The NFL is good at fleecing taxpayers. It’s about a billion dollars a year I’ve calculated in public subsidies to NFL owners and this is a group that consists almost entirely of billionaires and yet receiving significant public subsidies every year.
The NFL raked in over $9 billion in revenues last season and the league is pushing team owners to triple that mark over the next decade.
With the league’s overwhelming success, many cities are eager to get a piece of the action, often offering billions in public subsidies to attract (or keep) football in their localities.
But with the NFL making record profits, is it right for cities to spend public money on these type of projects? Especially when over half of NFL team owners are ranked on the Forbes billionaire list?
No where is this illustrated more than in Los Angeles, which has been trying to lure the league back to the area ever since the Raiders and Rams left town 20 years ago. And though numerous economists have demonstrated that sports stadia don’t increase local economic activity, it hasn’t stopped debt-ridden cities like L.A. from approving a $1.2 billion dollar stadium deal that would be financed with nearly $350 million in taxpayer-backed bonds.
I’ve mentioned often how much of a big sports fan I am. But I can’t imagine putting a gun to my neighbor’s head to help pay a billionaire so that I can enjoy my hobby. I hope L.A. gets no more new stadiums or upgrades, so long as said stadiums or upgrades are paid for by taxpayers.
California’s efforts to regulate firearms out of easy availability (an official summary of state gun regulations runs to 50 pages) continue to bear fruit, as Smith & Wesson announces that it’s not willing to comply with the latest round of inane rules, effectively removing most of its pistols from the state’s market. The specific bit of red tape pushing the company out is a requirement that new pistols (including modifications of existing firearms) incorporate controversial “microstamping" technology intended to leave unique markings on fired cases.
In a press release, the company says:
Under California’s “Unsafe Handgun Act,” any new semi-automatic pistol introduced into that state must comply with microstamping laws. In addition, California asserts that anything other than a cosmetic change to a handgun already on the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale, including performance enhancements and other improvements, requires it to be removed from the roster and retested. For semi-automatic pistols, this means it must comply with the microstamping requirements, as well.
Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamp ing in its firearms. A number of studies have indicated that microstamping is unreliable, serves no safety purpose, is cost prohibitive and, most importantly, is not proven to aid in preventing or solving crimes. The microstamping mandate and the company’s unwillingness to adopt this so-called technology will result in a diminishing number of Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistols available for purchase by California residents.
This is not a problem unique to Smith & Wesson. The microstamping legislation and California’s position regarding performance enhancements and other improvements creates the same challenge for all firearm manufacturers, since presumably all of them refine and improve their products over time.
In order to retain a presence in the California market for semi-automatic pistols, the company deliberately plans to make no improvements to the M&P Shield and the SDVE pistols so that they’ll remain on-sale without a need to comply with the microstamping law. Except for the Shield, all of the M&P line of pistols are expected to fall off the roster of guns legal for sale in California by August 2014 (revolvers are exempt).
Microstamping is held out as one of the holy grails of modern gun controllers seeking a technological crutch for their position, but the National Shooting Sports Foundation calls it ”a costly and time-consuming process” that’s not especially reliable. It’s also easily defeated by the clever expedient of swapping out firing pins or other easily replaced parts. Or just filing down the stamp (diamond-coated files are a good choice).
Ruger Firearms already announced that it won’t comply with the microstamping rule. The National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute have filed suit against California over the issue
Smith & Wesson representatives didn’t respond to queries as to whether they would follow in the footsteps of gunmakers like Barrett and also refuse sales to law enforcement agencies in jurisdictions that effectively try to disarm private citizens. Such a move might actually get officials’ attention.
This state is ridiculous.
How deluded must one be to believe that these laws will, in any shape or form, deter criminals from possessing firearms more than it obstructs the ability of peaceful, law-abiding individuals to protect themselves?
The city of Los Angeles is cracking down on pedestrians who sneak across streets when the traffic signal says “don’t walk.” But when you put a price on bad behavior, like being in a public street illegally, you see clearly what a city values.The cheapest parking ticket in Los Angeles (pdf) is $58, and the one most commonly issued for parking in a prohibited zone is $73. Jaywalking—the term of art for a pedestrian crossing against the light—will cost you $197.
And this right on the heels of my paean to jaywalking.
It is counterproductive and economically prohibitive to continue a path of hostility toward [legal marijuana] dispensaries. Moreover, it appears to directly counter the spirit of Deputy Attorney General Cole’s memo, and is in direct opposition to the evolving view toward medical marijuana, the will of the people and, by now, common sense. … It is our view that the intent of the Justice Department is to not enforce its anti-marijuana laws in conflict with the laws of states that have chosen to decriminalize marijuana for medical and recreational uses.
It is counterproductive and economically prohibitive to continue a path of hostility toward [legal marijuana] dispensaries. Moreover, it appears to directly counter the spirit of Deputy Attorney General Cole’s memo, and is in direct opposition to the evolving view toward medical marijuana, the will of the people and, by now, common sense. …
It is our view that the intent of the Justice Department is to not enforce its anti-marijuana laws in conflict with the laws of states that have chosen to decriminalize marijuana for medical and recreational uses.
The L.A. City Council approved today a $5.9 million settlement to officers alleging they had been punished by their superiors for not fulfilling ticket quotas.
The City Council settled the lawsuit with 10 LAPD officers of a motorcycle unit who filed it back in 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times. The officers claimed they were forced by Capt. Nancy Lauer to meet ticket quotas—which would break state law. Reportedly, they were required to write at least 18 tickets per shift. They alleged that in retaliation, their supervisors would give them bad performance reviews, reassignment, and [harassment], reported Los Angeles Daily News.
However, the settlement agreement was discussed behind closed doors, and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck denies a ticket-quota system was put in place. “We will continue to have measures of productivity,” Beck told City News Service. “Not quotas. Measures of productivity. They’re different.”
This settlement comes on the heels of a similar 2011 ticket quotas lawsuit where two LAPD officers were awarded $2 million by the L.A. Superior Court.
So these tax-leech bullies are given orders from their tax-leech bosses to reach a minimum amount of harassment against mostly peaceful people - ticket quotas that are against the law (but these tax-leeches are above the law, so why would that matter?). They fail to reach this minimum and are subsequently “punished” (lol). Then, these tax-leech bullies sue the city in response to the treatment by their tax-leech bosses. The tax-leech meddlers in the city council, in turn, settled with the tax-leech bullies to the tune of $5.9 million. And this was paid for, of course, by taxpayers.
So we pay for all these tax-leeches to harass us, we pay them to set minimum amounts of harassment which in turn we pay fees on, and now we pay for the consequences of their wrong-doing.
Aren’t government monopolies delightful?
Although its appears as if filmed in a dank subterranean cloister in the early 1980s, check out this fascinating discussion of power elite analysis by sociologist G. William Domhoff, economist Murray N. Rothbard, and political scientist Williamson M. Evers on a wide range of topics from urban renewal, the origins of the Fed, to the corporate elite’s dominance of California.
If you can get past the quality of the video (from 1985), it’s pretty good content - particularly Rothbard’s portion starting at about 16:00.
Los Angeles Unified School District has stumbled upon a revolutionary concept in disciplining young schoolchildren: Maybe don’t treat them the way the police department treats parolees? That is to say, LAUSD is pulling back on responding to common child misbehavior with police citations. From theLos Angeles Daily News:
Starting Dec. 1, elementary and some middle school students in Los Angeles Unified will no longer receive police citations for most misbehavior.
According to the new policy, Los Angeles School Police will refrain from writing criminal citations for infractions such as fighting and writing on desks, instead turning students to school officials for campus-based punishment that is more in line with their age and nature of the violations.
“This is an important step, but it also raises concerns that there is more to be done,” said Manuel Criollo, director of organizing for the nonprofit Community Rights Campaign, an L.A. group that has lobbied for the decriminalization of many school-based offenses. “Some of this should be common sense, and the next thing is to expand it in the middle schools. Thirteen- and 14-year-olds should also be covered by this.”
This “new policy” smells remarkably old actually, like how schools handled discipline when those of us who are adults now attended school. Officials have finally realized that treating students like criminals discourages them from doing things like attending school (important, because that’s how school funding is determined):
The directive from LAUSD Police Chief Steven Zipperman asks school-based officers to look at misbehavior of students under the age of 13 as a teaching opportunity rather than a reason to hand out citations that could discourage them from attending class altogether.
If a ticket is issued, officers should have an articulated reason for doing so, as well as the permission of a supervisor. The policy does not cover possession of contraband.
The Community Rights Campaign calculated that school police have handed out more than 4,700 citations to students under the age of 14 for the 2012-13 school year.
A recent Mayo Clinic study points out that mass shooters tend to meticulously plan their crimes weeks or months in advance, undermining the idea that the mentally ill simply “snap” and go on shooting rampages while also complicating the notion of effective gun control through gun registries, since a methodical planner has plenty of time to obtain weapons through illegal channels.
A more basic problem with a strategy that targets mentally ill people is that the vast majority of them are not violent. When you control for substance abuse, a factor that exacerbates violence in all populations, only about 4.3% of people with a “severe” mental illness are likely to commit any sort of violence, according to a University of Chicago study. The violence rate among those with a “non-severe” mental illness is about equal to that of the “normal” population.
"In the absence of a history of violence or any of the other risk factors, it is impossible to predict who will become violent," says Stephen K. Hoge, a forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University. "If we put doctors in the position of acting on behalf of the government or acting on behalf of social control, then that undermines the therapeutic mission."
In other words, by targeting and stigmatizing the mentally ill, especially in the absence of a coherent risk-identification strategy, the effect may be to discourage people who need help from seeking it, while also stripping away the rights of a huge group of people who will likely never commit a violent act.
California is the vanguard of the gun registry movement in the U.S. The Attorney General’s office maintains a database called the "Armed Prohibited Persons System" (APPS), which identifies three groups of people whose guns should be confiscated: Individuals with a documented history of violence, convicted felons/wanted persons, and people with a “severe mental illness,” as defined by the state. Lumping the broad category of “mentally ill people” in with criminals and violent abusers can ensnare innocent and seemingly harmless individuals in an overly expansive dragnet.
Take Lynette Phillips, a suburban California housewife who suffers from anxiety disorder. She encountered the APPS after a trip to Aurora Charter Oak Hospital’s psych ward resulted in her involuntary commitment. Phillips claims she voluntarily checked herself into the hospital after a bad reaction to a new medication and that the involuntary commitment was an error made by an overzealous nurse. Representatives from Aurora Charter Oak declined to comment on the story, but she was released before the full 72-hour hold, and a letter from Phillips’ personal psychiatrist confirms some of the details in her version of events, including the fact that she sought treatment herself.
But the involuntary commitment was enough to put Phillps on the government radar and make her an Armed Prohibited Person. A few days after she returned home, armed officers from the California Department of Justice entered her house in order to confiscate a gun she’d purchased as a gift for her husband. Upon finding more than one firearm in the house, the agents took all of the Phillips’ guns and ammunition. They had no warrant. The CA DOJ would not comment on this story.
"They didn’t need to do that," says Lynette’s husband, David, who described a scene in which the officers spread all of their guns and ammunition on the front yard as the neighborhood watched. "They embarrassed us in front of the neighbors."
The Phillips have no criminal record, history of violence, or documented substance abuse problems. But it was only with the help of an attorney that they were able to get their guns back from the state after several months of effort., and only under that condition that David keep the guns in a safe that’s inaccessible to Lynette. They did not return any of the seized ammo.
The Phillips have vowed never to let government agents into their home without a warrant again, and Lynette remains shaken by the experience. Since its inception in 2001, the APPS program has resulted in the seizure of more than 11,000 guns.
"To the extent that society continues to vilify the mentally ill and scapegoat them as the primary cause of gun violence, is a major step backward," says Hoge.
Anonymous asked: They were seriously just going to throw that bacon away?
Yes. I also “rescued” scrambled eggs and chorizo, pork sausages, lox, and other goodies - and it was still but a fraction of the overall amount of food left uneaten.
Some time ago, I caught them throwing large garbage bags full of food away and I freaked out. I grew up with the constant warnings about my hungry cousins in Cuba and thus have a particularly heightened predilection against wasting food. I asked them why they don’t just give this food away to local shelters or charities, and no one here will be surprised to know that it’s the state government that strictly prohibits such actions due to ostensible health violations. The “authorities” have regulations about offering previously-served food and food that has not been kept at a certain temperature and a certain way, but the hungry would no doubt prefer the lovely 2-to-3-hours-old foodstuffs we toss over whatever they find trash-diving or at the bottom of their tax-funded soup-bowl.
So once again, the government hurts the poor.
Under these figures, every Californian’s share of the debt burden is $11,600. To make matters worse, CalTax acknowledges that it may be understating the true extent of unfunded liabilities. CalTax appears to be using the liabilities that state and local governments in California themselves acknowledge. The tricky issue in estimating unfunded pension liabilities is the validity of the actuarial assumptions used by state and local government pension systems. Government pension systems in California tend to assume between 7.5% to 8% investment returns on pension funds over 30 years, assumptions widely derided as unrealistic and inconsistent with actual investment returns.
State Budget Solutions recently issued a report calculating pension liabilities using actual 15-year US Treasury bond returns (3.22%) as the basis for investment return assumptions. Using this figure instead of 7.5-8%, California’s unfunded state employee pension liabilities rise to $640 billion.
Worth posting about a second time:
Today California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have expanded that state’s definition of “assault weapons” to include any centerfire rifle with a detachable magazine, thereby recasting many popular hunting guns as tools of terror suitable only for mass murder. Here is the explanation Brown gave:
The State of California already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, including bans on military-style assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
While the author’s intent is to strengthen these restrictions, this bill goes much farther by banning any semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine. This ban covers low-capacity rifles that are commonly used for hunting, firearms training, and marksmanship practice, as well as some historical and collectible firearms. Moreover, hundreds ofthousands of current gun owners would have to register their rifles as assault weapons and would be banned from selling or transferring them in the future….
I don’t believe that this bill’s blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners’ rights.
California started the legislative craze of banning guns based on “military-style” features back in 1989, and this latest iteration shows how utterly arbitrary such laws are. Since the term assault weapon has no independent meaning, its definition can be expanded indefinitely, ultimately covering the very sorts of guns that activists once said they had no intention of banning. Neither logic nor shame seems to impose any limit on this charade, although the Constitution does.*
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Friday vetoed two measures to restrict the sale and possession of certain semi-automatic assault weapons, putting the brakes on some of the most aggressive gun-control proposals in state legislatures this year.
Brown vetoed Senate Bill 374, which would have banned semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and required firearm owners to register even low-capacity rifles as assault weapons.
The headline is a bit misleading.
There were, in fact, a very large number of gun control bills passed and sent to Brown for signature. And of all those bills, he actually signed into law a significant number of them. Nonetheless, he did veto some of the more egregious ones (SB 374, AB 169, SB 567, SB 299) - and vetoing SB 374 is reason alone for significant relief (at least, until the bastards try again next year).
The ordeal began on the first day of school last fall. The family had just moved to a new neighborhood and their son began his senior year at a new school, Chaparral High, in the Temecula Valley Unified School District. Their son rarely made friends; so his mom was thrilled when he announced that he had made a new friend in art class on the first day of school.
"We were so excited. I told him he should ask his friend to come over for pizza and play video games," says Catherine Snodgrass, "but his new friend always had an excuse."
His new friend, who went under the name of Daniel Briggs, was known as “Deputy Dan” to many students because it was so apparent to them that he was an undercover officer. However, to their son whose disabilities make it hard for him to gauge social cues, Dan was his only real friend.
Dan reportedly sent 60 text messages to their son begging for drugs. The pressure to buy drugs was too much for the autistic teen - he began physically harming himself.
He finally agreed to buy Dan the pot. Dan give him twenty dollars and it took him three weeks to buy a half joint of pot off a homeless man downtown. This happened twice. When Dan asked a third time, their son refused and Dan cut off all communication.
"Our son was pretty broken up about that and he was back to having zero friends," says Doug Snodgrass.
On December 11, 2012 armed police officers walked into their son’s classroom and arrested him in front of his peers. He was taken to the juvenile detention center, along with the 21 other arrestees, where he was kept for 48 hours. First hand reports claim that the juvenile center was caught off guard by the large number of arrests and that some youths had to sleep on the floor, using toilet paper as pillows.
Their son was also expelled from high school.
Yup. This is definitely what cops should be doing instead of solving murders.
As reported by Nick Hankoff at the California Tenth Amendment Center today, AB351, the California Liberty Preservation Act has been signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown:
Assembly Bill 351, commonly called the California Liberty Preservation Act, has been signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown making it statewide policy to refuse compliance with federal attempts to enforce “indefinite detention” made famous by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA). What began as a marginal issue with little legislative support has unified Californians of all persuasions and brought attention to the proper role the people and their states play in a constitutional republic.
AB351 now makes it state policy to reject “indefinite detention” powers from the federal government. It reads, in part:
It is the policy of this state to refuse to provide material support for or to participate in any way with the implementation within this state of any federal law that purports to authorize indefinite detention of a person within California. [emphasis added]
This language of AB351 goes far beyond what has been considered in most other states, which focus solely on indefinite detention powers under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and nothing else. Donnelly’s legislation broadened the scope by recognizing that indefinite detention should not be complied with no matter what federal law is used to justify it. Donnelly confirmed this broad scope, “AB351 will prevent California from implementing indefinite detention for any reason.”
This can make a HUGE dent in any federal effort to detain without due process in California. As Judge Andrew Napolitano has said recently, such widespread noncompliance can make a federal law “nearly impossible to enforce” (video here). Quite simply, the federal government is going to have an extremely difficult time – at best – carrying out indefinite detention in California without the assistance of California.
This is awkward. California politicians actually trying to curb the stomping of rights? I mean, the NDAA’s indefinite detention is pretty egregious, and from what I understand the law doesn’t require the state government to actively prevent the federal government from extracting a resident for the purposes of indefinite detention, but still… it’s a very uncharacteristic move from the low-level fascists who feign to rule over us in this state. Good.
And we can also add this to the growing list of ways nullification is used by those who openly disdain nullification.
Three federal judges overseeing California’s prison system granted the state a four-week extension to get the prison population down to 137.5% capacity. In 2011, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Brown v Plata that the “court-mandated population limit is necessary to remedy the violation of prisoners’ constitutional rights.” In the two years since the ruling, California has scrambled to figure out how to reduce the prison population from a high of 144,000 to a constitutionally acceptable figure of approximately 110,000 inmates. The prison population is currently around 120,000, not including over 8,500 in out-of-state contracted facilities or thousands of others working in fire camps. California now has until the end of January 2014 to meet the court order.
They could start by releasing everyone in prison for non-violent drug possession. Ending the war on drugs, “three strikes” laws, and mandatory minimums would certainly get the ball rolling.
But that presumes that (1) the rights of citizens and (2) saving taxpayer money are actual concerns. In truth, like all government action, the injustice system is catered to extend power and wealth to the state and its cronies. There are too many people getting rich off the system for change to be easy. Sure enough:
Instead of talking about sensible sentencing reform, California approved a $300 million spending bill to authorize the expansion of contract beds in and out-of-state to ease overcrowding.
You can always count on them to spin things in their favor. As with all failed government programs and policies - the solution is always to throw more money at it. Like Obama’s then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”