|The London Plague Pits|
Q: What happens if the proposed sewer rate increase is not approved? (Facebook - City of Sierra Madre link): A: Quite simply, the City’s ability to maintain its sewer system in safe working condition will be jeopardized. Once Sewer Fund reserves are depleted, operating costs will have to be reduced. This will be possible only through staffing reductions. Sewer cleaning and inspection frequencies will decrease, with a corresponding increase in the risk of sewer overflows.
Absent adequate sewer maintenance staff, it would be possible to contract for annual sewer cleaning and inspection. However, emergency response times could increase greatly if the City was to rely upon a contractor for this service. Longer response times would cause the impact of sewer spills to increase, along with cleanup costs and the risk of State enforcement action.
All public sewer overflows must be reported to the State Water Quality Control Board. The Board can issue fines to public agencies for sewage spills, particularly when the Board finds that inadequate sewer maintenance or delayed/insufficient response were contributors to an overflow, or a factor that increased the impact of an overflow. Fines of $27,500 per day or greater may be assessed by the Board. In some instances fines have exceeded $1,000,000. In fact, such fines have been imposed on local agencies.
(Mod: So there you go. Quite simply you either approve raising sewer rates by 100%, or the streets will fill with sewage, large yellow fanged Norwegian rats will descend upon the town carrying bubonic plague, and everyone will die a horrible death. That is, all of us except that guy with the donkey cart who cries, "Bring out your dead!" You know, like in that Monty Python movie.)
Sorry Facebook: Young Teens Are Getting Bored (PaperBlog.com link): After having defended itself against multiple studies and columns proposing that teenagers don’t find Facebook cool anymore; Facebook chief financial officer David Ebersman finally admitted on Wednesday that “We did see a decrease in daily users, especially younger teens” during Facebook’s third-quarter earning conference call. However he underlines the fact that Facebook usage among overall US teens is stable.
On many previous occasions, CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied the allegations that the company has a problem with the teen market, but Facebook is preparing to limit ads as younger teens use the site less. Shortly after Ebersman’s admission, accompanied with other bits from the call, FB shares are slightly lower in after-hours trading.
(Mod: I think this is because the City of Sierra Madre has a Facebook page, and they are running stories there about sewage spills. Sewer Tweets could also be a problem for young people.)
Athens teen dislikes getting out of bed (OnlineAthens.com link): A 14-year-old boy was arrested Monday morning after he fought with his mother over his refusal to get out of bed for school, Athens-Clarke police said.
The boy’s mother told police that her son had been tardy more than 30 times already this year because of his reluctance to get out of bed.
When he would not get up Monday morning, the mother said she threatened to throw water on him, and he responded by saying that if she did he would tear up their home, according to police.
The woman did splash water on him, at which time the boy punched a window and threw household items, including a large vase and a wall mirror, which shattered, police said.
An official with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice told officers to charge with boy as an unruly child and with criminal damage to property, police said, and also to bring him to the Athens-Clarke County Courthouse so that he could be held for a detention hearing that afternoon in juvenile court.
(Mod: It was later revealed that the reason this troubled youth would not get out of bed was because he couldn't face yet another day of receiving Sewer Tweets, or reading about sewage spills on Facebook.)
74% of Americans Want to Audit the Federal Reserve (Independent Voter News link): The latest poll from Rasmussen shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans want to audit the Federal Reserve. The movement to audit the Fed was born out of the libertarian faction of the Republican Party when Ron Paul ran on the issue of “End the Fed” in his 2008 presidential bid.
His son, Rand Paul, has taken up the cause and has won the support of representatives, and Americans, from all sides of the political spectrum, including Bernie Sanders. And now, most Americans are joining them.
Americans still overwhelmingly favor a public audit of the Federal Reserve, perhaps in part because a sizable number think the Fed chairman has too much power over the economy.
(Mod: We once tried to get a forensic audit of City Hall, but City Hall stopped it. I thought it would have been a good way to find out how exactly the Phantom of the Bonds crowd quickly turned a $6 million dollar bond sale into $15 million dollars in public debt. A question yet to be answered.)
Including Cost Of Living, State Tops Poverty List (UT-San Diego link): The Golden State continues to have the nation’s highest rate of poverty when cost of living is factored in, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday.
The bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure shows that 23.8 percent of California residents were living in poverty in 2012. In contrast, the official poverty rate for the state last year was 16.5 percent.
California has ranked first on the supplemental list since 2011, when the census began providing the alternate gauge. Some organizations have for years complained that the official rate is misleading because it underestimates the number of poor people in states with a high cost of living.
The debate is significant because the federal government uses poverty figures to determine how much funding should go to each state for a wide range of programs.
(Mod: Now that is certainly counterintuitive. We live in California, a state that is completely governed by the Democratic Party. A bunch that just can't seem to tell us enough about how deeply and profoundly they care for the world's downtrodden. Then again, maybe that is why we have so many poor people here. The Democrats need more of them to love.)
Republican States Receive the Most Federal Welfare (Independent Voter News link): It’s time we have an honest discussion about what different states give to the federal government and receive in return. We talk a lot about social welfare, but we don’t talk about the federal welfare that transfers money from one state to another.
Is it fair that some states give the federal government much more than they receive in return, and then we are asked to compare the fiscal responsibility of these states as if there is an even playing field? Many “red states” beat their chest as being fiscally conservative. Proud of their low income tax, business friendly environment, and self-reliance rhetoric.
But is it fair? California, a “blue state,” gets just $.80 back for every $1 they put in. New York, even worse. They get less than $.75 on their dollar.
Whose going to start calling out the hypocrisy of some of the red states who point fingers at states like California and New York as the problem? These states want self-reliance? On what? California and New York’s goodwill?
This isn’t something Democrats should be proud of. Their leaders are the one’s sitting there while their citizens get the short end of the stick.
Not something Republicans should be proud of either. Kinda hard to be the fiscal conservative when you ask Uncle Sam to pay your bills.
(Mod: Oh dear. So our very caring Democratic California is the home to the most poor people, but those rugged stand on your own two feet Red States types get the most welfare out of Uncle Sugar? That just makes so little sense to me. OK, then again maybe it does. It also makes this next story inevitable.)
Growing Number of Americans Leaving Political Parties (Independent Voter News link): It’s no secret that the average American is fed up with Washington DC and the state of our political dialogue. As evidenced by congressional approval ratings at an all-time low, hovering around 10 percent, the representative government we have built in this country has slowly drifted away from the very democratic principles we champion all over the world.
Angst among the electorate has surfaced most dramatically in the form of ‘Tea Parties’ and ‘Occupations,’ generally considered “right-wing” and “left-wing” ideological movements. In each of these cases, the movements were quickly absorbed and exploited by the partisan factions for their own political agenda. Regardless, there is a common grievance that defines not only these two groups, but the electorate as a whole.
Ironically, our political process now serves to amplify rather than temper the extremes. This, of course, is the exact opposite of what the framers of the Constitution sought to accomplish.
In fact, while Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton agreed on little, they would both be horrified to discover a Congress in which every resource of the institution is distributed through a binary partisan structure. It is a death of a thousand cuts.
(Mod: You need to ask yourself this - does belonging to one of the two major parties in this country make you responsible for the destructive idiocy going on in our nation's capital? The answer to that question is yes, it definitely does.)
George W. Bush to Raise Money for Group That Converts Jews to Bring About Second Coming of Christ (Mother Jones link): Next week, former President George W. Bush is scheduled to keynote a fundraiser in Irving, Texas, for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, a group that trains people in the United States, Israel, and around the world to convince Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The organization's goal: to "restore" Israel and the Jews and bring about about the second coming of Christ.
Messianic Jews have long been controversial for Jews of all major denominations, who object to their proselytizing efforts and their message that salvation by Jesus is consistent with Jewish theology. Last year, Abraham Foxman, president of the Anti-Defamation League, told Politico that former Sen. Rick Santorum's appearance at an event hosted by another Messianic Jewish organization, the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, was "insensitive and offensive."
And Commentary magazine, which bills itself as a "conservative American journal of politics, Judaism, social and cultural issues," noted, "it must be understood that the visceral distaste that the overwhelming majority of Jews have for the Messianics is not to be taken lightly." Many Messianic Jews are Christians who have adopted aspects of Jewish ritual observance; others are Jews who share the Christian belief that Jesus is the Messiah.
Asked about Bush's upcoming appearance at the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (MJBI) event, Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said, "It's disappointing that he would give his stamp of approval to a group whose program is an express effort to convert Jews and not to accept the validity of the Jewish covenant."
(Mod: And to think that this guy had the power to fulfill most New Testament prophecy at his fingertips for eight years.)
First Whig, Robert Bucholz, elected in Philadelphia in nearly 160 years (New York Daily News link): Philadelphia must be whigging out. The City of Brotherly Love voted in its first member of the Whig Party in nearly 160 years Tuesday, as residents of the Rhawnhurst neighborhood chose Robert Bucholz as their judge of election for the 5th Division in the 56th Ward.
Bucholz, who received 36 votes, beat out Democrat Loretta Probasco, who got 24 votes, according to Philly.com.
Bucholz, an engineer, reportedly began identifying as a Modern Whig about three years ago. "As neither a Republican nor Democrat, in a city with a reputation for electoral dishonesty, I am an honest broker in administering elections," Bucholz wrote Wednesday in an email to Philly.com.
"The political tone turned nastier and I didn't identify with either Republicans or Democrats," Bucholz said. "The time for a third party that can broker consensus is long overdue.”
The Whig Party was founded in the U.S. in 1833 to counter the policies of Democratic President Andrew Jackson.
(Mod: Do we have any Whigs in Sierra Madre? Hopefully they will want to run someone for City Council next April. You know, if only to help us clean up all that sewage.)
OK, that's it for today.