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Saturday
Aug212010

Patt Morrison interview with Willie Brown; great-reading.....

* Too much to try to capture in a summary, so suffice to say that it is likely that anyone with even the least interest in California politics would want to read this Patt Morrison interview with Willie Brown in today's Los Angeles Times.... 

An excerpt of one element of the interview:

   Is there a difference between Northern and Southern California politics?

   I think Northern California politics generally are more land-based — you've got farmers north of the Tehachapis; you've got folk who look at trees as [being] as important as people; you've got those who look at the wetlands and waterways. Most of those people are up north. [In the south], you've got the newcomers showing their wares, those who live by the automobile, who are in trade and commerce. You've got the artistic world centered in Southern California; you've got the technological world and the research world in Northern California. Each of those components breeds different kinds of politicians and politics, in what they advocate and how they advocate it. It reflects more often than not Northern Californians voting on what you would call the blue side and Southern Californians on what you would call the red side.

Saturday
Aug212010

An example of how not to run a city job training program??? Officials embroiled in a power struggle over how to dole out millions in federal funds....

* San Francisco Chronicle reports that over the last ten years (since 2000) the city of Oakland -- with a current estimated unemployment rate of 17.7 percent, which is nearly double the national average -- has received $67.9 million in federal job-creation funding.  Yet, despite this significant windfall of dollars, no government body has ever conducted a thorough audit of the local entities established to oversee these funds.  The Chronicle presents an interesting analysis and overview of what appears, at best, to be a sticky wicket and a situation that may indeed be difficult to untangle.... Excerpt from the SF Chronicle:

   Oakland's job creation efforts are embroiled in a power struggle over how to dole out millions of dollars in federal job training funds, a fight that comes five months after a state auditor found a number of problems with how the city was using some of the money. How the issue is ultimately decided could have wide-ranging effects on how the valuable funds are spent in a city where unemployment is an astounding 17.7 percent - nearly double the nationwide rate. It could also be a major challenge for whoever becomes Oakland's next mayor.

   History shows that the city has been slow to act on problems with its federally funded jobs program. For years the city repeatedly ignored state recommendations on how to manage the programs, a Chronicle review of state documents found.

   Fixing the system will be difficult, primarily because a number of local agencies have a stake. And those agencies have their own troubles.  The body with most of the oversight authority over the jobs program, Oakland's Workforce Investment Board, has been without a full-time executive director since 2007 and is overseen by 41 volunteer board members, some of whom admit they don't know what they should be doing. One recent board meeting devolved into yelling matches over who should be given financial power.

 

Saturday
Aug212010

Illegal immigrants being held for ransom: doors dead-bolted, windows boarded, bathroom use limited only to during the day.... 

* As if anyone might somehow think that immigration reform is not a high priority issue (particularly but not exclusively in the west and southwest...), Los Angeles Times report today detailing the raid on a home in Baldwin Park where smugglers had been holding 35 illegal immigrants for ransom should provide additional food for thought on this subject....  Excerpts from the LAT:

   An Ecuadoran man told investigators he was held in an 800-square-foot Baldwin Park house while his captors demanded $2,500 above the $10,500 he had already paid to be smuggled into the United States.  Another man traveled from New York to pay $12,000 for the release of his 12-year-old son sequestered in the house. Smugglers then kidnapped the man and demanded another $1,000 from his family for his release.

   These were among the stories emerging Friday after 35 illegal immigrants were found in the house Thursday; one of them had managed to get a cellphone and call 911.

   ***

   Baldwin Park police said in a statement that it appeared some of the immigrants had been at the house as long as a week. The immigrants told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents they were allowed to use the bathroom only during the day, said Lori Haley, a spokeswoman for the agency.
The doors were dead-bolted, the windows were boarded and some were barred, and the adult women were made to cook for them all, Haley said.

Friday
Aug202010

One heck of a way to start a vacation! Thief switches license plates on stolen minivan: family of five heading for a camping trip stopped at gunpoint and briefly handcuffed...  

* Imagine these folks are gonna' have quite a story to tell their friends....  Seems the family of five was on the 405 Freeway this morning on their way to a camping trip when they were pulled over by officers in half-a-dozen police cruisers who thought -- mistakenly -- that they were apprehending someone driving a stolen car. 

How did this mistake come about?  According to Los Angeles Times report quoting an LAPD captain:

   "The minivan thief had swapped license plates with their van recently ... They'd driven the van without noticing the changed plate."

Also, the captain said the swapped license plate indicated the vehicle was stolen, which prompted an LAPD cruiser to start following the minivan on the 10 Freeway before it transitioned to the 405 Freeway. Officers waited to stop the vehicle until a department helicopter was overhead.  Police cars with their lights on followed the vehicle for several minutes before the minivan driver realized the cruisers and spotlight were meant for him.

 

Friday
Aug202010

Politicians, lawyers, journalists: The use/overuse of the word "absolutely"?

"Absolute overuse of word corrupts absolutely"

* Enjoyable column by Stuart Leavenworth, Sacramento Bee editorial page editor, on the use/overuse of the word "absolutely" in response to questions, rather than "sure", great" or "uh-huh", as often used to be the case.  Excerpt from Leavenworth's commentary:

   According to Webster's, the word "absolute" derives from the Latin word absolutus. Back in the Middle Ages,  it was used largely to refer to something free of any imperfection. "Indeed, my lord, it is a most absolute and excellent horse," says Constable in Shakespeare's "The Life of King Henry the Fifth."

   In modern usage, "absolutely" has become a way to express unequivocal affirmation, especially when grown-ups are around. The online Urban Dictionary equates "absolutely" with synonyms such as "definitely," "totally" and "for sure." According to UD, "absolutely" is "the one word that will get your boss/parent/authority figure to give you the 'deer in headlights' look and leave you alone."

   So there you have it. "Absolutely" has transcended from a supreme show of confidence to a reply intended to be the last word.

   So should you be concerned if an elected leader makes it part of his or her regular vocabulary?

   Totally.