Federal Judge Rules Stockton Must be HONEST In Its Dealings With Pension Bond Buyers

Yesterday was special. A Federal Judge ruled that a city government, Stockton had to be honest. In these times that is a radical and revolutionary decision—just look at Barack the First and our confused Guv Brown.

Stockton went bankrupt. It sold bonds to help pay for its pensions obligations—an extremely expensive way to do this. Then when the city went belly up, it decided it was going to pay CalPERS all that it owed and stiff the boind buyers—who had a contract. The Judge rules all creditors had to be treated the same. CalPERS is a sleazy, greedy, corrupt operation that wants money, regardless of who it steals from or harms.

Of course CalPERS is going to ignore the ruling, like Obama ignores the Constitution.

“To get out of bankruptcy, the city of Stockton may, if it wants, slash the pensions of retired city employees rather than ask an investment fund to take its offer of a penny on the dollar for what it’s owed, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Christopher Klein has ruled.

If upheld at the appellate level, the ruling could be seen as historic and could impact public employees throughout the state.

“This ruling is not legally binding on any of the parties in the Stockton case or as precedent in any other bankruptcy proceeding and is unnecessary to the decision on confirmation of the city of Stockton’s plan of adjustment,” CalPERS says in a written statement issued while the judge was still hearing oral arguments Wednesday afternoon.”

calpers

Pension benefits may be slashed so investors can be paid

Central Valley Business Times, 10/1/14

•  Bankruptcy judge in Stockton case puts burden on pensioners

•  Ruling could impact cities throughout California
To get out of bankruptcy, the city of Stockton may, if it wants, slash the pensions of retired city employees rather than ask an investment fund to take its offer of a penny on the dollar for what it’s owed, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Christopher Klein has ruled.

If upheld at the appellate level, the ruling could be seen as historic and could impact public employees throughout the state.

At Wednesday’s Bankruptcy Court hearing, the city plus attorneys for its police union and retirees argued that cutting pensions was the wrong way to go just to satisfy one creditor out of many.

CalPERS, the California Public Employees Retirement System, which is used for Stockton’s employees, contends Mr. Klein has made an error.

“This ruling is not legally binding on any of the parties in the Stockton case or as precedent in any other bankruptcy proceeding and is unnecessary to the decision on confirmation of the city of Stockton’s plan of adjustment,” CalPERS says in a written statement issued while the judge was still hearing oral arguments Wednesday afternoon.

“What’s important to keep in mind is what the city of Stockton stated in court today: that they can’t function as a city if their pensions are impaired,” the pension fund, the nation’s largest, says..

Stockton filed its Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy petition in June 2012. Since then it has kept pensions at pre-bankruptcy levels and settled most debts. It did cut retiree health benefits, while leaving pensions whole. Voters also approved a local sales tax increase to help pay for additional police officers.

As of 3:45 p.m., the hearing was still underway and Mr. Klein had not ruled from the bench whether he approved of the city’s bankruptcy exit plan or would order modifications.

Calif. Governor Vetoes Bill To Protect Assets From Medi-Cal

Even the legislative Democrats understand that forcing people into a medical program, Medi-Cal, then stealing their assets when they die is not a good thing. Our very confused Guv Brown, himself very rich, thinks otherwise and vetoed a bill to have government act honestly with the elderly and the poor. If a person filed for Covered California, that agency could, without asking or permission enroll you in Medi-Cal. Among the hundreds of pages of documents, was a note that when you die your estate will pay for all the health care the State of California gave you—without telling you the cost.

Congrats to Brown—he has figured out a way to steal from the dead. Covered California is about power and control, not health care. Sadly Brown considers the stopping of theft a loss of money to the State.

“In a three-paragraph letter to the state senate, Brown advised legislators to consider the issue during the budget process. Brown wrote: “Allowing more estate protection for the next generation may be a worthy policy goal. The cost of this change, however, needs to be considered alongside other worthwhile policy changes in the budget process next year.”

300px-JerryBrownByPhilKonstantin

Calif. Governor Vetoes Bill To Protect Assets From Medi-Cal

By Diane Webber and Pauline Bartolone, Kaiser Health News, 9/26/14
This story is part of a partnership that includes Capital Public Radio, NPR and Kaiser Health News. It can be republished for free. (details)

With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Jerry Brown rejected an effort to protect the estates of Medicaid beneficiaries in California, the San Jose Mercury News reported Friday. The bill, which the Democratic governor vetoed on Thursday, would have shielded the assets of people who receive Medicaid, known as Medi-Cal in California, from being recouped by the state after their deaths.

In a three-paragraph letter to the state senate, Brown advised legislators to consider the issue during the budget process. Brown wrote: “Allowing more estate protection for the next generation may be a worthy policy goal. The cost of this change, however, needs to be considered alongside other worthwhile policy changes in the budget process next year.”

The issue is important to people like Anne-Louise Vernon, who recently signed up for Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of the program. Vernon told Pauline Bartolone of Capitol Public Radio that she fears using her new coverage.  “I feel so unsettled about this whole estate recovery thing that I’m afraid to go to the doctor,” she said.

The law has been on California’s books for two decades, but with the expansion of Medi-Cal it now has the potential to affect many more people.

More from Pauline Bartolone’s story for Kaiser Health News and Capitol Public Radio:

Elizabeth Landsberg of the Western Center on Law and Poverty said it turns what was intended to be a safety net program into a long-term loan program and undermines the security that families might pass on to the next generation.

“So in most cases it’s modest family homes that we’re talking about, and so the state will most often come back and put a lien on that home, and unfortunately it does force the kids to sell the homes sometimes,” said Landsberg.

Landsberg said the law is unfair under the Affordable Care Act, because other people buying insurance and getting premium subsidies through Covered California aren’t subject to the same rules.

“For the first time people have to have health coverage. So it’s created an inequity where the lowest income people could lose their assets, and other higher income people who are also getting publicly-subsidized health coverage have no worries,” said Landsberg.

This article was produced by Kaiser Health News with support from The SCAN Foundation.

How Much Corruption Allowed in Los Angeles Till Indictment?

Paul Koretz acts and votes like Barack Obama is a conservative. Nothing is too liberal for him. No tax is bad. No government regulation should be thrown away. This is a liberals, liberal. He was a West Hollywood city council member, a State Assembly member and now serves as an LA City Council member. As such he has been a voice for the union Left and a protector of his donors and friends—the infamous 1% and crony capitalists.

His actions in a city or country with real Districts or City Attorneys would cause investigations and indictments—in Los Angeles, it is just doing business. Corruption in LA is how the city operates—and Koretz is an operator.

“In January of 2008, the Housing Department cited the owners for their illegal third dwelling unit.  A year and a half later, in June of 2009, the owners applied for a variance from the City’s Planning Department.  However, in May of 2011, almost two years later, the Zoning Administrator denied the variance.  The owners’ appeal to the Area Planning Commission (“APC”) was also denied in late August, 2011.

Nevertheless, on September 9, 2011, City Councilman Paul Koretz filed a motion to assert jurisdiction over the APC’s decision.  And in no time at all, on October 4, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the variance.”

judge justice court

Paul Koretz: Abuse of Power

Written by Jack Humphreville, City Watch LA, 9/30/14

LA WATCHDOG-In January of 2013, the Superior Court ruled that the Los Angeles City Council “abused its discretion” when it overruled the Central Los Angeles Area Planning Commission’s denial of a zoning variance for a third residential unit on a 7,200 square foot corner lot at 1102 Stearns Drive in the mid-Wilshire area of the City.

In January of 2008, the Housing Department cited the owners for their illegal third dwelling unit.  A year and a half later, in June of 2009, the owners applied for a variance from the City’s Planning Department.  However, in May of 2011, almost two years later, the Zoning Administrator denied the variance.  The owners’ appeal to the Area Planning Commission (“APC”) was also denied in late August, 2011.

Nevertheless, on September 9, 2011, City Councilman Paul Koretz filed a motion to assert jurisdiction over the APC’s decision.  And in no time at all, on October 4, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the variance.

But why did Koretz take an interest in this minor zoning dispute?  Very simple!   According to several sources, the owners’ lawyer is a buddy of Richard Llewellyn, Koretz’ then chief of staff and now legal counsel to Mayor Eric Garcetti.

But using the powers of the City to assist his cronies seems to be standard operating procedure for Koretz.

For example, Koretz asserted jurisdiction (pursuant to Section 245 of the City Charter) over rulings by the West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission involving two monster mansions in Bel Air that are being developed by the Gabay brothers who are very generous contributors to the campaign coffers of numerous members of our City Council.

Ironically, Koretz, a vocal critic of the richest 1%, is coming to the rescue of stinking rich Beverly Hills developers who are building palaces for the top one-hundredth of 1% in one of the nation’s priciest neighborhoods.

Koretz also asserted jurisdiction over the South Valley Area Planning Commission involving an over height wall at 3951 Deervale Drive in Sherman Oaks that was built without the necessary permit and the appropriate setbacks.  Of course, this action supports the practice that it is easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, especially when you know the right people at City Hall.

Koretz has also allowed real estate deals to proceed in his Council District fiefdom that are contrary to the zoning regulations, resulting in an adverse impact on our quality of life.

For example, Koretz has supported JMB Realty’s 37 floor, 731,000 square foot office building in Century City that will burden the already clogged streets of the surrounding neighborhoods with even more traffic.  But this monstrosity that is three times the legal limit appears to have been green lighted as cash from Chicago based JMB has flowed to the downtown political establishment as well as to numerous neighborhood organizations and homeowner associations.

Given the opposition of the surrounding neighborhoods, JMB had to cancel a fund raiser for Koretz because it did not pass the smell test.  But not to worry since Koretz is not up for reelection until 2017.

Koretz has been notably silent on the development of the $162 million, 250 room Luskin Hotel and Conference Center on the UCLA campus, especially as it relates to the unfair competition with Westwood’s tax paying hotels.  He has also been unwilling to stand up for the City’s right to collect its 14% Transit Occupancy Tax (aka the hotel tax) that would provide our cash strapped City with over $2 million a year.

Koretz also supported a back room deal between a Texas land use speculator and the Planning Department where an over height development on Strathmore would be an illegal “warehouse” for UCLA students.  However, this “ram and jam” deal was derailed when a community group filed a lawsuit that resulted in an open, transparent, and enforceable settlement.

Koretz was also instrumental in the $1 a year lease of Fire House 83, a politically inspired giveaway fueled by campaign cash that was outlined in an August 26, 2014 CityWatch column, Encino’s Fire Station 83, a $1 a Year Fire Sale.

Not wanting to put our Fire Department to shame, Koretz is a supporter of nepotism as his wife works for Mayor Garcetti while his daughter was previously employed by his Council office.

Needless to say, this is probably only the tip of the iceberg, not only for Koretz, but the other members of our City Council who have placed their self-interest ahead of those of the City and all of its residents who are not dependent on favors from City Hall.

Until Koretz and his cohorts on the Herb Wesson led City Council and their campaign funding cronies clean up their act and put the interests of the residents at the front of the line, the voters will continue to question the motives of City Hall and reject any attempts to pick their pockets.

Eric Holder: Like George Wallace and Huey Long, a Thug Who Hurt the Cause of Civil Rights

Bigotry is alive and well in the United States. Without hesitation I would vote Eric Holder as the defender and protector of bigotry. As Attorney General his first act was to stop a trial of Black Panthers that used baseball bats to stop white voters from entering polling sites in Philadelphia—in other words they intimidated whites from voting—acting like the Ku Klux Klan—but as Black Panthers. He is using “race” as a reason to permit fraudulent votes in numerous States—and sues States that try to end fraud in the voting booth.

Holder sold guns to the drug cartels, protected the IRS corruption—defends them from legal action. Holder has been held in contempt of Congress for refusing—even after court orders—to provide documents. Eric Holder is a racist and thug in the style of George Wallace and Huey Long..bigotry is his way of operation.

Life according to Holder: “But did he ever think that his own left-wing and thuggish tactics were part of the reason why America was becoming divided, and some even radicalized (particularly African-Americans)?  Really, now…

… the Fort Worth military base massacre was “workplace violence”?

… trying alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian court in New York?

… sympathizing with black residents of Ferguson, Missouri to the extent that he helped stoke the riots and violence that occurred after the shooting death of Michael Brown?  And while both conservatives and liberals were appalled at the military equipment and show of force against the protestors, were the protestors not part of the problem as well?  It’s not THAT hard to proclaim “a pox on both of their houses”, is it?”

attorney-general-eric-holder

Eric Holder: Like George Wallace and Huey Long, a Thug Who Hurt the Cause of Civil Rights

Written by Ken Alpern, City Watch LA, 9/30/14

ALPERN AT LARGE-Whether or not one voted for President Obama in 2008 or 2012, his election and re-election was supposed to harbor an improvement in race relations in this nation.

Unfortunately, his choice of Eric Holder for Attorney General (and, by extension, his close friendship with Holder) calls into question whether Washington and the Justice Department is focused on uniting the nation … or just to exact REVENGE.

Of course, the question of WHO the REVENGE is supposed to be aimed at is one well worth asking–because this nation doesn’t just bleed red, white and blue–it also bleeds white, black, yellow and brown.  When our racially-diverse Olympic athletes or armed forces face the world, the world knows darned well where we come from, and what we’re all about.

So in the aftermath of Attorney Eric Holder’s resignation, and in the aftermath of the tragedy that was and is Ferguson, Missouri, it’s fair to ask ourselves as a nation–particularly those white and other Americans who voted for President Obama in 2008 as a leader to move beyond the divisiveness of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton–are we better off, and more united, since this President and Attorney General took office?

Well, if you think that “better off” and “united” means stepping on the collective neck of Americans who, after weighing the issues, have opted to become Republican, Libertarian or conservative, and getting them to “shut up” and be persecuted, I suppose you’re pretty happy–but for intellectually and morally honest Democrats and liberals, the persecution of any group of Americans is downright abhorrent.

There are very real racial issues to be explored and confronted, but the cartoonish and sophomoric idea of “blacks are victims … and good” and “whites are persecutors … and bad” is as ridiculous as the converse statement.  There are black victims of both white and non-white police officers, and of fellow blacks, and there is NO such thing as an acceptable violation of anyone’s civil rights (including the civil rights of police officers).

Furthermore, as brown/black racial animosity overshadows the everyday lives of minority Americans (who are on their way to no longer being a minority), and as the rise of Asian Americans becomes an everyday occurrence in this nation, the repetitive picking at the scab of anti-black racism in this nation becomes more annoying and less relevant by the day.

And as a West Los Angeles resident who has worked exhaustively for over a decade to advocate for a regional rail transportation system to bring the different geographic, economic and (of course) racial neighborhoods of the City and County together, getting past our racial divides carries a great deal of meaning to me.

Add to that my being a dermatologist, where I’m all-too-aware of how ridiculous racial differences are (differences in skin color have amazingly no relevance to intelligence or capabilities of all patients and of all ethnicities), and it’s understandable why I or any educated individual would find it both exasperating and annoying to see any political figure, of any race, adhere to racial animosities for personal or political gain.

Hence my conclusion, and that of many caring and educated Americans, that outgoing Attorney General Holder’s departure couldn’t come quickly enough, and his close friendship with President Obama merits more than a few questions about whether this President and Attorney General wanted to represent the entire nation … or just a portion of it:

1) As Attorney General Holder’s comments to Yahoo Global News Editor Katie Couric revealed, Holder was both concerned about the dangers of ISIS, Khorasan and al-Qaida creating domestic terrorism, and dismayed at how Americans were becoming radicalized and joining those movements.

But did he ever think that his own left-wing and thuggish tactics were part of the reason why America was becoming divided, and some even radicalized (particularly African-Americans)?  Really, now…

… the Fort Worth military base massacre was “workplace violence”?

… trying alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian court in New York?

… sympathizing with black residents of Ferguson, Missouri to the extent that he helped stoke the riots and violence that occurred after the shooting death of Michael Brown?  And while both conservatives and liberals were appalled at the military equipment and show of force against the protestors, were the protestors not part of the problem as well?  It’s not THAT hard to proclaim “a pox on both of their houses”, is it?

… ignoring and avoiding the recent beheading and attacks (both carried out and threatened) in Oklahoma? Yes, there are radicalized Americans of all colors, but it doesn’t take much to conclude that there is a dramatic overrepresentation of extremists/Islamists among us who are black.  We should be encouraging black Americans to rediscover America as THEIR nation, not stoke the resentment that Eric Holder has done.

2) Yes, Attorney General Holder knew first-hand what it was to be racially-profiled, but did he rise above his personal experiences and really fight for the dialogue about race he claimed our nation needed, or did he REALLY just want a pedantic, pediatric and petulant monologue that opportunistically came about with the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown tragedies?  Really, now…

… did Holder think he was the only victim of this world?  I’ve been physically attacked and my career threatened by bigots and racists because of my race (never mind that, as a Jew, I would have once been considered “non-white”), and I’ve had family and friends of all ethnicities become victims of racism at one time or another, but REVENGE has no role in a nation that wishes to heal.

… ignoring and avoiding the years of black-on-white “Knockout Game” violence until a white perpetrator carried it out on a black victim in Houston?

… establishing a “presumed guilt before innocence” in the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases as a new form of “justice” in this nation?

3) Finally, Holder’s worst offense was and is in using the Attorney General’s office as a political weapon against those who were on President Obama’s “enemy list” in a manner that would have made former and late President Richard Nixon blush.  Really, now…

… ignoring the IRS attacks on conservative groups before the last presidential election?

… ignoring the gun-running disaster that was Fast and Furious, and which led to the death of a Border Patrol agent, and which merited contempt of Congress charges?

… ignoring the plight of an innocent U.S. Marine rotting in a Mexican prison for political expedience?

… taking the stance that voter I.D. laws (which potentially protects both parties against voter fraud) were unconstitutional, and demonizing those cities and states who merely wanted adherence to current immigration law as also unconstitutional?

The epitaph and historical references of the term of office of outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder (and, by extension, President Obama) will likely note that Holder had a glorious opportunity to bring the nation together, to recognize all sides of the thorny issues of racism and racial inequality, and to craft both a spirit of compromise and mutual forgiveness that recognized heroes and villains of all sides and of all colors.

Instead, Attorney General Eric Holder (and, by extension, President Obama) chose an attack-the-GOP-and-defend-the-President-at-all-costs approach, which is NOT what the Attorney General is supposed to be.  The Attorney General is not supposed to be a racial/power-obsessed thug like George Wallace, Huey Long or even Richard Nixon…regardless of the presumed merits of his efforts.

Perhaps those on the Left watching the thrashing the nation, and shredding of our national cohesion, under this current administration (and blaming only one side, of course!) would do well to ask what happened when this occurred with a Republican President…like, say, one Richard M. Nixon and his band of politically-obsessed cronies.

Attorney General Holder’s job of being a watchdog for the entire nation–including the President–was compromised by his close friendship with that same President.

And we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope that the next Attorney General (and, by extension, the next President) will finally start healing the damage caused by a power-driven, revenge-driven, politically-driven Attorney General who will be a prime example of how NOT to be an American leader.

 

Los Angeles Is Building an e-Highway

Great news for the trucking industry and drivers in the Los Angeles area. Actually only in a twenty mile range of the port to downtown Los Angeles. The city of LA and Long Beach are creating a private electrified road from the port to the city. This is emission free! Of course that is a lie. But government does not know how to tell the truth. While the trucks will have special attachments, probably paid for by taxpayer, to get the electric current, the cause of the electricity will create emissions.

The famous statement comes to mind, “Pay me now or pay me later”. In this case it is Pay me before or pay me later.

“The e-highway consists of an overhead catenary system that will run along the outside lanes of both sides of the road, sort of like the overhead wires that provide power to electric buses, trolleys, and trains in cities. Specially outfitted hybrid or all-electric trucks can attach to the system using automated current-transfer devices called pantographs. Once connected, the trucks will pull all their power from the overhead lines, effectively becoming emission-free vehicles.”

But where does that electricity come from? Fantasy Land?

440px-United_States_Postal_Service_Truck

Los Angeles Is Building an e-Highway

The road would eliminate truck emissions, and is being tested in a corridor that connects the port to downtown.

Nate Berg, City Lab, 9/30/14

The neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach bring in roughly 40 percent of the goods shipped to the United States. Once there, the first leg of their journey to warehouses and stores and cities across the country is a 20-mile stretch of roadway between the ports and downtown L.A. known as the Alameda Corridor, used almost exclusively by large trucks hauling goods between the ports and various freight rail links. The corridor’s high concentration of diesel-truck traffic has created a similarly high concentration of pollution in the surrounding areas, causing health and air-quality concerns for nearby residents and the region as a whole.

But a new road design project dubbed the e-highway is aiming to reduce and maybe even eliminate the pollution problems caused by all this truck traffic. The experimental system is being built along a mile of the corridor to test how highly polluting diesel truck traffic could instead run on emission-free electric power. If successful, this demonstration could offer a solution to pollution-related problems along the Alameda Corridor and other high-traffic roadways all over the world.

The e-highway consists of an overhead catenary system that will run along the outside lanes of both sides of the road, sort of like the overhead wires that provide power to electric buses, trolleys, and trains in cities. Specially outfitted hybrid or all-electric trucks can attach to the system using automated current-transfer devices called pantographs. Once connected, the trucks will pull all their power from the overhead lines, effectively becoming emission-free vehicles.

The $13 million project is a collaboration between the electronics and engineering company Siemens and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the public agency tasked with controlling air pollution in Orange County and the urban parts of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. Construction is underway, and officials behind the project expect the two-way, one-mile system to be operational by July 2015. SCAQMD will then conduct a yearlong test of the system using up to four different trucks, each with a different engine type and fuel source. Though four trucks are just a small fraction of the corridor’s traffic on any given day, they could pave the way for a larger-scale transition of port truck traffic from diesel to electric—in L.A. and beyond.

“It makes a lot of sense to deploy this system where you need to bridge a short area, where the distance isn’t too long, where you have heavy traffic from trucks,” says Matthias Schlelein, president of Siemens’ mobility and logistics division in the U.S.

Schlelein says the project has three main goals: to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, to preserve the flexibility of trucks in the goods movement chain, and to be operationally cost-effective. He’s confident the system will work, because Siemens has been testing a prototype of this overhead system at one of its German facilities. Schlelein says the L.A. ports complex is an ideal place to use the technology in the real world.

It’s also a place in need of new solutions. A 2010 study from the University of California Transportation Center estimated that the annual cost of health impacts from exposure to pollutants in the major freight corridors around the ports—measured by increased incidence of respiratory illnesses and premature deaths—was roughly $900 million. And another study by researchers at the University of Southern California, in 2005, found striking correlations between childhood asthma and proximity to major corridors and freeways.

“For our region, on-road, big, heavy-duty trucks contribute the most NOX emissions, which in turn form smog or ozone,” says Matt Miyasoto, deputy executive officer for science and technology advancement at SCAQMD. Miyasoto says the worst polluters are heavy-duty diesel technologies like trucks, bulldozers, graders, marine vessels, and locomotives. “They’re all conventional, big diesel engines,” he says, “and they’re all related to the goods movement chain.”

The impact of this pollution is being felt on the ground in the communities surrounding the major corridors leading out of the ports. “We think there’s a disproportional impact on the areas that run along these major corridors,” says Miyasoto. “We do believe it’s an environmental justice issue, and technologies like these which give us zero emission miles in areas where you need it are necessary to ensure not only that the economic engine of our region, the ports, can continue to do business and grow but that the communities aren’t adversely impacted.”

Funding for the project is coming from a variety of organizations, including the California Energy Commission, the California Environmental Protection Agency, SCAQMD, the Port of Long Beach, and potentially the Port of Los Angeles. Some community groups in the areas immediately adjacent to the ports and the Alameda Corridor have also contributed.

“We do believe it’s an environmental justice issue.”

Miyasoto says it’s in everyone’s best interest to start looking for and implementing this type of solution to freight emissions. If the EPA implements stricter standards on the amount of allowable pollutants in the air, as he expects, more high-traffic areas across the country will find themselves in non-compliance. The e-highway could be a relatively quick way to transition from heavily polluting vehicles to those that are emission-free. “We can look at any long stretch of corridor that is near populated areas and envision that this could be a solution for that area,” Miyasoto says.

The one-mile test of the e-highway system may just be the start. Miyasoto says the various funders are hoping to expand the system along the remaining three miles from the ports to the major railhead, and there are discussions underway about a 20-mile northwest corridor that could connect the ports with inland warehouse complexes. If this first mile test works out, it could help provide a healthier future for high-traffic corridors around the world.

 

Los Angeles County Becoming West Coast Version of NSA

Los Angeles County may be looking to secede from the Union. Like the NSA, they have set up a massive database of DNA, fingerprints, collected emails, text messages, points of travel and more.   If the County leaves the Nation, it will have intimate records on tens of millions of people—the eight million that live in the county and the tens of millions that come into the County to work, visit or be tourists. If LA County was honest they would have signs notifying residents and visitors that this is a police State, we track and keep records on everything you do.

“Officials with the sheriff’s department, which operates the countywide system, said the biometric information would be retained indefinitely – regardless of whether the person in question is convicted of the crime for which he or she was arrested.

The system is expected to be fully operational in two or three years, according to the sheriff’s department.

All of this is happening without hearings or public input, yet technology companies already are bidding to build the system, interviews and documents show. Officials would not disclose the expected cost of the project or which companies are bidding but said it would be a multimillion-dollar undertaking.”

National Security Agency NSA

LA County to collect more personal data without public notice

By Ali Winston, Center for Investigative Reporting, 9/24/14

LOS ANGELES – Without notice to the public, Los Angeles County law enforcement officials are preparing to widen what personal information they collect from people they encounter in the field and in jail – by building a massive database of iris scans, fingerprints, mug shots, palm prints and, potentially, voice recordings.

The new database of personal information – dubbed a multimodal biometric identification system – would augment the county’s existing database of fingerprint records and create the largest law enforcement repository outside of the FBI of so-called next-generation biometric identification, according to county sheriff’s department documents.

On Sept. 15, the FBI announced that the Next Generation Identification System was fully operational. Now that the central infrastructure is in place, the next phase is for local jurisdictions across the country to update their own information-gathering systems to the FBI’s standards.

When the system is up and running in L.A., any law enforcement official working in the county, including the Los Angeles Police Department, would collect biometric information on people who are booked into county jails or by using mobile devices in the field.

This would occur even when people are stopped for lesser offenses or pulled over for minor traffic violations, according to documents obtained by The Center for Investigative Reporting through a public records request.

Officials with the sheriff’s department, which operates the countywide system, said the biometric information would be retained indefinitely – regardless of whether the person in question is convicted of the crime for which he or she was arrested.

The system is expected to be fully operational in two or three years, according to the sheriff’s department.

All of this is happening without hearings or public input, yet technology companies already are bidding to build the system, interviews and documents show. Officials would not disclose the expected cost of the project or which companies are bidding but said it would be a multimillion-dollar undertaking.

The new system is being readied as the public has become increasingly concerned about privacy invasions by the government, corporations and Internet sources. Privacy advocates worry the public is losing any sense of control over the widespread collection of data on its purchases, travel habits, friendships, health, business transactions and personal communications.

At the same time, cities and counties across the country are facing renewed scrutiny for accepting the transfer of military technology from the Pentagon. Thenational biometric database is part of the transition of military-grade technologies and information-gathering strategies from the Pentagon to civilian law enforcement. During the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade, the U.S. military collected and stored biometric information on millions of civilians and militants.

In 2008, President George W. Bush required the Defense, Homeland Security and Justice departments to establish common standards for collecting and sharing biometric information like iris scans and photos optimized for facial recognition. Law enforcement agencies have been testing mobile systems for documenting biometric information, including a facial recognition program uncovered in San Diego County last fall.

Authorities in California already collect DNA swabs from arrestees booked into county jails, a practice upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court and this year by a federal appeals court in California. Dozens of other states also collect DNA samples from arrestees.

Documents from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department show its database will house information on up to 15 million subjects, giving the department a major stake in the Next Generation Identification program, a billion-dollar update to the FBI’s national fingerprint database and the largest information technology project in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice.

For privacy advocates, the development of the Los Angeles biometric system without any public oversight or debate and an indefinite data retention policy are causes for concern.

Jeramie Scott, national security counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said it’s critical for the public to be aware that this new technology is being rolled out, because the information held by law enforcement poses unique threats to privacy and anonymity.

“Biometric data is something you cannot change if it is compromised,” Scott said. “There are privacy and civil liberties implications that come from law enforcement having multiple ways to identify someone without their consent.”

Scott, whose organization has sued the FBI to release information related to Next General Identification, added: “It becomes a one-sided debate when law enforcement alone is making that decision to use new technologies on the public.”

Hamid Khan, an organizer with the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition who studies police surveillance, said the arrival of Next Generation Identification means Los Angeles is now a frontier in the battle for privacy.

“Now our whole bodies are up for grabs,” Khan said.

The multimodal biometric system under development by the sheriff’s department will collect four out of the five “inputs” used by the Next Generation Identification program – fingerprints, mug shots, iris scans and palm prints. Voice recordings are the fifth input.

The L.A. system is designed to transmit and receive data to and from the FBI and the California Department of Justice, which has its own biometric database.

Originally announced in 2008, Next Generation Identification is being rolled out across the country this year after pilot projects were carried out in Michigan, Maryland, Texas, Maine and New Mexico. About 17 million facial records already were integrated into Next Generation Identification as of January.

Without public notice, Los Angeles County law enforcement officials are building a massive database of biometric information, including iris scans.

Earlier this year, residents and city officials in Compton were outraged that Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials had experimented with a cutting-edge aerial surveillance tool known as wide-area surveillance without any prior public notice.

“A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so in order to mitigate any of those kinds of complaints, we basically kept it pretty hush-hush,” sheriff’s Sgt. Douglas Iketani told CIR earlier this year.

Sheriff’s Lt. Joshua Thai, who is in charge of implementing the county’s new biometric database, said the department currently is collecting only fingerprints and has used mobile devices since 2006 to check the fingerprints of people stopped on the street against the county’s records.

Thai said biometric information would be collected from people only when they are arrested and booked, but the mobile devices would be used to verify individuals’ identities in the field.

“It could be somebody gets pulled over for a traffic violation and he or she does not have a driver’s license on him or her, and the officer is just trying to identify this person,” he said.

Thai said the goal of the project is to help law enforcement officers better identify the people they contact and avoid wrongful arrests. “What we’re hoping is that based on the mug shot is that that will compensate some of the biometrics to maybe better identify this person,” Thai said.

The sheriff’s department declined to release information on which companies were already bidding to install the new system.

According to federal guidelines for the storage of biometric data in Next Generation Identification, information on an individual with a criminal record will be kept until that person is 99 years old. Information on a person without a criminal record will be purged when he or she turns 75.

The FBI’s guidelines for keeping biometric data on individuals, regardless of whether they have criminal records, “amounts to an indefinite retention period,” said Peter Bibring, a senior staff attorney with theSouthern California ACLU. If the Next Generation Identification database simply were an update to the FBI’s existing fingerprint database, Bibring said the project wouldn’t be problematic.

However, he said the biometric database “significantly expands the type of data law enforcement collects and creates a more invasive system” that may encourage police officers to make more stops in the field to gather photographs and biometric data for the new database.

Experts say the collection and storage of biometric information creates challenges for the legal system and personal privacy – challenges that have not been adequately considered in the planning and implementation of Next Generation Identification.

Bibring said the new database, if paired with facial recognition-enabled surveillance cameras, could drastically increase law enforcement’s ability to track a person’s movements just as license-plate readers track vehicles.

“The federal government is creating an architecture that will make it easy to identify where people are and were,” Bibring said. “It threatens people’s anonymity and ability to move about without being monitored.”

Scott, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said FBI documents obtained by the center make it clear that uncertainty lingers about who has access to the biometric data that will be stored in the new federal database, and he has doubts regarding the security of such information.

Dozens of Southern California law enforcement agencies have been using mobile fingerprinting devices in the field for roughly a decade. Gang officers routinely submit fingerprints, mug shots and photographs of tattoos and unique scars of suspected gang members to the statewide CalGang database, which contains information on over 130,000 individuals statewide.
Peter Bibring of the Southern California ACLU says new biometric data could greatly increase law enforcement’s ability to track a person’s movements.

The national biometric database also has come under fire from privacy advocates and civil libertarians because it is being implemented without a thorough study of its impact on privacy – which is required by federal law.

“They need to do this before any pilot programs, of which they’ve done two for facial recognition and iris recognition,” Scott said. “They’re not meeting their legal obligations, which is now being followed up by state and local authorities.”

Khan, of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, said such sensitive information in the hands of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department raises further questions about oversight and information security.

“When we look at the multiple contractors and subcontractors and who will have access to this information,” he said, “the whole issue of identity theft comes to mind.”

Ring: Palo Alto’s Proposed New Pension Tax – Oops, Hotel Tax

In government money is fungible. City councils take money from roads or law enforcement and pay off the increased mandated contributions from CalPERS (total will be a 50% increase). Then they claim they do not have the money for cops or roads, so need a tax increase. That is how corruption works in California.

In Palo Alto, home of the transparent Progressive it is worse. The City is putting a 2% increase for the hotel/motel tax. The money does not go to tourism or roads or amenities—it goes to the general fund. Oh, even if all the money comes in from this increase, it only pays HALF of the increase in CalPERS fees!

“As documented here, and here, Palo Alto, like all CalPERS participants, will be required to increase their pension contribution by 50% between now and 2017, i.e., by around $9.0 million per year.

The hotel tax, if passed, will cover less than half of Palo Alto’s imminent contribution increases to CalPERS. Expect more tax increases, and fewer city services, or…

Palo Alto, like Watsonville, and nearly every other local entity that is asking voters to increase taxes this November, needs new taxes to help comply with the incessant, irresistible, slavering, escalating, parasitic, insatiable demands of CalPERS. They can say the money is for anything they want. But money is fungible.”

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Palo Alto’s Proposed New Pension Tax – Oops, Hotel Tax

ByEd Ring, Union Watch, 9/30/14

Fungible – definition – “able to replace or be replaced by another identical item; mutually interchangeable.”

On November 4th, Palo Alto voters will be asked to approve Measure B, with only a simple majority required for passage. According to a summary compiled by the California Taxpayers Association, “2014 Local Elections,”Measure B “increases the city hotel/motel tax by 2% and extends the tax to apply to online bookings, to fund general city services.”

According to an article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal entitled “Palo Alto 2% hotel tax hike headed for November ballot,” “About $4.6 million would be generated annually through a combination of the potential tax increase and funds generated by several new hotels slated to open in the city.”

Analysis of raw data downloaded from the California State Controller’s website, and available for review on the spreadsheet produced by the California Policy Center “Palo_Alto_2012_Stats.xlxs,” the total employer pension contribution made by the City of Palo Alto to CalPERS in 2012 was $20.7 million. That includes $1.9 million of pension contributions that are supposed to be made by employees via paycheck withholding, but which the city helpfully pays for them. On the spreadsheet ref. tab “Palo Alto Payroll SCO 2012.” column O, rows 2-12, “Employees Retirement Cost Covered” [by employer].

As documented here, and here, Palo Alto, like all CalPERS participants, will be required to increase their pension contribution by 50% between now and 2017, i.e., by around $9.0 million per year.

The hotel tax, if passed, will cover less than half of Palo Alto’s imminent contribution increases to CalPERS. Expect more tax increases, and fewer city services, or…

Palo Alto, like Watsonville, and nearly every other local entity that is asking voters to increase taxes this November, needs new taxes to help comply with the incessant, irresistible, slavering, escalating, parasitic, insatiable demands of CalPERS. They can say the money is for anything they want. But money is fungible.

As Carl DeMaio, former San Diego councilmember and current congressional candidate, once famously put it, framing policy options as either involving higher taxes or fewer services is a “false choice.” The third rail of California politics, still deadly to any politician, state or local, who moves beyond rhetoric to action, is to lower compensation and pensions. But it is an option. One more market downturn, and it will magically morph from an option to an imperative.

Here’s a summary of Palo Alto’s city worker average compensation:
–  Police – Base pay plus overtime $116,401, benefits incl. pension, $48,075, total $164,476.
–  Fire – Base pay plus overtime $132,011, benefits incl. pension, $49,326, total $181,337.
–  Other – Base pay plus overtime $90,306, benefits incl. pension, $36,140, total $126,446.

From the city website, here are highlights from Palo Alto’s “salaries and benefits:”
–  Fully paid employee and dependent dental and vision plan.
–  Fully paid life and disability insurance equal to annual salary and long term disability plan (not included in State Controller data).
–  Two to five weeks vacation, 12 holidays, and 12 paid sick days.
–  90% paid employee and dependent medical plan.

From data obtained by the California Policy Center’s Transparent California project, here are the average pension benefits for City of Palo Alto retirees since 2000 (i.e., since benefit formulas were enhanced):
–  For 30+ years of service, $91,348 per year.
–  For 25-30 years of service, $75,437 per year.
–  For 20-25 years of service, $53,946 per year.

To put this in perspective, while veteran employees of the City of Palo Alto are paying for 10% of their annual health care premiums, middle aged married couples working as private sector independent contractors with base incomes comparable to the average non-safety Palo Alto city worker are paying household premiums – either to individual health insurers or on the exchanges – including deductibles, of approximately $30,000 per year. Thirty thousand dollars. While their taxes then pay for 90% of these same premiums as they apply to their public servants.

To further put this in perspective, while someone working for the City of Palo Alto may retire after 30 years work with a pension that averages $91,348 per year, an independent contractor with comparable annual earnings will contribute 12.4% of their gross earnings to Social Security – more than virtually anyone in local government contributes to their pensions via withholding – in return for a projected Social Security benefit of around $25,000 per year beginning after 40+ years work. Yet their taxes are being increased to maintain these pensions for their public servants.

In Palo Alto, and in general throughout the Silicon Valley, the wealthy elites condone the public sector union greed that has lead to this abominable inequity. They are so rich they consider it churlish to question levels of compensation that to them, seem such a pittance. In turn, because their excessive compensation effectively exempts them from its consequences, public employees and their unions support the misanthropic policies of this elite – artificial scarcity in the name of environmentalism; causing higher prices for housing, land, energy and water.

The solution to the challenges of social equity is not higher taxes to benefit government workers. The solution is to lower the cost of living for everyone through resource development and capitalist competition. To do this, government workers and their unions will have to make common cause with ordinary private sector workers, instead of with the wealthy elites and their political cronies who reside in an insular and privileged world, filled with utopian visions and plans for everyone.

 

Study: Carbon emissions, climate change likely behind California drought

The heartbreak of psoriasis is caused by, drum roll please, climate change. Did you know that Tom Brady the other night was so bad because of, climate change. Obama confusion as to who he represents and the Eric Holder bigotry is all because of global warming. The Left also believes the drought, the war in the Middle East and poverty is caused by global warming.

Blame the ills of the world on global warming? Then I believe Barack Obama is because of climate change as well.

“Carbon emissions that have been put into the Earth’s atmosphere by human activities since the Industrial Revolution are “very likely” behind California’s ongoing epic drought, a study led by a Stanford University climate change scientist has found.

The winter storms that normally bring the rain and snow that fills California reservoirs have stayed away for the past two winters, steered north to Alaska and the Arctic Circle by a wall of high atmospheric pressure.”

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Study: Carbon emissions, climate change likely behind California drought

By Chris Roberts SF Examiner, 9/30/14

The worst dry period in California’s natural history may not be an entirely natural disaster.

Carbon emissions that have been put into the Earth’s atmosphere by human activities since the Industrial Revolution are “very likely” behind California’s ongoing epic drought, a study led by a Stanford University climate change scientist has found.

The winter storms that normally bring the rain and snow that fills California reservoirs have stayed away for the past two winters, steered north to Alaska and the Arctic Circle by a wall of high atmospheric pressure.

This wall has periodically popped up consistently throughout the history of the region. But thanks to greenhouse-gas emissions, the likelihood of the wall of pressure appearing — and not moving — has now greatly increased, according to the study published in the journal of the American Meteorological Society.

The drought-causing ridge is now three times as likely to appear as it was in the days before industrialization, the study found.

“This highlights the fact that the climate has already changed as a result of human activities,” said Daniel Swain, a Ph.D. student at Stanford and the study’s lead author.

The study was one of five reviews of human impact on changing weather patterns around the world published Monday, three of which studied climate change’s impact on the California drought.

One review found that while the overall “warming trend” helps the rain-blocking wall of pressure to appear, warming also creates more humidity that could bring more rain.

Another review found that “substantial warming” in the Pacific region did not contribute heavily to the drought, but noted that extreme weather events like the drought are “very unlikely” to happen without human-caused climate change. Stanford researchers dubbed the wall of pressure the “ridiculously resilient ridge.” The phenomenon appeared suddenly in January 2013, abruptly cutting that winter’s rains short.

Instead of disappearing as predicted, the ridge hung around for a year, making the 2013-14 winter bone-dry and delaying any subsequent rainy season “by four months,” according to the Stanford study.

The drought, which is about to enter its fourth year, is one of the driest periods ever recorded in California. The dry spell has cost the state economy $2.2 billion and 17,000 jobs, officials say.

All 58 counties have been declared disaster zones, and Gov. Jerry Brown has called on Californians to cut their water use by 20 percent.

San Francisco has fared better than most — Mayor Ed Lee has called on The City to cut its water use by only 10 percent — but 20 percent cutbacks appear likely next year if this winter is not remarkably wet, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission said last week.

Will the ridge reappear this winter? It’s hard to say, Swain said Monday.

“Hopefully not, but we don’t know,” he said. “There aren’t right now any strong signals for a wet or dry winter … we don’t know what’s going to happen this winter.”

Even if the rains begin in the coming weeks, another year of drought appears certain if the ridge pops up again in January.

 

L.A. Economy Lags, Shows Spotty Growth

California is in a Depression. The largest city and County in the State, Los Angeles is also in a Depression. The Mayor of Los Angeles admits that 40% of the workers in his city get paid minimum wage, with many of these only part timers with few if any benefits. Los Angeles has potholes the size of bomb craters in the Middle East. Taxes are high and corruption is the order of the day. Need a variance, become friends with Councilman Koretz. Want to blame the victim of a crime? Several council members specialize in that?

Evidence that the city is a Third World wannabee, re the numbers. Though employment is higher, real wages are significantly lower—due to part time work being the norm.

“But while the number of jobs grew, average wages in Los Angeles fell 1.2 percent last year, according to the report, a fact that’s provided ammunition for proponents of raising the city’s minimum wage. Last week, the City Council approved a hike in the minimum wage to $15.37 an hour for nonunion hotels with more than 150 rooms. Mayor Eric Garcetti has also put forward a proposal to raise the minimum wage citywide to $13.25 an hour by 2017.”

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image19890499

L.A. Economy Lags, Shows Spotty Growth

By Howard Fine, LA Business Journal, 9/30/14

The economic recovery in Los Angeles has been uneven and lags behind the rest of the state and nation, according to a report to be released this morning by Beacon Economics and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

The report, released as part of the chamber’s annual Los Angeles City Hall lobbying day, says the unemployment rate in the city of Los Angeles has remained stubbornly high. At 9.2 percent, it’s more than three percentage points above the national average.

The high unemployment rate came despite 1.3 percent growth last year in employer payrolls to 1.56 million jobs in the city. Private sector employment grew even faster, at 1.8 percent, to 1.32 million jobs.

Fourteen of Los Angeles’15 council districts recorded private sector payroll job growth; the one exception was in the Westside district 11, which includes West Los Angeles, Venice and the area around Los Angeles International Airport. The transportation and warehousing sector in that district was hit hard, with employment plunging 4.6 percent, more than offsetting growth of tech companies in the district.

For the second year in a row, council district 8 in South Los Angeles ranked tops in job growth, gaining 900 jobs for a growth rate of 4.2 percent.

But while the number of jobs grew, average wages in Los Angeles fell 1.2 percent last year, according to the report, a fact that’s provided ammunition for proponents of raising the city’s minimum wage. Last week, the City Council approved a hike in the minimum wage to $15.37 an hour for nonunion hotels with more than 150 rooms. Mayor Eric Garcetti has also put forward a proposal to raise the minimum wage citywide to $13.25 an hour by 2017.

The chamber plans to use the report as it lobbies city officials to pursue policies that promote job growth. Among the chamber’s top priorities: phasing out the gross receipts tax, continuing the modernization of Los Angeles International Airport and building more affordable and market-rate housing.

Mexico Pays for Attorneys to Keep Illegal Aliens in USA—They Do NOT Want Them Back

If you are a sovereign nation do you want law breakers in your country? Do you want people that do not care about the law, lie to government agencies and steal from honest citizens inside your nation? If you could keep them out, it is cheaper to keep out law breakers than pay for the victimization of your honest citizens.

Mexico is a smart nation—it is paying to allow their law breakers to stay in our nation? Why do we put up with this? Instead, allow the illegal aliens to challenge their deportation—from their nation country. Why should we allow them jobs, to violate our citizens, to crowd our schools and jails? Let them fight the legal battle from their homeland—not ours. Oh, Obama gives them PERMISSION to work in our nation for two years—taking jobs from honest people.

“But 45 percent of those who are eligible for DACA have not applied, and the cost may be holding some back. Immigrants have to pay a total of $465 to the Department of Homeland Security for fees related to the work permit and for required fingerprinting.

Mexican consulates around the U.S. have been paying those fees for some applicants through a little-known program for Mexican citizens with financial need.”

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Mexico pays to help its citizens avoid deportation from US

Hansi Lo Wang | NPR, 9/30/14

Mexico is helping some of its citizens apply for a controversial immigration program in the U.S. called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Since the Obama administration created the program in 2012, more than 580,000 unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors have received temporary relief from deportation and been given work permits that last for at least two years.

But 45 percent of those who are eligible for DACA have not applied, and the cost may be holding some back. Immigrants have to pay a total of $465 to the Department of Homeland Security for fees related to the work permit and for required fingerprinting.

Mexican consulates around the U.S. have been paying those fees for some applicants through a little-known program for Mexican citizens with financial need.

Money a big factor

Before applying for DACA, Tania Guzman was worried about revealing to the U.S. government that she left Mexico City and crossed the border illegally when she was 7 years old.

Now 30, Guzman says she also worried about the cost, especially after she learned she would have to pay at least a couple of thousand dollars for immigration attorneys to help prepare her DACA application.

“It was a big factor,” says Guzman, who works as a part-time personal assistant and baby sitter in Los Angeles. “It’s a lot of money, and I was struggling.”

She finally managed to apply last October after her lawyer from Public Counsel, a pro bono law firm based in California, told her she qualified for financial assistance from the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles. Since 2012, that consulate has set aside $250,000 to help, so far, more than 260 Mexican citizens apply for DACA.

Guzman, who was granted deferred action in May, says she paid $50. The rest of her attorney’s and application fees were covered by Mexico.

“We are here [in the U.S.] basically not doing anything for our country, I will say. So it’s a great thing to know that even though you’re not in Mexico, you still get help from them,” Guzman says.

Helping Mexicans wherever they are

The Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., does not keep track of how many DACA applications the consulates have funded nationwide, according to Julian Escutia, head of the embassy’s consular coordination and Hispanic affairs section.

Escutia, who oversees national programs for Mexico’s 50 consulates around the U.S., stresses that financial assistance for Mexican citizens applying for DACA is limited and based on need.

“This is on a case-by-case basis,” he explained in an interview at the embassy. “We are not in the position of assisting all of them financially.”

Paying for DACA applications, he added, is just one way Mexican consulates are trying to support Mexican citizens living in the U.S.

“If it’s a program that helps youth to work in this country, well, that helps our nationals, and that helps us,” he said.

When asked why Mexico is helping its citizens find ways to stay in the U.S., Escutia said that is not the Mexican government’s main objective.

“Our main objective is the well-being of our nationals wherever they are,” he said. “So what we want for them is that they are successful and really continue contributing to this country [the U.S.].”

An official with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which reviews DACA applications, told NPR that foreign governments are not restricted from providing filing fees because the agency has “no way of knowing where any fees might have originated.”

About 80 percent of immigrants applying for DACA come from Mexico, according to USCIS. Among the other top five countries of origin, neither El Salvador nor South Korea has provided financial assistance to applicants, while the embassies of Guatemala and Honduras did not return requests for comment by deadline.

Raising ‘an eyebrow or two’

DACA has sparked heated debate in Congress, with House Republicans questioning whether President Obama had the constitutional authority to enact the program. In August, they passed a measure to end the DACA program, which was also the focus of a lawsuit by a group of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Escutia said the controversy about DACA was a “domestic issue” for the U.S. to sort out.

“We are not entering into the political debate about DACA,” he said. “It’s one option that is available to our nationals, and if they choose to apply for it, we are certainly happy to help them.”

Mexico’s support for DACA applicants may seem counterintuitive, says Emily Edmonds-Poli, a professor who teaches Mexican politics at the University of San Diego, but she said it shows that the Mexican government is acknowledging a decades-long migration trend that led to 9 percent of people born in Mexico now living in the U.S.

That has driven Mexico to build better relations with Mexicans abroad in hopes of maintaining remittance flows and other cross-border economic activity.

“I think the message that it’s trying to send is that the Mexican government supports its population living in the U.S.,” Edmonds-Poli says. “I don’t think that that is the message that will be received in the U.S.”