|Joe's endorsement is in!|
Tyrone Hampton Wins California School Employees Association Endorsement: Dear PUSD School Board Candidates, Thank you for participating in the School Board Candidates forum hosted by employee unions of the Pasadena Unified School District on January 31, 2013 at Blair High School. I would like to inform you at this time that CSEA, Pasadena Chapter #434 has decided to endorse Board Candidates Dean Cooper for District 1 and Tyrone Hampton for District 3.
We wish you luck in the March 5, 2013 election. Again, thank you! Rosemarie Riley, President and Michelle Bailey, Political Action Coordinator
(Mod: The District 3 PUSD Board of Ed race gets even wilder. Hampton's campaign manager has apparently gone on the warpath against any Republican who might be supporting Guillermo Arce. Arce is not a registered Republican, while apparently Hampton is. Yet Hampton, who has denied receiving the support of any unions, attended the CSEA debate and did receive their endorsement! Hampton, in the spirit of mixing oil and water, is also actively campaigning for the support of TEAPAC. This despite his CSEA support, which is anathema in those circles. More as it becomes available.)
Southern California school board member convicted of running sex ring (Daily Caller - click here): Pimpin’ ain’t easy, man, as Ice-T, The Notorious B.I.G. and a number of other celebrated rappers have incisively counseled for years. However, Moreno Valley school board member Mike Rios had to learn this wisdom the hard way.
On Friday, a jury in Riverside, California found Rios, 42, guilty on almost two dozen felony counts stemming from a prostitution operation, reports KNBC. Rios managed the venture out of his home in neighboring Moreno Valley.
The litany of charges against the school board member included rape, pimping, pandering and insurance fraud. Two of the prostitutes involved were underage girls.
(Mod: It is always important to cast an informed vote.)
Joel Kotkin: In California, don't bash the 'burbs (Orange County Register - click here): For the past century, California, particularly Southern California, nurtured and invented the suburban dream. The sun-drenched single-family house, often with a pool, on a tree-lined street was an image lovingly projected by television and the movies. Places like the San Fernando Valley – actual home to the "Brady Bunch" and scores of other TV family sitcoms – became, in author Kevin Roderick's phrase, "America's suburb."
This dream, even a modernized, multicultural version of it, now is passé to California's governing class. Even in his first administration, 1975-83, Gov. Jerry Brown disdained suburbs, promoting a city-first, pro-density policy. His feelings hardened during eight years (1999-2007) as mayor of Oakland, a city that, since he left, has fallen on hard times, although it has been treated with some love recently in the blue media.
As state attorney general (2007-11) Brown took advantage of the state's 2006 climate change legislation to move against suburban growth everywhere from Pleasanton to San Bernardino. Now back as governor, he can give full rein to his determination to limit access to the old California dream, curbing suburbia and forcing more of us and, even more so our successors, into small apartments nearby bus and rail stops. His successor as attorney general, former San Francisco D.A. Kamala Harris, is, if anything, more theologically committed to curbing suburban growth.
Sadly, much of the state's development "community" has enlisted itself into the densification jihad. An influential recent report from the Urban Land Institute, for example, sees a "new California dream," which predicts huge growth in high-density development based on underlying demographic trends – like shifts in housing tastes among millennials or empty-nesters rushing to downtown condos.
Yet it's not enough for the planners, and their developer allies, to watch the market shift and take advantage of it. That would be both logical and justified. But the planning clerisy are not content to leave suburbia die; it must, instead, be cauterized and prevented, like some plague, from spreading.
Ironically, it turns out that the "new California dream" is more widely shared by planners and rent-seeking developers than by the consuming public. During the past decade, when pro-density sentiment has supposedly building, some 80 percent of the new construction in the state was single-family, a rate slightly above the national average. Over time, Californians continue to buy single-family houses, mostly in the suburban and exurban periphery. They do it because they are like most Americans, roughly four of five of whom prefer single-family houses, preferably closer to work but, if that proves unaffordable, further out.
(Mod: This is an issue we have been discussing on The Tattler ever since it started. Good to see the rest of the world is beginning to catch up.)
Report blasts cell phone taxes and fees (Business Journal - click here): Feel like you’re paying an unfair amount of taxes on your cell phone bill? A new study agrees. U.S. wireless consumers pay an average of more than 17 percent in taxes and fees on their cell phone bill, including more than 11 percent in state and local charges, according to the analysis by the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C. - based nonpartisan research group.
In Nebraska, the combined federal-state-local average rate is nearly 24.5 percent, and in six other states it eclipses 20 percent. Wisconsin consumers don’t have it nearly as bad, with a combined rate of 13 percent, ranked 42nd in the nation, the report found.
“Accessing new sources of information on our mobile devices may be getting easier, but paying cell phone taxes is not,” said Joseph Henchman, Tax Foundation vice president for legal and state projects, in a written statement. “State and local governments should not single out one product for stealth tax increases as they are doing with wireless services.”
Cell phones are taxed at a much higher level than other consumer items, even as much or more than alcohol or cigarettes, the report said. The highest sales tax in the country, using combined state and average local rates, is 9.43 percent in Tennessee. But the highest state and local tax rates for cell phone service are almost double that, the report said.
“Scholars from across the political spectrum have criticized telecom taxes as burdensome, regressive and stifling consumer choice,” said Tax Foundation economist Scott Drenkard. “In response to this problem, legislation entitled the Wireless Tax Fairness Act, which would restrict excessive state and local wireless taxes, has been regularly introduced in Congress.”
(This is particularly good news for Sierra Madre as the majority faction of our City Council has announced its intention to raise our cell phone utility tax rate to 12%, the highest in California. Rates in Sierra Madre are so high that some residents have now begun to register their cell phones at their places of work.)
Who dat at the Super Bowl? Lobbyists and California lawmaker (Sacramento Bee - click here): No matter that the 49ers lost - the Super Bowl was still a $60,000 win for the California Democratic Party. That's how much the party netted from an exclusive fundraising event in which a handful of Sacramento lobbyists spent Super Bowl weekend in New Orleans with a powerful state senator. The experience included a private plane ride across the country with Sen. Kevin de León, lodging with him in a French Quarter vacation home and tickets to the hottest football game of the year.
Organizers would not say who attended or how much they paid, but three Capitol advocates were with the group - Dustin Corcoran, chief executive officer of the California Medical Association; Scott Wetch, a lobbyist representing unions, insurance companies and health care groups; and Scott Govenar, a lobbyist representing finance interests and one Indian tribe.
Govenar and Wetch said they were there, but declined to comment further. Jason Kinney, a communications consultant for the Senate Democratic caucus who organized and attended the fundraiser, would not confirm or deny the names of attendees. Corcoran did not respond to requests for comment.
De León, a Los Angeles Democrat, chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee - a position that allows him huge influence over which bills get a vote by the full house. He said the weekend was not about work.
"We didn't talk about any issues whatsoever. It was all about the Super Bowl," de León said. "The same laws apply over there. Whether it's in Louisiana or here, you can't sit down at a fundraiser and engage in policy matters."
(Mod: Oh, I'm sure.)
S.F.'s plastic ban may be unhealthy (San Francisco Chronicle - click here): San Francisco passed America's "first-in-the-nation" ban on plastic bags in chain grocery stores and drugstores in 2007. In a research paper for the Wharton School Institute for Law and Economics, law professors Jonathan Klick and Joshua Wright crunched state and federal data on emergency room admissions and food-borne-illness deaths and figured that the San Francisco ban "led to an increase in infections immediately upon implementation."
They found a 46 percent rise in food-borne-illness deaths. The bottom line: "Our results suggest that the San Francisco ban led to, conservatively, 5.4 annual additional deaths."
Is San Francisco's bag ban a killer? Conceivably, yes, but probably not.
Intuitively, the Wharton findings make sense. The city's anti-bag laws are designed to drive consumers to reusable bags. Consumer advice types warn people about the dangers of said bags becoming germ incubators. I got this from the TLC website:
"Designate specific bags for meats and fish. Wash these bags regularly - preferably after each shopping trip - to get rid of bacteria. If your bag is fabric, toss it in the washing machine with jeans, and if it's a plastic material, let it soak in a basin filled with soapy water and either the juice of half a lemon or about a quarter cup of vinegar."
San Francisco health officer Tomás Aragón reviewed the Wharton paper and found "a biologically plausible hypothesis" but "sloppy" research. "It's a complicated topic. It's a little surprising that he would put this out there without a peer review," he added. If the professors had consulted with an epidemiologist, they would have understood how the city's unique demographics contribute to specific intestinal issues. (Unlike Aragón, I'm trying to be delicate here and not share too much information.) In short, the doctor concluded that the study raised more questions than it answered.
Dave Heylen of the California Grocers Association ripped the study for not understanding something really basic about how the San Francisco bag ban worked at first. "People weren't using reusable bags, they were using paper bags," Heylen said.
Be it noted, the grocers have supported proposals for a statewide ban on plastic bags - which would require supermarkets to charge for single-use bags - because they provide what the sponsor of Sacramento's latest effort, Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, calls "uniformity of experience" for shoppers and store owners. (It also means big stores can charge for bags and blame the government.)
Mayor Ed Lee's office said the mayor will look into the health consequences of the city's now-tougher bag laws if Aragón so recommends. That doesn't seem likely. Likewise, Levine didn't sound particularly concerned.
Maybe they should be. More than 60 California communities have bag bans, which means more Californians are using reusable bags. Most families probably aren't washing them. And that's not healthy.
California politicians didn't even bother studying the possible health effects of their anti-bag laws. They were in such a hurry to tell their constituents what's best for them, they forgot to check how their busybody scheme might go wrong.
(Mod: I have discovered that if you order take out that is delivered to your home, it comes in plastic bags rather than cloth.)
Amish leader gets 15-years in Ohio beard-cutting assault trial (Examiner.com - click here): An Amish leader and fifteen others were sentenced to prison Friday after they attacked other Amish folk by cutting their beards and hair and filming the attacks, according to a Feb.8, 2013 press release from the US Attorney’s Office of Northern Ohio.
Samuel Mullet Sr., 67, is the accused ringleader of the operation that spread fear through the Amish community of Ohio after he organized a series of assaults which has led to him being convicted of hate crimes.
Samuel Mullet Sr. is the Bishop of the Amish community in Bergholz, utilizing his position to take the wives of community members into his home, as well as using corporal punishment to discipline members.
Mullet organized assaults against others Ohio Amish members and perceived religious enemies, often filming and taking photographs of the attacks, as they held down men and women of the community and shaved their beards and hair. The weapons of choice were scissors and battery-powered trimmers.
(Mod: Anybody take note that the perpetrator of this crime against hair is named Mullet?)
Chinese world worries that Year of Snake may bite (Associated Press - click here): As Indiana Jones might say: Why did it have to be the Year of the Snake?
When the Chinese-speaking world ushers in its new year on Sunday, its 12-year zodiac will turn from the dragon to one of the world's most despised animals. As undeserved as the snake's reputation might be, its last two years did not go so well: 2001 was the year of the Sept. 11 attacks and 1989 was when Chinese forces crushed pro-democracy protests around Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
Some wonder if this one also could hold bad tidings. "In Chinese mythology, snakes were often associated with monsters, or with incarnations of monsters, so some political turbulence can be expected," said Taiwanese astrologer Tsai Shang-chi.
Chinese New Year remains the most important festival in the region, a weeklong round of family reunions, temple visits and gastronomic excess. It is Mardi Gras, Christmas and the Fourth of July rolled into one, marked by the clacking of mahjong tiles and explosions of firecrackers. With businesses and markets hermetically closed, it brings a rare calm to the otherwise frenetic pace of what is arguably the world's most dynamic economic region.
In China, some couples have apparently been trying to schedule their pregnancies to avoid having children born during the snake year, in contrast to the coveted Year of the Dragon. In Beijing, a manager with the government office that arranges appointments with obstetricians said there was a noticeable drop in appointment requests compared to those received as the Year of the Dragon approached, though she offered no firm statistics. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the press.
(Mod: I for one plan on being extremely cautious over the next 12 months. My advice is that you should do the same.)
Enjoy what is left of your weekend. Avoid snakes, unwashed reusable grocery bags, "smart growth" developers, pimps and Amish zealots armed with scissors. I know, it is a lot to keep track of.