems with this Portland plan before extolling its virtues.
It sets limits and directs growth, breaking down barriers between small
towns that ring the larger urban center.  (See article HERE )

This regionalism is about breaking political jurisdictions which take away the
political power of we the people to determine for ourselves how we want to live.
This is nothing less than Soviet Russian planning which didn't work there and
won't work here. This is the United States of America, land of the free, home of
the brave.
Ugly stucco "big box" apartments replace quiet neighborhoods.

"After years of public battling, Seattle overcame misgivings about in-fill
projects and pushed ahead with new buildings in older neighborhoods where
NIMBY wars often raged."

At whose expense?

"The Bay Area has all the elements of these solutions in place. BART handles
400,000 riders daily, its highest passenger counts ever, and has proven so
popular that it needs bigger stations, more rail cars and possibly a second

Obscure California Committee Moves to Expand How Police Access and Use DMV Photos

Attention California: the privacy and security of your driver licenses are under threat from a new scheme to massively expand how photo IDs are shared and analyzed by law enforcement agencies.
Over the last few months, an obscure panel within the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has been taking steps to connect the statewide law-enforcement system for accessing driver license photos and mugshots, Cal-Photo, with a national network of other states’ photo systems. The plan also calls for combining facial recognition with Cal-Photo for investigators to use in the field. The so-called “advisory committee”—made up of representatives from police advocacy groups—has advanced these issues to “priority status,” undeterred by numerous warnings these efforts would violate state laws.
EFF sent a letter to this advisory committee last week, demanding they put the brakes on the project immediately. With the group and its subcommittee's next meetings set for March 25, we’re calling on Californians to also send emails opposing the projects.
If you want to follow the paper trail with us, you'll first need to learn some acronyms, including acronyms within acronyms. 
CLETS stands for the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, the giant computer network that links up law enforcement agencies across the state and allows them to access driver license and photo IDs through Cal-Photo as well as other types of data and records.
Overseeing this system is the CLETS Advisory Committee (CAC) and its Standing Strategic Planning Subcommittee (SSPS), both of which are made up of delegates from groups such as the California Peace Officers Association, the California Police Chiefs Association, and the California State Sheriffs Association, as well as representatives from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Office of Emergency Services, and the California Highway Patrol. 
Another acronym is NLETS, the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, the federally funded, but privately operated system that describes itself as “the premiere interstate justice and public safety network in the nation for the exchange of law enforcement-, criminal justice-, and public safety-related information.” The Cal-Photo system links to tens of millions of photos; this represents one of the great potential mother lodes to NLETS, which offers grant money to states in an effort to expand its network. 
In August 2014, SSPS began reviewing a list of law-enforcement goals approved in 2009 to see whether they were still beneficial today. Goal 8 is “Expand Cal-Photo’s capability to share photos on a national basis; and, deploy facial recognition as an investigative tool.”
A DMV representative told SSPS that neither photo-sharing nor facial recognition are possible under “current statutory and regulatory authority,” and asked the subcommittee to remove the goal from the strategic plan.  However, representatives from the sheriff’s association and the California League of Cities pushed back hard, saying the issue was too important to drop. CAC approved the recommendation later that day and SSPS began making arrangements to meet with the DMV to pursue this goal.
Here's how this debate appeared in the SSPS meeting minutes [PDF]:  
At the next SSPS meeting in December 2014 [PDF], members reported that they had met with the DMV director, who reiterated that several laws stand in the way of photo-sharing and even more statutes would block the implementation facial recognition. The delegate from the California Peace Officers’ Association shrugged that off, saying he believed a review of the statutes would indicate that law-enforcement access would “probably be appropriate.”
SSPS voted to begin organizing closed-door meetings between the heads of the state’s top law enforcement associations and the DMV director to discuss ways to move forward. In the meantime, they decided to begin building the photo-sharing infrastructure, starting with a $50,000 system that would connect NLETS and CLETS to give California cops access to other states’ DMV photos through California’s SmartJustice web app. 
Although this would be a one-way exchange, a SSPS member from the California justice department said it would “pave the way for California to share photos with other states.”
Within days of the meeting, California DOJ staff assigned to CLETS began issuing invitations to associations and applying for a grant from NLETS—which NLETS approved within two weeks.
In the grant application [PDF], the California DOJ made it clear that the underlying plan was to first implement one-way sharing as a way to pressure the DMV to get on board with the greater goal of mutual exchange.
They further added: 
As CAC and SSPS began coordinating its high-level meeting with law-enforcement associations, the DMV issued a legal analysis [PDF] concluding that the California Legislature must directly authorize such photo-sharing with NLETS.
“No affirmative authorization is found in existing state statutes that would require or allow the transmission and wholesale sharing of DL/ID photos between Cal-Photo and NLETS,” the DMV wrote. The DMV also articulated grave concerns about privacy and security, claiming it would “open the door to random accessing of photos” and that the DMV would be unable to track the sources of data breaches. 
By our count, that’s three times the CLETS committee and subcommittee has been told that their plans run counter to the law and three times they’ve decided to move forward anyway. There may be a fourth time, depending on how those closed-door meetings went, which we may learn more about at the committees’ March 25 meetings in Folsom. 
EFF is extremely concerned about the prospects of police around the country having the ability to access Californians’ records with insufficient accountability measures in place. We have also long been wary of the growing use of facial recognition technology, which can allow police to identify everyday citizens who aren’t involved in a crime, including through scanning photos on social media. Most of all, we are alarmed at how quickly these advisory committees are moving forward while dismissing the DMV’s legal concerns.  
Decisions of this magnitude must be made with full public engagement and the involvement of the legislature, not in obscure committee meetings or in closed-door sessions with law enforcement lobby groups.
The full document set from CAC/SSPS, including correspondence and technical specifications, is available here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"Science proves kids are bad for Earth", says Bioethicist

Science proves kids are bad for Earth. Morality suggests we stop having them.

We need to stop pretending kids don't have environmental and ethical Travis Rieder / Nov.15.2017 / 4:17 AM ET

Double trouble.Matt Nighswander / NBC News

A startling and honestly distressing view is beginning to receive serious consideration in both academic and popular discussions of climate change ethics. According to this view, having a child is a major contributor to climate change. The logical takeaway here is that everyone on Earth ought to consider having fewer children.

Although culturally controversial, the scientific half of this position is fairly well-established. Several years ago, scientists showed that having a child, especially for the world’s wealthy, is one of the worst things you can do for the environment. That data was recycled this past summer in a paper showing that none of the activities most likely to reduce individuals’ carbon footprints are widely discussed.

The second, moral aspect of the view — that perhaps we ought to have fewer children — is also being taken seriously in many circles. Indeed, I have written widely on the topic myself.

But scientific evidence and moral theorizing aside, this is a complicated question with plenty of opponents. In what follows, I will address some of the challenges to this idea. Because while I recognize that this is an uncomfortable discussion, I believe that the seriousness of climate change justifies uncomfortable conversations. In this case, that means that we need to stop pretending the decision to have children doesn't have environmental and ethical consequences.

The argument that having a child adds to one’s carbon footprint depends on the view that each of us has a personal carbon ledger for which we are responsible. Furthermore, some amount of an offspring’s emissions count towards the parents’ ledger. The seriousness of climate change justifies uncomfortable conversations. Matt Nighswander / NBC News

Most environmentalists accept this sort of ledger view when it comes to recycling, driving, and flying, but support begins to decrease when applied to family planning. The opposition is typified by Vox writer David Roberts, who argues that “such an accounting scheme is utterly impractical” because it seems to entail that one is never responsible for one's own emissions. Because "we don’t want to double-count,” as Roberts says, this means parents are really only responsible for their kids’ emissions.

The flaw in this objection is the plausible-sounding caveat: “we don’t want to double-count.” Because why wouldn’t we want to double-count? If moral responsibility added up mathematically, then double-counting would be a serious problem. But I think it’s clear that we should not accept a mathematical model of responsibility.

Consider a different case: If I release a murderer from prison, knowing full well that he intends to kill innocent people, then I bear some responsibility for those deaths — even though the killer is also fully responsible. My having released him doesn’t make him less responsible (he did it!). But his doing it doesn’t eliminate my responsibility either.

Something similar is true, I think, when it comes to having children: Once my daughter is an autonomous agent, she will be responsible for her emissions. But that doesn’t negate my responsibility. Moral responsibility simply isn’t mathematical.

If you buy this view of responsibility, you might eventually admit that having many children is wrong, or at least morally suspect, for standard environmental reasons: Having a child imposes high emissions on the world, while the parents get the benefit. So like with any high-cost luxury, we should limit our indulgence.

Having many children is wrong, or at least morally suspect, for standard environmental reasons.

The rebuttal to this argument is that individual actions simply don’t make a significant difference, and that institutional action is how you actually have an impact. Do everything you can to minimize your emissions, and the “earth won’t give a damn.”

All of these claims are true. Most individual actions won’t matter in the context of a trillion ton, all-time anthropogenic carbon budget. And indeed, policy and collective action are important for seriously mitigating the harms of climate change.

But does this mean my individual actions are morally permissible? I think the answer is clearly no.

If morality only applied to meaningful change, then morality would rarely recommend actions of symbolic integrity or defiance. We would not, for example, praise the activist who stands up for what she believes in until there was evidence that her tactics work. And those who sacrifice their own interests in order to contribute minuscule amounts of time, money, or labor to alleviating global hunger or poverty would look like suckers rather than saints.

I don’t think these judgments sit well with our moral sensibilities. On reflection, many of us believe that it is wrong to contribute to massive, systematic harms, even if each individual contribution isn’t causally significant. This explains why many of us think you are obligated to do things like recycle, especially when it’s easy. Your recycling doesn’t matter much to the environment — the earth doesn’t give a damn — but you should do it anyway.

The confusion around this sort of moral claim is understandable. Our moral psychology has not yet evolved to solve the problems of today. Humanity grew up in relatively small groups; Rules like “don’t harm others,” or “don’t steal and cheat” are easy to make sense of in a world of largely individual interactions.

That is not our world any longer, though, and our moral sense is evolving to reflect that difference. Moral decisions are no longer about math; Being a part of the solution matters.

The importance of this argument for family size is obvious. If having one fewer child reduces one’s contribution to the harms of climate change, the choice of family size becomes a morally relevant one.

I am certainly not arguing that we should shame parents, or even that we’re obligated to have a certain number of children. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t think there is a tidy answer to the challenging questions of procreative ethics. But that does not mean we’re off the moral hook. As we face the very real prospect of catastrophic climate change, difficult — even uncomfortable — conversations are important. Yes, we should discuss the ethics of making babies with care and respect; but we should discuss it.

Travis Rieder, Ph.D, is the Assistant Director for Education Initiatives, Director of the Master of Bioethics degree program and Research Scholar at the Berman Institute of Bioethics.

Editors Note:  This article published by NBC proves that Environmental Alarmists have gone full bat sh*t crazy. Using this professor's logic, genocide and infanticide is a moral choice if not an imperative.  Tyranny is knocking on our door. We must push these idiots back with sound Constitutional principles of liberty or descend into madness.