Hurricane Comments

I have been quiet about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on this blog.

I did call the Feed the Children number at 1-888-58-CHILD today. They were professional, courteous and quick. I was able to go through the whole process of donating in about a minute.

My only additional comment on the aftermath is that the screeches of local politicians are way out of line. If they want blame then get a mirror. Louisiana politics has been one of the most corrupt and incestuous in the nation for decades. Single Party rule inhibits leadership and accountability.

In New Orleans, local officials had a near scare about this very scenario last year during hurricane season. The mayor and governor are the first and second lines of preparedness and they failed to plan.

Compare Rudy Giuliani and his reaction to 9-11 with mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans and his failure to lead his city. This politician is a failure as a man and a leader. Barney Fife would be an upgrade for this community in crisis.

California Loses 43% of Its Vehicles

After taking office a year ago, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the State to conduct an audit of vehicles owner by the state. The State estimates that it owns about 70,000 vehicles. However, a physical inventory of vehicles by various state departments yields a count of 40,000. Where the rest may be located is unknown.


* One state agency spent four million dollars on vehicles but has no records of where they were purchased.
* The state has no idea what it costs to operate its fleet of vehicles.
* There are no state agencies that are adequately tracking their vehicles.

Media Saves Russian Sub Crew

Like many of you, my heart and prayers went-out to the seven sailors trapped in the Russian Sub over the weekend. What we did not learn until today was that if the Russian military had their way, these men would still be at the bottom of the sea.


Thank to an anonymous phone call to a local radio station in the port city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, a chain of events was set-off that led to the rescue effort of the men.


As a former sailor, I can imagine nothing more frightening than being stuck at the bottom of the sea as you slowly watch your air supply run out knowing that you can do nothing to save yourself.


As a result of this mishap, word is that Russia has ordered two Scorpio rescue robot subs from the British. Above is photo of the US version of Scorpio robot sub.


The form of government may change, but the value of life in Russia is still darn cheap

City Council Tyranny Escalates in Elk Grove

I normally don’t take calls from telemarketers, but tonight I made an exception. I’m glad I did. Tonight’s call was from a political opinion surveying company. I have taken calls from them in the past. I guess I’m just their textbook hardcore Conservative and they use my opinion as a baseline.

Anyway, I live in Elk Grove and there is an on going rift between the Elk Grove City Council and the Community Services District.

Long before the incorporation of Elk Grove, the Community Services District (CSD) was in charge of providing fire protection and caring for regional parks in southern Sacramento County including the area that is now Elk Grove. CSD in a model agency and has received many awards and recognitions. The CSD is governed by five elected members.

The city council decided that parks and recreation should be part of their duties, so they created their own parks department and tried to forcible take all parks in the city away from CSD. CSD gets state, county and local tax money for their funding plus development fees. The city is trying to take away their parks and then get that portion of the budget that CSD has allocated for caring for existing parks as well as land and money already set aside for future parks.

In the original plans for incorporation, the community leaders of Elk Grove had divided the jurisdiction of services in Elk Grove between CSD and the new City. There was no duplication of services. The city was created to provide the services and local representation that residents felt was lacking from the County Board of Supervisors. It was viewed as more cost effective if the CSD provided seamless fire protection to all areas of the south county and did likewise with the areas parks.

In the last year, the city council has engaged in a naked grab for power with both CSD and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s Department was contracted to provide police protection to the City of Elk Grove. Recently the city voted to sever their relationship with the Sheriff and create their own police department. Two of the five members voting on this change are sworn officers on the payroll of the Sheriff’s Department. Can anybody say “conflict of interest?”

The resulting police department would duplicate many of the services currently provided by the Sheriff except at a higher cost to the city. Of course we loose high end police protection like helicopters and SWAT.

Anyway, CSD won’t roll-over to the aggressive tactics of the Elk Grove city fathers. This leads me to the subject of tonight’s telemarketing call.

The city fathers are shopping the idea of two ballot measures to emasculate CSD as retribution. The first idea they are floating is taking all parks and recreation services within the city limits away from CSD and giving them to the city council. Their argument is elimination of duplicate services and cost savings to taxpayers. Oh yeah, there was no duplicated services until the city created their own parks department earlier this year. Of course, they don’t currently have any parks that they are responsible for; yet…

If this measure passes that would leave CSD primarily responsible for fire protection in the south county and a handful of parks outside the city limits. The second proposed ballot measure will deal with this issue. It would create a City Fire Commission composed of five elected members; this would strip the five elected members of CSD of the last service that they provide to the City of Elk Grove. Furthermore, these measures would effectively split CSD into two mostly non-contiguous geographical areas. This would impact the level of service to rural areas of the county.

The questions that the telemarketer asked me were the typical Doctor Seuss approach, would you vote YES for a clock or a rock or a sock or a block …I answered NO to all his permutations of the two proposals. Furthermore, I did give the Council and unfavorable rating.

The city fathers are banking on the fact that few people know the background of cityhood or the relationship of the City to CSD. The locals demanded that there would be no changes to CSD as a condition to support creation of the City of Elk Grove. Without this assurance the incorporation effort would never have had the support needed to prevail on the ballot. Unfortunately for CSD many of the voters in Elk Grove were not here five short years ago when cityhood became a reality. Now the daughter of CSD is attempting to engineer its demise and strip the carcass.

The Opposite of THINK is PINK

Ok, I confess that I’m a closet Eric Hogue listener. I know Eric occasionally has some unusual guests but today took the cake. The topic was about members for the California National Guard attending a “peace” rally that was held on Mother’s Day weekend.

Eric was setting the background story to give the proper context to bring listeners up to speed before he had an interview with the Democrat Senator that is stirring-up this alleged controversy. Hogue’s promo on his blog was:

Democrat State Senator Joe Dunn will make an appearance on the show in the morning. Senator Dunn is calling for a Federal investigation of the National Guard, claiming that the Guard is “spying” upon citizens and protestors.

As part of the background for this story, he got a representative from the “peace” group to appear on his show. His guest was a woman from a left wing group called CodePink. She was the typical Michael Moore liberal. She wants us to unconditionally surrender to radical Islam by bringing our troops home and making reparations to those we have offended. In her view the terrorists would then stay in their sandbox (the Middle East) and leave us alone. (I suppose that she would want us to abandon Israel because they make terrorists mad also.)

Anyway, Eric asked her some questions about her group and then got on the topic of the bombing in London. He asked her whose fault the bombing was and after a moments hesitation she said “George Bush.” I could almost hear Eric say “gotcha.” Eric held his cool better than I could and then followed-up with asking her who was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Having proved that she was an idiot, she removed all doubt by answering the other President Bush.

The fact that she could blame any US president for terrorism proved that the Truth is not her ally. Any answer other than terrorists should be blamed for terrorist acts is the wrong answer. Blaming a president that was not even in office is more than just intellectual laziness.

The Right Side Blog has more on this exchange at his website.

As for me, I shut to radio off.

Government Shutdown?

I paid a visit today to the California Secretary of State’s Office and the Capitol. Both buildings were virtually empty except for security.

I needed to pick-up some documents related to a project I am working on with a friend. While I was there I also got some info related to the November Special Election. I visited offices on two different floors. Between both floors, I saw three people. Many lights were off and all the Dilbert Cubicles were empty. Many publications that should have been available were not in the offices. We were told to try their Internet site because the publications might be there.

At the Capitol, I dropped by Senator John Campbell’s office. I wanted my daughter—who was accompanying me—to see one of the good guys. I opened the door and was impressed by two things. First there was only one person in the office. This person turned-out not to belong to the senator’s staff but was simply there to answer calls. Second, the office was a dinky hole-in-the-wall. Not what I expected from a man destined to serve in Congress.

The Senate employee was nice and we had a good visit. He let us see the whole office and answered all our questions. Senator Campbell’s office was about twice as big as the walk-in closet at my parent’s house.

Thoughts on Special Election

On Monday, Governor Schwarzenegger is expected to announce that he will be holding a special election on November 8th, 2005. The centerpiece of this vote is expected to be a ballot initiative to redraw the legislative districts in California. If this plan is approved, the new maps are intended to go into effect for the June 2006 primary.

Also along for the ride are three other initiatives. The first is parental notification 48 hours prior to a scheduled abortion. This initiative includes a judicial by-pass which is a necessary component to withstand judicial scrutiny. The second is a change of public school teacher tenure from two to five years. The third is commonly known as payroll protection.

Reapportionment. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Amends state Constitutions process for redistricting California’s Senate, Assembly, Congressional and Board of Equalization districts. Requires three-member panel of retired judges, selected by legislative leaders, to adopt new redistricting plan if measure passes and again after each national census. Panel must consider legislative, public proposals/comments and hold public hearings. Redistricting plan becomes effective immediately when adopted by judges panel and filed with Secretary of State. If voters subsequently reject redistricting plan, process repeats. Specifies time for judicial review of adopted redistricting plan; if plan fails to conform to requirements, court may order new plan. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: This measure would have the following major fiscal impact: One-time state redistricting costs, probably totaling a few million dollars. Comparable savings for each redistricting effort after 2010 (once every ten years).

Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy. Waiting Period and Parental Notification. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Amends California Constitution to bar abortion on unemancipated minor until 48 hours after physician notifies minor’s parent/legal guardian, except in medical emergency or with parental waiver. Permits judicial waiver of notice based on clear and convincing evidence of minor’s maturity or minor’s best interests. Physician must report abortions performed on minors and State shall compile statistics. Authorizes monetary damages for violation. Minor must consent to abortion unless mentally incapable or in medical emergency. Permits judicial relief if minor’s consent to abortion is coerced. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: The net costs of this measure to Medi-Cal and other programs are unknown, but are probably not significant in the context of the total expenditures for these programs.

Public School Teachers. Waiting Period for Permanent Status. Dismissal. Initiative Statute.

Increases length of time required before a teacher may become a permanent employee from two complete consecutive school years to five complete consecutive school years; measure applies to teachers whose probationary period commenced during or after the 2003-2004 fiscal year. Authorizes school boards to dismiss a permanent teaching employee who receives two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Unknown impact on school district teacher salary costs as a result of changes in teacher tenure and dismissal practices. Fiscal impacts could vary significantly district by district.

Public Employee Union Dues. Required Employee Consent for Political Contributions. Initiative Statute.

Prohibits public employee labor organizations from using dues or fees for political contributions unless the employee provides prior consent each year on a specified written form. Prohibition does not apply to dues or fees collected for charitable organizations, health care insurance, or other purposes directly benefiting the public employee. Requires labor organizations to maintain and submit to the Fair Political Practices Commission records concerning individual employees’ and organizations’ political contributions; those records are not subject to public disclosure. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Probably minor state and local government implementation costs, potentially offset in part by revenues from fines and/or fees.

There may be other initiatives that will appear on this ballot.

Analysis

Russell Crow’s line in Gladiator “Unleash Hell” is a susinct description of the labor unions in California and their plans for this special election. Eric Hogue claims that the unions are prepared to spend two hundred million dollars to stop the paycheck protection and teacher tenure initiatives from passing. The Democrats will go after reapportionment. This leaves parental notification as either political roadkill or a stealth initiative. It will be fun to watch what transpires.

One of the crucial aspects of these initiatives is the ability to withstand judicial challenges when any or all of these are passed. The Governors appointment to replace Janice Rogers-Brown on the California Supreme Court is critical in this regard. Watch this process carefully and pray that we get a strict constructionist.

If parental notification has any hope of becoming state law, then look to the US Supreme Court as vacancies are filled by President Bush. Will the Dems filibuster? Will the Republicans get a spine?