L.A. Liberty

A Libertarian in Leftywood

The system was kind of kept confidential from everybody in the public. A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so in order to mitigate any of those kinds of complaints, we basically kept it pretty hush-hush.

— 

Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Doug Iketani.

This incredible admission amounts to: The people would hate to know how we’re violating their rights - so we just didn’t tell them.

Ultimately, that’s the basis for most state secrets. Here, LASD didn’t want us to know how extensively they are spying on citizens and the military technology being deployed on the unwitting public they ostensibly serve.

Per Ed Krayewski:

Via Techdirt comes the story of the newest toys acquired by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD), former war-zone tech that allows “wide area surveillance.” Camera systems are attached to civilian airplanes and can capture 10,000 times the area of a police chopper.  The system is provided by a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems that got it start, where else, designing wares for the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Police are excited about having the power to spy from the air in real time, recording video to play back later in order to track the movement of residents in places like Compton. Cops also knew, though, that this new ability of theirs might not play well with the public they still theoretically work for. 

You know who else had a problem with being monitored? The Los Angeles Police Department, whose officers destroyed equipment attached to their police cars that would record (audio only!) their interactions with residents. The LASD itself, meanwhile, was the recent target of a federal investigation after trying to hide an informant that was going to testify to corruption and excessive force at the department.

Can someone explain to me why Los Angeles needs two police forces? 

LAPD audio-recording saga provides another argument for the ‘Missing Video Presumption’ →

Go away.

Go away.

LAPD Cops Sabotaged Equipment Installed to Monitor Them →

shocking

Hey! Kids! Leave Those Teachers Alone! →

Basically, by lying.

Scott Shackford explains how California hasn’t “recovered”:

I have been pushing back on claims that California’s economy is fine and awesome and should be used as a model for other states’ recoveries. California is doing better these days than five years ago; but so are most states. However, it’s sheer bullshit to say that the state doesn’t still have huge, dire economic issues, and Gov. Jerry Brown, like previous California governors, is concealing the problems with accounting tricks.

So the next time anybody insists that California’s problems are “fixed” or suggests that Brown’s handling of the state’s fiscal crisis should be a model for other states, drop some knowledge on them, courtesy of David Crane at Bloomberg View. He explains how Brown (and other governors) is able to trick journalists into thinking the state of the state is better than it really is:

They avoided scrutiny thanks to an accounting method known as “cash-based budgeting,” which recognizes expenses only when cash changes hands and treats any cash received, even borrowed cash, as revenue. That’s how New Jersey Governor Chris Christie “balanced” New Jersey’s budget in 2010: by simply pushing a $3 billion pension payment from one year into the next.

Similarly, Brown is using cash-based budgeting to underreport the cost of an employee benefit—retiree health care—by $3 billion. The governor could have chosen to report the expense at its full size, but to do that under cash-based budgeting, he would have had to actually contribute $3 billion in cash to a retiree health-care trust fund.

That’s exactly what governors are supposed to do. Retiree health-care expenses, like pensions, are supposed to be pre-funded in order to protect future generations from having to pick up an earlier generation’s costs. But Brown chose not to do so, making his budget look rosier than it is. This shortchanges future generations, which will have less money for their own services because they will have to pay off the skipped costs.

Brown is also ignoring a $3 billion in required payments to the state teacher pension fund, so really there’s $6 billion in payments unaccounted for by the state’s budget. But thanks to these games, it’s not counted as debt. And not paying it helps avoid putting the state back into a spending deficit, and the lack of a deficit is what folks are pointing to when they insist California has recovered. Crane notes:

Even though California teacher pensions—and therefore that debt—are guaranteed by the state, for accounting purposes the state treats that obligation as off its balance sheet, as if it’s not on the hook. When the trust fund runs out of money, the debt will total more than $600 billion.

Crane concludes by pointing out how badly California is leeching off its citizenry. Despite getting more money from taxpayers than ever, the taxpayers themselves are getting crap out of it:

Just as California’s budget wasn’t fixed in 2000 or 2007, it isn’t fixed in 2014. In fact, even though revenue, taxes and fees are higher now than they were the last time California reported a balanced budget, in 2007, state spending on most state services is lower. Spending on welfare, universities, courts and parks is down more than 20 percent because spending on employee salaries, pensions, retiree health care, debt service and Medicaid is up more than 20 percent.

And even with that huge increase in spending on its own workers, there’s still billions of dollars in debt that’s unaccounted for.

How long can this state survive swindling its residents like this?

As noted in a rare angry rant from back in 2010, I saw the writing on the wall (it didn’t take much prognosticating prowess to predict, as I did, further pension and entitlement expansions, the tax increases of 2012, and continued record unemployment) and I hoped - as I still do - that when the inevitable request/demand for the federal government to bail out California comes that the people in all of the other states get mad enough to not let that happen.

Los Angeles Wants You To Be Its Surveillance Spook →

Here’s one story that’s illustrative of a larger issue.

Read this news blurb, from the local ABC affiliatecarefully.

That’s the entirety that was posted.

Note the man who was “declared dead from a gunshot wound.” Did the blurb tell you who shot him? The use of the phrase “assault with a deadly weapon” instead of what specific weapon being used left that ambiguous. The actual call that came in was “assault with a deadly weapon, man with a knife.” Why not mention the knife if to give the impression of something deadlier or to leave open the possibility that the man was shot by the someone else or to make the shooting seem more justified? And since the two men who were leaving the residence “confronted” and “aggressed” the police, per this blurb, the implication was that the officers were merely defending themselves.

Here’s the story from a different source that has a little more - though not much more - specificity:

A 24-year-old man was shot to death in a confrontation with Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies at a West Hollywood building where a knife fight had taken place, authorities said today.

Three other men were hospitalized in stable condition with stab wounds in connection with the same incident at an apartment building in the 900 block of Palm Avenue, said sheriff’s Deputy Lillian Peck.

Peck said deputies responding to a call of an assault with a knife around 9:30 p.m. Monday were confronted by two men as they approached the apartment. A fight inside the apartment spilled outside and drew in the two responding deputies, added Deputy Crystal Hernandez.

The deputy-involved shooting occurred during that confrontation, and the 24-year-old suspect later died at a hospital, Peck said. It was not disclosed whether one or both deputies opened fire.

A large knife was discovered at the scene, and investigations are continuing, she said.

Here we learn that it was, indeed, the cops who killed the man. But we know nothing else.

What about the LA Times?

A 24-year-old man was shot and killed Monday night by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies who were responding to reports of an assault with a deadly weapon at a West Hollywood apartment complex, authorities said.

The shooting occurred about 9:30 p.m. as deputies approached the apartment building in the 900 block of Palm Avenue and two men came outside and “lunged” at the deputies, said Deputy Crystal Hernandez.

The deputies shot and killed the 24-year-old but did not hit the other man, according to a statement issued by the Sheriff’s Department.

Moments later, the statement said, the deputies heard a scuffle going on inside an apartment, found one man choking another and broke up the conflict.

The two men fighting inside, as well as the surviving man outside, had all been stabbed, authorities said. All three men are expected to survive, they said.

A large knife was found at the scene, authorities said.

Detectives continue to investigate the incidents, officials said. The identity of the man shot by deputies was not immediately available.

Note again, the similarly vague information and how the details of the killed man “are not available.”

These were the first three links that pop up on a Google News search for this story, so it’s not like I’m cherry-picking here. 

Well, I was informed of this through a friend of mine who lives in a building next to where this incident took place.

The initial confrontation was of one man attacking two others with a knife. Apparently, this was a result of a break-up or lover’s quarrel turned bloody.

The unidentified man who was killed was John Winkler (who was actually 30-years-old, not 24). Winkler arrived home to hear his neighbor in distress, and rushed to help him.

One of the bloodied victims was able to escape and Winkler was helping him flee. When the victim and Winkler barged out of the doors to the building, the heavily armed officers who were about to enter the building assumed that the unarmed Winkler was the killer and shot him dead.

To repeat: the police shot and killed an unarmed man who was helping a stabbing victim.

At the very least, this is gross negligence and incompetence on the part of police. It is inexcusable. Their profession - their very existence as better-armed state agents funded through coercion and with a monopoly on force - is justified precisely for properly and safely dealing with “high-stress, life-and-death” situations just like this. 

But the compliant media does what it always does: it simply parrots the “official” (as in, police) account of events. They withhold information and fail to ask important questions.

And when further details are later known, they still diligently report the police’s version of events.

In this report from a much smaller newspaper, we can read far more details on the incident; but like the first blurb, the police’s allegation that an unarmed Winkler was “lunging” at the victim is passed along as if true (they wrote “lunged” in quotes - not “allegedly lunged,” not “appeared to lunge,” not “seemed to lunge, per statements by the deputies”). Why would an unarmed man be “lunging” at a man he was trying to save? And yet, no efforts to question the police’s version of events is made. Here’s the ABC affiliate’s follow-up piece that notes the cops “mistakenly killed an innocent man,” but no one asks why the police initially claimed that the bloody stabbing victim and the unarmed good samaritan “aggressed the deputies” since it is painfully clear that such an allegation was a complete fabrication.

And the lack of accountability will not stop there. We can be assured that (1) an internal investigation will clear all officers involved and (2) if there is a law suit, the department and the relevant government agencies will simply settle with taxpayer money. Per usual.

When will people stop defending the police and start holding them accountable?

Leland Yee’s Less Sexy Corruption Just Part of the System →

Emphasis added.

Related: Who is Holding Us Back?:

So long as there are centers of power, those with means will aim to wield that power or work it in their favor. And there’s no greater power than the state’s monopoly on force. The state, therefore, will always serve the interests of the connected few above the masses.

If government cannot impose taxes or offer tax breaks, impose tariffs or offer subsidies, impose regulations or offer liability protections, impose fees and licensing or offer interest-free loans, impose wage and price controls or offer bailouts - then what good is it for a corporation [or the rich] to control the government?

Los Angeles Inspector Convicted of Bribery Keeps $72,000 Per Year Pension →

Because, of course he does.

There’s a reason pensions only exist in the government sector where things are paid for through threat of violence. California’s pensions and retirement liabilities reach over $220 billion.[1][2] Definitionally unsustainable.

Government Unions Attack Free-Market Nonprofits via Pension Funds →

As reported in a Washington Examiner editorial on April 4th, the American Federation of Teachers – that’s “teachers union” in plain English – has circulated a pamphlet that:

“Calls on pension fund trustees to drop any investment managers that are tainted by connection to free-market nonprofits. They also want those same trustees to force any potential new managers to have to disclose any donations they may have made to the groups on AFT’s blacklist.”

That the AFT can circulate a document like this without generating an uproar in the media reflects a monstrous and tragic double-standard. Money supporting “free-market non-profits” is tainted, which – not entirely logically – also taints any analysis they may produce, or policies they may advocate. But the money supporting public sector unions, involuntarily and automatically taken from their paychecks, ultimately funded by taxpayers, is pristine. Whatever analysis or policies they come up with, including “blacklists,” are beyond criticism.

What the AFT just did may be more explicit than usual, but it’s nothing new. In states like California, politically dominated by public sector unions, almost no businessperson or financial professional is going to identify themselves as supporting a free-market candidate or free-market nonprofit that dares criticize public sector unions or question the sustainability of public sector pensions. They risk retaliatory legislation, official harassment, strikes or “slowdowns,” character assassination, sit-ins and other orchestrated protests, shareholder revolts and boycotts. And if they represent a sufficient threat, their partners, customers, investors and vendors will get similar treatment.

In the financial community, as AFT’s document verifies, union critics stand to lose their biggest customers – the government agencies who come to them to underwrite bonds, and the pension funds whose investments fuel their fees and commissions. Just in California, billions are at stake every year.

Since the American Federation of Teachers fired this latest salvo against the free market, here are a few facts about CalSTRS, the California State Teachers Retirement System:

Three of the nine current CalSTRS board members are union officials:  The Chairperson of CalSTRS, Dana Dillon, “has been active in the California Teachers Association for more than 26 years… and was recently elected to the board of directors.” Their Vice Chair, Harry M. Keiley, is “chair of the California Teachers Association Political Involvement Committee.” Another board director, Sharon Hendricks, “also serves as president of the American Federation of Teachers, local 1521 chapter at Los Angeles City College.”

Most of the remaining six active CalSTRS board members are beholden to unions:  Tom Torlakson serves while also serving as California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, an office he was elected to with substantial support from public sector unions. Two more board members come from the financial community; Paul Rosenstiel from a municipal bond investment bank, Thomas Unterman from a venture capital firm. Three other members come from government, Michael Cohen from the California Dept. of Finance, John Chiang, the State Controller, and Bill Lockyer, the State Treasurer.

Would it be more than reckless speculation to say the unions have four votes locked, and only need one of the other five in any given decision they make? And who is going to support Lockyer or Chiang if they run for another political office if they cross the unions? The financial community? Unlikely, given the pressure they’re under from the unions.

At this point the reader may be reminded that without reform, without tough, responsible decisions, public sector pension funds are going to crash, and when they do they’re going to take down with them entire cities and states, if not the global economy. The obliteration of defined benefits will be a mere footnote.

CalSTRS pays hundreds of millions each year to financial professionals: Take a look at page 83 of CalSTRS Annual Report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013, under the bland heading of “Other Supplemental Information.” Here’s what’s on the table for the financial community, every year, from a fund that only represents about 30% of the public sector pension fund assets under management in California:  Administrative expenses, $139 million (page 84). Investment expenses including management fees, advisors, consultants, research services, risk management systems, trading systems, etc., $310 million (pages 85-88). Don’t forget “Global Equity Broker Commissions” whose payees include the infamous Goldman Sachs, $25 million (page 104).

CalSTRS invests in companies and financial instruments they supposedly detest: Skip along in the CalSTRS Annual Report to page 101 and take a look at their “largest equity holdings.” They include Exxon Mobil Corp at the #1 position, and Chevron Crop at #5.  Go back to page 45 to see where CalSTRS has $22billionin “Private Equity Investments.” How many Wall Street wolves fatten themselves on that rather substantial hunk of fresh meat?

What more does it take to make clear there is a phony war going on between public sector unions and the financial community? This isn’t an ideological battle, it’s an intramural struggle for dominance between two groups who are both elitist and privileged, who need each other far more than they need taxpayers.

“Dark money,” or money that doesn’t pass the “smell test,” seems to be a favored meme of public sector unions these days. Especially if that money is used to fund challenges to their interests, hence, a new “blacklist.” But why does public sector union money, sourced involuntarily, falling into their accounts automatically by the millions and billions, emanating directly from taxpayers, used to intimidate opponents, fund political campaigns and academic studies, organize activist groups, and feed Wall Street financiers, get a pass?

They’re seriously shameless. It’s become so incredibly blatant, one has to be willing to not see the deep corruption.

Cop Puts Crying Boy in Chokehold, Tells Witnesses “Stop Speaking Spanish!”

Another disturbing video has surfaced of a cop brutalizing a child at school.
A Santa Ana School Police Department officer is at the center of controversy after a concerned citizen, Elvia Fernández, filmed him putting a crying young boy in a chokehold.
In the clip, we see a man at the park yelling “You’re choking him” at an officer as a motionless boy screams “Help me! Help me!” Even though it was filmed in portrait and from a distance on a smartphone, the video clearly captures a cop lying on top of a sobbing child, whose tiny arms are prone on the ground. The cop’s arm is around the boy’s neck, as he yells “Stop fighting me,” only to have the boy scream in pain, “I’m not fighting you!”
According to OC Weekly, Elvia Fernández, said the kid looked to be around 10; his wails and pleas definitely peg him as a prepubescent. Fernández tried calming the kid down in a mix of English and Spanish, telling him,“No te muevas”,“Relájate”, and“Aquí estamos nosotros”–”Don’t move”, “Relax,” and “We’re here.”
At which point the cop yells, “Stop speaking Spanish!”

It’s hard to tell how much “brutalizing” is actually taking place, since the cop repeatedly barks orders to keep witnesses from getting too close. 
Toward the end of the video, we see another cop hurry on to the scene. For a brief moment, we hope she’s one of those “good cops” we’re always reminded about that are the alleged majority even though sightings are as elusive as to be cryptozoological… but, unsurprisingly, her role seems to simply be to obscure the action from the cameras.

Cop Puts Crying Boy in Chokehold, Tells Witnesses “Stop Speaking Spanish!”

Another disturbing video has surfaced of a cop brutalizing a child at school.

A Santa Ana School Police Department officer is at the center of controversy after a concerned citizen, Elvia Fernández, filmed him putting a crying young boy in a chokehold.

In the clip, we see a man at the park yelling “You’re choking him” at an officer as a motionless boy screams “Help me! Help me!” Even though it was filmed in portrait and from a distance on a smartphone, the video clearly captures a cop lying on top of a sobbing child, whose tiny arms are prone on the ground. The cop’s arm is around the boy’s neck, as he yells “Stop fighting me,” only to have the boy scream in pain, “I’m not fighting you!”

According to OC Weekly, Elvia Fernández, said the kid looked to be around 10; his wails and pleas definitely peg him as a prepubescent. Fernández tried calming the kid down in a mix of English and Spanish, telling him,“No te muevas”,“Relájate”, and“Aquí estamos nosotros”–”Don’t move”, “Relax,” and “We’re here.”

At which point the cop yells, “Stop speaking Spanish!”

It’s hard to tell how much “brutalizing” is actually taking place, since the cop repeatedly barks orders to keep witnesses from getting too close. 

Toward the end of the video, we see another cop hurry on to the scene. For a brief moment, we hope she’s one of those “good cops” we’re always reminded about that are the alleged majority even though sightings are as elusive as to be cryptozoological… but, unsurprisingly, her role seems to simply be to obscure the action from the cameras.

In the American West, Water Is a Political Weapon →

Why is Calif. State Sen. Leland Yee Not Yet a Household Name? →

Partisanship is as stupid as it is predictable.

In 2006, the Brady Campaign named Leland Yee [on their] Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll.

Perhaps they should have done a background check first.

— 

G. Early — [via CalGuns] (via thearmednovelist)

Zing.

As a reminder: Leland Yee is the California democrat state senator who pushed heavily for gun control, and who was recently charged with corruption and involvement in mob-related illegal gun-trafficking.

(via j4s0nd4v1s)

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