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What he said (4)

August 24, 2014

Jeff sends a link to this post by Kevin Williamson at NR’s The Corner. (It’s the whole post, since it’s not easily excerpted.)

In the Wrong Business, Part 247

The school board of Centinela Valley Union High School District in Los Angeles County is firing its superintendent, Jose Fernandez.

He was paid $750,000 a year. 

That’s three-quarters of a million dollars a year — not to manage some sprawling big-city school system (which would be questionable enough) but to oversee five schools and an independent-study program in the suburbs. 

But not to worry: He was previously paid only about a half-million a year. As the Los Angeles Times reports, “Fernandez’s unusually high compensation was in part the result of a one-time payout of $230,000 he used to increase his pension credits, which would give him a higher annual pension upon his retirement.”

So they were paying him an outrageous sum of money today in order to pay him an even more outrageous sum in the future.

These thieves are why we’re broke.

Amen, brother.

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Policing the police (2)

August 19, 2014

Here’s some follow-up on a post from last December about equipping police officers with body cameras.

Gee, what a surprise!</sarcasm>

What Happens When Police Officers Wear Body Cameras

Use of force by police officers declined 60% in first year since introduction of cameras in Rialto, Calif.

With all eyes on Ferguson, Mo., in the wake of the death of Michael Brown, a renewed focus is being put on police transparency. Is the solution body-mounted cameras for police officers?

Sometimes, like the moments leading up to when a police officer decides to shoot someone, transparency is an unalloyed good. And especially lately, technology has progressed to a point that it makes this kind of transparency not just possible, but routine.

So it is in Rialto, Calif., where an entire police force is wearing so-called body-mounted cameras, no bigger than pagers, that record everything that transpires between officers and citizens. In the first year after the cameras’ introduction, the use of force by officers declined 60%, and citizen complaints against police fell 88%.

It isn’t known how many police departments are making regular use of cameras, though it is being considered as a way of perhaps altering the course of events in places such as Ferguson, Mo., where an officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager.

What happens when police wear cameras isn’t simply that tamper-proof recording devices provide an objective record of an encounter—though some of the reduction in complaints is apparently because of citizens declining to contest video evidence of their behavior—but a modification of the psychology of everyone involved.

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Cops into Robbers

August 12, 2014

Today the Institute for Justice will announce a major federal lawsuit on behalf of a group of Philadelphians seeking to end the city’s particularly shocking system of seizing nearly $6 million in property from thousands of its citizens each year.

"Settle" for half the market value indeed. What a racket!

Thank Heaven for IJ; there are No Rights without Property Rights.

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Where there’s a will, there’s a way

August 10, 2014

Here’s some interesting news from Bath (in southwest England).

Rolling in money: Man makes toll road to get around roadworks

A grandfather sick of roadworks near his home defied his council and built his own toll road allowing people to circumvent the disrupted section.

Opened on Friday, it’s the first private toll road built since cars became a familiar sight on British roads 100 years ago. Motorists pay £2 [$3.30 USD] to travel each way and bypass the 14 miles diversion.

Mike Watts, 62, hired a crew of workmen and ploughed £150,000 [~$250,000 USD] of his own cash into building a 365m [0.23 mi.] long bypass road in a field next to the closed A431. He reckons it will cost another £150,000 in upkeep costs and to pay for two 24 hour a day toll booth operators.

Speaking from the road in Kelston, Somerset, Mike said: “Too many people are displaced by the road closure, their daily lives have been so disrupted by this.”

The A431 between Bristol and Bath was closed in February after a landslip caused huge cracks to appear in the road.

Quickly businesses in the area began to suffer – including the cafe and party supplies shop Mike runs with wife Wendy Rice, 52, in Bath.

Naturally, the local bureaucracy wasn’t pleased.

But a spokesman for the council said it was not happy about the bold build.

“It is not just the planning, it’s the legal aspect of drivers using the road, and also safety – the area around the road where the landslip occurred has only just stopped moving, which is why work has only just been able to begin.”

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What happens when your tax rate is too high?

August 8, 2014

For one thing, you get nonsense-on-stilts like this:

The United States Needs Corporate ‘Loyalty Oaths’

Big corporations are fleeing for lower tax rates abroad. With reform legislation going nowhere, it’s time to think creatively and institute newfangled ‘non-desertion agreements.’

Do none of these people ever think…

- about the incentives companies are reacting to?

- that corporations are just groups of people; like school boards or the local Lions Club (except with better financial savvy)?

- that the idea of taxing a corporation is sort of nonsense to begin with?

Corporate taxes are paid by customers (people) or by reduced earnings to shareholders (people) or by reduced reinvestment, causing job and opportunity losses (to people).

economic-patriotism

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Help a sister out

July 29, 2014

Shaneen Allen has a funding campaign for her legal defense.

About This Campaign

Despite the fact that Shaneen Allen possesses a License to Carry Firearms issued by the City of Philadelphia…

Despite the fact that Allen has been trained in firearm safety and passed an NRA handgun safety course…

Despite the fact that Allen voluntarily presented her carry license to the police in conjunction with a routine traffic stop, as per her training…

New Jersey is doing its best to turn Shaneen Allen into a convicted felon facing a State Prison term of a minimum-mandatory 3-5 years with no chance of parole.

What heinous offense did Shaneen Allen — a hard-working single mother of two, with no prior criminal record — do to deserve such a fate? Last October, she travelled with her Pennsylvania licensed handgun loaded with lawfully purchased, low penetration self defense ammunition, into New Jersey.

That is all.

From what I’ve read, she sounds like the victim of an overzealous (or maybe just thoughtless) prosecutor.

Radley Balko wrote about Ms Allen last week:

Shaneen Allen, race and gun control

Last October, Shaneen Allen, 27, was pulled over in Atlantic County, N.J. The officer who pulled her over says she made an unsafe lane change. During the stop, Allen informed the officer that she was a resident of Pennsylvania and had a conceal carry permit in her home state. She also had a handgun in her car. Had she been in Pennsylvania, having the gun in the car would have been perfectly legal. But Allen was pulled over in New Jersey, home to some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States.

Allen is a black single mother. She has two kids. She has no prior criminal record. Before her arrest, she worked as a phlebobotomist. After she was robbed two times in the span of about a year, she purchased the gun to protect herself and her family. There is zero evidence that Allen intended to use the gun for any other purpose. Yet Allen was arrested. She spent 40 days in jail before she was released on bail. She’s now facing a felony charge that, if convicted, would bring a three-year mandatory minimum prison term. [...]

And this part comes from a recent National Review editorial (with my emphasis):

A single mother of two young children, Allen works more than one job and as a result leaves her home at odd times of the day. After two robberies made her aware of her vulnerability, she became convinced that she should be prepared to defend herself and her family, and resolved to do something about it. Which is to say that Allen bought her firearm, and obtained her concealed-carry permit, not to commit crimes but to prevent them. This has failed to move the prosecutor, Jim McClain, an overzealous man who has routinely declined to use the considerable latitude with which he has been entrusted by the state.

Under New Jersey’s rules, McClain could have declined to press any charges against Allen, recognizing that she was guilty of little more than an innocent mistake. He could have treated it as merely a misdemeanor and sent her to municipal court. He could have permitted her to enroll in one of the diversionary programs that New Jersey has established for peaceful first-time offenders, thereby sparing her both the prison time that will take her away from her children and the felony conviction that will almost certainly destroy her career in medical work. Instead, he has sought punishment to the fullest extent of the law: in this instance, a three-year mandatory minimum jail sentence for illegal possession of a firearm, and an extra year or more for possession of illegal ammunition. This is a travesty of justice.


Update:

Radley Balko has another column about Ms Allen’s case.

Prosecution of Shaneen Allen moves forward

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Shaneen Allen, a single mother from Philadelphia who was arrested for driving through New Jersey with a handgun. Allen had a permit for her gun in Pennsylvania, but New Jersey doesn’t recognize Pennsylvania gun permits. [...]

Now, New Jersey Judge Michael Donio has denied Allen’s request to have the charge dismissed.

The words common sense were mentioned quite a bit during Shaneen Allen’s hearing yesterday in Atlantic County Superior Court.

Allen, 27, cried for a moment in the hallway with her son Naiare and his father after a judge denied her motion to dismiss weapons charges filed against her in October and refused to overturn a prosecutor’s decision to deny her entry into a first-time-offender diversion program.

So Allen walked back into court, turned down a plea deal that would have given her a 3 1/2-year sentence and decided to go to trial in October, hoping a jury would use some common sense and not send a working mother of two to prison for not knowing New Jersey’s gun laws.

Let’s hope Ms Allen gets a jury that uses its common sense.

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Rand Paul’s FAIR Act

July 26, 2014

It’s legislation like this that impresses me with Rand Paul. As Matt Welch (with Reason) once said, "You have to remind yourself that Senator Paul’s a Republican."

What a guy. Go get ‘em, Tiger.

Sen. Paul Introduces the FAIR Act
Jul 24, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul yesterday introduced S. 2644, the FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, which would protect the rights of citizens and restore the Fifth Amendment’s role in seizing property without due process of law. Under current law, law enforcement agencies may take property suspected of involvement in crime without ever charging, let alone convicting, the property owner. In addition, state agencies routinely use federal asset forfeiture laws; ignoring state regulations to confiscate and receive financial proceeds from forfeited property.
 
The FAIR Act would change federal law and protect the rights of property owners by requiring that the government prove its case with clear and convincing evidence before forfeiting seized property. State law enforcement agencies will have to abide by state law when forfeiting seized property. Finally, the legislation would remove the profit incentive for forfeiture by redirecting forfeitures assets from the Attorney General’s Asset Forfeiture Fund to the Treasury’s General Fund.
 
“The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime. The FAIR Act will ensure that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process, while maintaining the ability of courts to order the surrender of proceeds of crime,” Sen. Paul said
 
Click HERE for the FAIR Act legislation text.

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