|Be Water Wise|
California Senate offers 24-hour rides for lawmakers too drunk to drive (The Sacramento Bee link): California Senate officials earlier this year hired two part-time employees to provide late-night and early-morning rides for members while they are in Sacramento, a 24-hour service that follows high-profile drunken driving arrests involving lawmakers in recent years.
The office of Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León declined to discuss the details or rationale of the program. “We’re not going to provide comment, because it’s a security issue,” spokesman Anthony Reyes said.
Senate records show two “special services assistants” were hired Feb. 2. They work in the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Office, where their duties include providing “ground transportation for Senate members.” The employees, a retired Assembly sergeant-at-arms and a retiree from the Department of General Services, are paid $2,532 per month.
One man who turned down the job told The Sacramento Bee that Senate officials approached him earlier this year about working from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. to drive senators home upon request.
He said he was told the shifts would come only when lawmakers were in Sacramento – generally Monday through Wednesday nights when the Legislature is in session, between January and early or mid-September. The purpose, he was told, would be to give rides “just if they were drinking too much. Just pick them up and take them home.” One legislative chief of staff confirmed that the service is intended to prevent drunken driving by legislators.
(Mod: I guess it would be too much to ask the state's most entitled drunks to call a cab and pay for the ride themselves.)
L.A. labor leaders seek minimum wage exemption for firms with union workers (Los Angeles Times link): Labor leaders, who were among the strongest supporters of the citywide minimum wage increase approved last week by the Los Angeles City Council, are advocating last-minute changes to the law that could create an exemption for companies with unionized workforces.
The push to include an exception to the mandated wage increase for companies that let their employees collectively bargain was the latest unexpected detour as the city nears approval of its landmark legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.
For much of the past eight months, labor activists have argued against special considerations for business owners, such as restaurateurs, who said they would have trouble complying with the mandated pay increase.
But Rusty Hicks, who heads the county Federation of Labor and helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition, said Tuesday night that companies with workers represented by unions should have leeway to negotiate a wage below that mandated by the law.
"With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them," Hicks said in a statement. "This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing."
(Mod: So if you belong to a union in the City of Los Angeles you are now entitled to make less than the minimum wage? I'm not sure this is quite the outcome a lot of people were expecting.)
NYC Cops Arrested Men for ‘Manspreading’ on the Subway (National Review link): New York police allegedly arrested two men for “manspreading” (sitting with their legs far apart) on the subway, according to a report entitled “That’s How They Get You” released by the Police Reform Organizing Project.
“On a recent visit to the arraignment part in Brooklyn’s criminal court, PROP volunteers observed that police officers had arrested two Latino men on the charge of ‘man spreading’ on the subway, presumably because they were taking up more than one seat and therefore inconveniencing other riders,” the report states. Metro Transit Authority rules ban people from taking up more than one seat “in a station, platform or conveyance when to do so would interfere or tend to interfere with the operation of the Authority’s transit system or the comfort of other passengers.”
MTA also placed signs on subway cars in December instructing people not to “manspread” as part of a larger campaign to encourage riders to be polite, which also included signs telling people not to hog poles or do their makeup on the train. The “no manspreading” rule in particular, however, got most of the publicity after feminist activists attacked “manspreading” as being not just rude and/or annoying but actually oppressive to women.
(Mod: Yet one more great reason for never taking public transportation.)
McDonald’s To Open A Restaurant Run By Robots In Phoenix (GovtSlaves.info link): After seeing a decline in earnings for the first time in nine years, McDonald’s plans to do something no other store of its kind has ever done before; open a store run entirely by robots.
The store is set to open July 4th in Phoenix, Arizona once the state-of-the-art robot remodel is complete. The restaurant will still employee a small team to insure all of the robots are working correctly, the food along with the cleaning supplies remaining stocked and removing the money collected by the robots.
If the test launch for the store is a success, visitors to the restaurant can soon expect to see these new robots working in harmony at a speed of 50 times faster than the average human employee, with no chance of error, located in every store all over the country.
The store’s new manager, Jay Funkhouser, told CNN that he has worked with the machines in a product development facility in San Francisco for over six months now and speaks highly of the robots.
“These things are great! They get their work done in a fast and orderly manner. And they don’t ask for cigarette breaks.”
(Mod: I guess robots don't have to be paid a $15 an hour minimum wage. How soon before robots will be made available to city governments?)
Here's What Happens When a Black Man Open Carries a Gun (The Daily Beast link): A disturbing video contrasts police treatment of a white man and a black man carrying the same type of weapon in public.
Open carry is all the rage in gun-rights circles. Advocates strap handguns to their hips, sling AK-47s and AR-15s to their backs and stroll the streets with cameras in hand to catch unwitting cops violating their Second Amendment rights by asking for Identification or trying to ascertain if the heavily-armed man walking toward a school might be a threat. For liberty or some such.
A quick Google image or YouTube search will demonstrate what we know to be true: The open-carry crowd is made up of a whole lot of white people, mostly men. Why is being allowed to walk heavily armed through the streets baiting cops purely a white fight, you may wonder?
It could have something to do with the fact that black men already face enough danger from interactions with the police to not want to bait cops for the fun of it. Young black men are 21 times more likely to be shot dead by police than their white counterparts, according to an analysis by Propublica.
And when a gun is present? For that answer, we can look to the recent shooting death of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy shot dead for carrying a BB gun in a Cleveland Park. Or John Crawford, who was gunned down by police in a WalMart as he held an unloaded air rifle from one of the store’s shelves.
Still, there are a few brave open carriers of color, and a new YouTube video appears to show just how differently they are treated compared to their white freedom-loving counterparts.
|View this video by clicking here.|
(Mod: Could this be the next great civil rights struggle?)
The California Department of Water Resources reported Friday that mountain snowpack across the state was 0 percent of normal for May 29. That means that even before summer begins, there will essentially be no more of the crucial mountain snowmelt that California relies on to replenish the streams, rivers, and reservoirs that supply water to cities and farms.
Sure, there are still patches of snow here and there around the high Sierras. But the “snow water equivalent”—the volume of water that would be produced by melting a depth of snow—is 0 percent, according to measurements taken at 98 stations by the water resources department.
When the snowpack hit a record low of 6 percent of normal on April 1, California Gov. Jerry Brown issued the first statewide mandatory water restrictions, ordering cities to cut water consumption by 25 percent.
A week ago, some California farmers agreed to voluntarily reduce their water use by 25 percent, a sign of just how desperate the Golden State’s situation has become.
With the snowpack now gone and California entering its fourth year of drought, such cutbacks may be just the beginning.
(Mod: We're screwed. No, really.)