Here is how the Feds and Newsom will be able to limit your driving.  They will decide how much and where you are allowed to drive.  Feel safe?

“What proponents do not care to emphasize is the fact that the car must “passively” monitor the vehicle and driver and that the system will have at least one port of entry for someone (or something) outside the vehicle to access the system, a port of entry that will be perfect for the imposition of a VMT.

Briefly, a VMT is a direct tax on driving instead (theoretically, very theoretically) of the gas taxes currently paid at the pump. The imposition of a VMT has multiple potential permutations, from simply charging a flat rate per mile driven to modifying the rate depending upon when the car is driven (higher for rush hour, for example,) to charging more based on where the car is driven (known as cordon pricing) or even how much the driver earns in a year – for a detailed breakdown of the possibilities, see HERE.

To make the tax work – unless the government would rely on self-reporting which it won’t because, well, duh – a vehicle needs to be tracked at all times.  This aspeect has led to fierce public opposition to the concept, but if the tracker is already in the car for “safety” purposes some of this opposition may be tamped down (the same rationale goes for the eventual introduction of the self-driving car – which clearly need to be tracked at all times – lessening criticism of the concept.)”

You read that right—an outside source will be able to control your car and can stop it in its tracks.  No warning, no appeal, you are stuck.  No wonder they are killing oil—you will not need it because you are not going anywhere.  Oh, if you are on a government “watch” list they will be able to stop you from attending protests or rallies.

Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax Gets a Killer Boost

Federal New Car ‘Kill Switch’ Reg Opens Backdoor

By Thomas Buckley, California Globe,   1/8/23    

It seems as if anything can be done – truly anything – if it is in the name of safety.

From the pandemic to peanut butter, as long as a new rule, regulation, mandate, dictate is couched in the language of improving safety it is either completely cosseted from criticism or its possibilities for gross governmental misuse are downplayed as the ravings of a paranoid lunatic.

California and the rest of the nation may very well soon learn that when it comes to “good intentions,” if the government is involved the true intentions are often hidden and they are very rarely good.

And it is on these intentions the imposition of a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) on drivers could be introduced at a federal level.

In the Biden infrastructure bill signed last year, a relatively obscure bit calls for all new cars built after 2026 to have a “kill switch.”  Sold as a way to combat drunk driving, the system would involve various unclear-at-the-present technologies (yes your car will have to be able to literally watch you) to detect whether or not you could be impaired and if the car determines that to be that case then the car won’t start.

Per usual, the proponents of the bill claim that no nefarious future actions are possible. From an AP story dispelling the myth of the “kill switch” (serious water carrying there) Robert Strassburger, president and CEO of the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, said any information collected will “never leave the vehicle.”

In other words, it’s not really a “kill switch” and safe drivers really don’t have to worry ever and we’re doing this for your own good and anyone who thinks this device will ever be used in any other way by any government agency is nuts and bad and crazy and might be a domestic terrorist.

We’ve seen this movie before.

What proponents do not care to emphasize is the fact that the car must “passively” monitor the vehicle and driver and that the system will have at least one port of entry for someone (or something) outside the vehicle to access the system, a port of entry that will be perfect for the imposition of a VMT.

Briefly, a VMT is a direct tax on driving instead (theoretically, very theoretically) of the gas taxes currently paid at the pump. The imposition of a VMT has multiple potential permutations, from simply charging a flat rate per mile driven to modifying the rate depending upon when the car is driven (higher for rush hour, for example,) to charging more based on where the car is driven (known as cordon pricing) or even how much the driver earns in a year – for a detailed breakdown of the possibilities, see HERE.

To make the tax work – unless the government would rely on self-reporting which it won’t because, well, duh – a vehicle needs to be tracked at all times.  This aspeect has led to fierce public opposition to the concept, but if the tracker is already in the car for “safety” purposes some of this opposition may be tamped down (the same rationale goes for the eventual introduction of the self-driving car – which clearly need to be tracked at all times – lessening criticism of the concept.)

The VMT has been simmering in Sacramento for years, has been pilot programmed in multiple states, and is already in place in multiple jurisdictions. 

A VMT for large trucks took effect on January 1 in Connecticut, a driver is charged about $20 when they cross an imaginary line heading into central London, and, starting next year, most everyone driving below 60th Street in Manhattan will have to pay between $9 and $23 for the privilege to do so.

Last year, the San Diego Association of Governments tried to put a VMT into its county transportation plan, but the board balked at the last minute due to the political ramifications (local elected officials have been booted out of office for supporting a VMT).  However, the introduction in California of at-this-point voluntary “digital license plates” which could be used to track vehicles raises serious privacy issues, and could be used to take the VMT matter out of local hands.

Again, the rationale for the overwhelming opposition has been the invasion of privacy inherent in placing tracking devices in individual personal automobiles. With this new system, that issue is obviated by the fact that if you want to buy a new car you will have to have a “safety” system in the car, a system that can/will be used to impose the VMT.

Another key advantage for VMT proponents to this federal approach is that it essentially solves the other big problem involved in a VMT – borders.  For example, if San Diego had a VMT, how would all the out-of-town tourists visiting Legoland pay if the tax at the pump is gone?  What would happen if California had a VMT but not Nevada – if you had to buy gas in Primm on the way to/from Las Vegas, would you end up being double taxed?  The list goes on…

But a federal program that covers every driver in the nation eliminates this thorny issue as it makes borders meaningless.

And, frighteningly, that is one thing we know the Biden Administration is very good at.

Here is how the Feds and Newsom will be able to limit your driving.  They will decide how much and where you are allowed to drive.  Feel safe?

“What proponents do not care to emphasize is the fact that the car must “passively” monitor the vehicle and driver and that the system will have at least one port of entry for someone (or something) outside the vehicle to access the system, a port of entry that will be perfect for the imposition of a VMT.

Briefly, a VMT is a direct tax on driving instead (theoretically, very theoretically) of the gas taxes currently paid at the pump. The imposition of a VMT has multiple potential permutations, from simply charging a flat rate per mile driven to modifying the rate depending upon when the car is driven (higher for rush hour, for example,) to charging more based on where the car is driven (known as cordon pricing) or even how much the driver earns in a year – for a detailed breakdown of the possibilities, see HERE.

To make the tax work – unless the government would rely on self-reporting which it won’t because, well, duh – a vehicle needs to be tracked at all times.  This aspeect has led to fierce public opposition to the concept, but if the tracker is already in the car for “safety” purposes some of this opposition may be tamped down (the same rationale goes for the eventual introduction of the self-driving car – which clearly need to be tracked at all times – lessening criticism of the concept.)”

You read that right—an outside source will be able to control your car and can stop it in its tracks.  No warning, no appeal, you are stuck.  No wonder they are killing oil—you will not need it because you are not going anywhere.  Oh, if you are on a government “watch” list they will be able to stop you from attending protests or rallies.

Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax Gets a Killer Boost

Federal New Car ‘Kill Switch’ Reg Opens Backdoor

By Thomas Buckley, California Globe,   1/8/23     https://californiaglobe.com/articles/vehicle-miles-traveled-tax-gets-a-killer-boost/

It seems as if anything can be done – truly anything – if it is in the name of safety.

From the pandemic to peanut butter, as long as a new rule, regulation, mandate, dictate is couched in the language of improving safety it is either completely cosseted from criticism or its possibilities for gross governmental misuse are downplayed as the ravings of a paranoid lunatic.

California and the rest of the nation may very well soon learn that when it comes to “good intentions,” if the government is involved the true intentions are often hidden and they are very rarely good.

And it is on these intentions the imposition of a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) on drivers could be introduced at a federal level.

In the Biden infrastructure bill signed last year, a relatively obscure bit calls for all new cars built after 2026 to have a “kill switch.”  Sold as a way to combat drunk driving, the system would involve various unclear-at-the-present technologies (yes your car will have to be able to literally watch you) to detect whether or not you could be impaired and if the car determines that to be that case then the car won’t start.

Per usual, the proponents of the bill claim that no nefarious future actions are possible. From an AP story dispelling the myth of the “kill switch” (serious water carrying there) Robert Strassburger, president and CEO of the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, said any information collected will “never leave the vehicle.”

In other words, it’s not really a “kill switch” and safe drivers really don’t have to worry ever and we’re doing this for your own good and anyone who thinks this device will ever be used in any other way by any government agency is nuts and bad and crazy and might be a domestic terrorist.

We’ve seen this movie before.

What proponents do not care to emphasize is the fact that the car must “passively” monitor the vehicle and driver and that the system will have at least one port of entry for someone (or something) outside the vehicle to access the system, a port of entry that will be perfect for the imposition of a VMT.

Briefly, a VMT is a direct tax on driving instead (theoretically, very theoretically) of the gas taxes currently paid at the pump. The imposition of a VMT has multiple potential permutations, from simply charging a flat rate per mile driven to modifying the rate depending upon when the car is driven (higher for rush hour, for example,) to charging more based on where the car is driven (known as cordon pricing) or even how much the driver earns in a year – for a detailed breakdown of the possibilities, see HERE.

To make the tax work – unless the government would rely on self-reporting which it won’t because, well, duh – a vehicle needs to be tracked at all times.  This aspeect has led to fierce public opposition to the concept, but if the tracker is already in the car for “safety” purposes some of this opposition may be tamped down (the same rationale goes for the eventual introduction of the self-driving car – which clearly need to be tracked at all times – lessening criticism of the concept.)

The VMT has been simmering in Sacramento for years, has been pilot programmed in multiple states, and is already in place in multiple jurisdictions. 

A VMT for large trucks took effect on January 1 in Connecticut, a driver is charged about $20 when they cross an imaginary line heading into central London, and, starting next year, most everyone driving below 60th Street in Manhattan will have to pay between $9 and $23 for the privilege to do so.

Last year, the San Diego Association of Governments tried to put a VMT into its county transportation plan, but the board balked at the last minute due to the political ramifications (local elected officials have been booted out of office for supporting a VMT).  However, the introduction in California of at-this-point voluntary “digital license plates” which could be used to track vehicles raises serious privacy issues, and could be used to take the VMT matter out of local hands.

Again, the rationale for the overwhelming opposition has been the invasion of privacy inherent in placing tracking devices in individual personal automobiles. With this new system, that issue is obviated by the fact that if you want to buy a new car you will have to have a “safety” system in the car, a system that can/will be used to impose the VMT.

Another key advantage for VMT proponents to this federal approach is that it essentially solves the other big problem involved in a VMT – borders.  For example, if San Diego had a VMT, how would all the out-of-town tourists visiting Legoland pay if the tax at the pump is gone?  What would happen if California had a VMT but not Nevada – if you had to buy gas in Primm on the way to/from Las Vegas, would you end up being double taxed?  The list goes on…

But a federal program that covers every driver in the nation eliminates this thorny issue as it makes borders meaningless.

And, frighteningly, that is one thing we know the Biden Administration is very good at.

California Looks to Ban Diesel Trucks at Ports by 2035

Truckers say the state’s lack of charging stations for big rigs is major obstacle to switching to electric

An ambitious California plan to require trucking fleets in the state to switch from diesel to electric power faces a potential backup at charging stations. 

The California Air Resources Board is proposing phasing out older big rigs operating in the busy corridors shuttling shipping containers between ports, rail yards and warehouses and require that all new vehicles be powered by clean fuels starting in 2024. From 2025, the state would bar trucks powered by internal combustion engines that have more than 800,000 miles on them from operating at ports and rail yards.

The goal is to push more than 30,000 heavily-polluting trucks to clean energy by 2035. Trucking industry officials say there is a big gap between the target and the charging infrastructure that barely exists today and would take years to build. 

“Nobody is saying we don’t want to move to advanced technology,” said Matt Schrap, chief executive of the Harbor Trucking Association, an advocacy group that represents thousands of the state’s port truckers. Truckers can’t meet the deadline, he said, “because there’s no charging.”

The conflict between infrastructure and ambitions in California highlights the challenges that states face as they try to push some of the most heavily-polluting sectors of the logistics industry toward clean fuels. 

California leads the nation in its bid to wean drivers off gas- and diesel-powered vehicles. CARB, the state’s main regulatory body for air quality, passed rules this summer banning the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. It has also passed rules mandating that truck dealers ensure zero-emission vehicles make up an increasing share of sales over the next decade.

The latest proposed rule, which also pushes fleets of vans, long-haul trucks and buses to transition to zero-emission vehicles over varying timelines, is aimed at creating a market for dealers by forcing truckers into clean-energy rigs. The state regulatory board is expected to vote on the rule next spring.

Tony Brasil, a clean-energy trucking specialist at CARB, said the regulations solve a chicken-and-egg problem. Truckers won’t buy vehicles without a charging infrastructure in place, he said, but companies won’t invest in charging stations if they can’t be certain of demand. Requiring that dealers and truckers make the switch should give companies confidence to invest in charging stations, Mr. Brasil said.

Truckers say they face big challenges in moving to electric trucks. The trucks tend to cost two or three times as much as diesel trucks, which retail for about $150,000. Most electric trucks today have a range of between 100 and 200 miles between charges, making longer trucking routes impractical.

Aaron Brown, senior vice president of port services for logistics and trucking operator NFI Industries, said the Camden, N.J.-based firm is introducing about 90 electric trucks in Southern California over the next year. NFI is also installing dozens of chargers across three depots that are close to ports and warehouses. 

The firm, one of the nation’s largest privately held trucking companies, has plenty of customers that rely on roughly 90-mile, round-trip routes shuttling cargo between nearby ports and warehouses. It also has customers willing to pay a premium for a zero-emissions haul.

“We are counting on the shipper community to pay significantly elevated prices to support the higher equipment costs,” Mr. Brown said.   

Chris Shimoda, senior vice president of government affairs at the California Trucking Association, said it will be harder for smaller companies and independent truckers to operate electric trucks without a public charging network.  

California has about 80,000 electric-vehicle chargers, according to state data, almost all of them for cars and light trucks. State officials say they don’t know how many heavy-duty electric-charging stations there are in California, but they estimate the state will need 157,000 chargers by 2030 to support electrification of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. 

The Port of Long Beach, where trucks handle hundreds of container movements each day, has two truck charging stations and plans to add more. A spokesman at the neighboring Port of Los Angeles says it doesn’t expect to add many chargers because of concerns about “local traffic impacts, available land and the grid improvements needed.”

Elizabeth John, who manages the California Energy Commission office that oversees investments in heavy-duty zero-emission infrastructure, said most heavy-duty charging stations are being built for private yards. 

Ms. John said public charging stations should follow quickly as the state provides billions of dollars in grants and as companies install charging stations and charge drivers for parking and filling up. ”There are a number of different business models emerging that will help support a network,” she said. 

Click here for the full article in the Wall Street Journal

California Wins Leave GOP Poised to Seize US House Control

Two threatened U.S. House Republicans in California triumphed over Democratic challengers Monday, helping move the GOP within a seat of seizing control of the chamber while a string of congressional races in the state remained in play.

In a bitter fight southeast of Los Angeles, Republican Rep. Michelle Steel defeated Democrat Jay Chen in a district that was specifically drawn to give Asian Americans, who comprise the largest group in the district, a stronger voice on Capitol Hill. It includes the nation’s largest Vietnamese community.

East of Los Angeles, Republican Rep. Ken Calvert notched a win over Democrat Will Rollins. With 80% of the votes tallied, Calvert, the longest serving Republican in the California congressional delegation, established a nearly 5,500-vote edge in the contest.

Ten races in the state remained undecided as vote-counting continued, though only a handful were seen as tight enough to break either way.

It takes 218 seats to control the House. Republicans have locked down 217 seats so far, with Democrats claiming 205.

Should Democrats fail to protect their fragile majority, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield would be in line to replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.

In the 45th District anchored in Orange County, Steel, a South Korean immigrant looking for a second term in Congress, faced Chen, a Navy reservist and the son of immigrants from Taiwan. The race was being watched nationally for what it says about the preferences of the Asian community.

The candidates initially made inflation and hate crimes against Asian Americans key issues. But the race took an ugly turn and most of it focused on accusation and recrimination.

Chen’s advertising depicted Steel as an extremist who would threaten abortion rights, while Republicans accused Chen of “racism” after he told supporters an “interpreter” was needed to understand Steel’s remarks, arguing that Chen was mocking her accented English. Chen said he was referring to “convoluted talking points” that he said Steel uses to sidestep issues.

Steel also distributed flyers depicting Chen as a communist sympathizer, while Chen has said his grandmother fled China to escape communist rule.

In California, the primary House battlegrounds are Orange County — a suburban expanse southeast of Los Angeles that was once a GOP stronghold but has become increasingly diverse and Democratic — and the Central Valley, an inland stretch sometimes called the nation’s salad bowl for its agricultural production.

The tightest remaining contest in the state emerged in the Central Valley, where Democrat Adam Gray seized a tissue-thin lead after Republican John Duarte jumped ahead by 84 votes in a fight for an open seat in District 13.

Underscoring the tightness of the contest, Gray’s campaign formed a committee to begin raising money to finance a possible recount. Those costs, which are paid to county election officials, fall on the campaign committee or voter that requested a recount. Generally, such requests cannot be made until a month after the election.

The latest returns showed Gray leading by 761 votes, with nearly 80% of the votes tabulated.

In Orange County, one of the state’s marquee races tightened when an updated vote tally showed Republican Scott Baugh slashing in half a narrow edge held by Democratic Rep. Katie Porter. Porter, a star of the party’s progressive wing, was leading the former legislator Baugh by about 2,900 votes — or just over 1 percentage point — with nearly 80% of the votes counted.

In another battleground district north of Los Angeles, Republican Rep. Mike Garcia held a comfortable edge over Democrat Christy Smith in their third consecutive match-up, after Garcia claimed the first two.

The latest returns — with about two-thirds of the votes counted — showed Garcia with 54.4%, to 45.6% for Smith.

In a statement on Twitter, Smith said her chances for seizing the seat had “narrowed significantly” and “it’s likely Garcia holds the seat.”

Democrats also were holding significant margins in several districts, including the Central Valley’s 9th, where Democratic Rep. Josh Harder had a nearly 13-point edge over Republican Tom Patti.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Homeless Man Suspected of Stabbing One Woman in the Head with Scissors, Striking Another with Pickle Jar in North Hollywood

NORTH HOLLYWOOD — A man is in custody Friday for allegedly stabbing a woman in the head with a pair of scissors in North Hollywood and attacking two other people at a bus stop, authorities said.

Jonathan Cole, 30, who is homeless, was arrested a short time after the crime, which occurred about 11:30 a.m. Monday on Lankershim Boulevard near Hatteras Street, according to the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Cole was booked on suspicion of attempted murder and was being held on $3 million bail, the LAPD reported.

According to police, a 22-year-old woman was walking south on Lankershim Boulevard and the suspect was walking in the opposite direction when she was attacked.

“As the two passed each other, Cole, without provocation, stabbed the victim in the head with a pair of scissors,” police said in a statement. “The victim, with the scissors embedded into her head, fled to a local restaurant, where she asked for help and then collapsed on the floor.

“Cole continued walking northbound, where he encountered a male and female couple waiting at a bus stop,” police said. “Cole asked them for a light, and when the female replied, ‘no,’ Cole, again unprovoked, threw a full jar of pickles, striking the female in the shoulder. The male chased Cole to the front of a local supermarket, where store security guards were able to detain him until LAPD officers arrived.”

The victim of the stabbing was treated at a hospital and is recovering, police said.

“The crime occurred in broad daylight in an area with a high volume of pedestrian traffic,” police said. “Cole is not known to the victim, and the crime appeared random and completely unprovoked.”

The case has been presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, which filed one count of attempted murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon against Cole, police said.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Daily News

Michigan’s Secretary of State Fights to Keep Dead on Voter Rolls

In Michigan a court has ordered that dead people be taken off the voting rolls.  In California, which has a list of 440,000 that have died or moved out of State, continue on the rolls and get absentee ballots.  The State Party has a list of 64,000 people who were duplicated on the voting rolls—32,000 registered twice.

Yet, while in Michigan the dead are off the voting rolls, the California Republican Party seems to have the same philosophy as the California Democrat Party—‘THE DEAD HAVE A CONTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO VOTE.”  Until the CRP takes action it is wasting money on candidates—they are by their silence consenting to corrupt elections.  When the Chair Jessica Patterson says there is no vote fraud in California, she knows she is not telling the truth—and the people of California pay for her acceptance of vote fraud

“The Public Interest Legal Foundation had conducted a very detailed matching program to ensure the list it provided to Benson was accurate. As federal Judge Jane Beckering, an appointee of President Joe Biden, pointed out in her order, the legal foundation had compared the names of registered voters with the Social Security Administration’s Death Index and “matched full names, full dates of birth, Social Security Numbers, and credit address history information.”

Yet Benson refused to take any action to verify this information and to remove those dead voters from the rolls. She was obligated to do so under Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act, which according to Beckering, requires election officials to remove “registrants from the voter registration roll because of the death of the registrant or a change in the residence of the registrant.”

Michigan’s Secretary of State Fights to Keep Dead on Voter Rolls

Hans von Spakovsky, Daily Signal,   8/31/22     https://www.dailysignal.com/2022/08/30/why-wont-michigans-secretary-of-state-purge-dead-from-voter-rolls/?utm_source=TDS_Email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CapitolBell&mkt_tok=ODI0LU1IVC0zMDQAAAGGlFygo-j5gXAvyZ1kiRADuRS7JIa3WdzGOOSZjt34wp2Hhqyk7QDTriwOakfGYnxMDwtgnjmAewAGazHzUMIqx394fYUYJs9-rHKTr-iY_JjYBQ

Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, and former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice. He is a member of the board of the Public Interest Legal Foundation.

In an order that illustrates the bizarre views of controversial Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a federal court has turned down Benson’s motion to throw out a lawsuit filed against her for refusing to remove almost 26,000 dead voters from Michigan voters rolls. 

In mid-September 2020, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (of which I am a board member) sent Benson a list of all of the deceased registrants who remained on the state’s voter rolls less than two months before the presidential election.

Of those nearly 26,000 Michigan residents, 23,663 had been dead for at least five years, 17,479 had been dead for at least a decade and, astonishingly, 3,956 had been dead for at least two decades, yet they were still listed as registered voters in the state.

That shows just how inadequate Michigan’s procedures are for safeguarding the accuracy of its voter list. 

The Public Interest Legal Foundation had conducted a very detailed matching program to ensure the list it provided to Benson was accurate. As federal Judge Jane Beckering, an appointee of President Joe Biden, pointed out in her order, the legal foundation had compared the names of registered voters with the Social Security Administration’s Death Index and “matched full names, full dates of birth, Social Security Numbers, and credit address history information.”

Yet Benson refused to take any action to verify this information and to remove those dead voters from the rolls. She was obligated to do so under Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act, which according to Beckering, requires election officials to remove “registrants from the voter registration roll because of the death of the registrant or a change in the residence of the registrant.”

The law also requires transparency. Election officials must make available for public inspection and copying all records “concerning the implementation” of its voter registration activities and, in particular, its procedures for maintaining the accuracy of the lists, such as removing deceased voters. 

Yet when the Public Interest Legal Foundation  requested that Benson allow “public inspection or provide copies” of its records regarding the removal of dead voters, she responded that no such inspection would be allowed and no copies would be provided because her “offices were closed to the public due to the pandemic.” 

According to the judge, the legal foundation sent multiple letters to Benson trying to get those records before it finally was forced to file suit because Benson not only refused to comply with the law, but also refused to take any action to use the detailed information provided by the foundation to clean up the state’s voter rolls. 

Her only response was that Michigan already had a general program in place that makes “reasonable efforts” to removed deceased voters from the rolls.  She apparently doesn’t care that her “reasonable efforts” are obviously not working. 

Instead of simply settling the lawsuit and agreeing to finally remove the dead voters, Benson filed a motion to dismiss the case, while her spokeswoman called the lawsuit an attempt to “undermine American democracy.” 

Apparently, Michigan’s secretary of state thinks that trying to prevent someone from using a deceased voter’s registration to fraudulently vote “undermines” democracy.

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. The voter registration list is an essential election integrity document because it tells election officials who is eligible to vote. Accurate voter rolls reduce the opportunity for fraud and give voters confidence in the honesty of their elections.

In her motion to dismiss, Benson made the meritless claim that the Public Interest Legal Foundation had not fulfilled the notice requirement of the National Voter Registration Act, which requires that election officials be given written notice of a potential violation of the law prior to a lawsuit being filed. 

Given the numerous letters that legal foundation had sent to Benson, which included a detailed list of the dead voters as well as a complete description of the methodology used to create the list, the court refused to dismiss the lawsuit. 

The judge held that the legal foundation had more than satisfied the notice requirement since it had not only “set forth the manner in which Secretary Benson has purportedly failed to comply with the NVRA’s list maintenance requirements,” but also “clearly communicated that it would commence litigation if the purported violation was not timely addressed.”

In fact, the National Voter Registration Act requires notice 90 days before you are allowed to file suit. The legal foundation had waited 411 days, giving Benson more than enough time to act. But instead of trying to fix the problem, Benson failed to do anything about it and continues to spend taxpayer dollars and resources on fighting the lawsuit and defending the state’s inadequate list-maintenance program.

Of course, this isn’t the end of the case. But it is an initial win for election integrity in Michigan since the case will go forward, and Benson will have to defend her refusal to comply with federal law.

It should be alarming to Michigan residents that their secretary of state is fighting to prevent the removal of deceased individuals who are still registered to vote. Maintaining accurate, clean voter rolls is an important part of her job, and election officials should not have to be sued to force them to fulfill such a basic job requirement.

Hopefully, this lawsuit will be successful in finally getting Benson to remove the nearly 26,000 deceased registrants who shouldn’t be on Michigan’s voter rolls.

In 2021, a similar lawsuit was filed by the Public Interest Legal Foundation in Pennsylvania and ultimately the commonwealth agreed to settle the case and remove the deceased registrants from its voter rolls.  But as in Michigan, organizations like the legal foundation should not have to file a lawsuit to get a state to do what it should have been doing all along.

Michigan is a battleground state that often has very close elections. In 2016, Donald Trump won the state by a little more than 11,000 votes. Local elections in Michigan are often decided by a handful of votes.

We should all be able to agree that we do not want deceased individuals on the voter rolls, providing the opportunity for someone to cast illegal ballots in their name.

That should not be a partisan issue. One illegal vote is too many.

The good news is that because of this court ruling, Michigan might be one step closer to fixing this problem, whether Benson wants to or not.

Chesa Boudin’s Recall Is In the National Spotlight. S.F. Voters Could Decide Much More Than His Fate

San Francisco voters mostly transfixed by local problems like theft and the drug crisis will make a national statement in deciding whether to keep or cast off District Attorney Chesa Boudin — either backing a young criminal justice reform movement or fueling a wave of backlash arguing that the changes he represents have gone too far.

That the attempted recall of Boudin is happening in a city with a reputation for being part of the same progressive vanguard has captivated observers across the nation. They’ll get a signal of public sentiment at an unsettled time, when pandemic anxieties and fears of rising crime have stalled some of the momentum spurred by Black Lives Matter activism and the police murder of George Floyd.

California is unique in that its laws make it easier to recall an elected official. But prosecutors pushing reforms designed to reduce incarceration in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and elsewhere are facing similar accusations that their policies are radical and dangerous. This countercurrent could gain momentum should the effort against Boudin succeed.

Eric Siddall, vice president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys in Los Angeles County, said Boudin’s recall would “100%” be a shot in the arm to their campaign to unseat Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, Boudin’s progressive predecessor before he moved south. San Francisco’s last recall, when voters removed three school board members, was “very telling,” Siddall said.

“When you have an elected official who refuses to do their job, you can’t just wait for the next election cycle,” he said. “Action has to be taken.”

Boudin and his supporters have sought to spotlight what they say is evidence of the larger forces converging in San Francisco, focusing on William Oberndorf, a Republican investor who has put more than $650,000 into the recall campaign and a political action committee supporting it. In a recent interview, Boudin referred to a “national reactionary playbook” that seeks to pump up fear of crime and associates progressive district attorneys with crime problems, even though a national surge in homicides during the pandemic has occurred in conservative and liberal counties alike.

Jessica Brand, a policy adviser who has worked on the campaigns of progressive prosecutors including Larry Krasner in Philadelphia and Kim Gardner in St. Louis, said San Francisco’s tense recall fight “is actually quite reflective of what has become a Republican strategy across the country. … If you cannot win by the rules, then you should try to make up the rules and win when nobody’s paying attention.”

Around the country, though, Democrats also have increasingly pushed back on aspects of criminal justice reform, including efforts to defund police departments, mindful of many Black, Latino and Asian American voters who worry they may be left even more vulnerable. In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed, who will appoint Boudin’s successor if he is ousted, pledged to be less “tolerant of all the bulls— that has destroyed our city.”

Regardless of their source, progressive prosecutors are fending off sustained attacks. In Illinois, proposed legislation would create a path to recall Cook County prosecutor Kim Foxx — and no one else. A Pennsylvania bill would cap an elected district attorney’s time in office at two terms — but only in Philadelphia, where Krasner is the top prosecutor.

In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, asked lawmakers to hand over the power to prosecute homicides in St. Louis to the state attorney general, a move widely viewed as an attack on Gardner, the city’s first Black prosecutor. In Los Angeles, an effort to recall Gascón faces a July 6 deadline to collect enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Unlike California, Illinois and Pennsylvania do not have recall mechanisms. “Obviously, that resentment among conservatives is there, they just can’t express it in the way that California does,” said John Pfaff, a criminologist at Fordham University in New York City. “Even among states that have the recall … what’s different in California is there’s a lot more of a culture of using it.”

Click here to read to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Sacramento Mayor Wants Gavin Newsom to Spend $3 Billion on Crime Prevention After Mass Shooting

Sacramento’s mayor wants Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic leadership to spend $3 billion to prevent crime — a call to action that follows some of the worst violence in city history. Mayor Darrell Steinberg on Wednesday pushed for the funding not far from the scene of a mass shooting that killed six people early Sunday. Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, joined Steinberg and social justice advocates in urging financial support for victim services, re-entry programs, community organizations and mental health and addiction treatment.

The group sent a letter to Newsom, Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, asking for investments they say get at the root cause of community violence. California is flush with a projected surplus of more than $30 billion ahead of May budget revisions. The crime prevention spending package Steinberg and others presented will be on the table along with other spending priorities Newsom could consider.

The spending package the mayor, legislators and advocates touted includes the following: $210 million for critical victim services $200 million to increase the capacity of community-based re-entry programs $200 million for a re-entry housing program $100 million in grant funding to go to cities and counties for community-based crime prevention $200 million to fund mental health treatment for people in the criminal justice system Steinberg said he wanted to be clear that his comments on Wednesday were meant to push violence prevention funding in general.

Click here to read the full article at Sacramento Bee

Newsom Mental Health Plan Needs Full Airing

Beginning in the 19th century and continuing well into the 20th, California maintained an extensive network of state mental hospitals to which people deemed to be dangers to themselves or others were committed, often for decades.

In the mid-20th century, however, the concept of involuntary commitments came under fire with critics saying that the hospitals were more like prisons than treatment centers, with their patients denied basic civil rights.

The upshot was legislation, signed by Ronald Reagan shortly after he became governor in 1967, with a declared goal to “end the inappropriate, indefinite, and involuntary commitment of persons with mental health disorders.”

The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, named for Republican Assemblyman Frank Lanterman and Democratic Senators Nick Petris and Alan Short, set forth an elaborate process that would have to be followed for involuntary commitments, limiting them to the profoundly disabled.

Companion legislation was aimed at replacing the hospitals with community-based mental health programs. The package drew support from those who wanted to reduce the hefty costs of the hospitals, such as Reagan, and advocates for the rights of the mentally ill.

It never worked out as planned because successor governors and legislators didn’t provide enough financial support for local mental health services and the process for commitment essentially allowed the mentally ill to refuse treatment.

One by one, the state hospitals were closed, some converted to other uses, such as California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, and others razed.

In some measure — we’ll never know how much — what followed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act contributed to California’s explosion of homelessness, because many of those living on the streets of the state’s cities are severely mentally ill.

The debate over the situation has raged for years, pitting those who believe that forcing the mentally ill into treatment is a regrettable necessity against those who contend that involuntary commitments violate civil rights.

Click here to read the full article at CalMatters

Why Are Progressives So Eager To Copy California’s Failed Policies?

It is not the Progressives in California that are leaving the State.  But Progressives in other States are jealous of the crime wave, lack of law enforcement in California, the homelessness, the failed schools and corruption of Sacramento.  They love environmental laws that kill jobs and housing.  So, they see the failures of California and want them for their State.

“Similar dysfunction plagued all of her previous offices, so why would we expect anything different as vice president? My theory: California’s Democrats rise to power in a one-party state, where internal party considerations matter more than policy credentials or basic competence, so they are out of their league playing at the national level.

California Democrats don’t understand that voters in Peoria or Phoenix don’t share the same obsessions as those in San Francisco or Los Angeles. So while California’s lawmakers will continue along their merry, progressive way, it’s obvious—and fortunate— that they lack the skills to impose those priorities on a politically diverse nation.”

Why Are Progressives So Eager To Copy California’s Failed Policies?

Californians might be voting with their feet, but there’s nowhere they can run and hide if the federal government embraces the same policies.

STEVEN GREENHUT, Reason,   2/18/22 

During my recent trip to Phoenix, locals rolled their eyes at all the Californians who are moving there—mostly middle-class residents who are so tired of our state’s chronic mismanagement that they’re willing to abandon the temperate coast for a parched desert. Note to Californians: It’s best to re-register your cars in other states as quickly as possible, to avoid glares from the locals.

But while the exodus continues—and California’s falling population and outmigration figures reinforce the anecdotal stories—progressives still dream of replicating the state’s political experiment at the national level. Californians might be voting with their feet, but there’s nowhere they can run and hide if the federal government embraces the same policies.

After the Biden administration took power, many Americans expressed these concerns. After all, Vice President Kamala Harris, is a product of the Bay Area Democratic political machine. Biden tapped another former California attorney general and member of Congress, Xavier Becerra, to run the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—a particularly important agency given the pandemic.

Other Californians rose to high-level positions, too. These include a team of economic officials with longtime California ties, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco), Small Business Administration head Isabel Casillas Guzman (a veteran of the Gray Davis and Gavin Newsom administrations), and a host of lesser-known officials.

And San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi remains the speaker of the house, where California-style policies (such as its ban on independent contracting) receive a sympathetic hearing. As we know, California’s Democratic leaders seem more interested in using California—it’s the world’s fifth-largest economy, don’t you know?—as a template for national policy.

Their recent fratricide over single-payer healthcare is one recent example. The Legislature proposed ending every private health plan and replacing it with a DMV-style bureaucracy called CalCare. Its companion measure, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 11, would have asked California voters to raise their taxes by $12,250 per household.

In reality, neither bill had any serious chance of becoming law. The effort was about making a symbolic point—largely for a national audience. But with Harris and Becerra in key national posts, progressives hoped such policies could be imposed from the top down.

Yet fears of the Californication of America are overblown after watching the administration’s ongoing struggles. “White House officials have grown so frustrated with top health official Xavier Becerra as the pandemic rages on that they have openly mused about who might be better in the job,” The Washington Post reported last month.

Biden officials are frustrated at conflicting messaging from Becerra’s office, as the pandemic continues and the administration pays a political price for its mishandling of related health policy. By the way, a government agency that can’t even get its “messaging “right on one single health issue might not be the best place to centralize all healthcare decisions, but I digress.

The administration jumped into damage-control mode, as Latino groups complained about criticism of Biden’s highest-ranking Latino official. But no Californian should be surprised at Becerra’s inability to inspire confidence in the federal response to the virus’ latest variant, or anything else. He had virtually no healthcare experience, but that was only part of the problem.

More significantly, Becerra was a disaster as attorney general. After the U.S. Senate approved Becerra as the nation’s healthcare czar, this Editorial Board recounted the “ongoing mess” he left at the California Department of Justice—comparing the imagery to “an action movie protagonist barely escaping from a building that he detonated behind him.”

I lack the word count to detail the myriad Becerra scandals and management failures, but the courts repeatedly slammed him for disregarding the state’s police-accountability laws and mismanaging our gun-registration system. The newspaper editorial found a recurring theme: “basic incompetence.” Who is shocked that he took that skill set to the federal level?

Harris’ office has likewise echoed explosion scenes from Die Hard 2. White House damage control over Becerra echoes its approach to Harris in December after news reports pointed to infighting, intrigue, and dysfunction. The White House reassured the nation that the vice president is a valuable partner, but it sounded like the administration was limiting Harris to tasks where she could do little damage.

Similar dysfunction plagued all of her previous offices, so why would we expect anything different as vice president? My theory: California’s Democrats rise to power in a one-party state, where internal party considerations matter more than policy credentials or basic competence, so they are out of their league playing at the national level.

California Democrats don’t understand that voters in Peoria or Phoenix don’t share the same obsessions as those in San Francisco or Los Angeles. So while California’s lawmakers will continue along their merry, progressive way, it’s obvious—and fortunate— that they lack the skills to impose those priorities on a politically diverse nation.

This column was first published in The Orange County Register.

‘It’s So Unfair’: Major Delays at State Labor Agency Leave Many Wage Theft Victims Unpaid

Gavin Newsom allowed $31 billion to be stolen from EDD by criminals in prison.  He has allowed tens of billions in education funds to be lost—and a massive crime wave statewide—and government is merely watching the victims bleed. Now we find Newsom and the Democrats have no problem watching workers lose their money and government not doing anything to protect them.

“Thousands of California workers whose employers collectively owe them millions of dollars in unpaid wages are at risk of never seeing the money they earned, as the state watchdog agency investigating wage-theft cases is failing to resolve them in a timely way, according to labor enforcement experts and worker advocates.

Many of the businesses in question were cited by the California Labor Commissioner’s Office for systematically dodging labor laws, after investigators conducted lengthy reviews, including payroll record audits and interviews with employees.

Sacramento refuses to protect workers, students, families and society.  And for this Newsom wants to spend over $280 billion to harm the people of California.

‘It‘s So Unfair’: Major Delays at State Labor Agency Leave Many Wage Theft Victims Unpaid

Farida Jhabvala Romero, KQED,   1/31/22 

Thousands of California workers whose employers collectively owe them millions of dollars in unpaid wages are at risk of never seeing the money they earned, as the state watchdog agency investigating wage-theft cases is failing to resolve them in a timely way, according to labor enforcement experts and worker advocates.

Many of the businesses in question were cited by the California Labor Commissioner’s Office for systematically dodging labor laws, after investigators conducted lengthy reviews, including payroll record audits and interviews with employees.

Employers have the right to appeal those citations — which typically come with hefty fines — and most do, said worker attorneys. The next step is a hearing at the Labor Commissioner’s Office. But the agency, whose mission is to combat wage theft, can take years to schedule those hearings, delaying restitution for workers, most of whom are in lower-wage industries.

‘This is exactly the opposite of what the government is supposed to be doing. Government should be stepping in and policing these employers that are ripping people off, and it’s not happening. And it’s causing real pain.’State Sen. Dave Cortese, D-San Jose

The longer the cases drag on, the harder it is for workers to collect what’s owed them, advocates said. The backlog has only worsened during the pandemic.

State Sen. Dave Cortese, D-San Jose, said the delays at the agency, also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, are “unacceptable.”

“This is exactly the opposite of what the government is supposed to be doing,” said Cortese, who chairs the state Senate Labor, Employment and Retirement Committee. “Government should be stepping in and policing these employers that are ripping people off, and it’s not happening. And it’s causing real pain.”

For workers living paycheck to paycheck, that pain is palpable.

Sonia Crisostomo, a 47-year-old single mother, worked as a prep cook and cashier at a San Francisco Burger King franchise from 2016 to 2019. But her boss consistently shorted her paychecks, and she is now owed more than $38,000, according to a June 2020 citation issued by state investigators.

If she had received at least some of that money in a timely manner, it could have saved her family from losing their apartment, she said. Instead, when her next job, cleaning offices, ended during the pandemic, Crisostomo was unable to make rent. She and her children moved into the crowded home of a relative and relied on food banks to eat, she said.

“I was left with nothing,” said Crisostomo, who said she’s not eligible for unemployment benefits. “It was really hard. … With at least some of that money, we wouldn’t have had so many limitations. I wouldn’t have left my apartment, I wouldn’t have gotten into debt with rent, with bills.”

Crisostomo’s former employer, Golden Gate Restaurant Group Inc., was found liable for a total of nearly $2 million for failing to pay more than 230 of its employees minimum wage, overtime or meal and rest breaks at several of the Burger King restaurants it operated in the city.

None of the wronged employees has collected a cent from that citation, because — 19 months later — the state Labor Commissioner’s Office has not yet scheduled a hearing on the company’s appeal, said attorneys representing workers. Until that happens, the case cannot move forward, unless the employer chooses to settle.

“It’s so unfair that the state is not trying to speed this up,” said Crisostomo, an immigrant from El Salvador, speaking in Spanish. “They should be more strict with this type of employer and pressure them to follow the law. If it’s true that workers have rights, the state should enforce them.”

Neither Monu Singh, Golden Gate Restaurant Group’s CEO and president, nor Sanjay Ahuja, its secretary at the time of the investigation, returned KQED’s requests for comment.

Meanwhile, the company has taken advantage of the delay to shield its assets, which doesn’t bode well for the cheated employees, said Alexx Campbell, who is representing workers in the case.

“The company that did this to them has been starting to move assets around and to shut down restaurants in San Francisco and is potentially making moves to avoid payment altogether,” said Campbell, an attorney with the nonprofit group Legal Aid at Work.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office declined several interview requests, and would not comment on hearing delays for this case or others investigated by its Bureau of Field Enforcement (BOFE), the branch of the agency that handles pay violations affecting multiple employees at a single company.

However, in 2019, agency officials acknowledged that delays were hurting workers. They said changes in the law had given them new tools to combat wage theft but made the process take longer. And they asked the Legislature for a budget increase to hire more staff for its Wage Claim Adjudication (WCA) unit, whose officers handle appeals of both big BOFE citations and wage claims brought by individual workers — the latter of which totaled more than 32,000 in 2018.

In the budget request, officials wrote that, by law, those individual hearings are supposed to take place within 120 days of the date of the complaint. But the average wait time for individuals was nearly 400 days in 2018, and administrators projected that it would grow to 572 days — 19 months — by 2020.

“With the WCA drowning in stale wage claims awaiting hearing, all the while receiving more new claims each year, the WCA unit is in desperate need of Deputies and Hearing Officers to address burgeoning processing times and ensure cheated workers are receiving justice in a reasonable amount of time,” wrote Carlos Torres, assistant chief of the WCA unit.

After the pandemic hit, the backlog got significantly worse, as the agency temporarily halted in-person proceedings and struggled to conduct business remotely, advocates said.

KQED tracked several large cases that have languished without a hearing, including:

  •  
    • A $4.5 million citation against Cheesecake Factory Restaurants Inc. and contractors in San Diego and Orange counties for underpaying 559 janitorial workers. The fines were issued in June 2018, but 3 1/2 years later, a hearing has not yet been held, according to the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund, a janitorial industry watchdog group.
  • A $12 million citation against RDV Construction Inc. in the Los Angeles area for withholding wages from more than a 1,000 workers. The fines were issued in February 2019, but no hearing has yet occurred nearly three years later, according to the Carpenters/Contractors Cooperation Committee, a group that helped tip the state to the violations.

These cases represent just a few of the 6,831 violations BOFE cited in fiscal years 2017-2019, according to its enforcement reports to the Legislature. The proposed fines totaled more than $228 million, but only about 12% of that amount was collected in those years.

As cases drag on, businesses can close or go bankrupt, while witnesses move away or give up on the case, complicating efforts to get restitution for workers, said Patrick Mulligan, who directs San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Mulligan’s office cited Golden Gate Restaurant Group, the Burger King franchisee, after its own investigation found the company violated a city health care ordinance. The company settled in September 2020, agreeing to pay employees more than $803,000 over the course of 10 years, of which about $150,000 has been collected, he said.

Noting the long payment plan, Mulligan acknowledged the agreement was not “everything the workers deserved,” but said at least it’s money they can put in their pockets.

Workers demand a Burger King franchisee pay wages owed to them, on Oct. 25, 2019. The company operating the franchise, Golden Gate Restaurant Group Inc. was cited by the state Labor Commissioner’s Office for multiple violations, including failing to pay workers minimum wage and overtime. (Farida Jhabvala Romero/KQED)

“For us, ultimately, our goal of establishing a strong atmosphere of labor enforcement means timely and responsive enforcement actions,” he said. “And then on the other side, it limits the amount of hardship for workers if the matter gets resolved as expeditiously as possible.”

Torres, at the state Labor Commissioner’s WCA unit, recognized that delays give unscrupulous employers an “increased opportunity to further evade the responsibility of unpaid wages.”

“Low-wage workers may be in situations where they are forced to give up in the process … that may result in a paper judgment that leaves little promise of collectability after so much time has passed by,” wrote Torres in his 2019 budget request for more staffers.

The unit, which was initially established to give workers a no-cost, quick alternative to suing an employer in state court, has just 64 hearing officer positions, according to state Department of Finance records.

“They have way more cases than one person should be assigned,” said Renee Amador, legal director with the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund. “We have the Labor Commissioner’s Office who is passionate about enforcing the law. But if they don’t have the people that can do so, they’re [only] going to be able to do so much.”

In 2020, the Legislature approved funding to increase the unit by 63 positions, including 14 new hearing officers, by mid-2024. And the agency has since hired more staff. But it’s unclear whether that has resulted in shorter processing times.

Sen. Cortese said the agency remains inefficient, and plans to hold committee hearings on the delays in coming months.

“This has been the case over the years at the Labor Commissioner’s. This is not a new problem,” Cortese said. “And that usually means the entire culture of the operation needs to be addressed and revisited and restructured.”