Archives for February 2018

Replacing Judges with Computers Is Risky

Quentin Kopp, the author of this story is a Democrat, former Judge, Supervisor and State Senator.  He was never an ideologue.  Kopp was a State Senator when the legislature worked for the best interest of all Californians, not the Leftist radicals and bigots of our time.  He understand the delivery of justice is not a computer deciding the facts.  Yet, today we have computers making lots of judicial decisions.

“The California Judicial Council says California should replace its long standing money-bail system with a “risk-based pretrial assessment” tool as seen in other states. They say California should follow the examples set by Washington DC, New Mexico, New Jersey, and other jurisdictions. However, these cities jumped on the computer-based bail-replacement train before technology could catch up with human judgment.

The problem with this recommendation is that these early adopters are discovering too late that, like most half-baked technology, the innovative promise of automated criminal justice is fraught with unintended consequences and errors. Courts in these states and cities have become revolving doors for individuals who offend again.

Can you sue a computer or a computer programmer if a no bail criminal commits more crimes?  NO.  Will the court system be liable if it relies on computers and algorithms to determine who gets out on the cheap?  Nope.  What this does is move justice further away from human action, making the claim that no human hands touched the decision.  Is that the society we want or deserve?

judge justice court

Replacing Judges with Computers Is Risky

by Quentin L. Kopp, Harvard Law Review,  2/20/18

Adopting technology for the sake of having it is an unwise move. Last year, the California Judicial Council proposed that California’s criminal courts jump on a failing bandwagon to inhibit and effectively replace judicial discretion with computer-based algorithms. The present judicial system already assesses each defendant, their previous criminal history, and ties to the community. These facts are used by prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges to render a just determination whether the defendant is a “flight risk and danger” to the victim or to the public.

The California Judicial Council says California should replace its long standing money-bail system with a “risk-based pretrial assessment” tool as seen in other states. They say California should follow the examples set by Washington DC, New Mexico, New Jersey, and other jurisdictions. However, these cities jumped on the computer-based bail-replacement train before technology could catch up with human judgment.

The problem with this recommendation is that these early adopters are discovering too late that, like most half-baked technology, the innovative promise of automated criminal justice is fraught with unintended consequences and errors. Courts in these states and cities have become revolving doors for individuals who offend again.

This can add significant threats to the public’s safety, causing harm and prompting hundreds of more crimes affecting and harming more victims and percipient witnesses. Some victims haven’t survived the experiment of no-bail “justice.”

Technology cannot replace the depth of judicial knowledge, experience, and expertise in law enforcement that prosecutors and defendants’ attorneys possess. Complete evaluation and determination of whether to hold or release an accused defendant on bail for any particular defendant accused of any specific crime requires every bit of these combined skills.

Remember: no two cases — no two defendants, victims or pattern of facts — are alike. Many different defendants may be charged with the same penal code violation, but each crime and circumstance is unique. Each individual and case is unique. Each requires human judgment and the vital and very natural emotion of empathy—two things artificial intelligence systems cannot provide. The California Judicial Council has recommended a laboratory approach destined to fail precisely because it cannot take human responses into account.

Would victims of brutal crimes want a coldly dispassionate Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame using blended Silicon-Vulcan logic to release their attackers through the court’s new technology-enabled revolving door? Would you, if you found yourself in this situation, want to plead your case to a human judge or to the cold justice of some tech expert’s program logic?

Close judgment calls, real criminals, real victims and witnesses placed in harm’s way, and equal treatment under the law — each poses a unique hurdle and a troubling stumbling block to implementing the California Judicial Council’s recommendation.

While modern artificial-intelligence and expert-system technologies are ahead of where they were 20 years, 10 years or even a year ago, significant uncertainty remains about what and even how a machine-language program has learned from the real world or how it might judge real-world criminal cases.

Humans often draw from past history to apply common sense to new, unique, unexpected, or unusual situations that lie far from the norm.

We should look carefully at those jurisdictions and locales where the “risk-based pretrial assessment” tool is being used. We should also evaluate with caution the reports of the problems it has created. It’s significant that many are now trying to repeal their move to no-bail technology systems.

If we exercise common sense and learn from those who mistakenly employed the “risk-based pretrial assessment” tool, any rational individual would likely conclude that California should not substitute the depth of thinking, reasoning, and decision-making inherent in our present bail and judicial system with a computerized algorithm or robotic “thinking.”

 

The Licensed Marijuana sellers in California Request State Authorities to Crack Down on the illegal competition.

How do you get rid of your competitors?  Either by providing a superior product and service or use government to close them down.  For years unions used “green mail” to stop building projects or developments—either abide by obscure environmental rules or create the need for more environmental studies—or allow unions to control your project and its workers.  That worked for years.  Cost union workers job, but allowed the union to own construction in the country.  That appears to have ended.

 

Now the legal marijuana industry wants government to close down the illegal growers and sellers—which by the way, government has been trying to do for years, without a lot of success.  Now, once again, an industry wants to use government as the enforcer.  My guess is it will be just as “successful” as the previous 50 years of efforts.

“Just a few weeks after the Golden state enacted the law that legalized recreational pot, farming, and processing, there have been numerous complaints from the dealers. Authorized dealers have leveled accusations that they are facing stiff competition from illegal marijuana operations and have demanded the state to take stringent actions to curb on the vice. Most of the over 300 complaints that have been lodged are coming from small cannabis businesses and startups that have claimed to have suffered financial losses from the stiff competition offered by illegal dealers. The concern over illegitimate cannabis vending has been voiced licensed operators after a panel of operators received audience from Sacramento’s lawful marijuana dealers.”

I can just see the FBI and ATF serving subpoenas on the Mexican drug cartels!  This is a serious problem for legal sellers—at a minimum the total tax on marijuana in most places in California will be 27% (plus costs of permits and government mandated security, etc.)–meaning smart weed users will continue to buy from their street corner dealer—cheaper and no paperwork!

Marijuana smoking

The Licensed Marijuana sellers in California Request State Authorities to Crack Down on the illegal competition.

by Bethany Klein, NORCAL News, 02/18/2018,

 

Just a few weeks after the Golden state enacted the law that legalized recreational pot, farming, and processing, there have been numerous complaints from the dealers. Authorized dealers have leveled accusations that they are facing stiff competition from illegal marijuana operations and have demanded the state to take stringent actions to curb on the vice. Most of the over 300 complaints that have been lodged are coming from small cannabis businesses and startups that have claimed to have suffered financial losses from the stiff competition offered by illegal dealers. The concern over illegitimate cannabis vending has been voiced licensed operators after a panel of operators received audience from Sacramento’s lawful marijuana dealers.

A representative of the Candescent firm, Stephanie Hopper said that that the state of California needs more stringent regulations and enforcement taking into consideration the fact that licensed operators have to compete with the marijuana black market. The canndescent firm specializes in the cultivation, processing, branding, and sale of cannabis in California. Hopper added that pot prices were plummeting as a result of illicit operations as the black market operators not have to pay any taxes. She added that the enforcement of regulations should ensure that operators who have been licensed must have the opportunity to grow and thrive in the multi-billion dollar industry in California.

The problem has been acknowledged by the State Bureau of Cannabis control which has announced that it’s making plans to start the issuance of citations to the illegal cannabis businesses in the foreseeable future. This was according to a statement issued by the head of the state agency, Lori Ajax. Ajax added that pot companies began their licensed operations when the legalization legislation took effect on January 1, 2018, and said that most of the early complaints had been responded to by her agents accordingly.

She said that her agency was getting complaints from a variety of vendors who were reporting unlicensed pot businesses to the promotion of products, labeling and packaging issues. The agency has said that it has issued 1,204 licenses as of today to business organizations that sell and transport cannabis. When brought to task on the reason why her agency has not issued any citations, Ajax noted that they had dropped most of the regulations on those very citations and that the players in the industry were still on the learning curve. Many other vendors have urged the state authorities to conduct investigations and verify the many pot advertisements going on in the state.

 

Walters: The next big front in California’s water war

What are your water rights?  What are the water rights of your Water Company or district?  What they are today, does not mean they will be the same tomorrow, due to either legislative action or court order.

“It would take a book to fully explain those rights, but there are generally three varieties, to wit:

–“Riparian rights” attached to land directly fronting on rivers and other bodies of water are the most senior;

–“Appropriative rights” that were claimed prior to 1914 come next;

–Post-1914 appropriative rights bring up the rear.

Whether those rights should be overhauled, or even abolished, has been kicked around in academic, political and agricultural circles for decades, the latter because farmers account for about three-fourths of California’s human water consumption.

Two unresolved issues dominate the discussions: whether the most senior rights are absolute, or can be legally modified, and if modified whether their holders are entitled to compensation.

This is a really big deal, as Joe Biden would say.  The definition of those terms decides the cost and availability of water.  While this fight is being done quietly, in the backrooms and court houses, it is a fight that could mean the end of “cheap” water in California.  We need to monitor this fight—and get our hands dirty and join the fight.

Lake Shasta Water Reservoir

Commentary: The next big front in California’s water war

By Dan Walters, CalMatters, 2/25/18

After one year of torrential respite, drought may have returned to California, and with it, a renewal of the state’s perpetual conflict over water management.

State and federal water systems have told farmers not to expect more than a fifth of their paper allocations, the state Water Resources Control Board is weighing a new regime of mandatory conservation, and supporters of more reservoirs are complaining about the glacial pace of spending $2.7 billion set aside in a water bond for more storage.

The drought that seemed to be washed away by last year’s heavy rain and snow storms had spawned some water management changes that would  have seemed unthinkable a few years earlier – most notably a landmark groundwater management system that’s still being developed.

If, indeed, drought has returned at least semi-permanently, it will fuel another round of policy debates, and it’s likely to include the mother of all water conflicts – the state’s convoluted water rights structure.

It would take a book to fully explain those rights, but there are generally three varieties, to wit:

–“Riparian rights” attached to land directly fronting on rivers and other bodies of water are the most senior;

–“Appropriative rights” that were claimed prior to 1914 come next;

–Post-1914 appropriative rights bring up the rear.

Whether those rights should be overhauled, or even abolished, has been kicked around in academic, political and agricultural circles for decades, the latter because farmers account for about three-fourths of California’s human water consumption.

Two unresolved issues dominate the discussions: whether the most senior rights are absolute, or can be legally modified, and if modified whether their holders are entitled to compensation.

Had the drought not been interrupted by last winter’s storms, both of those issues appeared to be headed toward showdowns.

The state Water Resources Control Board attempted to impose its conservation mandates on senior rights holders, and they worried aloud that it was a backdoor abrogation of those rights.

By law, they argued, they were exempt from such allocations, while the board said it could supersede water rights because of a provision of the state constitution barring “waste or unreasonable use.”

One test of the issue involved the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, near Tracy, which was accused of taking water from the Delta for 13 days after it and other districts with senior water rights had been told to curtail pumping.

“We are a test case,” Byron-Bethany’s manager, Rick Gilmore, said at the time. “I think this has become a larger issue. I think the water board wants to use this as a precedent so they can start to gain more control over senior water right users.”

The district and the board stepped back from a decisive confrontation, but the issue is popping up again this year as the board works on new and permanent conservation rules.

Last week, the board delayed a vote on those rules after some water agencies again questioned its authority. “You are making an adjudicative determination without due process,” said Rob Donlan, an attorney for a group of water suppliers.

Water rights seem destined to be the next big water war front as California faces what could be a semi-permanent state of drought and attempts to reallocate its finite supplies.

It could be fought out case-by-case in the courts, which would take decades, or the next governor and the Legislature could, as was done with groundwater regulation, deal with it comprehensively, including fair compensation to whose rights are curtailed.

As expensive as that obviously would be, it might be cheaper than doing nothing, or fighting it out case-by-case.

 

Proposition 13 Must Be Protected, Not ‘Updated’ With Large Property Tax Increase

Prop. 13 has grown government revenues, while the Left wants to raise property taxes, in order to LOWER the value of property.  Here is an economic fact, the Left economic illiterates do not understand—the higher the taxes, the lower the property value.

“Since the passage of Proposition 13, assessments have grown at an average rate of about 7.07 percent per year statewide. This outpaced inflation, which grew at an average annual rate of 3.57 percent, and population, which grew at an average rate of 1.43 percent.

Santa Clara County provides an excellent illustration of how property taxes have grown. The value of taxable property in the county was $450 billion in 2017 – a healthy 7.37 percent increase over the prior year – according to the most recent figures.

The value of Santa Clara County’s assessment roll is now an amazing 458 percent higher than it was in 1990. This translates to more revenue for local schools and government services.”

The problem is not property tax revenues—it is government spending too much.  We need to protect Prop. 13—if we want to protect our homes.

jarvis

CALTAX COMMENTARY:
Proposition 13 Must Be Protected, Not ‘Updated’ With Large Property Tax Increase

By David Kline, CalTax Director of Communications and Research, 2/26/18  .org/homepage/022318_commentary.html

This column responds to a San Jose Mercury News column by philanthropist and technology entrepreneur David Bohnett titled, “How California voters can update, improve Prop. 13.”

David Bohnett wrongly claims that local governments are “starving” for funds because of the property tax reforms approved by voters in Proposition 13.

The truth is that not only did Proposition 13 solve the problem of runaway property tax increases on homes and businesses, it also made the property tax a stable, growing source of government revenue.

Since the passage of Proposition 13, assessments have grown at an average rate of about 7.07 percent per year statewide. This outpaced inflation, which grew at an average annual rate of 3.57 percent, and population, which grew at an average rate of 1.43 percent.

Santa Clara County provides an excellent illustration of how property taxes have grown. The value of taxable property in the county was $450 billion in 2017 – a healthy 7.37 percent increase over the prior year – according to the most recent figures.

The value of Santa Clara County’s assessment roll is now an amazing 458 percent higher than it was in 1990. This translates to more revenue for local schools and government services.

(Although Bohnett discusses University of California funding, the UC system doesn’t receive property tax revenue, so it wasn’t impacted by Proposition 13. UC funding comes primarily from tuition and the state’s general fund, which will have a total reserve balance of nearly $16 billion under Governor Jerry Brown’s latest budget proposal. The governor proposed a 3 percent budget increase for UC in his budget, and noted that “since the end of the Great Recession, the University of California has received $1.2 billion in new funding and the California State University has received $1.6 billion.”)

While property tax revenue grows impressively, individual taxpayers are protected from unexpected tax hikes. Under Proposition 13, every property owner is taxed at 1 percent of his or her property’s assessed value (plus an amount to repay any local voter-approved bond debt, where applicable), and there is a 2 percent cap on how much the value can increase each year.

Under Proposition 13, all property owners know their property tax burden not just this year, but every year into the future. This certainty didn’t exist prior to Proposition 13, so homeowners and business owners often would be surprised by huge increases in their taxes from year to year, based on factors like whether neighbors remodeled their homes or businesses.

Does Proposition 13 have a “loophole” that benefits some property owners over others? No. The initiative applies equally to all property owners, and this equal treatment also was the law prior to Proposition 13.

Considering that California already is losing jobs to other states – in one recent example, a company that makes batteries for electric vehicles took its green jobs to Kentucky, of all places – we can’t afford to put more jobs at risk by making our tax structure even less competitive.

Proposition 13 has created a reliable source of local government funding, even while protecting taxpayers. The landmark initiative doesn’t need to be “updated” or “improved,” it just needs to be protected from those who want to raise taxes even when the government has surplus revenue.

 

 

California green lights fully driverless cars for testing on public roads

California will allow fully autonomous cars without safety drivers to test on public roads for the first time. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles announced the change today, which outlines a permitting process for companies wishing to deploy driverless vehicles without anyone behind the wheel.

“This is a major step forward for autonomous technology in California,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement. “Safety is our top concern and we are ready to begin working with manufacturers that are prepared to test fully driverless vehicles in California.”

Last October, the California DMV issued revised regulations governing the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads. Among their many provisions, the new rules would allow autonomous cars without steering wheels, foot pedals, mirrors, and human drivers behind the wheel to be tested on its roads starting in 2018.

Today, the state’s Office of Administrative Law approved the regulations that would permit fully driverless testing. A public notice will go up on the DMV’s website on March 2nd, which starts a 30-day clock before the first permits can be issued on April 2nd. Companies can apply for three types of permits: testing with a safety driver, driverless testing, and deployment. …

Click here to read the full article from The Verge

Climate Change: Local Governments Tell Different Stories in the Courtroom and on Wall Street

Global WarmingBy 2050, because of climate change, Oakland officials insist that the city faces dealing with “100-year” type floods every two years – or maybe it won’t have those floods. Apparently, that forecast all depends on who city officials are talking to – whether you are an energy company being sued by the city of Oakland demanding money because of the dangers climate change supposedly bring or you are an investor interested in buying an Oakland municipal bond. In the latter case, Oakland officials attest that the city is unable to predict the impact of climate change or flooding.

This contradiction should be a concern to taxpayers and is worthy of the panel discussion scheduled at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy on Tuesday, February 27.

The panel, which includes the Reason Foundation’s Marc Joffe and Chapman University Law Professor Anthony T. Caso, will focus on the lawsuits potential impact on municipal bonds and the ultimate effect on taxpayers. “The Unexpected Consequences of Climate Change on Government Finance” is scheduled to begin at noon at the Drescher Graduate Campus in Malibu.

Within the past year, eight California jurisdictions have filed public nuisance climate lawsuits against a slew of oil and gas companies demanding millions of dollars to offset the certain dangers facing the jurisdictions because of climate change. At the same time, these local governments have reached out to investors to back local bonds, declaring in the bond prospectus that they cannot predict risks related to climate change.

As law professor Caso suggested in an Orange County Register op-ed last month, “One could hardly be criticized for concluding that the cities and counties involved in these lawsuits have either lied to the courts or to their bond investors. If they have lied to either, there is big trouble ahead.”

The trouble for taxpayers comes if the Securities and Exchange Commission seeks million dollar penalties from the governments for making false statements to investors. When a local government must pay a penalty it falls on the backs of taxpayers. Such a consequence could also lead municipalities being required to offer more disclosure and result in higher borrowing costs for future bonds.

ExxonMobil has filed a counter action pointing out the discrepancies in the California jurisdictions’ actions—some would say hypocrisy—when discussing the effects of climate change—a different approach in the courtroom versus Wall Street. ExxonMobil argues that the lawsuits are designed to force companies to align policies with those “favored by local politicians in California.”

The integrity of the local governments and ultimately taxpayers’ financial responsibility is hanging in the balance.

ditor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

“CalPERS Is Near Insolvency; It Needs A Bailout Soon” – Former Board Member Makes Stunning Admission

Steve Westly was the Democrat State Controller and a former Democrat candidate for Governor.  A businessman, he understands numbers and facts.  Unlike most Democrats he is willing to tell the truth about a disaster that is about to explode.

He is hardly alone: having reported over and over and over (and over, and over) again that public pensions are in deep trouble, two days ago none other than Steve Westly, former California controller and Calpers board member – manager of the largest public pension fund in the US, made a stunning admission, confirming everything:

“The pension crisis is inching closer by the day. CalPERS just voted to increase the amount cities must pay to the agency. Cities point to possible insolvency if payments keep rising but CalPERS is near insolvency itself. It may be reform or bailout soon.”

We all know that cities are facing bankruptcy financing CalPERS, so it an keep the doors open.  Cops are being cut, roads, not repaired, taxes are going up—all in a losing effort to save a corrupt pension system.  When will the people in towns and in the State revolt against this massive abuse?

calpers

“CalPERS Is Near Insolvency; It Needs A Bailout Soon” – Former Board Member Makes Stunning Admission

by Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge,  2/24/18

Two weeks ago, in the aftermath of the February 5 volocaust, we quoted David Hunt, CEO of $1.2 trillion asset manager PGIM, who said ignore the volatility spike, the real financial timebomb was and remains public pensions: “if you were going to look for what’s the possible real crack in the financial architecture for the next crisis, rather than looking in the rearview mirror, pension funds would be on our list.” 

In a brief discussion wondering what municipalities and states will do when local tax revenues decline and unemployment worsens, Hunt said “we’re worried about those pension obligations.”

He is hardly alone: having reported over and over and over (and over, and over) again that public pensions are in deep trouble, two days ago none other than Steve Westly, former California controller and Calpers board member – manager of the largest public pension fund in the US, made a stunning admission, confirming everything:

“The pension crisis is inching closer by the day. CalPERS just voted to increase the amount cities must pay to the agency. Cities point to possible insolvency if payments keep rising but CalPERS is near insolvency itself. It may be reform or bailout soon.”

Westly was referring to an editorial  laying out “the essence” of California’s pension crisis, exposed last week when the $350 billion California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) made a “relatively small change” in its amortization policy.

Specifically, the CalPERS board voted to change the period for recouping future investment losses from 30 years to 20 years. While this may not sound like much, the bottom line is that it would require the California state government and thousands of local government agencies and school districts “to ramp up their mandatory contributions to the huge trust fund.”

As author Dan Walters observes, with client agencies – cities, particularly – already complaining that double-digit annual increases in CalPERS payments are driving some of them towards insolvency, the new policy – which kicks in next year – will raise those payments even more.

The man who predicted the collapse of GM, Fannie, and Freddie says the next big bankruptcy is going to catch everyone by surprise. Learn more here.

What we are trying to avoid is a situation where we have a city that is already on the brink, and applying a 20-year amortization schedule would put them over the edge,” a representative of the League of California Cities, Dane Hutchings, told the CalPERS board before its vote.

CalPERS, however, has no choice because as both Walters and Westly claim, America’s largest public pension fund itself is on the brink, “and the policy change is one of several steps it has taken to avoid a complete meltdown.”

As we have reported previously, the Calpers system, once more than 100 percent funded, now has scarcely two-thirds of what it would need to fully cover all of the pension promises to current and future retirees. And that assumes it will hit an investment earnings target of 7%per year, that many authorities criticize as being too optimistic. 

Last In December we also reported that the increasingly panicked fund, decided to boost its stock allocation to 50% in order to raise its future liability discount rate to 7%, as any reduction in stock allocations would also lead to a lower discount rate which in turn which would require more contributions from cities, towns, school districts, etc. and could bring the whole ponzi crashing down. Amusingly, one Calpers board member argued to raise the equity allocation even higher, to 60%, so that the discount rate was greater than the current 7% in order to make the books appears “better.”

Ironically, it was just a decade ago that Calpers’ lofty equity allocation resulted in a staggering losses, and the current dead end. The trust fund lost about $100 billion in the Great Recession and never has fully recovered. In December 2016, Calpers voted to lower its earnings projection to 7.0% – it had been 7.5% – hoping to avoid another disaster were the economy to turn sour; since then it has been taking quiet steps to lever up its equity exposure once again.

Meanwhile, officials fear that were it to experience another big investment loss, it would pass a point of no return and never be able to pay for pension promises.

On the other hand, “protecting” CalPERS means getting more money from its client agencies, which could drive some of them into insolvency, as Hutchings said. This is not a hollow threat: three California cities have already gone bankrupt in recent years, in part because of their ever-increasing pension burdens, and payments have escalated sharply since then.

So on one hand, CalPERS is doing what it has to do to remain financially solvent, but on the other hand its self-protective steps threaten local government solvency.

That’s the crisis in a nutshell.

As Walters suggests, one way out would be to modify benefits in some way.

City officials, for instance, have suggested reducing automatic cost-of-living escalators in pensions over a certain mark, such as $100,000 a year.

However, the CalPERS board, dominated by public employee organizations and sympathetic politicians, has spurned such pleas: it is almost as if, once promised generous retirement benefits, public workers would rather take the entire system down, than see their own pensions reduced, even modestly.

“Our members have expressed frustration that you keep coming to them asking for more while at the same time not providing a lot of other options and assistance for them,” Dillon Gibbons of the California Special Districts Association told the board.

Alas, the options boild down to either taxpayers get the shaft, or public employees see their pensions reduced.

In the end, it will likely be the worst of both worlds, as taxpayers are dragged in to bailout CalPERS and other retirement funds, while retirees see huge cuts to their benefits.

And the next market crash will likely catalyze it.

Meanwhile, everyone involved is waiting for the California state Supreme Court to rule on pending pension rights cases, and were it to overturn the so-called “California rule” that bars changes in benefits, it would open the door to pension modification.

CalPERS officials are also concerned that should it become insolvent, or pension payments force some cities into bankruptcy court, it would revive long-dormant plans for a statewide pension reform ballot measure.

* * *

As Walters concludes, “This crisis will haunt California for many years to come and will be a big headache for the next governor.”

Unfortunately, that is an optimistic outlook, because when the crisis really hits, it will be all American taxpayers who are on the hook to bail out the country’s insolvent pension funds. It is also then that some of the deepest fissures in US society: between public and private workers, between taxpayers and benefits recipients, between the young and old, all bubble to the surface at the same time, with very violent consequences.

 

Gallup Poll Shocker: Millennials Are No More Liberal On Gun Control Than Elders, Polls Show

If you watch the Fake News networks, you would think every young person wanted to get rid of guns and sing songs of love, not hate, to stop the shootings at schools.  You only hear the words of kids mouthing slogans, without an education to teach them the purpose of the Constitution and its Amendments.  Just outlaw guns and violence goes away. Guess they did not know that is what Hitler did in 1930 Germany—wonder if they even know about World War II?

“Over the past three years, his polling organization asked the under-30 crowd if gun laws in the U.S. should be made more strict, less strict or kept as they are now. On average, people between the ages of 18 and 29 were one percentage point more likely to say gun laws should be more strict than the overall national average of 57 percent.

“Young people statistically aren’t that much different than anybody else,” Newport says.

‘What a whole generation feels’?

Polling by the Pew Research Center last year came to similar conclusions: 50 percent of millennials, between the ages of 18 and 36, said that gun laws in the U.S. should be more strict. That share was almost identical among the general public, according to Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew.

So why is the Fake News folks only showing kids opposed to the Second Amendment?  Because the news media is no longer reporting the news, they are trying to change public policy—as if they were a part of the Socialist Democrat Party.  If I want to listen to a Democrat office holder, I can go to a townhall or watch Anderson Cooper or Morning Joe.

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Millennials Are No More Liberal On Gun Control Than Elders, Polls Show

Hansi Lo Wang,  NPR, 2/24/18

 

Jordan Riger, 22, uses her laptop to track attendance for a weekly meeting of Students for the Second Amendment at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. She sees firearms as tools for self-defense.

High school students around the U.S. have been leading the calls for more gun control since the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Some have called them the “voice of a generation on gun control” that may be able to turn the tide of a long-simmering debate.

But past polling suggests that people under 30 in the U.S. are no more liberal on gun control than their parents or grandparents — despite diverging from their elders on the legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage and other social issues.

“Sometimes people surprise us, and this is one of those instances that we don’t know why,” says Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup.

Over the past three years, his polling organization asked the under-30 crowd if gun laws in the U.S. should be made more strict, less strict or kept as they are now. On average, people between the ages of 18 and 29 were one percentage point more likely to say gun laws should be more strict than the overall national average of 57 percent.

“Young people statistically aren’t that much different than anybody else,” Newport says.

‘What a whole generation feels’?

Polling by the Pew Research Center last year came to similar conclusions: 50 percent of millennials, between the ages of 18 and 36, said that gun laws in the U.S. should be more strict. That share was almost identical among the general public, according to Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew.

Pew did find significant differences between millennials and older generations on two gun control proposals — banning assault-style weapons and banning high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The results showed that a greater share of millennials — both Republicans and Democrats — are more conservative when it comes to those bans compared to Generation X-ers, Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation.

“What we’re hearing now in the immediate aftermath of Parkland might not be representative of what a whole generation feels,” Parker says.

To be clear, many demographers argue that millennials make up one part of today’s generation of young people. Some say that millennials include people born in the 1980s and all the way through 2000.

The teenaged high school activists who have been organizing since the Florida shooting, they say, are part of a separate group some call “Generation Z.” Pollsters generally don’t count the views of those under 18, so there probably won’t be national polling on this group until more of these young people are officially adults.

‘A more progressive generation’?

Still, for 19-year-old Abigail Kaye, who considers herself a millennial, these polling results about her peers come as a shock.

“I think that’s surprising because I feel like we’re a more progressive generation,” says Kaye, who attends the University of Delaware.

Kaye says she remembers hearing about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School when she was growing up about a couple hours away in Scituate, R.I.

“We’ve grown up more, I think, with this kind of gun violence, so you’d think maybe we’d push for more regulations,” she adds.

The poll findings also surprised some members of Students for the Second Amendment, a club at the University of Delaware.

The club’s treasurer, Jordan Riger of Lutherville, Md., 22, says after taking an NRA course on pistol shooting when she was 18, she’s seen firearms as tools for self-defense. But she thinks many of her millennial peers don’t.

“We are living in a time right now where we’re seeing a lot more of these mass casualties,” Riger says. “I think when people don’t know that much about firearms, when they see it on the news used in horrible fashion, that’s like all they associate it with.”

Sitting outside a student center on the University of Delaware’s campus, Cahlil Evans of Smyrna, Del., 20, says while he doesn’t need a gun, he can understand why people would want hunting rifles and handguns. He draws the line, though, for assault-style rifles.

“There’s no need for these high-caliber rifles that pierce through walls,” Evans says. “People can say they use them for hunting or whatever, but why do you need a weapon with such high caliber that it would pierce through the animal and like eight trees behind it?”

Still, 22-year-old Jeremy Grunden of Harrington, Del., says he’s encouraged to hear that millennials are less likely to support banning assault-style weapons.

“I base what we need off of what the military has,” says Grunden, who is president of Students for the Second Amendment at the University of Delaware. “When it comes to … the Second Amendment, we’re supposed to be a well-armed and well-maintained militia and all that. Quite frankly, we need that and plus more.”

 

CalPERS FORCES Oroville Into Accepting Legal Marijuana in Community

A few months ago Oroville was forced to cut police pay for 10%, so they had the money to pay CalPERS.  This is a family oriented city, family values and they try to live a conservative life.  Now, thanks to the massive CalPERS mandatory contributions increase—19% last year, doubling in five years, they are now going to approve the sale of marijuana in the city.

“Casting aside a maximum effort by religious leaders and some elected officials, the council moved forward with proposals that could lead to marijuana being available for purchase legally in Oroville for the first time.

Lengthy, and frequently contentious, officials moved the meeting to the Oroville State Theatre to accommodate a crowd of roughly 150 people, many determined to make their cases.

The council wound up approving a $40,000 contract for outside help with an ordinance that would lay down ground rules for future marijuana businesses.

Reason has nothing to do with it.  Oroville either has to have a massive sales tax hike or allow pot in the city to get revenues to pay off CalPERS.  But, this is not the only city in this problem.  Thousand Oaks, in Ventura County, a town of 130,000, city council voted unanimously to not allow marijuana in town.  In a matter of a few weeks, this vote was reversed—due to massive maintenance repairs not done, deficits and the massive CalPERS payments.  On July 10 the city council will issue permits for a marijuana lab and a medical dispensary.

Marijuana Store

Oroville Council Approves Contract To Lay Ground Rules For Marijuana Businesses, Dispensaries

By Marc Albert, mynspr,  2/21/18

Oroville’s City Council moved a baby step closer to allowing marijuana related businesses, including dispensaries, to open up shop.

Casting aside a maximum effort by religious leaders and some elected officials, the council moved forward with proposals that could lead to marijuana being available for purchase legally in Oroville for the first time.

Lengthy, and frequently contentious, officials moved the meeting to the Oroville State Theatre to accommodate a crowd of roughly 150 people, many determined to make their cases.

The council wound up approving a $40,000 contract for outside help with an ordinance that would lay down ground rules for future marijuana businesses.

The vote was 7-2 with Mayor Linda Dahlmeier and Councilman Scott Thomson objecting.

The vote came just before midnight – and about an hour and a half after Dahlmeier unsuccessfully sought to send the issue to voters in the form of a council-backed initiative.

City Administrator Don Rust said the council would have more flexibility if it pursued an ordinance. He said once approved, an initiative can only be altered or repealed by another initiative.

The council heard hours of passionate statements. Both County Supervisor Larry Wahl and Congressman Doug LaMalfa spoke against the effort.

Many opponents warned of the damage to Oroville’s reputation or of outside elements. Charles Colombo of Oroville was among them. He urged the council to ignore the lure of potential tax revenue.

“I think more about the effect that it’ll have on the people of this community, and the types of people it will bring into our community,” Colombo said.

Oroville resident Kenneth Paul said marijuana damages people.

“I’ve seen a lot of talented young men and women, people in the baseball and softball community who’ve gotten involved with marijuana at a young age. They’re now sleeping on people’s couches, they’re homeless,” he said.

Paul said the impacts are life changing.

“Sixteen, 17 year olds that have kids now because they started it through smoking marijuana in a group,” he said.

Meanwhile, proponents noted recreational use is now legal for adults in California. They also pointed to potential revenue, dismissed any likeness to hard drugs, and cited medical benefits.

John Miller-George of Paradise said marijuana was the only thing that gives his elderly father, a Navy veteran, relief from debilitating pain.

“The only thing, and the VA tried lots of stuff,” he said.

Miller-George said it’s hard to argue with results.

“I broke the law and I am proud I did it,” he said.

Clearly disappointed by the outcome, several opponents vowed to launch a referendum overturning the ordinance, should it ever come to pass.

 

Will California’s Water Wars Create A Constitutional Conundrum?

An unelected agency, appointed or hired, has set itself up as judge and jury—telling Californians how much water they may use, under what conditions and if violated fine them.  Appeal?  You appeal to the agency that made the rule.  Won’t pay the fine, they take your water and could have you jailed.  They do have “hearings”, to meet the legal requirements—listening is another matter, there is no law they have to listen to the public at a hearing, just hold one.

“Water Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said that climate change is causing more frequent and longer droughts in California.  She pointed to the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which remains at levels well below the average.  The Sierra snowpack, a source of about a third of the  state’s water supply, is currently at 22 percent of the long term average for early February.

“This is why making conservation in California a way of life is so important,” said Marcus. “The Sierra water content shows we are worse off than we were three years ago, at the peak of the drought.”

Only “Reasonable” Use

But the proposed rules, which would carry fines of up to $500 per violation, faced strong push back from some water agencies who accuse the regulatory board of a power grab.

The issue, opponents say, is constitutional. The California Constitution contains a provision that prohibits the “waste or unreasonable use” of water.”

This State agency is even willing to fine local water districts.  This is in the continuing totalitarian effort for the State of California to control every aspect of our lives—housing, roads, driving habits, drugs, taxes, etc.  If you like Havana, you will love Sacramento.

RB Drought

Will California’s Water Wars Create A Constitutional Conundrum?

By Amel Ahmed, KQED,  2/23/18

With nearly half the state back in drought, California’s water regulator held a contentious hearing in Sacramento on Tuesday on whether to make permanent the temporary water bans enacted by Governor Jerry Brown during the 2014-2017 drought.

The board announced it will revisit the proposed measures in March while it makes some minor revisions to the draft proposals.

Some of the proposed measures relate to restrictions against over watering lawns; hosing down driveways and sidewalks;  washing vehicles with hoses not equipped with a shut-off nozzle; and running non-recirculated water in an ornamental fountain. Certain exceptions would apply for public health and safety reasons or commercial agricultural purposes.

‘Lost in these debates is the understanding that water is a different kind of property right.’

The Water Resources Control Board, which wants to make these rules permanent, holds that even though the measures were passed in a time of emergency they should be understood as  part of a broader effort to make conservation a way of life in the drought-prone state.

Water Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said that climate change is causing more frequent and longer droughts in California.  She pointed to the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which remains at levels well below the average.  The Sierra snowpack, a source of about a third of the  state’s water supply, is currently at 22 percent of the long term average for early February.

“This is why making conservation in California a way of life is so important,” said Marcus. “The Sierra water content shows we are worse off than we were three years ago, at the peak of the drought.”

Only “Reasonable” Use

But the proposed rules, which would carry fines of up to $500 per violation, faced strong push back from some water agencies who accuse the regulatory board of a power grab.

The issue, opponents say, is constitutional. The California Constitution contains a provision that prohibits the “waste or unreasonable use” of water.

‘The board appears intent on expanding and exceeding its jurisdictional authority.’Jeff Stephenson, San Diego Water Authority

Water administrators fear that the board is going to rely on the constitutional provision to erode the water rights belonging to California landowners.

“Erratic individuals can occupy great positions of power in government, and you had better believe they will occupy your chair someday,” said Jackson Minasian, an attorney for Stanford Vina Ranch Irrigation Co. “Their view of what is ‘waste and unreasonable use’ will be radically different than yours.”

Jeff Stephenson, of the San Diego County Water Authority, said the proposal marks an unauthorized expansion of the water board’s authority.

“The board appears intent on expanding and exceeding its jurisdictional authority on this matter and several others,” said Stephenson.

The board pushed back however, arguing that it was operating within its statutory authority to prevent wasteful water uses.

“We feel confident that the board is acting squarely within its authority,” said David Rose, Water Board staff counsel. “We made sure specific uses were being addressed and that they would not impact water rights.”

Rose added that water banned for use in one area, could always be put to another use.

“Prohibiting these specific discreet, wasteful and unreasonable water uses would allow suppliers, water users and water rights holders to use any amount of water that they couldn’t use . . . on a reasonable and beneficial use,” he said.

Water: Private or Public Right?

Richard M. Frank, director of the California Environmental Law & Policy Center at UC Davis, says that lost in these debates is the understanding that water is a different kind of property right, compared to for example owning a car or home.

“It’s a limited property right, which is something that is lost on a lot of people in the ongoing California debate on water. The courts have long held that water is owned by the public, and that is also embedded in California statutes. “

Private parties who seek to appropriate water have since 1914 had to first obtain a license from the state to use water and that license is subject to restrictions, he said.

“The most important of these restrictions is the constitutional provision stating that all water use must be ‘reasonable,’” Frank said. “And the state can limit, ban, and penalize unreasonable uses of water. ”

Water officials say people often forget to turn off lawn sprinklers when it starts raining. (iStock/Getty Images)

Heather Welles, an attorney who works on water rights at the law firm O’Melveny in Los Angeles, says the courts have been pretty deferential to the board’s authority to identify specific practices as wasteful or unreasonable. And in this case, the board has provided safeguards within the proposed regulations to allow water users to protest a citation.

“As a general matter, if the board is going to take action that limits specific water rights, it would have to engage in a process that would give water rights holders the ability to dispute the grounds,” said Welles.

Here, the proposed regulations incorporate a process by which if the board is actually issuing a notice or penalty, then the water user may request a hearing before the board and, of course, seek judicial review.”

Frank noted that if Governor Brown declares another drought emergency, the move will only strengthen the board’s hand.

“The board will have broader legal authority than it has now,” he said.

And as the state plunges back into drought, just months after emerging from the last one, permanent water restrictions in California may be eminent.

“We’re not in an emergency right now, but shame on us if we just
bury our heads in the sand,” Marcus, Water Board Chairwoman,    told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Legal observers expect a protracted battle ahead.