Saturday, January 25, 2014

Rent Control

Marin IJ: Strawberry to Marin County on Priority Development Area Housing zone:" No Way!"

Strawberry to county on housing zone: No way

Posted:   01/24/2014 11:47:18 AM PST

Angry Strawberry residents packed a Civic Center hearing waving placards and signs to make it crystal clear for officials they regard as tone deaf: Take your housing zone and shove it, period.

As a result, a Marin transportation panel declined to move ahead with a staff recommendation that could have provided $261,000 to plan transportation improvements in the community — if it remains in a controversial "priority development area" or PDA along Highway 101

Forget about it, many in a crowd of about 90 told the Transportation Authority of Marin Thursday night, citing fears of regional plans promoting affordable housing along the freeway in suburban neighborhoods like theirs.

"We do not need any money for analysis or planning," declared Penny Crow of Strawberry, adding that vital traffic safety improvements needed in the community should not be linked to housing zones. "Send the money back."

"We will stand in line and wait our turn" for transit improvements when other money becomes available, said Sylvia Marino of Strawberry.

"We do not want to accept taxpayer grants with strings attached," added Bruce Corcoran of Strawberry, who has appeared at county forums more than a dozen times in the past three months to urge the Board of Supervisors to schedule a hearing on withdrawing Strawberry from the zone. The county board, deferring to

See the story in the Marin IJ HERE

Friday, January 24, 2014

NSA: Slow Jam

Self Driving Cars of Today

Oakland OKs money for surveillance center

Oakland OKs money for surveillance center

Updated 11:15 am, Wednesday, July 31, 2013

  • A group of Oakland residents turned out to protest the city's proposed Domain Awareness Center, which would monitor live cameras and other feeds to respond to crime and disasters. Photo: Ian C. Bates, The Chronicle
    A group of Oakland residents turned out to protest the city's proposed Domain Awareness Center, which would monitor live cameras and other feeds to respond to crime and disasters. Photo: Ian C. Bates, The Chronicle

(07-31) 11:13 PDT OAKLAND -- The Oakland City Council voted unanimously early Wednesday to move ahead with a controversial surveillance center that could eventually allow police and city officials to continuously monitor video cameras, gunshot detectors and license plate readers.
The issue was one of two high-profile measures that came before the council in a meeting that began Tuesday evening. Members also approved a ban at protests on items such as hammers and spray paint cans, on the grounds that vandals could use them as weapons.
The decision to accept a $2.2 million federal grant to help pay for the surveillance center infuriated protesters who crowded into the council's chambers for an hours-long meeting. Chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" rattled the chambers for nearly two minutes after the vote.
"This is a disaster and it is going to last for years," Cynthia Morse yelled as she stared down members of the council.
At issue was the Domain Awareness Center, a proposed city and port surveillance center that would link dozens of traffic and surveillance cameras with police and fire dispatch systems, Twitter feeds, crime maps, gunshot-detecting microphones and alarm programs.
City officials say the federally funded center would allow authorities to improve their response to crime, terrorism, earthquakes, fires or hazardous materials incidents.
"The most important purpose of the center is to save lives by coordinating real-time information," said Renee Domingo, the city's director of emergency services.
But dozens of speakers said that was a ruse, and that the center would inevitably turn Oakland into a police state.
"The Domain Awareness Center is the guard tower which will watch over every person in the city of Oakland," said Mark Raymond, 20. "This program is an attempt to criminalize and imprison all people who live and pass through Oakland."
Once it is operational in July 2014, the center on Martin Luther King Jr. Way will be monitored 24 hours a day by a police officer, a police analyst and a person from the Port of Oakland, Domingo said. The center will eventually cost $10.9 million in federal grants.
Analysts will be able to use large screen to match video feeds paired with crime maps or audio recording of gunfire and government and media alerts.
The resolution to accept a $2.2 million federal grant first came up for a City Council vote on July 16. The council postponed a decision at the time, after opponents said there were no controls to ensure that the information the comes into the center wouldn't be improperly shared or used to invade people's privacy.
Three council members added amendments ordering city officials to draft privacy rules. But Linda Lye, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the council hadn't gone far enough.
"What they did is approve a vast surveillance center without understanding the implications," Lye said after the vote. "The privacy policies would be drafted only after the center is built. At that point, what opportunity will there be for to determine if the safeguards are sufficient?"
Councilwoman Libby Schaaf said she had tried to balance individual privacy rights with the city's need for security.
"We have tried our best to find the sweet spot where are going to take advantage of the tools that we have at hand to make our city safe. ... We have done everything we can to safeguard privacy," Schaaf said before being drowned out by boos, howls and calls of "Fascism!"
One protester later suggested that Schaaf "go home to your mansion and kill yourself."
After voting to accept the surveillance center grant, the council approved a proposal banning protesters from carrying hammers, slingshots, clubs, wrenches, spray paint and other potentially destructive items during demonstrations.
Councilman Noel Gallo introduced the measure after protesters, angered by George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida, smashed windows and spray-painted buildings in downtown Oakland.
During one of several protests in the days after the verdict, a vandal took a hammer to the face of a waiter trying to protect the restaurant Flora on Telegraph Avenue. The waiter was injured but has recovered.
Oakland first tried to ban such items from demonstrations in 2012, when Occupy Oakland protesters broke downtown windows on several occasions. A council committee shelved the idea after activists disrupted a meeting, saying the effort was a violation of their freedom of speech.
In approving the ban early Wednesday, several council members said they had had enough of the vandalism. No members opposed the measure; Councilman Dan Kalb abstained.
"What has concerned me about protests in Oakland is how destructive they have been," said Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney.

Will Kane is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @WillKane

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Everything you need to know about Common Core — Ravitch

Everything you need to know about Common Core — Ravitch

Diane Ravitch (Network for Public Education)
Diane Ravitch
(Network for Public Education)
Diane Ravitch, the education historian who has become the leader of the movement against corporate-influenced school reform, gave this speech to the Modern Language Association on Jan. 11 about the past, present and future of the Common Core State Standards.
Here’s her speech:
As an organization of teachers and scholars devoted to the study of language and literature, MLA should be deeply involved in the debate about the Common Core standards.
The Common Core standards were developed in 2009 and released in 2010. Within a matter of months, they had been endorsed by 45 states and the District of Columbia. At present, publishers are aligning their materials with the Common Core, technology companies are creating software and curriculum aligned with the Common Core, and two federally-funded consortia have created online tests of the Common Core.
What are the Common Core standards? Who produced them? Why are they controversial? How did their adoption happen so quickly?
As scholars of the humanities, you are well aware that every historical event is subject to interpretation. There are different ways to answer the questions I just posed. Originally, this session was designed to be a discussion between me and David Coleman, who is generally acknowledged as the architect of the Common Core standards. Some months ago, we both agreed on the date and format. But Mr. Coleman, now president of the College Board, discovered that he had a conflicting meeting and could not be here.
So, unfortunately, you will hear only my narrative, not his, which would be quite different. I have no doubt that you will have no difficulty getting access to his version of the narrative, which is the same as Secretary Arne Duncan’s.
He would tell you that the standards were created by the states, that they were widely and quickly embraced because so many educators wanted common standards for teaching language, literature, and mathematics. But he would not be able to explain why so many educators and parents are now opposed to the standards and are reacting angrily to the testing that accompanies them.
I will try to do that.
I will begin by setting the context for the development of the standards.
They arrive at a time when American public education and its teachers are under attack. Never have public schools been as subject to upheaval, assault, and chaos as they are today. Unlike modern corporations, which extol creative disruption, schools need stability, not constant turnover and change. Yet for the past dozen years, ill-advised federal and state policies have rained down on students, teachers, principals, and schools.
George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top have combined to impose a punitive regime of standardized testing on the schools. NCLB was passed by Congress in 2001 and signed into law in 2002. NCLB law required schools to test every child in grades 3-8 every year; by 2014, said the law, every child must be “proficient” or schools would face escalating sanctions. The ultimate sanction for failure to raise test scores was firing the staff and closing the school.
Because the stakes were so high, NCLB encouraged teachers to teach to the test. In many schools, the curriculum was narrowed; the only subjects that mattered were reading and mathematics. What was not tested—the arts, history, civics, literature, geography, science, physical education—didn’t count. Some states, like New York, gamed the system by dropping the passing mark each year, giving the impression that its students were making phenomenal progress when they were not. Some districts, like Atlanta, El Paso, and the District of Columbia, were caught up in cheating scandals. In response to this relentless pressure, test scores rose, but not as much as they had before the adoption of NCLB.
Then along came the Obama administration, with its signature program called Race to the Top. In response to the economic crisis of 2008, Congress gave the U.S. Department of Education $5 billion to promote “reform.” Secretary Duncan launched a competition for states called

Sunday, January 19, 2014

3 Absurd Reasons for Banning Drugs

Who works for whom?

Who works for whom? "I consider the people who constitute a society
or an nation as the source of all authority in that nation."
∼ Thomas Jefferson

Judy Arnold votes for Housing Element and demonizes all that oppose housing as Extremists, Racists and Conspricacy theorists

Marin County Supervisor, Judy Arnold, sets up a "straw man" argument characterizing all opponents of the housing element as Extremists, Racists and Conspiracy theorists.  She clearly has not heard the overwhelming opposition of thousands of Marinites based on sound science and commonsense.

Judy Arnold insults all of us in Marin with her nonsense.  We seek leadership, thoughtful planning, for our communities that are sensitive to land use, school funding, pollution and existing densities.

Voters of her District will have a choice in June to elect her again or her challenger.