Guv Brown: Cap and Trade $ to Pay for High Speed Rail—for next 272 YEARS

If you believe the High Speed Rail Authority, the cost of their choo choo train, they will tell you $68 billion (actually it is over $200 billion). How will they pay for it? The Guv and the legislative Democrats are willing to give 25% of the revenue from cap and trade extortion on business. That means approximately $250 million a year for 272 YEARS to pay off the debt—add interest to it and you are now talking in the trillions. The Feds have no more money, the State has a $340 billion debt—and growing.

Brown wants to spend $67 billion on a Delta tunnel, Steinberg wants billions to take three year olds hostage in government kindergartens. Democrats love to spend your money. Sorry, “invest” your money—in failures and money losers.

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High-speed rail funding deal far below project needs

Lawmakers have reached a deal on funding the California High-Speed Rail Authority up to a projected $250 million beginning in fiscal 2015.

Allen Young, Sacramento Business Journal, 6/13/14

Lawmakers have reached a deal on funding the California High-Speed Rail Authority up to a projected $250 million beginning in fiscal 2015, far less than the agency expects it will need to cover construction costs at that time, which is roughly $4 billion a year.

While the financing deal is not final, the plan to fund high-speed rail through 25 percent of future cap-and-trade proceeds was approved by a state budget panel Thursday in advance of a budget floor vote expected by Sunday night.

The rail agency’s future funding prospects received another blow this week when the U.S. House of Representatives voted to halt funding for the project. While the vote was mostly symbolic due to the fact that the authority hadn’t requested funding this year and nothing was proposed, the action shows that future federal funding will be challenging if not impossible given the political makeup of the U.S. House.

Further complicating the train’s budget are ongoing environmental and legal lawsuits. Last year, a Sacramento Superior Court judge effectively blocked access to approved state bonds for the project on the grounds that the authority violated a 2008 financing ballot measure. The authority has appealed that decision. If the appeal is not won, the authority’s current funding source is jeopardized.

Private investment in the project has not materialized. Authority CEO Jeff Morales has indicated that private-sector funding would become more easily attainable once government cash sources have stabilized.

Another environmental lawsuit filed last week by Central Valley residents seeks a restraining order alleging the authority submitted an incomplete environmental impact statement.

 

Warning: San Fran Police Department MONITORING YOUR Cell Phone Calls

This is a warning the San Francisco Mayor or Board of Supervisors will not give you: Like the Obama NSA, the San Fran police are tracking you, listening to your cell calls, all of this without notice or a warrant. In San Fran tourists and citizens are all considered criminals by the police. This is a town that is so tolerant that drugs, sex and high taxes are loved and promoted by government. On the other hand, they are suspicious of people and believe all are guilty till charges are finally brought.

The bigger question is why is this tolerated by the Mayor and Board of Supervisors? They claim to be civil libertarians, yet allow their police to spy on all that enter the city/county limits. Why hasn’t the Attorney General or the District Attorney stopped this unconstitutional spying by government?

“Newman’s refusal to discuss the SFPD’s use of the controversial devices is a boilerplate response, according to ACLU Attorney Linda Lye, one that multiple jurisdictions across the country are using when asked to produce documents relating to the Stingrays.

“It’s a ridiculous argument. Local governments are refusing to disclose records; invoking the same arguments. The Executive order pertains to a list of munitions that are subject to regulation, not the Stingray. It’s bizarre.”

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SFPD Refuses To Discuss Their Constitutionally-Dubious Cell Phone Tracker

Jeff AdachiSFPDStingray by Max A. Cherney, SF Appeal,   6/13/14

Warrantless use of a little known, and controversial technology the San Francisco Police Department uses to track cell phones via GPS — and possibly intercept voice, SMS, and data transmissions — was ruled a likely Fourth Amendment violation by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit this week.

If such technology was used by the SFPD in the course of an investigation or submitted as evidence in a criminal trial, the decision may present defendants in criminal cases with a greater chance of suppressing such evidence, and result in overturned criminal convictions of past cases.

The technology itself is shrouded in secrecy. It’s known by a number of names including Trigger Fish, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers, and Stingrays — a product name for a device manufactured by Florida based Harris Corporation which produces a range of tactical communications, defense and intelligence information technology.

Harris spokesman Jim Burke declined to comment on the specifics of the technology, but told the Appeal that “Two of our major markets are defense and law enforcement, and for those markets we can’t discuss our products. It’s very heavily restricted, and regulated. We abide by all laws and regulations.”

The SFPD obtained a Harris made Stingray in 2009 via a Department of Homeland Security grant, along with seven other law enforcement agencies in Northern California, according to a News 10 report which first revealed the Stingray’s deployment in the region.

The Stingray devices are a type of International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catcher that pretends to be a cellular tower, tricking devices into connecting to it — then performing what’s known as a “man-in-the-middle attack” on the device.

Once that’s done, law enforcement can pinpoint a person’s location, as well as the unique identification and telephone number, as well as phone numbers dialed out and SMS messages.

Such technology is also able to intercept voice, and data communications but when Stingrays are sold to law enforcement agencies, that feature is disabled.

When the Appeal made a written request to SFPD discuss policies and procedures for use of such devices, SFPD spokeswoman Sergeant Danielle Newman refused to confirm or deny the existence of Stingray and related documents.

By way of reasoning, Newman invoked several state law statutes, sections of the US Code, and Executive Order 13637, that President Barack Obama signed last year.

Newman’s refusal to discuss the SFPD’s use of the controversial devices is a boilerplate response, according to ACLU Attorney Linda Lye, one that multiple jurisdictions across the country are using when asked to produce documents relating to the Stingrays.

“It’s a ridiculous argument. Local governments are refusing to disclose records; invoking the same arguments. The Executive order pertains to a list of munitions that are subject to regulation, not the Stingray. It’s bizarre.”

Lye went on to speculate that the SFPD and others are being coached by the FBI and perhaps the Harris Corporation on how to respond to document requests. Other law enforcement agencies also claim they have signed non-disclosure agreements that prevent them from discussing the technology altogether.

In addition, a recent Associated Press report uncovered evidence that the Obama administration has been actively suppressing Stingray related documents from public records requests and criminal cases where they are used.

Despite the fact that the SFPD refuses to discuss their use of the devices, other departments in the Bay Area make use of Stingrays to, at the very least, make arrests.

In 2009, the Oakland Police Department said in an annual report that it arrested 19 people due to “Electronic Surveillance (Stingray)” and the same number in 2008.

The department has since stopped publishing Stingray arrest numbers for unknown reasons.

Reached by telephone Tuesday, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said that he has not heard of any local cases which involve the use of the Stingray, at least not that his office is aware of. However, he cautioned that often law enforcement does not keep records of how Stingrays are used, so “They’re basically unregulated at this point.”

Agreeing with the Eleventh Circuit Court’s decision, Adachi called the devices a “clear Fourth Amendment violation” and said that the SFPD has an obligation to the public to discuss and disclose the use of this technology in any given case where it was used, “regardless of whether or not it resulted in obtaining information.”

In an opinion written by Judge David Sentelle (you can read the entire ruling here), the Eleventh Circuit Court ruled that “In short, we hold that cell site location information is within the subscriber’s reasonable expectation of privacy. The obtaining of that data without a warrant is a Fourth Amendment violation.”

It’s a victory for privacy advocates, but not a total one. “The 11th Circuit decision also creates a circuit split with the 5th Circuit which means we may get the Supreme Court to take up the issue,” said Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury, referring to a judicial decision last year that indicates warrants are not needed to track people via their cell phones.

That said, Adachi still appears pleased with the ruling, saying that “You don’t sign away your constitutional rights when you sign your cell phone contract. Police will now have to show probable cause to a judge, which is reasonable.”

 

Sweeping new legal challenge to bullet train –taxpayers pay for BOTH Plaintiffs and Defendents

Kern and Tulare counties have decided to protect the people and the taxpayers of California from one of the biggest government scams since the Obama “stimulus” plan—which was an effort to pay off his donors and supporters. The choo choo train to no where, for nobody but the unions and special interests—like contractors and other vendors.

A couple of weeks ago the High Speed Rail folks released a 20,000 page EIR that took 18 months to create. They gave the public 17 days to go over it and to prove it was accurate. It was full of holes, mistakes and omissions. Now the counties must sue and the Authority is going to answer—using State tax dollars for their attorneys. In the end it is taxpayer’s money as plaintiff and defendant. Now you know why government cannot be trusted or respected.

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Sweeping new legal challenge to bullet train
By Kathy Hamilton. Calwatchdog, 6/11/14

A massive California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit was filed June 4 in Sacramento Superior Court over the newly certified environmental impact report (EIR) for the bullet-train project segment linking Fresno to Bakersfield.

This EIR is supposed to have far more details about the impacts of the project on affected communities and the environment. But the new lawsuit — filed by the County of Kings, Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability and the Kings County Farm Bureau — alleges that there are major conflicts and omissions between the old EIR and the new one. It also alleges that the California High-Speed Rail Authority, in preparing the new EIR, routinely minimized environmental impacts and the need for mitigation measures despite knowing of contrary evidence.

The lawsuit, which can be read here, was prepared by attorneys Douglas P. Carstens and Michelle Black of the Chatten-Brown & Carstens law firm based in Hermosa Beach. It contends that the shortcomings of the EIR are so numerous and significant that the document should be “recirculated” to allow the commenting process on potential impacts to start anew. It asks that construction be blocked until an adequate, fully legal EIR is completed.

The case will be before Judge Allen Sumner,  who was first appointed to the bench by Gov. Gray Davis. It is expected to have its initial hearing late this year.

This litigation is separate from a lawsuit involving mostly the same plaintiffs that led another Sacramento Superior Court judge, Michael Kenny, to rule in November that the state government had an inadequate financing plan and insufficient environmental reviews to legally begin work on the bullet train project’s 300-mile “initial operating segment.” A state appellate court is now considering Kenny’s decision, acting on an expedited basis at Gov. Jerry Brown’s request.

Vast list of problems detailed

Here are some of the key problems cited in the new lawsuit:

Railroad impacts: The new EIR includes “no mention regarding the need for expansion of the electrical grid or the recent objections UPRR and BNSF railroads have voiced to the California Public Utilities Commission about electro-magnetic fields and the possible interference of the freight rail and their positive train control systems.” Plaintiffs say the problems were well-known before the new EIR was certified in April.

Another ignored problem: ”The EIR failed to adequately analyze and mitigate impacts caused by the Section’s interference with existing rail transportation. BNSF Railway Company commented that the Authority’s preferred alignment, a substantial portion of which would run adjacent to BNSF’s right-of-way, would adversely impact BNSF’s ability to maintain and use its current right-of-way, would limit opportunities to construct new spurs to serve clients, and would raise height clearance issues.”

EIR was premature: The plaintiffs also contend that the rail authority jumped the gun with the new EIR. Rail officials “are only 15-30 percent finished with the first segment that is Madera to Fresno, and at this time does not even have a vendor selected to create the design for the Fresno to Bakersfield segment.”

The lawsuit contends this goes against established standards on how much design and planning work must be done before a credible environmental review can be completed.

“According to the Authority’s predecessor agency, the Intercity High Speed Rail Commission, in its High Speed Rail Summary Report and Action Plan, at least a 35 percent level of design is necessary to conduct environmental review,” the lawsuit notes.

“Similarly, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency state that a 60 percent level of design is necessary for the environmental analysis to be sufficient for issuing a Clean Water Act section 404 Permit. By relying on an insufficiently detailed design, the Authority failed to provide enough information necessary for environmental review under CEQA.”

Effects on plants and species: A key goal of an environmental impact report is assessing the likely impact on sensitive plants and species in the project area. Once again, the plaintiffs contend the rail authority cut corners and didn’t follow standard practices.

“EIR preparers conducted an assessment of the possible presence of an endangered species (Fresno Kangaroo Rat) by attempting to recreate land use from the aerial photographs provided within Google Earth. Although such a method might be useful for targeting surveys, it is not a substitute for protocol-level surveys in appropriate habitat, which should have been done before certification of the project-level EIR,” the lawsuit states.

“The survey extent for many biological resources was too small because the area studied was usually within 250 feet of the Section footprint. Because one major impact of the project is fragmentation of existing habitat and decreased landscape connectivity, the study area should have been much larger.”

Geological and seismic risks hidden: Among the most serious allegations in the lawsuit are that the new EIR purposefully ignored the rail authority’s own report about the riskiness of its route.

On Sept. 12, 2013, in response to a California Public Records Act request by Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design, the rail authority released an internal report on geologic and seismic hazards facing the Fresno-Bakersfield route.

According to the lawsuit, the report  “concluded that the risks of ground rupture, seismically induced ground deformations, shallow groundwater, soil corrosivity, and land subsidence were moderate to high along the Section alignment. The Report determined that most of these geotechnical hazards are distributed across the Central Valley or run perpendicular to the section alignment.”

But the new EIR did not acknowledge the rail authority’s own findings that geologic and seismic hazards were probably unavoidable on the planned route. Instead, the EIR concluded such risks were only in “localized areas.”

Plaintiffs argue that this “demonstrates the EIR’ s failure to disclose the Section’s system-wide potentially adverse impacts to decision-makers and the public.”

Less intrusive alternatives not considered: The rail authority had an obligation to examine other route options to see whether they were less problematic but did not do so with several different issues, according to the plaintiffs. These issues include geologic/seismic risk; noise and vibration risks to Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield; and using tunnels instead of above-ground tracks in “urban centers” such as Hanford.

Major impacts cited for first time: The lawsuit alleges that the new EIR — for the first time — mentions heretofore undisclosed new impacts from the project. Perhaps the most notable:

– “New significant impacts to historic resources in downtown Fresno, including subterranean historic resources. These significant historic resources included residential features and privies associated with Chinatown. These features are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.”

– “Approximately 96 active and inactive oil, gas, and water wells that would be impacted within 50 feet of the Section’s right-of-way.” Plaintiffs say that the rail authority acknowledges the “substantial increase in severity of this impact,” yet identifies “no mitigation measures.”

Under state law, a project’s environmental impact report must be “recirculated” for new comments when there are newly discovered “significant new impacts to landowners.”

The law “requires recirculation when: (1) a new significant environmental impact would result from the project or from a new mitigation measure proposed to be implemented; (2) a substantial increase in the severity of an environmental impact would result unless mitigation measures are adopted that reduce the impact to a level of insignificance; or (3) a feasible project alternative or mitigation measure considerably different from others previously analyzed would clearly lessen the environmental impacts of the project, but the project’s proponents decline to adopt it.”

The lawsuit cites problems that fit each of these categories — at least if Judge Sumner agrees.

Kathy Hamilton is the Ralph Nader of high-speed rail, continually uncovering hidden aspects of the project and revealing them to the public.  She started writing in order to tell local communities how the project affects them and her reach grew statewide.  She has written more than 225 articles on high-speed rail and attended hundreds of state and local meetings. She is a board member of the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail; has testified at government hearings; has provided public testimony and court declarations on public records act requests; has given public testimony; and has provided transcripts for the validation of court cases. 

 

California Democrats replace ‘spend’ with ‘invest’

Democrats love to play word games—when they steal from the public. To Democrats there are NO tax increases, these are “revenue enhancements”. Cutting spending is a “GOP effort to harm the poor”. Add a new definition to the vocabulary of the Democrats—they no longer increase spending, now they “invest” Of course the money to invest is your money and you voted to allow Democrats to “invest” your money whether it is a good investment, or like the High Speed Rail, just a two bit payoff to unions and special interests.

Why doesn’t the media expose this gamesmanship of the Democrats? Why hasn’t the public punished the Democrats for lying to them? When will the voters get angry enough to throw out those that openly lie and abuse their common sense and fiscal responsibility?

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California Democrats replace ‘spend’ with ‘invest’

Democrats replace ‘spend’ with fiscally responsible term

KCRA, 6/11/14

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —As billions of dollars in unexpected tax revenue pour into California, Democratic lawmakers have proposed all kinds of ways to distribute the windfall after years of recession-era budget cuts.

Just don’t call it spending. In recent weeks, Democrats have been using a more palatable and fiscally responsible term to characterize their individual priorities.

Instead of spending the taxpayer surplus, they want to invest it.

Last week, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, opened up a joint legislative budget committee hearing by saying she hopes the state will make “meaningful and strategic investments in early and higher education, in health care access and closing that opportunity gap.”

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D- Sacramento, has said in recent weeks that he would like to “make sure that there is room left for some investment to meet the needs of the people.”

Shortly after being sworn in as Assembly speaker last month, San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins said she wanted to help craft a budget that “expands opportunity by making smart investments.”

Webster’s dictionary defines investment as “the outlay of money, usually for income or profit.” But Democratic lawmakers are framing their spending proposals for welfare, health care, child care, education and preschool for low-income families as a human investment. They say it will pay off with a more productive workforce and higher future tax revenue for the state.

Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, described Democrats’ replacing the word “spending” with “investment” as a rhetorical device to make their budget proposals more acceptable.

“Is it smart rhetorically to categorize this as an investment rather than just an expenditure? Absolutely, because it makes it sound like we’re not just spending money,” she said.

Whether Gov. Jerry Brown buys it is another matter. The Democratic governor preaches austerity and wants to funnel most of the state’s surplus into a rainy day fund and paying down the state’s unfunded pension obligations and other debts.

Spending or saving most of the surplus is the main point of contention between Brown and Democrats who control the Legislature as lawmakers face a Sunday deadline to send the governor a balanced budget.

The Brown administration is using a more conservative revenue estimate for the $107.8 billion general fund budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. It warns against starting new programs based on increases in tax revenue that will likely be fleeting.

Lawmakers want to use more optimistic figures from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, which predicts the state will collect $2.5 billion more.

But the flood of additional cash may be starting to ease. On Tuesday, the state controller’s office reported that revenue fell short of projections for the first time in six months by 5.5 percent, or $389 million. Overall, tax collections are still up $1.8 billion, or 2.1 percent, for the fiscal year.

California’s fiscal turnaround is caused in part by voter passage of Proposition 30 in 2012, which increased the state sales tax for four years and taxes on high-income earners for seven years.

Republican lawmakers generally agree with Brown that the Legislature should not commit to ongoing programs based on the current spike in revenue.

“Call it what they will, the Democrats seek to spend one-time money that is largely the result of the voters approving a $45 billion tax increase that was intended for education and public safety,” said Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare. “Their ‘investments’ will be in law and come with a bill year after year, regardless of having the revenue to pay.”

California Democrats aren’t the only ones to play the semantic game.

“The point is that for the average young person, an investment in college is always going to be a smart investment,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday during his first Tumblr session in discussing student loans. “Making sure you know what it is that you’re investing in is important.”

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, defended the Democrats’ use of the word investment. He said they agreed with Brown that California needs to build a savings account for future downturns and start paying down its pension obligations. But he also said the state’s surplus should be used to restore or expand social, education and college programs that were reduced during the recession.

“There’s no disagreement about that,” Leno said. “But yes, we do believe we need to begin to reinvest in the people of California.”
 

LA County Board of Supervisors Saving Military Bases: Future Home to Illegal Aliens?

For many years the people of Ventura County fought hard, spent lots of money lobbying Washington, just to keep the Naval base at Port Hueneme open. We thought we won the battle—but we have lost the war. Now that base is being used by Obama as a stopping off point for illegal aliens to be housed, clothed, fed, given free health care—before they skip out into the community and get lost in the shadows.

Now the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are fighting to keep military bases open in that county. Based on the Hueneme experience, the County already a magnet for illegal aliens, might be invaded by criminals from the south in a bigger invasion than the Normandy beaches on D-Day. Maybe it would be best to allow New York City or Chicago to become a magnet for the Obama effort to transform America with lawbreakers.

Photo courtesy Morning Calm News, flickr

Photo courtesy Morning Calm News, flickr

County Moves to Block Military Base Closures

The defense department last initiated a major set of reorganizations and closures in 2005 in an effort to reduce costs.

Posted by Michelle Mowad, Claremont/LaVerne Patch, 6/12/14

  • The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to press Congress to block any federal efforts to downsize or close California military installations.

Supervisor Don Knabe recommended sending a letter to the county’s Congressional delegates expressing concern about potential shutdowns, and his motion was unanimously supported by his board colleagues.

“I understand that the Department of Defense will be attempting to secure a round of base realignment and closures as part of the National Defense Authorization Act,” Knabe said. “In Los Angeles County, defense industry contracts provide thousands of quality jobs with real benefits.”

The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes the department’s budget, proposed at $496 billion for 2015.

Knabe said he thought congressional support for base closures was unlikely, but said it was important to remind everyone of the importance of defense contracts to the economic health of the county and the rest of the state.

“Over the past 12 years, defense contracts have totaled close to $186 billion for our county’s economy and $880 billion across the state,” Knabe said.

The defense department last initiated a major set of reorganizations and closures in 2005 in an effort to reduce costs.

The department’s budget overview calls for a “robust national defense strategy” that it says “can only be achieved by the strategic balance of reforms and reductions that the department is presenting to Congress and will require Congress partnering with DoD in making politically difficult choices.”

A report by the House Committee on Armed Services dated May 13 noted that the Department of Defense requested the authority to conduct another round of closures in 2017. The committee asked for a report back in March 2015 on the effectiveness of such closures in cutting costs and proposed legislation prohibiting another round of closures.

 

Obama Waste of the Week: $480,000 to Text Drunks—“Do not drink”

This is not a Jay Leno joke or a Saturday Night Live skit. President Obama is allowing the National Institute of Health to send text messages to known “drunks” reminding them not to drink. This costs only $480,000 to send FREE text messages—the money goes to the “researchers” artists that thought up this abuse of taxpayers. Was there any follow up to see if anyone stopped drinking? Did they do any accountability of this project?

If those involved had any common sense, why would a drunk stop drinking because of an anonymous or government text message? In fact, is there any evidence any of the drinkers read the messages? Another reason government is no longer trusted or respected.

Dr. Frederick Muench, an assistant professor in Columbia University’s psychiatry department, is leading the $480,500 study aimed to reduce “problem drinking.”

“The proposed development study entitled, Tailored Mobile Text Messaging to Reduce Problem Drinking is designed to develop and test a tailored adaptive text messaging/short message service (SMS) intervention for individuals interested in stopping or reducing their alcool [sic] consumption,” the grant reads.

The project hypothesizes that cell phones offer “brief intervention opportunities,” allowing researchers to text a drunk while they are at the bar.”

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Oh, anyone with an IQ over room temperature believe the drunks will tell the truth to the researchers?

NIH Spent $480,500 to Text Message Drunks

200 ‘problem drinkers’ receiving texts at the bar

BY: Elizabeth Harrington, Washington Free Beacon, 6/12/14

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has spent nearly half a million dollars text messaging alcoholics to encourage them to stop drinking.

Dr. Frederick Muench, an assistant professor in Columbia University’s psychiatry department, is leading the $480,500 study aimed to reduce “problem drinking.”

“The proposed development study entitled, Tailored Mobile Text Messaging to Reduce Problem Drinking is designed to develop and test a tailored adaptive text messaging/short message service (SMS) intervention for individuals interested in stopping or reducing their alcool [sic] consumption,” the grant reads.

The project hypothesizes that cell phones offer “brief intervention opportunities,” allowing researchers to text a drunk while they are at the bar.

“Excessive alcohol consumption is a serious personal and public health issue and economic problem to society,” the grant said. “Despite the significant consequences of problem drinking (PD), most persons with alcohol problems never seek formal treatment. While the emergence of internet based interventions (IBIs) has expanded access and brief intervention opportunities to problem drinkers, traditional IBIs suffer from high attrition, limited ability to proactively meet individuals where PD occurs and adapt to real-time needs.”

The study points to other projects that have texted smokers in attempts to get them to quit, and argue that texting “may provide” the answers for alcoholics.

A pilot study was first tested on 10 problem drinkers before being expanded to 200 alcoholics over a three-month period. The text messages were tailored to drinking times, and consistently sent every day at 3 p.m.

Requirements to participate in the study included consuming more than 15 drinks per week for women, and more than 24 drinks per week for men. Individuals must also “be willing to reduce their drinking to non-hazardous levels,” and have a cell phone to receive and respond to up to 115 text messages per month.

The research will be considered a success if “drinks per drinking day, days of heavy drinking, and average drinks per week” were reduced.

“Additional outcomes will include drinking related consequences, goal commitment, and intervention satisfaction,” the grant said. “This intervention could be easily disseminated and potentially improve long-term psychosocial and health outcomes for problem drinkers.”

The grant said the study is “consistent with NIH’s recent interest in developing adaptive mobile interventions.” The list of active projects that involve text messaging is lengthy, aimed at a variety of groups.

The NIH has spent $2.7 million text messaging obese people. The texts included reminders that read, “Try to eat high fat foods less often. This is a good way to cut calories.”

In addition, a $372,460 project is studying “text message interventions” for older African Americans with HIV, and a $763,519 study aimed at ending smoking amongst “people living with HIV/AIDS.”

Another study, “QUIT4Baby,” targets pregnant smokers totaled $380,145, and the government spent $243,839 to send text message reminders to teen moms so they will not overfeed their infant and have an obese baby.

Texting methamphetamine addicts has cost $360,113, and texts to individuals with HIV and drug users in rural areas has cost $693,000.

These projects alone amount to more than $5.5 million.

“We’re still new to understanding texting as a unique medium,” Muench said last year, after completing a preliminary survey to determine what people prefer their text messages to be like.

The survey found that 75 percent of respondents “prefer receiving statements to questions, most are likely to prefer messages in ‘non-textese,’ and satisfaction increased with happy emoticons and correct grammar,” according to Text Messaging Resource. “All-caps were preferred only when connected to a particular goal,” the report said.

Muench is not expected to conclude the text message trial with alcoholics until July 2015.

“The less you drink, the better your sleep quality. The better your sleep quality, the better your body will function,” Muench said.

 

Claremont November Ballot: $55 Million Bond to Steal Private Water Company via eminent Domain

When the city of Claremont in eastern Los Angeles County wants to steal private property they do it in the open. On the November ballot will be a $55 million bond measure ($110 million to pay it off). The purpose is to use eminent domain (legalized government theft) to take over the local private water company. Government claims the cost of water is too much—and that is possible.

But when government owns something you have less and higher costs. So while the private company pays taxes, the government ownership of the water means taxpayer subsidies, losses and higher rates—then can a private firm use eminent domain to steal the company from government?

By definition, government is theft—now a city is trying to steal a water company. If taxi’s cost too much will the city of Claremont steal them as well?

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Eminent domain funding to be on Claremont ballot

BY CHRIS HAIRE, LA Register, 6/11/14

CLAREMONT – A $55 million bond measure will be on the November ballot, giving voters a chance to decide whether the city should forcefully acquire its local water system from the private Golden State Water Co.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted unanimously to put the measure on the ballot. If approved, the money would be used to help purchase the 149.5 miles of water mains, 11,065 service connections, 22 groundwater wells, 10 reservoirs and all other facilities and equipment of the Claremont Water System owned by Golden State.

“Everything Golden State does is in their best interest,” said Mayor Joseph Lyons shortly before the vote. “Everything we do as a council has to be in the best interest of (the residents).”

The vote was another step in a yearslong process of trying to take control of the system from Golden State, a subsidiary of investor-owned American States Water Company, which has increased prices 100 percent since 2004.

The city of 35,000 residents is looking into using eminent domain to force Golden State to sell the water system after the company rebuffed two offers to sell the infrastructure – the last of which came in October 2013 for $55 million.

Claremont likely will not file the eminent domain lawsuit until after the November election because staff and council want to gauge public perception, said city spokeswoman Bevin Handel.

If the bond measure passes, though, it does not necessarily mean Claremont would need to use that money, City Attorney Sonia Carvalho said.

The city and Golden State have different opinions about how much the system is worth.

City staff members claim the system is worth $55 million, but the city has declined to release its assessment report. Golden State is suing the city under the California Public Records Act to obtain it.

“Existing water revenues from the system would be able to pay the cost with no rate increases,” Carvalho said. “But if the price goes higher and exceeds $80 million, the bond would be needed.”

That value would ultimately be determined in court. Golden State argues that the value is actually about $135 million, said Julie Hooper, a company spokeswoman. She urged the city to work with Golden State to find a compromise that would prevent eminent domain proceedings.

“Instead of disclosing the total borrowing and repayment with interest included in their plan, the city is trying to convince residents that the cost will only be $55 million,” Hooper said. “Golden State Water continues to believe that collaboration is better than conflict and has offered to work with the city to find alternatives to a costly takeover.”

 

6 Local Companies Honored for Employee Bike-to-Work Ridership–Bikes Uber Alles

In 1880 many people went to work via horse or bicycle. While times have changed the Luddites—who hated horses because of the manure—now hate car drivers. Bikes are back in style. California is going to spend $350 million to create walk and bikes lanes—money from gas tax that should be use, by law, to fix the roads. Government buses must now have bikes racks. Government trains must allow bikes on the crowded trains.

Watch stories about biking in the news, promotion of bike riding as “healthy” and now awards for those promoting biking to school and work. Great idea—end all school buses and give the kids a bike to ride to school instead. Look at all the money saved, the exercise the kids will get. Who will oppose this Michelle Obama type project? The unions. They will lose all those dues paying mechanics and drivers! Love the idea.

“May was National Bike Month, and according to the San Diego Association of Governments, 59 employers participated, with more than 54,000 employees logging time on their bicycles to commute to work.”

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6 Local Companies Honored for Employee Bike-to-Work Ridership

Posted by Jennifer Vigil, Times of San Diego, 6/11/14

A regional transportation agency has honored six local companies for encouraging their employees to ditch their cars for their bikes to take part in the 2014 Bike-to-Work Corporate Challenge in May.

May was National Bike Month, and according to the San Diego Association of Governments, 59 employers participated, with more than 54,000 employees logging time on their bicycles to commute to work.

They logged in from May 27-30 to tally their trips in TripTracker, a tool on the iCommute website.These winners recorded the most bicycle trips per employee, based on company size: 

  • Micro Employer –  Chen Ryan Associates (1-25 employees)
  • Small Employer – KTU+A (26-100 employees)
  • Medium Employer – RECON Environmental, Inc. (101-500 employees)
  • Large Employer – Microsoft (501-2,000 employees)
  • Macro Employer – Solar Turbines (2,001-5,000 employees)
  • Mega Employer – UC San Diego (5,001+ employees)

According to the agency, the 2014 Bike-to-Work Day, broke records for riders, with nearly 8,700 participants. This was despite a hiccup when the event was postponed to May 30 due to the regional wildfires.

 

Fracking Moratorium Bill Killed: Still Years Before Any Drilling MIGHT Happen

The good news is that the anti-fracking bill, to create a statewide moratorium, has been killed. The real news is that the State will not issue any permits for fracking, though there is not any evidence after 100 years of the technology, that this has harmed the environment in any way. Democrats are killing tens of thousands of jobs, billions in revenues and instead prefer to raise taxes.

Maybe if the proceeds went to the choo choo train boondoggle that would change their minds. Until then, California citizens are held hostage to the Iraq and Middle East terrorists, the Obama hatred of energy and love for high prices. When will the Democrats give us real jobs instead of job killing hikes in minimum wage and third world health care?

The off kilt Democrat Senator, Holly Mitchell, shows her emotionalism to the issue, “But we’ve put big industry on notice: That ploy won’t fly forever. People’s neighborhoods aren’t fodder for fracking, environmental justice must come, and one day soon the vote to refrain from polluting for profit will prevail!”

Photo courtesy of Lyndi&Jason, flickr

Photo courtesy of Lyndi&Jason, flickr

CA oil industry celebrates defeat of fracking moratorium

By Dave Roberts, Calwatchdog,   6/12/14 

California’s oil industry is celebrating the defeat of a bill that would have placed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing — but warned that the fracking war is far from over.

Senate Bill 1132 by Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, failed 18-16 on the Senate floor May 28. Four Democrats joined Republicans in voting against it, while three Democrats sat out the vote. The bill was reconsidered the next day, resulting in a loss of two more Democratic votes.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, sent out a congratulatory email to supporters last week:

“The legislation would have banned hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation technologies, putting existing petroleum industry jobs at risk and preventing the creation of potentially tens of thousands of others – not to mention depriving Californians of much-needed state and local tax revenues and enhanced energy security.

“Not surprisingly, anti-oil special interests who fed the public, the state Legislature, and media egregious misinformation about hydraulic fracturing and other oil extraction techniques have vowed to continue their efforts in Sacramento and throughout California’s local communities. WSPA will continue to push for common sense legislation that balances environmental protection with domestic energy security, job creation, and economic development.”

Mitchell: Big Oil ‘polluting for profit’

Mitchell did indeed vow to keep up the fight against an oil-and-gas drilling process that she believes pollutes the environment.

“[She] is proud of the bill’s successful journey in raising awareness around public safety, fossil fuels and environmental justice,” Mitchell said in a press release.  “Although the bill fell short of passage, she is confident that the movement to re-assess fracking, acidization and other well stimulation methods will continue to grow until the public’s concerns are thoroughly addressed.

“We have the momentum, this issue’s gone viral nationally, and it’s just a matter of time before the dangers of fracking prompt people to put it on pause until its safety can be established. When the impacts on the public of a for-profit endeavor are unknown, we try it out first in minority neighborhoods – assuming low vigilance and the need to bring in jobs makes safety irrelevant.

“But we’ve put big industry on notice: That ploy won’t fly forever. People’s neighborhoods aren’t fodder for fracking, environmental justice must come, and one day soon the vote to refrain from polluting for profit will prevail!”

State, feds: Fracking not a danger

But the California agency charged with oversight of fracking assures that more than a half-century of hydraulic fracturing in the country have shown it to not be an environmental danger.

“Hydraulic fracturing was first used in 1947 in a well in Kansas,” states the California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources. “Since then, hydraulic fracturing has become a regular practice to tap into previously unrecoverable reserves, or to stimulate increased production from existing oil or gas wells in the United States.

“In California, hydraulic fracturing has been used as a production stimulation method for more than 30 years with no reported damage to the environment.”

The Obama administration also has long depicted fracking as safe. In May 2013, at a news conference on draft rules for fracking on 700 million acres of federal land, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell defended the drilling process: “I know there are those who say fracking is dangerous and should be curtailed, full stop. That ignores the reality that it has been done for decades and has the potential for developing significant domestic resources and strengthening our economy and will be done for decades to come.”

SB1132 came hard on the heels of another fracking crackdown bill, SB4, which was approved by the Legislature last year and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. It increases regulations on fracking, including disclosure of the composition and disposition of fracking fluids to state regulators.

It also requires a study be completed by the end of this year on “the hazards and risks that fracking poses to natural resources and public, occupational, and environmental health and safety,” according to the bill’s legislative analysis. “No permits for fracking would be allowed to be issued after Jan. 1, 2015, unless the study is completed and peer reviewed.”

SB1132 would have extended that study an additional six months, and imposed additional governmental reviews before fracking could resume in the state.

Sharp disagreements in Senate floor debate

Democrats and Republicans debated the bill May 28 on the Senate floor.

“SB1132 puts a temporary moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and acidization until they are proven safe by an exhaustive study that looks at many of the concerns and complaints commonly made by the citizens who live and work near the oil fields,” said Mitchell.

She dismissed concerns about potential job loss, saying the oil industry claims that only a small minority of wells are fracked. And she cited media reports that the oil recovery potential of California’s Monterey Shale formation has been cut by 96 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“SB1132 simply calls for a ‘time out,’ if you will, a temporary moratorium pending verification that fracking and acidization methods are safe,” said Mitchell. “Along with many of you, I have no desire to increase our over-reliance on foreign oil. However, the safety of oil drilling is fundamentally an environmental justice issue that I believe we must view with great scrutiny.”

Jackson: No need to ‘frack, frack, frack’

She was backed by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who said that fracking has caused earthquakes in Ohio and degraded water quality in Texas.

“There would be no harm in hitting the pause button and evaluating specifically and more independently what the impacts are of this process on our water quality, air quality, the public health of people in surrounding communities,” said Jackson. “There is no urgency to frack, frack, frack. Let us be cautious. Let us be circumspect. And let us have the information that we need in order to determine whether we should continue a procedure that has demonstrated negative results in other parts of the country.”

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said that 70 percent of Californians support a fracking moratorium. And he noted that other states have adopted moratoriums.

Two Republican senators representing inland valley areas pointed out that their districts are still suffering double-digit unemployment, which will worsen with this year’s drought.

GOP response cites economic potential, need for fuel

Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Stanislaus, discussed a trip to North Dakota last year where the economic contrast could not have been more stark due to that state’s oil and gas drilling boom.

“It was mind-boggling,” he said. “There was ‘help wanted’ on every corner and every small business. It was a tremendous opportunity to get people back to work. This technology has the potential to create thousands of jobs and a second gold rush to the local economy in the state of California that we haven’t seen in years.”

Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, challenged Mitchell.

“Californians require 44 million gallons of gasoline a day,” said Fuller. “Our state refineries provide all of that gasoline, and they must be supplied with oil from somewhere. My question for the author is: What other methods or new technology does this bill propose to use to backfill the lost oil production in California? Tankers, rail, rationing or something that I don’t know?

Mitchell responded, “This bill does not propose to offer an alternative.” The time for that is if the study determines that fracking is unsafe, she added.

That did not satisfy Fuller, who said, “My area produces about 80 percent of the oil and gas. Most of those wells that are being fracked have been fracked for many, many years. Most of them are in an oil well footprint where there’s no groundwater underneath, there’s no residential houses nearby. And they haven’t had safety violations.

“I think that we’ll get [safe fracking] without having to suffer loss of jobs and tremendous economic upheaval in my area. Some of the small cities in my area have 30 percent unemployment now. We’re about to head into a drought in August, and that will probably double [unemployment], because the last time we had a drought there was 30 percent unemployment just from the drought. To have even a day’s loss of this work, which are very good wages and very good health benefits, is absolutely crushing for us.”

Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Tehama, argued that Mitchell’s bill puts up so many obstacles to completion and certification of the study, that it would amount to a de facto ban on fracking.

“Would it affect the citizens of California?” he asked. “Absolutely. We cannot conserve our way to the future in either water or energy.”

Mitchell: You’re crying fire

Mitchell accused her bill’s opponents of being alarmists on the threat of lost jobs.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to cry fire in a crowded theater when we are unable to quantify the actual statistical job loss based on the narrow parameters of this bill,” she said. “We as policy makers have to make a very, very difficult, delicate decision: employment versus public health and safety. I appreciate the challenges many of the districts are experiencing. I hope you appreciate the challenges my constituents are facing who live in very, very dangerous close proximity to wells that are being fracked and where acidization is being used.”

Reheis-Boyd discussed in her blog her organization’s next steps, now that there has been a temporary truce in California’s fracking war:

“[The] defeat of Senate Bill 1132, legislation that would have imposed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation technologies, clears a path for a concerted and collaborative effort to fully implement new statewide regulations embodied in Senate Bill 4.

“The SB 4 regulations put into place a robust set of monitoring, disclosure, testing, land use and research requirements that ensure hydraulic fracturing in California is conducted safely and without harm to the environment. But there is still much to be done to finalize these new regulations, and the petroleum industry is going to be a constructive partner in getting them accomplished.

“For example, we are working with the State Water Resources Control Board and regional water boards to develop groundwater monitoring criteria and planning required by SB 4. Once finalized, these new requirements will give us the data necessary to demonstrate hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation technologies are not adversely impacting California’s precious water supplies.

“We are working with the California Air Resources Board and regional air boards to ensure air quality concerns are addressed as required by SB 4. We are working with the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources to develop the in-depth CEQA analysis of well stimulation operations also required by SB 4. And we look forward to the findings of the science-based study of hydraulic fracturing – yet another requirement of SB 4. …

“As Governor Brown has noted, close to a third of the new wells drilled in California are hydraulically fractured as a way to improve their productivity. These wells are an important part of California’s ongoing, conventional oil production that supplies 37 per cent of our daily petroleum needs. 

“The more than 100,000 men and women directly employed in oil production and transportation in California appreciate the Legislature’s support for the work they do and welcome the opportunity to move forward under the guidance of SB 4 regulations.”

 

 

City of Los Angeles to Set Wages for Hotel Workers—Is Your Industry Next to Be Taken Over by LA?

In Los Angles, the city council, not the business owners set wages, or that is how it appears to the world. The LA City Council is setting the wages of those that work in the hotel industry—in LA thanks to government action, probably illegal, workers will get $15 an hour. Watch the number of unemployed hotel workers skyrocket. More importantly, if the LA City Council can dictate the wages of hotel workers, why not restaurant workers, cabbies or those that work in retail or do it your self-stores?

The owners are forced to pay, regardless of ability—so workers will suffer and the politicians will trot out a couple of folks that get the higher wages, but ignore those that lost their jobs. Why do we allow this?

Hotel California

LA City Council committee approves $15 an hour for hotel workers

Alice Walton, KPCC, 6/10/14

L.A.’s Mayfair Hotel is one of the businesses that would be affected by a proposed $15/hour minimum wage for its non-union employees.

Non-unionized hotel workers in the City of Los Angeles would be paid $15 an hour under a proposal supported Tuesday by members of the city council’s Economic Development Committee.

The approval came despite a consultant’s report that found increasing the minimum wage for those employees could cost some workers their jobs and decrease the value of hotels throughout Los Angeles. Committee members also voted to draft the new city ordinance without first conducting an analysis on the economic impact to hotels and workers.

At the request of Councilman Paul Krekorian, an economic analysis will be completed before the wage proposal takes effect — if it is passed by the full council.

“We’re all elected to improve the quality of life of people we represent,” said Krekorian, “but honestly, as I sit here, I still don’t know whether this measure does that.

“It does for some, but I also know that I’m going to hurt some by voting for this. I’m going to put people out of work by voting for this. I’m going to cause other people to lose income because of this and I don’t know whether it’s a net plus or not.”

Under the proposal, hotels with at least 300 rooms will have to pay their workers $15.37 an hour beginning July 1, 2015. Hotels with 125 rooms or more would see the wage increase take effect one year later.

The head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor supported the measure, arguing that as hotels financially succeed, so too should their employees.

“We can’t go by that trickle-down theory any more because it just doesn’t work,” said Maria Elena Durazo. “We need those workers to do better for themselves, their families and our community.”

A report from Blue Sky Consulting found the higher wages would give hotel employees greater purchasing power. However, that added expense could prompt hotel owners to lay off workers or invest less money in their properties.

“There’s benefits to workers that get a raise and keep their jobs,” said Matt Newsman of Blue Sky Consulting. “But the cost of that benefit is borne by some workers who would lose their jobs and by hotel owners who would suffer a reduction in their profits.”

“If this ordinance passes, the cost to our small family-owned hotel would result in us having no choice but to reduce our staff,” said Mark Sokol, owner of the Erwin Hotel in Venice.

“We would have to cut 15-to-20 percent of our employees. We can’t raise room rates because we wouldn’t be competitive with small hotels in neighboring cities like Santa Monica and Marina del Rey.

The average hotel employee in a non-union shop makes $10.55 an hour, according to the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. A spokeswoman for Councilman Curren Price, chair of the Economic Development Committee, said data from the U.S. Census show 43 percent of hotel workers in Los Angeles County live below the federal poverty line.

Price’s office estimates about 40 hotels would be affected. The city already requires a “living wage” for hotel workers near LAX. The rationale for the wage proposal there was that hotels benefit from the airport, which is a city-owned asset. Similarly, council members say that because tourists flock to Los Angeles for its public parks, beaches and attractions such as Hollywood Boulevard, the city can require hotels to pay their workers beyond the state’s minimum wage, which rises to $9/hour in July.

The City Attorney’s Office was directed to draft the ordinance and then send it to the Los Angeles City Council for approval. Mayor Eric Garcetti will sign the wage ordinance if it is approved by the council, according to one of his spokesman.