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Nifla v. Becerra, It’s not an abortion case

Posted by Brenda Higgins on July 9, 2018

The Reproductive FACT act was a boldly unconstitutional law that was signed by Governor Brown in October 2015. 

The Bill, AB 775 (Later codified as H&S 123470) was entitled the Reproductive FACT Act (Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Accountability)  The bill provided that Pro-Life Pregnancy centers, who exist because of their objection to abortion, would be required to provide information about abortion to their clients, in their office, on their internal forms and in all advertising.  The onerous law also mandated exact language, required large font type and required in some counties that the notices would have to be provided in 13 languages.  

The case (NIFLA v. Becerra) decided by the Supreme Court was an appeal brought by NIFLA (National Institute for Life and Family Advocates) after the Ninth Circuit ruled the law to be constitutional and not in violation of the First Amendment.  There was another case brought in Riverside County Superior court, Sharpen v. Harris, challenging the constitutionality of the law.   Judge Gloria Trask  ruled in favor of the pregnancy center, finding that the FACT Act violated Article 1, section 2 of the California Constitution.
The  Riverside Superior court, relied upon U.S. Supreme Court precedent related to the U.S. constitution’s First Amendment. The court stated, “Compelled speech is that which forces a speaker to say that which he or she may or may not believe.  Compelled speech is undoubtedly necessary in many circumstances.  But compelled speech of a political or cultural nature, is not the tool of a free government.”  

The Riverside court applied Strict Scrutiny, the highest level of constitutional scrutiny, and said  that the political speech related to abortion, can not be neutral in nature.  The court found that the state of California failed to show any compelling state interest advanced by the regulation.

The FACT Act mandated two different notices.  One notice was for ‘licensed’ facilities, and another notice for ‘unlicensed’ facilities.  A ‘licensed’ facility was defined by the statute as a clinic whose ‘primary purpose is providing family planning or pregnancy related services’.  The ‘unlicensed’ facility was defined as one ‘whose primary purpose is pregnancy related services’ but who did not have a medical director on staff.

The Ninth Circuit, said that the pregnancy centers “were unable to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of their First Amendment claims.”  The Ninth Circuit court went on to state that  Strict Scrutiny was not warranted and that the “Act is a neutral law of general applicability, which survived rational basis (The lowest level of constitutional scrutiny) review.” As to the notice for licensed facilities, the Ninth Circuit found that it was entitled to only Intermediate scrutiny (Heightened, but not strict) and that the FACT Act survived Intermediate Scrutiny.  The Ninth Circuit  found that the unlicensed notice survived ANY level of scrutiny.  

The Ninth Circuit opinion spent much effort discussing “professional speech”.   One of the first things noted by The Supreme Court in its ruling overturning the Ninth Circuit, is that the Supreme Court has never recognized “professional speech” as a special category of speech giving it some lower “Intermediate” threshold of consideration.  Justice Thomas writing for the majority said, “This Court has been reluctant to mark off new categories of speech for diminished constitutional protection.”

Justice Thomas, also noted,  “The licensed notice at issue here is not an informed consent requirement or any other regulation of professional conduct. The notice does not facilitate informed consent to a medical procedure. In fact, it is not tied to a procedure at all. It applies to all interactions between a covered facility and its clients, regardless of whether a medical procedure is ever sought, offered, or performed.”  Justice Thomas pointed out the gaping exceptions in the FACT Act, exempting state and federal managed and funded providers.  This regulation, was targeted toward those clinics and resource centers that are largely non-profit, pro-life and Christian.

 

The Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit both called the FACT Act, “Content Based”.  Content based regulation generally triggers the high level strict scrutiny review for constitutionality.  The Ninth Circuit veered around this standard with its created category of “professional speech”  The Supreme Court rejected that effort to find justification for the FACT Act.

Justice Kennedy’s concurring opinion was clear and direct. 

“The history of the Act’s passage and its underinclusive application suggest a real 

possibility that these individuals were targeted because of their beliefs. ……”

  “It is forward thinking to begin by reading the First Amendment as ratified in 1791; to understand the history of authoritarian government as the Founders then knew it; to confirm that history since then shows how relentless authoritarian regimes are in their attempts to stifle free speech; and to carry those lessons onward as we seek to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech for the generations to come.”

“Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions. Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties.”

Breyer’s dissent laments that the court should only look to the “reasonableness of the Legislature’s belief in the existence of evils and in the effectiveness of the remedy provided.” With one fell swoop, ignoring the whole body of First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion and dismissing the viewpoint encroachment of the state of California. 

No part of  Breyer’s dissent or the now discredited Ninth Circuit opinion, addressed the obvious and underlying philosophy of California that there is a ‘state interest’, in making sure women know about state funded abortion services. 

Breyer relies heavily upon Planned Parenthood v. Casey (Casey).  Interesting, in that the Ninth Circuit cites Casey as well, but in support of an opposite argument.   Breyer, criticizing Thomas and Kennedy’s majority opinion states, “one might take the majority’s decision to mean that speech about abortion is special”.  The Ninth Circuit, also relying on Casey, said that the high court had not announced a “rule regarding the level of scrutiny to apply in abortion-related disclosure cases”, implying throughout their ruling that abortion-related disclosure is in fact entitled to some yet undefined special scrutiny.  

The problem with the reliance upon Casey by both Breyer and the Ninth Circuit, is that Casey,  reaffirms Roe, which held that the Woman, not the state, has a right of Privacy and thus, a right to an abortion of an unviable fetus.  The state, as held in both of those seminal cases, has a interest in the life of the child, at the point of viability.  

The backwards application of Casey, by both the Ninth Circuit and Breyer, is not insignificant.  In the mental gymnastics they engage in to attempt to find support for this constitutionally offensive law, they attempt to create a new and unrecognized exception, and imagine a state interest in providing abortion.  

The majority and concurring opinions written by Thomas and Kennedy, do not even get to the lack of congruency in those positions of support for the law, because the FACT Act was so blatantly offensive to the First Amendment under proper scrutiny.  Judge Trask in Riverside similarly recognized the inherent flaw in the Act in that in infringed speech in a way it compelled clinics to “speak words with which it profoundly disagrees”.

The case should be an example, and a wake up call.  The fact that such a overtly biased and constitutionally offensive law made its way through the legislature and governors office, only to be defended by not one, but two Attorneys general, should tell us something about either the energy or the arrogance with which the left will go in the current environment, to silence those that it disagrees with.  

Justice Thomas put it like this:

Throughout history, governments have “manipulat[ed] the content of doctor-patient discourse” to increase state power and suppress minorities: 

“For example, during the Cultural Revolution, Chinese physicians were dispatched to the countryside to convince peasants to use contraception. In the 1930s, the Soviet government expedited completion of a construction project on the Siberian railroad by ordering doctors to both reject requests for medical leave from work and conceal this government order from their patients. In Nazi Germany, the Third Reich systematically violated the separation between state ideology and medical discourse. German physicians were taught that they owed a higher duty to the ‘health of the Volk’ than to the health of individual patients. Recently, Nicolae Ceausescu’s strategy to increase the Romanian birth rate included prohibitions against giving advice to patients about the use of birth control devices and disseminating information about the use of condoms as a means of preventing the transmission of AIDS.” Berg, Toward a First Amendment Theory of Doctor-Patient Discourse and the Right To Receive Unbiased Medical Advice, 74 B. U. L. Rev. 201, 201– 202 (1994) (footnotes omitted). 

Ultimately, the majority of the Supreme Court saw this power grab for the constitutional overreach that it was, and ruled accordingly.  

Posted in California | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The perpetual race for second place

Posted by Brenda Higgins on June 2, 2018

Polls are not hard to understand.  The science of polling, even with the basic college level understanding of how the math behind it works, is also easily understood to be not just subjective, but fully within the manipulation of the pollster.

It doesn’t take a scientific poll to see and comprehend what has happened in elections in the U.S. and around the world in the past three U.S election cycles.  People with a real power to vote, have done so. And, they have done so in outright rebellion to those in power who have told them what to do and how to vote.  In spite of the effort of this ruling class of politicians and pollsters and pundits, people have rejected their group-think advisements to vote as they are being told to vote, and they are voting, with a level of enthusiasm and fervor, that we have not seen in our lifetime.

People have, in massive numbers, rejected what they have been told, and voted for candidates that experts said could not win.  My opinion is based upon my own very unscientific polling. I knocked on people’s doors and talked to them about things like health insurance and abortion. I called them on the phone and talked to them about Unions and school bonds.  I knocked on their doors to remind them to vote or show up to their caucus. I have done this many thousands of times in the past few election cycles.

They want to talk about things that aren’t in the polls.  In 2014 in Arkansas, people expressed angry reflexive passion to  vote for any candidate with a “R” by their name. In 2015 there was fury over more special elections and efforts to create more special taxes to fix things they thought were already paying taxes for.  In Nevada in 2016 they only wanted to talk about Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders and had no interest in hearing anything else.  In 2018, as I talk to people on phones and at their front door, about the down-ticket, they want to talk about Travis Allen.

The politicians and pollsters and pundits, have told people in the past three election cycles that whatever they are feeling or thinking as an individual, sitting in their living room in front of their TV or behind their computer screen, the way that they should think because a lot of people think that way, and this is who you should vote for because all the other people are going to vote that way.  The American public has rejected that instruction out of hand, and have become inherently distrustful of the media and of ‘establishment’ politicians.  Funny thing it, the media is now telling them that this has happened because of Donald Trump.  The media misses it again.  The rebellion is not ‘because’ of Donald Trump,  Donald Trump is because of the rebellion.

So it is in 2018, California.

Here’s a poll.  How many Democrat governors have we had in California since 1959?  That is more than a half century.  Think about that, because in the past three election cycles, Democrats, Republicans, pollsters and media pundits, continue to tell Californians that they can only have a Democrat governor.

In the past 59 years, we have had three Democrat Governors.  Brown, Brown, Davis, and Brown again.  Three. And one, Grey Davis, was kicked out of office by the rulers of California, the California people.  In the same time period, we have had four Republicans, Schwarzenegger, Wilson, Deukmejian, and Reagan.

Reagan’s two terms were after the two terms of Edmund G. Brown. and before two terms of his son, Jerry Brown.  Jerry Brown had ANOTHER two terms, after Schwartzenegger ousted Grey Davis. The last time we had a one term Governor was Culbert Olson in 1938. He was a Democrat. Before Culbert Olson, sequential Republicans held the office for nearly 50 years. You have to look back to 1894 to find another Democrat Governor.  My point is, there is not a long or strong history of support for Democrat Governors in this state, and in the last three election cycles, voters in every other state have rejected Democrat governors by wide margins.  Republicans are Governors in 33 states.  In 32 states, Republicans control BOTH houses of the legislature.  In 2010, Republicans controlled ONLY FOURTEEN STATES.  14, in 2010.

The tide has changed and California citizens are missing the benefit of conservative ideals.

In the past three election cycles, the pollsters and pundits and party leaders (in both parties actually)  are telling the voting public to sit down and be quiet, that there may never be a republican Governor in California again.  In keeping with their pearl clutching and hand wringing, over their polls, and research and infinite wisdom, they have given us, Meg Whitman and Neel Kashkari in the past two races for Governor.  There was a bizarre victory lap when Neal Kashkari lost by less than expected in 2014.  These two were barely Republicans, they were wealthy people who spent their own money and the party rejoiced in that.  Kashkari, who had never held public office and supported Obama in 2008,  was outspent by something like 10 to 1, so he got more votes per dollar than Meg Whitman.  The party leaders bizarrely counted in a victory and called on Tim Donnelly to step down because (by default)  Kashkari was the party ‘standard bearer’.

Now we have another non-Californian, rich guy, and they are asking the voters to do the same.  Take one for the team, vote this way because we are telling you that everyone else is going to vote this way, and we need to have a candidate at the “top of the ticket”.

Gone is any language about reclaiming the Governors mansion at any time in the future, the strategy is simply to get someone bland enough, lack luster enough in policies, and rich enough to pay for some TV commercials, but not to win.

There is no strategy to re-take the governors mansion or find and promote a conservative candidate for governor in California.

Donald Trump did not have a path to 270.  There is a scientific poll.  The historic fact however, is that he far exceeded that necessary 270.

In 59 years, a member of the Brown family has held the Governors office for 24 years, 6 terms.  There are no more members of the Brown dynasty, but the professionals are telling us that it is time for the Newsom/Pelosi dynasty to be coronated.  There is nothing you can do about it, we have given you this proper second place finisher, please just sit down and let us tell you how to vote.  Ruling, establishment, elitism, but in their tone deafness, they miss, that THIS is precisely what the rebellion has been aimed at.

Remember, this is what they told us about Hillary.  It was her turn.  She had the money, the experience, she was the most “qualified” and that Donald Trump was a joke. The coronation of the next ruling member of the Clinton dynasty had arrived.  Sit down Peasants.   The pollsters always leave out one thing.

The ruling class are not rulers, and the people are still in charge, and their not buying this.

Cox is a big government advocate still. No matter what he tries to do to distance himself from his own ideas. His only voting record, is his vote for Pro-Choice, Open Borders, Libertarian, Gary Johnson.  Cox has never won a race.  That makes him a perfect choice for the second place strategy.

Travis Allen has never lost a race, and was never expected to be in office.  The pollsters, pundits and ruling class have counted him out, and told him to sit down and wait his turn for the entirety of his political career.

Historically, it is time for the Governor’s Mansion to be turned back to the Republicans.  Someone needs to tell the leadership of the Republican party, they dont know it yet.   There is no justification for rolling over and paying dead with a second place candidate.   Californians, just like Americans across the country in the past three elections, have risen up to remind you, who is in charge, and they seem to be pretty tired of Second Place.

 

Posted in California, Campaign Finance | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

The Reality of the Record

Posted by Brenda Higgins on June 2, 2018

Both Travis Allen and John Cox are running for California Governor, as Republicans, and on a Pro- life platform.  Pro Life Voters who support John Cox have declared that Travis Allen is “Not so” Pro-Life.  They have cited legislation in which Travis Allen took no position, as being dispositive of their content that he is not “Pro-Life”, but provide no real analysis of the legislation at issue.

I provided a detailed analysis of SB743, here.  I analyzed that one bill, because the California Pro Life Council, cited it exclusively, and repeatedly on their facebook page.  There are multiple other bills that are cited as being dispositive of the position that Travis Allen is “Not so” pro-life, and they are as follows.

Notworthy at the outset of this analysis, is that 41 votes are needed to pass legislations out of the Assembly.  Travis Allen abstained, meaning, did not vote, on ANY of these Pro-Abortion bills.

AB154 Allows Nurses to perform Surgical abortions.  49 votes in favor.

SB743 Allows Medical Patients to choose their care provider. 55 votes in favor. (Discussed at length in my prior article)

AB569 Code of Conduct for Employment may not include prohibiting abortion. 55 votes in favor.

AB569 Building Codes for Abortion Clinics. 50 Votes in favor.

The Anti-Travis Allen people have also cited these bills, in which he also had NO vote.

AB105 Gender Neutral words in codes, changing the words from Husband/ Wife, to Spouse.  63 votes in favor.

In 2016, Travis Allen received an approval rating from Planned Parenthood, of 67%.  In that year, Travis Allen voted with 62 other State Assembly members, to end the California tax on Feminine Products, Tampons and Maxi Pads.  The governor vetoed that bill when it got to him.

Travis Allen has been in the Legislature since 2013, and has not voted for Planned Parenthood to receive funding, has not voted in favor of abortion, has not voted in favor of any law expanding abortion or funding of abortion.

John Cox has never held public office, in spite of running a half dozen times.  He has admitted that he voted for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President in 2016.  This is Gary Johnson’s position on Abortion.

Both men have stated that they are “Pro-Life”, yet John Cox’ representation has been accepted out of hand, and the real record of Travis Allen has been rejected.   The Pro-Life Lobby is just one segment, but the lack of clarity or rational justification for these endorsements deserves some scrutiny and attention.

I am a pro-life activist, and I will be voting for Travis Allen.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

I’m a Pro Life Activist and I’m voting for Travis Allen

Posted by Brenda Higgins on May 22, 2018

 As I have researched the alleged issues, I realize that there has been not only disinformation, but combined with short sightedness and lack of thorough analysis, the reactionary ‘endorsements’ of Cox have been sorely misplaced.  John Cox has simply stated that he is Pro-Life, which is inconsistent with his vote for Pro-choice Libertarian  Gary Johnson for president.  Yet, the ‘movement’ seems disinclined to exact any consequences upon him for that.  The primarily cited reason for rejection Travis Allen’s representation that he is Pro-Life is the number of time he abstained on legislation that was of interest to the Pro-Life lobby.  The most oft cited of those is dealt with here, but the analysis of the other pieces of legislation that Travis Allen is faulted for, are similarly innocuous when looked at in the detail of impact his vote may have had.

Labels are funny things.  They have become a knee jerk reactive prompt, that we respond to like Pavlov’s dog.  We have to, above all, bring humanity back into policy and politics, or we truly have accomplished nothing, in particular, when we call ourselves advocates for “life”.  We should be more careful with words like “choice” and “family planning” and realize that they are just words.  We should also be up to speed on what is happening in Pro-Life non-profits, charities and life affirming medical clinics.  Organizations that not only affirm life, but provide….choices, AND, Family Planning.  Just because we use words that are used by bad guys, does not mean, we are bad guys.

 SB 743, was entitled, The Protection of Choice for Family Planning Providers. It was presented to the Assembly on 9/13/17.  The problem that many “Pro Life” leaders are having on this particular bill is that Travis Allen did NOT vote on it, he abstained.  In discussion this with those conservatives who oppose Travis Allen as a governor candidate, no one could tell me exactly what difference his vote would have made.  The answer lies in the 55-21 split, in favor of passage.  Travis Allen’s vote, yes, no, or abstain, was in fact, irrelevant.  It would have passed no matter what Travis Allen did.  

Travis Allen is further faulted by these “Pro Life” advocates, for abstaining on other “Pro Life” bills.  Anyone who has ever been in Sacramento and conversed with conservative legislators there in the past three decades, knows, that you must pick your battles.  In the interests of what you can get done, you might have to ignore and let go of what you can not get done.  A few years ago, a California Senator told me that Jerry Brown was the best ally we conservatives had in Sacramento. It puzzled me at first, but I realized it was because the Governor, with his veto power, was holding a fiscally conservative line periodically, which provided the conservatives some maneuvering ability, not much, but some.  During the 6 years that Travis Allen has been in the State Assembly in Sacramento, the Democrats have had a majority, (more than half) and for all but two years it was a Super-majority (More than two thirds).  The minority in such a hostile environment, must have some shrewd strategy and survival skills. 

The passage of SB 743, is not in any way the apolcalyptic defeat of the Pro Life Movement that they are making it out to be.  In reviewing the listed advocates and opponents of this legislation, I am (again) puzzled as to whether anyone taking a side,  actually read it.  Of course, a variety of Planned Parenthood organizations supported it.  Particularly puzzling though, is the Catholic opposition to it.   Catholic charities strongly support many pro-life pregnancy centers that will benefit greatly from this legislation.
The legislation, SB 743, does not specifically, or exclusively, fund abortion.

It provides that if a woman is receiving funding for her medical care through a government subsidized health plan, she should be able to CHOOSE her provider.  What is unreasonable about that?  She may choose abortion with that blank check of benefits given her, but she can ALSO choose life affirming medical care for herself and her unborn child.  These medi-cal and medicaid benefits are a tremendous help to those life affirming medical centers, and those centers offer so much more to mothers than Planned Parenthood does. 

“Medi-Cal managed care plan shall not restrict the choice of the qualified provider from whom a beneficiary enrolled in the managed care plan may receive family planning services covered by the Medi-Cal program”  SB743 (

Maybe their issue is that women might choose Planned Parenthood.  She may, however, choose a life affirming medical clinic for her ‘family planning services’.   Choice, it is not a bad thing, and it is not a bad word. The question the Pro Life Lobby should be asking itself, is are WE doing ENOUGH to support these kinds of centers and divert these women to them?  Are we making these known?  Are they as easily recognized, branded and exposed and familiar to the public as Planned Parenthood.  Women, and men, go to Planned Parenthood because they are shocked, surprised, overwhelmed, unsure and immensely afraid.  They go to what they know.  Why cant we change what they know?  There are other OPTIONS.  They have real CHOICES.

With the woman having a real choice, she can choose a life affirming center.  It is up to the Pro Life movement to step up the game to reach these women.  With President Trump signaling that he will be enforcing Title X limitations on funding to abortion providers, this opportunity is truly wide open for life affirming medical centers to expand their reach and their market share.  While we myopically focus on old battle fields, opposing anything and everything that might benefit Planned Parenthood, an entirely new opportunity is springing up to simply put them out of business.  We will miss it if we keep splitting hairs over whom is Pro-Life enough for us.

Planned Parenthood performs over 300,000 abortions each year. They offer no prenatal care, no parenting support and refer only 2,500 adoptions.  That is not any range of CHOICE.  Pro Life Pregnancy clinics offer real support, and, real choice.  Choice is not a bad word, we just surrendered it and let them have it.  We should take it back.  Choices, when they are real and meaningful, are good things.  

It does not seem that any of Travis Allen’s opponents thought of this.  Again, though, Travis Allen did not vote on this, did not sponsor this, and was not a deciding factor in its passage.  It remains however a deciding factor in Pro Life organizations and activists rejecting him as a candidate.

The failure to fully consider the scope of this and other legislation, the full impact of life affirming ministries and organizations is incredibly short sighted of “Pro-Life” activists, but to compound their error of improperly analyzing the impact of this law, by saddling an illusive negative impact, upon a legislator and now governor candidate who had NOTHING to do with its passage, is just simple incompetence, and utter unfairness.

Travis Allen, is by far the best candidate we have seen for Governor of California in many years.  I just hope it is not too late to undo the misinformation damage that has occurred from these improper analyses.

I am a Pro Life Activist, I work in Life Affirming ministry, and I will be voting for Travis Allen.  

Posted in California, Orange County, U.S. Politics | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Unholy Aliances: Body Parts trafficking in the Land of Gracious Living

Posted by Brenda Higgins on March 28, 2018

 

DaVinci Biosciences and related company, DVB, became part of the national exposure of Planned Parenthood and its distribution and sale of fetal body parts. David Daleidin and The Center for Medical Progress exposed these Planned Parenthood practices and a congressional investigation followed. The report that came from that investigation recommended prosecution and further investigation, into more than a dozen entities. Orange County District Attorney followed thorough with prosecution of the body parts traffickers found here, but many authorities and jurisdictions have not. New Mexico, whose university and interconnectedness with Planned Parenthood were some of the largest offenders, has elected to take no action.

DaVinci and DVB were formed in 2007 and 2009 respectively. Both for-profit corporations, both located at the same physical location in Savi Ranch area of Yorba Linda. OCDA stated that the companies were nearly indistinguishable, sharing employees and the same location, and both companies are owned and operated by several members of the Isaias family from Ecuador.

The Isias family migrated from Ecuador amid much controversy. In 2012, the Isaias’s were convicted in Ecuador, in absensia, for bank fraud. The conviction alleged that they falsified records of their bank, Filanbanco, in order to obtain more than $600 million in their government’s bailout funds. Presumably, the funds they bilked from the Ecuadorian government provided the foundation for the DaVinci companies, as well as their ‘media” venture in Florida, Fyre TV, an on-demand porn platform. The Isaiases are also rumored to have extensive real estate holdings, and have been reported to have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to political cadidates, like Marco Rubio, Barrack Obama, the DNC, and Senator Robert Menendez. In 2016, they gave $300,000 to the DNC.

Several members of the Isaias family encountered immigration difficulties after being caught smuggling ‘maids’ into the US. Both Senator Robert Menendez, and the Clinton State Department intervened on their behalf. The Obama administration refused to cooperate with Ecuador in extradition of the Isaiases. Linda Jewell, the American ambassador in Ecuador, indicated that the intervention of Senator Menendez and apparent favorable treatment by the State Department was “substantially beyond the usual level of interest.”

A direct link to the U.S. government favoring Ecuadorian convicts, and the Ecuadorian embassy in London harboring Julia Assange, has not been established. However, it is not a stretch to see retribution and discord in the actions of both nations. The Obama administration relationship with Ecuador was strained at best.

When the House Select Panel began its investigation in 2016, DaVinci was slow to produce the records of its donations to Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties (PPOSBC). The report form the Select Panel ultimately concluded though, that the DaVinci group was brazen in its effort to market and profit from the fetal tissue it was procuring from PPOSB. The report showed that DaVinci had a sales force and extensive marketing plan, product brochures, a website and bulk discounts for their best customers. They also offered financing on approved credit, holiday discounts and free samples.

Stem Express and Advanced Biosciences are other California based fetal body parts traffickers who were investigated by the House Select Panel. Stem Express paid Planned Parenthood a per-shipment fee, while Advanced Biosciences paid a monthly procurement fee. DaVinci Made some tax deductible donations totalling nearly $4,000.00 between 2008 and 2011, but nothing in the investigation showed that they were paying a procurement fee. DaVinci provided the containers and picked up the specimens. Planned Parenthood obtained the consent, procured and collected the tissue, transferred them to the containers provided and notified DaVinci when they were ready for pick up.

The OCDA found that the DaVInci profits on each vial of tissue, after incurring nominal preparation costs, were ranging form $100 – $300 per vial. The profit on the sale of fetal or cadaveric tissue is prohibited by California state as well as Federal law.

The DaVinci Companies were ultimately closed down in 2017, pursuant to a settlement agreement with the OCDA. That agreement, in addition to closing them down, provided for DaVinci to pay fines and pentacles of about $7million, and to donate to an educational institution, all of their remaining inventory and equipment.

Posted in Orange County District Attorney's Office, Yorba Linda | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Recall Certified

Posted by Brenda Higgins on January 5, 2018

Secretary of State Alex Padilla today, certified enough signatures such that the recall of Senator Josh Newman may proceed.

Josh Newman was elected in a nail biter of a race against Ling Ling Chang in the 29th State Senate district in November 2016. Josh Newman voted with his party, the Democrat super majority, in pushing forward a new gas and vehicle licensing tax that has prompted voter outrage.

Republican activist Carl DeMaio form San Diego, rallied that anger into a move to recall the Freshman senator from Orange County. The recall of Senator Newman will not make any affirmative change to the gas tax, and that has been a large part of the Newman opposition messaging. People who signed the recall petitions have said that they were not aware it was for the recall of the Senator but believed that the petition they were signing would in fact repeal the gas tax. In spite of some disgruntled signers of those petitions, still, today, according to the California Secretary of State, there are enough valid signatures for it to proceed.
The governor will need to schedule a Special Election to determine 1) if Josh Newman will be recalled and 2) If recalled, whom will replace him. Thus far, Newman has had his campaign in motion for many months to combat the recall and fight for re-election. So far, Fullerton Mayor, Bruce Whitaker and Newman’s former opponent, Ling Ling Chang, are the prominent Republicans poised to challenge him. The election could proceed as early as March, but will likely be consolidated with the primary in June.

 

Posted in 29th Senate District, Fullerton, La Habra, Orange County, Placentia, State Senate, Yorba Linda | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

The Trouble with Josh Newman

Posted by Brenda Higgins on October 20, 2017

 

Josh Newman is the California State Senator elected to the 29th district, which includes North Orange County, Fullerton to Yorba Linda and adjacent communities in San Bernardino county and Los Angeles County.

http://wedrawthelines.ca.gov/downloads/meeting_handouts_082011/map_20110815_ap_sd_29_certified.pdf

Newman was elected in November 2016. The election of Newman created a super-majority of Democrats in Sacramento. His election was the closest one in the state and was the last one to be finalized and certified. This seat has been easily won and held by Republicans for many years.

SB1 is also known as the “Gas and Car Tax”. It increased the tax that Californians pay on a gallon of gas from $ 0.18 to $ 0.31, a $ 0.13 increase. The effort to recall Newman began shortly after that with San Diego activist, Carl DeMaio leading the effort.

A website was up during the time that the signatures were being gathered, as well as a Facebook page. “Stop the Gas Tax” was the mantra, the battle cry, the motto, the slogan emblazoned on the signs. The name of the website has now been changed, as has the name of the Facebook page. However the Facebook page has merely added “Recall Senator Newman” to its original title “Stop the Gas Tax. Now, it is hyphenated.
The first challenge to be mounted to the recall effort was litigation targeting the deception. The phrase that populated everything that came from the organization was “Stop the Gas Tax”. No mention of Newman. No mention of recall. Stop The Gas Tax.

Recalling Newman will not repeal the gas tax.

Further, Newman was not the “deciding vote”, as has been stated in some of the promotion of this effort.

https://ballotpedia.org/Verbatim_fact_check:_Was_Sen._Josh_Newman_the_deciding_vote_on_California%27s_gas_tax_increase%3F

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Newman, names as defendants, the Cal State Fullerton students who were gathering signatures, accusing them of misrepresenting the nature of the petition that they were having people sign. In discussing this with professionals who deal with these election law matters, they have insisted that this litigation is not going anywhere, as the description on the petition itself is the only relevant consideration in legally determining if signers have been mislead. It is hard to believe, that the signage, and name of the website and Facebook page don’t matter. Time will tell, that litigation is still pending. The legal issue may be resolved in the manner that the involved Republicans believe, but they seem to be a tad short sighted in assuming that voters do not care about being deliberately mislead.

In the meantime, the Democrats with their super majority and governor, have passed additional legislation, to delay the recall. The legislation would provide a 30 day grace period, for people to change their minds and ask that their signatures be removed from a petition. They passed the legislation in June, it was shortly thereafter blocked by an appeals court. A new bill, was then passed and quickly signed by the governor, would require that every single signature be verified, rather than just verifying a random sampling of the signatures. This of course delays and lengthens the time it potentially takes to get a special election on the calendar. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers have filed a petition in court to fight this new law. That litigation is also pending.

The score so far is this, California consumers will be paying 13 cents more for every gallon of gas, 20 cents on diesel fuel, starting November 1, 2017. California vehicle owners will be paying an additional $25 to $175 on vehicle registrations. That is just on the SB1 legislation that Republicans are blaming Senator Newman for.

It is estimated that these new taxes, on this legislation alone, will generate $52 billion over the next ten years, to be used for road improvements. I don’t think there is anyone who disputes that road and infrastructure is badly in need of attention in our state. However, the government in California has been notoriously untrustworthy in using allocated budget funds to repair and maintain our roads. This time, it seems they pinky promise or some other super-duper assurance that these funds, really will be used for roads.

The problem with hanging this albatross around the neck of Newman, is that watching all of the activity in Sacramento, it is impossible to fathom that an extra republican in the Senate would have made a difference. Nowhere in the propaganda accompanying this farce of a recall does it inform voters that there was a Republican who voted for this gas tax, and there was. That republican is not being targeted for recall. The fact checker (link is above) from Ballotpedia (Non-partisan source) says that the claim of Newman being the “deciding vote” is patently false. 27 Senators in the State Senate are Democrats. 27 Senators voted for the “Gas Tax” (SB1), the no votes were not tallied, and there were two Senators who did not vote. One of the affirming votes was from a Republican Senator.

After the recall was well underway, California Cap and Trade legislation came up for vote. The Republican minority leader voted for the legislation, which will raise taxes on a gallon of California by about 63 cents. The Republican leader, also convinced 8 other Republicans to vote along with him. Neither the Republican leader, nor any of the legislators who voted with him are being targeted for recall.
So the real trouble with Newman, is that he is a democrat, in a seat the Republicans perceive to be at risk. The issue never was the gas tax. Had we elected a Republican in SD29, I can imagine based upon voting history and party behavior, we would be having a very different conversation about this gas tax. It would go something like, we really, really need to fix the roads and there is no other way but to implement this new tax. The newly elected Republican Senator would be making the lunch and coffee meeting rounds to explain how hard it is to be in the minority in Sacramento and why she had to vote for the tax. It is all about the constituents and I was looking out for you, for our roads.

Newman, at least voted in the way anyone and everyone anticipated him to vote and makes no apology therefore. The false flag does not change this and it is not a far stretch to know that the Republican who would have occupied that seat, likely would have voted the same way and make excuses for it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

SB1 and a Ruse for a Recall

Posted by Brenda Higgins on May 9, 2017

In April the California legislature passed, and the Governor signed a new gas tax that adds 12 cents per gallon to gas purchased in California. This legislation passed the state Senate with 27 votes. This was the minimum number of votes needed to pass a new tax. Senators voted along party lines, except for Republican Senator Anthony Canella.

A recall effort is now underway, to recall a Senator who voted for the tax, but it is not the one Republican Senator. The recall effort targets freshman Senator Josh Newman. Last fall, Josh was only a second time candidate but a first time elected. The initiators of the recall have indicated that they targeted Senator Newman merely because he was vulnerable. His election went into eleventh hour counting and was what they have termed a “slim margin”.

Without getting to the substance or merit of the tax, there is no ethical or behavioral allegations that Senator Newman has acted unbecoming his office or outside the scope of his authority, the only issue appears to be, that he seems “vulnerable.”

Once again, the recall procedure is being abused to effect political gamesmanship at the expense of the citizens of California. If only conservatives could focus on fiscal responsibility that they claim to espouse.
There is no indication of whom they intend to replace Senator Newman in the event that the recall gets off the ground. Their short memories and lack of insight have lead to this place. Much like Hillary Clinton and her tone deaf blame game without any personal responsibility, the conservatives in California fail to acknowledge that the Republicans-in-Name-Only, and demographic gamesmanship, caused voters to substantively seek out, anyone else.
Yet at least one of those failed candidates from 2016 is already being rebooted for a Supervisor race.

If conservatives are to ever have a voice in California again, they need a Monday morning quarterback meeting, at a minimum. The OCGOP Chairman laughing off Democrat promises to bring all their forces to bear on the congressional races is also an ominous sign. The coming election cycle never goes well for a losing party who fails to learn any lessons.
The thing that is clear is that none of this recall effort has anything to do with Senator Josh Newman. He is a convenient scapegoat. The scapegoat for a GOP that is disconnected and avoiding doing the real work, whose bench is a mile wide and an inch deep. The time would be far better spent taking seriously the challenges to our congressional seats.

Instead we get, gamesmanship, at the expense of the voter. As long as conservatives continue to behave as though the voters are stupid, they will continue to be subject to a supermajority in Sacramento and will be the cause of a shift in the balance of power in DC.

Recalls are expensive and an extraordinary measure to be used in extreme circumstances of wrongdoing.  The public will not be fooled by this, but the ‘brand’ that the county central committee has lamented about preserving, will certainly be damaged, yet again.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Fiscal Responsibility and the Republican Brand

Posted by Brenda Higgins on November 1, 2016

Recently, during an Orange County Central Committee meeting, the depletion of the Republican brand was emotionally decried by a board member opposing the endorsement of some PYLUSD School Board members.

The School Board challenger candidates,  Khan, Yezbak and Kingsbury, are running for the open seats currently held by Padget, Carmona and Downey.  They were seeking the endorsement of the OCGOP. At that September meeting of the OCGOP Central Committee, they were accused of supporting a recall effort against either some Yorba Linda City Council candidates or the current water board recall.  During the questioning, it was not entirely clear, nor was it established that they undertook some actual support of the recalls, it was simply vociferously and strenuously asserted and accused.  These candidates, all of them registered Republicans, have since withdrawn their request to be endorsed by the OCGOP.

The incumbents (Padget, Carmona and Downy) were elected, seated members of the PYLUSD school board when the bond expenditures were approved that funded multiple school improvements as well as the Performing Arts Center at El Dorado High School, and the Shappell Stadium at Yorba Linda High School.  At the OCGOP meeting in September, no mention was made of these usurious bonds.  None, not once was it raised.

All beautiful and seemingly worthwhile expenditures, new buildings, building improvements and technology, except that they weren’t. The initial cost of these improvements was about $22 million. In their infinite wisdom, these sitting school board members financed the improvements with bonds that had interest rates of about 23%. Once these buildings and the technology upgrades are all paid off, the overall cost to the citizens of Placentia and Yorba Linda will be well over $300 million.

$300 million, for $22 million in improvements. About 40 years to pay it all off. Fiscally responsible?

I wrote about these things in 2015, and apparently none of the GOP in Orange County were paying attention, because they seemed fully and completely unaware of it at their meeting in September.

https://the127activist.wordpress.com/category/propositions-and-ballot-issues/

The Central Committee member who was so offended by these school board challengers seeking an endorsement is also an elected official in Yorba Linda.  She railed against these challengers and accused them of damaging the Republican brand. There has been an ugly groundswell in Yorba Linda of using recall efforts to oust unruly politicians, the merit of them certainly debatable, but it was not established nor even asserted that these candidates had anything to do with the recent council or water board recall efforts. It was simply a question, viscerally and emotionally posited, and as such, suggested they had or might have signed the recall petitions.  They stated, repeatedly, that they did not recall.  It was not an evidentiary hearing, it was an informal question and answer period.  It seemed like an inquisition.

Personal vendettas have no place in local elections, and should not be part of the Republican brand. The pontification about branding of the party in that OCGOP meeting, never at any time, mentioned the serious fiscal issues of the PYLUSD board, or any real issues for that matter, only emoting about elections past and perceived alignments within the city.

Noteworthy, was the attendance at that meeting, by Eric Padget, Incumbent PYLUSD board member and registered Republican. His colleagues on the board who are also up for re-election, are not Republicans.
The OCGOP, on that evening, voted NOT to endorse the challengers, Khan, Calderon and Kingsbury. Neither Eric Padgett, nor his non-Republican cohorts, sought the timely endorsement of the OCGOP.  It was rumored that Mr. Padgett is not a regular at those Central Committee meetings and was probably there at the behest of the Yorba Linda City Council members who are also members of the Central Committee.

What then, is this “BRAND” that is so worthy of protection? If the Central Committee will sit idly by and do nothing in the face of such obvious and usurious abuse by sitting board members, that in and of itself is an “endorsement”.  40 year financing at 23 %, can not be argued in any context to be fiscally responsible.  That is without even getting to the discussion of the abomination that is Common Core, and the federal usurping of our local education system.

Conservatism, used to mean, fiscal responsibility as well as adhering to a concept of local control. No reasonable minds believe that financing technology and building improvements at 23% interest, while the budget and taxpayers are strapped with this debt for the next few generations, is “fiscal responsibility”.

If by protecting the “brand” the committee members meant that they publicizing their ability to exact vengeance upon people who might have disagreed with them in elections past, then, by all means, that “brand” was communicated and is now understood. It is not who we used to be, or historically have bene as Republicans, that is Clinton-cartel style politics.
Let’s hope it does not proliferate in our party and our county.
Here is the story as it was carried by the OC Register when the financial abuse in the PYLUSD was first widely exposed. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/bonds-496091-school-bank.html

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

During Homeless Crisis, Councilwoman Michele Martinez Charged Taxpayers for European Junket, Trip to Vegas, and $3000 Per Hour Phantom Meetings

Posted by Brenda Higgins on October 28, 2016

Is Michele Martinez traveling again? Maybe she went golfing?

Is Michele Martinez traveling again? Maybe she went golfing?

While the City of Santa Ana was experiencing a “public health and safety homeless crisis,” Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez was charging taxpayers for stays in five-star hotels in London and Milan, a party in Las Vegas, and dubious per diem payments for phantom meetings of the city’s housing authority.

A review of expense reports, travel records, and emails shows a shocking pattern of Michele Martinez living large at the public’s expense, raising questions whether the Councilwoman has violated government travel policies, state disclosure rules or state ethics laws.
This July, as local law enforcement agencies were training judges and courthouse staff how to safely navigate downtown Santa Ana, Councilwoman Michele Martinez was checking in to London’s five-star Mondrian Hotel, rated the third best bar in the world.
$53,340 Trip to London and Milan
Martinez’s three nights in London were followed by three nights in Milan at NH Collection Milano President Hotel. The estimated cost to taxpayers for Martinez’s flights, hotels, and meals was $4,500.
 
It’s just one of the many perks Martinez has received as Santa Ana’s representative on regional boards and commissions. Organized by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), a multi-governmental agency tasked with solving regional issues, the summer trip to Europe cost taxpayers $53,340.
 
The European junket appears to have violated SCAG’s own travel policies. According to a May 5, 2016 report from SCAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata, “Per SCAG Travel Policy, foreign travel requires Regional Council approval.” However, a review of meeting minutes shows no evidence that the trip was approved by the Regional Council.
 
But London and Milan weren’t Martinez’s only taxpayer-funded trips in 2016. As a member of the Metropolitan Water District Board, Councilwoman Michele Martinez arranged two taxpayer-funded junkets, including one to Las Vegas.
 
$15,551 Trip to Las Vegas
Travel records obtained from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California show Martinez arranged a taxpayer-funded trip for herself and nearly two dozen friends at a $15,551 cost to taxpayers. The previous year, Martinez arranged a trip for 32 people to tour the state water project at a $26,059 cost to taxpayers.
 
“I am certain the pairs I choose will be good roommates,” Martinez wrote in one email to water agency staff. “The good news is that I know almost everyone attending but one person.”
 
Martinez micro-managed every detail of the trip – right down to the snacks, which included “M&Ms, Snickers and Cookies.”
 
Although Martinez found time to pick out snacks on her taxpayer-funded trips, she couldn’t find time to attend the Metropolitan Water District’s meetings.
 
As Santa Ana’s representative on the regional water board, Michele Martinez skipped 35 meetings, including 14 meetings of the district’s important Finance Committee. Martinez showed up on-time for just a single meeting of the Water Planning and Stewardship meeting, which is responsible for drought planning and conservation. After months of absences and tardiness, Martinez’s colleagues voted to remove her from that Committee after serving for less than a year.
 
$3,000 Per Hour at Phantom Meetings
 
Santa Ana City Councilmembers, who are seeking a 700 percent raise next month, earn $125 per council meeting, health benefits, and a $500 monthly car allowance. Yet, Martinez and her colleagues on the city council have also found creative ways to boost their salaries with phantom housing authority meetings.
 
Michele Martinez and her colleagues have collected an additional $50 in per diem payments from the city’s Housing Authority. Most meetings have lasted less than 2 minutes.  Some meetings lasted less than 30 seconds – providing councilmembers with the equivalent of $3,000 per hour for their work.
 
This year, the City of Santa Ana’s Housing Authority has met for 15 minutes – not per meeting, that’s the total time for the first 10 meetings of 2016. In the past six years, Michele Martinez has spent 3 hours and 40 minutes participating in Santa Ana Housing Authority meetings. That’s the cumulative total of meetings that Martinez has attended over the past 6 years. 
 
Less than 4 hours. That’s how much time Martinez has spent on housing in the past 6 years. Since 2011, Martinez has attended 56 Santa Ana Housing Authority meetings that lasted 2 minutes or less. Only 6 meetings lasted more than 5 minutes. Martinez was absent from another 13 meetings. 
 
At these phantom meetings, councilmembers have ignored the Housing Authority’s charter of finding solutions to the city’s affordable housing crisis. “We need to figure out how we permanently house people,” Martinez told the Orange County Register. Maybe she should have taken time to review her city’s annual housing plan.
  • In 2011, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved the annual housing plan at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2012, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved the annual housing plan at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2013, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved the annual housing plan at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2014, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved its annual report in low income housing at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2015, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved its 5-Year Housing Plan at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2016, Martinez was absent at the meeting, where the Santa Ana Housing Authority reviewed its annual housing plan.
European junkets. Parties in Vegas. $3,000 per hour for phantom meetings. All billed to the taxpayer. Perhaps Michele Martinez is right about one thing: “We have a priority problem,” she told the Voice of OC

Posted in 1st Supervisorial District, Santa Ana | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »