Saturday, October 28, 2017

Kevin Morrison, posts "Nude Selfie" and does "Community Service" for Novato

Will Kevin Morrison win in Novato with his campaign of personal attacks? His service to Novato appears to be limited to the "ice bucket challenge" and getting kicked off the Novato Historical Commission while others have toiled for decades to improve the community.
Choose your vote wisely. The Marin IJ refused to endorse him for good reason. Do your research before voting for any politician.

Kevin Morrison had this nude selfie on his personal blog until October 3, 2017.
It is an odd way to promote your qualifications for Novato city council.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Americans Agree More Than They Realize

Americans Agree More Than They Realize

An exaggerated emphasis on differences obscures the degree to which Americans still agree

Some days, it can seem as if half the country has come down with rabies. A lot of people seem willing to tear your head off over the smallest thing.
Part of it probably comes from the disinhibiting effect of social media—where the lack of filters or personal contact makes it easy to fire off a nasty personal attack in the heat of the moment... which only encourages people to respond in kind.
Part of it probably comes from the fact that Americans increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities. That means they're less apt to get to know people who think differently, and therefore less likely to understand where they're coming from.
Part of it might be attribution error: I cut you off in traffic because I'm late for a meeting; you cut me off in traffic because you're a big fat jerk. I support my candidate because I've studied the issues; you support yours because the candidate lied to you and you bought it.
Part of the reason also could be simple weariness. Many people these days might be suffering from what addiction specialist Abraham Twerski has called "emotional sunburn." A physical sunburn makes you hypersensitive to minor physical affronts, such as getting bumped in an elevator. An emotional sunburn works the same way with other kinds of affronts.
And part of it also probably has to do with the fact that both parties have grown more extreme in recent years. Congressional Republicans certainly have. Congressional Democrats tend to be more moderate, relatively speaking. But among the public at large, "the overall share of Americans who express consistently conservative or consistently liberal opinions has doubled over the past two decades," the Pew Research Center reported three years ago. A more recent study from earlier this month produced similar results.
Left and right are pulling further and further apart. Both sides look at the other and wonder, "What in God's name is wrong with those jerks?"
Many media outlets only make matters worse. Take a look at The Daily Caller or The Huffington Post—watch a late-night comic or tune into cable "news"—and you will be presented with an endless litany of outrages committed by Those Awful People.
This is, unfortunately, a successful business model. It works because it ratifies the viewers' existing prejudices and makes them feel superior. Nothing like a little dopamine squirt to brighten your day.
But this exaggerated emphasis on differences obscures the degree to which Americans still agree. And on some topics, the public is of one mind, or as close to that as you can get. A few examples:
Universal background checks. Nine out of 10 Americans think a background check should be required for every firearm purchase. That includes three-fourths of all NRA members.
Dreamers. These are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as young children, grew up here, and have little or no connection to their countries of origin. Eighty-five percent of Americans agree that they should not be deported.
Civil asset forfeiture. This practice allows the police to confiscate property—cash, cars, homes—from people they suspect might be involved in criminal activity, even if the individual is never even charged with a crime, let alone convicted. Across the ideological spectrum, 84 percent of Americans disapprove of the practice.
Medical marijuana. Eighty-three percent of Americans agree that doctors should be able to prescribe cannabis for their patients.
Extremist bigotry. Eighty-three percent of Americans think it's unacceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white-supremacist views. Nine percent think it's OK, and 8 percent aren't sure (!).
Sanctuary cities. In contrast to attitudes on Dreamers, 80 percent of American voters disapprove of sanctuary cities and agree that local authorities should report illegal immigrants to federal authorities.
On other questions Americans are less united, but still lopsided. For instance:
Handgun ban: 76 percent of Americans oppose one.
Euthanasia: 73 percent favor allowing doctors to help patients who want to die do so.
Alternative energy: 73 percent of Americans want energy policy to favor alternatives over oil and gas.
Gay marriage. Pew finds that 62 percent of Americans support letting same-sex couples wed, up from 42 percent just seven years ago.
The point here isn't that these widely held views are the correct ones. A show of hands does not make slavery or lynching right, and much social progress entails convincing the majority of the public to change its mind.
Also worth noting: Polls aren't perfect. They're snapshots, and they can be manipulated. ("Americans Overwhelmingly Support Wearing Bow Ties, Finds New Poll Sponsored by Bow Tie Manufacturers Association.")
Still, for people tired of constant snark and contrived controversy, it might be comforting to know that in many ways America is not nearly so divided as it's sometimes made out to be. Maybe that guy who cut you off in traffic is just running late. And maybe, despite his annoying bumper-sticker, the two of you actually agree on quite a bit.
This column originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Why congestion after freeway expansion is a good thing

Why congestio
n after freeway expansion is a good thing, entrepreneurship hotspot, people want space, market urbanism, those savages in HTX, and more

Before getting to this week's items, a commentary on this silly article in the Chronicle, "Adding lanes doesn't reduce congestion. So what is TxDOT doing?"  What always gets lost in these kinds of stories about congestion growing back to previous levels after a freeway expansion is the additional number of people being moved every day, even if they're at the same speeds as before.  More cars and people are being moved, and that's a good investment. Do people honestly believe Houston would have been better off if we had frozen our freeway network 20 or 40 years ago?  Think of it this way: we want government to invest in infrastructure that gets a high utilization (as opposed to roads to nowhere). If they built a new airport runway and it filled up with flights, people would sing the praises of such a great investment, yet if we invest in additional freeway capacity and it fills up, it was wasted money? How does that make sense? It means the government built mobility infrastructure exactly where people needed it - where there was unmet demand - and isn't that exactly what we want them to do as taxpayers? (I made a similar comment on this story criticizing the widening of I10)

The more I think about it, the more the airport analogy really exposes the absurdity of the "induced demand" anti-freeway expansion argument.  Applying the same argument to airports would say every city only needs a single runway, because new runways just enable more flights and "induces demand" for more flying! So absurd!
Moving on to this week's items:
"Cities will sprawl—it’s pointless to try to stop the phenomenon. To the dismay of many environmentalists and urbanists, most people dislike tight quartersThey use rising incomes to buy themselves more space."
Some great stuff recently from The Market Urbanism Report:
"Note: I don’t mean to pick on Houston. In fact, I really like Houston, which is why I talk about it. Plus, they have great urbanists there who are working hard on these issues and might actually ease up on citywide parking requirements!"
"He begins with the obvious case study of Houston. While not completely unregulated, Houston has lighter regulations than other major U.S. metros, and builds much more housing than any of them. Although Houston receives many of the stereotypical scapegoats thought to increase housing prices ― millionaires, immigrants, corporate relocations, and luxury condos ― median home prices in Harris County remain $141,000."
  • Does adding expensive housing help the little guy? According to our analysis, it helps not only the little guy but every other income group.
  • Texas toll roads: a big step towards open markets for transportation
  • Housing and transportation costs have become a growing American burden. Clearly shows the rise of the car (and the plane) in the 20th century. And I think the author is downplaying the huge benefits of all that freedom of mobility. But what I don't think it shows is how much the car has become a luxury status symbol. I'm stunned how many high-end models there are now, and it's a bit of a misnomer to call that a "cost of transportation" when a used Honda Civic or Toyota Prius would get you the same places for a whole lot less money per mile (especially depreciation). To call all these luxury SUVs, trucks, sports cars, and sedans a "cost of transportation" is like calling a Brooks Brothers suit or Chanel dress a "cost of clothing".
Finally, leaving you with a bit of humor from Reason ;-D

Houston's Anarchic Zoning Laws are an Affront to Sim City

They just build whatever they want, wherever they want, like a bunch of savages.

That's us - savages! ;-D

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Single Mom Facing Homelessness Builds Her Own Tiny House

Single Mom Facing Homelessness Builds Her Own Tiny House Instead Of Taking Out $400,000 Mortgage

Ending a marriage is bound to take an emotional toll on both parties. Unfortunately, that can sometimes only be the tip of the iceberg.
Many people, especially women, are left solely responsible for taking care of their kids. Of course, being granted custody is a win, but supporting a family can be a challenge without two incomes.
This is exactly what happened to 27-year-old Australian mom Charlotte Sapwell after her marriage fell apart.
People often joke about the younger generation not investing in home ownership. However, skyrocketing real estate prices are usually more of a barrier than any matter of personal choice.
When Charlotte was left in charge of caring for her young family, she decided to take matters into her own hands instead of taking out a $400,000 mortgage.
The result is an adorable, tiny house on her grandfather’s property — one that she and her two young boys can be proud to call home.
[H/T: Daily Mail]
Courtesy of Charlotte Sapwell
Like many people, Charlotte and her boys were in need of a place to live.
Options following her divorce were not financially viable for the young mother.
Courtesy of Charlotte Sapwell
Instead of taking out a $400,000 home loan that would be necessary in her hometown of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia, Charlotte decided to craft her own 3×6 meter tiny home right in her grandfather’s backyard.
Courtesy of Charlotte Sapwell
Charlotte tells LittleThings:
It was created out of necessity, I had to keep a roof over my boys’ heads, and we had an old site office that together my grandpa and I created a home [from].
He is a master craftsmen, and because I had no other option, I was ready and willing to learn — that was part of the agreement. I HAD to get on the tools. 
Courtesy of Charlotte Sapwell
With some help from her grandfather, Charlotte was able to construct her own tiny home in just five months.
She admitted to failing woodshop class in ninth grade and tells LittleThings that she never thought she’d be able to build something she could live in.
Courtesy of Charlotte Sapwell
The entire project, including tools and materials, only cost Charlotte $13,000 — a fraction of what a home loan would have cost her.
The best part? She doesn’t owe the bank any money and can focus all of her attention on taking care of her boys, who are 2 and 6 years old.
Courtesy of Charlotte Sapwell
In fact, Charlotte and the boys are so fond of their tiny digs that she plans on turning it into a permanent lifestyle.
Courtesy of Charlotte Sapwell
Charlotte tells LittleThings:
We will always live tiny now, I honestly wouldn’t live in a bigger house. My goal is to save enough for a piece of land and build another tiny house (after I pay back my grandpa).
Courtesy of Charlotte Sapwell
Even her boys are enjoying their tiny living. Charlotte says:
They love it. We’re a close family. Of course, sometimes you want privacy, but they’re only 2 and 6, so it’s nice having Mum close.
Courtesy of Charlotte Sapwell
Charlotte’s out-of-the-box thinking allowed her to regain control of her life and, perhaps most importantly, a sense of confidence.
Moreover, Charlotte recommends this way of life to everyone and is enjoying her new “less is more” chapter.
Courtesy of Charlotte Sapwell

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Thanks to Sacramento, CA Drivers To Pay More For Gas Starting Next Week

CALIFORNIA -- Drivers in California will see gas prices go up by about 12 cents per gallon starting next week.
Sacramento Politicians have passed massive new taxes to find ever more government.
The gas tax hike, which takes effect Nov. 1, is aimed at raising money to improve the state's roadways. Drivers who use diesel instead of gas will see prices jump by 20 cents a gallon.
The hike comes after Senate Bill 1 was passed and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year. Authors and proponents of the bill said raising gas prices and vehicle registration fees, will raise $5.2 billion annually —enough to repair and maintain's California's poor roads.
The new vehicle registration fees take effect Jan. 1. Drivers can expect hikes anywhere between $25 to $175 per car, depending on its value. 

Senator Mike McGuire and Assemblyman Marc Levine voted "YES" to increase your taxes.

End Warrantless Deep State Spying: Don't Renew 702

It's time to rein in warrantless domestic surveillance before it's too late.

Marinwood CSD October 2017 Full Meeting

Marinwood Fire Department restructuring,  Luxury Kitchen makeover of Fire Department, New rules that prohibit public input and  discussion of district matters.  Accounting issues ignored. Millers plea for Landslide  mediation stonewalled.  Marinwood CSD member, Jeff Naylor wants county council to prohibit public from talking about pending housing developments and its effects on the Marinwood CSD budget.  More Brown act violations and evasion and hostility.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

California Tried to Seize Millions

Keep'em Separated


California's Six-Figure Pension Club Has 62,000 Members (Also a HUGE problem for Marinwood CSD)

California's Six-Figure Pension Club Has 62,000 Members

And seven retirees in Los Angeles pulled down more than $1 million each in retirement benefits last year.

Ingram Publishing/NewscomIngram Publishing/NewscomTwo retired Los Angeles city employees—Earl Paysinger, a former deputy police chief, and Emile Mack, a former assistant fire chief—pulled down more than $1.4 million apiece in pension benefits last year, giving them the largest nest eggs across all California's public retirement systems.
Last week Transparent California released data showing that more than 62,000 retired California public workers earn at least six figuresin annual retirement benefits. Paysinger and Mack are two of the seven members of the exclusive million-dollar pension club. All seven retired from the Los Angeles police or fire departments.
In a related story, more than 20 cents of every dollar spent by the Los Angeles city government now goes to fund the retirements of former employees. "The city's general fund payments for pensions and retiree healthcare reached $1.04 billion last year, eating up more than 20% of operating revenue—compared with less than 5% in 2002," the Los Angeles Times reported last year.
Previously, Transparent California had only collected data from the state's two largest pension funds: CalPERS, which pays retired public workers, and CalSERS, which pays retired teachers. The newest update includes data from the state university retirement system and local pension funds from several big cities, including Los Angeles, where some of the highest payouts occur.
The more comprehensive data reveal nearly twice as many $100,000 pensions. Using last year's data, Transparent California said Michael Johnson, a former Solano County administrator who received a $388,407 pension, was the highest-paid government retiree in the state. This year he does not even crack the top 100, a group dominated by Los Angeles police and fire retirees along with a handful of former San Diego city employees.
Paysinger, the new king of the California pension hill, spent 41 years with LAPD before retiring in 2016 to take a job as vice president of civic engagement at the University of Southern California.
Six- and seven-figure pensions are not the sole reason why California's state and local retirement funds are in trouble, but they are a part of that picture.
The CalPERS fund alone is more than $139 billion in the red. The East Bay Times reported last year that CalPERS' retirement debt "averages out to $11,000 for every California household," a relevant comparison since "taxpayers, not government workers, must make up the shortfall."
At the local level, things are even bleaker. Increasing pension costs will likely continue to crowd out resources that otherwise would go to public assistance, recreation, libraries, health, public works, and in some cases public safety, according to the authors of a new report by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
In Los Angeles, the Stanford report suggests that pension debt will grows to $11,000 per household by 2029. Since 2004, the city has shifted more than $900 million of expenditures from other services in order to fund pensions.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Green Tyranny: The Propaganda Machine

‘Smart Cities’ Will Know Everything About You

‘Smart Cities’ Will Know Everything About You

How can marketers cash in without becoming enemies of the people?  [Editor's Note: They Can't.]

MIKE WESTONJuly 12, 2015 6:36 p.m. ET

From Boston to Beijing, municipalities and governments across the world are pledging billions to create “smart cities”—urban areas covered with Internet-connected devices that control citywide systems, such as transit, and collect data. Although the details can vary, the basic goal is to create super-efficient infrastructure, aid urban planning and improve the well-being of the populace.

A byproduct of a tech utopia will be a prodigious amount of data collected on the inhabitants. For instance, at the company I head, we recently undertook an experiment in which some staff volunteered to wear devices around the clock for 10 days. We monitored more than 170 metrics reflecting their daily habits and preferences—including how they slept, where they traveled and how they felt (a fast heart rate and no movement can indicate excitement or stress).


If the Internet age has taught us anything, it’s that where there is information, there is money to be made. With so much personal information available and countless ways to use it, businesses and authorities will be faced with a number of ethical questions.

In a fully “smart” city, every movement an individual makes can be tracked. The data will reveal where she works, how she commutes, her shopping habits, places she visits and her proximity to other people. You could argue that this sort of tracking already exists via various apps and on social-media platforms, or is held by public-transport companies and e-commerce sites. The difference is that with a smart city this data will be centralized and easy to access. Given the value of this data, it’s conceivable that municipalities or private businesses that pay to create a smart city will seek to recoup their expenses by selling it.

By analyzing this information using data-science techniques, a company could learn not only the day-to-day routine of an individual but also his preferences, behavior and emotional state. Private companies could know more about people than they know about themselves.

For marketers, this is a dream come true. Imagine the scenario: A beverage company knows a particular individual’s Friday or Saturday night routine. The company knows what he drinks, when he drinks, who he drinks with and where he goes. It also knows how the weather affects what beverage the individual chooses and how changes in work patterns influence how much alcohol he consumes. By combining this information with the individual’s social-media profile, the company could send marketing messages to the person when he is most susceptible to the suggestion to buy a drink.

Businesses could market divorce services to couples who, through data analysis, are shown to exhibit behavior that indicates that their relationship could be in trouble—things like unusual travel patterns, and changes in work-life balance, such as a rapid increase in the amount of time both individuals spend at work or in separate bars. Individuals who are shown to lead very unhealthy lifestyles could be deliberately targeted by brands selling fatty foods.

The scenarios are endless, ranging from the genuinely useful to the potentially terrifying. But what will moderate how a smart city works and how brands can use data?

Recent history—issues of privacy and security on social networks and chatting apps, and questions about how intellectual-property regulations apply online—has shown that the law has been slow to catch up with digital innovations. So businesses that can purchase smart-city data will be presented with many strategic and ethical concerns.

What degree of targeting is too specific and violates privacy? Should businesses limit the types of goods or services they offer to certain individuals? Is it ethical for data—on an employee’s eating habits, for instance—to be sold to employers or to insurance companies to help them assess claims? Do individuals own their own personal data once it enters the smart-city system?

With or without stringent controlling legislation, businesses in a smart city will need to craft their own policies and procedures regarding the use of data. A large-scale misuse of personal data could provoke a consumer backlash that could cripple a company’s reputation and lead to monster lawsuits. An additional problem is that businesses won’t know which individuals might welcome the convenience of targeted advertising and which will find it creepy—although data science could solve this equation eventually by predicting where each individual’s privacy line is.

A smart city doesn’t have to be as Orwellian as it sounds. If businesses act responsibly, there is no reason why what sounds intrusive in the abstract can’t revolutionize the way people live for the better by offering services that anticipates their needs; by designing ultraefficient infrastructure that makes commuting a (relative) dream; or with a revolutionary approach to how energy is generated and used by businesses and the populace at large.

Mr. Weston is the CEO of the London- and Dubai-based data-science consultancy 
What possibly can go wrong concentrating power with a few elites and a strong government? 

Affordable Housing giveaways

Atlanta Scrambles to Get Out of Expensive Deal It Forgot It Made

The city's housing authority committed to selling $138 million of government land for $17 million.

OTRS/Wikimedia CommonsOTRS/Wikimedia CommonsWhich is worse: committing to sell off public land at millions below its market value, or not remembering you'd made that commitment in the first place?
That's the question the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) is no doubt asking itself as it tries desperately to get out of a deal it made to sell $138 million of land to a property development company for the recession-era price of $17 million.
The company, Integral, claims it was promised the $120 million discount by former AHA chief Renee Glover in a 2011 agreement. AHA's current president, Catherine Buell, says she knew nothing about the 2011 deal until Integral tried to make good on it in late 2016, and that the terms are wholly inappropriate.
"The Atlanta Housing Authority is not a land bank for private developers to purchase land at rock bottom prices," saysBuell. Her agency is now suing to stop the deal, calling it "unconscionable," "secret," and a violation of federal and state regulations.
It's gross mismanagement at best, pure corruption at worst. And sadly, it isn't the only time a housing program has been caught in such a scandal. Money meant to house low-income people has been directed toward politically connected developers, wasted on never-completed projects, and even spent demolishing the homes of poor people.
This particular episode has its roots in "revitalization agreements" made between AHA and Integral at the turn of the century, whereby Integral promised to convert several of Atlanta's low-income public housing projects into mixed-income developments. For its trouble, Integral was awarded some $114 million in AHA loans, funded through Department of Housing and Urban Development's HOPE VI program.
In 2011, then-president Glover amended these revitalization agreements to give Integral the option of buying some of the vacant land surrounding the mixed-income communities it had developed at severely depressed land valuations. According to the lawsuit, Glover made this multi-million-dollar commitment without the consent of either the AHA board of directors or HUD, both of whose sign-off was required.
AHA Communications Director Cecilia Taylor tells Reason that no meeting minutes or records show any vote being taken by the authority's board of directors on the 2011 deal, and two board members have said they have no memory of it.
There is also no record of any review or approval from HUD, which is responsible for funding and supervising revitalization agreements.
In March the Atlanta Constitution-Journal requested records of whatever approval HUD gave for Glover's 2011 deal. None were provided to the newspaper. Taylor tells Reason that HUD has yet to provide AHA with any such records either.
This would not be the first time HUD has failed in its oversight of HOPE VI funds. A 2007 GAO report found that the department had no standard means of enforcing the terms of grant agreements it made, and that it often failed even to monitor the progress of those grants.
Despite the lack of documentation, Glover has insisted the deal she brokered with Integral went through all the proper channels. So has Egbert Perry, co-founder of Integral. (Both Perry and Glover serve on Fannie Mae's board of directors.) Perry claims not just that the deal was reached within the bounds of the law, but that the massive subsidy his company gets from it is a fair reward for the value his tax-funded investment has brought to AHA land.
"They don't realize what's there is because of what we did," Perry told the Atlanta Constitution-Journal back in March, "not what the authority did. What we did."
That's a pretty rich claim coming from a man whose investment was underwritten by federally funded AHA loans, and who still owes some $29 million in interest on those loans. AHA describes the likelihood of that money being repaid at "moderate-to-low."
The argument has also gotten short shrift from Atlanta housing advocates such as Tim Franzen of the Housing Justice League, who told the Journal-Constitution, "This is a government giveaway. This is the government giving a gift to a private developer who seeks to withdraw as much wealth as possible."
Sadly, government giveaways are a natural consequence when an agency tries to play at being both a developer and a financier of low-income housing.