Saturday, July 29, 2017

Psychopaths and Sociopaths-Body Language Analysis

Heminger reacts to Brown Act violations of CASA ( MTC)

Executive Director of MTC, Steve Heminger reacts to Brown Act violations alleged by the public for a meeting of CASA( A group of political insiders who will determine housing policy).  He breaks into a slight grin, signals associate with his eyes that they are being video taped and looks away.  I don't know what Mr. Heminger is thinking but that grin looks very similar to a five year old with his hands in the cookie jar.  Notice that his associate turns around to look at the camera.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Boing Boing

Marin’s Middle Class Begins to Melt as Politicians Turn Up the Tax Heat

Marin’s Middle Class Begins to Melt as Politicians Turn Up the Tax Heat

By Hutch Turner - Novato on Jul 26, 2017 04:15 pm
Hardly a day goes by without an announcement of another proposed tax increase by the State, Regional, County, or City governments and agencies. If you are against any tax or fee increase you are branded insensitive and labeled an uncaring person. If you publicly push back, you are quickly labeled as anti-planet, anti-sustainable, racist, anti- education, against “affordable” housing, being a cultural imperialist, and more. In Marin you are, God forbid, a closet Republican.
Many Marinites look forward to the ambiance of a daily swim in a sea of identity politics and politically correct self-righteousness. Differing personal opinions expressed over a latte is analogous to tiptoeing through a conversational minefield. The weather may be great but the political gestalt all to quickly becomes oppressive when one dares to stray from the politically correct catechism aka the Marin nous. The situation is particularly acute in southern Marin.
Why not pick up stakes and leave the horrible traffic and diminishing disposable income behind for greener pastures? For now, it’s the great weather and the easily accessible open space that makes staying worthwhile However, the “beauty” of Marin is becoming increasingly diminished.
Today’s ubiquitous internet has made geographical location less essential to maintaining an awareness of current issues and trends. Social interplay and intellectual stimulation are increasingly digital and distant. It is much easier to effectively express your opinion and enjoy open-minded discussions wearing pajamas.
Leave the West Coast cities and travel inward to other metropolitan areas where increasing numbers of Californians have fled. The diaspora’s demographics range from recent college graduates to retirees. Ask if they miss California and half will say yes. Ask if they are glad they moved to their new less taxing and less intellectually stifling abode, almost all will say yes and express great relief. Money goes so much further, parking is less stressful, and the daily traffic nightmare is a distant memory. The less contentious and less stressful surroundings have given them their life back.

Gradually, the middle class in Marin is being pushed out of California in the name of social equality and environmental justice. For those contemplating a move it is just not happening in Sacramento, Fresno, or Bakersfield.
Boise, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Denver, Austin, and Bend are among the popular potential landing spots east of the coastal mountain ranges. Beware however, outside of the coastal cities the California diaspora is generally regarded with suspicion and subtle resentment. Comments to that effect are casually expressed by locals.
Arriving with a boat load of cash, having just sold their overpriced California homes, the diaspora seeking new residences dramatically pushes up local housing prices. The resultant price inflation has a knock-on effect for existing homeowners who get an unexpected property tax increase. Reasonably, the result is resentment.
Equally unwanted is the renowned “coastal California” political perspective that arrives with the newcomers. Coastal Californians are so different in their perception of the role of government in everyday life that local resentment towards “California’s politics” simmers beneath the surface of casual conversation, but easily surfaces.
Self-reliant locals understand that more government provided (i.e. taxpayer provided) social services drive taxes upward. The implied entitlements of social justice are typically rejected out of hand and whining is just not tolerated.
The locals are however, generally much more open minded than coastal Californians when it comes to the acceptance of diverse opinions and the right to freely express them. Typically, they recognize a d├ętente, agree to disagree, and move on with little social collateral damage – seldom the result in Marin.
There are some things to like about newly arrived coastal Californians. Not among those likes are pompous assertions by the new residents regarding California’s impeccable social conscious and their thinly disguised sense of self-absorbed intellectual enlightenment.
For those of us who remain and love living in Marin, we are becoming increasingly concerned with the creeping economic bifurcation driven by incessant increasing tax rates and fees that are particularly hard on those with fixed or lower incomes such as younger people and their grandparents.
A diminishing middle class leads to a falling tax revenue base leaving as Marin’s growing demographic sectors the uber rich and the poor who serve the lifestyles of the wealthy. Daily, the middle

class in Marin faces increased financial pressure driven by social justice related wealth redistribution demands. No current County politician sincerely has the interests of the middle class as the first consideration despite paying lip service to the concept. How to pay for unfunded special interest projects and unfunded State mandates is the primary concern.
The County political elite unendingly spout platitudes of social justice, environmental justice, cultural justice, income redistribution and “complete streets”, never mentioning that it’s the middle class who will disproportionately suffer the monetary pains of such policies. The deteriorated state of city streets and county roads is indicative of their lack of concern for all of us, particularly the working middle class.
In single-party Marin with local elections increasingly influenced by massive out-of-district campaign money and special interest Super PAC’s, it has become extraordinarily difficult to displace an incumbent in political office. City level elections are frequently influenced and heavily funded (i.e. bought) by out-of-area sources with their own self-serving agenda and glossy political mailings. Josh Fryday’s successful run for the Novato City Council is a good example of the determinative power of outside influence on a city level election.

Judy Arnold’s Board of Supervisors hair-thin win over local challenger Toni Shroyer is another example of big-money outsiders gaining control over local politics. Residents are losing control of their communities as they are being emotionally manipulated by hidden persuaders disguised as campaign consultants and advisors.
All is not lost, however. Dennis Rodini and Damon Connolly are two examples of locals winning despite the concerted efforts of outside vested interests. They beat the odds.
The standard retort to those middle-class residents expressing concern with Marin’s declining economic diversity is ‘If you don’t like it, leave”, something the middle class in Marin has begun to do. In Novato, it began five years ago. From 2009 to 2015 the average household income in Novato sadly decreased as some of its hard-working middle class left for a better life elsewhere. The trend line is negative.
Unless some incumbents are tossed out of office, the outlook for the middle class will remain grim. The prospect of paying more taxes for a decreasing quality of life is becoming a very good reason to move. Boise is looking better and better every day.

Thomas Sowell - The Option Destroyers

A commentary on the unintended consequences of "well meaning" regulations.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Is more urban sprawl the solution to California’s housing crisis?

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Is more urban sprawl the solution to California’s housing crisis? Chapman fellow says yes, others say no

In a state where vacant homes and apartments are scarce and where rents and house prices are out of control, state leaders and experts have proposed a host of solutions. Build more homes, build them in higher-density developments and build them in existing cities and suburbs, closer to jobs, buses and commuter rail line. (Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register)

By JEFF COLLINS | | Orange County Register
PUBLISHED: May 3, 2017 at 12:01 am | UPDATED: May 3, 2017 at 8:27 am

In a state where vacant homes and apartments are scarce and where rents and house prices are out of control, state leaders and experts have proposed a host of solutions.

Build more homes, build them in higher-density developments and build them in existing cities and suburbs, closer to jobs and transit to reduce pollution and congestion, they say.

On Tuesday, however, a Chapman University fellow offered a more traditional solution: urban sprawl.

Rather than limit new construction to apartments and condos in “infill” development, California needs to build more houses, using vacant land in interior communities like the Inland Empire and the Central Valley, said Joel Kotkin, Chapman’s RC Hobbs Presidential Fellow in urban futures and co-author of a new report on millennials’ housing needs.

Kotkin was a guest speaker Tuesday at a California Association of Realtors forum in Sacramento streamed over FaceBook.

“Millennials contemplate unaffordable housing that could compel them to leave California,” said the report, “Fading Promise: Millennial Prospects in the Golden State.”

“Nothing,” the report states, “could improve housing affordability than to restore the competitive market for land by permitting greenfield development.”

For decades, California homebuilding has failed to keep up with growth, resulting in some of the highest rents and home prices in the nation. The problem is worse for millennials — people aged 20 to 36, Kotkin’s report said.

While homeownership rates for California baby boomers are close to the national average, only one in four Californians aged 25 to 34 own a home, the third-worst homeownership rate among states, the report said.

But converting vacant land into housing runs contrary to the prevailing view.

A recent UC Berkeley report that denser, “infill” residential housing near jobs and public transit would allow California to meet its housing needs and emission-reduction goals. The study’s authors issued a response to Kotkin saying he ignores other costs of urban sprawl.

“Encouraging more sprawl will only result in more driving, higher transportation costs, and increased pollution,” the statement said. “We need housing solutions that take into account all costs – not just the full cost of living for a resident but the full cost to our environment and to our state’s mandated greenhouse gas reduction targets.”

A 2015 study sponsored by the nonprofit California Housing Partnership found that locating affordable housing in close proximity to jobs and services causes a significant decrease in pollution as people switch to walking, bicycling or taking public transportation.

“I don’t see how you can solve the housing crisis by sprawling unless you decide that climate change is not important,” Matt Schwartz, the California Housing Partnership’s president and chief executive, said in response to Kotkin’s report.

But Kotkin argued that such an approach won’t work because millennials don’t want to live in expensive apartments in high-density environments.

“What we’re seeing is an attempt to re-engineer Southern California into something that it’s not,” Kotkin said in an interview before Tuesday’s presentation. “High-density housing is not a substitute for building houses. The vast majority of people … want a house.”

Kotkin maintains high-density construction costs as much as 7.5 times more than the cost of building houses. Few places in the nation, and certainly not Southern California, have New York-type amenities and transit to make high-density living desirable, he said.

Congestion can be reduced by moving jobs inland, closer to where new housing is developed or by allowing people to work from home. To increase supply in existing communities, “redundant” retail space should be redeveloped into small-lot houses or townhomes, he said. Prefab construction techniques also could help keep housing costs down.

Authors of the Berkeley study disputed Kotkin’s claim that millennials want houses, saying recent surveys show they want to live in walkable, mixed-use communities and in neighborhoods where they don’t have to use a car often. Millennials, the authors said, were split almost evenly between single-family vs. multi-family preference.

Meanwhile, new data released Monday shows that California inched closer to meeting housing goals, but still is falling short.

The state had a net increase of 88,562 housing units last year, 41,155 of them in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the state Department of Finance reported. While the statewide total is up 31 percent from 2015, it’s still less than half the 180,000 new housing units state housing officials say California needs annually to keep up with population growth.

Feds Subsidized Housing for ‘Nonexistent Tenants’

Feds Subsidized Housing for ‘Nonexistent Tenants’

HUD issued $802,633 in fraudulent subsidies

Section 8 housing in New York City / Getty Images

BY: Elizabeth Harrington
July 26, 2017 5:00 am

The Department of Housing and Urban Development spent over $500,000 on apartments for people who "did not exist," according to the agency's inspector general.

An audit released last month found that managers of Section 8 housing in Jefferson County, Texas, defrauded the government by stealing the identities of former tenants and falsifying incomes.

The government subsidizes the rent of 99 units at Beverly Place Apartments in Groves, Texas, and paid the complex $1.8 million between January 2013 and December 2015.

"Beverly Place's owner did not administer its project-based Section 8 program in accordance with HUD regulations," the inspector general said. "Specifically, the owner billed HUD for at least 97 tenants who did not exist or whose income eligibility was either falsified or unsupported."

The inspector general noted that "nonexistent tenants" were ghost tenants who either never lived in the apartment building or were past tenants who had moved out.

"This condition occurred because the managers defrauded the tenants, HUD, and the apartment owner, and because the owner did not implement sufficient internal controls to detect or prevent the fraud," the inspector general said.

"As a result, HUD paid the owner more than $800,000 in subsidies for units that were either vacant or no longer occupied by an approved tenant and for tenants with unconfirmed income," the inspector general added.

The audit identified a total of $802,633 in fraudulent subsidies, including $574,930 to nonexistent tenants; $150,082 that were issued with falsified incomes; and $77,621 that were issued with questionable incomes.

The inspector general also found that managers stole over $230,000 in reimbursable utility checks that were meant for tenants at the property.

"The managers no longer work at the complex, and those who were convicted received sentences including time in prison," the inspector general said.

Managers at Beverly Place also stole the identities of previous tenants in order to cash in subsidy checks.

"Most of the tenants did not speak or understand English well and were unaware that they were supposed to receive assistance or the amount of assistance to which they were entitled," the inspector general said. "This condition allowed the managers to require them to pay cash for rent, which the managers deposited in personal bank accounts instead of the project account as required."

The inspector general recommended that the department order the apartment complex to repay the government for the fraudulent subsidies.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

MTC Director Hemminger Advocates “Bare Knuckled” Approach To High Density Resistors

MTC Director Hemminger Advocates “Bare Knuckled” Approach To High Density Resistors

Want more WinCups in Marin?

MTC Director Steve Hemminger is on a mission to bring them to you and yours.

“Engage the adversaries,” he advises executive committee members in this 51 second video clip “Don ‘t try to win the argument with those who don’t want housing in their neighborhoods. Take away their tools.”
He’s talking about “tools” such as CEQA (California Environment al Quality Act” and about local control of zoning . Take those away, Hemminger suggests, and his vision of a dense, urban California will prevail, engulfing the suburbs.

Who Is Hemminger, whose increasingly aggressive public statements qualify him as our regional planning Baron of Braggadocio?

He’s the unelected bureaucrat-exec who runs the regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission. In 2012, his compensation ----paid for by taxpayers--- was “only” $360,000 per year with five weeks vacation.
The MTC website says he’s the wheel who manages Bay Area transportation planning through allocation of a whopping amount of federal and state taxpayer dollars.
“Steve Heminger is Executive Director of MTC and responsible for the administration of more than $2 billion per year in funding for the operation, maintenance and expansion of the Bay Area’s surface transportation network.
Wikipedia is not slow to note that that Hemminger’s long run at the MTC helm has been rife with controversy. The question then arises: Why is this guy--- with a “take no prisoners” attitude toward local control advocates in county and local governments in the nine county Bay Area---still in charge and issuing unpopular directives?
“Heminger was appointed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California to serve on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission.[4]

Heminger, a Democrat, has been active in transportation politics, and he has recommended that the federal gasoline tax be raised by forty cents per gallon. He was also a possible candidate to be President Barack Obama's nominee as Secretary of Transportation.[5]

Obama would ultimately choose Ray LaHood and not Heminger to fill the Transportation post.[6]

Heminger's leadership of the MTC has been controversial, with concerns over the lengthy span of his MTC employment , budgetary expenditures related to new MTC headquarters in San Francisco and the lack of collaboration displayed when working with local government agencies in the 9 County area represented. Heminger's signature Plan Bay Area strategy was controversially approved, despite widely voiced concern from local and municipal stakeholders during public outreach stages.’

Marin County law forces coastal farmers to work for life.

Improved central planning of the economy: "A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future”

The workers and peasants of America abandon Trump, flock to the Democrats new and improved central planning of the economy: "A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future”

Trump had ‘The Art of the Deal.’ Now Democrats say their economic agenda is ‘A Better Deal.’

Completely sapped of power in Washington, top leaders of the Democratic Party now believe that the best way to fight a president who penned “The Art of the Deal” is with an economic agenda that they plan to call “A Better Deal.”

[There's a lot to be excited about] But Schumer especially is excited by the new focus, vowing that it’s an expression “that everyone will use — a better deal for workers, a better deal for women, a better deal for prescription-drug buyers.”

That construction — similar to the pizza slogan — is what worries some liberal critics. But the Senate leader is convinced that it will work.

“Part of this is its usability, its repetition and its relation to both the New Deal and a better deal than Trump,” Schumer said. “He’s supposed to be a dealmaker; he’s not very good at that.”

If you want your life and your self-governance to be controlled by the whims of power politics and be forced to live by the trickle-down government choices forced on you by central planning then the democrats have a plan for you. [Just like Plan Bay Area 2040]

Surely this will put the Democrats over the top in 2018.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why Californians Will Soon Be Drinking Their Own Pee

Why Californians Will Soon Be Drinking Their Own Pee

It’s a much better option than desalination.

An Israeli consortium opened the world's largest reverse-osmosis desalination plant in Hadera, Israel, in 2010, hoping to help alleviate the arid country's water shortage. (Nir Elias/Reuters)

OAKLAND, Calif.—California has a lot of coastline. So why all the fuss about the drought? Desalination to the rescue, right?
Not quite. The largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere is currently under construction in Carlsbad in San Diego County at great expense. The price tag: $1 billion.

Right now, San Diego is almost totally dependent on imported water from Sierra snowmelt and the Colorado River. When the desalination plant comes online in 2016, it will produce 50 million gallons per day, enough to offset just 7 percent of the county’s water usage. That’s a huge bill for not very much additional water.
Desalination is not a new technology, but it’s still expensive. Despite the cost, its uptake is growing as dry places look to secure drought-proof sources of water. A new desalination plant built on reverse-osmosis microfiltering (the same method as the Carlsbad plant) will supply one-third of Beijing’s water by 2019. Desalination is already a major source of water for Australia, Chile, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other drought-prone coastal regions. Smaller solar desalination plants are also gaining appeal in California.

When regional water agencies first considered a Bay Area desalination plant more than a decade ago, they briefly considered making it more than double the size of the plant currently under construction in San Diego County. Since then, the idea for the Bay Area plant has been scaled back to about 10 percent of the original size based on the maximum intake capacity of the local water district. A tentative location has also been chosen: Mallard Slough, near where the Sacramento River meets the Bay. The plant is now on indefinite hold pending local demand, though studies have proven it’s technically feasible.

“We’re nowhere near done doing all the environmental impact reporting,” said Abby Figueroa of East Bay Municipal Utility District, one of the partners of the would-be Bay Area desalination plant. “There are other options that are more likely for us to use in the short term. We’re counting on conservation as one of those supplies.”
Still, the drought may force a decision sooner rather than later. “This is year one [of the drought] for us. Other parts of California are in year three or four. The real pressure for us is going to come next year if it doesn’t rain.”
Which brings us to the pee-drinking.

This year’s drought has motivated California to invest $1 billion in new money on water recycling efforts statewide, a much more cost-efficient way of increasing potable water supplies. But reusing purified sewer water for brushing your teeth is not without its own set of issues. National Journal describes the biggest holdup:
The problem with recycled water is purely psychological. Despite the fact the water is safe and sterile, the “yuck factor” is hard to get over, even if a person understands that the water poses no harm. In one often-cited experiment, researchers poured clean apple juice into a clean bedpan, and asked participants if they’d be comfortable drinking the apple juice afterwards. Very few of the participants agreed, even though there was nothing wrong with it. It’s forever associated with being “dirty,” just like recycled wastewater.
While it’s not quite correct that every glass of water contains dinosaur pee, it is true that every source of fresh water on Earth (rainfall, lakes, rivers, and aquifers) is part of a planetary-scale water cycle that passes through every living thing at one point or another. In a very real way, each and every day we are already drinking one another’s urine.

Earlier this year, the city of Portland, Oregon (in one of the most Portland-y moments in recent memory) nearly drained a local 38-million-gallon reservoir after a teen was caught urinating in it. Slate’s Laura Helmuth made a brilliant calculation that the poor lad would have had to pee for 40 days straight to raise the reservoir’s nitrate levels above EPA-allowable limits and make the water unsafe to drink.

The good news is that this hurdle isn’t permanent. Psychologists have foundthat when cities reintroduce purified municipal wastewater into natural aquifers, streams, or lakes for later withdrawal, public acceptance of the fact that yes-it-was-once-pee improves. Since 2008, Orange County has recharged a local aquifer with billions of gallons of recycled sewage via the largest potable water reuse facility in the world.

They’ve also had a large public awareness campaign. This clip from Last Call at the Oasis, a 2012 documentary on global water issues that mentions Orange County’s water recycling efforts, features Jack Black in a spoof ad for “Porcelain Springs: Water from the most peaceful place on Earth”:

Thanks to public support, Orange County will add another 30 million gallons of drinking-quality recycled water per day via a new $142 million expansion due to come online in 2015. Factoring in the costs of the current plant, Orange County will soon produce twice as much water for less than one-third of the average cost of San Diego’s new desalination plant. Reusing water that’s already been pumped to Orange County over mountain ranges also uses half the energy as importing new water.

The conclusion here is easy: If drinking purified pee weirds you out, don’t live in a desert.
California had a water problem long before climate change came around. Now, with growing demand from both cities and agriculture along with dwindling supplies, something’s gotta give. Conservation and common-sense measures like municipal water recycling can happen immediately. Grass on golf courses and lawns can be severely restricted, immediately. Agriculture can get smarter, immediately. Groundwater pumping can be regulated, immediately. All of these improvements can be had for very little change in quality of life. California’s water problems could diminish practically overnight.

New dams? Over the next 10–30 years you’d need to double the capacity of reservoirs that currently exist, just to replace the snowpack that will be lost due to climate change.
Barring a miracle, desalination is among the least desirable options. There are significant economic, environmental, energy, and political barriers. Desalination is the Alberta tar sands of water resources. When you look closely at the choices, it’s clear the future of Western water supplies is toilet water.

For all its issues, here’s another thing Tucson, Arizona, is doing right: Since 1984the city has been offsetting drinking water imported across hundreds of miles of desert with recycled water for grass lawns and golf courses. Why there are still grass lawns in Tucson is anyone’s guess. (In fairness, Tucson gets about three times the average annual rainfall as Las Vegas, a far worse offender in the desert-lawn-growing category, even though it also recently started using recycled water.)

If the West wants to get serious about water, there are many things they can start doing right away, like drinking their own pee.

This article is part of Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate