OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Archive for October, 2015

How Viagra crushed a Little Pink House (Part I)

Posted by Brenda Higgins on October 30, 2015

Susette Kelo was a nurse, and a recently divorced single mother. Susette had the good fortune to find herself a lovely house in New London Connecticut, a fixer-upper. Suzette purchased this old house in 1997, and went to work on making it her own, including painting it pink. Suzette’s house had a great view of Connecticut’s Thames river. Her neighbor just across that river was Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Pfizer also experienced some good fortune around the same time, with the release of Viagra in 1998.

Susette planned to stay there, in that pink house, for the rest of her life. Pfizer also had long term plans for its home in New London. Pfizer’s plans did not include Susette Kelo but their plans did include her neighborhood.

The City of New London used the power of Eminent Domain to condemn Susette’s home and those of her surrounding neighbors. The city envisioned ‘jumpstarting’ the city’s dwindling economy with new condos and other projects that would complement the Pfizer facility, in the place of Susette’s neighborhood.  Susette and her neighbors were not going to sit still and allow their property rights and their homes to be destroyed. They refused to surrender their properties to this process and litigated the matter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In 2005, Susette and her neighbors lost in their last heroic effort to save their homes. The court ruled that the city acted within it’s rights in condemning and taking the property of Susette and her neighbors pursuant to Eminent Domain procedures, even if they were taking it for purposes of Pfizer and a private development project.

There was a tremendous backlash and shock that followed that case nationwide. After that decision in Kelo V. New London, many states took steps to limit the power of Eminent Domain in their states. California was one of those.

In 2011, Republican Chris Norby pushed through legislation which ended Redevelopment Agencies in California, agencies also known as “RDA’s.” These were the popular means by which many state and county governments were doing exactly what New London had done. An “RDA” would be established for the purpose of determining that a given area or neighborhood was “blighted”, then “condemn” it.  Often, like in the New London case, the property would be sold to private developers.  Governor Jerry Brown was also a vocal critic of this practice which was an obvious infringement upon the rights of property owners and as such, Gov. Brown supported Norby’s efforts by signing his bill into law.

Memories are short in Sacramento.

In the past two months, Governor Brown has again signed two bills Re-Establishing these practices of cities, counties and other municipalities, in taking property away from rightful owners. These new types of agencies might be called “Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Device” or EIFO, and “Community Revitalization Investment Authority”, or CRIA.

Since there are no truth in disclosure requirements for legislation, lobbyists and legislators have wide discretion to name new laws and newly invented government agencies stemming from these laws. If there were such truthful naming rules, these agencies would have to be called “Pigs with Lipstick” agencies. In spite of all the chest beating our governor does about how pro-civil liberties he is, he quietly signed these property taking measures into law within the past six weeks.  It is still Eminent Domain.  It is still a public agency taking private property and turning it over to a corporation or developer.  These agencies and their efforts might not be called “RDA’s” any longer, but that is what they are.

Also voting in support of the creation of these CRIA’s, the agencies that will now be authorized to take private property away from small businesses and private homeowners, (surprisingly) new local conservative heroines, Ling Ling Chang and Young Kim. Sadly, their gerrymandered districts overlay what used to be the consistently conservative district of Norby. There was little fanfare or contention about their votes in favor of big government and big business.  Fortunately, Orange County does have some conservatives in Sacramento who still think that government aid to corporations like Pfizer are a bad idea.  A thanks for holding the line on this appropriately goes out to Matt Harper and Travis Allen who voted against authorizing new CRIA’s for the taking of private property.

Now that California has resuscitated the right of government to crush little pink houses on behalf of corporate giants like Pfizer, what ever became of Susette Kelo and her neighbors???

Ten years after the huge victory won by Pfizer and New London, the neighborhood still stands vacant. The houses were torn down and are long gone.  Only empty fields remain and only feral cats have made new homes there.  The litigation against Susette and her neighbors cost the city in excess of $80 million. Pfizer abandoned its plant in New London, along with 1500 jobs. At the end of the Supreme Court case, there was even MORE litigation when the city tried to sue Susette and her neighbors to recover rent for the years that the litigation had been ongoing.

The proponents of the new California laws and creation of these new agencies cite as the reason to support it as new “safeguards”. The only added safeguards are the number of conditions of “blight” that have to be found prior to a municipality making a determination to “condemn”.  Other than this very minor change, the CRIA is nearly identical to the old RDA.  Ultimately, these are still just mechanisms that the government can use, to take private property from small businesses and homeowners, and transfer it to large corporations and developers.
In their defense, even a tiny change is in fact a ‘difference’. Just like a pig, it is different with lipstick.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Water Rate Referendum Qualifies for Ballot in Yorba Linda Water District

Posted by Chris Nguyen on October 27, 2015

An effort to overturn the Yorba Linda Water District’s recent rate increase has qualified for the ballot.

The recently-formed Yorba Linda Taxpayers Association submitted 5,520 signatures to overturn the YLWD rate increase.  2,157 valid signatures were required for the referendum to qualify for the ballot.  Conducting a random sampling of 500 signatures, the Orange County Registrar of Voters found that 444 (88.8%) were valid.  Using the random sample, an estimated 4,902 signatures were valid, 227% of the signatures required.

The rate increase was approved by the YLWD Board of Directors on September 17 and went into effect on October 1.  The YLTA began circulating for signatures on September 25 and submitted them on October 14.  The Registrar completed the verification of the random sample of 500 signatures on October 22.

At its November 12 meeting, the YLWD Board can choose to rescind the rate increase, place the rate increase on the November 8, 2016 general election ballot, or place the rate increase on a special election ballot.

When the YLWD rate increase was implemented, the district blamed “the Governor’s Executive Order and Regulations mandated by the State Water Resources Control Board…The regulations, which impose a 36% conservation mandate for YLWD, dramatically impact the financial stability of the agency.  The increase on the Basic Service Charge is a direct result of the revenue loss the District will face due to those State Regulations.”

The YLTA argues that the YLWD “used the drought to raise reserves, grow their overhead and increase administrative salaries and expenses without full public disclosure.”

Posted in Yorba Linda Water District | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Don’t call it Assisted Suicide

Posted by Brenda Higgins on October 19, 2015

On October 5, 2015, California continued its race to become one of the most anti-life states with the enactment of the “END OF LIFE OPTION ACT”.  We became the sixth state to enact a law that will enable physicians to assist terminally ill patients to terminate their own life.  It is illegal in all of the other 44 states.

The bill that was passed in an “Extraordinary Session”, was named the “End of Life Option Act”.  In the past 20 years and 7 failed attempts to pass similar assisted suicide legislation, they learned that no one liked the word “suicide” in the bill.  Euphemisms continue to sell in the PC new-millennial world, at least in Sacramento.  If politically correcting the bill doesn’t work, just sneak it in during an off-time, under a ruse that it is something other than what it is.  This “Extraordinary Session” was to called after the regular session had ended, with the stated purpose being, to address “Medicare costs”.

In spite of the fact that the bill had not successfully made it’s way through the legislature in the regular session, in spite of the fact that seven prior bills proposing the same thing had failed in the state legislature, and in spite of the fact that In August, three days prior to this bill’s appearance, a San Francisco judge had upheld California’s ban on assisted suicide, it still was somehow deemed enough of an ‘emergency’ to address it in the “Extraordinary” session.
Certainly assisting and hastening the death of the terminally ill will help curb Medicare costs. However, at some point, we have to consider how reprehensible this is, that “end of life options” were lumped into a cost saving session.  We probably also need to issue a formal apology to Sarah Palin for ridiculing her “death panel” comment related to Obamacare. if you haven’t noticed, this is it, we are there.

If you are terminally ill, this new law will enable you to obtain a prescription for an “Aid-in-dying” drug. The new law provides for what appears to be an absolute “pass” for doctors to exercise their conscience. There will be no liability for refusing to write such a prescription. Can you hear the PA and Nurse Practitioner cottage industries popping up? Anyone authorized to dispense medicine under California law may prescribe the Aid-in-dying drug.  There are a plethora of documents that must be completed and witness and advisements adhered and explained and attested to.  This is exactly the kind of cumbersome paperwork that cries out for a non-doctor specialist.  Doctor’s offices, already overburdened with the health care and other regulatory schemes are not likely to take this on and will farm it out to specialists.  The legislation specifically provides that referring out, is anticipated and acceptable.

Life Insurers and Health Insurers, under this new law, may not take any actions that might discourage anyone from exercising these ‘End of Life Options”. Life Insurance can not exclude anyone from receiving benefits if they exercise their rights under this act, even though under most plans, suicide precludes receipt of benefits. If you get the prescription and jump through the procedural hoops, you can end your life and your family still gets the insurance. Health Insurance, it’s easy to assume they are all for this, but they can’t take any steps to dissuade people from it, nor can they exclude it from coverage.

Do you hear the sound of the premium increases coming?

The new law also addresses what the obligations of the prescribing medical professional must do. The law includes a host of warnings and cautions, and a possibility that a referral to a mental health professional can be required if mental instability is suspected. Imagine that. A terminally ill patient, might be suffering from depression. Who’da thunk it?  That is a whole different topic, but how long until certain mental illnesses become a ‘terminal’ illness?

It also specifies and outlines certain precautions, the prescribing professional must ‘verify’ the diagnosis of terminal illness. It doesn’t mention if there is any obligation to consider or advise upon wholistic methods or seek divine intervention. It does state though, that the patient, who must self administer the Aid-in-Dying drug, should be encouraged “Not to ingest the Aid-in-Dying drug in public.” Yes, it really says that. Well, after they do a full mental health exam, they should have great confidence that a possibly depressed and despondent and terminally ill patient will not attempt to traumatize others by dying in public, and will definitely talk to them about it in any event.

One of the greatest parts of the legislation though, is that it mandates the creation of a New Crime. Yes, it is not murder and it is not suicide. Murder is a crime. Assisting in a suicide is a crime. Nothing in this law authorizes you to take authority over someone else’s life or end of life. Of course, there are multiple ‘witness’ declarations and a family notification requirement prerequisite to obtaining your Aid-in-Dying, self administered, but not in public, drug prescription, but none of those people can help. If they do it is a crime, a felony in fact, but not murder and not assisting suicide.

This is not any attempt to make light of the significant suffering that terminally ill patients endure. It is not to discount the agonizing decisions that people and their families are faced with in these dire and tragic situations, BUT, the glaring reality in this unduly complex measure is that simple fact that rarely is anything made better when government steps in and attempts to create a one-size-fits-all process. This is but one more attempt to point out, how ludicrous and intrusive our ever growing and unduly burdensome our state government has become.

There has been a long standing wink and nod between patients and their oncologists when these situations arise. The advent of this law and complex regulation attached to it will not serve the stated purpose of making end-of-life-options more dignified. The opposite is likely to be true. Not to mention the extraordinary slippery slope and opportunity for abuse.

Imagine the government jobs that will be created in regulating this? Oh happy day, there he goes, growing the economy again, thanks Jerry.

This is not about dignity. It is about disposal, the too young, the too old, the unlovely, the unpleasant, in our society, no longer have a place. It is a moral issue, and we as a society, are failing. The fact that our legislature gets away with sliding this under the door during an eleventh hour ‘special’ session, and our conservative representatives can do nothing more that be “on the record” as opposing, speaks volumes about the pervasive apathy and acquiescence in society.

Express your gratitude to the local conservatives who hung in there and at least got their vote counted against this travesty, namely Ling Ling Chang and Matt Harper. There may be a day when we personally, not just publicly, need an advocate in our corner to have faith, to try again, to pray some more, to seek alternative medicine, to actually “fight” cancer. Let’s hope we have a person in our private lives like that, then.  These reps at least showed up and took a stand, even if it was not going to change anything.

This kind of legislation puts all of us, one step closer to not being able to reasonably and intelligently make those decisions about treatment. Additional intrusion into the doctor patient relationship is not a worthwile development. More rules never increased anyone’s freedom or autonomy.

Cue the Palin comment on the death panels again. It is here, folks. Wait for the expansion of the legal definition of ‘terminal’.

Posted in California | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Special Election Qualifies for North Orange County Community College District Trustee Area 3

Posted by Chris Nguyen on October 8, 2015

On June 30, North Orange County Community College District Trustee Donna Miller (D) resigned just seven months after being re-elected to a four-year term.

Five people applied to fill the vacancy in Trustee Area 3, including Daniel Billings (NPP) and Buena Park Library District Trustee Al Salehi (NPP).  The NOCCCD Board appointed Billings unanimously on August 25.  Billings would hold the seat until November 2016, when the seat would be up for a two-year short-term election.  The seat would then resume a regular four-year term in the November 2018 election.

Salehi then circulated a petition under Education Code 5091, which allows an appointment to be invalidated by a petition of 1.5% of registered voters submitted within 30 days of the appointment, which would then trigger a special election.  (1.5% of registered voters in NOCCCD Trustee Area 3 is 799 valid signatures.)

County Superintendent of Schools Al Mijares (R) must call the special election for a Tuesday within 130 days of certification of the petition (which occurred on Tuesday), so the special election for NOCCCD Trustee Area 3 will likely take place in late January or early February (no later than Tuesday, February 9).

NOCCCD Trustee Area 3 consists of the entire City of La Palma, most of the City of Buena Park, City of Cypress north of Orange Avenue, and two portions of Anaheim (one north of Ball Road and west of Beach Boulevard; the other north of La Palma Avenue and west of Magnolia Avenue).

Besides Salehi, rumored candidates include 21-year-old Centralia School District Trustee Connor Traut (D), Centralia School District Trustee (and former La Palma Councilman) Henry Charoen (R), La Palma Councilman Steve Hwangbo (R), and Anaheim Union High School District Trustee (and former La Palma Councilman) Brian O’Neal (R).  (Update 10/27: This list inadvertently left off Billings; OC Political regrets the error.  O’Neal sent an irate email denying any interest in the seat.)

In both 2012 and 2014, Salehi came in fourth out of eight for Buena Park City Council after moving into the city in 2010.  He won 2.4% of the vote when he came in fourth in the primary for the 45th Congressional District (on the other side of the county, where he had zero name ID) behind now-Congresswoman Mimi Walters (R), Drew Leavens (D), and now-Mission Viejo Councilman Greg Raths (R).

If the election is conducted as an all-mail ballot election (aka all absentee ballot election), NOCCCD taxpayers would pay $168,000-$197,000 for the costs of the election.

Posted in Anaheim, Anaheim Union High School District, Buena Park, Buena Park Library District, Centralia School District, Cypress, La Palma, North Orange County Community College District | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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