When it comes to stupid decisions, politicians top the list.
Two weeks ago city officials recommended that the City Council impose a modest $100 annual fee plus 15 percent of the gross revenue on professional athletic trainers who use our public parks to train clients.
Because private trainers are often paid in cash and under-report their income, I wrote that council should just consider higher fees and forget the percentage of revenue. Councilwoman Gleam Davis suggested, and council approved, that city officials should study a 10 percent fee on (mostly undeclared) revenues. I think they shortchanged themselves. Head shake.
There‚Äôs the “nanny” politicians like State Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel, Santa Cruz and Monterey), lead sponsor of SB 622. It would impose a penny per ounce tax on sweetened beverages like soda and energy drinks. The measure is now advancing through the state Legislature.
Monning said, “This is the first time this state committee has passed a bill that would place a tax on sugary drinks and the first step toward stemming the epidemic of childhood obesity.” What about candy, salty snacks, cookies, doughnuts and other sugar- or salt-laden foods? They‚Äôre not of concern to an obesity-obsessed senator who apparently has no real issues on his radar screen?
How about State Sen. Ted Lieu who now represents Santa Monica in an expanded 28th Senate District (and who is up for re-election next year)? Lieu is pushing for a statewide statute that would require those who make bogus 911 emergency calls (called swatting) reimburse police for expenses in handling the calls ‚Äî even though the pranks are mostly a Los Angeles phenomenon
Lieu has authored SB 333 that requires that pranksters who “swat” celebrities and politicians‚Äô homes (assuming they get caught) pay up to $10,000 in costs incurred by public safety responders. Why is this legislation pending on a state level? It makes much more sense for those jurisdictions where these incidents occur to pass their own laws, like the L.A. City Council is doing right now.
After he announced the legislation last month, the press-hungry Lieu was himself a victim of swatting. The incident received extensive local news coverage. How convenient. I couldn‚Äôt help but wonder if Lieu had “swatted” himself for publicity. Others have asked me the same question.¬† I‚Äôm sure he didn‚Äôt, however, public reaction to the incident says loads about how Lieu is perceived.
By the way, how‚Äôs that State Senate study on airport air pollution coming along, senator? You know, the one where only one airport ‚Äî Santa Monica Airport ‚Äî was studied?
Our former State Sen. Shelia Kuehl has officially announced she‚Äôs running for Zev Yaroslavsky‚Äôs seat on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. Yaroslavsky is termed out in 2014.¬† His district covers most of the Westside, including Santa Monica.
Sheila Kuehl? Didn‚Äôt she vigorously oppose the failed Measure T on the Nov. 4, 2008 ballot in Santa Monica? The measure called for a temporary cap on commercial development, which would thereby reduce traffic increases. She said, “I‚Äôve concluded that it would not actually reduce traffic ‚Ä¶ .”
Commercial development doesn‚Äôt create traffic? Sounds like the same kind of gibberish we hear from City Hall‚Äôs overpaid planning consultants
It gets better, folks. Kuehl went on to state that the measure “could actually jeopardize the dwindling supply of affordable housing‚Ä¶” and “Measure T would have the effect of allowing, and even encouraging, landlords to demolish affordable apartments and displace renters‚Ä¶ thereby putting our community‚Äôs working families and seniors at much greater risk.”
Kuehl must‚Äôve pulled this out of her behind because T had nothing to do with housing or demolishing apartments ‚Äî affordable or otherwise. More than likely, she was just helping a close, close friend who was co-chairing the deep-pocketed, developer-backed committee opposing the measure. With that kind of thinking, Kuehl would be right at home on the development friendly county Board of Supervisors.
But for sheer ignorance and stupidity, nothing beats a United States senator unless there‚Äôs more than one. Fifty-four senators recently shot down Manchin-Toomey, the gun control bill that would have closed loopholes in background checks for gun purchasers.
It was just a few weeks ago when law enforcement officers captured accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. While Tsarnaev, a U.S. citizen, was clinging to life in a Boston hospital, Sens. John McCain (R- Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (R -South Carolina) were clamoring for him to be held as an enemy combatant and “interrogated” by military tribunal.
Renowned Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz commented, “There is absolutely no grounds to hold the suspect as an enemy combatant.” Dershowitz said McCain and Graham, “should go back to school and study their constitutional law.”
Graham even helped write “The Military Provisions Act of 2009” that says people like Tsarnaev may not be tried as an enemy combatant and cannot be held as one. And, a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) approved by Congress in 2011 defines who can be declared an enemy combatant and exempts U.S. citizens entirely.
For two United States senators to ignore basic citizen rights, it‚Äôs unforgivable. To think, McCain was almost elected president. And, obstructionist Graham is one of the chief reasons why Congress is so dysfunctional.
But this had nothing to do with justice or citizen rights. It was about trying to sound tough on terror. They ended up sounding like fools, instead.
No wonder so many people despise and distrust politicians.
Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org