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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Police focus on Club Leon

l_8e814057d1d04961808fac04ad72d362 The public hearing about Club Leon’s permit for operation was put off a few months ago. This week it comes back for consideration.

Since then, the courts have ruled that if you permit a bar then you have to permit live music. Live music is a right; it’s a form of expression protected by the first amendment.

Nevertheless, the police chief is still opposing the renewal of the permit. He cites “incidents” since they last met. One was a call from an unknown person about “noise.” (One noise complaint in a year? That’s fantastic!) And the police drove through the parking lot and … hold onto your hat… they found a drunk. And guess what, they did the same thing a month later, they found yet another drunk near the bar or in the parking lot. What a crime wave. In a year, that would be a dozen drunks found in the parking lot.

By the way, there’s no result of any investigations in any of these “incidents.” Maybe the noise was coming from a car stereo? It does seem like an odd claim since anyone can go there any night they are open and see if there is “noise.”

Oh, and someone “discovered” (That’s what the report says, as if they unearthed a dusty old zoning map from Joshua Cowell’s sarcophagus) that the zoning is “community commercial” and for some reason a bar and/or dance hall needs a permit. But all of “downtown” is the same “CC” zoning. Including all the bars, restaurants, and the M.R.P.S. hall where they presumably dance and sing. So the zoning is a non-issue.

I’ve previously commented on the other issues. If anything, the courts have spoken and it makes no sense to single out Club Leon for punishment. In fact, in light of the vast improvements they have made, they should be commended.

Manteca Fire to charge a fee?

This week the Manteca Fire Department is proposing they be permitted to charge (actually, bill) people from “out of town” who get in car accidents in Manteca!

The proposal is riddled with problems:mobsterfighter

1. The department notes that California law permits charges for certain services but it’s a bit more nuanced. The accident has to be caused by negligence. And while I’m sure most accidents are caused by someone’s negligence it’s often hard to figure out who. Now the fire department claims to have some method of determining fault?

2. There’s no provision in the law for provincial discrimination. In other words, there’s nothing that lets them charge one guy and not charge another guy depending on where they live.

The rationale they glibly suggest is that people in Manteca already pay taxes for the fire services and presumably “outsiders” don’t. But that is not so. Actually, anyone who stays at a hotel, fills up with gasoline or stops for a meal in a restaurant or buys a stick of gum in Manteca pays some taxes.

Is that enough to pay for fire services? Probably. Consider the entire public safety budget, and consider how long it takes a car to pass through Manteca’s jurisdiction on Hwy 99 or 120. Something like 90 seconds to 180 seconds. And when you figure it all out and divide the public safety budget by the number of minutes in a year, it comes to about a dollar a day, or a fraction of a penny for a passing through. If someone stays at a hotel, they pay about $10 in tax, enough for more than a week of public safety. I don’t want to get bogged down in numbers too much; but it’s obvious that many visitors do pay enough in Manteca taxes. And maybe everyone does.

Because, one could argue that for the small amount of time one passing through Manteca uses, (a minute or two of fire and police protection) they have already paid that in taxes paid to California and to the federal government. Based on my back of the envelope calculation, if Manteca takes in $1.8 million in federal or state aid or grants, then everyone in the United States has paid enough to the City of Manteca to cover the cost of providing life saving services for those who pass through.

3. What kind of a public relations disaster this would be! The city is trying hard to promote itself and encourage people to visit. How will it help our reputation once it gets known if some crazy Manteca driver causes an accident not only might you be hurt but the city will send you a bill! Our new slogan will have to be “Come to Manteca so we can bill you if we have to save your sorry ass.”

4. Maybe we should only charge people who reside in a city that would charge us if we were in their city and got in an accident! Fortunately, there are few cities that do this. Most cities save the lives of Manteca residents when they are visiting or passing through. Our way of thanking them for that is by charging their residents?

5. The charges are outrageous and arbitrary. Anything from about $500 to go out to the scene of the accident and do nothing, to over $2000 to essentially do nothing but watch a helicopter land and med-evac someone. Granted there’s an in-between charge of about $1800 if they have to use the "jaws of life” to pry open a door to get you out of a wreck. Now I have one more thing to worry about if I’m trapped in a wrecked car; if I’m still conscious I’ll be thinking “what is that thing costing me?… Maybe I can just crawl out the back window, just give me a boost….”

6. I saved the best for last. This company they are thinking of hiring brags on their web site how they collect at such a high rate, much more than anyone else. How do they do it? They won’t say. It’s a secret method, we’re just supposed to authorize that.

God only knows what they do! Do they call up and demand money? Do they threaten? Do they “forget” to mention that you have a right to contest the charge? Do they say they will sue? (They aren’t authorized to bring lawsuits.) Do they send out the goon squad who remarks what a shame it would be if your kneecaps were to “get in an accident like your car?” Who knows!

But one thing we do know. The City Council should not authorize a third party to do some secret thing they won’t tell us. Do I need to say it again? A public relations nightmare!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One stop permit center opens

The long awaited “one stop” permit center has opened in Manteca.  Included in this video is the wild opening gala and interviews with customers about their experience and comments from various city officials.

In addition, in this video I ask the chief of Manteca Transit (bus service) about how the new bus route is working out. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

Who said it?

fingernails Quick quiz for you.  Last week at a meeting with the congressman, this was said:

(they) … complained about illegal aliens playing the system for funds; who see people drive into the parking lot in a Cadillac Escalade clutching cell phones with fake fingernails but claiming they don’t have the money to buy their child asthma medicine;

Who uttered this non-judgmental non-elitist non-arrogant insightful commentary?  Choose one:

a)  An idiot

b)  Directors of Doctors Hospital in Manteca

c)  The Manteca Country Club membership committee

d)  Lou Dobbs

For the answer, see the report in this weeks Sun-Post.  (link below)

SunPost.net - News, businesses, classifieds, sports, events in Lathrop and Manteca, California.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Manteca Transit helps get your lazy ass to school

Manteca Transit will be offering a new "loop" on an existing bus route to help you get your lazy ass to school. So if you live south-west Manteca, you can hop the bus for a mere 75 cents. (Bring exact change!) Note the times and slightly different routes in the morning and afternoon. I think they did that just to test you.

Below is an interactive map as best as I could figure. The PM route is a bit ambiguous from a cartographic standpoint. Check the actual route map and schedule here.


View Pilot bus route in a larger map

At last Tuesday's meeting, the Manteca City Council extended transit's original 30 day pilot plan to 60 days giving your dumb ass more time to figure out there's a bus to get your lazy ass to school.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Politician training simulator

redistricting If you have some time to kill, or you want to try your hand at redistricting, you can play this exciting and challenging game!  It’s based on real political science.  See if you can get your candidate elected!  And you’ll learn a lot about this otherwise esoteric way politicians stay in power.

(click on link below to start game)

The ReDistricting Game

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ayn Rand quote for today:

“Freedom has been given a chance and failed. Therefore, more stringent controls are necessary. . . . I need wider powers!”

Why Ayn Rand Is Still Relevant - Bullish on Books Blog - CNBC.com

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why I care about the free market

I remember this every time someone accuses me of being “greedy” or non-caring or insensitive to the plight of the less fortunate.  (The last time was by the consultant hired by the city.  She was astounded that I didn’t think the housing project for the old people was a great idea.)

 

The answer for why I believe so strongly in the free market, and why it’s important, is explained in a mere 40 seconds.  (1:00 to 1:40 in this video.)  Also this is background for some of the claims I made in a previous entry.

YouTube - Milton Friedman - Greed

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The ED show sounds like Manteca officials

This is very similar to a discussion I had with city planning officials at the Planning Commission meeting two weeks ago.  At one point I asked the consultant “tell me a little about your background, what commissar did you train under?”  Now I realize they don’t learn this stuff from Communist Party leaders, they get it from MSNBC!

YouTube - The ED Show - Peter Schiff (President & Chief Global Strategist at Euro Pacific Capital)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Columnist spews economic nonsense

There are probably some Americans who blame “capitalism” for our current economic woes.  Maybe they would also like to elect a communist.  (Maybe we did?)

What annoys me about Fitzgerald’s account of his encounter with a communist is that he can’t elucidate a single reason why the "communist/socialist” is wrong.  So, I thought I’d help out a little.  Here’s why he’s wrong:

1.  Our economic problems were caused by government policy.  By those who thought they could determine (with their own superior minds) what the interest rates should be, what lending standards ought to be, who should be “allowed” to build houses and where.  Even the color of houses roofs and the shape of windows was specified by some commission.  All of these policies restricted competition and drove up the price of housing.  (City councils would often talk about how great it is they are “boosting” the “values” of property, that is, making housing more costly, driving the bubble.) All instead of letting people make their own choices in a free market.

It’s not a failure of “capitalism.”  In fact it’s exactly the opposite, we tried to “help” or “correct” capitalism.  Is it any wonder that the places hit worse in the “foreclosure crisis” are exactly the places that had the most interventionist zoning and planning commissions? 

2.  The communist says that Stalin gave communism a bad name.  Just a little.  What more needs to be said?

But it wasn’t Stalin that “ruined” communism or just didn’t let it work the way it was supposed to.  Communism creates “Stalins.”  That’s the only way it works.  There is no example of “nice” communism.  Which leads directly to point 3, the real reason communism got a “bad name.”

3.  No matter where you look on planet Earth in the present time; or no matter what period of time in history you look at you’ll find that when “capitalism” was practiced mankind flourished and was most free.  And under every other system people lived in tyranny and misery

Have people forgotten what it was like before the Berlin wall came down?  Compare West and East Germany, North and South Korea, Haiti Vs. The Dominican Republic, The old Soviet Union and the United States.

4. No, “if Karl Marx opened a Capitalist Hall of Shame, the San Joaquin Valley would be an early inductee” only if we wanted to created a monument to the corrupting influence of Marxism.  All the “failures” listed in the article, the bailouts, the housing bubble, the politically well connected getting favor and riches – those are not capitalistic, those are the ideas of Marx and Engels!!!  By their very nature, they are government actions – decisions made by a central planning, er, I mean commission or council or legislature and imposed on people by force of law.  That is not capitalism!

It’s our straying from the principles of freedom (capitalism is freedom) that caused our current problems.  And more “communist answers” would only make things worse, as they always have.

Drawing parallels between Irish, Valley economic woes | Recordnet.com

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Prosperity is right around the corner

I hope things aren’t as bad as this guy thinks they are, but he is a good economist and one of the few who “predicted” the current economic “crisis.”

The recently passed “cash for clunkers” program (currently on-hold, as it ran out of funding in one week) is a perfect example of how government policy can make the economy worse. By incentivizing Americans to destroy fully paid-for cars so they can go deeper into debt buying brand new ones, the government weakens an already crippled economy. The last thing we want to do is subsidize Americans to go deeper into debt by buying more stuff. Don’t they realize that is precisely the behavior that got us into this mess?

Happy Days Aren’t Here Again by Peter Schiff

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