Friday, October 03, 2014

Libertarians Make 2014 California Ballot Proposition Recommendations

The Libertarian Party of Los Angeles County recommends the following votes on the November 2014 statewide ballot propositions in California:

Prop 1 -- Water Bond for $7.12 Billion. This measure authorizes the sale of general obligation bonds for state water supply infrastructure projects. This water bond measure has been around since 2009, but it has been postponed from election to election until the current drought "crisis," when the politicians felt it had a better chance of passage. It will take 40 years to pay off these bonds, and with interest and bond expenses, the total cost of the bill will likely be closer to $15 billion. Water projects are best managed and financed by local water boards, rather than writing grants to state bureaucrats trying to secure expensive bond monies. We recommend a NO vote.

Prop 2 -- State Budget Stabilization. This measure changes the rules for how much the legislature puts into "Rainy Day" reserves to help balance the budget during poor economic times. Most of the features in this measure are for the better and will lead to greater fiscal responsibility; however, the requirement for local school districts to reduce their reserves will make local schools even more dependent on state government for funding. We prefer local control of education, rather than centralized control. We recommend a NO vote.

Prop 45 -- Health Insurance Rate Changes. This measure gives the Insurance Commissioner the power to decide health insurance rates. This is yet another example of government interference in the marketplace where the bureaucrats have caused the problem and Prop 45 will (they hope) fix the problem. The bureaucrats have limited the number of insurance companies offering insurance to California consumers through excessive rules and regulations, which has led to less competition and higher prices. The fix is an "Insurance Czar" who will decide if insurance rate increases are reasonable to "protect" the consumers from "price gouging." The loosening up of regulations so many more insurance companies can sell to Californians will do a lot more to lower rates than any "Czar" can accomplish. We recommend a NO vote.

Prop 46 -- Drug & Alcohol Testing of Doctors. This measure requires random testing for substance abuse and raise the cap on malpractice lawsuits for pain and suffering. It is not possible to prevent every type of medical error that might occur -- and no government mandate is going to accomplish this worthy goal. The medical insurance industry already monitors doctors and will not insure doctors with problems or will charge them higher rates for the added risk. Mandatory testing will only add to the already high cost of health care by passing the cost on to consumers. Raising the cap on lawsuits for pain and suffering will only encourage more ambulance chasing in our lawsuit-happy society. We are also concerned about the requirement in this measure that requires doctors to turn in "suspected" substance-abused doctors and the requirement to use a government database before issuing certain prescriptions, as government databases have a history of problems. We recommend a NO vote.

Prop 47 -- Criminal Sentences. This measure downgrades many less serious crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, thereby reducing the number of people incarcerated in California's prisons and jails. In particular, it reduces the penalty for possession of most drugs for personal use from felonies to misdemeanors. Locking up people in prisons for less time for victimless crimes is a good start toward ending the drug war -- and reforming the criminal justice system to focus on actually doing justice instead of promulgating injustice. The savings of not incarcerating those who commit nonviolent crimes should go back to the taxpayers in the form of reduced taxes, rather than other government programs. More fundamentally, the California Dept of Justice should be focused on real justice issues, such as deterring crimes against persons and property, providing restitution for victims of violent crimes and thefts, reforming the system to provide more equity and fairness, and improving its customer service levels in handling civil disputes. It should stop destroying the lives, families and careers of people who have harmed nobody except themselves (and in many cases, not even themselves). Although we will continue to advocate for complete decriminalization of all victimless conduct, this measure is a step in the right direction. We recommend a YES vote.

Prop 48 -- lndian Gaming Compacts. This measure allows a new casino to be built near Highway 99 and the City of Merced in Central California. The casino will provide an outlet for many consumers who enjoy the recreation of gaming at a more convenient location than the current casinos that are further inland. It may also increase activity in an economically depressed area of the state by attracting jobs and business. While the casinos further inland do not want the competition of a new casino, it is not the proper role of government to protect any business from competition. Neither is it a proper role to ban businesses from operating, and then grant favors to special interests in the form of exceptions to the ban. We decline to take a position on this measure.


Friday, August 08, 2014

Halloween Arrives Early in Santa Monica, CA

Every year, it seems Halloween comes earlier and earlier. Used to be that by mid-August one could already see Halloween items displayed in stores.

Last year, 2013, my first Halloween sighting in Santa Monica was at Wilshire West Car Wash, which had Halloween greeting cards on display by mid-August.

This year, 2014, Halloween has already arrived by early August -- specifically, August 8th. That's the day I saw Halloween items on display at Santa Monica's Party Land store on Lincoln Blvd. (Of course, the display was likely set up over the weekend, i.e., prior to August 8th.)

Do you live in another part of Los Angeles County with an even earlier Halloween sighting?


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Gene H. Bell-Villada Links Vladimir Nabokov and Ayn Rand

Gene H. Bell-Villada is a professor of romance languages at Williams College, having earned his doctorate in the field at Harvard.

He's written or edited eleven books, including Art for Art's Sake & Literary Life, a finalist for the 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Pianist Who Liked Ayn Rand, a collection of essays and short fiction, including a novella that satirizes the Ayn Rand cult phenomenon.

Bell-Villada's latest book, On Nabokov, Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Mind, returns to Rand, finding parallels between her life and philosophy, and that of Vladimir Nabokov.

Read what Bell-Villada has to say about Rand and Nabokov in this latest Hollywood Investigator interview.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Glenn Berggoetz's Latest Horror Film: The Ghosts of Johnson Woods

Glenn Berggoetz, writer/director of Midget Zombie Takeover, has just completed his latest film, a "psychological thriller" called The Ghosts of Johnson Woods, featuring Joe Bob Briggs (top row, middle).

The Ghosts of Johnson Woods was shot in Denver, Colorado. It is set for a 2015 release.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Was Donald Sterling YOUR Landlord?

If Clippers owner Donald Sterling was -- or is -- your landlord, Public Insight Network wants to hear your story. According to an email from PIR's Kristen Lepore:

Donald Sterling apologized for his racist comments that surfaced publicly. But it's not the first time he's been accused of racial bias. He and his companies settled two lawsuits in the past decade claiming his buildings were pushing out black and Latino tenants in favor of Korean ones. One of the suits was filed by the Department of Justice civil rights division.

The Sterling Family Trust owns more than 140 buildings, with more than 8,000 rental units in Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu and Long Beach. Does Donald Sterling discriminate against his thousands of tenants in Los Angeles? Our reporters have answered questions about Sterling's behavior as a landlord, based on KPCC's interviews and examination of public records.

But now, we want to hear from you: Have you rented an apartment from Donald Sterling? Share your insights!

Your response is confidential, and will be used only for our reporting. No names or quotes from your response will be used without your permission.

Kristen Lepore, Social media/web producer

Twitter: @kristenlepore

Southern California Public Radio

89.3 KPCC | 89.1 KUOR | 90.3 KVLA


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Richard Riordan Endorses Competing Candidates for State Senate

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has endorsed competing candidates in the upcoming June election for California's 26th State Senate district seat. And both Amy Howorth and Ben Allen -- candidates for the 26th S.D. -- are touting Riordan's endorsement in their political mailers.

Howorth's mailer quotes Riordan as saying, "I am pleased to endorse Amy Howorth for the State Senate." 

Similarly, Allen's mailer quotes Riordan as saying, "I'm proud to support Ben Allen for California's 26th State Senate seat."

Since Republican Riordan endorses both Howorth and Allen, whom does he really support?

But lest you think Allen leans Republican, yet another Allen mailer claims support from Democratic politicians Zev Yaroslavsky and Fran Pavley. Pavley is quoted as saying, "I wholeheartedly endorse Ben Allen for the State Senate."

Tellingly, Allen trumpets his Riordan and Yaroslavsky/Pavley endorsements in separate mailers. Is the former targeted to registered Republicans, while the latter is sent to Democrats? Do Independents get both?

As during every election season, voters are flooded with confusing and contradictory political mailers. Politicians hope that voters will just peruse the feel-good photos of candidates and their smiling families, note that they've been endorsed by presumably important people, and not think too much beyond that.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Congressional Candidate Ted Lieu Supports Rights of the Accused

California State Senator Ted Lieu (D - Westside) is running for Congress in the 33rd Congressional District, hoping to replace the retiring Henry Waxman.

He's also currently sponsoring a bill that should civil libertarians and Constitutionalists across the political spectrum.

According to Gary Walker, writing for The Argonaut (April 2, 2014):

"Lieu's Senate Bill 980 would compel police departments to allow inmate defense teams to conduct DNA testing on biological case evidence and allow courts to act against law enforcement officials who destroy DNA evidence in violation of state code."

Especially noteworthy is the part I put in boldface. The article continues:

"Law enforcement agencies are currently allowed to destroy biological evidence six months after a conviction, but Lieu's proposal would extend the timeline to a full year. It would also mandate that DNA evidence be run through the FBI's Combined DNA Index System in cases where DNA evidence is found not to match a suspect or inmate.

" 'I think one of the greatest injustices that a government and a society can commit is to wrongly convict an innocent person,' said Lieu, a former Air Force Judge Advocate General prosecutor.

"Since 2000, there have been 244 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States, including eight in California, according to the California Innocence Project, which is co-sponsoring the bill with the Northern California Innocence Project."

You can read the full story here.

Ted Lieu's main opponents include Wendy Greuel and Marianne Williamson.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Illiteracy Rising Among Los Angeles Journalists

Illiteracy is rising among Los Angeles area journalists.

In writing about "the public outcry" over Santa Monica's proposed Hines project [Santa Monica Daily Press, February 7, 2014, front page], David Mark Simpson wrote that we are in the "eye" of the storm. He then described a "large protest," which he apparently saw as the most tumultuous part of this outcry.

Yet the "eye of the storm" is the calm part of the storm -- not the tumultuous part.

Journalistic illiteracy also marred the December 26, 2013 issue of The Argonaut [page 9], which described The Doors as "the penultimate Venice band." But penultimate means "next to last." Clearly the writer of this caption (no byline was given) meant ultimate, not penultimate.

The internet has encouraged both illiteracy, and its acceptance, even among the college-educated. That is sad, but true. But still sadder is that even print journalists are not immune from this growing illiteracy.