Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MORR Conference on Redevelopment Abuse November 7

If you're interested in what the "Redevelopment Agency" (RDA) is and what it does, MORR (Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform) is holding their 15th Annual Northern California Conference on Redevelopment Abuse on Saturday, November 7 from 8:30am to 5:00 in San Jose at the San Jose Holiday Inn.

The cost of registration for the conference is $65 and includes breakfast and lunch. We attended one of these conferences a few years ago and it was very enlightening and the food was great! There was a large buffet breakfast and a sit-down luncheon and interesting speakers.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I believe him…

"I accept responsibility," … "I just assumed that what I was doing was right, and I see now that many of those things were totally wrong."  (Monte McFall to judge)

I really do believe him.  And I’m glad his sentence is reduced.  Why?  Because it rings true to me. 

In my experience, these government types are bullies, and they don’t even know it.  It’s like “the fish doesn’t know he’s wet” because he’s surrounded by water everywhere, it just seems normal to him.

And I know because I’ve gone through a bit of that enlightenment myself.  I was quite the junior nazi when I was a young man, I believed in leftist and liberal causes.  It just “seemed” to be right.  We knew best, and the “little people” just needed to be told.  Don’t even bother asking, just tell them, no, command them for their own good.

You can see this in the video of the attack by the teacher.  She was incensed that I would question her authority to simply command me to not film the union demonstration or her people.  She’s probably used to talking to school children that way.  If I was a child I would have been up for detention, expulsion, deportation or worse for “talking back” like that.

It does seem normal to these types, and I know they can change, so I do believe Mr. McFall.  Good luck.

 McFall's sentence reduced | Recordnet.com

p.s. I know: this makes no sense unless you are familiar with the case I’m talking about.  See The Record link above; also a good summary here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A lineage of geniuses

Found this article in Slate about why we call certain great men by the first names. Men like Galileo (unique enough name), Leonardo (a common name) from Vinci (Leonardo da Vinci) or Joe from Manteca.

… in 1564, surnames were optional in Italy. In daily interactions, an Italian would use the name his parents gave him at birth … and, if further clarification were required, add on his father's name (like di Antonio, or "son of Antonio"), his birthplace (Romano, or "from Rome"), his occupation (Panettiere,* meaning "baker")…

The governments of the various Italian city-states eventually grew frustrated … without standardization, it was difficult to levy taxes or enforce military registration…

I’m reminded of this legacy every time I address the city council and the mayor insists on giving me his special welcome.

Why we don't use Galileo's last name. - By Brian Palmer - Slate Magazine

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Could be worse

I guess it could be worse.  Just look at what the union is doing to Stockton schools.

In a nutshell, the union demanded that the superintendent be fired because he spent a few million dollars on a new reading program in an attempt to turn around the “Dropout Factories” that the schools in Stockton had become.  It might have worked too, but the greedy union saw that money and lusted after it.

And the gall of the union is unrestrained if you check their website they are “doing it for the children.”  They want to pick the next superintendent “because they know best.”

It’s awfully nice to be able to pick your boss and the guy you have to negotiate with; that makes life a lot easier.  But that’s the prescription for building a Dropout Factory.

See the video from the Stockton Record, it makes the MUSD meeting look tame.

Recordnet.com Video | Amato fired after unanimous vote by SUSD trustees

Another great video here.  Setting aside that everyone looks like they were sent from central casting, (Mexican Businessman has great hair!) toward the end Bitter Union Organizer explains, couched in language that sounds better, exactly what I outlined above in a nutshell.

p.s. I won’t even get into this “anonymous” blogger called “Chocolate” who was so “concerned.”  It turns out that was a disgruntled employee of SUSD who was fired for some reason, although I hate to think of how bad of a job you would have to do to be fired from a Dropout Factory.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Teacher attacks citizen at board meeting

In this video, Ken Johnson, the head of the teacher’s union is speaking.  I follow (with the camera) Mr. Johnson back to his seat to film the audience and applause.  A woman sitting next to Mr. Johnson yells something at me.  I got the idea she didn’t like the video when she hid her face behind some papers.  Next,  I’m trying to film the events (the union leader) without getting the woman who doesn’t like being filmed in the frame.   Then Mr. Johnson comes over where I’m sitting and goes back to his seat, next the woman comes over from across the room and starts yelling at me some more and smacking me with her papers/book and her hand!

I apologize for my impolite words, I tend to be a little short when someone chases me across the room to hit me with their papers.  Although you’d think by now I’d be used to that.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lathrop’s award winning hot dog cart law

The old story goes:  A man has one good arm and a withered arm.  So he prays, “Lord, make my arm like the other one!”  In a puff of lighting, his other arm is withered.

The Lathrop hot dog cart law is an attempt to punish mobile food vendors “because it’s fair.”  The owners of stores and restaurants don’t think it’s fair someone should be able to compete with them.

The restaurants complain that they have to jump through hoops, get cumbersome permits, pay exorbitant fees and taxes, it can take years just to get a permit to operate (unless you are a big corporation with a good legal department, then it’s easy.)  So, in order to remedy this the wise council decided that the hot dog stands should be similarly burdened.

What’s wrong with this?  A few things.  First, you can’t create prosperity by restrictions on commerce!  The “job market” isn’t exactly good right now, and the last thing the city needs to do to “help people” is to outlaw their attempts to make a living.

Also, fairness is a slippery concept that mostly exists in the mind of whoever is coming up with it.  The restaurant guy is “irate” how dare that kid with the cart sell tacos or ice cream?  He’s “taking away my customers” and I had to pay all these taxes and utilities and get permits to open this restaurant – It’s not fair they whine!

But the guy on the bicycle is probably thinking “it’s not fair” he gets to sit in an air conditioned building with gas and electricity and tables and can sell all sorts of things I can’t. 

Well, what’s stopping the restaurant guy from getting a bicycle and going pedaling around the city if he thinks they have it so great?  He doesn’t because he and the push cart guy have made choices.  Each weighed the costs and the benefits and decided what was best.  Each came to different conclusions but maybe that’s just the way it is.  But the ignorant and greedy restaurant bullies, rather than accepting their own choices, whine to the City Council to do something about them.  (Whaaaaa!)

horsesassaward The council members who voted in favor of this asinine law have earned The Manteca Live! Horse’s Ass award.  It’s nothing personal, it’s just that it was a stupid thing to do.  So stupid that intelligent people shouldn’t even have to discuss it.

Maybe if I feel like it I’ll list the problems with the new law (it’s poorly written, poorly intentioned, and just plain dumb) in another log entry.  But for now, let me point out that it’s not just my opinion that the purpose of the law is to “burden” the food vendors, in the staff report it actually says that.  (It talks about “equity” with “other business owners.”)

I have an idea, you can read it for yourself!  (see pages 49 to 60).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

SSJID make glorious revolution!

The text reads: SSJID will give glorious power and the people make great harvest.*

SSJID retail power will help agriculture survive & thrive

*accuracy of translation subject to variations.  Could also mean: We will take the power from the oligarchs!  Not for our glory!  But for YOU!  Only for YOU!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

“Woo” businesses? Start by treating current business properly.

Lathrop is attempting to “woo” business?  The new slogan should be: Come to Lathrop, spend all your life savings investing in a business.  Don’t worry, it’s safe because we probably won’t just wake up one day and decide to crush your business like we did to the mobile food vendors.

Lathrop wants to woo businesses in earnest

p.s Oh I forgot to add that former Lathrop Mayor Gloryanna Rhodes wins the “I’m living in a parallel universe” award for this statement:

“Everything in Manteca today was projected for Lathrop. Stockton is booming. Tracy is bringing people in.”

When she uttered the words “Stockon is booming!” a shaft of light shown down and she was quickly beamed up to the mothership.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Straight talk from City Manager

The Manteca City Manager has some interesting and straight talking Comments on a blog.  Of course, he's getting the usual flak from the usual suspects but I agree with his economic analysis. (And then some!)

It's back!

I thought the street vendor issue was settled in Oct 2007 at this public meeting. Those who spoke about the issue were strongly in support of the "street vendors" and favored minimal licensing or interference with them.

This week the issue comes up again in Lathrop. The "first reading" was passed without much fanfare a few weeks ago.

All the same burdensome regulations rejected two years ago are back like the thing in a horror movie that you think you killed but it keeps coming at you.
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Being honest in the health care debate

There'a an article by Washington Post columnist David Broder Obama must be blunt with us: Status quo must change that I think is worth reading whether you are for or against his health care reform proposals. I think the reason why so many people seem to distrust the president is that he comes across as a used car salesman trying to sell you a bill of goods. His campaign-style stumping to get everyone onboard and telling us to just trust him and don't listen to those trying to scare us isn't working and has an air of desperation around it.

The problem is everyone knows he's fibbing when he says nothing will change with your healthcare if you like it now and that his massive spending plan won't increase the budget deficit. He's not being honest and the general public is smarter than he thinks we are. His promises and statements just don't ring true.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tired of whining teachers and union boss

I stepped into the hallway to get some water and frankly was in no hurry to get back into the school board meeting.  I could hear the whining from here.  With me were a couple of school bus drivers.  They looked just as exasperated.  I delicately inquired and they told me “we took a 5 percent cut, why can’t they (the teachers) take the same cut like all the rest of us?” 

just-shut-up Now we hear “the district is hoarding cash!”  And they are firing teachers just to “put money in the bank.”  They have $12 million in the bank! (or $15 million depending) They scream! 

Readers, you probably know by now I’m not exactly the most uncritical person in the world especially of the school district or any of the government agencies around here.  But in this case, I have looked at the MUSD’s balance sheet and from “back of the envelope” calculations I have to side with the school board.

I don’t know if Chief Union Boss has ever taken math, but “$12 million” is just pocket change, not some “hoarding” or a “fortune.”  Directly from Superintendent Messer: The payroll alone is $13 million each month!  In other words the district needs to write checks for $13 million on one month, every month to keep the schools operating.  Having $12 to 15 million “in the bank” is just common sense, otherwise, as Mr. Messer explained, they would have to borrow and pay interest, costing the district even more.

And frankly, every problem mentioned in the letter from the union boss; from class size to the school bus cutbacks is directly caused by the teacher’s union greed and lack of cooperation

I’m sorry to have to say it that harshly, but if you disagree go ahead and tell me where I’m wrong.

Union boss’s letter here: Kids should come before cash reserves in Manteca

Obama spins fairy tale

I listened to President Obama’s speech to the joint session of congress last night and felt like I was being told a fairy tale about how the fairy godmother government was going to provide everyone with fantastic low cost heath insurance, and the president personally was going to protect us all from the evil insurance companies and make sure no one would ever be denied coverage, never have their insurance cancelled and never have to pay out-of-pocket expenses! With no increase to the budget deficit at all! Why, who wouldn’t want such wonderful benefits?

If it sounds too good to be true…it is. Put aside all the emotional issues like "death panels" and rationing and look just at the financial reality. There is NO WAY he can deliver everything he’s promising and have it be “budget neutral.” He also says the government will run the health care system more efficiently and at lower cost than the insurance companies! When has the government ever run anything more efficiently and at lower cost than the private sector can? But he’s the president, he wouldn’t lie to us!

Obama says no one else has come up with a solution, so there’s no other choice than to adopt his plan. Others have suggested an easy option that the government does not want to do: Allow open competition for insurance companies across state lines so that people can shop all over the US for health insurance like they do now for auto insurance. Nothing lowers prices like competition. Forbes.com has an excellent article on the subject Making Health Care Simple.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Manteca tells visitors to stay the hell away

In the Manteca Bulletin yesterday, Dennis Wyatt says "There’s an extra incentive now for out-of-town residents to drive safely in Manteca" referring to the recent city council decision to charge a fee to anyone who doesn't live in Manteca and needs emergency fire services while traveling here. http://www.mantecabulletin.com/news/article/6748/

How will Manteca advertise this incentive? Afterall, if out-of-towners aren't aware of this new incentive, then why would they be more likely to drive more safely? Will they be putting up billboards or signs advertising it as visitors enter city limits? Maybe a prominent sign at the entrance of Bass Pro Shop warning customers to get the hell out of Manteca before they get nabbed for having an accident. One in front of Big League Dreams too.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Conspiracy Theorist Convinces Neil Armstrong Moon Landing Was Faked


Conspiracy Theorist Convinces Neil Armstrong Moon Landing Was Faked | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

A labyrinth of government panhandlers

Ok, they used the term “public-sector” as a euphemism for “government.”  But this reminded me of this week’s meeting where the firemen asked for permission to charge you for their services.

The term “panhandlers” surprises me because this isn’t coming from a manifesto from a mimeograph machine in the Montana back woods, but rather, the New York Times.

States, Counties and Towns Using Fees to Fix Budget Problems - NYTimes.com

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

What happened in ‘82?


This is from the report on “affordable housing” that’s to be presented at tonight’s council meeting. (Pg 10, fig 1) It’s a graph of how much money people make (personal income) in this county over the years and compared to the average of the nation (United States) and the state (California.)

According to this, the rest of the state has done pretty well over the years. One of the more prosperous places in the nation. (Many lucrative industries, Hollywood, aerospace, silicon valley, etc). So what went wrong with San Joaquin country?

And in particular, what happened in 1982? SJ was more or less about as wealthy as the nation as a whole, just a little less than California as a whole. But according to this chart, the bottom fell out in the early ‘80’s. You can see the red line (San Joaquin) diverge from the national average about then, and the “gap” in poverty increases.

So what went wrong? Did people suddenly get stupid? Prop 13? Williamson act? The ascendency of “central planning?” State takeover of school funding? Ronald Reagan? (no, the nation prospered under Reagan). Then what was it? Maybe someone should ask the expert tonight.