Scare tactics - and scary protests over Prop 30 - and some school based advocacy may be illegal (Pasadena Star News): When Elizabeth Zamora received a letter from Cal State Dominguez Hills stating that her application for the fall semester was on hold pending the outcome of Proposition 30, the prospective student said she was shocked. "It's scary to think I won't be able to get into a four-year university next year," said Zamora, who is currently attending Cerritos College. "I felt like I wanted to vote for Prop. 30, but seeing that letter made me want to vote for it even more."
From sending letters to prospective college students to using automated phone calls reminding parents to vote, education officials are pushing harder than ever for the passage of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative. With less than two weeks before the Nov. 6 elections, officials have been stressing the potentially devastating impacts on public education if the measure fails. But some critics call these methods scare tactics and in at least one case say the educators' efforts violated election laws.
This month, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, an anti-tax group and major opponent of Prop. 30, filed a lawsuit against Cal State Monterey Bay over an email sent by a professor urging students to support the measure.
(Mod: We reported something along these lines Thursday with the since retracted attempt by certain elements at Sierra Madre Elementary School to use 3rd graders in a Prop 30 demonstration. A post, by the way, that has now received 142 comments and just under 5,000 hits. In case you ever thought people are not concerned about the state of our public schools, or some of the shenanigans of those running them. Whoever that might be.)
French MEP feeds foie gras furor (Lexology): French MEP Francoise Castex has reportedly condemned California’s statewide ban on the production and sale of any product that is “the result of force-feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging its liver beyond normal size,” calling the prohibition on foie gras “a battle for Europe.” After a recent attempt by producers to enjoin the 2004 law failed in federal court, Castex convened a news conference in European Parliament where she eviscerated the legislation as “very negative” and a violation of international trade rules. “There are five member states where foie gras is produced, not just France,” she said, referring to Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Spain.
According to Castex, the foie gras sector comprises 30 percent of the local economy in her own region of France, which has already hired an attorney to represent the country in a legal challenge to the United States. Her remarks also drew support from French Junior Minister for the Food Industry Guillaume Garot, who described the delicacy as “a cornerstone” of French cuisine and the generator of 35,000 jobs. “It’s a bad idea that is not going to do anything,” he was quoted as saying. “We are talking about a whole food system that is really in trouble… I am here today to defend this industry and the jobs it supports. We badly need these jobs, particularly at the current time.”
(Mod: Whoever our next president might be, I would hope that person would steer us clear of a war with France over fattened goose livers.)
Steven Greenhut: Other feel wrath of police unions - Most council members don't have the courage or resources to stand up to their employee unions (Orange County Register): Many people were outraged this summer after a private investigator, with ties to a law firm that represents 120 police unions in California, made an apparently false police report that a Costa Mesa councilman stumbled out of a bar, appearing drunk, and was weaving all over the road as he drove home.
When police showed up at his door, Councilman Jim Righeimer was found stone cold sober. The clear goal of the phony call was to embarrass a lawmaker who had been leading the charge in his city for public employee pension reform, outsourcing services and other cost-saving measures. Subsequently, officials in other cities revealed similarly disturbing tactics from their police unions. And, despite the revelations, police unions continue to behave as before, trying to intimidate council members who refuse to go along with their demands for ever-higher pay and benefits, and protections for their members from oversight and accountability.
Two councilmen in Fullerton, Bruce Whitaker and Travis Kiger, are experiencing treatment similar to the Righeimer episode in Costa Mesa. The Fullerton police union is angry at the role those men played in demanding reform in the wake of the death of Kelly Thomas, a schizophrenic homeless man fatally beaten by Fullerton officers in July 2011. The unions also dislike Whitaker and Kiger's call for pension reform, their consideration of a plan – common in Orange County and elsewhere – to shift police services from the city's Police Department to the more cost-efficient Orange County Sheriff's Department.
The private eye mentioned above had ties to the Upland law firm Lackie, Dammeier and McGill. The Register had reported on the negotiating "playbook" the lawyers had published on their website until the bad publicity resulting from the Righeimer episode. The playbook detailed how police unions should bully elected officials into submitting to their demands.
(Mod: As all attentive Tattler readers know, Lackie, Dammeier and McGill is the same law firm that controls and runs Sierra Madre's POA. And apparently at least one of our City Council members as well. John Harabedian's demand for a so-called "Public Safety Master Plan," a boondoggle that could end up costing the taxpayers $10s of thousands of dollars in consultant fees, can be seen as a direct result of the kinds of coercive tactics being employed by the SMPOA's law firm.)
California Greenhouse Gas Law Faces Challenge (Transportation Nation): The future of California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law is being called into question. Implementation of the law was delayed earlier this year by a U.S. District Court judge in Fresno, who ruled that the regulations violate the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. A three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from both sides of the debate last week.
At issue is the “Low Carbon Standard”—regulations that require fuel producers to meet California’s emissions standards, or pay a penalty in the state’s cap and trade system. Fuel, farm and trucking industry lawyers argue that the law violates the federal commerce clause because the law reaches across state borders, effectively favoring California-based producers over out-of-state competitors, whose fuel may not meet the state’s strict emission requirements.
The California Air Resources Board, the agency responsible for implementing the regulations, says the law is intended to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990s levels by the year 2020. Lawyers representing the state and environmental groups argue that the California law is the only way to reach these goals.
Sean Donahue, an Environmental Defense Fund attorney who presented oral arguments to the appeals court, said that at its core, the law is about regulating greenhouse gas emissions by focusing on the entire life cycle of the fuel. “It’s not based on where the fuel is from, but is based on the effect on the climate,” Donahue said. Peter Keisler, a fuel industry attorney, told the court, “Even if there is no discrimination, you still have a regulatory scheme whose purpose is to penalize imports, to penalize out-of-state conduct in an effort to control in-state emissions.”
The three-judge panel asked tough questions during the appeal, including a focus on language in the law that seemed to point to favoring California employment and tax revenues. “Isn’t this unambiguous evidence that the board was motivated by protectionism?” asked 9th Circuit Court Judge Mary Murguia.
(Mod: Somebody call the Green Committee. The sky is falling.)
Editorial pages united on Prop 37, voters divided (Orange County Register): The editorial pages of the state's nine biggest daily papers run the political gamut, but there's a single ballot measure that all agree should be defeated: Proposition 37, the proposed labeling of genetically engineered food.
"This measure is an example of why some public policy – no matter how well intentioned and benign sounding – should not be decided at the ballot box," wrote the San Francisco Chronicle. "Prop. 37 is fraught with vague and problematic provisions that could make it costly for consumers and a legal nightmare for those who grow, process or sell food."
That thinking seems to be growing more common among voters, whom polls show are becoming less supportive of the measure as they get more familiar with it. A new USC/ L.A. Times poll found 44 percent of voters supported it, 42 percent opposed it and 13 percent were undecided. That's a dramatic drop from a month ago, when the poll found 61 percent of voters supported it.
Support remains strong among Democrats. An OC Political Pulse survey of 80 Democrats found 69 percent favored the measure, including 32 percent who acknowledged it was flawed but said it was better than nothing. An additional 15 percent like the idea, but were voting against it because it was poorly written.
Among the 156 Republican respondents, just 7 percent favored the measure. Sixty-three percent said, flat out, it was a bad idea, and 24 percent said the idea had merits but was too poorly written to support.
(Mod: The last time we checked in on Prop 37 it was leading in the polls by about 25 points and seemed well on the way to a huge victory. That was before the big money folks began their campaign against it. Personally, I also blame the endorsement it received from the Mountain Views News.)
Young Millennials - Fiscal Conservatives? (Sacramento Bee): This generation of young Americans has been called many things, from civic-minded to "entitled." But fiscally conservative? That's a new one, and it just might have an impact on the presidential election. Listen to Caroline Winsett, a senior at DePaul University, who considers herself fairly socially liberal but says being fiscally conservative matters most right now. "Ultimately, I'm voting with my pocketbook," says Winsett, a 22-year-old political science major who's president of the DePaul student body. She recently cast an absentee ballot for Republican Mitt Romney in her home state of Tennessee.
To be clear, polls show that President Barack Obama remains the favorite among 18- to 29-year-old registered voters, as he was in 2008. No one thinks the majority of young voters will support Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, in the Nov. 6 election. But the polls also hint at a "schism" between those who weren't old enough to vote in 2008 and their older twenty-something counterparts, says John Della Volpe, the polling director at Harvard University's Institute of Politics.
In one poll, for instance, he found that 42 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds identified as "conservative," compared with just over one-third who said they were "liberal." By comparison, those proportions were nearly flipped for 22- to 24-year-olds: 39 percent said they were "liberal," and a third called themselves "conservative." It was much the same for older twenty-somethings.
Tina Wells, head of Buzz Marketing, an agency that tracks the attitudes of young people, has noticed this shift to the right. Her own researchers have found that the youngest adults are much more likely to label themselves "conservative," "moderate" or "independent" than older millennials, a term for young adults who've entered adulthood in the new millennium.
(Mod: You mean to say the little ingrates are going to be unwilling to support us in our golden years? That settles it, no jobs for any of them.)
The staff here at the Sierra Madre Tattler hopes that you will enjoy the rest of your day off.