Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dancing With The Stars Finals Madness Part I

Bristol, Jennifer, and Kyle remain. Who'da thunk this would be the final three?

Kyle and Lacey have a foxtrot to lead off. They got a great song for it. Technique is much improved in the early parts. He has heel leads going. After the break, he is no as close as he should be but then starts to get back with her. The worst thing about this routine was the outfit. What hell was Lacey thinking putting him in a gold plaid jacket? Otherwise, a great make up foxtrot for Kyle. What dance was Carrie Ann watching? She must be smokin something because that was a great foxtrot with only, for someone with Kyle's experience, some small problems. This may be a first for me, but I think that the 27 was low. It should have been a 29 or a 30.

Bristol and Mark are looking for redemption in the jive. I like the opening where she throws out the costumes. Mrs. Angrybell wants to know why she is wearing godawful hospital shoes, she looks like she escaped from surgery. This dance is not going well for her. She is off the beat. Her kicks are not going very well. its better in the verve department than last time. And her character in the dance is better. It got better as it went along, but it was kind of a mess. It felt like she off for a large part of it. Seriously, is Carrie Ann on something? She's praising this as something it so was not. It was an improvement, but it was not a perfect routine. Well, it is the finals, so they can't dock her too much. The 27 was a gift.

Jennifer and Derek step onto the floor looking for redemption in the paso doble. The start was very nice, very in control, which was her major problem last time. With the tempo change, she still looks in control. Nice drop at the end. Huge improvement over last time. And with her daughter to cheer her on, the question is whether this is another set of 10s. Tom hit the nail on the head when he said that Bruno was frightening the children. Angrybabybelle snuggling in close now because of Bruno. And don't you know it, when Len gives a standing applause, its a perfect set of 10s.

But now its freestyle time. Will we see another Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy or another Doll Disaster.

Kyle and Lacey lead off with theirs to Tootsie Roll. Very literally right now. I get the feeling that this dance is Lacey's attempt to relive something she never got to do in the 80s or early 90s. And the problem with that is, its kind of boring. Everything was clean. They were in sync with each other. But in the end, it feels a lot like Tony's Saturday Night Fever homage with Stacy Keibler. The fans did not reward it then. Len and his boogaloo dancing. Surprisingly, Len gave a 9. They end up with a 29.

Bristol and Mark's freestyle is going with a more dressy than Kyle and Lacey. Jailhouse Tango from Chicago. Interesting, especially with her ex. Starts off very much a tango. Mrs. Angrybell feels like some switch just flipped with Bristol. The pelvic thrusts had Mrs. Angrybell stunned. Not your typical finals. She danced ti very well. On the one hand, it was not hip hop (thank you!!!!) but on the other hand it was more controlled.  This dance, more than anything else showed how far she come. She still is not the best dancer, but she pulled it off. The 25 was a little unfair. I think it reflected more a lack of razzle dazzel than her dancing.

Jennifer and Derek doing their freestyle with a watermelon to Do You Love Me. It was clean. It traded shamelessly on the fact that it was Baby doing a dance to the song she first shared with Johnny Castle. The lifts were fun, especially with that spin lift at the end. 30.

None of the freestyles tonight delivered that knockout. Jennifer though should win. Bristol should take third.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Allow Me Now To Say What A Joke Congressional Ethics Are

Say what you will about Charlie Rangel, the disgraceful representative from New York, but he has shown the light on something that needs to be fixed.

Back in elementary school, if you manage to pay any attention at all to what they're teaching you in the eighth grade, there was a little blurb in your American history books about Tammany Hall and the political machines of the 19th and early 20th century. We like to think that our politicians are the product of a better system these days, but how else to explain the how Congressman Rangel has managed to stay in office despite flaunting the law which is supposed to help craft and create. Back in the day, the graft and corruption of those political machines undermined our republic.

When President Obama ran for office, one of his promises was that he and the Democrats were going to restore ethics to our government. In fact, he was made, while senator, the Democratic point man for ethics in the Senate. Congresswoman Pelosi, back when she was Speaker of the House, also promised that the Congress would be a more ethical place.

So how has that worked out? Well, Charlie Rangel with the test case and the Democrats failed miserably.

Its always easy to point out the faults in the opposition. as a matter of fact, in politics that's exactly which are supposed to do. Your commitment to values that you say are ones you hold dear, however, are tested the most when they are tested against those whom you like and respect. Congressman Rangel is one of the longer serving representatives in the House of Representatives. He's one of the most liberal. He was a political ally, and may still be, but Congresswoman Pelosi.

But he's also corrupt. He's abused his office. He's abused the public trust. He has violated the law.

So what did the House Ethics committee do about this? And how will the House Ethics committee going to do about this?

Well, they ensured that any investigation into Rangel's ethical violations was prolonged and extraordinarily slow. Despite the fact that the media has been publishing reports of Congressman Rangel's failure to abide by the law since 2008, Congress seemed unable to convene a hearing on his actions. The first reports that I know of, were published in August of 2008. Coincidentally, the Democrats were in control of the House of Representatives at that point.

It was not until July of this year, two years later, that charges were finally submitted to the House Ethics committee. Why they take so long? That's simple. Ethical violations are only good when you swing them at the other side. And for some reason, we keep letting the politicians get away with this mentality.

So what will the ethics committee do about Congressman Rangel's transgressions? His fellow Congressmen are going to, most likely, go to impose the quote dreaded" and humiliating censure against Rangel. What is a censure? Essentially, it is, when applied to a member of the House of Representatives, stern lecture given in public to the guilty by the Speaker of the House.

Where I went to school, I received a stern penalty for failing to turn my homework on time.

Unfortunately we have the Congress that we as a people, collectively, deserve. For the most part, it seems that Americans are content to allow corrupt politicians to continue to serve. The politicians of both parties cannot be trusted to police themselves.

This man violated the laws that he swore an oath to uphold and protect and defend. He has shown no remorse about his actions, instead maintaining that not only was he innocent but that he was unable to present a defense. The acts are more heinous because of his position as a representative of the people in the government that is supposed to help, to send, and empower the people. Not so that Mr. Rangel can maintain his power, his income, and his legacy.

If our representatives in Washington had any sense of honor or decency, they would expel this man and turned him over for prosecution. Unfortunately, a large majority of those serving in the Congress are loath to do so, most likely because they have committed the same acts as Mr. Rangel.

Congressman Rangel's censure is a meaningless and hollow act because it does not carry with it any real punishment, nor does it act as a deterrent to anyone else who would do wrong and abuse the public trust. This should and needs to change.

The House Democrats were tested. They failed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Where Money, Citizenship and the Law Collide

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case of Martinez v. Regents of the University of California. At issue was whether an illegal alien, who has lived in California for the requisite amount of time, could receive the benefits of lower, in-state tuition, just like a person who is a U.S. citizen who lives in California.

The California Supremes came down with a yes, in fact an illegal alien could receive in-state tuition.

At first, I was outraged. Then I started to think as I read the case.

Let's talk about the case first. The case was brought on behalf of some students who are U.S. citizens, but do not meet certain requirements for residency laid out in Education Code § 68130.5. They argue that it is unfair to make them pay higher rates than in-state, illegal aliens.

Essentially, the plaintiffs argued on appeal that this was a case of federal superseding state law. That the California law should have been invalidated by various Federal statutes pertaining to illegal immigration. The defendants argued that this not a question of Federal preemption, since, they argue, there is no clear preemption of this issue.

What ends up happening is that the California Supreme do a very intricate dance. On the one hand, they absolutely did not want to give the Federal government more say than absolutely necessary in a California matter, namely who gets in-state tuition breaks. On the other hand, what the court very carefully does not do is find that there is anything in the California constitution which gives them this right. Instead, the right is only statutory and can be changed by the legislature.

And this goes to one of my favorite questions: why is the Legislature not doing its job? Why is the California Legislature approving, as it did in 2002, laws that devalue citizenship. And that, I think, is the real problem here. Why should someone follow all the rules, get a green card, obtain citizenship, and pay taxes if someone can just get around all that, not pay taxes, and still receive the same benefits of citizenship.

Yes, the argument is that there are talented, bright illegal aliens who would find it nearly impossible to afford education if this law were not upheld or amended by the Legislature. And yes, there is the whole question of whether it is proper to visit the sins of the parents (for crossing over illegally into the United States) on the children. The illegal alien, irrespective of whether they have been contributors or detractors individually to our society, is here illegally. Therefore, it is questionable whether they have any right to claim that they are legally domiciled in the United States or California. If that is the case, then why continue to extend to them the privileges which the citizens of the U.S., and California, enjoy?

As it stands right now, the law in question, section 68130.5, states

In the case of a person without lawful immigration status, the filing of an affidavit with the institution of higher education stating that the student has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so.

Well, if that is the case, then why are we not demanding proof that they have complied with this part of the law? If that is the case, why does the State of California not puruse those who do not pursue legalization for the back money owed. Remember, its only an exemption contingent upon the illegal alien doing the lawful thing.

One of the insane, in my opinion, justifications, for allowing illegal aliens to get the in-state tuition rate comes in the article in today's Chronicle. Apparently, in a survey of 2,000 students which benefited from the law allowing entrance to a UC or CSU school based on California residency and high school achievement, approximately 20 percent of the students were illegals. One of them, Uriel Rivera, was reported by the Chronicle writer as stating that the taxpayers lose nothing by Mr. Rivera attending a UC because they have so much trouble paying their tuition anyways. Huh? Mr. Rivera, it is reported, is so far behind in his tuition that he cannot check books out of the library. Great. So we subsidize him, with the in-state tuition break, he can't pay that amount anyways. How is that a break for either the UC system or California tax payers?

The difference between in-state tuition and regular tuition is $22,700, notwithstanding the rate hikes which will probably happen next year. So for just the 200 illegals we know of from the study, that means $4,540,000 in lost fees per year. Would all of the 200 slots given to illegal aliens been filled by out of state residents, probably not. But say even 50 of those slots went to out of state. Think that's crazy? Well, the UC system is trying to get more out of state tuition money coming  by aggressively recruiting. So maybe not so crazy?

But, if you went by the current stats, which states that 89% of the student body (undergrad and grad) are in-state tuition, then you still see an increase over almost half a million in fees to the UC system. But more importantly, all of those students, assuming that the illegal aliens are replaced by legal residents, would be eligible for Federal student assistance programs.

Although I've just done some, very rudimentary, numbers crunching, I come back to what I think is the real problem. The real problem is whether we are going to continue incentivize law breaking, and the devaluation of citizenship by not changing this law. Is it cold and elitist? Not if you think of it as the way you've been taught since kindergarten: everyone has to follow the same set of rules.

The plaintiffs in this case are planning to seek a writ to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. It may take the case, if only to talk about preemption and then remand it down for further findings. That's my guess.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dancing With Stars Semi-Final Madness

Opening thoughts for this week: Bristol Palin needs to go. Sure, she's the plucky underdog, but really, she does not belong in the final three. Let's stop voting for values or politics and start voting based on performance.

Mrs. Angrybell is of the opinion that this is one of the weakest as far competitors go. And I have to agree. Other than Brandy and Jennifer Grey, I doubt that the other two would still be standing at this point.

So let's see how the couples handle a two dance night.

Brandy and Maksim lead off with a Paso. Interesting routine. Very heavy on the story and not as much, at least at the beginning on the dance. But I think Len should let it go. Brandy is having a bit of a problem. The look is there in her face, but her steps are not... powerful. She's stomping but it almost looks like she is afraid as opposed to being powerful and flowing. The 27 seemed a little high for that dance. It was good, but it wasn't that close to perfection.

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough are coming in off last weeks perfect score and doing their first one with a cha cha cha. Bruno is getting a little too excited with Jennifer's gyrations. It was a little off in the beginning, but by the time they crossed the floor it looked sharp and with good hip action coming out of her. I kind of feel like she was a little over amped. The Judges may give her a perfect score, but I think there was just a little something off in the beginning because it felt almost like Derek had to slow her down. Now this is not to say it wasn't a great dance. It just had some problems. And of course, with it so close to the end, the judges throw up a row of perfect 10s.

Bristol and Mark doing a Paso. Starts off strong. Mrs. Angrybell is stunned by Bristol's technique at the start (which is good) and by Mark's shirtlessness (which is bad). As the dance goes on, it gets a little more uneven. But there are some parts where she is fully committed to the dance. However, when she has to lift the cape/skirt, she drops out of the zone. Good lord, Carrie Ann... please. Len is right. She has hung in there and this was probably her best dance. But is it good enough to hand in there for the finals? I'm still saying no. She got a 27. Not sure it was that good. But we shall see. And I have to say, someone must have shown Bristol the scene out of Bull Durham for her answers to Brooke Burke's questions.

Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer doing a Samba. Mrs. Angrybell likes him ("Such a joi de vive"). Mrs. Angrybell has noticed that Lacey is very into her partners smacking her bum whenever possible. I'm just not able to focus on this dance. The song was terrible and distracting. It was nice. No real mistakes I guess. But that song just drove me to distraction. And Len has that look that says he is going to give a 10. I guess it was good, since they gave it a 29.

Brandy and Maksim return for an Argentine Tango. And Maks choose to have them play on the steps for a while. Her steps are a little tentative for what I think we should see at this point. But that's just a shading quibble. Otherwise, very nicely done. It was better than her last dance. Which is why they gave her a perfect 30.

Jennifer and Derek return for their Waltz. Nice pirouette to start things off. The dress makes it hard to watch her feet. However, from the way things are flowing for most of the dance, it looks like she is getting the nice rise and fall. However, there was a little problem when they danced into the corner and did those arm behind the head things. She got out of the moment for just a second. But she recovered and got back into the flow. Another perfect score for the couple.

Bristol and Mark return for their Waltz. Mrs. Angrybell wonders if this is the Muslim version. I think they are just going for the very intense, very dramatic look. Her frame is nice. Head in the right spot. Going into the spins, there was a weird weight change. She also needs to be a little tighter on his hip until she moves into the next combination. Mrs. Angrybell just said "wow, she is in a character. Who replaced Bristol Palin with someone else?" Was her best week. Good dance. I just don't think she has what it takes to go to the next round. Of course, America will just want to prove me wrong. And the 26 was probably the most honest score of the night.

This brings us to the last Kyle and Lacey doing their Argentine Tango. They got hosed with the song. Its so up tempo for this dance, that it is forcing him to be quick as opposed to powerful with his feet. The other thing, and Mrs. Angrybell said this before I could type it was "What about Kyle? Isn't he supposed to be dancing too?" There were long periods where Lacey was showing. I almost get the feeling that he was having trouble with the dance and she covered for him by extending her bits where she could allow him to stay hidden as the center. That being said, he had to be an effective center. Mrs. Angrybell agrees with Carrie Ann about the Emmit Smith comparison. Both had that twinkle that could get you to over look their technical faults. The 29 was generous. Probably should be have 27. But then, it is the semi-finals.

If we are being honest, the best entertainers are Jennifer, Brandy, and Kyle. The underdog is clearly Bristol. She has shown improvement. She may even be peaking. The problem is this: her peak for dancing, at least right now, is not as high as Jennifer, Brandy, or Kyle.

Bristol needs to go home. Her held high. But she needs to go home.

But then I've been saying that for a while.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

To the Veterans, Thank You

And it just always seems so inadequate to say Thank You. But Thank You.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Instant Madness With Dancing With The Stars

So last week I was a little preoccupied and missed DWTS. Let me just take a moment to bitch. It was the World Freakin Series ABC. I understand that Fox is a competitor, but did you have to go head to head with my beloved Giants on the night that they won their first World Series since 1954? C'mon, let's rethink things a little.

And while I was away, what did you do America? Apparently, you've kept both Lacey and Bristol around. Keeping one would have been ok. Keeping both... I have to ask you, just what the frack did you think you were doing? Bristol is nice and cute, but this nonsense of voting for her because she is related to a political candidate needs to stop. I saw the reveal show.

At least there is a reason that Bristol is still around. Lacey and Kyle, well they seem to be regressing, at least from the bits I was able to catch while still in my post-World Series-glow (did I mention that the Giants won it?). For love all that is decent and pure kick her to the curb. Which will be bad for Kyle, but she needs to go.

And you got rid of Rick Fox? What?

Tonight, it will be a round of ballroom and then the dreaded "instant" surprise dance.

Kyle and Lacey, fresh from escaping the red light of last week, drew the lead-off slot. Dancing the Viennese Waltz. Posture is nice but not dead on. He is hunching just a little and its causing him to put his bum out. He is on his toes too much, not going through the rise ad fall. His arms are nice, but the flow in this dance is not working so well for him. Len had a better view of his footwork than I so I defer to him. I think its my hatred of Lacey that colors my view. Mrs. Angrybell is worried for Carrie Ann, this crush is getting out of control. This 9 business is crazy. It was nice but not that good. And they drew, for the instant dance is "Good Golly Miss Molly".

Jennifer and Derek followed up with a Quick Step to "Lets Face the Music and Dance". She started off too far away from him but as the dance went on, she got back on his side when she supposed to be. Mrs. Angrybell said "the dress is one part heinous, but I really like it. Little miscue at the end on the final beat, but otherwise pretty good. I got the feeling she was really worried about her knee and it caused her to be holding back just a little. Now, the 9s that were awarded here were correct. The dance flowed much better than the drek that Kyle and Lacey passed off on to us.  She drew "Waiting for A Girl Like You" by Foreigner.

Mrs. Angrybell thinks that Brooke Burke looks like a gold Barbie-doll tonight. I think thats a good thing.

Kurt and Anna came up next to do a waltz. Take It To The Limit, not a favorite of the Angrybell family. Kurt is not quite locked in with his frame because he feels so tall with Anna. He is getting the rise and fall off his steps. Its not always there but its better than the alleged rise and fall of Kyle. It was a good dance. And apparently, Carrie Ann has been listening to us and comes up calling Kurt a Ken doll. Kurt just got robbed! The 8s were wrong. Especially with the way they gushed over the Kurt and Lacey routine. Hella Good by No Doubt is the song and neither of them have heard it. How is that? This should be interesting.

ABC... was it necessary to have 2 commercial breaks where I got to see Steve-O naked?

Bristol and Mark come stumbling in to do the Argentine Tango. Bristol is starting to become a bit of a whiner. She already looks nervous doing this opening bit. Song is Buttons, never would think of it as a tango but it works. She is not .... I don't know but after doing so well she lost it for a few bars. And it looked awful. She snaps back into the dance and it gets better in time for Mark to lift her a few times. Mrs. Angrybell calls a lack of verve. I agree. I think she gets so nervous she starts over-thinking. And thinking while dancing is not her strong suit. Len's comments were dead on. The 8s were dead on in this case. Why? There were a lot of little problems with the performance, even though the steps were right. Mas Que Nada is the song they drew.

Maks and Brandy were up next with a waltz. After last week, I suppose they aren't a train wreck. But you know that Maks is always a session away from being Maks. I can't really find anything wrong with it. Mrs. Angrybell wanted to know if this was the dance of people in pain. I predicted a perfect score, but Carrie Ann went and mucked that up. Apparently she is a nit picker who cares about the angle of her neck. But Len and Bruno came through with a pair of 10s. They drew Teenage Dream by Katy Perry.

Instant dance time and Kyle and Lacey are back on the floor doing their jive. This dance suits him much more than the ballroom style he danced earlier. However, he needs to keep himself in check just a little to prevent him going out of the jive. It was a good, fun routine. Mrs. Angrybell liked it a lot. Len was right, there were some small errors. The 29 was right.

Jennifer Grey and Derek, after loading up on breath mints, came out to dance the Rumba. It looks like she has now raided Edyta's closet. Too bad she took the sheet instead of the pillow case. Wow, some of this is really good. The split on his shoulder was particularly impressive. Her hip action is there but not as good as it should be. That 30 was impressive, especially with that tendon coming apart.

Bristol and Mark came back out for the in progress update. Mrs. Angrybell gasped when she saw Bristol's outfit. I have to say, whoever put her in it is a Democrat.

Kurt and Anna were up next with a cha cha cha. Mrs. Anrybell felt as though Anna had thrown on some holiday tinsel but gave kudos for the crazy assed lime green that Kurt is wearing. This is not as good for him as it has been for the others. Mrs. Angrybell feels like she is watching her dad dance... its embarrassing her every time he does a hip trust. This was ok. It was not as good as their earlier dance and it did not work for them as well as instant dance did for the first two. No matter what Carrie Ann says, he did not nail everything in this dance. He hung on to get it done on the beat, but didn't "nail it". 8's across the board for them.

Bristol and Mark finally got to come out and do their samba. Mrs. Angrybell thinks this could be the train wreck the judges were hoping for. Starts off ok. She seems to like the Samba, either that or the terror is masked as happiness. And then she gets off beat. Then she has gone horrible off  and Mark gets her on the floor to bring her back. The 23 was generous.

Maks and Brandy doing the Cha Cha Cha. The song does not work for this type of dance. I didn't like this. Felt too much like ... not a cha cha cha. Maks and Carrie Ann going at it. I'm waiting to see the hair pulling. I have to say Carrie Ann was right on. After all that, they still got two 9s and a 10? WTF?

So who goes home? Honestly, it should be Bristol. Kyle overcame his burden of Lacey to earn another week on the show.

Monday, November 01, 2010

56 YEARS OF WAITING AS THE GIANTS WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

56 years since the last one.

25 years since I finally learned what it meant to be a fan.

First game was June 5, 1985. Giants lost 6 - 0 to Montreal, Mike Krukow took the loss. My Dad took the day off and told me he had a surprise. We were going to go to the game. It was a Wednesday afternoon game. He showed me how to score. Even though we missed the top of the 1st, I made him stay to the end because somewhere in the game I got hooked on them.

I was at that game where Brenly made four errors in an inning playing third only to come back and hit a grandslam (upper deck on the first base side). Oddly enough, we weren't sitting in our season tickets, which were back in section 16 where I sat almost every Friday night home game eating malts to the dismay of the occasional tourist who'd wander into a section full of hardbitten season ticket holders. And in the eight years we had the tickets, I only got one croix de candlestick (I never left early.).

I watched them lose in the NLCS in 1987.

I saw them get demolished by the Bash Brothers in the 1989 World Series.

I missed watching them in person in the late 90s when I was in grad school, but got back to see them make the runs in 2002 and 2003.

And I never thought this team would win the World Series this year. I thought they'd be good. I thought maybe a wild card slot. But they just kept surprising me. Sometime in June, things started to feel different about these bums (and this team is a collection of bums in the best sense).

Thank you San Francisco Giants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Voting Matters - San Francisco Judicial Election

Now, in California, we have a weird little system. Some states do it all by appointment. Some do it all by election. We combine the worst of both and have judges come up for rentention elections, but sometimes they get opposed. That is what is going on here.

Normally, this is not a big deal. But the San Francisco Superior Court judges have been acting in a particularly arrogant fashion this year. First, there was Judge Ernest Goldsmith comments from earlier this year that put a chill on people challenging his seat. Then, when a challenger did appear, but to Judge Richard Ulmer, the other judges started to organize to support Ulmer. And they apparently were not being shy about it. Judge Campos decided he would sent out endorsements supporting Ulmer on Superior Court letterhead to members of the DCCC.

Now I have some problems with Nava. He is playing the race and sex card. He says he is trying to downplay it in interviews, but he is running as the gay latino. And that is just as bad as what the Superior Court judges are doing in opposing him. Last year, it was Mellon being targeted in a similar case of race politics. Unfortunately, we got Sandoval on the bench.

Ulmer is a bit on the conservative side. Reports from the tenants' attorneys seem to say he is pro-landlord. But is this enough to vote against him? Objectively, you cannot say that Judge Ulmer has done anything wrong.

So what to do here? I think the Judges need to be reminded that they need to focus more on doing their jobs than banding together to protect their jobs. Yeah, I'm a bit about punishing incumbents this year, but in reality, I do not think that Nava will be much different from Ulmer. He will just have different prejudices. This is really about whether the judges should weigh in on judicial retention elections. Vote Nava. I'm sure litigants will regret it just as much as if we keep Ullmer.

Voting Matters - San Francisco Proposition Voting

Proposition AA - Increasing the San Francisco registration fee for automobiles. Basically, the City wants you to approve an increase in the vehicle registration fee which was authorized by the Sacramento. On the up side, the money is supposed to only be used for "capital projects" and not just for administration of other transportation programs. Furthermore, it specifically states that the money is not supposed to be used outside of San Francisco. That's all well and good. The City believes that it is going raise $5 million. Fine. But you know what, I still do not approve of this measure. Why? The City has a lot of money troubles. And the temptation is going to be there to "borrow" or "borrow against" this money. The City needs to start making some hard decisions. Feeding it more money is not the answer, especially with all the Muni cutbacks. Vote No on AA.

Proposition A - Bonds to retrofit buildings leased for low income people. I'm generally against the City expending any money or taking on any other debts. This time, I think its a good idea. We live in earthquake country. We're going to have one. Might as well do what we can to make sure that the damage is minimized. Vote yes on A.

Proposition B -  Reforming San Francisco's Benefits and Pension System. This needs to happen. The current system is unsustainable. Basically, the way it is now, if you work for San Francisco, you do not have to contribute to your own healthcare and you don't have to contribute towards your own pension. Pretty sweet deal for everyone but the people who aren't on the City's payroll. As it stands right now, out of every $ 8 you pay in taxes and fees to the City, $1 goes directly to the pensions and benefits for the city workers. That's 12.5% of the entire budget of San Francisco. It will save the City $120 million. The only people lined up to oppose this are the unions, who think that they need to be special and not have to contribute to their own pensions or health care. They're not. They need to contribute, just like everyone else. Everyone needs to contribute or we're going to have bigger problems. Vote yes on B.

Proposition C - Requiring the Mayor to attend at least one Board of Supervisors meeting a month. You know, as much as I dislike Chris Daly, I think he has a point on this one here. Its irrelevant if the mayor and Board of Supervisors hate each other's guts. Part of the job is showing up and our mayor has been, well, a little preoccupied to show up a lot lately (unless of course there is a Giants game involved). The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has to show up once a week, the President of the United States has to show up at least one day a year (although, G-d knows President Obama will try and claim a golf conflict should let him out in 2011), so I don't see why the mayor can't be required to show up for a Board of Supervisors meeting. Let's get our disagreements out in the open and where people can be pressed to explain their position instead of the insanity that is the war of press releases that we get here. Vote YES on C.

Proposition D - Noncitizen Voting In School Board Elections. Didn't we vote this down a few years ago? Oh, that's right, we did. And the reason remains the same: voting is a right of citizenship. The point of being a citizen is you get to have a say in your government. Not letting other people have a say in your government. Vote NO on D.

Proposition E - Election Day Registration. If it weren't for the fact that it would cost so damn much, I'd say yes. But changing things when the economy and the budget is this mucked up is just asking for trouble. Vote NO on Prop E.

Proposition F -  Health Service Board election reform. I cannot say it any better than the Chronicle, so here is what they say
This may not be the most riveting issue on the ballot, or even result in much of a savings, but it's an example of one of the little efficiencies that can add up. 
 Vote YES on Prop F.

Proposition G - Reforming the MUNI Pay System. Umm... how to put this? Vote yes. Vote Yes! VOTE YES! Muni reform needs to start with this. End the free ride for the Muni workers. Start putting the priority of Muni back to the citizens of this city and not with the operators union. Vote YES on G!

Proposition H - Prohibiting elected officials from sitting on political party committiees. Huh? So we're trying to take the politicians out of the elected officials? Puh-lease. This one is needless regulation. And I almost think its a violation of a politicos rights (I think I could make the argument, have to look at a few cases). So anyways. Vote NO on Prop H.

Proposition I - Saturday Voting. On the one hand, it won't cost any money, so it says. And it will allegedly make it easier to vote. Or it will just confuse people as to when election day is. If you can't be bothered to vote on the day you are supposed to, who says that an alternate extra day is going to help? Vote NO on Prop I.

Proposition J - Hotel Tax Increase. Bad economy, people have less money to spend. We want to make it more expensive to visit here than anywhere else in the country? At least whoever comes up with these schemes is consistent. They want to make it more expensive for the locals and the tourists. Who do they want to live and visit here? Ummm.... let's shoot this one down.  Vote NO on Prop J.

Proposition K - Hotel Tax Reform. Did you know that there is a different tax paid on a room when it is booked direct as opposed to through a third party? Neither did I. Problem is, this is a thorny question that is being litigated. It would probably be better to figure out what the law actually means before we go about changing it. Vote NO on Prop K.

Proposition L - Civil Sidewalks. Vote Yes on this. Its a law that has been tested and used effectively in other cities. Is there a problem? Some say no. But I'll tell you, I see a bunch of people when I go out in parts of the city. Is it going to penalize the homeless. It could. But at the same time, there is a problem and there is no effective solution other than this at this time. Vote YES on Prop L.

Proposition M - Community Foot Patrols. How it got this name, I am not sure. The intent of this proposition is nothing more than to kill Prop L. All it really does is require a "written community policing policy." Whooped-di-doo. Its real intent is found later in the proposition where it specifically nullifies Prop L if it passes. Vote NO on Prop L. 

Proposition N - Real Property Transfer Tax. It increases the real property transfer tax for property in San Francisco that is worth $5 million or more. Once again, I know that the city is broke. And it wants to raise money. The problem is, this will work to kill development deals. Those put people to work. This is not just about Sea Cliff houses. Its going to affect everyone. Its going to affect the rents that get charged to both residents and small businesses. Vote NO on Prop N. 

Voting Matters - Governor of California (Could We Have A Worse Set of Choices?)

so it's that time of the year again. Ballots have been printed, debates have been had,and now tomorrow all you have to do is go on down to your polling station hold your nose and make some choices.

I'm really not kidding about that last part. This year in California we've been offered probably the weakest selection of candidates that it has been my misfortune to ever have to vote on. Think I'm making this up? We've managed to outdo the absurd removal of Gray Davis, where among the slate of candidates we had a porn star and former child actor, by  the two parties giving us a retread and a dilettante.

Going with the theory that it's age before beauty, will start off with Jerry Brown. What can we say that hasn't been said about Jerry Brown? He's been governor once before. He's run unsuccessfully for president of the United States. He was the mayor of Oakland, more on that later. And now he's the Attorney General of California. We know an awful lot about Mr. Brown.he has an awful long record, which is something that is unusual in this election cycle where everyone seems to want to not have a record.

With the state that California is in right now a priority for any voter has to be how is this person going to handle the economy and more specifically, whether they can do to help create jobs. Over Mr. Brown's website, he states that his plan is going to include a number of things. First, he wants to stimulate clean energy jobs. How did he want to do this? he wants to increase California's electrical generation capacity by at least 12,000 MW, in addition to that he wants to build 8000 MW worth of large-scale renewable and necessary transmission warnings. Furthermore he wants to reduce peak energy demand to develop energy storage systems along with those who want to increase the efficiency of buildings and appliances while at the same time developing more combined heating and power projects. And of course to ensure all this goes smoothly, he wants to appoint a "Clean Energy Jobs Czar".

Along with his proposed clean energy initiatives, Mr. Brown wants to encourage business startups. (Where have I heard that before?) To do this, essentially he wants to embark on a massive infrastructure upgrade. he also wants to create what he calls "strike teams" which will focus on job retention and creation. we hope that these teams will do is coordinate between worker training program tax incentives and other programs to help, I suppose match entrepreneurs and job seekers with each other as well as applicable incentives which may help them create new jobs in the state. he also promises to make a priority and increased manufacturing jobs also delivering quote targeted workforce training programs". Finally, like any good candidate, he promises to invest in education.

Now the question really is, how is in the pay for office? He is talking about a lot of money to be invested in "green jobs". when president Obama proposed the same thing, people started looking at this. Some studies have shown that to create one green job, you need to spend $30,000 of taxpayer money. in Spain, where they've done a similar plan of subsidizing renewable energy sources, they found that the cost of exit significantly higher end effects the economy number of ways. First, it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Second, not only do the citizens have to pay for it as part of their taxes, they also end up paying higher energy costs because it's more expensive to generate.great, so not only is it going to cost us a lot of money or each new job that Mr. Brown wants to create with his renewable energy incentives, but were also pay more for the electricity that were already using. Already, this sounds like a great plan.

While Mr. Brown says that he wants to cut down on the bureaucratic red tape that businesses have to go through California, at the same time he proposes creating a new bureaucratic position, "Clean Energy Jobs Czar". how many government positions in the executive that report directly to the governor do you think come without a staff? If you can name one you get the no prize.

In what passes for his plan to deal with the budget, Mr. Brown said 11 same things that we heard from Gov. Schwarzenegger when he took office. This includes cracking down on those who aren't paying their taxes, making sure that we get all the federal money that's available, adopting a pay-as-you-go type of financing for state projects, and tearing up the "credit cards", while creating a rainy day fund. Tom, history Brown watched any of his own political ads? Play something about insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over?

The major problem with Brown, if you're talking in very broad terms. He's talking in idealistic ways about how he wants to help California. Make no doubt about it, I truly believe this is a man who sees himself as being the one to help the state at this time. The problem I have with them is his inability to articulate his position on certain issues. First and foremost, what is he going to do about taxation and how does he view that when it comes to dealing with jobs in growing the economy California. The reason I ask this question first, is that he wants to spend a lot of money to make his vision of the future happened. Right now renewable energy costs a lot to get started. When you've got more than 10% (its actually 12.4%) of Californians out of work or underemployed, you have to start at the base and the basics in this case is job creation.

Second, what is he going to do to make sure that people are actually able to live in this state. The state has one of the highest standards of living, and because no one seems to be willing to allow the market to fail and readjust downward, we're stuck with the high cost of living. One of the ways that we alleviate this  is Proposition 13. Position 13 passed during jury Brown's first term as governor of the state of California, and he fought against its passage. Once passed, he later professed to be "born again supporter" of Prop 13. now the unions, and some educational advocates, claimed the Prop 13  harmed our state schools. Why? Simple proposition 13 limited the amount that real property taxes could be increased in the state. The way that while schools in the public school system are financed is through the collection of property taxes. Without the ability for the local city and municipal governments to raise the taxes at their whim, and to whatever level they wanted, it hurt the school's ability to get new funds. on the right, Prop 13 is seen as a bulwark against out-of-control government taxation that is essentially unaccountable to the electorate. Now in San Francisco, Proposition 13 is unpopular. Why? Because were very liberal and a majority of the people within the city are renters, and renters don't pay property tax. but in other parts of the state the majority of the people are property owners in the 1970s property tax rates skyrocketed making homeownership almost unaffordable. It's something to consider. Backspace, especially in light of the fact that Mr. Brown is heavily dependent on the union's, including the SEIU and the teachers union, or very hostile to Proposition 13.

When asked about Proposition 13 and other tax raises Mr. Brown has been very evasive about this. His answer seems to revolve around the evolving the power to tax and local levels. And how is he going to convince the state legislature to give up the power to tax or in the alternative to not tax is much. one thing that will grant him, is that he does have a history of frugality. The problem is is that enough especially in light of his performance as mayor of Oakland?

On the flipside, we've got Meg Whitman. Her first strike against her, in the state, is that she's a Republican. Say what you want about California this is a blue state. Her background, as you probably have heard by now if you've watched any television show in the state, is that she was one of the people who helped get eBay to where it is today. She made a lot of money doing it such creative lot of jobs at the company by helping guide from small startup to the behemoth that is now. For a time, she also sat on the Board of Directors for Goldman Sachs.

Let's talk about the Goldman Sachs connection per minute, because that kind of important in choosing who you want to lead your state. Another bit allegations that she did some pretty illegal things there. according to California Watch,

Whitman's relationship with the giant Wall Street firm -- an investor, corporate director and recipient of old insider stock deals and campaign donations -- could pose conflicts of interest if the Republican front runner is elected governor of California, critics say.
Whitman left the board [of Goldman Sachs] in 2002 after she was targeted in a congressional probe of bond underwriters and "spinning" -- a financial maneuver, now banned, in which Goldman and other firms allegedly traded access to hot IPOs for bond business. Whitman later settled a shareholder lawsuit related to the prophets she and other execs made from buying the IPOs.
With golden active on so many state issues, Whitman could face "a pile of potential conflicts of interest" if elected governor, said Doug Heller, spokesman for consumer watchdog of Santa Monica.
Whitman's campaign attorney said it was "plainly ridiculous" to hold Whitman responsible for problems Wall Street because she spent 15 months Goldman's board.

Basically, Whitman took advantage of the system as it existed at that time. The system did not make illegal the things that she knew about or participated in with Goldman Sachs, and it appears that no insider trading was ever proven. When ever there is money and where ever there is access, there is always going to be the implication that improper things are going on but the rest of the public does not have access to. yes, she did apparently settle a shareholders suit. However, that the civil litigation matter does not necessarily make her criminal nor make what she did wrong. It simply represents the fact that she chose to settle rather than go to costly litigation. (Yeah, it's a little inside baseball, but there it is.)

Now, let's look at what Ms. Whitman wants to do as governor. Just like with Jerry Brown, let's look at what she wants to do about the economy and in particular about jobs. According to her website, her plan had a number of components. First she wants to eliminate the small business start up tax, including apparently, eliminating the LLC filing fee. this she believes will make it easier to start new businesses in California. Second, she wants to eliminate the factory tax. third two wants to increase the research and development tax credit. Fourth she wants to eliminate the estate tax and capital gains. Fifth she wants to promote investments that are cultural industry. Apparently she wants to do this by providing a tax credit to encourage investment in our conservation technology so that we can reduce the consumption of water.

Wow, she really is noticed. Compared to Jerry Brown checks the list out what she wants to do what she wants to eliminate.

Next up, we have what she wants to do about the budget. Like Mr. Brown, Ms. Whitman wants to do something about the spending going on in Sacramento. Ms. Whitman's plan appears to be threefold. First she wants a strict spending cap. The spending cap is going to be based on the state's gross domestic product. All happened, according to her plan is that spending can't increase unless the state's economy is growing. Second, she wants to uphold the two thirds majority rule when it comes to passing the budget for the state. There she wants to turn the legislature into a part-time legislature, similar to what they do in Texas. This would take a constitutional amendment and could not be done something to passing a bill. It would require a vote by the citizens of the state of California.

In looking at what she wants to do, it appears that she has some laudable goals. Imposing some sort of fiscal discipline on the state is needed. However the question arises as to how he'd deal with expenditures that are going to be necessary when the unexpected happens. adopting the spending cap that she wants to use, unless certain safeguards are built in, it's going to make it very hard for the state to do things especially if the economy suddenly goes south again (of course, that'll require the economy to go up and grow instead of getting worse).

California has very difficult choice. Our economy sucks. Were losing jobs. We have a lot of projects that need to be done. Jerry Brown offers experience. Meg Whitman offers an outsiders perspective. Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages.

Some argue, that electing Whitman would merely be a continuation of Schwarzenegger's policies towards California. While some of what Gov. Schwarzenegger has done has not worked out, and his many campaign promises that were unfulfilled, this might not be a bad thing. The problem we have right now in the state is that we have been unable because of our unwillingness to effect change tour budget in the way that we do things. When I look at Jerry Brown, when I listen to what he says, I see a man who wants to to continue along the same path he is gone before. I respect Mr. Brown but I think given the results of his tenure in Oakland that his solutions are not necessarily the ones that we need nor can we afford at this time.

On the flip side, when I look at Meg Whitman, I see a business woman who has engaged in sharp practices as shown a willingness to initiate attacks on her opposition. While this sounds bad, I'm not necessarily sure that it is.while there are some questions as to whether or not she would have an actual conflict of interest with Wall Street, in particular Goldman Sachs, this is not the same as the type of baggage that Mr. Brown carries with him marked with tags from the SEIU.

If I could, I would send these two choices back and tell the respective parties to put up serious candidates. To me a serious candidate would be someone who has both ideals and is willing to lay out the plan what he wants to do going forward. Both Ms. Whitman and Mr. Brown only to fill half of my requirements as a voter. Because Mr. Brown is so dependent in what he does tell me he wants to do on things, such as green jobs, which studies have shown have the opposite effect of the helping create jobs, but I have to say that we should give Meg Whitman the vote.

You have no idea how much it hurts me to say vote for a Republican here.