Monday, February 28, 2005
The future of Los Angeles
Why? Because no one has paid attention to the race for the mayor of Los Angeles. A few days ago I wrote about what it would take for Mayor Hahn to win re-election, althought it seems that he isn't taking my advice. The Daily News mirrored my comments, and cited this:
Various polls indicate Hahn might even have trouble making a runoff with Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa generally running ahead of him and former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg rapidly gaining ground. So the final televised debate ... could prove crucial.
"This is a complicated election," said Raphael Sonenshein, a political science professor at California State University, Fullerton. "There is little real ideological difference among the candidates, but there is this controversy out there swirling around that could make voters feel uneasy."
The heart of the campaign waged by Villaraigosa, Hertzberg, Councilman Bernard Parks and state Sen. Richard Alarcon are federal and local grand juries looking at possible criminal misconduct in the Hahn administration and questions about whether the mayor has provided the leadership the city needs.
As I said, if Mayor Hahn admits that he made mistakes --- which doesn't mean he has to list them, or provide the general public with any sort of indictment against himself --- his approval rating would shoot through the roof, and his numbers would start to rise. If you take a look at the field, you will notice that Sonenshein is right in his assessment of the candidates: They're all differnet shades of vanilla, with Hahn standing out as the sundae because of the record he's built for himself. While political scholars can debate about what his records consists of, one thing is for sure, and that is the fact that it's honed on a local scale, more so than any of his competitors.
Unless you take the time to research, it'll be hard to tell that every noteworthy candidate is a Democrat, with the exception of Walter Moore. Moore stands firm on his conservative soapbox, pushing for more police officers, a harder stance on illegal immigration, and less bureaucracy in City Hall. The last conservative leader in the City of Los Angeles was Richard Riordan, who did a great job of cutting wasteful spending, and establishing a corruption task force, later given a new breath of life by District Attorney Steve Cooley with the creation of the JSID division of the DA's office.
Meanwhile, we have Bob Hertzberg, who has taken a grassroots approach to gaining popularity, all of the while pushing for commuters rights, a better system of spending tax dollars, and a list of supporters that would make the Backstreet Boys jealous. Anyone looking to fix LA's roads, as well as LA's schools, the latter supported by our governor himself, would probably choose Hertzberg.
And who could forget Antonio Villaraigosa? Not many people, apparently, as he, Hertzberg, and Hahn appear to be in a three-way tie for the office.
If the election were held today, the poll found, Villaraigosa, a city councilman, would win 24%, followed by Hertzberg, 21%, and Hahn, 20%. In effect, though, the three are tied, because the margin of sampling error for likely voters is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Thinking back to 2004, these flash-polls had John Kerry in the lead by double-digits, only to see him fall to a fiery defeat. Villaraigosa is taking a stand, but only a win and time will tell if he would really put his money where his mouth is, as promises like these have proven to be difficult to keep regardless of who you are:
Most major metropolitan areas like Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia have about twice as many police officers per person as we do. For years we've talked about putting more police officers on our streets, but it hasn't happened. Despite lofty rhetoric and many promises from the mayor's office, there has been no meaningful increase in the numbers of police officers on our streets over the past four years. Now he says he has a plan, but coming up with a plan in an election year is no excuse for 4 years of failure. I have a plan that begins by putting 300 new officers on our streets now, followed by an additional 1,300 officers within five years.
It's not that we don't believe that anyone in the mayor's office doesn't want to see more officers on the street, it's a matter of making that plan take effect by seeing it get past the city council. That's the roadblock anyone holding the title will face, regardless of political affiliation of budget spreadsheet.
But no matter what, we still find ourselves, even staunch conservatives such as myself, heading back to old faithful, that title belonging to Jim Hahn. Not only does he have the support of LAPD Chief Bratton, something that is a must for anyone who runs the city, but he initiated the precious tax reform for businesses within the city limits, something that would have a hard time passing through the gates of hell that are comprised of the inner-workings of City Hall itself.
So where is my vote going? To be perfectly honest, I don't know. I'd love to sit down with Mayor Hahn over lunch to talk about what his plans for the future are, considering that people like myself tend to close our ears around campaign season because we don't want to hear empty promises, and focus our attention on the press kits from the previous year to get the answers we're looking for. I, like every other person in this city, want someone who will follow through with their promises. That's all we ask for.
Sunday, February 27, 2005
The inner circle
Mayor James Hahn's re-election bid has suffered _ along with the image of honesty he worked hard to cultivate _ amid accusations he let corruption and fraud flourish at City Hall.
County prosecutors have been investigating allegations that Hahn supporters shook down companies that wanted to do business with the city by tying public contracts to political contributions. Federal prosecutors have opened their own inquiry.
Hahn has not been implicated and denies knowledge of any potential wrongdoing, but the investigations touch whole segments of city government _ from members of Hahn's inner circle to Los Angeles International Airport and the water and power department.
No city official has been charged, though several have resigned.
But with prosecutors issuing subpoenas for Hahn's office e-mails and summoning some of his aides before grand juries, the investigations have become a popular topic for his four main challengers in the March 8 primary.
"He's the pinata. The question is the whether the pinata will survive," said Bob Stern, president of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies in Santa Monica.
Critics have cast Hahn's administration as the most corrupt since a scandal-plagued mayor was recalled nearly 70 years ago, and some of his supporters have withdrawn their endorsements.
"It's more than a scandal. It's crippled his administration," said Councilman Bernard Parks, a former police chief whose ouster was backed by Hahn and who is one of the mayor candidates.
Hahn has been reminding voters of his reputation for personal integrity.
"There's no factual basis for any of these charges," said Hahn's campaign consultant Kam Kuwata. "It's always rhetoric and hot air."
This is a tough situation for Hahn. While I'm not a supporter of his, I would like to give this advice to his public relations team, who is most likely reading this blog. First of all, don't be like Martha Stewart. She made the fatal mistake of blaming everyone else when things really got bad, while smiling and attempting to evade the charges until that point. As of right now, a majority of the people in Los Angeles who are following the race are under the assumption that Hahn's administration is dirty, whether it's true or not. Frankly, I don't know enough about it to make that assertion, but the cards definitely aren't lining up in his favor. Owing up to it right now will allow him, and the administration, to move past it. The sad fact is that voters live for the day; most voters in local elections don't base a vote on recent history, but pick and choose between the good and the bad. Hahn can gain a sympathy vote if he comes out and states where he made mistakes, and how he plans on fixing it.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
A matter of policy
It takes motivated cops to put up such numbers, but it's hard to stay motivated in the midst of a political carnival. We see Steve Garcia, the officer who shot Devin Brown at the end of a high-speed pursuit, as only the latest scapegoat to a city government that seems to value the lives of criminals more highly than those of its police officers. In his position Chief Bratton must wear the hats of both politician and policeman, but these days we'd like to see much less of the former and much more of the latter.
I would highly suggest reading the entire column on National Review Online (NRO).
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Close to the edge
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
The latest in irony
Meanwhile, in the latest Michael Jackson news, neither team decided to have any blacks on the jury that will come to a conclusion about Jacko's guilt.
As mentioned yesterday, we're having some serious weather here in Southern California. My office is 15 miles away from my house, and because of mudslides and falling boulders, it took me close to two hours to get there this morning. Mayor Hahn has been pushing to declare our region a disaster area, although President Bush has yet to review the proposal. CALTRANS has their hands full as they rushed to clean up most of the city, and people still remain homeless after the rain forced them to leave their houses.
And if that wasn't bad enough, I'm seeing deja-vu from last summer as Mount Saint Helens seems to be having gastrointestinal problems once again. But hey, at least it's better than being told to shut-up by CBS.
I know a lot of correctional workers who are going to be watching their backs more than before, as the Supreme Court decided that officers cannot segregate inmates by skin color, except under extraordinary circumstances. While some of you might be sitting there wondering why I'm raising a stink about it, it's because prison security is no laughing matter. Dividing inmates by skin color when tension is building isn't a racial operation, it's simply to keep opposing gangs from starting a riot. The activist judges who decided on this claim it's "racial segregation," while those of us in the know realize it's just for prison safety.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Dissecting Devin Brown
On the morning of February 6th, at approximately 4 o' clock in the morning, officers spotted a late-model Toyota Camry run a red light in South Central Los Angeles. Suspecting a drunk driver, they tailed the car and eventually initiated a traffic stop (FOX News, 2005). Instead of pulling over, the driver of the car led the officers on a three-and-a-half mile chase through South Central, cornering himself on a tight street. With a stopped car, the officers got out and requested the driver exit the vehicle. The driver threw the car in reverse, launch at the officers, who opened fire, which resulted in the death of the driver. The driver was later found to be 13-year old Devin Brown, accompanied by an accomplice of near-age, who was not killed in the incident.
Various factions in Los Angeles have come together to confront the LAPD, questioning what processed the officers to shoot a 13-year old boy. The ANSWER Coalition, a neo-Marxist group who leads civil marches to advocate communism and anarchism, issued a release stating, "From these incidents, and countless others like them, it is clear that police brutality against African-American, Latino and other oppressed communities in Los Angeles is the norm, and not the exception. This is the case not only in LA, but in poor communities across the nation. Such a widespread and consistent problem isn’t caused by a handful of 'bad cops.'" (ANSWER, 2005) While the civil rights issue of the story is grabbing headlines across the nation, the crux of the matter is not whether the officers were correct or not in their decision to open fire, but why a gifted 13-year old felt obligated to steal a car (CNN, 2005).
Looking into the psyche of a criminal is a task that requires a mixture of theory through hypothesis, a strict adherence to reality, and the ability to restrict oneself from questioning the actions of those who cannot be held accountable through control factors. Of the available criminological theories, the Strain Theory holds true in this account of why a 13-year old from South Central Los Angeles would subject himself to possible death by stealing a car, and then making an attempt to escape by using the car as a battering ram against officers.
When Robert K. Merton created the theses that later became the Strain Theory, his initiate hypothesis was that "good can cause evil," (Abadinski, Winfree, 2003), does not prove to be true in an exact sense, although the theories provided do explain how a 13-year old could lead police on a 3 1/2 mile chase while most people are still asleep.
Taking a look at the legitimate opportunities, it's easy to see that a gifted student, who obviously has a higher IQ than most his age, would have a grasp of the world around him that realize that a regular nine-to-five job would provide for a paycheck that could suffice for his desires in life. But, given that FOX News reported that the young man had fallen-in with the gang activity that runs rampant throughout South Central Los Angeles, one can understand how Devin Brown became disenchanted with any possible legal forms of income, trading them in for what he believes to be a more fashionable form of making money. In this case, that form ended up being the theft of automobiles. Although an ends-means schema does not apply in this situation, as Brown knew that as a gifted student, the world was open to his demands as he furthered his education, the constant peer-pressure from his fellow gang members could act as a sort of brainwashing. The brainwashing, which pushed him to believe that no other means could suffice for his desires in life, led him on this pathway that soon ended it. This is the exact strain that is spoken of between goals and means, as outlined by Merton.
One thing we have to take a look at is how Brown was effected by the overwhelming influence the gang members put on him, and which one of the three adaptations of anomie he fit into. We could take a look at the rebel form, but the fact that he was out stealing a car would not allow him to fit into that mold, given the current information that we have available to us in regard to his history. True, he might have been out the night before spray painting and tagging walls, but we do not know that for sure. And, he might not believe that African Americans have any place in corporate America, and was continuing with his education in order to keep a low profile, but there is no proof of that either. The same factors apply to whether or not we can call Brown a retreatist. Once again, he was in school and apparently excelling in his studies, being that he was in the gifted program, and there was no evidence that he was abusing drugs. Taking it a step further, he did not withdraw from family life, and he still enjoyed playing basketball with the locals in his age range.
With only one option left, it's apparent that Brown was an innovator. Brown believed that a societal defined goal was not only quick and easy money, but also the approval of his peers. This approval, which must be obtained at any cost, and puts the acquisition of money second, drove him to the point of stealing a car, and backing it into the radio car of officers, who were forced to open fire in order to protect their own lives. There was not a real legitimate lack of experience on Brown's part, the young man was 13-years old, three years away from the age of being able to get a part time job, something that could easily be obtained considering the fact that he was a gifted student. A 16-year old gifted student could be given a part-time job at a corporate entity on an after-school program, or even a summer job as an intern. However, due to the gang influence, Brown did not believe these options were available to him, thus making him turn to a life of crime.
These illegitimate opportunities that present themselves to the youth are magnified by what they see in the media, who their heroes are. From a theoretical standpoint, the blame can be rested on society, who failed to properly educate the child on morality, which led to his involvement in gangs. But at the same time, our separation of church and state does not allow for morals to be taught in our public education system, and a daily withdrawal of the difference between right and wrong do not provide for a blueprint or outline to guide kids such as Brown. While many point to the LAPD and put the blame on them for the shooting, a realist must look from the point of view of the chain of events and ask why Brown was there in the first place, and what was running through his head in order for him to put the car in reverse and aim for the LAPD radio car. While the answer to exactly what he was thinking can never be known for sure, the Strain Theory answers our question as to the profile of the child at the time of the incident.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Derailed, part 3
This is how the case started when Alvarez caused a train to derail, killing 11, including a Deputy Sheriff.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
As any good officer would do, they shot the driver. They had no idea he was a 13-year old, nor did they target him out of the blue. Their lives were in danger, so they opened fire. End of story.
In the event you didn't know, I can't stand it when people demonize the LAPD.
In a move that needs to occur more often, private citizens are getting together in something called The Minuteman Project, which will patrol the U.S.-Mexico border and make Border Patrol Agents aware of anyone illegals trying to cross. I'm waiting to see how this turns out, because if it works wonders over the 30 day period they're planning to try it out, then I think we might be seeing something along the lines of the next Pinkerton.
You can write this one down in the pages of history: I, Nick Stewart, believe we might be able to take a hint from Europe. Yes, it's true, Europe is actually doing something good. Britain is putting their foot down on immigration, putting forth a plan to pick and choose who they want, how many of them they want, and when they can hop across the border. I think this is a great idea, and here's how the system would work:
Mr Clarke said all foreigners applying for visas would be fingerprinted to stop them disappearing into the UK's black economy once their visas expire and electronic checks stepped up on those entering and leaving the country.
"This country needs migration. Tourists, students and migrant workers make a vital contribution to the UK economy," he told MPs. "But we need to ensure that we let in migrants with the skills and talents to benefit Britain, while stopping those trying to abuse our hospitality and place a burden on our society."
Controversially, Mr Clarke said he would stop giving successful asylum-seekers the right to stay in Britain permanently. Instead, refugees will only be given temporary leave to remain, which will last up to five years.
Under the proposals, there will be renewed attempts to step up the number of failed asylum seekers who are deported. Mr Clarke said that by the end of this year the number of people being removed each month will exceed the number of unfounded asylum claims.
People who have settled in the country will have to wait five years before they can sponsor further family members to come to Britain in a bid to end "chain migration". Under the new points system, there will be four tiers of immigrants, divided by their qualifications, work experience, income and other factors.
Highly skilled migrants will fall into Tier One, including doctors, engineers, IT specialists and finance experts - who will be the only group able to come to Britain without a job offer. Skilled workers in Tier Two will have NVQ level 3 or A-Level equivalent qualifications, such as nurses, teachers and administrators. Employers will be able to sponsor their application, but being accepted for a job will not necessarily guarantee entry to the UK.
Tier Three covers low-skilled workers, who will be granted entry to Britain to fill specific job vacancies for fixed periods, with guarantees that they will leave at the end of their stay. Tier Four covers students and special sectors such as footballers and employees of international companies based in the UK.
Oh man, that is a great idea. Imagine if we did that here in the U.S. Left wing whackos, liberals, Michael Moore & Co., and their entire fanbase would be throwing fits. That's only one of the reasons why I love this idea.
Meanwhile, our boys and girls on the frontlines are getting a new set of BDU's, and I happen to like the way they look. Anyone who wore a set of desert BDU's knows those things being to make you stick out like a sore thumb once they got anything but mud on them, and I think this new line might prevent that.
Enjoy the blog, people.
Monday, February 07, 2005
Ouch, part 2
That's what happens when I'm the first in the blogosphere to break the story. Leave it up to his publicist to issue a statement that sounds as dumb as humanly possible.
Houston’s publicist issued a statement Thursday night denying reports that he tried to take his life by jumping from a London hotel window last week. The statement said Houston had “found himself in the midst of a spiritual battle against the evil that runs rampant in the entertainment industry.”
Here's more from the source.
“I went to check on him before going to bed and I saw blood on the floor,” Houston’s bodyguard, Marco Powell, said in the statement. “Houston was lying on his bed with a towel over his face and I removed the towel to find his eye hanging out. He said he had to get the devil off of his back and that’s the only way he could kill the devil.”
I'm sitting here cringing just imagining how much that would hurt. I'm sure some whackjob on the net has already posted false pictures of what they believe to be this poor guy, although I know for a fact that any hospital that released pictures would be in the doghouse over HIPPA issues.
Mark my words --- any pictures you come across are 100% fake.
Friday, February 04, 2005
After being thwarted in a suicide attempt in a London hotel room, R&B singer Houston gouged his own eye out.
On Thursday Houston attempted to jump out of a 13th-floor hotel window but was stopped by his security personnel, sources close to the singer said. He was moved to a lower floor and locked in his room, where he injured himself. Additional details are still coming to light, and photographs of his injury are circulating online.
The Los Angeles native, born Houston Summers IV, was overseas for a series of performances when the incident occurred. He scored a hit last year with "I Like That," which featured Chingy and Nate Dogg and was used in a McDonald's commercial (see "Houston Scores Club Hit With Help From Chingy, Nate Dogg"). His debut album, It's Already Written, was certified gold a month after its release in August."Our thoughts and prayers are with Houston during this tragic time," a Capitol Records spokesperson said.
Los Angeles radio station KKBT-FM's K-Sly, who appeared in the "I Like That" video and is close to Houston's camp, said the singer had been under psychiatric care last year for manic depression. Another source corroborated that claim, adding that Houston had also struggled with PCP."I was told he wanted to commit suicide and stabbed his eye out," K-Sly said. "He was telling people he was Jesus and wanted to go home to his Father."
The singer is now back in Los Angeles.
For once in my life, I have no comment.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
A million and one stories
I was patiently awaiting the State of the Union address, which was worth waiting for a transcript to be published so I could look over it again. Of course, the big issue of the night was social security, and President Bush outlined a plan that Bill Clinton only wished his cabinet could think of. As Lee over at Right Thinking points out, former-President Clinton said the same thing about the state of the social security system back in 1998, only it was viewed in passing, and nothing was ever done about it. It makes you wonder why the Democrats are throwing such a fit, when the plan was started by them.
Meanwhile, in the wonderful part of the world also known as the Middle East, Iran seems to have picked up a few missiles from the Ukraine and China, and they're still refusing to give-up their nuclear program. But at the same time, a rather heartwarming story comes from the front lines, as President Bush awarded the first Medal of Honor in Operation: Iraqi Freedom to the family of Sgt. 1C Paul R. Smith, who died bravely defending his brigade.
And finally, my office is making progress is the case of Juan Manuel Alvarez, who parked his Jeep Cherokee on a set of Metrolink tracks in Glendale and derailed a set of trains, causing eleven deaths.