San Diego Police Can’t Even Spy on You WITH Surveillance Camera’s

This sounds more like a bad movie or the old TV show, “Car 54 Where Are You?”. The police in San Diego insisted on the right to spy on all citizens and tourists visiting this beautiful city. They connected to surveillance cameras, just like on the TV show NCIS. The cops could use private spying systems to follow people, find criminals and observe without being observed—of course that is why they used the system.

Like the cops in “Car 54 Where are You?” this is the gang that can’t shoot straight.

“SDPD says it has access to cameras at 41 addresses around the city as part of Operation Secure San Diego.

Half of those are useless. The cameras on site at 20 addresses use software that’s incompatible with the department’s operating system.

And one of the system’s benefits SDPD highlighted most — that officers could see live footage of a crime scene as they respond, potentially revolutionizing responses to serious situations like active shooters — is functionally nonexistent.

And these folks are protecting us?

obama syria spying

San Diego’s Bumbling Big Brother

Public CEO, 8/7/14

The description of the San Diego Police Department’s “Operation Secure San Diego” is pretty chilling. The reality is pretty hilarious.

The San Diego Police Department since 2010 has been trying to build a surveillance network with the ominous title “Operation Secure San Diego.”

The idea was for the department to have access to public and private cameras all over the city to deter crime, collect evidence, provide a live feed of crime scenes and identify “questionable individuals or conduct.”

It’s the type of government surveillance program that could either strike you as a logical application of technology to keep San Diegans safe, or an intrusion of basic privacy that terrifies you to participate in our modern world.

Four years later, the program makes better fodder for Stewart and Colbert than Snowden and Orwell.

SDPD says it has access to cameras at 41 addresses around the city as part of Operation Secure San Diego.

Half of those are useless. The cameras on site at 20 addresses use software that’s incompatible with the department’s operating system.

And one of the system’s benefits SDPD highlighted most — that officers could see live footage of a crime scene as they respond, potentially revolutionizing responses to serious situations like active shooters — is functionally nonexistent.

Again, an unforeseen technological hurdle is to blame.

As anyone who tried to watch a YouTube video on an out-of-date iPhone can attest, you need a 4G connection to get anything useful. All 500 of the department’s black-and-white cruisers have a 3G connection.

So, even for those 20 sites where SDPD can access a security feed, they’re essentially useless to any responding officer.

Maybe that’s why Sgt. Jeff Jordon, vice president of the SDPD’s union who used to work in Mid-City, said he’d never even heard of the program until last weekend.

“I concern myself with the things we use every day that don’t work,” he said. “I’m not going to concern myself with things I don’t even know about that also don’t work.”

An Existential Crisis

You can’t say the department was secretive about Operation Secure San Diego.

U-T San Diego covered the program when it got its first participant with downtown’s Hotel Indigo. Two years later, SDPD, the chief of the San Diego Unified School District’s police force and then-Mayor Bob Filner held a press conference urging the city and school district to expand the program even more.

A week after the Newtown, Conn., shooting, Filner said Operation Secure San Diego was already making the city safer, and that its expansion to the entire school district was essential.

“The system is working,” he said. “We want to assure again in the wake of Connecticut our parents that we are doing everything, using all the latest technology, all the latest equipment, to have a better sense of what is going on in our schools.”

SDPD assistant police chief Boyd Long, the program’s pseudo mastermind who has since retired to become vice president of security at Valley View Casino, said at the press conference that the program included 100 cameras, mostly downtown, and would soon include 70 sets of cameras in schools. He encouraged private businesses to get on board.

“Our goal today is to not only partner with the school system, but also to get the message out that Operation Secure San Diego is a very robust system, it has checks and balances associated with it, for those private organizations that choose to participate,” he said.

That press conference generated another wave of attention. Multiple TV channelsran demonstrations of officers accessing live feeds of security cameras in their cars. In a 2012 departmental review before the City Council, Operation Secure San Diego was listed as an “ongoing violent reduction effort.”

It’s strange, then, that after all that promotion, SDPD as of two weeks ago wasn’t even sure whether Operation Secure San Diego existed at all.

In response to a public records request, the department said it didn’t have to tell us anything about the program because it was related to security procedures. And it gave us a list of 41 addresses that are part of the program. And it said the program isn’t operational (yes, all three of those things are contradictory).

“Operation San Diego (sic) is still in the development stages and has not been implemented,” the department said. (The response also referred to the program as “Operation Safe San Diego.”)

So, if the program isn’t operational, what is the list of 41 addresses?

“It is operational, it just isn’t 100 percent operational,” clarified Mark Herring, a department spokesman.

The 41 addresses are all the places that have filled out forms to give feed access to the department. But the department didn’t anticipate the software compatibility issues it ran into trying to get cameras from different manufacturers to be part of the same program. The department can’t access cameras at MTS transit stations, for instance. For security reasons, the department won’t say which 20 locations have cameras it can actually access. (This is the same list of addresses given in response to a separate records request made by local resident Jeff Hammett and reported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.)

SDPD IT staff and crime analysis officers are still working out the technological hurdles.

“We’re updating that list on a weekly basis as new forms come in,” Herring said. “I wouldn’t say the program is actively getting people on board. They’re doing software updates all the time, but the simple fact is every camera seems to be a bit different.”

Likewise, the problem with 3G computers in officers’ cars caught the department by surprise.

“The feed will show up, but it’s slow,” Herring said. “It hasn’t been as successful as we would have liked. The drivers’ infrastructure isn’t up to date.”

He said the department is getting 4G systems into 150 cars this year, and is looking to upgrade the rest of the fleet over the next two fiscal years. But those are upgrades they’d be looking to make regardless of Operation Secure San Diego, he said.

The program hasn’t had any dedicated budgeting, Herring said. Any work done on software fixes or outreach to get more cameras involved has been part of employees’ existing hours.

Because of the technological hurdles, the department has taken a passive role in expanding the program.

And no outside companies have any contracts to work on the program either, Herring said.

Two private security companies, GMI Integrated Facility Solutions and Layer3 Security Services, distributed press releases when the program launched, encouraging their clients to make their feeds available to the department. Neither company is directly involved, Herring said.

Layer3 President Dario Santana confirmed he has no formal relationship with the program, and said he heard about it from Long and thought it was a good idea, and wanted to let his clients know it existed.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to leverage resources that were there to make police more effective, a force multiplier basically,” he said. A representative from GMI didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Essentially, SDPD has built the framework for a vast surveillance network. But by all appearances, the framework hasn’t amounted to much so far, because it hasn’t been built out, supported or maintained.

Unanswered Questions

The department says Operation Secure San Diego may be having a great effect reducing crime. But it can’t show whether that’s true.

Given all its limitations, and the fact that a veteran officer wasn’t even aware the program existed, has Operation Secure San Diego managed to produce any results? Has there been a demonstrable trade off in safety or crime prevention as a result of this surveillance network? Can it identify even a single incident that Operation Secure San Diego helped solve?

Herring’s response:

The SDPD does not have a specific statistical tracking and feedback for Operation Secure San Diego as it relates to its success in a particular incident. The cameras may have been of great use to officers and investigators during a particular incident, however, without the ability to specifically track this, I cannot give you details of an incident.

On the privacy front, the department said the feeds associated with the program fall under the city’s existing administrative regulations outlining employee use of technology.

And while the department and program participants have stressed that security feeds are given to responding officers to watch live, not to record and archive, that isn’t clear in the department’s initial call for participants, which said the department would “view, record and document for evidentiary purposes” video systems that volunteered to take part.

The state of the department’s pilot program with the school district, which Filner and Long had hoped to expand, is also in flux.

Herbert Hoover High School and Monroe Clark Middle School were the schools in the initial pilot. Long said they hoped to expand it to cover 70 sets of cameras in city schools. Right now, just Hoover and Monroe appear on the program’s address list.

“I don’t believe the pilot program is active, but we still have those cameras,” Herring said. “The pilot program didn’t go away. It just fell into new hands.”

A memorandum of understanding between SDPD and the district’s police department updated in May of this year — obtained by Hammett in a public records request — says the district maintains over 1,100 cameras to improve safety and security, and SDPD dispatchers and officers have been granted viewing rights when “reacting to crimes in progress” or other safety issues on school grounds.

But that’s different than Operation Secure San Diego, department spokesman Lt. Kevin Mayer said. The school district maintains the right to limit access to those cameras, and has final approval of SDPD’s use of them.

“Operation Secure San Diego has two schools that are part of an ongoing pilot program,” he said.

 

Nanny State Takes on Energy Drinks—Choice is for Abortion/Marijuana NOT Food

Government wants you to stop smoking (except for marijuana), stop drinking soda (but you can drink bourbon), it does not want you to watch pornography (but teaching grade school students about sex, allows women to choose to abort their babies (but not allow the same women to choose the school for their living children). Government has a double standard in about everything it does.

Now the next target of the Left (they tried to take over McDonalds and lost that effort) is the energy drink industry. The cost of energy drinks will go up to pay for lobbyists and politicians to save the freedom of choice. Shameful that the Left demeans us each day like this.

“Dr. Pat Crawford, the study’s lead author, said of all these additives, only ginger extract is classified as “likely safe” by the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She called it “troubling” that the other additives have not been widely studied in children and teens, yet are added to these drinks. Crawford also expressed concern about the amount of caffeine in some of the beverages. Guarana is a plant that contains caffeine and is used as an energy supplement. It’s hard for people to know how much caffeine they might be consuming, Crawford said.”

soda ban bloomberg

 

UC Berkeley Study: Sports, Energy Drinks as Unhealthy as Soda

Lisa Alferism KQED, 8/6/14

Because of their very name, sports and energy drinks are often viewed by consumers as a healthier alternative to sugar-sweetened sodas. A study out Wednesday from UC Berkeley researchers disputes that view, finding that 21 popular beverages have high sugar content and other additives including caffeine and sodium, which may be harmful to children and teens.

“All of these beverages that are marketed to kids and teens … as if they’re healthy, are just packed with sugar,” said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy which commissioned the study.

In the report, Looking Beyond the Marketing Claims of New Beverages, researchers at UC Berkeley’s Atkins Center of Weight and Health looked not only at sugar and caffeine in these 21 beverages but also scrutinized additives such as guarana, ginseng, taurine, gingko biloba and ginger extract.

Dr. Pat Crawford, the study’s lead author, said of all these additives, only ginger extract is classified as “likely safe” by the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She called it “troubling” that the other additives have not been widely studied in children and teens, yet are added to these drinks. Crawford also expressed concern about the amount of caffeine in some of the beverages. Guarana is a plant that contains caffeine and is used as an energy supplement. It’s hard for people to know how much caffeine they might be consuming, Crawford said.

“Increasingly there are reports about children drinking too much caffeine and being admitted to emergency rooms for heart palpitation and problems they didn’t associate with the beverages,” Crawford said.

Christopher Gindlesperger, a spokesman with the American Beverage Association, called the study “spin and attempted fear mongering.” He said the industry goes “above and beyond what is required when it comes to labeling and information” and referred me to two websites.

But Goldstein says that sports beverages were meant for athletes working out for an hour — and sweating — in the hot sun. “That is not most of who is drinking sports drinks,” he said. “Most of (those) drinking sports drinks are people who are — more than anything — drawn to the marketing of these products, who have been convinced they need to replace their electrolytes.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation surveyed the evidence and reported last year that children and teens should drink water or milk that is either low fat or nonfat.

“The big message of this study,” Goldstein said, “is our kids and our teens should not be drinking sports drinks, energy drink, vitamin water, even though the beverage industry is trying so hard to convince people that these are healthier products, they’re really nothing other than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

 

Repeal Prop. 14 (Top Two Primary) Before Unions and Wealthy Totally Own Sacramento—Editorial by Stephen Frank

The time has come to declare the experiment with ending political parties nominating candidates for the November ballot over, and a failure. It is now time to return political campaigns to the people and take it back from the unions, the special interests and the very wealthy. Note that in the June primary we had the lowest voter turnout in the history of California. Most Californians have given up—they know they do not make a difference. Worse, even if your candidate is elected, they are mostly beholden to donors, the wealthy, the special interests and the unions.

Want people to vote, make them feel like it counts—they know that as long as Prop. 14 is the law, the votes do not count—unless you have tens of thousands of dollars standing behind the vote. Repeal Prop. 14 and return the ballot box to the people.

vote initiative

 

Repeal Prop. 14 (Top Two Primary) Before Unions and Wealthy Totally Own Sacramento—Editorial by Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank, editorial, California Political News and Views, 8/7/14

A few years ago, Arnold, the professional fondler and amateur Governor, and his wealthy friends, told us that if we got rid of the Republican and Democrat Parties by disallowing partisan primaries, we would have a more collegial legislature and things would get done. None of those nasty Party primaries. What has been the result?

Per the Sacramento Bee, “New data show the Golden State continues to have the nation’s most polarized Legislature by a measure of the ideological divide between Democrats and Republicans. Researchers have noted that the polarization has not been a real obstacle to lawmaking here, given the Democratic Party’s dominance.

On the November 2012 ballot there were 28 legislative races where there was only one Party on the ballot—so much for a choice. Conservatives in eight races and radical Progressive in 20 seats. Now, the Republican Party in Santa Clara County is privately discussing endorsing Congressman Mike Honda for re-election—he is a Progressive Democrat. Why have a Republican Party when it spends its time endorsing Democrats instead of electing Republicans to office. Why should the GOP get in the middle of a food fight among Democrats?

The good news is that a year or so ago, the Santa Clara GOP endorsed a Democrat for Supervisor and that caused her to lose, big! Maybe the money people running the Santa Clara Party want the Honda opponent to win?

One of the goals of Prop. 14 is to stop people from registering with a partisan Party and at the same time end Third Parties as a factor in elections. In the June, 2014 primary the American Independent Party put up not a single candidate for office. Instead, it endorsed Republicans for office. On the November 2014 ballot there are only a few nominees that are neither Democrat nor Republicans—very few. Both the Democrat and Republican parties are losing registrants—Decline to State is the fastest growing. Why register as a member of any political party if it doesn’t matter. Good way to kill off partisanship and force people into special interests and single interests rather than be involved on behalf of wider issues and causes together with others of the same viewpoint.

We were told that if we ended political parties on the ballot, let the top two vote getters move to the November ballot, we would have a more “moderate” group of candidates. Instead, we have liberals claiming to be conservatives in Republican districts and responsible Democrats trying to sound like Obama is their ideological leader—uber alles. Unions own the Democrat Party and the Republican Party had one person spend $42.9 million in the 2011-12 election cycle.

Conservatives and liberal activists are treated like fodder by this system. Special interests and the wealthy out spending each other for control of the legislature. At the end of the day those elected, mostly with few exceptions, report to their donors instead of their constituents.

It is time for Republicans and Democrats to take back elections. The time has come for the voters to control the outcome. The first step is to have Republicans nominate Republicans, Democrats nominate Democrats and Third parties be allowed to be heard on the November ballot. That is called electoral freedom. Prop. 14 takes away the First Amendment right of freedom of Assembly, in this case in the voting booth.

We have other election reforms that are needed. For instance, all donations to a campaign should be voluntary. Millions of dollars have been taken from the paychecks of workers forcibly, then given to candidates the workers never heard of or approve of. Politics is a voluntary avocation—being told you will lose your job if you do not pay “dues” to a third party and then giving portion of that money to people who want to raise your taxes, make it difficult to have a job in California and make sure perverts and bad teachers stay in the classroom is morally and ethically wrong.

Let me know what you think. Do you support the repeal of Prop. 14 and return Republicans and Democrats to the November ballot in all races? Forward this to your political friends, let them get into the discussion—repeal Prop. 14 in 2016!

 

Assemblyman: Texas SpaceX facility not a case of jobs leaving California (Video)

Sometimes California loses jobs to Texas. At other times, California is never in the running in the first place. California is giving tax incentives to SpaceX to have its headquarters in California. Seriously, why does the billionaire Elon Musk need to put his hand in the pocket of a family earning $40,000 a year, with three kids? He wants to hire a “launch” team and facility—so he goes to Texas—where he can add15% to his bottom line and his workers get an extra 10% in their paycheck without Musk paying them extra (the value of no income taxes in Texas).

No investor wants to be in the former Golden State, except to use our tax incentives to finance your growth in Texas and other States. A little here and a lot there. Even with the Sacramento bribe, SpaceX went to Texas—that is how bad the business climate is in this State.

“In April, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Muratsuchi’s Assembly Bill 777, which provides SpaceX with a 10-year property tax break on rocket equipment that leaves the planet. The Assemblyman ran the bill in part out of concern that SpaceX would move its rocket manufacturing to Texas, because the company owns land there.”

Flag_of_Texas

 

Assemblyman: Texas SpaceX facility not a case of jobs leaving California (Video)

Allen Young, Sacramento Business Journal, 8/5/14

The news Monday that SpaceX would bring 300 jobs to South Texas to build the world’s first private commercial rocket launch facility is not a case of California losing jobs to the Lone Star State, said a spokesman for Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, the Torrance Democrat who authored a recent tax break for SpaceX.

Aerospace companies must locate launch sites in states like Florida and Texas due to the geographic area that rockets end up in orbit, said Eric Guerra, chief of staff to Muratsuchi. Guerra said he learned of commercial space flight needs on a recent tour of Lockheed Martin.

In April, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Muratsuchi’s Assembly Bill 777, which provides SpaceX with a 10-year property tax break on rocket equipment that leaves the planet. The Assemblyman ran the bill in part out of concern that SpaceX would move its rocket manufacturing to Texas, because the company owns land there.

“As government is slowly pulling out of (space exploration), it’s an area for private industry, and we want California private industry to capture that market,” Guerra said.

SpaceX employs close to 4,000 people in California and expects growth of about 20 percent this year, according to information provided to Muratsuchi’s office.

 

Sand: The One-Way Political Spending of the Teacher Unions

Professional teachers in California and around the nation—except in the 22 Free to Work States (States where the government does not force workers to pay bribes to unions) are forced to pay a bribe if they want to be in a classroom. Then that money is used to buy politicians, school boards and legislatures. If you refuse to stay bought they harass, try to close you down (think Wisconsin) and then using the bribe money work to defeat honest politicians. In fact, they love Democrats (easy “persuaded”) and hate Republicans (they believe in free choice).

“In House of Representative races during the 2014 election cycle, the American Federation of Teachers gave $1.4 million to Democrats, compared to just $5,000 to Republicans. The National Education Association donated $857,550 to Democrats and $59,500 to Republicans. In Senate races AFT gave $210,000 to Dems and GOPers got zero. NEA sent $168,750 to Senate Democrats, while Republicans scored a piddling $3,000.”

Mexico Teachers Protest

The One-Way Political Spending of the Teacher Unions

By Larry Sand, Union Watch, 8/5/14

Teacher union political gifting continues to be almost exclusively leftward bound, but teachers don’t have to finance it.

Courtesy of campaign-finance tracker Open Secrets, we have a reminder of how lopsided teacher union political spending is. Education Week’s Lauren Camera posted a report Friday which spells out some of the nasty details.

In House of Representative races during the 2014 election cycle, the American Federation of Teachers gave $1.4 million to Democrats, compared to just $5,000 to Republicans. The National Education Association donated $857,550 to Democrats and $59,500 to Republicans. In Senate races AFT gave $210,000 to Dems and GOPers got zero. NEA sent $168,750 to Senate Democrats, while Republicans scored a piddling $3,000.

Sadly, these numbers are not outliers but typical of teacher union spending. From 1989-2014, NEA sent only 4 percent of its donations to Republicans, and rest assured that the few bucks they tossed at the right never wound up anywhere near any Tea Party types. Additionally, NEA has lavished gifts on such leftist stalwarts as MALDEF, People for the American Way, Media Matters, ACORN, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and the Center for American Progress.

Here in the Golden State, the California Teachers Association is no better. Between 2003 and 2012, the union sent $15.7 million to Dems and just $92,700 to Republicans – a ratio of well over 99 to 1. CTA also spends millions on controversial, non-education-related liberal causes such as establishing a single-payer health-care system, expanding the government’s power of eminent domain, instituting same-sex marriage and blocking photo ID requirements for voters. In toto, CTA spent over $290 million on candidates, ballot measures and lobbying between 2000 and 2013 (more than double the amount of any other special interest) and just about every penny of it went in the usual leftist direction.

But this must be what teachers want, right? Aren’t the great majority of teachers liberal?

In a word, “No.”

In fact, according to Mike Antonucci, an internal NEA poll revealed, 

NEA members lean no further to the left than any other large group of Americans. The national union conducts periodic internal surveys to ascertain member attitudes on a host of issues. These surveys are never made public, and results are tightly controlled, even within the organization. The 2005 NEA survey, consistent with previous results, found that members ‘are slightly more conservative (50%) than liberal (43%) in political philosophy.’(Emphasis added.)

While teachers in 26 states have to pay the union in order to teach in a public school, many are unaware that every year they can withhold several hundred dollars in dues money that the union would spend on politics. Needless to say, the unions don’t advertise the fact that teachers do indeed have any choice.

Next week is National Employee Freedom Week which is a nation-wide effort to inform unionized employees about their union membership options. If you are conservative, libertarian, centrist or apolitical and are tired of bankrolling your union’s pet political causes, maybe it’s time to just say no. For information on how to do that, please go to the California Teachers Empowerment Network website.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

 

Suspected Killer Of USC Student Has Been In U.S. Illegally For Seven Years

Barack Obama could be considered a co-conspirator in the murder of a USC student. Obama refused to obey and enforce our immigration laws. As a result of this refusal, an illegal alien that should have been deported was on the streets of Los Angeles and killed a young man. The killer is called by Obama a “Dreamer”—who is a nightmare to a family and community. At what point is Obama forced to take responsibility for his actions that have caused numerous deaths, rapes, crimes and hundreds of thousands of victims? When do the people decide this criminal behavior?

“The suspect, Jonathan Del Carmen, told authorities of his illegal status in an interview at the Los Angeles County jail, according to a federal source reached by The Daily Caller with knowledge of the interview who was not authorized to speak to the press about the investigation.”

by Mike Lewis, from The Hill

by Mike Lewis, from The Hill

 

Suspected Killer Of USC Student Has Been In U.S. Illegally For Seven Years

Chuck Ross, Daily Caller, 8/1/14

A 19-year-old who was part of a group suspected of fatally beating a USC graduate student with a baseball bat told authorities that he has been in the U.S. illegally for seven years.

The suspect, Jonathan Del Carmen, told authorities of his illegal status in an interview at the Los Angeles County jail, according to a federal source reached by The Daily Caller with knowledge of the interview who was not authorized to speak to the press about the investigation.

The Los Angeles Times issued a similar report confirming Del Carmen’s immigration status.

Police believe that Del Carmen, and three other suspects between 16- and 18-years-old, attacked 24-year-old Xinran Ji with a baseball bat and a wrench during an attempted robbery early on the morning of July 24 as the engineering student was walking home from a study group.

Del Carmen and the 18-year-old accomplice face capital murder charges. The two younger suspects face life in prison if convicted.

A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that the agency has issued an immigration detainer against Del Carmen.

“Officers assigned to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Criminal Alien Program encountered Mr. Del Carmen at the Los Angeles County Jail July 30 following his incarceration on murder and robbery charges,” ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said in a statement released to TheDC.

“ICE has lodged an immigration detainer against Mr. Del Carmen, requesting that the Sheriff’s Department turn him over to ICE for possible follow-up immigration enforcement action if and when he is released from local custody.”

“Database checks indicate Mr. Del Carmen has had no prior enforcement encounters with the Department of Homeland Security,” Kice said.

A detainer does not preempt the state of California’s case against Del Carmen. It merely notifies local law enforcement that an investigation into an individuals’ immigration status has been started.

Doctors Begin To Refuse Obamacare Patients

This has to be expected. If you cut payments to doctors, or anybody, they will stop working. If the government demands actions from people, folks will revolt. When you tax people and force them to then provide below costs services, they will rebel. Doctors are taken advantage of by Obamacare, with government bean counters, not physicians making the rules and setting up payment schedule for procedures—without knowing what it takes to do a medical procedure (except by reading about it on the Internet)

At the start Covered California knowingly lied to consumers about the doctors and hospitals involved in this inferior health care program, worthy of a Third World nation. Now after a few months of experience, doctors want out of the system—they want freedom for themselves and for their patients.

““I cannot accept a plan [in which] potentially commercial-type reimbursement rates were now going to be reimbursed at Medicare rates,” Dr. Gerard told NPR.  ”You have to maintain a certain mix in private practice between the low reimbursers and the high reimbursers to be able to keep the lights on.”

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image18581971

 

Doctors Begin To Refuse Obamacare Patients

Sarah Hurtubise, Daily Caller, 8/5/14

Obamacare plans have shrunk payments to physicians so much that some doctors say they won’t be able to afford to accept Obamacare coverage, NPR reports.

Many of the eight million sign-ups in Obamacare exchanges nationwide already face more limited choices for physicians and hospitals than those in the private insurance market. But with low physician reimbursement rates, the problem could get even worse.

For a typical quick patient visit, Dr. Doug Gerard, a Connecticut internist, told NPR a private insurer would pay $100 while Medicare would pay around $80. But Obamacare plans are more likely to pay closer to $80, which Gerard says is unsustainable for his practice.

“I cannot accept a plan [in which] potentially commercial-type reimbursement rates were now going to be reimbursed at Medicare rates,” Dr. Gerard told NPR.  ”You have to maintain a certain mix in private practice between the low reimbursers and the high reimbursers to be able to keep the lights on.”

Narrow networks have become a hallmark of many Obamacare exchange plans, as one of few options left to insurance companies that allows them to save money by lowering reimbursement rates and covering fewer providers. In the health-care law’s first year, 70 percent of all Obamacare plan networks were either narrow or ultra-narrow, according to an analysis from consulting firm McKinsey.

But doctors are feeling even more financial pressure due to the changes and many believe there’s a risk that Obamacare insurance will go the way of Medicaid, where patients still struggle to find a doctor after low reimbursement rates led many physicians to stop accepting it.

“I don’t think most physicians know what they’re being reimbursed,” Gerard said. “Only when they start seeing some of those rates come through will they realize how low the rates are they agreed to.”

If Obamacare coverage continues on its current track, exchange customers could face a lower level of care than those who buy coverage in the private market.

“I think it could lead potentially to this kind of distinction that there are these different tiers of quality of care,” Connecticut Obamacare chief Kevin Counihan told NPR. ”That’s been something, at least in our state, that we’re trying to work against. And the carriers are, as well.”

The problem is especially bad for private practices like Gerard’s, where physicians’ income is directly tied to reimbursements. But hospitals — especially top-tier ones that treat the most difficult diseases — are also increasingly rejecting the low reimbursement rates. The nation’s best cancer treatment centers are often covered by very few exchange plans in their states; if Obamacare customers end up with a difficult-to-treat cancer, they’re likely to face a lower quality of care right off the bat.

 

 

California Legislative Democrats: We Will End Supreme Court Holly Lobby Decision–“So Sue Us”

Sacramento Democrats love Barack Obama. They really love his style, while FDR will be remembered for saying “you have nothing to fear but fear itself”. Barack the First will be remembered for saying “so sue me”. The U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that private firms, based on religious beliefs could not be forced to pay for contraceptives. To a Democrat that is a guidance, not a ruling. In Sacramento, the Democrats are about to overrule the Supreme Court.

“Beth Parker, with Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, says the bill under consideration would require the state to adopt those guidelines.

“It’s looking at what Hobby Lobby did and insuring that the impact of Hobby Lobby does not come to California,” she said.

Nicole Evans with the California Association of Health Plans says this bill would limit an employer’s ability to keep premiums low “by negotiating coverage for certain brands of contraception.”

800px-HobbyLobbyStowOhio

California Bill Would Guarantee Full Health Plan Birth Control Access

Max Pringle, Capital Public Radio, 8/5/14

A bill in the California Legislature would require health plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive methods. The bill is being debated just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Hobby Lobby” ruling, which allowed some employers to deny birth control coverage for religious reasons.

The Affordable Care Act mandates full access to federally approved birth control methods without copayments, delays or denials.

Beth Parker, with Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, says the bill under consideration would require the state to adopt those guidelines.

“It’s looking at what Hobby Lobby did and insuring that the impact of Hobby Lobby does not come to California,” she said.

Nicole Evans with the California Association of Health Plans says this bill would limit an employer’s ability to keep premiums low “by negotiating coverage for certain brands of contraception.”

“And instead it would require coverage for all brands of contraceptives,” Evans said.

The bill is now cleared the California Senate. It’s awaiting action in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

 

Confused Guv Brown: I will Accept a $6 Billion Water Bond Slush Fund

The confused Governor of California is now willing to lower his “water” slush fund to $6 billion. It started at $11 billion, like a Dutch auction, the price has gone done. Yes, Brown is promising new dams and water storage facilities—like previous governors. Since 1974—BEFORE Brown became governor the first time, not a single dam has been built but we approved billions to build them and the money was spent—on wetlands, conservationism, union payoffs, special interests and vendors that would give political donations.

Now he is making the same promises and we already know that the courts will be used to stop the location of dams. Then that money will be used for environmentalists and friends, not a drop of water.

vote

 

Brown Calls For New, Smaller Water Bond

Ben Adler, capradio, 8/5/14

Governor Jerry Brown wants to scrap the $11 billion water bond scheduled for California’s November ballot and replace it with a smaller proposal of his own.

Six billion dollars. That’s what the governor says he’s willing to spend. Not $11 billion, like the existing bond; not $8 or $9 billion, like some of the proposals floating around the Legislature. Six billion. In an interview with Capital Public Radio, Brown put forth an argument of fiscal prudence for a state already $30 billion dollars in debt.

“Whatever borrowings we do from here on out have to be very carefully thought out. And I believe a bond of $6 billion will get all that we need to get done in the next coming years but does not go overboard or try to spend more than we ought to at this point in time,” Brown said.

“A lot of people say, well, we’ll just throw more in. Well, you have to be careful, because the people are not in a mood for taking on big new spending obligations,” the governor said. “And if that’s what they conceive this bond to be, they may well vote no, and then you’ll have a big fat zero, which is a lot less than $6 billion or $8 or $9 billion.”

Brown’s proposal includes $2 billion for storage projects, like dams and reservoirs. Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) declared in a statement that anything less than three billion won’t cut it. “California needs a minimum of $3 billion for desperately needed water storage and the Governor’s bond falls well short,” said Huff. “It would be a shame for this governor and Democrat leaders to abandon Californians in the middle of a crisis.”

But GOP Senator Anthony Cannella, a key swing vote, said he might – reluctantly – be open to a little less: “I think the $3 billion number is the number that really builds the improvements that we need. But I’m willing to look at that, and if everyone comes down, then I’m willing to come down as well,” he said.

The other big sticking point is which state agency would control the saidto restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta’s ecosystem. The governor’s office has been trying to find a middle ground between Delta and environmental groups and water and agriculture groups.

“It has to be a reasonable bond. It has to have the support of the governor. It must be tunnel neutral, and he is very clear about that, and I support that strongly,” said Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), who represents the Delta.

Negotiators have until the end of next week to replace the existing bond on the November ballot.
Original Story: California Governor Jerry Brown has broken his silence on water bond talks.

He’s opposing the $11 billion measure currently on the November ballot and proposing a $6 billion bond instead.

Brown’s outline sets aside a third of the money for storage projects, such as dams and reservoirs.

Republican Senator Anthony Cannella says that’s not enough.

“It’s a great starting point but it’s clearly lacking, especially in the storage area,” says Cannella. “He’s offered up $2 billion for storage and we really need $3 billion. So if we can get to $3 billion for storage, I think we’re there.”

The governor’s office has spent the last several weeks looking for a middle ground between supporters and opponents of his Delta tunnel proposal. Brown calls his bond “tunnel neutral.”

Democratic Senator Lois Wolk says the biggest sticking point remains finding a state agency both sides can trust to manage Delta restoration funds.

“It has to be real collaboration – it can’t just be hollow,” says Wolk. “The word can’t be hollow. There have to be actual requirements for consultation and for cooperation and for decision-making.”

A deal must be reached by the end of next week.

 

McCarthy slams brakes on federal funding for high-speed rail

Great news for Californians. The new Majority Leader of the House of Representatives is Kevin McCarthy, from California. He has made it clear that no further Federal dollars will be used for the High Speed Rail boondoggle anywhere in the United States. Now he needs to demand that our confused Guv Brown give back the $3.2 billion the Fed gave us to build the system—based on getting matching funds by April 1, extended to July 1, 2014. The funds never showed up, but the manipulators in charge of the money refuse to abide by the agreement and give the money back.

“McCarthy, who has long opposed the plan, has announced that he’ll block any new initiatives to direct federal funds toward the project. According to the Wall Street Journal, McCarthy insisted he will “do all that I can to ensure not one dollar of federal funding goes to boondoggles like California’s high-speed rail. The government’s handling of hard earned taxpayer dollars must be based on merit and facts, not upon a desired legacy.”

Photo courtesy of Jon Curnow, flickr

Photo courtesy of Jon Curnow, flickr

 

McCarthy slams brakes on federal funding for high-speed rail
By James Poulos, Calwatchdog, 8/6/14

High-speed rail has a new obstacle: new House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield.

McCarthy, who has long opposed the plan, has announced that he’ll block any new initiatives to direct federal funds toward the project. According to the Wall Street Journal, McCarthy insisted he will “do all that I can to ensure not one dollar of federal funding goes to boondoggles like California’s high-speed rail. The government’s handling of hard earned taxpayer dollars must be based on merit and facts, not upon a desired legacy.”

The legacy in question, of course, belongs to Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown has been unstinting in his support of high-speed rail, defending it from Republican critics and diverting cap-and-trade revenues away from environmental uses favored by Democrats. For his part, the governor told the Journal that McCarthy and congressional Republicans “have decided that it’s better to treat high-speed rail as a political football, than as a great civic opportunity.” Federal dollars flow to California bridges and roads, Brown reasoned, implying they ought to benefit the state’s controversial rail project as well.

In June, the House of Representatives already voted to strip funding for the train from its most recent transportation bill, passing an amendment put forth by Jeff Denham, R-Turlock. Federal funding has been contingent on the amount Californians raise on their own, in the form of bond measures that have been tied up in the courts. But a new court ruling, which likely loosens the purse strings, makes McCarthy’s promise more significant.

Legal wrangling

The latest twist in the ongoing high-speed rail saga involves a decision handed down by the Third District Court of Appeal. A lower court had ruled last year that a voter-approved bond issuance to fund the train could not proceed. To move forward, the California High Speed Rail Authority would have to clear higher funding and environmental hurdles than anticipated — a time-consuming and costly process.

A panel of three judges on the Court threw out that decision, rejecting the lower court’s level of scrutiny into the bond authorization. Plaintiffs in the case have not yet decided whether to appeal to the Supreme Court

Meanwhile, another lawsuit is pending in California Superior Court. The plaintiffs in that suit allege that the bond measure was approved by voters who trusted ballot language concerning the train’s travel time. In April, state lawmakers were told that the train almost certainly would not be able to hit those estimates during scheduled service.

Political pushback

Aside from the train’s legal challenges, however, the political dimension to the controversy is heating up. Ironically, a court order to proceed with bond sales would advantage Republicans in some ways as well. Neel Kashkari, who faces Brown in November, has put opposition to the train front and center in his campaign for governor. Now he has announced an alternative. If officials cancel the high-speed rail project, he argued, voters could “repurpose the bond money for water storage projects.”

That line of rhetoric could put fresh pressure on Brown as California’s drought worsens. The Fresno Bee recently reported on the plight of the Haflich family, which crystallizes the charge of misplaced priorities that could come Brown’s way. Although the Hafliches’ well has run out of water, they’re stuck on their property. They can’t find a buyer because their home sits in the path of the bullet train’s construction.

That’s where federal funding — or the lack thereof — comes back into the picture. “The rail authority says its hands are tied, at least for the time being, by its funding agreements with the federal government to spend money only within the boundaries to be covered in its current and future construction contracts,” according to the Bee.

The Haflichs’ unusual predicament may not be shared by many Californians. But it does underscore the kinds of unintended consequences that high-speed rail can create in the state’s current climate.