Obama Economic Policies Inflate Price of Chicken, Fish and Beef—Michelle Loves This

Michelle Obama must have broken out a bottle of the best White House champagne last night. Her policies, instituted by her husband has caused massive increases in the price of food. The rich don’t care—they can afford 10, 15 or 20% increases. It is the poor and middle class, the targets of the Obama’s that are harmed. The children of these families have parents deciding to buy lower quality food, less food and cutting back on necessities to live a good life. The Obama’s are using economic policy to made people poor so that cannot afford fish, beef or chicken. Shame on us for allowing this to happen to our nation.

Two months ago I paid $.99 a pound for chicken at Von’s (Safeway). Yesterday the cost was $1.29 a pound—a 30% increase in two months.

““The index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs has risen 7.7 percent over the span [last year],” says the BLS. “The index for food at home increased 0.7 percent, its largest increase since July 2011. Five of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased in May. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 1.4 percent in May after a 1.5 increase in April, with virtually all its major components increasing,” BLS states

UNandUSFish

Price Index for Meats, Poultry, Fish & Eggs Rockets to All-Time High

By Ali Meyer,CNSNews.com, 6/17/14

The seasonally-adjusted price index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs hit an all-time high in May, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In January 1967, when the BLS started tracking this measure, the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs was 38.1. As of last May, it was 234.572. By this January, it hit 240.006. By April, it hit 249.362. And, in May, it climbed to a record 252.832.

“The index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs has risen 7.7 percent over the span [last year],” says the BLS. “The index for food at home increased 0.7 percent, its largest increase since July 2011. Five of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased in May. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 1.4 percent in May after a 1.5 increase in April, with virtually all its major components increasing,” BLS states.

In addition to this food index, the price for fresh whole chickens hit its all-time high in the United States in May.

In January 1980, when the BLS started tracking the price of this commodity, fresh whole chickens cost $0.70 per pound. By this May 2014, fresh whole chickens cost $1.56 per pound.

A decade ago, in May 2004, a pound of fresh chicken cost $1.04. Since then, the price has gone up 50%.

Each month, the BLS employs data collectors to visit thousands of retail stores all over the United States to obtain information on the prices of thousands of items to measure changes for the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The CPI is simply the average change over time in prices paid by consumers for a market basket of goods and services.

The BLS found that there was a 0.7% change in the prices for the food at home index in May, which tracks foods like meats, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy, as well as many others.

 

Environmentalists KILL California Water Bill

California has a drought that is natural. Our lack of water is government made. For instance, our water is used for “restoration” purposes, delta smelt, fairy shrimp and salmon instead of for people, keep and create jobs and to assure a decent quality of life. Government has created policies killing off hundreds of thousands of acres of prime agriculture land, killing jobs and forcing the cost of living to soar.

A bill was presented in Congress to provide some relief—and Democrats from Northern California—all self-proclaimed leaders of the environmental movement, working with non-California Republicans, killed an opportunity to save jobs.

“Congressman David Valadao (R-Hanford), who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, says a “manager’s amendment pulled it out.” Why? Valadao says they got a lot of bipartisan pushback.

Some of that pushback came from northern California liberals like Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), George Miller (D-Martinez), and John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove). Garamendi says as a member of the minority party, they’ve been relying on Op-eds in California papers to give them some clout.”

Courtesy Smabs Sputzer, Flickr

Courtesy Smabs Sputzer, Flickr

The life — and death — of a surprise drought measure

Kitty Felde, KPCC, 6/18/14

Bipartisan opposition sank the surprise drought provision.

There are lots of ways to get what you want on Capitol Hill.

Central Valley lawmakers want more water for farmers in their district. And this week, they tried some creative lawmaking to break the logjam over legislation.

The House passed a drought relief bill back in February. It was backed by the entire California Republican delegation – plus Fresno Democrat Jim Costa. The measure sets aside decades-old water agreements and environmental protections and increases reservoir storage.

The Senate passed a very different measure in May, authored by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein. Environmentalists aren’t entirely happy with Feinstein’s bill either, but fellow Californian Barbara Boxer – a co-sponsor of the Senate drought bill – says they got “almost everything they wanted.”

House Republicans called it “a starting point,” but say it fails to address “our state’s long-term needs.”

In a situation such as this, the next move should be a conference committee where differences are pounded out and a compromise is reached. However, this summer has been spent behind closed doors, as staffers and lawmakers try to come up with a strategy.

One such strategy came to light this week: insert language in a spending bill.

Congress has been working hard on appropriations bills for everything from the Pentagon to the Internal Revenue Service. Tucked away on page 19 of the energy and water appropriations measure, language appeared that would allow 90 percent of the money set aside for the California Bay Delta Restoration to be used to “acquire water from willing sellers for the purpose of supplementing water made available to water service and repayment contractors anywhere within the Central Valley Project service area.” Patricia Schifferle of the environmental group Pacific Advocates translates: “It’s going to redirect decades of required mitigation money to a select group of south of the Delta exporters, including Westlands.”

The Westlands Water District spent $600,000 last year on lobbying in Washington. A company executive made the trip to Washington recently, participating in meetings on Capitol Hill.

But Wednesday morning, as the bill was being “marked up” – the opportunity for members to add amendments and adjust the language before voting – that paragraph on page 19 was eliminated.

Congressman David Valadao (R-Hanford), who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, says a “manager’s amendment pulled it out.” Why? Valadao says they got a lot of bipartisan pushback.

Some of that pushback came from northern California liberals like Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), George Miller (D-Martinez), and John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove). Garamendi says as a member of the minority party, they’ve been relying on Op-eds in California papers to give them some clout.

But some pushback came from GOP members from other parts of the country. There’s supposed to be a ban on congressional earmarks – legislation that favors a particular part of the country.

So the California water language died a quiet death.

Fresno Democrat Jim Costa says drought conversations have been on hold, pending the expected election Thursday of fellow Central Valley lawmaker Kevin McCarthy as the new House Majority Leader.

But don’t expect the issue to disappear. Valadao promises, “we’re going to look for other opportunities.”

Illegal Aliens in California, Thanks to Obamacare CAN Receive FREE Medi-Cal—Having Problems signing up.

Obamacare is VERY clear, you must be an American citizen or here legally to be able to sign up for the expensive, low quality health care. Of course that is just the headline—in fact ANY illegal alien, if they lie (they all lie) can sign up under a program called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” In other words every single Obama shipped in young illegal alien automatically qualifies for “free” health care—that YOU pay for.

Why are illegal aliens now flooding into this nation? Because Obama is giving airplane tickets to your community and Democrats are giving away health care—why not?

healthcare obamacare

‘Deferred Action’ Residents Face Obstacles to Signing Up for Medi-Cal

California Healthline, 6/18/14

An estimated 125,000 California residents ages 15 to 30 who qualify for Medi-Cal through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative face several challenges to obtaining health coverage, New America Media/Philippine Daily Inquirer reports (Sundaram, New America Media/Philippine Daily Inquirer, 6/18).

Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program.

Background on DACA

In 2012, President Obama developed DACA, which grants undocumented children legal status and authorization to work in the United States for two-year periods.

To be eligible for the program, children must:

  • Have arrived in the U.S. before age 16;
  • Be under age 31 as of June 2012; and
  • Have continually lived in the U.S since 2007.

Although Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act bars coverage for undocumented immigrants, a caveat in California allows those with “deferred action status” to gain coverage (California Healthline, 4/3).

Details of Challenges

Despite qualifying for Medi-Cal, many Californians in the DACA program face challenges to obtaining health coverage, such as:

  • Difficult paperwork requirements, including a 35-page form and a form requiring a Social Security number and tax filing status;
  • County Medi-Cal workers being unaware of DACA beneficiaries’ eligibility; and
  • Problems with CalHEERS, the state’s new online enrollment portal.

Suzie Shupe, executive director of California Coverage and Health Initiatives, said that parents filing a Medi-Cal application for their children who qualify for DACA often are nervous to turn in their personal information.

Shupe added, “We’ve heard reports from several counties that information has not gotten out to them,” adding, “It’s more than just a problem here and there.”

Frank Mecca, executive director of County Welfare Director’s Association of California, said the CalHEERS portal “does not recognize the DACA status and is only providing restricted Medi-Cal benefits rather than full-scope benefits.”

In addition, there is a backlog of 900,000 Medi-Cal applications, and officials are unsure about how many of the unprocessed applications have been filed by DACA beneficiaries, New America Media/Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.

State Response

California Department of Health Care Services spokesperson Anthony Cava acknowledged that technological issues have contributed to delays in Medi-Cal coverage for DACA beneficiaries. He added that the agency is “working actively” to improve the CalHEERS portal (New America Media/Philippine Daily Inquirer, 6/18).

 

Creating a private right of action for victims of criminal aliens–Sue Government/Politicos

This may be the answer to the corruption and law braking of the President of the United States. Victims of illegal aliens—those that have lost jobs, kids in crowded classrooms, seniors in crowded hospitals, victims of crimes, taxpayers and others harmed directly by illegal aliens and the Presidents’ protection of foreign criminals We all need to sue, as victims of the illegal aliens—in every way they have victimized our nation—from gridlock on the roads to terrorists and gang members entering out communities.

We should think like the Left—lawsuits against the police chief that does not obey the oath of office to uphold our laws. Sue the Governor that assists illegal aliens, against Federal law to hold jobs and to get drivers licenses. How about a lawsuit against the School Board that crowds our schools or the businesses that hire illegal aliens? Flood the courts with lawsuits and force staff members, officials and those elected to pay personally for their violation of laws. What do you think? Would you sue?

20111203 court law

Suing for Deportation

Creating a private right of action for victims of criminal aliens

By Dan Cadman, Center for Immigration Studies, June 2014

Followers of immigration matters know all too well that under the Obama administration enforcement has been stymied, benefit programs created out of thin air, and the statutory and constitutional responsibilities of the executive branch to fully and fairly administer the law abandoned or flagrantly ignored. This report offers a potential answer to this problem; namely, amending the immigration statute to permit individuals who have suffered harm from aliens, such as crime victims or their families, to petition a federal judge to order the alien’s deportation, thus overcoming an administration’s negligent exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

Jon Feere, legal policy analyst at the Center, has most recently written about this abandonment in his Backgrounder “Why Hillary Clinton and John Kerry Share Responsibility for Criminal Alien Releases”,1 in which he makes the point that the Secretary of State has an affirmative obligation to cease issuing visas to countries that refuse or inordinately delay taking back their criminal citizens and nationals; a responsibility they did not/have not undertaken, a consequence of which is that criminals from several nations end up being released into the streets of American communities. However, as Mr. Feere has also noted,2 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, in recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, acknowledged that neither he nor his predecessor Janet Napolitano ever formally asked the State Department to suspend visas to any country, so there is clearly a shared failure between DHS and the State Department.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, made the point of executive branch recalcitrance forcefully in testimony before a House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary hearing held in December 2013.3 Turley, a self-professed social liberal who voted for president Obama, stated:

I believe that President Barack Obama has crossed the constitutional line between discretionary enforcement and defiance of federal law. …

The recent nonenforcement policies add a particularly menacing element to this pattern. They effectively reduce the legislative process to a series of options for presidential selection ranging from negation to full enforcement. The Framers warned us of such a system and we accept it — either by acclaim or acquiescence — at our peril. …

The current claims of executive power will outlast this president and members must consider the implications of the precedent that they are now creating through inaction and silence. What if a future president decided that he or she did not like some environmental laws or anti-discrimination laws? …

The current threat to legislative authority in our system is comprehensive — spanning from misappropriation of funds to the circumvention of appointments to negation of legislative provisions.

Turley describes the present state of affairs as a “constitutional crisis with sweeping implications for our system of
government”.

The Problems of Standing, Jurisdiction, and Lack of Redress

Stark proof of the failure of administration officials to faithfully execute the laws came into sharp relief in 2011, when the union that represents Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and officers held a referendum that resulted in a vote of no-confidence in then-director John Morton and one of his assistants due to the comprehensive dismantling of effective interior immigration enforcement under his — and the administration’s — leadership.4

By August 2012, the frustrations bubbled over to the point that 10 ICE officers filed a lawsuit against then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Morton, and Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS’s immigration benefits-granting agency, to stop the flagrant abuse of law and duty.5

A year later, the presiding judge dismissed the lawsuit, finding that he lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, despite the fact that he agreed with them that the underlying actions of the executive branch that had forced them to sue were illegal, saying in his ruling of dismissal that “Plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Department of Homeland Security has implemented a program contrary to congressional mandate.”6

One of the difficulties in attempting to rein in an out-of-control executive is that ordinary citizens are also generally held to lack standing to sue in court over matters of immigration policy and execution. The online version of Black’s Law Dictionary defines the concept of “standing” quite simply. It is “a right of people to challenge the conduct of another person in a court”.7 The Free Legal Dictionary goes into more detail, stating that standing is:

The legally protectable stake or interest that an individual has in a dispute that entitles him to bring the controversy before the court to obtain judicial relief.

Standing, sometimes referred to as standing to sue, is the name of the federal law doctrine that focuses on whether a prospective plaintiff can show that some personal legal interest has been invaded by the defendant. It is not enough that a person is merely interested as a member of the general public in the resolution of the dispute. The person must have a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy.8

Tellingly, Turley noted in his testimony that the administration is keenly aware of these issues of standing and jurisdiction: “[The administration] appears to be relying on the expectation that no one will be able to secure standing to challenge such decisions in court.”9

There is something pernicious about a notion of standing so limited that it construes United States citizens as having no definable, tangible personal interest in the future of their country, a future that will be inhabited by their children and their children’s children. I can think of no more important personal interest to every American.

Even officers sworn to uphold the law find themselves boxed out of court while we as a citizenry watch our constitutionally guaranteed and all-important separation of powers slip away under the Obama administration.

The perverse consequence of such exclusory concepts of standing and jurisdiction is that, while ordinary Americans are said to lack standing, illegal and criminal aliens are deemed to have standing — and can litigate over and over again individually and collectively (often by means of organizations that represent them on a pro bono basis) in order to overcome denials of benefits or orders of removal that are adverse to them while at the same time chipping endlessly away at the foundations of the immigration laws — laws that define American sovereignty and help protect communities from the adverse cumulative effects of illegal immigration and crimes committed by aliens.

The administration’s flagrant and willful abdication of its responsibility to faithfully execute the immigration laws has become even more clear since the court’s dismissal of the officers’ lawsuit, as evidenced by a couple of extraordinary reports published by the Center for Immigration Studies that have revealed ICE’s systematic 2003 release of, or failure to take into custody, more than criminal 100,000 aliens, including tens of thousands of alien criminals convicted of murder, sexual offenses, gang crimes, narcotics trafficking, and weapons offenses, among other felonies.10

Meanwhile, the administration continues to react with callous indifference to the pain and suffering of the surviving family members and victims of these criminals, while continuing to maintain an alien advocate position within ICE despite its having been specifically de-funded by Congress.11

Remedy

What, if anything, can be done to restore a modicum of balance to the system and provide an avenue of relief and redress for the common man?

Interestingly, in the United Kingdom, no such question would arise, because under British law prosecutions may be brought by private parties,12 separate and apart from those brought by the Crown Prosecution Service,13 even (or, perhaps, especially) against government officials who might otherwise feel that they can violate the law and their duties with impunity.14

Although the American legal system is derived from English common law, our system has never provided for private criminal prosecutions for violations of federal statutes. There are, however, private rights of civil action under federal law.

Some private rights of action are “implied”, but they are quite narrow.15 Congress has, however, specifically provided for private rights of action by statute in certain areas of jurisprudence where no implied rights exist. For instance, Title 7 of the U.S. Code outlines the right of private persons to seek damages for violations of commodity trading rules.16 Even the federal racketeering statutes, which are primarily oriented toward criminal prosecution, provide for private rights of action.17

As presently written, immigration law overtly precludes private rights of action. The pertinent provision states in pertinent part:

(D) No private right
No cause or claim may be asserted under this paragraph against any official of the United States or of any State to compel the release, removal, or consideration for release or removal of any alien.18

It can be said with near certainty, though, that when the above provision was written to prohibit private rights of action, no one, least of all Congress, could have envisioned a president and administration of any political party so thoroughly trampling the constitutionally mandated separation of powers, or so completely eviscerating the duly constituted legal system governing immigration enforcement and removal.

Under such circumstances, it may be time for Congress to re-think the wisdom of the prohibition, which relies on an assumption that a president will fulfill his duty to faithfully execute the laws of the United States, an assumption that can no longer be trusted when, as Professor Turley so vividly points out:

From Internet gambling to educational waivers to immigration deportations to health care decisions, the Obama administration has been unilaterally ordering major changes in federal law with the notable exclusion of Congress. Many of these changes have been defended as discretionary acts or mere interpretations of existing law. However, they fit an undeniable pattern of circumventing Congress in the creation of new major standards, exceptions, or outright
nullifications.19

Creation of a limited private right of action could be possible by amending the language of the existing provision. How might such an amendment be crafted so that it serves an appropriate purpose of opening the door to standing — and, therefore, redress — by those most adversely affected by the administration’s clear breach of its constitutional duty to uphold the law, while not subjecting the existing statutory scheme for immigration enforcement to a multiplicity of frivolous and time-wasting federal lawsuits?

First, any provision permitting a private right of action should not be geared toward monetary fines or penalties. There is already a robust tort system in place to handle such claims — although they, too, are probably inadequate in many instances since lawsuits are expensive for the aggrieved citizen and illegal aliens are unlikely to possess any financial resources worth taking should the suit be successful.

Second, the provision should specify that the action should not be geared toward government officials — again, there is a system available for such lawsuits pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (flawed though it may be) — but, rather, toward the alien. It might, for example, provide that any individual, or surviving family member of an individual, who has experienced harm in his person or property, could bring a private right of action to initiate removal proceedings (which, it is important to recall, are civil in nature) against the alien who caused the harm.

Third, such private removal proceedings should be conducted outside the ordinary venue of immigration courts, which are presided over by Justice Department employees of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). This is key, since under the Obama administration, the attorney general would almost certainly issue an order prohibiting EOIR’s immigration judge corps from presiding over such proceedings. Therefore, the provision might specify that they be held in federal district court instead, perhaps in front of a magistrate judge. There is already a precedent for orders of removal to be issued by the federal judiciary instead of EOIR’s cadre of immigration judges, which states:

(c)  Judicial removal
(1) Authority
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a United States district court shall have jurisdiction to enter a judicial order of removal at the time of sentencing against an alien who is deportable, if such an order has been requested by the United States Attorney with the concurrence of the Commissioner and if the court chooses to exercise such
jurisdiction.20

Fourth, the provision should specify that removals in proceedings undertaken by means of a private right of action may only be ordered on the basis of existing laws and regulations governing the grounds for exclusion or deportation.

Conclusion

Granting a statutory private right of action for individuals to seek the removal of aliens who have harmed them establishes an avenue of relief and redress that does not currently exist in law. It also ensures that when the executive branch fails in its duty to appropriately institute removal proceedings, especially against dangerous and violent criminal aliens, those individuals among the citizenry who have been most adversely affected by the aliens’ presence in the United States will have standing to ensure that the wheels of justice go forward.

It is well to remember that, under this president, we are not speaking of an aberrant one-time-only or statistically insignificant dereliction of duty: we are speaking of tens of thousands of criminal aliens against whom the administration has failed to act.

If even a tenth of the number of individuals harmed were to avail themselves of the avenue of a private right of action, it would have an impact far beyond the numbers. It would also potentially save other individuals from being victimized by alien recidivists who might otherwise be released both by local law enforcement organizations determined not to cooperate with ICE, and ICE itself. And it is entirely possible that, with the opening of an avenue of redress for ordinary citizens who have experienced harm, pro bono organizations would come forward to assist those citizens with the legal advice and counsel that they will need to proceed — just as is happening with aliens right now.

Finally, it must be remembered that a private right of action to institute removal proceedings under existing federal laws and regulations subjects no alien to extralegal processes; deprives no alien of due process of law; and imposes no sanction or penalty other than that to which he is already susceptible — and would be subjected to, had we an executive who comported himself pursuant to constitutional principles instead of imperial decree.

End Notes

1 Jon Feere,
“Why Hillary Clinton and John Kerry Share Responsibility for Criminal Alien Releases”
, Center for Immigration Studies, May 2014.

2 Jon Feere, “DHS Secretary Johnson Not Doing Everything in His Power to Prevent the Release of Criminal Aliens”, Center for Immigration Studies, May 2014.

3 “The President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws”, hearing before the House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, testimony of Professor Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law, George Washington University, December 3, 2013.

4 National ICE Council 118, American Federation of Government Employees, “Vote of No Confidence in ICE Director John Morton and ICE ODPP Assistant Director Phyllis Coven”, June 25, 2010.

5 See the January 2013 amended complaint in the case of Crane, et al v. Napolitano et al., Civil Action No. 3:12-cv-03247-O, United States District Court for the Northern District Of Texas, Dallas Division.

6 See the dismissal order in Crane v. Napolitano.

7“What Is Standing?” The Law Dictionary, Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary Free Online Legal Dictionary 2nd Ed.

8“Standing”, The Free Dictionary by Farlex, The Legal Dictionary.

9 Turley, op. cit.

10 Jessica M. Vaughan, “Catch and Release: Interior immigration enforcement in 2013”, Center for Immigration Studies, March 2014, and Jessica M. Vaughan, “ICE Document Details 36,000 Criminal Alien Releases in 2013”, Center for Immigration Studies, May 2014.

11 For examples of the government’s callous disregard of citizens harmed by criminal aliens, as well as additional discussion of the ICE alien advocate position, see my CIS blogs “Public Advocacy, Victims, and Skewed Moral Compasses: U.S. government refuses to give U.S. citizen maimed by illegal alien information requested under FOIA”, March 24, 2014, and “Another Look at Victims and Humane Treatment under the Law”, March 27, 2014.

12 See, for instance, McCue and Partners, LLP, “A Guide to Private Prosecution Procedure in England and Wales”, September 2011.

13 The Crown Prosecution Service itself maintains an online reference manual outlining private prosecutions in principle and practice.

14 An example of such a private prosecution against a Scotland Yard official was described in an October 18, 2013, online article in the The Independent: “Private citizen wins right to prosecute Met police worker”.

15 An excellent, albeit somewhat dated, article describing in some detail private rights of action under American jurisprudence: Donna L. Goldstein, “Implied Private Rights of Action Under Federal Statutes: Congressional Intent, Judicial Deference, or Mutual Abdication?” Fordham Law Review, Volume 50, Issue 4, Article 5, 1982.

16 See 7 U.S.C. Section 25.

17 See 18 U.S.C. Section 1964(c).

18 See 8 U.S.C. Section 1231(a)(4)(D).

19 Turley, op. cit.

20 See 8 U.S.C. Section 1228(c). Note, however, that through enumeration error, there are currently two subsections (c) extant in the law. The relevant subsection is the second iteration.

 

Union Boss takes $40 Million (Not a Typo) From Los Angeles Citizens—Refuses to Say How $$ Was Spent

A Los Angeles union took $40 million from ratepayers for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. They spent the money, now refuse to show how the money was spent. Supposedly it was for training and retraining. If so, who was trained, where, who got paid, how much. Or was this just a slush fund paying off a politically powerful donor—who used forced dues to buy elected officials?

The City, courts, the taxpayers have asked for the information. Instead of answers the union boss told everyone to shove it, none of your business. If we had a real Director of Water and Power, or a real Mayor—not someone who owes the unions—the IBEW union would no longer be allowed in the building and the money from the workers checks would not go to this openly corrupt union. Who will stand up for the people? Not government.

“Union Bo$$ d’Arcy’s failure to comply with Controller Ron Galperin’s subpoena for the financial records of these two nonprofit Institutes has also raised the issue of corruption as Angelenos are wondering what is he hiding from the Ratepayers, the media, and the voters.”

budget

 

Where’s Our $40 Million?

Written by Jack Humphreville, City Watch LA, 6/16/14

LA WATCHDOG-IBEW Union Bo$$ d’Arcy is planning a massive demonstration at 11 a.m. on Tuesday in front of DWP’s downtown headquarters to protest City’s Hall’s “assault on collective bargaining” and “war on workers” and is urging other unions throughout the City to support his call to arms.

But this so called assault is nothing more than a diversion from the real issue: the lack of transparency of the Joint Safety and Training Institutes and the failure of Union Bo$$ d’Arcy to disclose how over $40 million of Ratepayer money has been spent over the last fourteen years.

Union Bo$$ d’Arcy’s failure to comply with Controller Ron Galperin’s subpoena for the financial records of these two nonprofit Institutes has also raised the issue of corruption as Angelenos are wondering what is he hiding from the Ratepayers, the media, and the voters.

While the stated purpose of these two Institutes was to fund IBEW Local 18’s efforts to improve the safety and training of workers of our Department of Water and Power, the real purpose was to absorb IBEW salaries and overhead as its revenue from membership dues was hit as a result of the downsizing of the Department’s work force in 2000.  This diversion of Ratepayer money allowed Union Bo$$ d’Arcy to continue to pour money into his political slush fund through which he was able to buy considerable influence with Mayor Villaraigosa and the City Council.

This political swat is evident as our City Council has been on the sidelines since September when Los Angeles Times reporter Jack Dolan exposed in a front page article the shenanigans involving the two Institutes and their utter lack of transparency and accountability.

But the City Council’s silence is not unsurprising as at least ten of its fifteen members have benefitted from Union Bo$$ d’Arcy’s campaign contributions.

So it is no surprise that the voters do not trust the City Council and why a simple majority of voters would not have approved the half cent increase in our sales tax to a job killing 9 ½ %, to say nothing about the two-thirds needed to approve this new levy.

And it is no surprise that Mayor Eric Garcetti decided not to endorse the increase in our sales tax that was designed to repair the one third of our streets that are in a failed or near failed condition.  After all, why would he want to damage his reputation and credibility by endorsing a losing proposition supported by a City Council that does not have the trust, confidence, and respect of the voters?

And why would the other City unions want to tarnish their reputations and join in this bogus protest of the decidedly labor friendly City Hall when the less than transparent Union Bo$$ d’Arcy has his own personal agenda that certainly does not pass the smell test and may have attracted the attention of the District Attorney and even the Internal Revenue Service?

If the Herb Wesson led City Council and the Energy and Environment Committee chaired by Felipe Fuentes want to begin the long process of earning our trust, confidence, and respect, they must also answer the same question we have for Union Bo$$ d’Arcy.

Where’s our $40 million?

Police “License Plate Readers” Inaccurate—Could Cause Violence Against Public

The government used a license plate reader to use “swat team” tactics on a 50 year old woman. She was arrested, handcuffed, yelled at and threatened by gun toting cops. All of this because a license plate reader used by government made a mistake. The good news is that she made no unwanted moves, otherwise she would be dead. This was a disaster in the making—because government is more interested in revenues and invasion of privacy than protecting the safety of the public.

It is time to outlaw license plate readers—they are dangerous, invasive and part of the effort to have government watch our every move. We need to take back government.

“Documents obtained by The Center for Investigative Reporting show that a leading maker of license-plate readers wants to merge the vehicle identification technology with other sources of identifying information, alarming privacy advocates. Vigilant Solutions is pushing a system that eventually could help fuse public records, license plates and facial recognition databases for police in the field.

This is another issue that unites the Progressives with conservatives.

Photo courtesy BenFrantzDale, flickr.

Photo courtesy BenFrantzDale, flickr.

 

Plans to Expand Scope of License-Plate Readers Alarm Privacy Advocates

By Ali Winston, Center for Investigative Reporting, 6/17/14

Denise Green had just dropped off her sister at the 24th Street Mission BART station after picking her up from the hospital.

Green, who was driving a 1992 red Lexus, noticed a San Francisco police car with its lights on pull up behind her as she passed through the intersection of Mission Street and Highland Avenue. Green pulled over to let the patrol car pass.

She was stunned when officers yelled, “Put your hands up!”

Sgt. Ja Han Kim ordered her to step out of the car, and as Green complied, she turned and saw several officers with their guns trained on her.

“Don’t look at us!” one of them said.

“Turn around!” the officers shouted, forcing Green to her knees.

They handcuffed her and searched her Lexus. Green overheard officers standing near her license plate shouting numbers to each other.

“It’s not a seven?” one said.

“No, three five zero,” another officer replied.

Green, a Muni driver and 50-year-old San Francisco resident, had been pulled over and detained because her car was mistakenly identified as a stolen vehicle by an automatic license-plate reader the city had installed on its police cars. The officers did not confirm her license plate with their dispatcher.

“It was a nightmare,” Green said of the traffic stop. “I had no idea what was going on or why they were treating me like a criminal – I just hope that never happens to anyone else.”

Five years later, as Green’s lawsuit over the incident goes to a civil trial this year, the use of license-plate readers has emerged as one of the biggest concerns among privacy advocates. Car-tracking technology is becoming ubiquitous in cities around the United States, and the types of data collected and analyzed with the help of license-plate readers is expanding into other realms of personal information.

Documents obtained by The Center for Investigative Reporting show that a leading maker of license-plate readers wants to merge the vehicle identification technology with other sources of identifying information, alarming privacy advocates. Vigilant Solutions is pushing a system that eventually could help fuse public records, license plates and facial recognition databases for police in the field.

The Livermore, California, company released its own facial recognition software last year for use in stationary and mobile devices. The technology uses algorithms to determine whether a person’s face matches that of somebody already in a law enforcement database. Like license-plate readers, facial recognition technology has been criticized for incorrectly identifying people.

Vigilant also is the market leader in license-plate data collection. The company runs the Law Enforcement Archive and Reporting Network database, which stores more than 2.5 billion records and adds roughly 70 million new license-plate scans monthly. The company offers law enforcement free access to its license-plate data through another database, the National Vehicle Location Service.

Vigilant has faced criticism from the public, privacy advocates and lawmakers in California for working behind the scenes to rally police and sheriff’s departments to its side – including prohibiting law enforcement officials from talking to the media about its products without its approval.

A Vigilant PowerPoint presentation about its products, obtained by CIR, contains a section on the “near future” for the company. That includes a fusion of public records, license-plate data and facial recognition, according to the slide. Another technology, dubbed MOAB, would help law enforcement find vehicles using a “probabilistic assessment” of a vehicle’s location based on historical data and public records.

Another slide prepared for Texas law enforcement shows how a combined data program could work. It would pull mug shots from the local Department of Motor Vehicles database and notify law enforcement with an alert if “a vehicle is associated with someone with a known criminal history.” The slide also describes “facial images embedded into” the license-plate record. Another describes how Vigilant’s FaceSearch application works on mobile devices.

Amy Widdowson, a Vigilant spokeswoman, said the slides reviewed by CIR were of a prototype program that did not actually include facial recognition technology.

As for specific references to merging license-plate data with facial recognition and public records, Widdowson said the slide “is merely showing that law enforcement can combine data from public records with LPR (license-plate reader) data to reduce their search area for a suspect.”

Last week, Vigilant announced a new product it called Mobile Companion, which the company said was “driven by a desire” to combine license-plate data with facial recognition technology “into a very nice and easy-to-use mobile application.”

Privacy advocates said combining historical plate-reader data with public records and facial recognition technology runs contrary to law enforcement’s argument that license plates are not considered personally identifying information.

Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles Police Department for information about their collection and use of license-plate data, said Vigilant’s plans could represent a sea change in the technology.

Noting that Vigilant already offers analytical software that traces the movements of a vehicle through the public and private plate-reader data it retains, Lynch said the company’s plans could pose a threat to individual privacy.

By combining the location data from license-plate readers with public records such as court files and property records ­– as well as photographs of individuals from criminal or DMV databases – into one search tool, which in turn could be used with facial recognition software, license-plate readers could move into uncharted territory.

A plate reader could tag a passing car and the names of people associated with the vehicle and keep a log of where that person traveled. That data potentially could be stored for months or years.

“When you’re combining data from multiple sources, it becomes incredibly revealing,” Lynch said.

Facial recognition technology is making rapid advances. The National Security Agency is reportedly mining intercepted communications, the Internet and foreign government databases for images used to identify individuals of interest to the intelligence agency. Along with its own in-house facial recognition program, the NSA also uses software made by a Google subsidiary, PittPatt.

For her part, Green filed a civil suit against the San Francisco Police Department. The case is expected to go to trial this winter after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s decision to dismiss her claim. At the time of the incident, San Francisco police used license-plate readers manufactured by PIPS Technology, a subsidiary of Federal Signal Corp., not technology from Vigilant Solutions.

San Francisco officials declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Green’s attorney, Michael Haddad, said the incident took a serious toll on her. “It was extremely terrifying, and Denise ended up having to miss a couple weeks of work and get counseling afterwards.”

But Haddad noted one significant fact in the documentation for the trial: The machines can have an error rate as high as 8 percent. “There’s some acknowledgment by the manufacturers,” he said, “that there’s a significant percentage of the time that they’re wrong.”

Managing Vigilant’s public image

Meanwhile, Vigilant has been working behind the scenes to shield its technology from public view and manage the public perception of its products.

An agreement between Vigilant and the Ontario Police Department in San Bernardino County, California, for example, prohibits the department from publishing material about Vigilant’s technology or cooperating with journalists who ask questions about the plate-reader system – without first obtaining the company’s consent.

“Agency agrees not to use proprietary materials or information in any manner that is disparaging,” according to the agreement. The police department agreed “not to voluntarily provide ANY information, including interviews, related to Vigilant, its products or its services to any member of the media without the express written consent of Vigilant.”

Terry Francke, a public records expert and general counsel for open-government groupCalifornians Aware, said such agreements violate the state Public Records Act. Information related to public contracts and services, Francke said, “are public records, and the government may not withhold them to comply with the contractor’s wishes.”

As it faced legislation this year that would curb its business, Vigilant and law enforcement joined forces even further. The California District Attorneys Association, California State Sheriffs’ Association and California Police Chiefs Association all submitted letters opposing legislation that would have curbed Vigilant’s practices.

The California legislation would have banned public and private entities from selling license-plate data, required privacy policies for agencies using the technology and prevented license-plate data from being the sole basis for search warrants. The legislation was watered down significantly from a previous version that would have restricted law enforcement’s retention of license-plate data to five years.

During its campaign, Vigilant canvassed its law enforcement customers for anecdotal evidence of successful investigations using license-plate readers to lobby against the bill, which was defeated May 29 in the state Senate, according to emails obtained through the Public Records Act.

A mass email on Feb. 2 from Brian Shockley, Vigilant Solutions’ vice president for marketing, to subscribers claimed that the now-defeated legislation, SB 893, “would completely eliminate the ability for Vigilant to collect and share its license plate reader data with you.”

The email also makes clear Vigilant’s aggressive stance toward government regulation of its business. Shockley wrote that “government should not be legislating away law enforcement’s right to this tool that is helping to solve major crimes and protect the public. The focus should not be on who collects the data or how long it is stored, the focus should be on proper access controls, proper use and protections against misuse.”

Widdowson, the Vigilant spokeswoman, said the email was sent to Vigilant law enforcement customers because the company “feels it is important to inform our law enforcement customers about pending legislation that can negatively impact their ability to protect and serve.”

Vigilant sells license-plate readers to over a dozen California agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and the Sacramento Police and County Sheriff’s departments. For its business with law enforcement in the city of Alameda, Anaheim, Marin County, San Rafael and Sacramento, Vigilant won the contracts without going through a competitive bidding process.

In Utah, Vigilant and a subsidiary company, Digital Recognition Network, are suing the state in civil court to block regulations passed by the state Legislature last year on license-plate readers. In Massachusetts, Vigilant is lobbying heavily against pending legislation that would restrict law enforcement agencies’ retention of license-plate data to a matter of days.

Widdowson said concerns about how long data is kept is “a red herring,” declaring that the Legislature should instead focus on “access control and enforcing existing laws.” No law currently regulates the use of license-plate data in California for public or private entities.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, author of the California legislation, said law enforcement continued to lobby against the bill even after it was amended to restrict the use of license-plate data by private entities. He said that reflects on what he calls the “incestuous relationship” between license-plate reader companies and public safety agencies.

“Vigilant has been able to leverage public safety and California law enforcement for their own financial gain by holding out the ability to access their information at no charge,” Hill said. “That enticement is the reason law enforcement opposed the bill.”

 

 

 

 

 

Silly Time: Los Angeles City Hall HIDES 972 Marijuana Dispensaries From LAPD

Here is why people have no respect or trust in government. Nor should they. In Los Angeles the city Office of Finance has the business names. Locations and names of owners of 972 medical marijuana dispensaries in the City of Los Angeles. This department of government REFUSES to give the Los Angeles Police Department the information on these sellers of marijuana. The cops know these “dispensaries” are magnets for robberies and crime. Yet one section of government refuses to cooperate.

The people of Los Angeles need to demand the person responsible for this, Mayor Eric Garcetti, stop talking trash and using obscenities and start acting like the chief law enforcement officer in the City. Could it be that the City needs the revenues and is allowing almost 800 illegal marijuana sellers to continue in business—for the money? Shame on us for allowing Garcetti to allow corruption.

“The city has the names and addresses of the dispensaries, and since the measure went into effect, the city has collected $2.1 million from medical dispensaries that renewed their tax certificates, finance officials told the Budget and Finance Committee.

“Okay, we have a significant disconnect here guys,” said Krekorian, after verifying with finance officials that our of the 972 business tax certificates on file, no more than 135 could possibly be for legal dispensaries.”

Cannabis marijuana weed pot

City Office Doesn’t (Puff Puff) Give Medical Marijuana Dispensaries List to LAPD

The city Office of Finance has a list of 972 medical marijuana dispensaries, but the police department and other city officials appear not to be using the list for enforcement purpose.

Posted by Michelle Mowad, Studio City Patch, 6/16/14

A list of more than 800 potentially illegal medical marijuana dispensaries was not shared with the Los Angeles Police Department and other officials responsible for shutting down such shops, city officials said during a Los Angeles City Council committee meeting today.

The city Office of Finance has a list of 972 medical marijuana dispensaries registered to pay taxes to the city, but the police department and other city officials who reported to the Budget and Finance Committee meeting today appeared not to be using this list for enforcement purposes.

An overwhelming majority of the businesses registered with the city could be illegal under Proposition D, approved by voters last year. The measure limited legal dispensaries to a list of 135 that registered with the city prior to September 2007 and placed restrictions on their operation.

The city has the names and addresses of the dispensaries, and since the measure went into effect, the city has collected $2.1 million from medical dispensaries that renewed their tax certificates, finance officials told the Budget and Finance Committee.

“Okay, we have a significant disconnect here guys,” said Krekorian, after verifying with finance officials that our of the 972 business tax certificates on file, no more than 135 could possibly be for legal dispensaries.

Krekorian then asked finance officials if they could “provide your list of names and addresses to the Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office so that they can compare it against the Prop D compliant list and begin enforcing against the more than 800 operations that are illegal?”

“I’m struggling to deal with how it is that we’re not staying more ahead of the curve in the enforcement of Prop D,” Krekorian said.

When asked previously about the number of illegal dispensaries in the city, LAPD Capt. Anne Clark told the panel she could not provide a “perfect” number of illegal dispensaries, which are “forever a moving target.”

The police department is relying on senior lead officers to do counts of the potentially illegal dispensaries within their beats, according to Clark.

Building and Safety officials also told the panel they had been unsure if they could get access to the Finance Office’s list of businesses registered as pot shops, so it would be difficult for them to respond to a request to map the location of potentially illegal dispensaries.

The Finance Office’s list of registered medical marijuana dispensaries is “publicly available information,” Councilman Bob Blumenfield, another member of the committee, pointed out.

“It’s stuff that ultimately we want to see up on the web with all of our open data movement, so I don’t see any legal reason why you can’t just turn around and hand it to him,” Blumenfield said.

The committee today officially instructed the Finance Office to forward the list to the Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office.

Councilman Mike Bonin, who sits on the committee, also requested a copy of the list, while Krekorian said he plans to post it on his website.

The panel also recommended the Finance, Police and Information Technology Agency officials explore the idea of “crowd-sourcing,” which would involve asking the public to help identify dispensaries in their communities, potentially using the city’s existing 311 phone app.

The city needs all the help it can get, Krekorian said.

“We’re playing whack-a-mole here,” he said.

The Budget and Finance Committee’s recommendations will now go to the full City Council for a vote.

 

CalSTRS get Billions Meant for Children/Education

The Sacramento Bee is reporting that billions are being taken from teachers and classrooms to keep the doors open for CalSTRS. Instead of using Prop. 30 money for children, an incompetent, unsustainable government pension system is getting the money. While children are held hostage in failing government schools, unions continue to protect bad teachers and perverts in the classroom, the union pensions are being “saved” at the expense of education. The Sacramento Democrats should have reformed the system, for the children. Instead Sacramento paid off the unions by not reforming education, instead protecting unions.

From the Sacramento Bee, “Much of the added burden will be felt by school districts. Their combined annual contribution will grow from $2.2 billion to nearly $6 billion, with the increases phased in over seven years, said CalSTRS Deputy Chief Executive Ed Derman.”

public employee union pension

CalSTRS Commends the Legislature on Passage of AB 1469 Legislature’s actions bring a funding solution for the Defined Benefit Program within reach

CalSTRS, 6/15/14

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) Chief Executive Officer Jack Ehnes issued the following statement in response to the Legislature’s approval of Assembly Bill 1469, which provides a long-term funding plan for CalSTRS:

“CalSTRS commends the Legislature for upholding its intent to enact a funding plan this year, as evidenced in the passage of AB 1469. The long-term funding solution set out in this historic legislation sets the Defined Benefit Program on a sustainable course, and ensures a secure retirement for future generations of CalSTRS members. The plan offers a reasonable and responsible framework needed to uphold the state’s promise to California’s educators and protect the state’s General Fund.

“The funding solution presented in this legislation is the result of years of focused discussions, stakeholder outreach, legislative visits and hearings. Since the release of Senate Concurrent Resolution 105 in 2012, significant ground towards enactment of a plan has been gained. Earlier this year the Governor made funding for CalSTRS a priority by fostering an environment conducive to swift legislative action. The Legislature’s action this weekend brings the culmination of those efforts within reach.

“All along CalSTRS has said that the funding shortfall can be managed but it will require increased contributions, which can be gradual, predictable and fair to all parties involved. This legislation demonstrates California’s commitment to a sound retirement system for the state’s educators. We look forward to enactment of this legislation.”

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, with a portfolio valued at $183.8 billion as of April 30, 2014, is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world. CalSTRS administers a hybrid retirement system, consisting of traditional defined benefit, cash balance and voluntary defined contribution plans. CalSTRS also provides disability and survivor benefits. CalSTRS serves California’s 868,000 public school educators and their families from the state’s 1,600 school districts, county offices of education and community college districts.

 

Cedar-Sinai Hospital: Poster Child for Rich Hospital Taking Advantage of Middle Class, Poor and California Taxpayers

Some issues bring together the progressives and the conservatives. Usually, it is crony capitalism, how businesses and non-profit use the system to become rich, powerful and rip off the public. In the case of hospitals, too many of the non-profit hospitals. Using slick accounting practices, these hospitals charge between $10 and $100 for the same vaccination as a “charity” and then report it as a benefit to the community.

“Under present law, even the costs for producing Cedar’s slick promotional reports could be charged off by the hospital as community benefit. The problem, say advocates, is that reporting is so murky that it’s usually impossible to tell what is being written off.

“When we actually looked at what hospitals were defining as community benefit, it was very unclear,” says Carla Saporta, a co-author of the Greenlining community benefit study. “It’s just a black box. There isn’t a lot of transparency to what the hospitals are doing.”

This is the “hospital of stars”, this is where Kim Kardashian gave birth to her baby. The winners are the Administrators, doctors, public relations people and the rich—being subsidized by the “charitable donations” and the higher than needed reimbursements from government. The people of California are the losers.

Healthcare costs

 

Sweet Charity: The Truth Behind Hospitals’ Community Benefits Windfall

Written by Bill Raden and Gary Cohn, City Watch LA, 6/17/14

CALIFORNIA EXPOSE-Every year Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center releases a glossy brochure called Report to the Community.  Among the doctor profiles and research-breakthrough stories are several dry metrics dealing with the number of beds, total patient and outpatient days and, perhaps most impressively, the year’s dollar value for something called “community benefit contributions.”

Cedars, which is the state’s third highest-earning nonprofit hospital, claimed $640.3 million as its 2012 community benefit contribution.

This number turns out to be the real point of the report. Because under state law all not-for-profit hospitals must justify their continuing tax exemption as charitable institutions by demonstrating that they are providing a community benefit — free charity care to indigent patients and what California calls “activities that are intended to address community needs and priorities primarily through disease prevention and improvement of health status.”

Whether Cedars and California’s other nonprofit hospitals have been living up to that charitable obligation is a question that Assembly Bill 503, currently under consideration in Sacramento, seeks to clarify.

It’s no trifling matter. In 2010 taxpayers spent an estimated $3.3 billion granting exemptions for the state’s nonprofit hospital industry, according to a 2012 report released by the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, the research arm of the California Nurses Association (CNA), which is also a financial supporter of Capital & Main.

The CNA study places Cedars at the top of its statewide list for hospitals receiving the most in tax exemptions beyond what they offer in actual charity care. For 2010, CNA calculated the value of Cedar’s charity care at only $16,123,766 and its tax exemptions in excess of charity care at $104,327,297. Industry-wide, the study said, the exemptions in excess of actual care totaled $1.8 billion.

AB 503 was introduced by Assemblymembers Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), and co-sponsored by the CNA, the Greenlining Institute and California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA).

The legislation, its authors say, is an attempt to bring California’s community benefit law into line with federal rules, as well as to add what they maintain is a much needed level of transparency to the sometimes sketchy methodologies and liberal accounting practices tolerated under the current law.

“What happens,” Wieckowski told Capital & Main, “is that each of these nonprofit hospitals now sets their own valuation of what they think is their community benefit or their charity care. And they all use a different accounting of what they believe is the contribution.

And the audits that have been done and the reviews have been saying, ‘Well, wait a minute. We should have some standardized [methodologies].’ If you give a vaccination to school kids, that vaccination within limits shouldn’t be $100 in San Diego and $10 in Sacramento, depending on the nonprofit hospital, right?”

According to Medicare cost reports, as of June, 2013, California hospitals rank third nationally in how high they set their charges over cost, on average billing $451 for every $100 of costs. Between 2006-2008 alone, the practice resulted in class action price-gouging settlements that returned nearly $1 billion to patients.

The difference paid by Medi-Cal and Medicare on the one hand, and, on the other, the much higher and often arbitrary and convoluted prices set by hospital chargemasters that are currently written off as charity care, is known as a public program shortfall. According to a report issued last year by the Greenlining Institute titled Not-for-Profit Hospitals and Community Benefit, as well as a 2013 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, this shortfall is the top community benefit expenditure reported by hospitals.

Among other reforms, AB 503 will bring California into accord with the federal tax code, which disallows such shortfalls or accounts written off as bad debt to be classified as charity care.

“It basically tries to establish some standardized methodology for estimating what the economic value of community benefits are to a community,” says Wieckowski.

California’s hospital industry sees the bill differently. “There already is transparency,” insists California Hospital Association (CHA) spokesperson Jan Emerson about the present law. “The bill is completely unnecessary and is a rerun of a piece of legislation that was soundly defeated a year ago in the state Assembly — AB 975.”

California’s existing community benefit law was sponsored by CHA and the California Association of Catholic Hospitals in 1994 after a federal appeals court ruled that a Pennsylvania not-for-profit didn’t qualify for tax exempt status because it failed the federal tax code’s community benefit test.

But by excluding standardized definitions for either charity care or community benefit, and prohibiting the consideration of the dollar value of a nonprofit hospital’s community benefit plan when evaluating its tax-exempt status, the California law also gave the state’s nonprofit hospitals wide latitude in formulating their community benefit plans – and deciding what constitutes a community benefit in the first place.

Under present law, even the costs for producing Cedar’s slick promotional reports could be charged off by the hospital as community benefit. The problem, say advocates, is that reporting is so murky that it’s usually impossible to tell what is being written off.

“When we actually looked at what hospitals were defining as community benefit, it was very unclear,” says Carla Saporta, a co-author of the Greenlining community benefit study. “It’s just a black box. There isn’t a lot of transparency to what the hospitals are doing.”

At a time of noose-tight budgets that disproportionately impact low-income populations already prone to preventable conditions such as obesity, coronary heart disease, diabetes and lung cancer, underutilized community benefit dollars are increasingly being eyed as a public health resource that could patch California’s badly frayed public-health safety net.

“We would welcome more,” says Noe Paramo, a CRLA legislative advocate who specializes in health policy for the San Joaquin Valley’s farm worker communities, which were left out in the cold by both the Affordable Care Act and Covered California. According to CRLA estimates, 353,000 people — about nine percent of the eight Central Valley counties’ population – will either be denied health coverage or be unable to afford it. At the same time, Paramo says, these counties have been cutting funding for their indigent patient programs, with the exception of emergency care.

AB 503 is scheduled to come up before the Senate Health Committee June 25. Wieckowski is optimistic about its chances.

“We’ve made some changes [from AB 975]” he says. “I’ve narrowed the scope of the bill.

Nevertheless, the legislation will give the state, for the first time, a standard definition of charity care, as a direct provision of care rather than the promotional activities, marketing or cost containment that frequently go into the ledger as “community benefit.”

The bill will also require nonprofit hospitals to allocate a minimum of 25 percent of their community benefit budget to public health programming and ensure that the majority of any dollars spent on community benefits go to the state’s most vulnerable populations.

“What I’m trying to do is highlight that we give special status to this group of hospitals versus the other hospitals,” Wieckowski says. “And what we expect in return is that our local communities know what’s going on [to] determine if we are getting value for the tax benefit we are conferring to them.”

 

Obama Opens Borders to YOUNG MS13 members While LAPD Arresting Gang members

This is silly. President Obama is allowing tens of thousands of young illegal aliens into our country. We do not know how many are terrorists or part of the El Salvadoran gang the MS 13—which thanks to Obama immigration policy are now in every cover of our country. These are the drug dealing gangsters that behead cops, citizens, young and old that do not cooperate or take bribes.

Yesterday the Los Angeles Police Department set up raids to arrest gang members in that city, while the President is importing gang members into this nation. In fact, some of those gang members have been shipped to Port Hueneme, in Ventura County. This is the first time that the White House has been importing criminals, giving them free access to our military bases and communities. Anybody going to stop this policy?

gun violence obama

Dozens allegedly tied to South LA gang the Five Deuce Broadway Gangster Crips arrested

Erika Aguilar, KPCC, 6/17/14

Nearly four dozen alleged gang members were arrested early Tuesday morning during a crackdown on a South Los Angeles gang accused of committing murders, robberies and peddling drugs over two decades.

Federal prosecutors say FBI agents and police arrested 50 people Tuesday with ties to the Five Deuce Broadway Gangster Crips. Authorities believe there are 200 people who belong to this gang.

The three-year federal investigation targeted a small clique or subset of the gang called the Gremlin Riderz, which claims the area centered at 52nd Street and South Broadway in South L.A.

Authorities say the gang formed in the 1970s to confront other African-American street gangs. Some of the rivals include Latino gangs, Blood street gangs and the East Coast Crips gang.

According to an indictment that names 72 people, gang members murdered four people dating back to 1987, shot at California Highway Patrol officers two years ago and robbed bank customers.

“The indictment outlines a string of violent bank robberies where victims were followed from their homes in the South Bay,” said Los Angeles FBI assistant director Bill Lewis.

Lewis accused the gang of selling drugs to people living on Skid Row and intimidating witnesses so they wouldn’t cooperate with police on investigations.

Special Agent Robert Clark, in charge of the gang program at the FBI’s Los Angeles office, said he believes they have taken out a significant portion of the gang’s top and middle leadership. He said more than half of the gang was arrested Tuesday in the sweep; 17 others were already in custody.

“We’ve removed a lot of the influence in that gang,” he said.

The Pasadena Police Department, the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office and the Buena Park Police Department were among the various law enforcement agencies that participated in the investigation and arrests.

“Some of the gang members will come to Los Angeles to gang bang,” Clark said. “They will come here for violence. They will come here for drug trafficking.”

Clark said the FBI analyzed neighborhood crime rates in the Broadway corridor area to determine whether federal authorities should target a criminal street gang.

“We measure the quality of life factors,” he said. “Can children walk to school safely? Can people stand at the bus stop? Can people walk to work?”

The L.A. City Attorney’s Office has filed three civil lawsuits against the owners of three properties it alleges are drug and gun stash houses for the Broadway Crips gang.

Four of the defendants were arrested in other states: Illinois, Nevada, Minnesota and Arizona. The FBI is still looking for eight more people considered to be fugitives.