Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Santa Monica Police to Disregard Immigration Laws

The City of Santa Monica, California, continues to earn its reputation as one of the most liberal cities in the United States.

In a recent press release, the Santa Monica Police Department (Jacqueline A. Seabrooks, Chief, right), announced that it will refuse to cooperate with ICE in enforcing federal immigration laws.

According to the release:

The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) recognizes the heightened concerns of our community during this time of uncertainty due to the federal administration’s aggressive approach to immigration enforcement. SMPD is committed to aligning our work efforts with the City’s resolution to embrace diversity and reject hate. In furtherance of this commitment, we are evaluating our internal processes and procedures to ensure we are meeting our professional obligations to all.

As part of its commitment to maintaining public safety in our community, the Santa Monica Police Department collaborates and maintains partnerships with a substantial number of social service, faith-based, educational, and regional, state and federal law enforcement partners. Many of these collaborations are longstanding and the terms and conditions underlying these partnerships and their associated activities are captured in operational agreements or memoranda of understanding.
The operational agreements or memoranda of understanding with various law enforcement agencies include the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD), the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Police Department, Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Apprehension Crime Task Force (LA IMPACT), the U.S. Secret Service, and that arm of the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) which is dedicated to investigating major crimes involving people and goods, and investigating terrorism.
These agreements serve as a multiplier for the Police Department in terms of event staffing, identifying emergency communication backup systems, clarifying jurisdictional authority, and for expanding the Police Department’s criminal investigative capacity through the provision of specialized investigative resources and support for ongoing criminal investigations such as those involving gang interdiction, organized crime, human trafficking, transnational drug trafficking, money laundering, currency smuggling, crimes involving high levels of technology, and those involving potential acts of terrorism.

In response to community concerns, the need for organizational transparency, and the needs to reaffirm the Police Department's steadfast commitment to its longstanding policy against immigration enforcement while also ensuring consistency with the City's resolution, the City will terminate the existing agreement with ICE.
Moving forward, both the City and ICE will work towards terms of collaboration on criminal matters that are in line with the City's immigration policies. The Santa Monica Police Department is also reviewing all other existing and pending memoranda of understanding and operational agreements associated with the Police Department’s work with its external partners to ensure consistency with City policies.

Read the SMPD press release.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Phoebe Maltz Bovy of Jewish Daily Forward Sees Anti-Semitism in Donald Trump's "Merry Christmas"

Donald Trump is currently doing a "thank you" tour throughout the U.S., thanking his supporters for electing him president. His podium bears the words Merry Christmas.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy tweets: "I hereby announce my first-ness on the anti-Semitic undertones of Trumpian pro-Christmas rhetoric."

Bovy bases her claim on her earlier tweet: " 'Merry Christmas' Does Double Duty as Innocuous Greeting and Dog-Whistle."

Buzz Anderson agrees, tweeting: "I was just thinking today how sinister the 'Merry Christmas" on his victory tour podium sign feels."

Phoebe Maltz Bovy writes for the Jewish Daily Forward, The Atlantic, and The New Republic.

In his New York Times article, "How the 'War on Christmas' Controversy Was Created," Liam Stack wrote: "It should be noted that Jews, Muslims and others who do not celebrate Christmas often say they are not offended by a hearty 'Merry Christmas.' "

I guess Mr. Stack has never met Ms. Bovy.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Liam Stack of The New York Times Is Wrong -- War on Christmas Predates 2005

In his New York Times article, "How the 'War on Christmas' Controversy Was Created" (Dec 16, 2016), Liam Stack writes:

The most organized attack on Christmas came from the Puritans, who banned celebrations of the holiday in the 17th century because it did not accord with their interpretation of the Bible.

Fast forward 400 years, and the idea of a plot against Christmas gained wide publicity when Fox News promoted a 2005 book by a radio host, John Gibson, that alleged liberal antagonism toward the holiday, according to Dan Cassino, a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Well, no. The current War on Christmas extends much further back than 2005. As reported in the Hollywood Investigator article, "Holiday Wars Highlight Need for School Choice" (Nov 16, 2006):

On May 20, 1998, Catholic League president William Donahue testified before the US Civil Rights Commission that in "Manhattan Beach, California, a public school removed a Christmas tree from school property after a rabbi objected that the tree was a religious symbol; however, the school allowed the display of a Star of David. ... in Mahopac, New York, Boy Scout students were barred from selling holiday wreaths at a fundraiser, even though a wreath is a secular symbol; Hanukkah gifts, however, were allowed to be sold at the school's own fundraiser."

Yet government does not consistently regard Jewish symbols as secular. Donahue adds, "I confronted an attorney for New York City Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew regarding the practice of banning crèches in the schools while allowing menorahs. At first, she cited the 1989 County of Allegheny v. ACLU decision to buttress her case, but when I pointed out that that decision undermined her case -- making the argument that the high court declared a menorah to be a religious symbol, not a secular one -- she quickly retreated. Such ignorance strikes me as willful."

Donahue's above examples will discomfort some people, as it highlights the different ways that Hanukkah and Christmas are treated. Hanukkah's religious aspects are respected. Christmas is "sanitized" of religious overtones. Christmas is deemed offensive because not everyone celebrates it. Hanukkah (and Kwanzaa, and Yuletide, and Ramadan, etc.) are to be respected even if only one person celebrates it, in the interests of diversity.

Our modern concept of diversity includes and tolerates everyone except the Christian majority, whose very presence is deemed offensive.

This is, of course, one of the major reasons for Donald Trump's recent presidential victory. Whites, Christians, straights, and men have felt increasingly disrespected in their own country. It's not that they're opposed to diversity and tolerance. It's that they feel that this New Diversity has no Tolerance for them.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
Mr. Stack correctly recognizes the link between the War on Christmas and Trump's victory -- as does Trump himself. Stack writes:

The idea of a "War on Christmas" has turned things like holiday greetings and decorations into potentially divisive political statements. People who believe Christmas is under attack point to inclusive phrases like "Happy Holidays" as (liberal) insults to Christianity.

For over a decade, these debates have taken place mainly on conservative talk radio and cable programs. But this year they also burst onto a much grander stage: the presidential election.

At a rally in Wisconsin last week, Donald J. Trump stood in front of a line of Christmas trees and repeated a campaign-trail staple.

"When I started 18 months ago, I told my first crowd in Wisconsin that we are going to come back here some day and we are going to say 'Merry Christmas' again," he said. "Merry Christmas. So, Merry Christmas everyone. Happy New Year, but Merry Christmas."

Yes, Mr. Stack, Trump gets it. Christians demand to be treated with respect -- to be regarded as a vibrant and visible part of America's diversity, the same as any other group.


Friday, September 30, 2016

Is Hillary Clinton's 2016 Campaign in Trouble? In California?

Is Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign in trouble -- even in liberal California?

It might be. A few weeks ago a Clinton campaign office opened on Santa Monica's pricey Montana Avenue (1627 Montana, to be exact). This is highly unusual. The Democratic Party enjoys such a lopsided majority among registered voters, it hasn't bothered with any street campaigning for many years now. Indeed, in the nearly 30 years I've lived in Santa Monica, this is the first I've ever seen a presidential campaign office -- Democratic or Republican -- in this affluent but heavily Democratic town.

The GOP wrote off California long ago. In 1996 Bob Dole's Republican campaign was invisible in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, despite the GOP holding its convention in San Diego. In 1992 I heard radio reports of Bush campaign supporters active in Orange County. That was about it.

As for Democrats, they've long ago taken California voters for granted. Democratic candidates come to California to raise money from Hollywood and Silicon Valley, not to meet ordinary voters. Yet this time Hillary has opened a storefront office in Santa Monica, apparently trying to rally every voter she can find.

Do Hillary's people think that every vote will count this November -- even in California? It appears they do.

The Sacramento Bee is also reporting that Clinton is slipping in California.

The Clinton campaign office shares space with other Democratic candidates, whose street presence was likewise invisible in past elections.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Selfish Bicyclists Block Brentwood Wheelchair Ramp

The number of bicyclists is increasing on L.A.'s Westside -- as is their selfish, self-centered, self-entitlement. Bicyclists are notorious for illegally...

* Cycling on sidewalks, endangering pedestrians,

* Cycling side-by-side in the street, outside of designated bike lanes (instead of riding in tandem, as the law requires), blocking cars,

* Ignoring red lights,

* Ignoring stop signs, and refusing to wait their turn when it's a car's turn to go through,

* Passive-aggressively cycling in the middle of the street, blocking traffic, even when there's a designated bike lane available,

* Even polluting the environment and killing wildlife with their litter.

But these selfish cyclists reached new heights of arrogance when two of them chained their bikes in the middle of a wheelchair ramp at the Brentwood Town Center (a two-storey mini-mall located on the corner of 26th Street and San Vicente Blvd, in Los Angeles's Brentwood neighborhood).

The wheelchair "ramp" is actually a stone incline, leading to an upper level that is also accessible by stairs (for those lucky enough to still be able to walk or use a bicycle.)

As the photos attest (taken on Sunday afternoon, September 11, 2016), the remaining space was too narrow for wheelchairs to pass through.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

AirBnB Abuse Rampant in "Rent Controlled" Santa Monica


Despite stringent rent control laws, the affluent city of Santa Monica, CA is plagued with rampant homelessness. Part of the reason might be that wealthy tenants are abusing rent control, illegally retaining their rent controlied apartments -- not to live in, but to price-gouge subtenants.

This was recently posted on DoctorHousingBubble.com:

"A yoga instructor/model/single mom I know has a rent-controlled one bedroom in Santa Monica that’s a walk to the beach. She has outgrown the apartment but knows that on AirBnb that one bedroom will bring in ~$4500 in income. Her neighbor only pays $600 in rent and will not rock the boat. She plans on taking the $3000 in profit and using that as income to rent a house in nearby Mar Vista. The three bedroom house will run ~$4500. Her logic is that her monthly cash flow of $1500 stays roughly the same."

Was this the purpose of rent control? To protect the rights of (very lucky) tenants to price-gouge subtenants on AirBnB? Here's another post, from someone else:

"I have a friend in SM [Santa Monica] Canyon who turned his garage into a 1 bedroom unit and was renting it out for about $1800 per month. Then when the tenant left a few years ago, he posted it on AirBnB and is now fetching about $5K per month to vacationers with 1 week minimum stay. He intimated this to his neighbor one day in a moment of trustful conversation and guess what -- his neighbor told him he was doing the same thing with his garage."

No wonder traffic is an increasing nightmare. As if over-development wasn't enough, every other house, garage, condo, and apartment is being turned into a vacation rental.

Santa Monica Code Enforcement, are you listening?


Monday, September 05, 2016

Jimmy Fallon Welcomes Songman Matt Farley

Writer/actor Matt Farley shared a Tabloid Witch Award in 2012 with director Charles Roxburgh for their collaboration on Don't Let the Riverbeast Get You!

Farley continues to impress and amaze -- this time with an appearance on the Jimmy Fallon Show:

 Farley has been the subject of several Hollywood Investigator reports over the years, covering Farley's early films, his award-winning Riverbeast, and his later, more autobiographical work.