"The Romans referred to the dog days as "dies caniculares" and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the "Dog Star" because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog) ... The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as sunrise, which is no longer true, owing to precession of the equinoxes. The Romans sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather."
As hot as it has been, I have heard no talk of animal sacrifice being agendized for Tuesday evening's City Council meeting. Which likely means we are in for a few more weeks of very hot weather. Of course, it is August, and it usually does get hot. And did long before the people of our time began to believe it is an omen of the coming end of the world. Or at least the participation of homo sapiens in it.
Anyway, here are some news stories carefully selected by The Tattler staff for your review. This first one should resonate with anyone living here in Ticket Town.
Steven Greenhut: 'Policing for profit' on the rise (Orange County Register - click here): We've all become accustomed to police increasing their ticket writing- to backfill their budgets - but asset forfeiture takes the profiteering to a new and disturbing level.
If one peruses court documents, one will find lawsuits with names such as "The People v. One 1999 Buick." In criminal proceedings, the government must prove wrongdoing beyond a reasonable doubt before gaining the power to incarcerate an accused person. But local governments realize that, under civil forfeiture laws, they can seize houses, cars and cash based on a low standard of evidence.
If, for instance, your neighbor borrowed your green Buick and was driving it when he sold some marijuana to an undercover agent, the law enforcement agency might seize the car. The owner might not have done anything wrong, but the car was, indeed, used in the commission of a crime.
Activists point to instances where the government has become more creative in pursing assets - homes, cars, bank accounts - based on minor violations of the ever-expanding criminal code. One organization points to the case where the government tried to seize the tractor of a farmer accused of running over an endangered rat. As the number of regulatory crimes grows, the cases in which the government can seizes assets grows along with it.
(Mod: Anyone have any idea how much property - if any - has been seized in this way here in Sierra Madre?)
Some local chambers of commerce struggle to stay open (Pasadena Star News - click here): Faced with declining revenues in a still struggling economy, some San Gabriel Valley Chambers of Commerce are doing all they can to avoid closing their doors.
The Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce has announced that it laid off its executive director of four years, Bill Coburn, and is becoming an "all-volunteer organization." Last year, it eliminated its administrative assistant position and moved into a smaller office.
The Sierra Madre Chamber has long relied on its single event, the annual Wistaria Festival, which has generated about 75 percent of its operations revenue, Chamber President Ed Chen said. In the last two years, however, rain dramatically reduced attendance at the celebration of the 117-year-old mammoth vine.
(Mod: Though this is not widely spoken of in town, the lack of rain at the last two Wistaria events was brought about by an angry great spirit that watches over and protects Sierra Madre. The Chamber's at times vociferous advocacy of stack and pack high-density development in town got to be a bit too much, and they needed to be put down. The skies opened.)
Fullerton may consider disbanding Police Department (Los Angeles Times - click here): A year after a mentally ill homeless man was beaten by police officers and later died, Fullerton leaders are expected to launch a study that would set the wheels in motion to disband the city's 104-year-old Police Department.
The City Council is slated Tuesday to decide whether to order a preliminary analysis on letting the Orange County Sheriff's Department patrol the city, one of the oldest in the county.
Fullerton has been buffeted by controversy and political upheaval since the death of Kelly Thomas last summer. Two officers have been charged in his death, the police chief has left, three officers quit the force in the face of termination proceedings and three of the five council members were recalled in a June election.
Fullerton Councilman Bruce Whitaker, a sharp critic of how the police handled the violent encounter with Thomas, said that although the department needs to be examined, the driving force behind potentially contracting out police services is the $37 million required to operate the 144-officer department.
"The intent here is to find out how much money could be saved and what level of service would be offered," Whitaker said. "We're spending a large amount per capita, and I suspect they can outline some savings."
(Mod: In the end any such decision, and by any city, should be based on economics. When Sierra Madre did a similar study a couple of years back, the estimate was we'd save $1 million per year. Something that many here might find preferable to a 12% UUT. The next UUT vote could very well become a referendum on the litigious SMPD.)
Dan Walters: Censorship rears its ugly head in California Senate (The Sacramento Bee - click here): Let's not mince words about what the State Senate's Democratic leaders did Wednesday. It was self-serving censorship, the sort of thing that one expects from tinpot dictators, not from those who fancy themselves to be progressive civil libetarians.
Someone acting for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg suddenly cut off cable television access to a legislative hearing to air facts and arguments about pending ballot measures.
The Senate Governance and Finance Committee called the hearing - as required by law - into three tax increases (Propositions 30, 38 and 39) and altering the state's budgetary procedures (Proposition 31).
As it opened the committee's chairwoman, Democrat Lois Wold, said she hoped that the testimony would help the voters make reasoned decisions about the highly controversial measures. But only the few people in the hearing room and those technologically savvy enough to tune into an Internet audio feed heard Wolk's words.
Just before the hearing was to be telecast on the California Channel, a public affairs channel carried on most cable systems, somebody from the Senate told Cal Channel to cut it off.
(Mod: First they curtailed the Brown Act, now they're cutting off public access to legislative hearings they don't want the public to witness. The one party state at work.)
Man allegedly calls 911 after he runs out of beer (Pasadena Star News - click here): When you're out of beer and need a ride to get some, who you gonna call? Not 911.
The Columbia Daily Herald reported city police arrested a 67-year-old man after he allegedly called emergency dispatchers at least nine times on Saturday. Most of the calls were hang-ups, but a dispatcher said that the caller did ask if someone could send him a ride so he could buy beer.
Police Officer Seneca Shield said he told Allen Troy Brooks that if he cooperated, he would just receive a citation. But authorities said Brooks denied making calls and claimed he didn't have a telephone. Brooks was arrested and charged with making 911 calls in a non-emegency situation.
I guess it all depends on what your idea of an emergency is. Particularly when the weather has been so dog gone hot. Enjoy the rest of your day off.