Today Democratic California Attorney General (and potential future gubernatorial candidate) Kamala Harris figured out how to appeal to the powerful school unions in the state without having to wade into the difficult issues like their massive pension debtsor the fact that more and more Californians are turning tocharter schoolsto get the heck out of the system.
The big crisis is truancy, she argues, and she and several Democratic lawmakers introduced today a package of bills to fight it. In her bigpress release, she makes no bones about what the goal of reducing truancy is; in the very first paragraph, Harris mentions how absences cost the state school system $1.4 billion a year, because state school funding is tied to attendance.
In a way, I’ve always appreciated how nakedly honest California is about the reasons it’s fighting truancy. They want their money and they want it now. Whether the quality of education or the way students (or parents) are treated contributes to student truancy is not a concern. The law says students need to be in school, the school gets money for students being in school, and so the law is going to drag students into school so that the schools will get their money. Oh, hey, and maybe the law can make some money on the side, too, by fining the parents.
Before looking at these proposed solutions, let’s look at a moment at what Harris calls a crisis:
“According to the California Department of Education, 691,470 California elementary school children, or 1 out of every 5 elementary school students, were reported to be truant in the 2011-2012 school year.”
Holy crap, that’s a lot! But wait just a minute. Here is how the State of California describes “truant”:
In California, a student is truant if he/she is absent or tardy by more than 30 minutes without a valid excuse on 3 occasions in a school year.
Yeah, so if Mom or Dad gets caught in traffic or is somehow late three times in a school year that means the kids are well on their way to becoming hardened criminals. California schools really,reallywant their money, folks. Harris further notes that one school reported that 92 percent of its students were truant in one year, but given the state’s definition, it’s a little hard to feel any outrage. She explains further that 250,000 elementary school students miss more than 10 percent of the school year and 20,000 elementary school kids miss more than 35 days of school a year. She describes this statistic as “shocking,” even though that works out to less than a percent of the total students in California’s school system.
Something has to be done, folks! Truant kids don’t learn things, and then they drop out of school and cause crime. Clearly, the solution would be to give parents flexibility in educating their kids and provide a system that allows for choices that work for families with different needs. Ha! Ha! Just kidding.You will accommodate the state’s schedule, citizens!Instead, Harris and lawmakers are suggesting more studies, more recordkeeping, more reports, and a mandate that every county create a special review board to deal with student attendance issues. That last one is an interesting item, as the state already allows for these boards. As part of the legislation mandating their creation, they are adding that a board must include a representative from the county’s district attorney’s office. And if there are costs because of this mandate (like, say, requiring somebody from the district attorney’s office to attend), the state is required to reimburse them. How much money are they going to end up spending chasing after this $1.4 billion lost from student absences?
[Venture capitalist Tim Draper], the prime mover behind the “Six Californias” initiative, a proposal to partition the nation’s most populous state into six smaller ones…
With 38 million people spread over such a vast and varied territory, Draper argues, a monolithic California has grown ungovernable. The state’s population is more than six times as large as the average of the other 49 states, and too many Californians feel estranged from a state government in Sacramento that doesn’t understand them or reflect their interests. He is far from the first to say so. Plans to subdivide California have been put forward since the earliest days of statehood in 1850. Inan 1859 plebiscite, voters approved by a landslide a proposal to split off Southern California into a separate state. (The measure died in Congress, which was in turmoil over the looming Civil War.)
Can Draper’s six-state plan do better? It moved one step closer to plausibility last month, when California’s secretary of stategave backers the go-ahead to begin collecting the necessary petition signatures to put “Six Californias” on the ballot. If 808,000 signatures are submitted by July 14, the measure could go to voters in November.
Clearly, a six-way Golden State split is the longest of long shots, and critics aplenty have already started blasting Draper’s proposal. But even many of the critics agree that California has become an unwieldy, unmanageable mess.
"No other state contains within it such contradictory interests, cultures, economic and political geography,"writes Keith Naughton at PublicCEO, a website that covers state and local California issues. “It has become impossible to even remotely reconcile the array of opposing forces. The only way to get anything done is to shove laws and regulations down a lot of unwilling throats.” In the Los Angeles Times, business columnist Michael Hiltzik claims the economic fallout from the Six Californias plan would be “horrific” — he’s especially disturbed that the proposed new state of Central California “would instantly become the poorest state in the nation,” while Silicon Valley, where Draper lives, would be one of the wealthiest. Yet Hiltzik concedes that “Californians have lost contact with their government as more budgeting and administration [have] been upstreamed to Sacramento” and as state policies have “taken decision-making for everything from pothole repair to art and music classes out of the hands of the locals.”
Tim Draper, a storied Silicon Valley venture-capital investor, is the the prime mover behind the ‘Six Californias’ initiative.
It’s been a long time since an existing state was partitioned into smaller states. It last happened in 1863, when 50 northwestern counties of Virginia were renamed West Virginia and admitted as the 35th state. More than 40 years earlier, Maine, which had been part of Massachusetts since the 1650s, voted overwhelmingly for a divorce, and eventually entered the union as a new state in 1820. In both cases, separation was driven, then embraced, by communities and people who had grown alienated from a state government dominated by interests they didn’t share. West Virginia’s mountain people had chafed under Richmond’s rule, and sharply opposed the formation of the Confederacy. Mainers had long complained that the Legislature in Boston — where Maine was underrepresented — was not only too far away, but too willing to sacrifice their interests to those of Massachusetts.
Maybe those chapters from 19th-century history have no relevance to California today. Or maybe Draper is onto something that shouldn’t be dismissed too casually. Last September, in California’s rural north, Siskiyou County and Modoc County voted to pursue secession from California and support the creation of a new State of Jefferson. Local residents crowded the Siskiyou board of supervisors’ chambers, and when a speaker asked who in the audience favored the idea, the local paper reported, “nearly every hand in the room was raised.”
Conventional wisdom says Draper’s scheme hasn’t got a chance. But venture capitalists have a knack of seeing openings and opportunities that most people miss. Would “Six Californias” would be an improvement over the status quo? That’s definitely a debate worth having.
I think splitting up states into smaller, more manageable, responsive, representative, and accountable chunks is a great step in the right direction. Six California’s is a start. Then those six should be split in half, and those halves split again and again. Only this way can governments trend toward better representation of the demands and values of the people who reside within their borders.
If a small state predominantly of leftists passed a law to ban water bottles, issue penalties for “excess profits,” and create expansive welfare and public transportation programs, then it will gather more support and alienate fewer people than if such a law were passed in a larger, more mixed state. If a small neighboring state promised greater gun rights, fewer business regulations, and lower taxes, then the two states would compete for residents and occupants by virtue of their public policy. And despite such competition, there would ultimately be less conflict among individuals since their ideas on how one should live his or her life won’t affect the other (as much as if they all shared the same borders, anyway).
As I noted in a recent conversation with a coworker about splitting up California (and the United States) into smaller states: “it makes no sense for people who have little in common culturally, geographically, and ideologically to be forced into some common union in which they battle for whose ideas should run the others’ lives.”
"Tase Him Again! Tase Him Tase Him Tase Him!": San Francisco BART in Action Against Man Fellow Passengers Said Was No Problem →
From CBS Local San Francisco, transit police just doing their (unnecessary, in this case) job with unnecessary force:
Video has been obtained by KPIX 5 showing a BART police officer who repeatedly used a stun gun to subdue a passenger in front of other riders.
A woman who witnessed the incident, who did not want to go on camera, told KPIX 5 the man was harmless and that the officer used the stun gun for no reason….
While witnesses were heard on the video saying the man had done nothing wrong and not bothering anyone, the officer used the stun gun on the passenger.
As riders look on, the video shows the man being dragged to the aisle. “Don’t move or I’ll tase you again,” the officer was heard saying.
But that was not the end. Moments later, the officer said to the man, “Get on your stomach or I’ll tase you again.”
Minutes pass and more officers arrive. As the man was being held down and handcuffed, the video shows the same officer using the stun gun on the passenger for five seconds.
Tasers can be potentially fatal weapons, as officers should well know. And BART’s own policy says “that a stun gun can only be used if the suspect poses an immediate threat of bodily harm to the officer or another person.”
And the cop’s account that the hard-of-hearing 80-year-old with no criminal record was charging him with a .22 pistol runs counter to the coroner’s report, forensic evidence of the scene, and an audio recording of the incident.
With corrupt, inefficient, and expensive boondoggles…
Gov. Jerry Brown is gearing up for an infrastructure-building spree, as he hopes to create the nation’s first high-speed-rail system and bore giant water-moving tunnels underneath the Delta. Before the state moves forward with these multibillion-dollar projects, however, Californians might want to look at how the state has built other recent projects.
They got a rare opportunity to do so in recent days, as the head of the state Senate’s transportation and housing committee released a preliminary investigative report into the California Department of Transportation’s years-long effort to build the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The results are alarming.
“In the course of this investigation people with significant credentials have made serious accusations about critical components of the bridge regarding welds in the roadway decks and large bolts that fix critical bridge components,” explained the report, commissioned by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, a Democrat (and congressional candidate) from the East Bay.
“(T)here appear to have been chronic attempts to keep many of the serious safety allegations quiet,” the report added. “Furthermore, this inquiry has come to the inevitable conclusion that there are legitimate concerns that this appears to be part of an institutionalized, if not malicious, lack of transparency in the project.”
Caltrans officials depicted whistleblower allegations as “differing engineering opinions,” said that questionable welds were certified and assured senators that the agency carefully addressed all safety concerns. The Caltrans director said the bridge is safe and exceeded standards. But the findings are just the latest in a series of construction controversies and cost overruns that have plagued this signature project since 2005.
During a Capitol hearing on Friday, one Caltrans engineer detailed his two-plus year effort to alert the agency to Caltrans employees who were falsifying tests on the bridge. After being ignored, he finally took his story to a newspaper reporter.
The new Senate report detailed an incident where an engineer with a quality-assurance firm found hundreds of cracks in welds and rejected them given that the contract called for no cracks. Instead of fixing the problem, the engineer said “his Caltrans supervisors told him he was being ‘too rigorous’ in his findings” and the agency eventually switched to another quality-control firm.
The Senate’s bridge report also details the mushrooming budgets on a project with costs that soared from $1.4 billion to nearly $6.4 billion. Overruns are par for the course for large projects, but the lack of transparency on quality-of-construction issues is far more troubling.
Reports about Caltrans’ problems are nothing new. A 2013 report from the California state auditor confirmed those media reports that Caltrans workers had falsified test data on various projects, thus casting doubt on their structural integrity. A 2011 state audit found that Caltrans was awash in overruns in support costs, has done little analysis on the matter and failed to inform “stakeholders of the overruns.”
Yet the Caltrans director was reconfirmed a few months ago with only three dissenting votes. Two of the dissenters were San Diego-area Republican Sens. Joel Anderson of El Cajon and Mark Wyland of Solana Beach. An April memo from Anderson’s office criticized Caltrans’ culture of cover-up and detailed its many problems as well as the poor condition of the freeway system the agency oversees.
“I believe the oversight function is far too modest; it should be dramatically expanded,” Wyland told me. “The fiasco of the Bay Bridge is a perfect example, which should engender an investigation and complete restructuring of Caltrans.”
DeSaulnier said his goal was to come up with specific reforms, such as creating a place where state employees can take their concerns about safety free from retribution. But another lesson seems clear: Maybe the state ought to at least try to straighten out its main transportation agency before embarking on massive new projects.
As if the condition of the roads and the efficiency of the highways in LA weren’t enough to cast doubts…
Drivers in California can legally read a map on their hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.
The 5th District Court of Appeal reversed the case of a Fresno man who was ticketed in January 2012 for looking at a map on his iPhone 4 while stuck in traffic. The driver, Steven Spriggs, challenged the $165 fine.
Los Angeles Times gets its hands on an investigation into border patrol practices by the Police Executive Research Forum, a “nonprofit research and policy organization in Washington that works closely with law enforcement agencies” that was “allowed to examine internal Border Patrol case files on 67 shooting incidents from January 2010 to October 2012.”
Some findings from the Times:
Border Patrol agents have deliberately stepped in the path of cars apparently to justify shooting at the drivers and have fired in frustration at people throwing rocks from the Mexican side of the border, according to an independent review of 67 cases that resulted in 19 deaths.
The report by law enforcement experts criticized the Border Patrol for “lack of diligence” in investigating U.S. agents who had fired their weapons. It also said it was unclear whether the agency “consistently and thoroughly reviews” use-of-deadly-force incidents.
And our brave border protectors wanted to make sure we, or our elected representatives, never found out:
House and Senate oversight committees requested copies last fall but received only a summary that omitted the most controversial findings — that some border agents stood in front of moving vehicles as a pretext to open fire and that agents could have moved away from rock throwers instead of shooting at them.
The Times obtained the full report and the agency’s internal response, which runs 23 pages. The response rejects the two major recommendations: barring border agents from shooting at vehicles unless its occupants are trying to kill them, and barring agents from shooting people who throw things that can’t cause serious physical injury….
Mexican authorities have complained for years that U.S. border agents who kill Mexicans are rarely disciplined and that the results of investigations are not made public for years.
J.D. Tuccille blogged earlier today on Arizonans attempts to rid themselves of an internal “border checkpoint.”
Just a thought: we could cut a vast number of the reasons any of these confrontations happen in the first place with saner drug laws and saner paths for the legal ability to work in this country.
"Border Patrol agents have deliberately stepped in the path of cars apparently to justify shooting at the drivers and have fired in frustration at people throwing rocks from the Mexican side of the border"
Los Angeles is emerging as a major laboratory for testing and scaling up new police surveillance technologies. The use of military-grade surveillance tools is migrating from places like Fallujah to neighborhoods including Watts and even low-crime areas of the San Fernando Valley, where surveillance cameras are proliferating like California poppies in spring.
The use of militarized surveillance technology appears to be spreading beyond its initial applications during the mid-2000s in high-crime areas to now target narrow, specific crimes such as auto theft. Now, LAPD and the Los Angeles County Sheriff are monitoring the whereabouts of residents whether they have committed a crime or not. The biggest surveillance net is license plate reading technology that records your car’s plate number as you pass police cruisers equipped with a rooftop camera, or as you drive past street locations where such cameras are mounted. …
Two dozen police agencies have gathered more than 160 million data points showing the exact whereabouts of L.A.-area drivers on given dates.
Despite growing concerns among privacy-rights groups, LAPD hopes to greatly expand its mass surveillance: The city traffic-camera system — 460 cameras set above major roads and intersections by the Department of Transportation — which now are used to monitor traffic jams, could be folded into LAPD’s surveillance network. …
LAPD’s mild-sounding “predictive policing” technique, introduced by former Chief William Bratton to anticipate where future crime would hit, is actually a sophisticated system developed not by cops but by the U.S. military, based on “insurgent” activity in Iraq and civilian casualty patterns in Afghanistan. …
This month, LAPD sent a team to Israel, the Jewish Journal reports, to visit drone manufacturers and Nice Systems, a cyber-intelligence firm that can “intercept and instantly analyze video, audio and text-based communications.” Reporter Simone Wilson quoted Horace Frank, commander of LAPD’s Information Technology Bureau, as telling an Israeli conference of data intelligence experts: “Let’s be honest … We’re here to steal some of your great ideas.” …
Ana Muniz, an activist and researcher who works with the Inglewood-based Youth Justice Coalition, says, “Any time that a society’s military and domestic police force become more and more similar, where the lines have become blurred, it’s not a good story.”
The military is supposed to “defend the territory from so-called external enemies,” Muniz says. “That’s not the mission of the police force — they’re not supposed to look at the population as an external enemy.”
L.A. residents may not yet grasp that more and more military technology is being aimed at them in the name of fighting routine crime. But Hamid Khan, an Open Society Foundations fellow who studies LAPD surveillance, warns, “Counterinsurgency principles are being incorporated on the local policing level.”
Curbed LA breaks it down:
In 2010, the LAPD teamed up with Motorola Solutions to deploy military-grade technology in tracking the goings-on in high-crime areas like the Jordan Downs projects; now they’re employing those same technologies and newer, more advanced ones to monitor people across the city before they’ve committed crimes, as LA Weekly reports. How does “predictive policing” work? It starts with your car. If you have a license plate, the LAPD has its eyes on you, thanks to license-plate-reading technology that records your plate number any time you pass police cars with cameras or when you drive past street-mounted cameras. That network could even expand: The LADOT has a system of 460 cameras posted above major roads and intersections to watch traffic, and those could soon be digitized and fed into the LAPD’s surveillance network. The pre-crime approach to policing doesn’t stop there.
If you don’t want to be tracked, you could walk or bike, but there’s also tech in place now throughout the Topanga and Foothill divisions of the LAPD that uses live-monitored CCTV cameras outfitted with facial-recognition software. These are supposedly used to tip cops off to people who are on watch lists or have outstanding warrants, but there’s no way to know what is actually being collected, or what they’re doing with it all.
King City, Calif., is a small (population: 13,169) town in Monterey County with a population that is 87 percent Hispanic or Latino, according to 2010 census figures. The town’s crime rate is around or below the national average, but the police there seem to have found ways to keep themselves busy. According to the county, the highest ranking officers in King City have been targeting their poorer Latino residents, seizing their cars, and then selling them for a profit or keeping them for themselves when their owners were unable to pay to get them back. The Monterey Herald reports:
In what is likely the most widespread case of official corruption in Monterey County history, six King City police officers, including the former and acting chiefs of police, were arrested on felony charges on Tuesday, four of them accused of conspiracy, embezzlement and bribery. The owner of a local tow truck company, the brother of the acting chief, was arrested in the scheme, which involved impounding the cars of mostly unlicensed drivers, then selling them when the cars’ owners were unable to pay towing and storage fees.
Prosecutor Steve Somers, who is handling the case, said he considered charging the officers with hate crimes because they targeted disadvantaged Latino residents. He concluded their actions targeted the victims because they were vulnerable, not out of racial animus.
The district attorney’s office had been investigating the claims for the past six months, but they’ve also been tracking allegations about wrongdoing at the police department for at least four years, according to the Herald. They were first alerted to this scheme thanks to online comments posted on a video of a town hall meeting in King City where citizens expressed their frustration with the city’s police department.
Here’s how the towing company gamed the system to make it almost impossible for victims’ to get their vehicles back:
Ana Vargas, co-chairwoman of the South County Outreach Efforts and a King City resident, said community members have complained for months in front of the City Council about Miller’s Towing and the outrageous rules they had to follow to recover their cars. She said Miller’s required owners of impounded cars to keep them there for 30 days, with charges accruing. By the time drivers could pick up their cars, they owed $2,000 to $3,000.
"The cars were not even worth that much," Vargas said. Unable to pay, drivers would just abandon their autos.
Two of the officers were arrested on crimes that had nothing to do with the car scheme. The six of them comprise 35 percent of King City’s police force.
Related: How Government Hurts the Poor
An interesting lawsuit went to non-jury trial in a Los Angeles court room yesterday; nine public school students, with the support of an educational non-profit called “Students Matter,” are suing the state of California over teacher tenure laws and other protections, which they argue prevent school administrators from removing dysfunctional teachers from the system. To skeptics of the eternally optimistic apologists of the government school system, the argument seems pretty open and shut. Tenure and the other public employee protections (which public unions call “due process” as if their jobs were rights and not privileges) make it difficult to remove teachers even in some of the most egregious cases. In 2012, LA Weekly reported the city’s school district had 300 teachers in the “rubber rooms,” where teachers go after they’ve been removed from the classroom but before they’ve had their “due process.” According to LA Weekly, the average teacher spends 127 days hanging out in the rubber room, collecting full salary and benefits while “allegations” against them are investigated. It’s a system that’s pretty recognizably rigged in favor of the teacher and not the student, whose education can be severely handicapped by just one lousy teacher in one school year.The California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers intervened and asked the court to throw out the lawsuit filed against the state, including the Department of Education, Gov. Jerry Brown and Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson.
"It is deceptive and dishonest to pretend that teacher due process rights are unfair to students," said California Federation of Teachers President Josh Pechthalt, the parent of a ninth-grade student in the Los Angeles Unified School District. "Students need a stable, experienced teaching workforce. They won’t have one if this lawsuit succeeds in gutting basic teacher rights."
So, teachers have more job security even though when they fail to do their jobs they risk the life-long income earning potentials of their students because that job security creates a stable workforce for them. It’s a bizarre assertion that a labor organization meant to protect the financial interests of teachers as employees could somehow also protect the educational interests of students. Talk about deceptive. The judge rejected the union’s motion to dismiss the case.
Over the weekend, the California Department of Education released a statement insisting there was “nothing in the law” that prevents districts “from removing teachers from the classroom when necessary.” The students who have brought the matter to court, and their parents, disagree. That those who profit off the educational bureaucracy don’t is no surprise.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the West is running out of water. Articles about water shortages are a perennial feature of local newspaper coverage in the American West, but the Los Angeles Times is right. The West really doesn’t have enough water to maintain the status quo.
It’s not global warming or suburban sprawl that is the primary source of the problem. Indeed, the West is no more dry now than it has been at various times through the centuries for which we have a little knowledge about the climatic conditions here. And suburban and urban residents use only a fraction of the water consumed in the West.
To find a clue about the real source of the problem, we need only look to the Times article itself:
Thanks to reservoirs large and small, scores of dams including colossi like Hoover and Glen Canyon, more than 1,000 miles of aqueducts and countless pumps, siphons, tunnels and diversions, the West had been thoroughly re-rivered and re-engineered.
Rain doesn’t fall much in the West, so to get water, the people need to go to the water in the rivers, or the water in the rivers needs to be shipped to the people. That’s where all those aqueducts and tunnels and diversions come in.
In an America without the massive coercive power of the federal government, the population centers in the West would generally be near the water sources where irrigation and drinking water would be cheaper and easier to use. When powerful interest groups own land far away from water sources, on the other hand, there is no “solution” so impractical that billions of taxpayer dollarscan’t make it happen. The politicians will simply see to it that the water is moved where the lobbyists tell them it should have been in the first place. The result is that farmers will grow water-thirsty crops in central Arizona and central California where water must be transported over mountains and across hundreds of miles of arid landscape.
Water shortages occur in the West not because too many people are flushing their toilets too often, but because agriculture, heavily subsidized through cheap water made possible by the federal government, continues to grow crops in places that would never support agriculture on a similar scale in a free market. Indeed, agriculture uses well over 80 percent of all the water used in Western states, and most of that water is stored, pumped, and diverted using dams, pumps, and aqueducts paid for by the U.S. taxpayer.
As a result, growers don’t have to face the real-life costs of transporting water to their farms. They only need consider the subsidized price, which is far below what it would be in a private market. Consequently, water usage for growers across the West is much greater than what it would be were there a functioning market for water in the region.
While there are some historical cases of locally-funded major water projects, such as the original Los Angeles Aqueduct, the management of water resources in the West has been dominated by the federal government’s Bureau of Reclamation. Although created in 1902, the Bureau exploded in size and importance during the Great Depression as a part of the New Deal. From Hoover Dam to countless smaller dams and diversion projects, the Bureau became an influential bureaucracy with immense power in the West.
Naturally, the fact that taxpayers pay for all this does not mean that the taxpayers control the water. The most important resource in the West is in fact mostly controlled by Congress and the Bureau of Reclamation, and indirectly by growers and other special interests. Water is distributed in the West not by markets and market prices, but by the political process.
In an arid place like the West, the political control of water translates to the political control of entire sectors of the economy. Writing in 2004, economist William Anderson noted:
No private firm would distribute a precious commodity like water in a desert in the way that the Bureau of Reclamation has done it. While the subsidized farms in the West are private, the federal government owns the main input that is needed for their crops: water. Thus, the term “private enterprise” here is meaningless, since the farms are wards of the state.
The fact that many farms are “wards of the state” as Anderson calls them, does not trouble the more influential growers much, as agricultural interests remain extremely influential in Western states, and they indirectly control most of the water.
What is the justification for such a situation? The virtues of subsidized water are sung using the usual arguments for corporatism and crony capitalism. We’re told that what’s good for the Western farmer is good for America. It’s a matter of national security. Local economies will collapse without agriculture. Subsidized water “creates jobs.” It’s a way of life that must be preserved. And so on.
The political support behind the growers’ continued use of the vast majority of the water resources to grow cotton and pecans in a brutally-hot parched desert is a classic case of politicians supporting what is seen over what cannot be seen.
We can look out over the vast fields of crops in central California and Arizona, where few crops could grow before the federal government taxed families and workers to make it possible, and claim that the alternative is unthinkable. The alternative, of course, is unknown and unseen.
The hundreds of billions of dollars spent over the years to get water to growers and other politically well-connected interests could have been spent on other things. What other things? We’ll never know now, but the Central Arizona Project, which pumps water up 3,000 vertical feet and moves it across 160 miles of desert from the Colorado River to central Arizona at a cost of at least $4.7 billion, would probably not be one of them. Most of that is paid for by people who will never live in Arizona.
Although the special interest groups don’t see it this way, the fact remains that the development of the West, dictated by water, has been dominated by the federal government and its friends for at least 75 years. It props up industries unsuited to the realities of the Western deserts, while populations rely more and more on a diminishing resource controlled by an aging infrastructure of taxpayer-funded boondoggles. Is it any surprise that the West now faces some serious water problems? In spite of this, there is one thing we can know for sure: we’ll be told that the federal government is our best hope for solving the problem.
The Ninth Circuit’s decision in Peruta v. San Diego, released minutes ago, affirms the right of law-abiding citizens to carry handguns for lawful protection in public.
California law has a process for applying for a permit to carry a handgun for protection in public, with requirements for safety training, a background check, and so on. These requirements were not challenged. The statute also requires that the applicant have “good cause,” which was interpreted by San Diego County to mean that the applicant is faced with current specific threats. (Not all California counties have this narrow interpretation.) The Ninth Circuit, in a 2-1 opinion written by Judge O’Scannlain, ruled that Peruta was entitled to Summary Judgement, because the “good cause” provision violates the Second Amendment.
The Court ruled that a government may specify what mode of carrying to allow (open or concealed), but a government may not make it impossible for the vast majority of Californians to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms. …
The Peruta decision examines the text of the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court decisions in Heller and McDonald, and the legal history of the right to bear arms. The Court pays particular attention to the historical cases and commentators that have been favorably cited by Heller and McDonald. The survey leads straightforwardly to the conclusion that the right to carry a gun in public places for lawful self-defense is part of the Second Amendment right. So plaintiffs pass step 1 of the two-part test.
This is a big deal, and an important step in the right direction.
Peaceful Protest Against Police Brutality, Demanding Justice for Kelly Thomas
Hollywood, CA • Feb. 8, 2014.
Some media coverage claims 300 protesters attended. I can personally attest to far more than that.
CHP officer handcuffs Chula Vista Firefighter caught on camera
See more here.
Protests aren’t really my style. I’m more about the intellectual revolution; I prefer education and peaceful noncompliance over potential confrontation. Nevertheless, (1) this could serve that end insofar as it brings attention to this heinous miscarriage of justice, and (2) I will be working that day and my studio is not far from Hollywood & Vine.
As such, it’s very possible that I will attend. Let me know if you might be there.