Friday, February 22, 2013
Flies and Fungus vs Jobs and Prosperity
We need to support Governor Brown in his efforts to reform CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act.  CEQA requires that all projects be analyzed to determine if the potential exists for the project to have a significant impact upon the environment.  The devil is in the details!  Just what constitutes a significant impact and what resources are worthy of the protection of CEQA?
CEQA was created to ensure that anything defined as a project identify potential impacts to the environment and mitigate the same.  Unfortunately, lawyers and NIMBYs have helped morph CEQA into a bulwark against progress of any kind and projects of all types.
CEQA is a deal killer when its provisions are triggered by people who use the tactic of delay to slay a project.  CEQA has become a literal blank check of obfuscation due to the vagaries of its requirements and the insatiable demands and challenges generated under its cover.
Things we considered as impacts to environmental resources at one time meant something substantial and truly significant.   CEQA could and should represent the opportunity to ask whether there is a better way to do projects with less harm to the environment, the community and our quality of life, but it has become distorted.
Tracing this line of the evolution of CEQA constitutes a trail of tears, financial ruin and economic havoc in the State of California.  There are too many communities and jurisdictions in our State who specialize in exploiting the vagaries of CEQA to prevent growth and development.  Moreover, there are a cadre of activists and attorneys who make their living using CEQA to kill projects.  We don’t need to do away with the law, but we do need CEQA reform, and we need it now!
To accomplish reform, we need to eliminate attorney’s fees in CEQA lawsuits, as legal challenges have become a cottage industry.  Relatedly, we also need to set a limit as to what constitutes a resource and what constitutes a significant impact to a resource.  Currently, there is no limit on what can be construed as a resource to be protected, nor is there any limit as to what can be considered an impact to the same.  Any “impact” to any “resource”, no matter how trivial, can be deemed significant. 
For example, some years ago, the tag team of CEQA and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) stalled a hospital project out of concern for eight flies!  We now actually have a fly preserve as a result!  CEQA doesn’t always need the help of the ESA, it can kill common sense single handily!  How about the fungus growing on rocks in a field in Santa Barbara that warranted a lichen restoration program!   Flies and fungus!  These are resources worthy of stalling projects?
CEQA must be amended to balance its provisions with economic considerations.  Economic vitality and job creation must be considered and appropriately valued in the CEQA process and should be considered an overriding consideration in approving projects. 
Limitless appeals and studies on projects that have been thoroughly vetted must cease.  We need a quicker, expedited process of CEQA review.  The obfuscation afforded project opponents is used to bankrupt projects by years of associated delays and expensive studies.  Opponents should have to prove abuse of discretion to prevail. 
Governor Brown’s interest in CEQA reform indicates his realization that the evolution of this law has created insurmountable obstacles to economic investment and recovery in our state.  He is personally interested in reforming CEQA for the sake of the California High Speed Rail Project and to implement Smart Growth policies.  We might not agree on the projects we want to move forward, but we can all agree CEQA is no longer helping any of us realize our California dreams. 
How this lesson has been lost on some factions of organized labor, who are currently opposing CEQA reform is beyond me.  Labor should be interested in reform as the abuse of the law hinders investment in our economy and growth of our tax base, the ultimate source of  wages and benefits in both the public and private sector.  CEQA is a literal job killer.
We need less paralysis of analysis and more jobs and prosperity!  Delay and obfuscation accomplishes nothing for the environment or the economy.  For too long, CEQA has been exploited to rob people of their dreams, communities of their vitality, and California of its ability to plan its future with confidence.
Please contact the Governor’s Office and your State Representatives and urge them to adopt meaningful and comprehensive CEQA Reform.
Andy Caldwell is the Executive Director of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, COLAB, a guest editorialist for The Santa Barbara News Press, and the host of the Andy Caldwell Show weekdays from 3-5 pm on Santa Barbara News Press Radio AM1290 and KUHL AM1440 Santa Maria.   www.colabsbc.org
Posted at 11:31 AM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Monday, February 11, 2013
A Distinction Without A Difference
This is a story that just will not go away.
A January 31, 2013 Associated Press news story headlined: “Fort Hood suspect still faces possible execution,” noting that “The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, was expected to rule later on Maj. Nidal Hasan’s request to plead guilty of premeditated murder in the 2009 attack on the Texas Army post. However, Army rules prohibit a judge from accepting a guilty plea in a death penalty case, so her earlier ruling Wednesday indicates he would not be allowed to plead guilty as long as that punishment option remains on the table.”
How much money did the government spend to care for Major Nidal Hasan after he was severely wounded while he was shooting people at Fort Hood, Texas, only to put him on trial in a case that could result in the death penalty?
Fox News reported: “Thirteen people were killed and dozens more wounded at Fort Hood in 2009…Major Nidal Hasan, a former Army psychiatrist, who is being held for the attacks, allegedly was inspired by radical U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in late September. The two men exchanged as many as 20 emails, according to U.S. officials, and Awlaki declared Hasan a hero.”
David Horowitz noted that, as the case moves toward trial, “The Department of Defense (DOD) has classified the 2009 Fort Hood massacre that claimed 13 Americans and wounded 29 more as ‘workplace violence,’ observing that the “ The Obama administration is sacrificing American security in favor of political correctness.”
OSHA defines “workplace violence” as violence or the threat ofviolence against workers. It can occur at oroutside the workplace and can range fromthreats and verbal abuse to physical assaults andhomicide, one of the leading causes of job-relateddeaths. However it manifests itself, workplaceviolence is a growing concern for employers and employees nationwide…Some 2 million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year.”
OSHA further notes that “Workplace violence can strike anywhere, and no one is immune. Some workers, however, are at increased risk. Among them are workers who exchange money with the public; deliver passengers, goods, or services; or work alone or in small groups, during late night or early morning hours, in high-crime areas, or in community settings and homes where they have extensive contact with the public. This group includes health-care and social service workers such as visiting nurses, psychiatric evaluators, and probation officers; community workers such as gas and water utility employees, phone and cable TV installers, and letter carriers; retail workers; and taxi drivers.”
If the ultimate penalty for killing someone is the same no matter the reason, why should we be concerned about how it’s labeled? After all, murder is murder, right?
The difference is found in the distinction between an employee who goes off the rails and terrorism. In my opinion, Major Hasan’s action was an act of terrorism, which calls for an entirely different response. 
Fox News also reported that “Sen. Susan Collins…blasted the Defense Department for classifying the Fort Hood massacre as workplace violence and suggested political correctness is being placed above the security of the nation's Armed Forces at home. During a joint session of the Senate and House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, the Maine Republican referenced a letter from the Defense Department depicting the Fort Hood shootings as workplace violence. She criticized the Obama administration for failing to identify the threat as radical Islam.”
This is more than just a distinction without a difference. It is significant because of the type of trial that will be involved. The ultimate punishment could be very different. If it’s “workplace violence” Hasan will be tried in a civilian court, probably in New York. If it’s a terrorist act, he could be tried by a military tribunal.
Y. Thomas M. Defrank, the Daily News Washington Bureau Chief, noted: “‘No matter how heinous his crimes, the Army psychiatrist is entitled to two separate appeals to the Supreme Court. Under the rules of military justice, his execution would require the personal approval of the commander in chief. ‘He's got an array of protections which in some respects exceed those he'd get from a civilian court," said Yale Law School Prof. Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice.’”
Can someone please explain to me why our government is trying a man for murder, in a death-penalty case, bringing him back from death’s door after he was wounded in the act of shooting his victims.
Why bother using the resources of a hospital to care for him. He was badly wounded, paralyzed below the waist and bedridden for months after the shooting.
I know we have the best judicial system in the world and that it is based on the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. But, sometimes I wonder if we shouldn’t make a few changes.
For one thing, religious fanaticism should never be permitted as the reason for us to abandon our system of justice. 
Unfortunately, we still seem to be a long way from seeing justice done in this case.
© 2013 Harris R. Sherline, All Right Reserved
If you enjoy these commentaries, please help my readership grow by passing them around. If someone sent this to you, and you would like to receive it directly, please email me at hrs100@verizon.net.
Posted at 11:12 AM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Friday, February 8, 2013
Sad Valentine DAZE!
Young people today think they are part of a NEW revolution as they redefine the institution of marriage and even toy around with the definition of love.  But, they are sadly mistaken and in for a rude awakening, because there really is nothing new under the sun.
This might be a shock to you, but the 1960's radicals who challenged the norms of our society didn’t have any original thoughts.  Every concept they promoted, all the mores they challenged, and every institution they resisted, had been similarly opposed in other societies in generations and civilizations long gone.
The most important thing you need to understand is that all the previously great civilizations who also redefined marriage, opted for divorce in groves, chose to be childless- they did all these things as their civilization was in a state of decline!  They were not progressing or evolving.  They were disintegrating!  And, so is America.
There are three types of family structures that last and only three!  There is the tribal/clan structure.  The civilizations who use this structure are somewhat stable but they are always primordial.  That is, they never become great because the individual in the society is never allowed to pursue individual goals based upon individual talents.  The needs of the tribe subsume the vision and talents of the individual.
The strongest and most successful civilizations were built upon the foundation of the nuclear family.  One man and one woman sharing their distinct, combined talents to raise their children in a stable home with the freedom and support necessary to realize and fulfill dreams and potential.  The nuclear family has the support of extended family but is not defined or confined by the same.
The third type of family structure is not a family at all.  It is the individual living for him or herself.  The overwhelming success of the nuclear family type civilization ends up allowing succeeding generations to eschew the values, instincts, and traditions that made the civilization great in the first place! 
Previously, in the Greek and Roman empires, and in Europe and America today, the devolution of marriage is the indicator that we are in a state of decline because the nuclear family is the building block and foundation of a successful civil society.  The familial and societal indicators of decline across thousands of years are always the same.  Increased divorce rates, redefined marriage, and childless unions. 
It is not complicated really.  Societies comprised of families that don’t or can’t biologically produce kids cannot sustain their existence.  Birth rates really do matter.  Kids brought up in broken families tend to not value marriage because they have been a victim of a failed union and their lack of interest in the same discourages them from getting married and having children of their own.
Compare and contrast what we refer to as the Greatest Generation in America to young people today.  The Greatest Generation were the children of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War Two.  They knew how to tolerate hardship, live sacrificially and within their means, and they valued freedom, family and country above personal comfort, safety and convenience.
Today’s generation has not needed to know the meaning of sacrifice, commitment and perseverance.  Our society is so wealthy and so relatively secure, we have raised children whose primary characteristics are narcissism and hedonism.   The individual is all that matters.  But, individuals do not comprise or build great societies or sustain advancing civilizations, families do.
Andy Caldwell is the Executive Director of COLAB and the host of the Andy Caldwell Show weekdays from 3-5 p.m. on AM1440.
Posted at 07:52 AM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

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