Archive | October 2010

Arizona looses 9th Circuit court voter identification requirement

With the midterm elections just days away, the 9th Circuit court ruled against Arizona and took away the state’s ability to request proof of citizenship identification when residents are registering to vote. The state wanted to curtail voter fraud and ensure residents who were voting for state and federal elections were legally doing so.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stuck down a simple voter protection requirement of identification that won approval from Arizona residents in the form of Proposition 200.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said it was a “slap in the face” to all Arizonians who care deeply about the integrity of their election process.

“Arizona voters approved this critical election-security requirement in 2004. We have been vigorously defending its constitutionality and the will of Arizona voters,” Brewer said. “This law has previously been upheld at every level and by every court, including the 9th Circuit, despite numerous lawsuits and challenges filed by activist groups.”

The Governor as well as Secretary of State, Ken Bennett agreed that the Court’s ruling would not impact Tuesday’s midterm, but could be a factor during the 2012 election cycle.

The ruling draws into focus the state’s famous SB1070 immigration bill that is set to be heard by the 9th Circuit Court the day before the midterm elections on November 1st.

Like SB1070, the will of Arizona’s voters will be tested again and Arizona’s leaders promise to take both pieces of legislation to the Supreme Court if necessary.

“This simply cannot be tolerated,” Brewer said in a statement. “Arizona voters have made their will crystal clear- non-citizens do not have the right to vote. We will continue to pursue any and all legal remedies to prevent fraudulent voter registration in the State of Arizona, as well as the right of our state citizens to craft appropriate protections.”

The State of Arizona currently has a separate state registration form that requests information like a driver’s license or passport number. The change stemmed from Proposition 200 that was approved by Arizona voters in 2004 and essentially requires applicants to provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote.

The Ninth Circuit ruling on proof of citizenship decision came from a three-judge panel that vote 2-1 against Arizona’s right to inquire about citizenship. The three judges, that included former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, ruled the federal and state laws conflicted and federal law requires all states to make voter registration widely available and remove as many obstacles as possible.

The Arizona Attorney General’s office said they plan to petition the court for a rehearing with a larger panel of 9th Circuit Court judges, according to Mika Marquart of the AG’s office.

The liberal Latino rights group MALDEF who challenged Proposition 200 said it made people “jump through hoops” to become voters and would affect minority voters, said Nina Perales, MALDEF national senior counsel and lead counsel on the case.

MALDEF claimed the new “proof of citizenship” law affects newly naturalized U.S. citizens whose voter registrations are rejected because they received their driver’s licenses while they were green-card holders and their citizenship status hasn’t caught up with the state identification system Perales explained.

According to their website MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. MALDEF is also fighting against Arizona’s SB1070 immigration law.

As the 2010 midterm election cycle unfolds and recounts begin to take place, Arizona’s election registrars will have to deal with voter fraud the way every other state in the union – ballot by ballot.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

Up in smoke? California’s quest to legalize pot

Get enough signatures to get Proposition 19 on the California ballot- check. Raise enough money to educate the voters- check. Convince dark blue Californians that legalizing marijuana is a good idea- not so easy.

Proposition 19 is a ballot initiative that would effectively end prohibition of marijuana production, possession, and consumption. While the little green plant would be under some restrictions statewide, it would be up to individual cities to write the rules of enforcement.

The proposition was the creation of Richard Lee, an Oakland marijuana entrepreneur who spent more than $1.5 million to draft legislation and convince voters of the benefits if pot is legalized. The campaign has attracted some high-profile names like George Soros who donated money to the legalize marijuana campaign.

Billionaire Soros penned an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal discussing his reason for donating money to the campaign for legalization of pot.

“Proposition 19 already is a winner no matter what happens on Election Day. The mere fact of its being on the ballot has elevated and legitimized public discourse about marijuana and marijuana policy in ways I could not have imagined a year ago,” Soros wrote. “Just as the process of repealing national alcohol prohibition began with individual states repealing their own prohibition laws, so individual states must now take the initiative with respect to repealing marijuana prohibition laws.”

Those who favor legalization claim tax-revenue funds would be used to combat minor marijuana crime and allow law enforcement to focus on serious crimes. Another claim proponents are touting are the billions in tax revenue that could be generated from the sale of pot.

Those opposed to legalization of marijuana explain the voters are being sold a bill of goods about the increased tax revenue and organizers are downplaying the addiction rates. Opponents also contend that smoking pot will lead to more drug abuse and create other dangers like driving under the influence, encourage illicit drug activity south of the border and increase petty crime.

In a San Diego Union Tribune op-ed story titled- Prop. 19: The promise is not the reality, the San Diego District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis and Sheriff William Gore spotlights the perils of legalizing marijuana.
“The ‘bait and switch’ is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Unfortunately, it’s being used again by proponents of Proposition 19, the initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot that would legalize marijuana. Voters are being misled by this poorly written initiative that promises one thing but delivers something very different,” the opinion begins.

Dumanis and Gore say the truth about Proposition 19 is it will not regulate or tax pot as its authors contend, but it will shoulder the burden on local governments to create the legal framework and then enforce the rules at a very costly expense to cities in California who are already struggling with deepening budget deficits.

The end result will be a confusing patchwork of laws and zero revenue for the state of California.

Opponents describe a number of flaws contained in the proposition. Imagine you are headed home after a long day at the office and you get into a car accident, but the driver tests negative for alcohol; he may be high and cops have no way to determine at the scene if marijuana was the culprit, plus passengers in the car can smoke while driving.

Another dilemma voters need to consider with Proposition 19 is the ability to grow marijuana at home. “Prop 19 would have a decidedly negative impact on our neighborhoods. The law would allow each person living at a residence to grow 25 square feet of pot. Grow houses would pop up all over the county and bring increased foot traffic along with them. Property values would go down,” the San Diego Union Tribune article said.

Dumanis claims “the ballot measure could prevent an employer from firing an employee who is under the influence of marijuana. Employees would be able to smoke marijuana during their work day. Employers may not be able to maintain a drug-free workplace, potentially violating the provisions of the Federal Drug Free Workplace Act and jeopardizing millions of dollars in federal funding.”

Proposition 19 may seem like a good idea by promising to save money through fewer prosecutions, but law enforcement in San Diego aren’t buying the claim and say possession of small amounts of marijuana now is already a minor offense punishable by a $100 fine and no time in jail.

“As prosecutors, we’re not spending a large amount of time or money on these cases because offenders typically just pay the fine,” Dumanis said. Also leading think tanks contend that for every one dollar collected in revenue, nine dollars is required to cover rehabilitation costs.

Opponents of the measure say drug cartels will not be driven out of business by this initiative. Legalizing marijuana will only make cartels richer and more violent as competition grows. Illegal drug dealers would be forced to sell to the only market left– kids under 21 years old.

Latin American leaders fail to see any positives with America legalizing marijuana. “It is confusing for our people to see that while we have lost lives and we invest vast resources in the drug war, in the consumer countries they promote proposals like the Californian referendum to legalize the production, the sale and the consumption of marijuana,” said Columbia President Juan Manual Santos.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon concurs. “They (the Americans) have a clear responsibility in this because they are providing the market for the drug dealers and the criminals.”

As for California’s lawmakers most are against the measure; including both candidates for Governor, Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman, Senator Diane Feinstein and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Joining them is the California Chamber of Commerce, Crime Victims United, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Coalition for a Drug-Free America, Fight Crime Invest in Kids and the North Coastal Prevention.

On the flipside the folks who wrote the ballot imitative see things much differently. The following are some of the provisions contained in Proposition 19;

• Control cannabis like alcohol, allowing adults 21 and over in California to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, to be consumed at home or licensed establishments
• Give state and local governments the ability to tax the sale of cannabis for adult consumption
• Put our police priorities where they belong, by ending the arrests of non-violent cannabis consumers, saving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars a year and enabling police to focus on violent crime
• Generate billions in annual revenue to fund what matters most in California: jobs, healthcare, public safety, parks, roads, transportation, and more
• Cut off funding to violent drug cartels across our border who currently generate 60 percent of their revenue from the illegal U.S. marijuana market
• Protect our kids, our roads, and our workplaces, by increasing the penalty for selling marijuana to minors, banning the smoking of marijuana in public, on school grounds, and while minors are present, maintaining strict criminal penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana, and preserving employers’ rights to maintain drug-free workplaces
• Protect medical cannabis patients’ rights

Political leaders on both ides of the political spectrum are monitoring the proposition to see if this proposition motivates younger voters to hit the polling booths. The possibility of legalizing pot even spurred the RAND Corporation to open an academic study titled: Reducing Drug Trafficking and Violence in Mexico – Would Legalizing Marijuana in California Help?

The authors concluded in their study; “Our best guess (this is the most important word in the RAND study) is that legalizing marijuana production in California would wipe out essentially all DTO (Drug Trafficking Organization) marijuana revenues from selling Mexican marijuana to California users; however, the share of Mexican marijuana in the United States that comes from Mexico to California is no more than one-seventh of all Mexican imports.”

According to a story from Reuters, the researchers found the drug cartels’ marijuana business in the United States could evaporate if high-quality marijuana from California was diverted from legal production and smuggled to the rest of the country. However that premises that California growers were willing to break the law and sell their product illegally to other dealers throughout America.

Looking to see what the underworld of drugs produces one only need to look to Mexico and see that over the past three-and-a half years in Mexico illegal drugs are responsible for nearly 30,000 murders. Scholars also admit that “it is unclear whether reductions in Mexican DTOs’ revenues would lead to corresponding decrease in violence…The effect of reducing DTO marijuana revenues on violence is a matter of conjecture.”

The topic of legalization has even sparked debate in Mexico where the drug cartels have ravaged its government and enemies alike in order to get their billion dollar industry products into the coveted United States market.

The General Director of the “El Mezon” Rehabilitation Center, Luis Serrano Quintero, said that if California legalizes marijuana on November 2nd, “Crime in Tijuana could be unleashed.”

Quintero said drug addicts could get “drugged up” in the United States and return to Tijuana to commit crimes. “We know for a fact that legalization of marijuana in California will adversely affect our communities in Tijuana and Baja California, and they need to consider that reforming their drug laws will affect us,” Quintero concluded.

Since San Diego shares a border with Tijuana, Mexico it has a lot at stake regarding illicit drugs, border violence, drug cartels and illegal immigration. If Proposition 19 finds favor with the voters, San Diegans will mostly likely see the effects of pot sales first. Keeping this in mind, the San Diego City Counsel unanimously signed a resolution to not endorse Proposition 19.

“It is encouraging to see San Diego’s elected leaders on both sides of the political spectrum stepping up to the plate to oppose California becoming a pothead culture and the nation’s drug dealer,” said Lee Lambert, Southern California field representative for MarijuanaHarmsFamilies.com. “Marijuana legalization would bring in very little tax revenue, but would cost much more in teenage drug addictions, family problems, workplace accidents, and drugged driving DUIs.”

Either way you look at it Proposition 19 will stir debate about America’s drug use and hopefully draw attention to the country-wide instability created by drug cartels in Mexico.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

Arizona replaces controversial signs warning residents of illegal drug activity

Arizona signs confirming that drug and human smuggling activity was taking place well inside the Arizona border have received a face lift and now offer campers and hikers different information when they travel to the Arizona public land regions.

The new sign now reads, “Visitor Information Update- active federal law enforcement patrol area, clean-up and restoration crews at work, contact BLM rangers for current area status.” In smaller print in the lower left-hand side of the sign provides the Bureau of Land Management district office phone number and encourages residents to call 911 for emergency.

The tamer BLM signs sparked speculation as to why Arizona’s Bureau of Land Management decided to make the change. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio put it in plain and simple language; “They were embarrassed.”

“Arizona’s BLM decided to change the signs after they created a national hysteria and they decided to temper it,” said America’s toughest Sheriff. “What the new signs should read is ‘anyone caught smuggling drugs or humans are going to jail.” In an ironic twist, Sheriff Arpaio is in the process of working with BLM to have prisoners in his jails, including illegal aliens, to go into the desert and clean up the trash.

The new signs went up over the weekend as a result of a Congressional bill that granted $600 million to increase border security measures. BLM received a special $200,000 emergency grant to conduct and increase patrols in the southwest portion of Arizona in an effort to saturate the region, according to BLM spokesperson Debrah Stevens.

The new “temporary signs” are part of BLM’s three-prong approach to restore or mitigate the land damaged from illegal alien layup activity, construct physical barriers on roadways used by suspected illegal traffickers and acknowledge that armed BLM rangers are patrolling the area.

“We are working with 50 other law enforcement agencies including, tribal, county, Border Patrol, Sheriff’s Departments to secure the region. The intel provided to us confirms we are having a positive affect and have seen a decrease in activity,” Stevens explained.

While that may be true local activists and law enforcement say the summer months typically see fewer human and drug traffickers due to the extreme desert heat, plus the high-profile tactic BLM chose only forewarned the bad guys and diverted their activities elsewhere along the border.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu pointed out that; “We are three counties deep. How is it that you see pictures (BLM signs) like these? How is that okay?”

Babeu continues to explain that his department is “outgunned, out manned” and don’t have the resources locally to fight this growing problem.

Just a hop, skip and jump south to Mexico the cartel murders continue unabated.

Mexico experienced its deadliest day ever this year and 85 citizens lost their lives in a single day due to drug cartel territory wars and brutality.

The recent bloody Friday in Mexico was summed up by local news reports as organized crime-related mayhem. “In what constitutes the most violent day since the present federal administration began the frontal struggle against organized crime, 85 people lost their lives in acts related directly to ‘adjustments of affairs’ between rival gangs, confrontations and assassinations with high-caliber firearms,” local newspapers reported.

Over the weekend in Juarez and Tijuana the mass murders resulted in 14 young people dying while celebrating a birthday in Juarez and 13 people were executed facedown at a Tijuana drug rehab facility.

Monitoring the violence in Mexico is what lead to the original signs being put up in the Arizona desert. The old signs read; “Danger Public Warning, travel not recommended active human and drug smuggling area, visitors may encounter armed criminals and smuggling vehicles traveling at high rates of speed. Stay away from trash, clothing, backpacks and abandoned vehicles. If you see suspicious activity, do not confront (underlined) move away and call 911. The BLM encourages visitors to use public lands north of Interstate 8.”

Arizona law enforcement and federal agencies are well aware of the violence their southern neighbors deal with on a daily basis. As a result Stevens mentioned that BLM is working with the Alliance to Combat Transnational Threats, an organization that works closely with agencies on both sides of the border. “We feel our increased patrols are having a positive impact,” she said.

However, state Senator Russell Pearce couldn’t disagree more with the folks at BLM; “This is nothing more than a political game. And shame on them for putting real American lives at risk.”

Pearce, who authored SB1070 Arizona’s controversial immigration law, says that he continues to hear from ranchers and residents from the southern part of the state.

“They report to me their livestock and pets have their throats slit. They tell me about the thousands of dollars of property damage due to illegals crossing across the border. And they want to know why the federal government refuses to enforce the law and protect them from the daily barrage of threats,” Pearce said.

It’s been less than a year since beloved Arizona rancher Robert Krentz was murdered by an alleged illegal alien. There have been no arrests in that case and neighbors have been forced to change their daily lifestyle.

A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) immigration report confirmed the federal government’s inability to complete their mission. The report found that 15 percent of the 26 Border Patrol stations located in the southwestern region claim the Interior Department and the Agriculture Department have stopped them from catching illegal aliens crossing the U.S. border.

The GAO points out that nearly half of the U.S.-Mexico border is federally controlled and maintained by the Interior Department and Forest Service who are charged with upholding national environmental laws. It also was estimated that last year these federally controlled lands had more than 556,000 people illegally cross into America.

This report proves the BLM point that there is little activity in the Sonoran Desert National Monument as well as the Ironwood Forest where the signs have been placed. BLM’s Stevens said they received 25 new agents from Washington D.C. to help with the chronic problems in their desert, but these agents were only a temporary fix and now BLM will have to make do with 6-7 rangers to cover all Arizona’s public land.

While BLM may be patting themselves on the back with the decreased activity, an Arizona Secure Borders Intelligence group who monitors remote videos in the desert says the illegal activity has not stopped.

“In the past several days U.S. citizens have reported illegals carrying firearms at mile-marker 136, at mile-marker 142 custom-made Styrofoam coolers (that cartels use to transport heroin, cocaine and meth) were recovered-the owners escaped into the desert night, two backpacks loaded with marijuana were found on Freeman Road, a number of suspected illegal immigrants were picked up at Smith Road (two weeks ago residents reported multiple shots were fired in the same area) and on and on,” says Secure Borders Intelligence.

Another wrinkle for the generic BLM signs comes in the form of Snowbirds. These are the retirees who flock to Arizona to enjoy the mild winter weather and often quadruple the desert population. Area residents are concerned that these wintertime residents may not know about the dangers located in the southwest region of the state and are likely to stumble into a dangerous situation.

“Interstate 8 corridors have drawn a lot of attention this year. There have been at least 14 confirmed shootings involving illegal smugglers and American citizens. A grandfather and his grandson were dove hunting when a load of illegals came down a dirt road and shot at them. There have also been two cases near Vekol Road exit where two different Americans were stopped briefly, chased and shot at by three suspected illegals with AK-47s,” Secure Borders Intelligence reports.

Even the Department of Homeland Security has warned Pinal County Sheriff’s Office with a memo concerning the possibility of drug cartel assassins coming into the U.S. to protect their drug loads.

This portion of Arizona was also the scene where Pinal County Sheriff Deputy Louie Puroll was shot by “cartel rip crews” in April. Just a few weeks later two Mexican drug runners where shot and killed in the same location as Puroll neither case has resulted in any arrests.

There aren’t many naysayers when it comes to the violence plaguing the state and political members from both sides of the aisle in agreement that the plethora of undercover video footage confirms hundreds of illegal traffickers are walking across the U.S./Mexico border carrying drugs and firearms. (To view some of the footage visit secureborderintel.org)

With the 2010 election just seven days away many say the BLM is just pandering to the liberal base and voters on the fence that the violence in the area has been curtailed.

“I believe these signs are nothing more than political propaganda. I know the BLM office thinks their work has been successful and that they ‘haven’t seen any’ activity but this is because they patrol during the day and go home at night. So all the smugglers have to do is sit on their hills like they always do and wait until the last shift heads home for the day,” an area resident said.

While Secure Borders Intelligence acknowledges there has been an increase in BLM patrols, they claim the way they are going about their high-profile patrols is only helping the illegal traffic know where rangers are patrolling. “It is only diverting where the traffickers are bringing their cache of humans and illicit drugs.”

Arizona State Senator Pearce couldn’t agree more with the state’s inability to protect its residents. “It’s a lie, things have never been worse and the federal government only handcuffs law enforcement’s ability to get the bad guys.”

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

Mexican agents graduate from ICE’s first immigration training program

In an effort to assist Mexico in its immigration and customs law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security graduated the first ICE 10-week training class meant to sharpen Mexican authority’s ability to secure their homeland that has been ravaged by drug cartels.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton joined Mexican Secretary of Finance Ernesto Cordero Arroyo and Tax Administration Service and Customs Director Alfredo Gutiérrez Ortiz-Mena at the first-ever graduation of Mexican customs officials from an ICE-led federal investigator training course in North Charleston, S.C.

“Our efforts to crack down on criminal organizations and others who threaten the safety of our citizens and our economy require close cooperation between the United States and Mexico,” said Napolitano. “Today’s historic graduation of Mexican customs officials from this U.S.-led investigator training course reflects the unprecedented collaboration between our two nations to better combat transnational crime while facilitating legitimate travel and trade.”

While Napolitano may see this as progress, others say it is a wolf in sheep’s clothes situation and Americans will never learn that giving away the nation’s secrets or train the potential mercenaries usually comes back to haunt America. (The Los Zetas drug cartel strongmen were originally trained by the U.S. military in North Carolina in counter-terrorism techniques for the Mexican military.)

“Are you %^&*$#* kidding me?” Let’s train Mexican immigration officers on our laws and procedures and how to enforce immigration laws, thereby giving them valuable information on how to defeat what little protections we have left in place? And how many of these agents are in the employ of the Cartels? If not now, how soon after they get back home with a newly marketable skill will they approach the cartels and offer their services, for a price? That’s tantamount to putting the fox in the henhouse,” says a veteran ICE agent John Sakelarides.

Working in coordination with Mexico, DHS continues with its quest to increase trans-border trade while trying to thwart border violence that undermines Mexico’s ability to speed up trade between the two countries.

“A well-functioning border is an opportunity for growth—it opens doors to commercial exchange, peace, progress and human development,” said Mexican Secretary Cordero.

There were 24 men and women from Mexico’s Tax Administration Service and Customs who participated in the inaugural law enforcement customs investigator training course conducted by ICE agents.

The federal course included rules in both Mexican and U.S. customs law, as well as training in numerous investigative techniques like, officer safety tactics and ethics to assist graduates to provide the agents with the tools and knowledge necessary to combat cross-border crime. Primary topics included money laundering, customs offenses and weapons and drug trafficking, the Mexican students worked in close coordination with ICE special agents and other U.S. law enforcement officials to master immigration law.

DHS reaffirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to sharing border security responsibility with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón and their ability to secure the Southwest border and ensure the security of both nations through programs like the Mérida Initiative which former President George W. Bush sought as the cornerstone for U.S./Mexico security cooperation.

The brand new Mexican customs investigator training course is part of the Department of State-led initiative that is designed to provide assistance to Mexico and Central American countries in the form of building, training and providing equipment to better equip law enforcement agencies to complete their border security missions. The United States has set aside $1.4 billion in aid for Mexico through this initiative.

Secretary Napolitano and her Mexican counterparts have engaged in an unprecedented level of cooperation the past year. Their accomplishments included securing a number of bilateral agreements and declarations to bolster cooperation in the areas of enforcement, information and intelligence sharing, joint operations and trade facilitation along the Southwest border.

Under Napolitano, DHS has doubled the number of law enforcement personnel assigned to their Border Enforcement Security Task Forces (BEST), multi-agency teams that collaborate to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations which pose significant threats to border security and coordinate intelligence sharing on both sides of the border.

As Southwest border violence continues to escalate, American lives are lost, U.S. law enforcement lives are in daily peril and cartels continue to demonstrate their ability to operate freely, DHS is hoping this new partnership with Mexico will alleviate the stranglehold the Mexican Mafia currently operates under in both countries.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

California is taxed to death- chases taxpayers away

Heated elections, repressive taxes and an uncontrollable state budget have sent California taxpayers running for cover. The slow decline in California’s revenue has prompted legislators to raise taxes virtually strangling businesses ability to expand.

According to “Breaking Bad,” a report put out by Richard Rider a San Diego Tax Fighter activist, the state’s taxation problem is getting worse not better. California has the third highest state income tax in the nation and the 9.55 percent tax bracket starts at $46,349 for people filing as individuals.

California is home to the highest state sales taxes in the nation at 8.25 percent and the nearest competitor comes in at 7 percent.

If you own a business in California get ready to pony up 8.84 percent to Uncle Sam, this is the highest corporate tax rate west of the Mississippi. According to the Tax Foundation’s 2010 State Business Tax Climate Index, California ranks 48th among states-friendly to business owners and creating a good working relationship.

Other notable taxes include;

– 4th highest capital gains tax at 9.55 percent
– 1st in gasoline taxes (averaging 67.4 cents/gallon)
– Top 10 in yearly vehicle registration and licensing taxes
– The 7th highest “tax freedom day”
– The 3rd highest unemployment rate in the country
– High school per pupil spending (Los Angeles District $29,780 per student)
– Public schools have 2nd lowest graduation rate
– School teachers receive the 2nd highest pay in the nation ($69,093 average)
– California has 12 percent of the nation’s population, 36 percent collecting some type of welfare
– The state has the lowest bond ratings
– The top 600 CEO’s rated California the worst place to do business five years running
– In the last eight years 1.4 million residents have left California taking with them their tax dollars. Among the California exodus are the movers and shakers like Tiger Woods.

As taxes continue to rise, good paying jobs and commerce will disappear. As a result California will lose its tax base, forcing California’s fiscal death spiral to worsen, says Rider. “This downward spiral must stop now.”

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/open-borders-and-amnesty-on-the-dhs-dinner-menu

Open borders and amnesty on the way with DHS-CBP’s Napolitano and Bersin

It looks like an immigration “paradigm shift” is on the horizon for Americans according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin. He wants citizens to rethink their views regarding the U.S.-Mexico border by adding a new twist on border security.

Bersin said during a speech at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., that he expects Congress to include a “road to citizenship” for illegal immigrants and the best way to secure the border is to open up the job market to all Mexicans. This would create “a legitimate labor market between the United States and Mexico,” Bersin explained.

That statement created so much heat for Bersin his office back tracked the “jobs for all Mexicans in the U.S.” remark and said he meant to say a “temporary worker program.”

Not many Americans agree with the CBP Commissioners theory about offering jobs to lawbreakers, especially when double-digit unemployment plagues the country.

Bersin was appointed by President Barack Obama to takeover U.S. border security. Much like the president, Bersin is a career scholar with little to no business experience who was the secretary of education for the state of California and was chairman of the San Diego Regional Airport Authority before he was the border Czar.

During the speech Bersin referred to the meeting between President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon earlier this year which “articulated the vision for this new era—the creation of a 21st Century border, one that enhances our security and mutual economic competitiveness in an increasingly globalized world.”

“Underlying this new vision is a paradigm shift—a change in how people view the border,” the CBP Commissioner explained. “Historically, governments have approached border management as, essentially, ‘holding the line.’ But the border isn’t an isolated place disconnected from the interiors of the United States and Mexico. What we do at the border has effects that are felt far away from the jurisdictional line—especially in an era of international trade and global supply chains. Although policing the line will remain a key element of any border management approach, we must shift our thinking and take a more holistic view of border management, one that is based on securing the flows of trade and travel.”

Bersin, asked and answered is own question regarding the necessity for open borders employment as a way to secure the U.S. and said he did not consider this pathway a “mass amnesty” or “mass deportations.” In essence he called for a “long road to citizenship” for illegal immigrants as well as repeated the mantra of jobs for all.

The speech included a possible method for those in America illegally to follow if they decide to be Americans. “There is a responsibility from those who are here illegally, so that they can register, admit to having broken the law, pay a fine, pay back taxes, get right with the law, and learn English before they can get on that long road toward citizenship if they chose to pursue it,” Bersin explained.

The bottom line for the Obama administration is amnesty and this is where the majority of Americans part company with the president and those inside Department of Homeland Security. But Bersin continues to push.

“Absent comprehensive immigration reform people will attempt to enter this country illegally, drawn by the job market,” he said. “It is our job to stop them, and we will do our best to do that. We are doing better than ever before. But this is not about real estate; it’s about flows of people and securing the border by deterring and preventing illegal immigration. The best way to do that is to have a legitimate labor market between the United States and Mexico.”

Looking at that statement Americans may be confused because most believe deterrence of illegal immigration and border security means preventing aliens from crossing illegally into the country. The way Bersin sees it, the open borders will quell illegal border crossings because once they are here they will be able to legally procure employment (under DHS’s ideal world) and contribute to American society. Really, why have borders?

As if to follow-up Bersin’s speech with details sure to strike the hearts of liberals was DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. At her stump speech in San Diego the secretary was armed with all sorts of facts.

“We have devoted unprecedented amounts of manpower, infrastructure and technology to the Southwest border under this administration,” said Napolitano. “Over the past two years, our seizures of illegal drugs, currency and weapons have increased significantly—helping to make the southwest border more secure than ever before.”

DHS reported that fiscal years 2009 and 2010, the CBP seized more than $104 million in southbound illegal currency—an increase of approximately $28 million compared to 2007-2008 (Another fact to keep in mind is the drug cartels are raking in billions of dollars in illicit trade profit per year).

CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also seized more than $282 million in illegal currency, more than 7 million pounds of drugs, and more than 6,800 weapons in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 along the southwest border—increases of more than $73 million, more than 1 million pounds of drugs and more than 1,500 weapons compared to 2007-2008.

Secretary Napolitano also highlighted the 36 percent decrease in Border Patrol apprehensions from nearly 724,000 in fiscal year 2008 to approximately 463,000 in fiscal year 2010. However, many factors can be attributed to the downturn in apprehensions, the sour economy, fewer people are getting caught or agents are simply not arresting as many illegal aliens.

Napolitano also made time to speak with the editorial board of The San Diego Union Tribune to discuss the immigration hot-button issue. “The former Arizona governor and state attorney general said strengthening immigration rules also could lead to more high-tech resources that authorities would use to make sure visitors to the United States don’t overstay their visas,” Napolitano told the Union Tribune. “There are areas in terms of visas and visa overstays, again, that should be addressed legally through an immigration reform bill. We need a new legislative framework from which to act. It’s the 21st century. We need a bill that builds for that.”

While she did not provide specific details how a comprehensive immigration bill would be tailored, the DHS secretary has been a long time supporter of amnesty setting up her agency for battle with the voters when the comprehensive immigration reform discussion finally makes it way to Congress.

For more stories;
http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

California gubernatorial alumni Brown promises the Dream Act

Let’s face it California isn’t just broke, it’s bankrupt.

California’s largest budgetary item remains education and trying to hoodwink the Golden State’s residents into adding more money to the state’s failing schools will be especially tough. While Californians pay one of the nations highest per pupil outlays they are not seeing the return on their investment.

California lags far behind other states and it rests near the bottom of the education ranks in America. It is also home to the highest drop out rates and the gridlock in Sacramento between the teachers unions and legislators remains unsolved. The once prized jewel of California is no more.

With less than two weeks to go in the election, Democrat Jerry Brown inadvertently brought the Dream Act education legislation back into the spotlight.

During a speech at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Brown highlighted what he will do about the undocumented immigrants and their quest to seek a college education.

“We have enough wealth to continue to have a great university and get every kid into this school that can qualify,” Brown says. “Now when I say every young man and young woman, I mean everyone – whether they are documented or not. If they went to school, they ought to be here. And that will be one of the first bills I sign… Of course I’m not going to sign any bills until we get the budget solved and that may take me a couple of months.”

Who knew California’s budget would only take a few months to solve and California was flush with cash.

Brown’s fairytale that California has the money to fund anyone who resides in the state with a higher education is both ludicrous and patently false. Providing undocumented immigrants with financial aid, federal grants and scholarships must also come as news to the hundreds of thousands of middle-class American families who have seen their dreams of college fall by the wayside during the recession.

Even politicians in Washington found enacting the DREAM Act would place an undue burden on Americans who have suffered the most during this economic downturn. Somehow Brown must have missed that vote and is unaware that any DREAM Act enacted in California would be null and void under federal law. The sad part of this obvious pandering to illegal aliens will only result in a more divisive state than ever.

“Yes, to the federal Dream Act which I can’t do anything about, except advocate and yes, to the state Dream Act which I can do something about because our current governor just vetoed a proposal and I would have signed that bill,” Brown said.

His opponent, Meg Whitman (who is no conservative and has been dealing with housekeeper-gate) couldn’t disagree more than her Democratic adversary.

“Jerry Brown and I couldn’t disagree more on this issue. The state of California is in economic meltdown, and one of Jerry Brown’s top priorities is to give financial aid and in-state tuition breaks to undocumented immigrants. He not only supports legislation that would enable that type of state spending, he said it would be ‘one of the first bills’ he’d sign. It’s either reckless mismanagement of taxpayer dollars or political pandering for votes. The truth is the state can’t afford either right now,” Whitman said in a statement. “Not only is Brown’s position wrong, it’s unfair to California taxpayers as well as the families who are here legally.”

During this extreme fiscal crisis and with public colleges and universities under duress Whitman claims California’s priority must be to help kids who are legal residents go to state supported colleges.

“If you play by the rules, you and your kids should be at the front of the line to benefit from the state’s world-class university system,” says Whitman.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/obamacare-s-first-unintended-victims-child-only-policies

Obamacare’s first unintended victims- child-only policies

Only a few months into America’s new Obamacare era, most child-only policies were dropped by private insurance carriers due to the poorly written legislation that would allow parents to sign up their kids after they were sick or injured and leave the carriers bearing all the costs.

The child-only coverage is just the latest problem to arise from the massive 2,500 page health care overhaul legislation. Earlier this month large corporations, like McDonalds, requested special exemptions from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in order to preserve plans they have in place for part-time employees.

This left the White House scrambling to cover children as promised by law, and allowed the insurance carriers to raise premiums for child-only policies in order to offset expenditures.

Insurance companies as well as brokers only discovered the last minute purchase option the government included in the bill once Obama signed the bill into law. This provision would have placed a significant burden on revenue and force companies to ration benefits to in order to stay in business.

As a result, insurance companies established an open-enrollment period where companies will accept all children, regardless of health, for a one month time period, once the enrollment period ends parents can purchase insurance coverage for their children, but the policy could be tripled.

Once the administration reviewed the paperwork they gave health insurance carriers the green light to raise the rates more expensive child-only policies.

“They can adjust their rates based on health status until 2014, to the extent state law allows,” according to Jay Angoff, director of Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Once attorneys and under-writers waded through the legalese memos were sent out to insurance brokers about the new changes.

“We have reviewed the rules regarding the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act (PPACA) limiting the application of pre-existing condition exclusions for children under 19. Unfortunately, there remains a great deal of uncertainty as to how the rules will be implemented and what the impacts might be on participating insurers. Unfortunately, this has created an unlevel competitive environment. As a result, Anthem Blue Cross has decided to suspend the sale of child-only policies indefinitely, beginning September 17, 2010,” a memo read. “We will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional details on any changes to our process and policies as they become available.”

In the meantime it is the health insurance brokers who are left to sift through the changes, added paperwork and disgruntled customers. “Most of my existing clients are just upset that we’re all paying more now and they were quite happy with the insurance coverage they had,” says one broker.

Other large providers like, Cigna, quickly followed suit and let providers know the child-only plans would now longer be available without purchasing a family plan including parents.

While other companies like Aetna have decided to cancel all their child-only plans and will no longer accept any applications. The company plans to notify policy holders of other options for coverage, but acknowledged the cost would be substantially higher.

“Effective immediately, any applications received requesting a child-only policy with a 12/15/10 effective date (or later) will be closed. Underwriting will notify applicants by mail of their ineligibility, but also provide options for coverage,” another memo stated. “This change positions Aetna for the future so we can effectively handle upcoming changes resulting from healthcare reform. New federal rules require guaranteed issue (GI) of coverage for individuals under the age of 19 and no corresponding coverage requirement. These conditions have the potential to significantly increase the cost of premiums and make coverage unaffordable.”

These glaring changes prompted Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius to clarify the HHS regulation that implements key early provisions of the Affordable Care Act, signed into law on March 23, 2010 to prevent insurers from denying coverage to children based on a pre-existing condition. This HHS clarification outlines different options for insurers and states that offer child-only policies, however it rejects the insurers’ idea of denying coverage to sick children outside the open-enrollment period.
“The Affordable Care Act was designed to ensure that Americans who need health insurance are no longer denied access to the care they need – and that includes the youngest and most vulnerable Americans,” said Sebelius. “We have been working closely with the states in their role as insurance regulators and with insurance companies to find ways to improve access to coverage for America’s families.”

Some states are taking preemptive action in an effort to guide insurance companies through the perils of government-controlled health insurance.

“Working with Maryland’s General Assembly, we will establish by regulation an open enrollment period to be sure Maryland families have more options in purchasing insurance for their children, and I commend Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield for their decision to continue to offer this coverage once the regulations are enacted,” said Maryland Insurance Commissioner Beth Sammis. “We are committed to working to ensure children can get the health care they need, and are glad we have been able to find a solution where these insurers will sell new policies.”

According to Sebelius, it was unfortunate that some insurers decided to stop writing new business in the “child-only” insurance market. The HHS Secretary said insurance companies were “reneging on a previous commitment made in a March letter to ‘make pre-existing condition exclusions a thing of the past.’”

Meanwhile the child-only market is considered a small market and children currently insured by these policies should not be affected. Nevertheless the decision for some health insurance companies to discontinue new polices for children was disappointing to the government.

“Nothing in the Affordable Care Act, or any other existing federal law, allows us to require insurance companies to offer a particular type of policy at this time,” a letter from Sebelius said.

“We have been trying to work with the insurance industry to resolve this situation. Some insurers have said they would sell new child-only policies if they could accept year-round those applicants who are healthy, while restricting access for children with pre-existing conditions to a time-limited open enrollment period,” Sebelius claims. “We have carefully considered these insurers’ legal and policy arguments, and have concluded that the approach they advocate is legally infirm, and inconsistent with the language and intent of the Affordable Care Act. Nor would it be lawful for a state to allow denials of coverage for children based on pre-existing conditions outside of an open enrollment period.”

Keeping tabs on a growing government that is mandating new rules for insurance carriers has sent most to question the effectiveness of health care moving forward. Not only is the country in the middle of a stubborn recession many employees are stuck working overtime to ensure a smooth transition.

Another unintended consequence of Obamacare comes in the mailbox as families begin to open their health-care statements they are finding health insurance premiums are going up, not down as President Obama promised.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

White House calls for stimulus checks for seniors

For the second year in a row the Social Security Administration will not give seniors a cost of living increase. Many seniors depend on the monthly retirement checks as their sole source of income and have had to make do with less during this sluggish economy.

According to Obama’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, “The President will renew his call for a $250 Economic Recovery Payment to our seniors this year, as well as to veterans and people with disabilities.”

In a statement Gibbs referred to the $787 billion stimulus package success in providing benefits to those in need and said the president is calling for another $250 check to be mailed to seniors collecting their government retirement benefits.

“Under the Recovery Act, 56 million people benefited from the first Economic Recovery Payment—including about 50 million Social Security beneficiaries,” Gibbs said. “We’re grateful that Speaker Pelosi has indicated she will bring the new Economic Recovery Payment to a vote and we urge members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to support our seniors, veterans and others with disabilities who depend on these benefits.”

However the government check writing process has been prone to wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars as they have been sending checks to dead people as well as those who are incarcerated.
In a new $787 billion stimulus accountability report a government investigator found that more than 89,000 people received stimulus payments of $250 each. The lucky recipients were people (using the term loosely) whom were either in a graveyard or prison.

According to the Social Security Administration’s inspector general, $18 million stimulus dollars were mailed to at least 72,000 dead people. The same report offers some good news and estimates that half of those payments were returned to the federal government.

Another disturbing figure included in the Social Security’s Inspector General Report was the fact $4.3 million was distributed to more than 17,000 prison inmates.

With only a three-week lame-duck session left in the Congressional calendar, Washington D.C. has precious little time to tackle several big issues, the most important being the Bush tax cuts. If Congress does not address the tax cuts, all taxpayers will see less in their January 1, 2011 paychecks and according to economists, a further deepening of America’s worst recession since the Great Depression.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

Tea party rallies to get out the vote

With just three weeks until the all important midterm elections, the Stop Taxing Us Tea Party hosted a get out and vote rally in San Diego. Stop Taxing Us usually allows candidates running for office to speak, but this time they decided to mix it up and give rally attendees something to think about before they pull the lever.

More than 25 speakers from different backgrounds talked about the importance of voting for conservative candidates and doing their homework when they vote for ballot measures.

Headlining the rally was Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, who authored SB1070 illegal immigration bill for the Grand Canyon State that captured national attention. The Senator’s speech clearly resonated with the California audience as the state faces a number of budgetary issues directly related to illegal immigration.

“There are already numerous laws in the country dealing with illegal immigration, in Arizona we just added teeth to the federal laws in an effort to curtail the economic costs Arizonians are forced to pay,” Pearce explained. The Senator was warmly greeted by the San Diego audience and encouraged would be voters to demand their lawmakers take action on the illegal immigration issue and enforce the country’s laws.

“Enforcement is crucial, the laws are already in place, we just need the government let us do our jobs,” Pearce said.

The porous southern borders in Arizona have been devastating for ranch owners. Rancher Robert Krentz was recently murdered by an alleged illegal alien who fled back to Mexico. “I hear from ranchers along the border all the time and they complain about the property damage, dead livestock and the daily barrage of illegals crossing the Arizona border.”

The four-hour rally featured a diverse group of guests who repeated over and over that voting was the first step if they truly wanted to send a meaningful message to Washington D.C.

“We are demanding our politicians be held accountable for their reckless spending spree. If the candidates we vote into office don’t live by the tea party principles of fiscal restraint and smaller government we will simply vote them out in two or six years,” said Susan Treadstone. “We are going to make changes in the way Washington thinks about our money.”

Playing on the “Obama Girl” fan club theme was a couple of moms from Orange County who created a new niche; however this new club doesn’t favor the president. The group, “Blondes Against Obama” had no idea the website would create so much buzz. According to Megan Young, “people really like the slogan. Another kitschy slogan reads; “If a couple of blondes have the common sense to oppose Obama, shouldn’t you?”

Blondes Against Obama was started by Carol Kistner and Young. Both are moms and both felt it was time to get involved. “We’ve set our sights on educating family and friends about the problems with Washington D.C. business as usual policies,” Young said. As a result the “blonde movement” website has grown and now includes daily blogs written by other right-minded fair-haired concerned citizens.

“We were just sick and tired of what Obama was doing to this country,” Kistner said. “So we decided to get active and Blondes Against Obama grew from there.” The girls said they are tapping into the elusive youth vote, but acknowledge age is not of particular importance- “taking responsibility for the direction of the country is job number one.”

Voting in November was a common thread shared by all the speakers. The primary election cycle is a prime example of the political clout tea party members possess. Numerous incumbent and establishment lawmakers have lost to lesser-known tea party candidates.

Even former presidential candidate John McCain found himself in a tough primary race with tea party favorite JD Hayworth, however money prevailed and McCain was able to hold onto his Republican reelection bid, but Hayworth and the tea party proved to be a formidable force.

Even though Hayworth lost he encouraged voters to not give up hope and keep fighting.

Flamboyant conservative activist Ted Hayes captured the crowd’s attention and passerby’s alike. Hayes, who says he is not African-American just America spoke about the race baiting the Democrat party continues peddle to the political arena.

Hayes, who is an outspoken critic of President Obama, says too many Democrats subscribe to the “black brain drain” philosophy that keeps black Americans oppressed.

“Obama thinks if you don’t talk about race it will solve itself, but it won’t. This administration’s assault on black Americans continues and one only needs to look at the higher-than-average unemployment numbers for blacks. We’ve had to let go to the Congressional Black Caucus, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson because they sold us down the river. I think blacks are holding onto Obama as the last chance to get redemption,” Hayes firmly says. “The funny thing is my brothers and sisters have more to fear from this presidency than any other administration. Mr. Obama endorses illegal immigration something that prevents black citizens from gaining employment.”

Another issue Hayes is concerned about is the president’s “underlying acceptance of Islam.” “I disagree with the president’s description that America is not a bible reading nation.”

While his opinion of Obama may be harsh Hayes believes it’s not too late for the president to have an adult conversation about race in this country.

“If I was president the first thing I would do is convene a series of conferences to talk about all the issues for all Americans. Then I’d make sure the country knows the facts about slavery and where it really came from, Africa, and finally I’d assemble a roundtable discussion with the brotherhood to see where we all go from here,” Hayes finished.

The black conservative captivated the audience and passerby’s alike during his 10-mintue speech. “It’s time for my brothers and sisters to come home to the tea party because they are truly the big tent party and have demonstrated their willingness to support all Americans,” he said.

All in all as the final days of the midterm election draw to an end, the tea party voters are hoping to pull off an election landslide and send a new referendum to the Obama administration.

Rhonda Deniston, Oceanside regional director for Stop Taxing Us a grassroots organization said “it’s time for Californians to wake-up. It’s up to the voters to stop complaining and to hold all politicians accountable.”

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/dead-people-inmates-are-still-getting-stimulus-money

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