District Attorney: Alhambra Councilwoman Barbara Messina violated the Brown Act (Pasadena Star News - click here): The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has ruled that Councilwoman Barbara Messina violated the Brown Act when she stopped a community member from criticizing another councilmember at a meeting in October.
In a letter to the Alhambra City Council, Assistant Head Deputy of the D.A.'s Public Integrity Division Jennifer Lentz Snyder said Messina violated the state open meeting law at a council meeting just before the November election, when a member of the public attempted to make comments that were critical of Councilman Steve Placido, who was running for reelection.
As the community member, Aide Zeller, began to speak to Placido about comments he made to the press, Messina cut in, saying that members of the public cannot directly address council members other than the chair. "Because we are in an election cycle, your comments need to be directed to the chair," Messina said. "You can speak to him after the meeting."
Messina said she did not think the incident was a violation of the Brown Act because she did not tell Zeller she couldn't speak but only that she had to address her comments to Messina instead of Placido.
"It wasn't that I didn't allow her to speak, our policy has been that you don't directly talk to council people you address the chair. She got ticked off because I said she had to direct her comments to the chair and she turned around and left," Messina said. "I can't believe somebody felt the need to report that." Snyder said after investigating a complaint into the matter, the D.A.'s office ruled that Zeller should have been allowed to speak despite the council policy.
"We therefore conclude that the restriction on Ms. Zeller's comments which were critical of a member of the Council, though cloaked in the premise of a procedural rule, amounted to a content-based restriction that violated the Brown Act," Snyder said.
(Mod: Barbara Messina is also the President of the SGVCOG and one of the leaders in the fight to build the 710 Tunnel. Of course she wants to shut people up.)
New Rule On Long Island: No Booing At Riverhead Town Hall Board Votes 4-1 In Favor; Applause Remains Acceptable Form Of Expression (CBS News NY - click here): You can still boo or hiss at a basketball, baseball, or football game, but if you try it at a Riverhead town board meeting, you could be told it’s against the rules. The board voted four to one to approve the new rule at meetings saying that the public cannot make distracting sounds like booing or hissing.
Councilman James Wooten was the one vote against it. “Because I don’t really need somebody or a policy telling me how I should behave in public,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall.
What happens if you boo or hiss at a meeting? Wooten said there really is no penalty. You won’t get a ticket or anything. “That wasn’t really addressed in the legislation. They’ll probably just be told not to do that. It’s against the code,” he said.
It’s worth noting that applause is still allowed.
(Mod: Would legislating against booing at a City Council meeting be considered a Brown Act violation in California? Maybe we should call Barbara Messina and get her take.)
Los Angeles Frets After Low Turnout to Elect Mayor (The New York Times - click here): The roughly $19 million spent in the 2013 mayoral primary here made it the most expensive on record. But that is not the number that has people agog. Just 21 percent of registered voters turned out for last week’s election — the lowest rate for a primary without an incumbent since at least 1978.
The paltry showing has many here wringing their hands, wondering what has become of the city’s residents. Is there no such thing as civic engagement in this sprawling metropolis? Are municipal elections really that boring, even as the city faces serious financial problems? After many here thought the stereotype of a vapid city was buried long ago, there is a renewed sense of a civic inferiority complex.
“I am in mourning,” said Steve Soboroff, who ran for mayor in 2001 and received more votes than any of the candidates in Tuesday’s election did. “The idea that it is socially acceptable not to vote, but people talk about where they get their shoes from, is shameful. I love L.A., and I am very proud of our city, but people here need to get a grip.”
Much of the post-mortem over the primary, which sent two City Hall insiders to a May 21 runoff, has focused on the turnout. Newspaper editorials and blogs have called the numbers “pathetic,” “embarrassing” and “stunning”; one columnist said they “redefined apathy.”
(Mod: You do know that anarchists are also opposed to voting, their reason being "it only encourages them." Maybe Los Angeles, and perhaps Sierra Madre, has lots of anarchists. And look at it this way, would you want to take responsibility for, say, Eric Garcetti?)
The Reverse-Joads of California: Low and middle-income residents are fleeing the state (Wall Street Journal - click here): During the Great Depression, some 1.3 million Americans—epitomized by the Joad family in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath"—flocked to California from the heartland. To keep out the so-called Okies, the state enacted a law barring indigent migrants (the law was later declared unconstitutional). Los Angeles even set up a border patrol on the city limits. Soon the state may need to build a fence to keep latter-day Joads from leaving.
Over the past two decades, a net 3.4 million people have moved out of California for other states. But contrary to conservative lore, there has been no millionaires' march to Texas or other states with no income tax. In fact, since 2005 California has experienced a net in-migration of households earning more than $200,000, according to the U.S. Census's American Community Survey.
As it happens, most of California's outward-bound migrants are low- to middle-income, with relatively little education: those typically employed in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, hospitality and to some extent natural-resource extraction. Their median household income is about $40,000—two-thirds of the statewide median—and about 95% earn less than $80,000. Only one in 10 has a college degree, compared with 30% of California's population. Roughly 40% of the people leaving are Hispanic.
Even while California's Hispanic population has grown by more than 1.5 million since 2005, thanks to high birth rates and foreign immigration, two Hispanics have moved out for every one that has moved in from another state. By contrast, four Hispanics from other states have settled in Texas and Arizona for every three that have left.
It's not unusual for immigrants or their descendants to move in pursuit of a better life. That's the history of America. But it is ironic that many of the intended beneficiaries of California's liberal government are running for the state line—and that progressive policies appear to be what's driving them away.
For starters, zoning laws, which liberals favor to control "suburban sprawl," have constrained California's housing supply and ratcheted up prices. As Harvard public-policy professor Daniel Shoag documents in a working paper, land restrictions became common in high-income enclaves during the 1970s—coinciding with the burgeoning of California's real-estate bubble—and have increased income-based segregation and inequality.
Housing in California is on average 2.7 times more expensive than in Texas. The median house costs $459 per square foot in San Francisco and $323 in San Jose, but just $84 in Houston, according to chief economist Jed Kolko of the San-Francisco based real-estate firm Trulia . Housing in California is cheaper inland than on the coast, but good luck finding a job. The median home in Fresno costs $95 per square foot, but the unemployment rate is nearly 15%, compared with 6% in Houston.
(Mod: As one commenter put it the other day, the only reason he hadn't left the state yet is because of all the traffic jams getting to the border.)
Environmental Warning Fatigue Sets In (The New York Times - click here): Record levels of industrial smog? A dwindling number of fish in the world’s oceans? A 4° Celsius warming in global temperatures by the end of the century?
How about environmental warning fatigue?
Global concern for major environmental issues is at an all time low, according to the results of a global poll of more than 22,000 people in 22 countries, released earlier this week.
“Scientists report that evidence of environmental damage is stronger than ever — but our data shows that economic crisis and a lack of political leadership mean that the public are starting to tune out,” said Doug Miller, the chairman of GlobeScan, the company that carried out the study.
While respondents clearly still had grave environmental concerns, fewer people were “very concerned” about various environmental issues than at any point in the last 20 years. The sharpest decrease in global concern occurred over the last two years.
(Mod: I'd argue that one of the reasons people have grown weary on this topic is all the hucksterism that has come along with it. So-called solutions such as building high-density packed development in traditional downtowns as a way to curb global warming are hardly credible. Yet here in California it is the centerpiece of state legislation on the topic.)
That's enough for now. I have to go out in the morning and collect signatures.