Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mall cops violate free speech rights, California Court of Appeal rules

A state appellate court has declared that rules regulating talk among strangers at the Galleria at Roseville violate California Constitution free speech guarantees.

A Placer County judge earlier had thrown out the case, finding that the owner's rules of conduct pass constitutional muster.

But, in stark contrast, a three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal declared this week in a 43-page opinion that "the rules are unconstitutional on their face" under the state constitution.

Read more:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Leonard Link: Can the Proponents of Proposition 8 Appeal Judge Walker's Ruling?

Leonard Link: Can the Proponents of Proposition 8 Appeal Judge Walker's Ruling?
More detailed analysis of the standing issue I referred to below.

California Prop 8 case: Judge Walker’s Prop 8 Stay Decision | Emptywheel

Breaking News: Judge Walker’s Prop 8 Stay Decision | Emptywheel: "In the 9th Circuit, when a case goes up on appeal, and it has been there before to a given panel on any issue, that panel has the option of taking the full appeal when it is filed. Well, the Perry case has indeed already been up to the 9th previously on an interlocutory appeal of a discovery issue during the trial process, and that appeal was decided by a panel consisting of Judges Wardlaw, Fisher and Berzon. I think there is a very decent chance the standard 9th protocol is followed here and the full appeal is assigned to the previous panel of Wardlaw, Fisher and Berzon, which makes sense in terms of judicial economy since they are already up to speed on the parties and the case facts and posture. So who are these judges, and what is the book on them? Well, that is where the fun comes in. They are all three Clinton appointees, and two of them, Marsha Berzon and Ray Fisher, clerked for Justice Brennan. Solid liberal credentials for sure, and Kim Wardlaw may actually be even more enlightened. If the appeal gets assigned to this panel, it would be in excellent hands and I would like very much the chances for upholding Judge Walker’s decision in favor of marriage equality for all."
This is some high-quality analysis. It makes sense to me. I followed the trial and it seems to me that Judge Walker's decision is going to stand--all the way to the United Supreme Court. That case was carefully set up by two of the best Supreme Court litigators in the country to foreground the key issue in Lawrence v. Texas. As with the Texas sodomy law that only applied to gays, the only basis for banning same-sex marriage is religious/moral disapproval of gays. I don't see how that can be the basis for a state law under the Equal Protection Clause, and I don't see how that constitutes a "rational basis" for a law, which means it also fails under the Due Process Clause.
ps: However, check out this post from law professor Ann Althouse, where she highlights Walker's point that his decision may not be appealed at all. Why? The State of California never defended Prop 8 to begin with, and the private parties who did defend it may have had standing to intervene and play that role at the trial stage, but may not have standing to appeal. That would mean Judge Walker's opinion would be the final word on gay marriage in California.

Manhattan Luxury Condos Try FHA Backing in Sales `Game Changer' - Bloomberg

Manhattan Luxury Condos Try FHA Backing in Sales `Game Changer' - Bloomberg: "The Federal Housing Administration agreed in March to insure mortgages for apartments at the 98-unit Gramercy Park development, known as Tempo. That enables buyers to make a down payment of as little as 3.5 percent in a building where apartments range from $820,000 to $3 million."
Cool. Can I have one of those mortgages and then default on it so the taxpayers get stuck with the tab? Or am I being too 2007?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Robert Reich: Anger boils as recession drags on

Long-term economic woes fuel anger

Widespread and long-term economic insecurity fuels anger. You can already see it in the backlash against globalization. Polls show most Americans don't want more trade, which is why the president can't get Congress to ratify any new trade agreements. Many people are also angry about immigration. Some even propose denying citizenship to children born in the United States of parents here illegally. The anger focuses on every major institution. According to polls, the public has a record low opinion of government, and also of big business and Wall Street.
Add Privatopia -- mandatory membership homeowners associations -- to that list. The authority of private HOA government has never been fully accepted and respected compared to traditional muni and county government. HOAs consequently get plenty of anger and disrespect from their constituents. Current socioeconomic conditions will only make them more willing to flip off the HOA.

TaxProf Blog: NY Times: Museum Directors Enjoy Tax-Free Housing in Multi-Million Dollar Condos

TaxProf Blog: NY Times: Museum Directors Enjoy Tax-Free Housing in Multi-Million Dollar Condos: "The director of the Museum of Modern Art, Glenn D. Lowry, may have the best deal of all. In addition to the $2 million in salary and benefits he earned last year, he lives in a $6 million condo in the tower atop the museum.
But it’s not just the nice — and free — accommodation: None of these museum heads pay income tax on the value of this housing, which combined would rent for about $400,000 a year."

Seems there is a tax loophole for university presidents and other cultural poobahs who are required to live on "business premises," meaning university or museum owned housing. It is major league perk. Not only do they get free housing--they don't even have to pay taxes on what is obviously a huge part of their pay package.

Peak Food: Can Another Green Revolution Save Us? By Nicholas C. Arguimbau

Peak Food: Can Another Green Revolution Save Us? By Nicholas C. Arguimbau
Great summary of the situation. The Green Revolution prevented the global famines that Paul Erlich predicted in The Population Bomb. But now China, India, Pakistan, Mexico, and many other nations are running out of water to grow those thirsty super grains.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Muni-Bond Debt Bomb by Steven Malanga, City Journal Summer 2010

The Muni-Bond Debt Bomb by Steven Malanga, City Journal Summer 2010: "Rick Bookstaber, a senior policy advisor to the Securities and Exchange Commission, shook the market recently by observing that it has all the characteristics in place for a crisis that might unfold like the home-foreclosure mess: a few municipalities could declare bankruptcy, decline to honor their debts, and unleash “a widespread cascade in defaults.”"
There are always predictions of financial Armageddon. The scary thing now is that the people who are saying these things aren't regulars on the Art Bell show. They are reputable professionals who aren't peddling books or trying to sell you gold.

Forecast at Florida condo: continued indoor rain

Leaky Roofs Plague Palm Beach Gardens Residents

Residents Cite HOA Inaction For Roofing Problems

After all of this weekend's rain, a leaky roof and a lackluster response has started a major fight with a local homeowner's association.Homeowners in one Palm Beach Gardens neighborhood said their roofs have not been up to code for a long time. They said they're getting nowhere fast with their homeowner's association, and the recent rain is making it worse.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Golden State’s War on Itself |

The Golden State’s War on Itself | "What went so wrong? The answer lies in a change in the nature of progressive politics in California. During the second half of the twentieth century, the state shifted from an older progressivism, which emphasized infrastructure investment and business growth, to a newer version, which views the private sector much the way the Huns viewed a city—as something to be sacked and plundered."
Harsh words--but the fact is that California is not the only state that is being destroyed by its own political class.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Weak economy boosts early Social Security retirements

Forced to retire, some take Social Security early

It is one of the most striking fallouts from the bad economy: Social Security is facing its first-ever shortfall this year as a wave of people like Skidmore opt to collect payments before their full retirement age. Adding to the strain on the trust are reduced tax collections sapped by the country's historic unemployment — still at 9.5 percent.

More people filed for Social Security in 2009 — 2.74 million — than any year in history, and there was a marked increase in the number receiving reduced benefits because they filed ahead of their full retirement age. The increase came as the full Social Security retirement age rose last year from 65 to 66.

The trend of people going on early Social Security retirement at age 62 is likely throwing a wrench in the projections of the Social Security Fund actuaries and adding further stress to a system that is already expected to have trouble paying retirement benefits for a tidal wave of Baby Boomers leaving the workforce at the customary age of 66. I imagine someone is already planning a second Woodstock in the summer of 2014 for Boomers forced to take early retirement in what could end up as the lost economic decade.