Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Boom Behind Bars: Private jail operators like the Corrections Corporation of America are making millions off the crackdown on illegal aliens

The private prison system runs parallel to the U.S. prisons and currently accounts for nearly 10 percent of U.S. state and federal inmates, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Those numbers rise and fall in response to specific policies, and CCA has been accused of lobbying for policies that would fill its cells—such as the increase in enforcement of regulations like the one that snagged Cardenas. Tougher policies have been good for CCA. Since the company started winning immigrant detention contracts in 2000, its stock has rebounded from about a dollar to $23.33, attracting investors such as William Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management, which is now its largest shareholder.
You always hear Republicans complaining about public employee unions. But look what happens when you privatize. The corporations who provide the privatized service get organized to influence the political process.

Now...where have we seen that happen before?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lips Unsealed: Third Circuit Ruling on Privilege Worries Defense Bar

Lips Unsealed: Third Circuit Ruling on Privilege Worries Defense Bar: "Corporate executives may need to be more careful about what they say to outside counsel during internal company probes. And they'll want to make sure that the lawyers they talk to are representing them personally, and not just their company.

That’s the implication of a Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling (link to pdf) on Wednesday in the case of Ian Norris, one-time CEO of the Morgan Crucible Co. in the United Kingdom."

I'm wondering how this case might apply to employees or contractors for HOAs and condo associations who speak with the corporation's lawyer, where there are questions about improprieties...

Some residents not embracing roundabouts: Communities seeking safer intersections find resistance from those unfamiliar with the circular roadways

"I've never been on one in America," said Alice Zator, whose business sits at the planned roundabout site on Oak Park Avenue and 183rd Street. "My concern is, are there other options? Why would we do something that's not familiar to the Midwest?"
This is funny. Roundabouts make left turns unnecessary. Left turns are dangerous and cause delay. Roundabouts are used all over the world. But here in the midwest, some people are freaked out at the idea. Apparently they envision being stuck in the middle, going around and around until they run out of gas.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Avoiding defamatory material in posts

I just deleted a couple of comments that would have been well worth reading except that the anonymous poster decided to include names of people and subdivisions along with the accusation of criminal behavior. If you want to talk about corruption, extortion, shakedowns, fraud, etc., in the CID industry, fine. That's an important topic. But please leave the identifying material out of it. I'm not going to expose myself to a libel suit so somebody who doesn't even dare to put their real name on their post can get a cheap thrill at my expense.

Las Vegas HOA collection agencies sue critics - Monday, March 21, 2011 | 5:09 p.m. - Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas HOA collection agencies sue critics - Monday, March 21, 2011 | 5:09 p.m. - Las Vegas Sun: "New allegations of wrongdoing are flying pitting Las Vegas-area collection agencies for homeowner associations against homeowners and investors in foreclosed properties."

Thanks to Cynthia Stephens for this link.

Detroit's population drops to lowest level in 100 years

Detroit's population dropped 25 percent over the last decade to its lowest level in a century, according to U.S. Census figures released on Tuesday. The city's population fell to 713,777 last year from 951,270 in 2000 when the last census was taken as the region suffered from a struggling automotive industry, plant closures and job losses. In the same period, the state of Michigan's population dropped 0.6 percent to 9.88 million.
Chicago lost 7%, Cleveland 17%. But Detroit is back to the size it was before the creation of the automobile industry.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

If we abolish HOAs and condos, what then?

I have a few questions for the HOA and condo abolitionists. I have been thinking about what a non-CID America would look like, and what the options are. I'm asking these questions seriously because I presume that those of you who want to abolish CIDs have given some serious thought to what that would entail.

I'm hoping to see something other than ALL CAPS RANTING and continued criticism of the status quo. We all know about the problems. I am interested in real solutions that could be implemented in the real world, and that go beyond the reform laws the abolitionists are always denouncing. Let's see something other than sanctimonious bombast, insults, and bomb-throwing, OK? I will delete all that stuff.

So--here are the questions:

1. If you could have your way right now and enact a law that would dissolve all existing HOAs, what would you do about the millions of homes that are now in HOAs? What would happen to the common areas? Who would own them, maintain them, and pay for their maintenance, and how would the money to do that be collected? What would become of their Declarations? Would every word be stricken from the records?

2. If you could dissolve all existing condominium associations, what would you do about the existing condominium properties and their millions of unit owners?

3. Would you also dissolve all the housing cooperatives in the country?

4. If we abolish the institutions of common interest housing as we know them, how do you envision new housing being built in the future? How will the structural considerations that drove the CID craze be addressed in new non-CID housing? These include the high cost of suburban land, the very high cost of urban land, and local governments being in dire fiscal condition. All this led to the current conspiracy between developers and local governments to spread common interest housing everywhere by mandate. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, please read up on it before commenting).

Please don't post huge chunks of copyrighted material in the comments section

I just deleted a comment that was mainly a huge block of text from the newspaper article I linked to. Can't do that. These articles are copyrighted material and there are plenty of cases in the courts right now over bloggers taking more than the "fair use" exception allows. A brief quotation is all that can be posted in a weblog.

The comments section is for your comments, not for posting another 250 words from the article itself. If people want to read the article, they can follow the link.

Richmond students get ready for new whooping cough vaccine requirement

"In September 2010, the California legislature passed a law requiring all students in grades seven through 12 who are in private and public schools to show proof they received the “Tdap” vaccine that protects against pertussis. The shot also protects against tetanus and diphtheria."
Thanks to Fred Pilot for sending me this. I was very sick with pertussis from mid-November through mid-February, and I'm still coughing in the morning. It was the sickest I have ever been in my life. Whooping cough is serious and highly contagious, and it is making a huge comeback thanks to these moron parents who think vaccinations are dangerous.

If you haven't had a pertussis booster within the last ten years, you have no protection. Better get one, because believe me--you do not want to get this. Trust me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Righthaven loses second fair use ruling over copyright lawsuits - Friday, March 18, 2011 | 4:56 p.m. - Las Vegas Sun

Righthaven loses second fair use ruling over copyright lawsuits - Friday, March 18, 2011 | 4:56 p.m. - Las Vegas Sun: "An Oregon nonprofit did not infringe on copyrights when it posted without authorization an entire Las Vegas Review-Journal story on its website, a judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge James Mahan said during a hearing he planned to dismiss, on fair use grounds, a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against the Center for Intercultural Organizing (CIO), in Portland, Oregon.
Good. I don't post or link anything from the Las Vegas Review-Journal because they allowed Righthaven, a copyright troll firm, to sue bloggers who made fair use of their stories. Now judges are showing them the door.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Homeownership may be for the few, not the many

Yale economist Robert Shiller, whose book "Irrational Exuberance" accurately predicted the stock market collapse in 2000, notes that U.S. housing prices posted roughly a zero percent gain between 1890 and 1990, after adjusting for inflation.
You mean shoehorning yourself into a $350,000 condo isn't a wise investment? Heresy.

Fuzzy Privatization Math from New Jersey Privatization Task Force

Fuzzy Privatization Math: "On page 14 the report says it did no analysis “due not only to the fact that the actual cost of a privatized alternative will often not be known until the end of a full fledged competitive bidding process, but also because New Jersey state government agencies have difficulty calculating with precision the full cost of functions currently performed at the state level.” So, the sunny claims of big savings for the people of New Jersey are a guestimate, at best. and “To Be Decided” is the most accurate statement in the report."
Governor Christie's privatization task force made a highly-publicized claim that privatization will save $210 million for the state of New Jersey. But it turns out that they did no real number-crunching to come up with that figure. Here is what they say (at p. 14.):

The necessarily short time the Task Force has had to complete its work has not always permitted the exhaustive vetting and cost‐benefit analysis that it recommends in this Report for all privatization initiatives.
Nor has the Task Force been able to calculate precise savings for the proposals that follow. This is due not only to the fact that the actual cost of a privatized alternative will often not be known until the end of a full‐fledged competitive bidding process, but also because New Jersey state government agencies have difficulty calculating with precision the full cost of functions currently performed at the state level.
The Task Force, given these constraints, has done its best to estimate the monetary savings, if any, of each of the privatization opportunities identified.

This is typical of privatization advocates. They are ideologically motivated (government bad, corporations good) and/or driven by the profit motive. The Chamber of Commerce seems to have been one of the driving forces behind the report. Some things can be done quite well by private contractors, but there are so many examples of failed privatization efforts, some at enormous public cost, that these sweeping claims have to be treated with great caution, because they are basically vaporware.