Monday, January 14, 2008

Two California Stories

Property Tax End Run
I live in San Diego, world famous home to disastrous wildfires. Proposition 13 is holy scripture in California. This cap on property taxes is now 30 years old and, despite its flaws, no politician interested in reelection or the survival of his party would dare question it or try to change it. Until now. In a brilliant move, Gov. Schwarzenegger has devised a stealth end run around Prop. 13. Arnold's idea is to impose a "fee" on property insurance to pay for state fire fighting efforts. Increasing property taxes directly requires a 2/3 vote of the people. This fee just needs to pass the legislature.

Government officials for decades have quietly fumed over their inability to hike property taxes. If this fee can be imposed without dissent, it opens the door for attaching additional fees onto the property insurance bill. Insurance companies can be made into tax collectors and Prop. 13 can be quietly put to death.

Trigger-Happy Cop
San Diegans know to be very afraid whenever a policeman pulls his weapon because we know there is no law to protect us from a cop with a gun. In December 2006, a San Diego County sheriff ended an argument with his wife by shooting and killing her (most people would call it murder) in front of their 4 year-old son. San Diego's District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis, never saw a cop shooting she couldn't justify. The DA called the killing "voluntary manslaughter" and she agrees with the defense attorney that the cop should get the lightest possible sentence. The available range is 6 to 21 years in prison.

The problem is the judge has a reputation as an honest man and DA Dumanis is terrified the judge will impose an appropriate sentence. So the DA and the defense attorney have filed a joint motion to remove the judge from the case so a properly obsequious judge can complete this miscarriage of justice.

I've considered compiling listing of many examples of California police shooting unarmed people (like the dozen shots that killed a naked man holding a stick), but I'm afraid if I do I'll get pulled over for speeding some day and end up collecting lead bullets.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

mandatory fee on property is another example of "Gotcha Capitalism"

book by Bob Sullivan subtitled How Hidden Fees Rip You Off Every Day and getting some media attention.