Friday, August 1, 2014

Get a Warrant!

I caught wind of this News 10 investigation on Facebook.  In light of legal decisions over the last few years it is difficult to believe that anyone in law enforcement could consider this type of snooping legal without a warrant.  Probably the most frightening thing about the use of such technology is the level of secrecy involved with the manufacturer requiring non disclosure agreements and law enforcement refusing to release even anonymous data on level of use.   Not being a legal scholar I picked up a few articles for readers to check out and form their own opinion. 

Sacramento sheriff admits to use of cellphone spying technology

 USA Today
Cellphone data spying: It's not just the NSA

Supreme Court: Police Need Warrants to Search Cellphone Data

Washington Post
Supreme Court limits police use of GPS tracking

Cell Tracking

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

News Links Nostalgia

 Feeling a bit nostalgic for the old newslinks days.   Below is a bit of reading just for old times sake.  Pretty soon we can have fun with ballot initiatives.  I have heard there are some cooking on the burner that take cynical politics to a level that just beg for snark and sarcasm. 

A classic 23 question quiz designed to drop you into a political category.  As one that was categorized as Steadfast Conservative and in the 12% to the right of the chart.   I would have to say that there were very few "good" answers to pick from.  

How We Identified Your Typology Group

Once folks are categorized ...

Section 10: Political Participation, Interest and Knowledge

Surprise, surprise, surprise

Congressional Approval Rating Languishes at Low Level

Gerrymandering Reduces Competition, Fuels Partisanship in House Elections 

Ya Think?

Here are America's most polarized, and most extreme, state legislatures

Sit down and have a cup of tea while reading this one.

Pew Research
GOP Has Midterm Engagement Advantage

Want to fix our political system? Start with election reform.

There has been plenty happening with primary election reform across the country.  Here in California we have improved our primary system but election reform is a state by state battle.  In  nutshell; partisan primaries make it too easy for a small special interest to gain too much control of the process.  By contrast a top two system makes it easier for coalitions to rise up and force the process to represent a larger portion of the electorate.  Below are some links that are worth a glance.  Most noteworthy is an op-ed by US Senator Charles Schumer on the topic.

Hmmm the good Senator and I actually agree about something.

New York Times
Charles Schumer: End Partisan Primaries, Save America

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer Says We Need to End Partisan Primaries

If Oregon goes top two that will be the entire West CoastCalifornia and Washington are already there.

Initiative to Adopt Top-Two Open Primary in Oregon Qualifies for Ballot 

The Las Cruces Sun-News
New Mexico independent challenges ballot access

Monday, July 21, 2014

BOS Raises. What plan would you support.

Before tomorrow's meeting in Tahoe where the BOS raises will be discussed it might be good to consider what one might approve in November.  Your humble blogger brought the topic up over coffee with a few Placer County voters and this plan met with everyone’s approval.

  • Supervisors should be paid the average wage of the average Placer County resident.  That should be around 52-54K. I am sure that there are numbers out there to be tapped into.  The number itself is not as important as the spirit of the formula.  In fact it might be a good idea for all elected officials compensation to be kept more in line with constituents.
  • The Supervisors should get a benefit package, the same package that the rank and file gets.  While we are on the topic maybe we need to have one package for all Placer County employees and the only difference from one position to the other be salary.  
  • It should also be acknowledged that some supervisors are more involved than others and a small stipend should be allowed per meeting attended other than board meetings.  However rules about what meetings would be allowed a stipend should be rigorously scrutinized.  A MAC meeting would qualify but a celebrity golf tournament would not.  Also the attendance would have to be personal "if you send your aide, you don't get paid".   

I would add no pre-programmed COLA’s to the list.  After 2008 it seemed to be the main sticking point foe all that I spoke with on the topic.  Everyone else has to come back and negotiate periodically the BOS should be no exception.  

Now it will be more interesting to watch the next meeting and see how far their formula is from from the coffee klatch formula.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

BOS Raises: The phone survey.

Friday evening we got a call from a survey worker.  The worker wanted to ask questions about different aspects of the Placer County Board of Supervisors compensation increase proposal.  There were many questions split between two general topics.  Since only a sampling are likely be surveyed it seemed prudent to write about it. 

Topic one was the largest and focused on what aspects of a proposal one might support.  Questions about salary formulas, benefit types and salary amounts.  When they ask about salary amount they start high and work their way down until you say yes.  The incremental drops are rather large so don’t be surprised if it drops from “seems a bit high” to “wow that makes me sound like a cheapskate”.

Topic two was what would be the best arguments and endorsements to win ones support.   I thought that we did a pretty good job of exposing absurd arguments in a previous post but there were all of those and many more asked about in these questions.  Multiple choice and a need for quantification keeps one from really giving an opinion to the questioner but none of those mentioned moved me to much more than a chuckle.  One that stood out was the argument that with higher salaries the BOS would not have to depend so much on staff as they would be able to work on the boards' work full time.  That argument is only true if some senior staffers are removed due to a reduced workload from the change and any supervisor accepting the raise would have to agree that it is the only job that they can have.   This is about the legitimacy of the argument and not a suggestion for either addendum to it be used. I support a reasonable raise for what I think they do now, not on something that may or may not actually happen in the future.  

Toward the end of the call questions were asked about the sway certain endorsements might hold.  The Placer County Republican Central Committee was mentioned but the Placer County Democratic Central Committee was not.  The League of Placer County Taxpayers was brought up but I am not sure if it was the old League dissolved by Wally Reemelin in 2011 which was the driving force behind the 30K ceiling back in 1992, or the League that Reemelin felt had high jacked that groups name and collected an FPPC fine in 2013.  A Sherriff’s Deputy organization as well as the League of Women Voters of Placer County were also asked about.