Monday, November 2, 2009

Grayson Money Bomb



Progressive effort to raise $ for US Rep. Alan Grayson.

Found at Suburban Guerilla. How'd I miss this? Grayson is my Congressman.

You rock, Susie.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Why do computer power supplies keep going boom?

Bought new emachines 'puter on 2 July '09 and power supply has apparently already crapped on me. Had hp despktop last year and went through three power supplies. This 'tain't 'posed to happen.

Intermittent blogging at best.

Please consider donating through Amazon button on the right.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Now for Something Completely Different: Every Sperm is Sacred"

[TALLAHASSEE -- A nationwide anti-abortion group launched an effort in Florida today to outlaw all abortions and certain types of birth control, including oral contraceptives and the morning-after pill.

The religion-infused movement, called "Personhood Florida," would define conception in Florida's constitution at the "biological beginnings," supporters said -- when the sperm meets the egg. The group filed its amendment today but the exact ballot language is still being worked out, said Secretary of State Spokeswoman Jennifer Krell-Davis.

The amendment seeks to outlaw all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest. Also criminalized: the morning-after pill and oral contraceptives taken by women, known as the pill. "There are some (birth control) methods that kill a child," said Pat McEwan, who is leading the Personhood Florida group.]emphasis added
http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_politics/2009/09/antiabortion-group-wants-to-make-birthcontrol-illegal-in-florida.html

Next up, outlawing onanism. There goes my sex life because, you know, God hates it when you spill your seed.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Cost of War




Waited a few days and pondered posting picture of a dying US Marine, Joshua Bernard, in Afghanistan.

While respecting the right of any family to grieve in private, nevertheless the press and the public at large in the US remain blissfully insulated from the real cost off war: the horror and pain and death that comes with the slogans and rhetoric.

The photo shows the reality of war.

People die.

"AP journalists document world events every day. Afghanistan is no exception. We feel it is our journalistic duty to show the reality of the war there, however unpleasant and brutal that sometimes is," said Santiago Lyon, the director of photography for AP.

History tells us the tribes and clans of Afghanistan have warred for centuries, with each other and since 19th century also with various European powers.


The Pashtun tribes, found in Afghanistan and Northwest Frontier Pakistan, still do not accept the Durand line as the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

And support for the Taliban comes from mainly the Pashtun tribe. As an example, consider what Juan Cole wrote on his blog, Informed Comment, "Kunduz, a northern mixed province of 1.5 million, has only 1,000 policemen. One-third of it is under Taliban control (which is to say, the Pashtun-majority districts are almost entirely controlled by the Taliban.)"

As questions mount over the recent Afghan election, US policymakers should realize our military cannot defeat but only contain a guerilla movement by the Taliban, preventing the reestablishment of Al Qaeda bases.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

FL Schemes to Screw Manhattan Renters; Headed for Disaster

The state of FL has an entity named the State Board of Administration to invest funds to pay for pension benefits for those who retire from state service.

Previous "geniuses" at this agency lost 335 million dollars investing in Enron as that company went into a death spiral, "[T]rustees failed to act as Alliance Capital Management, one of the pension fund's money managers, continued to invest in Enron even as its financial instability became public and the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating the corporation."

Having learned nothing from that debacle, state money managers turned to riskier investments in hopes of making higher profits; nothing like doubling down on a pair of deuces, right?

[The State Board of Administration is supposed to play it safe. It protects $97.3-billion in pension money for nearly 1-million current and retired teachers, public employees and their families.

It invests an additional $25.3-billion for more than 800 school districts and state and local government entities to, among other things, pay police and teachers, buy books and health care for children and help hurricane victims.

But in audit after audit over the past eight years, the supposedly low-risk agency was warned again and again about making risky, complex investments, without proper controls.

Now, with the economy tanking, the overexposure to risk highlighted in those audits has come back to haunt the SBA. In the past 18 months, one-third of the agency's assets — $61.4-billion — have been wiped out...

...But the audits tell a different story: Senior managers repeatedly were told to take steps to reduce risk, but for the most part, they stayed their risky course.

In March 2007, for example, the SBA's top auditor identified a conflict of interest that four previous audits had reported:

"The reappearance of the same issue in several audit reports issued by different sets of auditors, and the lack of action to address or mitigate this issue exposes the SBA and its management to additional risks...''

...With continued support from the trustees, the SBA's money managers opted for high stakes and increasingly complex financial strategies. Auditors, meantime, warned of lax oversight and controls that could lead to undue risks, avoidable losses and even fraud.

Early warnings surfaced in the small unit that manages real estate investments — everything from farms to shopping centers.

In 2000, 2002, 2004 and again in 2007, auditors and a watchdog group questioned whether staffers properly vetted and monitored properties. In one report, auditors cited the risk of "leverage''— the use of borrowed money that can jack up profits in a boom but deflate them in a recession.

"It is unclear to an individual looking from the outside where the (real estate) portfolio is headed,'' SBA chief internal auditor Flerida Rivera-Alsing said in 2004...

... In 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2006, auditors raised red flags about volatile "alternative investments,'' strategies such as buyout transactions and venture capital funds. These private investments are sometimes called "black box'' deals because investors' money flows to secretive partnerships that are not publicly traded or regulated.

Once the SBA makes the investment, there is almost no oversight or public disclosure as to where the funds go next, how they are managed, or when, if ever, investors will reap returns.

Three times legislative auditors warned that the SBA's alternative investments were underperforming. They noted the high management fees compared to other types of investments...

...Last year, the agency committed more than $4-billion to 33 private deals, including funds affiliated with legendary traders such as the Carlyle Group, Blackstone Group, Apollo Management and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

Using cheap credit and Florida's money, some of these firms bought big-name companies at astronomical prices. The megadeals bought the SBA a piece of marquee companies, including Hilton Hotels and Harrah's Entertainment.

Now, alternative investments are getting creamed.

Saddled with debt, Harrah's saw its credit rating cut last month to "selective default.'' Blackstone, which engineered the Hilton buyout, reported a $502.5-million loss for its third quarter. KKR's shares plunged 89 percent last year. Carlyle has cut 10 percent of its 1,000-person staff...

...But Florida is sticking by its private commitments. In May, Gov. Charlie Crist went to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to sign a bill allowing the SBA to double its exposure to alternative investments, saying it would mean more high-wage jobs for Floridians.

"Today I have traveled to Wall Street to bring the message of Florida's innovation economy to the epicenter of the world's financial community,'' Crist said.

About five months later the stock market crashed...

...the 2006 Legislature passed two bills, signed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush. One allowed the SBA to use riskier investment strategies. The other made it more difficult for outsiders to scrutinize some SBA investments.
Throughout the spring and into the early summer of 2007 — with the financial crisis already under way — the SBA continued to pump billions into risky securities...

...Leo Kolivakis, a former senior investment analyst at two of Canada's largest pension funds, says Florida is on a "disaster course'' and it ultimately will fall to all Florida taxpayers to keep the pension fund properly funded.

"It is mind-boggling to see pension consultants recommending no major investment strategy changes for Florida's public employee pension plan although it has lost billions in the financial market meltdown,'' he said.] (emphasis added)
http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/state/article970001.ece

Now we come to the sordid story of how officials with FL SBA invested $250 million in a Manhattan real estate deal, "the biggest in history," contingent for profitability on emptying rent controlled apartments and putting in tenants paying market prices, putting teachers, policeman, retired people and others of limited means out of their apartments and perhaps on the streets.

From the Vilage Voice: "In the fall of 2006, amid a speculative frenzy that has since consumed world markets, the biggest real estate deal in history occurred on the East Side of Manhattan.

MetLife sold the 80-acre, 100-building, middle-income oasis called Stuy Town to a developer friend of the mayor's, Jerry Speyer, for $5.4 billion, a price tag at least three times the rent roll paid by the 25,000 people who lived in the 11,200-unit complex, the borough's largest. Anyone who could count knew the numbers would only work if Speyer could rapidly empty many of the 8,000 rent-regulated apartments and greatly increase prices, a result so predictable that tenants began filing lawsuits against Speyer as soon as he took over. Four appellate judges ruled unanimously this March in the tenants' favor in one key case, Roberts v. Tishman Speyer, which will be heard by the Court of Appeals in mid-September."

"Anyone who could count," presumably includes memebers of the FL SBA apparently unconcerned about renters removed from their apartments as result of the investment by the state of Florida.

[This is the story of how the Florida board that invests public money bet $250 million on a huge Manhattan real estate deal and lost every last penny of it.

On top of the money lost, Florida paid $16 million in fees to real estate developers, bankers and Wall Street money managers who persuaded the state to make the deal...

...The big loser was the State Board of Administration, which invests more than $105 billion for 1 million current and future retirees. On the Manhattan real estate deal, its $266 million is now worth a grand total of $0.00...

Between 2000 and early 2007, four SBA internal reports and a watchdog group identified problems with the real estate investment process -- including a lack of risk control.

Nonetheless, the managers shifted assets into higher-risk real estate deals, often by joining private partnerships that used borrowed money.

Investing borrowed money, known as leverage, boosts returns in boom times but amplifies losses in bust times.

In August 2006, at the height of the real estate bubble, a senior acquisitions manager in the SBA's real estate unit, Steve Spook, received two overtures to join investment firms bidding for adjoining apartment complexes in Manhattan.

The complexes -- Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town -- were iconic housing communities, a ``city within a city'' on 80 prime acres overlooking the East River. Metropolitan Life built the apartments for returning WWII veterans in the 1940s. They became an oasis for teachers, nurses and retirees on small pensions, one of the last refuges for the middle class in Manhattan.

In 2006, an average rent-controlled apartment in Peter Cooper Village went for about $1,340 a month, about 40 percent of the average rent in the surrounding area.

New York's rent-control rules limited increases to 7.25 percent over two years, with some exceptions. Tenants could be ousted if their primary residences were elsewhere or if they illegally sublet their unit at market rates.

About a quarter of the apartments paid market rates when MetLife put the complex up for sale in August 2006.

The insurer's whopping asking price -- $5 billion -- made clear that to make a profit, the buyer would have to convert most remaining rent-stabilized apartments into market-rate units. That October, MetLife announced the winning bid, an eye-popping $5.4 billion by Tishman Speyer Properties and BlackRock Realty.]
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/florida/story/1220113.html

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

5 Myths of Foreign Healthcare

[1. It's all socialized medicine out there.

Not so. Some countries, such as Britain, New Zealand and Cuba, do provide health care in government hospitals, with the government paying the bills. Others -- for instance, Canada and Taiwan -- rely on private-sector providers, paid for by government-run insurance. But many wealthy countries -- including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and Switzerland -- provide universal coverage using private doctors, private hospitals and private insurance plans..

2. Overseas, care is rationed through limited choices or long lines.

As for those notorious waiting lists, some countries are indeed plagued by them. Canada makes patients wait weeks or months for nonemergency care, as a way to keep costs down. But studies by the Commonwealth Fund and others report that many nations -- Germany, Britain, Austria -- outperform the United States on measures such as waiting times for appointments and for elective surgeries...

3. Foreign health-care systems are inefficient, bloated bureaucracies.

Much less so than here. It may seem to Americans that U.S.-style free enterprise -- private-sector, for-profit health insurance -- is naturally the most cost-effective way to pay for health care. But in fact, all the other payment systems are more efficient than ours.

U.S. health insurance companies have the highest administrative costs in the world; they spend roughly 20 cents of every dollar for nonmedical costs, such as paperwork, reviewing claims and marketing. France's health insurance industry, in contrast, covers everybody and spends about 4 percent on administration...

4. Cost controls stifle innovation

False. The United States is home to groundbreaking medical research, but so are other countries with much lower cost structures. Any American who's had a hip or knee replacement is standing on French innovation. Deep-brain stimulation to treat depression is a Canadian breakthrough. Many of the wonder drugs promoted endlessly on American television, including Viagra, come from British, Swiss or Japanese labs.

Overseas, strict cost controls actually drive innovation. In the United States, an MRI scan of the neck region costs about $1,500. In Japan, the identical scan costs $98. Under the pressure of cost controls, Japanese researchers found ways to perform the same diagnostic technique for one-fifteenth the American price. (And Japanese labs still make a profit.)

5. Health insurance has to be cruel.

Not really. American health insurance companies routinely reject applicants with a "preexisting condition" -- precisely the people most likely to need the insurers' service. They employ armies of adjusters to deny claims. If a customer is hit by a truck and faces big medical bills, the insurer's "rescission department" digs through the records looking for grounds to cancel the policy, often while the victim is still in the hospital. The companies say they have to do this stuff to survive in a tough business.

Foreign health insurance companies, in contrast, must accept all applicants, and they can't cancel as long as you pay your premiums...

The key difference is that foreign health insurance plans exist only to pay people's medical bills, not to make a profit. The United States is the only developed country that lets insurance companies profit from basic health coverage...]
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/21/AR2009082101778_3.html
(emphasis added, found at Will Buch's Attytood blog

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Hunting Obama a Joke?"

A Freakin' joke? Are You Frackin' Kidding Me?

For the 8 years of the Cheney administration plenty of people practically punched me in the mouth for pointing out the vast incompetence, immorality, and ignorance of that regime.

Heck a guy at happy hour at gay bar on my block got furious when told "Jr is not my president."

Remember, Obama got elected, not appointed.


Idaho GOP hopeful jokes about 'Obama Tags'
An Idaho Republican gubernatorial hopeful insists he was only joking when he said he'd buy a license to hunt President Barack Obama.

Rex Rammell, a long-shot candidate slated to run against incumbent C.L. "Butch" Otter in the May 2010 GOP primary, made the comment at a Republican rally Tuesday in Twin Falls where talk turned to the state's planned wolf hunt, for which hunters must purchase an $11.50 wolf tag. The hunt is due to begin on Tuesday.

When an audience member shouted a question about "Obama tags," Rammell responded, "The Obama tags? We'd buy some of those."

Rammell told The Associated Press Thursday he sees no reason to apologize for the comment because it was just a joke.

"What I would say to all my Democrat Idahoans: Take a deep breath and relax," he said. "We're not going to go out and hunt Obama."

He also told the Times-News newspaper, "I would never support him being assassinated."]
Found at Roger Ailes, the good 1, posted on 27 August.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thank Your Foremothers on Women's Equality Day, 26 August

Safely ensconced in our progressive 21st century values, we forget the suffragette struggle to win the right to vote for women. Demonized by the press and marginalized by the political process, they nevertheless changed their societies by the aggregation of individual actions.

Yes, we still can.

[Every woman today--who has in her own name a job, bank account, credit card, a lease, a car, a mortgage, a diploma or a pension—can do so because she is standing on the shoulders of millions of women who fought for those privileges.

We're celebrating Women's Equality Day on August 26-- commemorating the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gave women the right to vote on that date in 1920. Florida was NOT one of the states that ratified the amendment, it should be noted. In fact, neither house of the Florida legislature had even voted on the measure. Though the Legislature would pass a law in 1921 that provided the vote to all residents, it was not until 1969 that Florida symbolically ratified the Nineteenth Amendment.]
http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/changetheworld/2009/08/thank-your-foremothers-on-womens-equality-day-.html

So God bless my Moms, sisters and all the women who went before them who struggled to give women opportunuty in a man's world, making my little empire o' dirt a better place.

Peace

Monday, August 24, 2009

Orlando: Most Violent City for Homeless People

Already named as third meanest city in the nation towards homeless people, a new study finds Orlando ranks first in Fl for violence towards homeless persons.

Maybe part of pandemic of violence comes with using the phrase "the homeless" which consigns those without housing to subclass of subhuman status. For god's sake, please try to write "homeless people."

There but for the grace of God...


[orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orl-homeless-survey-orlando-082009,0,2385963.story

OrlandoSentinel.com
Homeless: Orlando could be the most violent metro area in Florida, survey finds
By Willoughby Mariano

Sentinel Staff Writer

August 20, 2009

The nation's third "meanest" city for the homeless may also be the state's most violent toward them, say survey results being released today.

Forty-six percent of homeless people questioned in Orlando and Orange County in an ongoing local survey said they were physically attacked in the past four years by someone they thought was not homeless — well above Florida's average of 27 percent, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless.

The same organization last month ranked Orlando as the third "meanest" city in the country, behind Los Angeles and St. Petersburg. A coalition report released earlier this month said that in 2008, Florida led the nation in violence against the homeless for the fourth year in a row.

This year alone, at least two homeless men have been slain in Orange County.

"To me, the statistics are shocking. It shows the problem is much worse than we thought," said Michael Stoops, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Orange County's results in this most recent survey are preliminary. There were 35 Orlando respondents and 1,350 statewide. However, in Orange Osceola and Seminole counties there are about 3,800 homeless people at any given time, according to the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida.

The network is in the midst of a more extensive local study that aims to survey 650 homeless people. It plans to release results this fall.

Here's more about the coalition's survey, and what it means.



How was the survey conducted?
Homeless people were interviewed in a dozen metropolitan areas across Florida. Participants were asked a series of questions, including whether they were treated well by people who were not homeless, whether they would report a crime, what they think of police officers, and details on who attacked them and when.

Orange County's results are not included in the official statewide survey results because the local numbers are preliminary. Stoops said he expects the area's final results to be similar to the early count.


What's in the survey?
The survey suggests Florida's homeless have a mixed opinion of police. Statewide, 43 percent said police were helpful or somewhat helpful to the homeless, but only 21 percent reported their most severe attack to police or other authorities.

Palm Beach County came in second to Metro Orlando, with 34 percent of respondents saying they were attacked by someone they didn't think was homeless.

Volusia and Flagler had the lowest percentage, at 15 percent for both counties combined.


What isn't in the survey?
The coalition's survey does not ask what weapons were used, how respondents protect themselves or how severe the injuries were.

Answers to these questions could be helpful to local policymakers, who may want to assess what strain these attacks place on local social services and find ways to improve overall safety, said Cathy Jackson, executive director of the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida. Those questions are part of the local group's larger survey.


Do the results match daily reality?
Orlando's homeless are no strangers to violent attacks.

Ora James Light, 51, was killed April 13, and suspect Tyler Sturdivant, 18, is in jail awaiting trial on charges of second-degree murder and robbery with a firearm.

At the time, investigators said that homeless people are regularly victims of violence.

Joel Boner, 30, was stabbed 15 times July 22 while at his campsite in Ocoee. John Hawthorne, 19, faces a second-degree murder charge and is out on bond awaiting trial.

In addition, at least two other murder victims this year were last listed as "transient" in county records.

Deadly violence is rare. Orlando's homeless typically worry about theft or robbery.

"They say, 'I have nowhere safe to sleep and I am afraid someone is going to steal my things,'" said Jackson.

Willoughby Mariano can be reached at 407-420-5171or wmariano@orlandosentinel.com.

More Reasons Obama Better Than Bush

11. Actually learned something in graduate, i.e. law school. Appears to understand the basic principles of our form of government. Compare to Bush who, apparently, learned in business school how to destroy an economy.

12. Thinks knowledge is useful rather than Bush who thinks ignorance is funny.

13. Knows the importance of acknowledging a mistake and correcting it versus Bush, who looked for the missing WMD under the lectern. With Obama, course corrections are possible.

14. His father was from another country. Bush's mother is from another planet.

15. Got elected without resorting to campaign workers and his own brother throwing the recount.

16. Actually did useful work before public office.

17. Has a wife who supports him because he's right, not because he is "the husband."

18. Accepts the consequences of his own actions rather than letting the next guy take the fall.

19. Knows that there is more than one branch of Islam.

and (drum roll please)

20. Is not afraid to go hunting with his VP.

Comments from James Speaks at Informed Comment.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Lots of People Complainin' that There is No Work"



As usual, Dylan wrote a song in the Reagan recession era that applies with even more force today:

"Union Sundown"

"Well, my shoes, they come from Singapore,
My flashlight's from Taiwan,
My tablecloth's from Malaysia,
My belt buckle's from the Amazon.
You know, this shirt I wear comes from the Philippines
And the car I drive is a Chevrolet,
It was put together down in Argentina
By a guy makin' thirty cents a day.

Well, it's sundown on the union
And what's made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
'Til greed got in the way...

...Well, you know, lots of people complainin' that there is no work.
I say, "Why you say that for
When nothin' you got is U.S.-made?"
They don't make nothin' here no more,You know, capitalism is above the law.
It say, "It don't count 'less it sells."
When it costs too much to build it at home
You just build it cheaper someplace else." (emphasis added. lyrics used without permission. all rights reserved to original publisher)

While knowing listening to Dylan an acquired taste for younger generation, would still urge everyone to listen to Infidels as has All Star guitars--Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits and Mick Taylor, longtime Stones member--and a Rastafarian rhythm section-Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare--yet another roster of luminaries who have played with Bobby over the decades.

Even though growing up in FL and came late to the Dylan party, he became required reading for me, sort of like Catcher in the Rye. Heard second song from INFIDELS on radio in Gainesville while at grad school in '83 and went out and immediately bought the vinyl.

Oh, vinyl record albums existed in the age of dinosaurs and now have become as extinct as they.

Dylan, freakin' genius and a poet to boot.





peace

Top Ten Differences Between Bush & Obama First 7 Months

Top Ten Differences Between Bush & Obama First 7 Months

Obama, unlike Bush:

1. Has no plans to invade any new oil countries.
2. Knows who president of Pakistan is
3. Knows how to safely consume pretzels
4. Does not take orders from his veep
5. Not on vacation 40% of time
6. Clears away Bush's harm, rather than clearing brush on farm
7. Worried about 47 million uninsured, not about 47 thousand idle rich multi-millionaires
8. Not removing oversight from bankers on theory that financiers would never steal from own bank!
9. does not believe US menaced by Gog and Magog
10. Not ignoring threat of al-Qaeda

(Above so totally stolen from Juan Cole at Informed Comment; he gives views from an Arab perspective not often seen in in the so-called liberal media)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Quirky, Crazy, and Batshit Birther Crazy


Seems like 25% of country has gone batshit birther crazy, aided and abetted by the few Republicans left in office and the cappo d tutti capo of conservatism, Rush and others of his ilk.

Now, the crazies have come to Clermont in Lake County, FL, committing federal criminal offences by vandalizing post office boxes.

Jeepers, what frightens these freaks? Socialism? Since when does any effort by the federal government to protect individuals from the enormous power of corporate capitalism become cause for riot on the right?

Don't they realize insurance companies make MORE money denying care than by treating patients?

[Early this spring, I spent two very long days traveling around Kentucky with Orly Taitz, one of the leading "birthers" in a nation full of them. So I can tell you with confidence — and show you later in this week's column and next — that this is much, much crazier than most people imagine — and alarmingly in sync with the "tea parties" and wild accusations of socialism that seem to define the current "conservative" opposition.] emphasis added
Read more: http://www.esquire.com/the-side/richardson-report/obama-birthers-movement-part-one-080409#ixzz0NyasO3Rd

[As I see it, the reality is that, in America, the lunatics will always be with us -- or at least for a long time. Our uniquely noxious blend of racism, right wing politics, and moneyed interests exploiting racial fears and economic insecurity have hollowed out the core of moderation in American politics. In an unbroken line from Goldwater to Limbaugh and Palin, the Republican party has committed itself to scorched-earth tactics that have shredded the economic, political, and moral fabric of this country.] emphasis added
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robin-wells/what-obama-needs-to-learn_b_254714.html

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mansions 50% off in Orlando, Elsewhere


In "normal" recessions, high end homes usually keep selling, and owners of them keep remodelling or adding on or remodelling, thus providing work for building trades otherwise bereft of prospects.

The current financial climate with attending tight credit markets has made Orlando a real estate market with blue light specials on mansions.

For people with liquid assets, think monied for generations family members, such recessions and even depressions provide opportunity to buy at bargain basement prices.

So y'all come on down to Orlando and buy some mansions, ye oil sheiks, Rockefellers, Chases and others. We need the tax revenue.

Call me; we can slurp some 'sters and drink domestics at Lee & Rick's Oyster Bar.

[Custom builders, stuck with luxurious homes they have been unable to sell in the humbled real-estate market, now appear to be the ones taking a bath.

Some are trying to unload masterpiece homes at half the price they had been asking in 2007. Others are faced with having to wait for buyers for the first time in more than a decade. And still others warn that this may be the end of the speculative, high-end-home market in Orlando.

"We built this at the high end of the market, and we're going to have to sell at the low end," Kim Goehring, a longtime custom-home builder, said recently as he walked through what was, in 2007, the official show home of the International Builders' Show when that giant convention was in town.

Inside the house, a curved, wooden door leads to a study resplendent with leather floors, leather inlays in the coffered ceiling, and a globe of the world centered in the chandelier. Travertine tile lines the concave ceiling of one of the two rooms in the wine cellar. A bank of custom cabinetry frames stainless appliances — and that's in the master bedroom.

When he completed the 6,600-square-foot home on the main drag of Orlando's Baldwin Park in 2006, Goehring said he expected it to sell within two or three months, based on demand at the time. Now, years later, Casa Teresa is a blue-light special, with its original $4 million price tag slashed in half.]
(emphasis added)
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/orl-empty-custom-homes-080609,0,2233008.story

Who the hell builds with leather freakin' floors?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bicyclist Road Rage

You just can't make up this shite.

Bicycle road rage. Dude, you sit on a bike without body armor and break the window of a car that may weigh in at 2 tons. Darwin awards anyone?

[A man has been arrested in an unusual case of bicycle road rage.

Dale Arthur Single, 55, of 5141 70th St. N, is charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm and one count of criminal mischief.

Single is accused of using his hand to crack the windshield of a car trying to pass his bicycle at 34th Street and 53rd Avenue N on Sunday. He was arrested by Pinellas County sheriff's deputies after he wielded a handgun and a phony badge.

Deputies say Meluvdin Rahimic, 28, and Cristobal Santiago, 30, both of Pinellas Park, pulled up behind Single and honked at him around 2 p.m. on Sunday as he weaved his bicycle through traffic north on 34th Street. Single damaged Radimic's windshield with a hand slap and fled.

Officials say Rahimic called 911 and followed Single to the side of the road at 53rd Avenue, where Single revealed a pistol and "pointed it at the victims in a threatening manner."]

FL: Governor Grovel Guts Growth Management Act


For those of you who don't live in FL, we have a governor named Charlie Crist, a dirtbag politician now changing his positions to ingratiate himself to the conservative base of the RepubliKKKan party for a primary election for US Senator in 2010.

Say what you will about Sarah Palin, at least she resigned her post rather than go through the motions like our Governor Gutless, who left the Capital of Tallahassee for an $430000 European junket while leaving legislators to close a $2.3 BILLION budget shortfall :[Governor Charlie Crist isn’t answering questions about his pricey overseas trade mission to Europe.

In July taxpayers picked-up a 430,000 dollar tab for Governor Crist and 25 state employees to travel England, France, Russia, and Spain. The goal of the trip was to bring jobs to Florida. Some say the trip was a waste of taxpayer money.]

On his trip, Governor Missing In Action took business leaders and had them pick up part of his tab, which included a $2179 a night suite in London.

[Crist, a Republican who calls himself the people's governor, chose to lessen the burden on taxpayers by having businesses pay his expenses.

But that kind of arrangement can pose conflicts, said Nova Southeastern University law professor Bob Jarvis, a public policy expert.

"It looks like you're buying influence and access to the governor, or to any elected official, when any part of the trip is paid for by outside interests," Jarvis said. "If the trip is important enough to do, then it should be built into the government budget."]
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/nationworld/sfl-flgovtrip07sbdec07,0,5721620.story

Of course, Governor Gutless used this trip to prime the $ pump for his Senate run, raising $4.3 million, mostly from rich folk, developers and the like.

[Gov. Charlie Crist has a lot of wealthy friends.

And many of them, from plaintiff lawyers and corporate executives to New York socialites and Tallahassee lobbyists, have cut checks to his U.S. Senate bid for the full $4,800 they're allowed to give to a federal candidate, according to Crist's fundraising report.

More than one-fourth — 580 — of the 2,100 contributors who helped Crist raise a whopping $4.3 million have now maxed out for both the 2010 primary and general elections, meaning they can't be asked to give again...]


[...Crist's fundraising strategy has already shifted to target more out-of-state dollars in places such as North Carolina, where wealthy Floridians spend their summers; and New York, where he raised funds at private dinners last weekend.

Earlier this year, billionaire developer Donald Trump and Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon showed up at ritzy dinners in the Hamptons for Crist, whose wife, Carole Rome, has helped him gain entrance into New York social circles.

This week, he was in Washington for back-to-back fundraisers hosted by federal lobbyists....]

[...Crist's campaign has leaned on a handful of "bundlers" — lobbyists who collect multiple checks from friends, clients and relatives — to raise nearly $190,000 so far.

Ponte Vedra Beach-based lobbyist T. Martin Florentino, whose clients include CSX Transportation and AT&T, collected $139,250 for Crist. Tallahassee-based health-care lobbyist James Eaton raised another $50,700.

The list of 580 contributors who maxed out includes U.S. Sugar Corp. CEO Robert Buker and chief company lobbyist Bob Coker. Both were at the center of Crist's successful push for the state to buy U.S. Sugar's land holdings to try to restore the natural water flow of the Everglades...]

Sorry, Charlie, most politicians wait a bit before selling out themselves and their state. Governor Grovel gave his fat cat developer friends a huge boost by signing Senate Bill 360, the Developers' Relief Act as Carl Hiaasen calls it below.

Is Crist Fundraising While FL Burns?

[And the bucks keep flowing in
BY CARL HIAASEN
chiaasen@MiamiHerald.com

Unlike Sarah Palin, Charlie Crist has chosen not to quit his governorship early. Florida's own one-term wonder is using his remaining time to ingratiate himself with as many deep-pocket interest groups as possible.

The governor's unseemly burst of groveling is directly connected to his upcoming run for the U.S. Senate. Sucking up to the National Rifle Association and the Christian right, Crist last week declared his opposition to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, whose confirmation is already a done deal.

Many of Crist's longtime supporters were surprised, but they shouldn't have been. Charlie has no problem with timely pandering.

Take Senate Bill 360, which he signed into law last month. Authored by lobbyists for developers, it's one of the worst pieces of legislation to come out of one of the country's most buyable legislatures.

The law emaciates Florida's Growth Management Act by removing state oversight of massive residential and commercial projects known as Developments of Regional Impact, which put enormous stress on neighboring communities.
More outrageously, the new law will stick taxpayers -- not developers -- with most of the high costs for roads and other infrastructure that housing subdivisions require.

It's a recipe for more reckless sprawl, which is the last thing Florida needs, and the last thing a self-baptized environmentalist like Crist should be endorsing.

Lobbyists for the building industry say SB 360 will jump-start many stalled construction projects, a dubious claim in a state with a pandemic housing glut and practically zero demand for new units. The real motive is to gut land-use regulations before the next boom.

Republican lawmakers who lovingly embraced the bill named it the ``Community Renewal Act,'' which is more digestible than the ``Developers' Relief Act.'' Here's all you really need to know: The Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Association of Realtors love it.

Guess who doesn't: Cash-strapped cities and counties that will be saddled with the fiscal burden of supporting the new projects. They say the law wrongly restricts a local community's ability to plan and regulate its own development. One way or another, the tab for roads and sewers must be passed along to a public that's already fed up with how overbuilding has damaged the quality of life. Passed 25 years ago, the original Growth Management Act was porous and too easily subverted. The new bill is a toothless farce.

Crist was well aware how strongly local governments opposed it. Officials from Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and several other counties urged the governor to use his veto. His own growth-management guru, Tom Pelham, thought the bill was lousy.

The governor signed his name anyway, saying, ``It's probably one of those bills where nobody's going to be overly happy on either side of the argument.''

Really, Charlie? The developers were beyond overly happy; they were turning cartwheels.

That wasn't the reaction in most city and county halls. So far, at least 16 municipalities have joined a lawsuit seeking to have SB 360 declared unconstitutional.

Lawyers for Homestead, Weston, Miami Gardens, Key Biscayne and other cities say the measure is an ``unfunded mandate'' that unlawfully heaps costs on local governments without providing necessary sources of revenue.

They also contend that the bill, which is cluttered with provisions unrelated to development, violates a constitutional requirement that statutes must deal with a single subject.

Like his stance against Sotomayor, Crist's unexpected support for the lax development law disappointed those still clinging to the notion that he's a different breed.

The same fellow who fancies himself a crusader for the Everglades has -- if SB 360 is allowed to stand -- essentially guaranteed that the remaining wetlands of western Miami-Dade will be paved, dooming any hope for reviving the Everglades.

Only as craven political strategy does Crist's latest cave-in makes sense. You can't win a U.S. Senate seat without a war chest, and developers, builders and banks are among Florida's most prolific campaign donors.

As of mid-July, the governor had already raised $4.3 million for his 2010 Senate race, a record-breaking sum. He seems in no hurry to reveal who gave what. He won't even identify his ``bundlers'' -- the major players who solicit and collect campaign checks on his behalf.

Late last week, the Federal Election Commission began posting Crist's donor information. Nobody will be shocked when big money starts rolling in from those who stand to benefit from the Developers' Relief Act.

Obviously Charlie would rather be a plump turkey than a lame duck.

© 2009 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.miamiherald.com]
emphasis added
used under faie use doctrine

Monday, July 27, 2009

"We Came in Peace for All Mankind"



Some 40 years ago, my Mom made her 3 children walk out into a sweltering FL night to look up at the moon where men walked.

Now NASA has come out with new high resolution videos of men on the moon.

To have people reach the moon and return safely marks perhaps the greatest technological feat in recorded history.

Lived there e're a human who looked up at the stars at night and did not dream?

Friday, July 24, 2009

No Racism in America. Nope. Nosiree.




[Ormond Beach Police this morning found a burned cross on city property.

Scratched in the dirt below the cross were the letters " KKK," an abbreviation for the white supremacy group Ku Klux Klan.

The cross was found at a water-tower site on Leeway Trail, just north of Airport Road.]
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/orl-bk-ormond-beach-burned-cross-072409,0,7106671.story

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"You're Going to the Moon, Alice."



FL Drugs Children in Foster Care

In the category of should feel surpised but ain't, FL adoptive parents told our Governor Great Tan about the pills taken by their kids.

[Mirko and Regina Ceska told Crist that when they adopted their two 12-year-old children last year, each was taking 11 pills daily, including the powerful antipsychotic drug Seroquel.

"These girls were overdosed and would fall asleep right in front of us several times a day," said Mirko Ceska.

"It seems to be a prerequisite for foster children to be on medication," he added.

The Crawfordville couple weaned the girls off their medication, and their behavior markedly improved, they said...

Shortly after the Ceskas spoke, Crist's head of the Department of Children and Families, George Sheldon, asked them to testify Friday in Tampa before a special panel that's investigating the April suicide of a Margate 7-year-old, Gabriel Myers.

Like the Ceskas' adopted children, Gabriel was prescribed a number of medications including a psychotropic drug. One of the drugs, the antidepressant Symbyax, isn't supposed to be prescribed to children and has been linked to suicidal behavior...

Of the 20,000 children in state care, about 3,100 — or 15.5 percent — are medicated, primarily with psychotropic drugs, Sheldon said. In the general population, he said, about 4 to 5 percent of children are on some form of medication.

A DCF study of the 268 6- and 7-year-olds medicated while in state care found that child-welfare doctors and case managers routinely failed to complete legally required treatment plans, share information or properly document the prescribing of powerful psychiatric drugs.]emphasis added

Medicating 6 and 7 year olds?

Sure you can control kids better when you dope them up, but it's wrong, Governor Great Tan, FREAKIN' wrong, you bastard.

Don't raise taxes. Let kids die. That's the Republiklan way.

Bastards.
http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/article1020793.ece

"International Space Plumbers Fix Balky Orbital Toilet"

[A Russian cosmonaut joined an astronaut from Belgium in a classic example of international plumbing cooperation on Monday and succeeded in fixing a faulty toilet on the international space station.

Station commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineer Frank De Winne swapped out some parts on the balky toilet and got it up running again a day after it broke down.

The toilet is one of two orbital commodes on the space station for the outpost's permanent six-person crew and seven visiting astronauts from the docked shuttle Endeavour. It flooded on Sunday, forcing Mission Control in Houston to ask the astronauts to put up an "out of service" sign on the potty door.]
emphasis added
http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2009/07/space-plumbers-fix-balky-orbital-toilet.html

"Naked Bicyclist Arrested on Sex Charge"

"A naked bicyclist was arrested today on a child-sex charge after he ran from Altamonte Springs police, they said.

An officer saw Jose Antonio Torres, 23, pedaling down State Road 436 at Frances Drive about 2 a.m. and stopped him, said Cpl. Robert Pelton, a department spokesman.

Torres "hopped off the bicycle and ran," Pelton said. When he was caught, he had a cut on his head.

Police soon discovered that the father of a 14-year-old girl had found Torres and the teen having sex in her room at a nearby apartment complex, Pelton said. The father stopped them and struck Torres, who ran away."
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/orl-bk-naked-bicyclist-07212009,0,5071618.story

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Random Poem

Please pour my ashes into the river
Please pour them into the outgoing tide
Let the river take me to the ocean
Take me on that one last ride

But the sea evaporates
That turns into rain
So when rain falls
I'll be with you again

Sunday, July 12, 2009

FL RepubliKKKans: privatize everything, even foster care for children

The Orlando Sentinel, in a stunning investigation of Dept of Children and Families records, found that more than 70 caseworkers lie and falsified documents pertaining to safety of children.

"During the past two years, more than 70 Florida child-welfare workers have been caught falsifying records -- lying about their on-the-job efforts to protect children, according to state and county records reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel.

As a consequence, the Florida Department of Children and Families temporarily lost track of at least six children, sometimes for months. Fourteen children were left in unsafe homes, the Sentinel found in a review of agency records..."

Lost children? The state of FL lost track of 5 year old Rilya Wilson in 2001, leaving her missing and presumed dead.

A study found 88 children, including Wilson, missing and uaccounted for.

Governor JEB!'s solution? Hire private companies to keep track of foster kids.

"...Florida overhauled its child-welfare system after authorities discovered in 2002 that a Miami foster child, 5-year-old Rilya Wilson, had been missing for 15 months without DCF knowing. Her caseworker had stopped making face-to-face visits.

The child has never been found.

In response to the scandal, the agency began outsourcing much of its child-safety work to private contractors.

What's left today is a much smaller government agency with limited oversight of the companies in charge of child safety..."
[This quote comes after quote below from Sentinel.]

"•The day after a caseworker reported that she had inspected a foster home in Wildwood, police found its four foster children living in tents in the yard. The house had no running water, no food and no clean clothes. [emphasis added]

•After a Hardee County social worker lied about making home visits, one child wound up living with an uncle awaiting trial on child-rape charges.

•Two children in Hernando County lived, for a time, with a grandfather who had been arrested two years earlier and accused of physically abusing his own child.

No child was hurt or killed because of phony paperwork, DCF said. But an investigation into the 2007 death of a neglected Jacksonville newborn revealed that his caseworker had falsified records in four other cases."

Lying caseworkers split 50 50 between state and private workers.

Still, we give lipservice to importance of protecting children but not enough money.

[Longtime child advocate Jack Levine of the 4Generations Institute in Tallahassee, a family-policy advisory group, said DCF clearly is policing itself, firing bad workers and trying to make children safer.

But the state also has a legacy of failing to meet its goals.

"Florida is a state that has always had among the finest child-protection laws and among the most paltry budgets to pay for those good intentions," Levine said.]

In Guv JEB!s delusional second inaugural speech, he imagined capital empty of government workers.

What a freaking tool!!! As Thomas Hobbes observed in Leviathan, government exists to enforce a social compact that works for all, whether weak or strong or poor or rich.

Privatize power grid and we got Enron.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Driving While Hispanic

Sheriffs deputies in Lake County, FL, routinely detain Hispanics whom they suspected of bring illegal aliens, dettaining them without charges while contacting the US Border Patrol.

For those of you not from my great state, Lake County had an infamous sheriff, Willis McCall, known for racism, lynching, and black people mysteriously disappearing from his custody.

Some things don't change.

[During the past two years, the Lake County Sheriff's Office detained more than 200 people solely because they were suspected of being an illegal or undocumented immigrant.

The arrest count is by far the highest of any other Central Florida county
that could provide statistics from the same period, and the practice of detaining individuals without criminal charges is being called into question by civil-liberties and immigration advocates who suggest the Sheriff's Office is conducting racial or ethnic profiling.

"There's a reason why we are in contact with them," Lake County Sheriff Gary Borders said. "We're not profiling. We have very strict policies against profiling. I've got a federal law-enforcement agency telling me to detain them."

Although the Sheriff's Office does not have a formal agreement with federal authorities to enforce certain immigration laws, Borders said his deputies are on solid legal ground in detaining suspected illegal immigrants for the federal government. He said every case begins with a legitimate stop or inquiry by a deputy — a traffic violation, for instance.

According to arrest records in the 215 cases reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel, Lake County deputies customarily stopped vehicles, questioned occupants and then became suspicious about immigration status.

They then typically contacted the U.S. Border Patrol, which issued "detainers," and the individuals usually were then held at the Lake County Jail until they were picked up by federal authorities for deportation proceedings.] emphasis added




[Following printed under Fair Use Doctrine because of important public polcy issues presented. Orlando Sentinel retains all copyrights to this story.]

Is it profiling? Lake County detains more than 200 suspected of being illegal immigrants
Lake County Sheriff Gary Borders denies his office profiles Hispanics
By Anthony Colarossi

Sentinel Staff Writer

July 10, 2009

TAVARES

During the past two years, the Lake County Sheriff's Office detained more than 200 people solely because they were suspected of being an illegal or undocumented immigrant.

The arrest count is by far the highest of any other Central Florida county that could provide statistics from the same period, and the practice of detaining individuals without criminal charges is being called into question by civil-liberties and immigration advocates who suggest the Sheriff's Office is conducting racial or ethnic profiling.

"There's a reason why we are in contact with them," Lake County Sheriff Gary Borders said. "We're not profiling. We have very strict policies against profiling. I've got a federal law-enforcement agency telling me to detain them."

Although the Sheriff's Office does not have a formal agreement with federal authorities to enforce certain immigration laws, Borders said his deputies are on solid legal ground in detaining suspected illegal immigrants for the federal government. He said every case begins with a legitimate stop or inquiry by a deputy — a traffic violation, for instance.

According to arrest records in the 215 cases reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel, Lake County deputies customarily stopped vehicles, questioned occupants and then became suspicious about immigration status.

They then typically contacted the U.S. Border Patrol, which issued "detainers," and the individuals usually were then held at the Lake County Jail until they were picked up by federal authorities for deportation proceedings.

No criminal charges are listed on any of the booking sheets, records show.

Instead, deputies cited "Courtesy Hold for Border Patrol" or "Hold for Border Patrol" and a Florida civil statute regarding contempt of court.

Virtually all the cases involve individuals with Hispanic surnames.

Similar detentions without local charges are rare among neighboring sheriff's offices during the same span:

•The Seminole County Sheriff's Office detained eight without charges.

•In Volusia County, jail records show the Sheriff's Office detained two people.

•Osceola County never held anyone on one of the detainers without first arresting them on some criminal count. Osceola honored 23 detainers; all were charged first with local crimes.

• Orange County officials said they could not produce a number without significant time for special computer programming.

The issue prompted an emotional debate last month when Lake Sheriff Borders met with Hispanic groups and immigrant advocates.

"It used to be [called] 'driving while black,'" Sister Ann Kendrick with the Hope Community Center told Borders. "Now it's 'driving while Mexican or Latino.' People are terrified. They're afraid to drive. ... People are terrified of you."

Police departments across Central Florida — from Orlando to Kissimmee to Leesburg — generally do not ask about federal detainers unless they've arrested someone on a criminal charge and the individual's citizenship comes into question.

"It doesn't happen at all with us," said Stacie Miller, a spokeswoman for Kissimmee police. "We don't arrest them and hold them until a detainer comes in. ... We focus on if there is a crime."

Among Lake County crime fighters from late 2007 to early this year, the Sheriff's Office was the arresting agency in 215 cases in which detainers were issued without charges.

Astatula police handled three cases, Clermont police handled five and Tavares police handled seven.

The detentions in Lake gained widespread attention earlier this year when Tavares police arrested an illegal-immigrant mother from Honduras without a criminal charge.

Rita Cote — who had an administrative warrant for deportation — was held in jail for more than two weeks, well beyond the 48 hours allowed under federal law.

Cote and her husband are now preparing to sue Tavares police and the Lake County Sheriff's Office, according to their attorney.

Michael Reilly, an assistant chief with Border Patrol's Office of Public Affairs in Washington, said it's not uncommon for local law-enforcement agencies to contact Border Patrol during traffic stops when the citizenship of an individual is in question.

Agents usually can question people and determine quickly whether a detainer should be issued, he said.

"If the sheriff decides to drop a misdemeanor charge, that's up to the sheriff. I can't comment on that," Reilly said. However, he added, "Say they do issue a citation. What's the probability of this person showing up in court, if ultimately the person is going to be deported from the United States?"

Since 2001, there has been "a great deal of confusion regarding the actual authority of local and state police to enforce federal immigration law," according to a 2007 immigration report written by Michele Waslin, a senior analyst with the Immigration Policy Center.

Even the federal regulation governing the detainers is open to interpretation about whether local law enforcement should first have custody of an individual before they get issued.

The Miami-Dade Police Department has issued a Legal Bulletin citing court cases and stating "local or state police officers should not arrest or detain an individual solely on the basis of such a detainer or other civil hold order ..."

Borders defends his deputies: "If here's a traffic stop and they [suspects] cannot produce identification and it's determined they may be here illegally, we contact Border Patrol," he said. "If a federal law-enforcement agency — whether they ask or demand [to hold someone on a detainer] — we're going to do that."

Anthony Colarossi can

be reached at

352-742-5931 or acolarossi@

orlandosentinel.com.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Orlando 1; 1st Amendment 0; Still Pissed Off in O'Town

As recounted in a previous post, the City of Orlando has made it a crime with penalties including incareration for panhandling on city streets if done outside of restricted areas, measured in a few square feet and bounded by blue paint.

This amounts to a patently unconstitutional violation of free speech in a public forum and protected by the first amendment to the Constitution.

From the syllabus to the USSC decision: "1. An airport terminal operated by a public authority is a non-public forum, and thus a ban on solicitation need only satisfy a reasonableness standard. Pp. 677-683.

(a) The extent to which the Port Authority can restrict expressive activity on its property depends on the nature of the forum. Regulation of traditional public fora or designated public fora survives only if it is narrowly drawn to achieve a compelling state interest, but limitations on expressive activity conducted on any other government-owned property need only be reasonable to survive. Perry Education Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., 460 U.S. 37, 45, 46. Pp. 677-679."
(emphasis added)

Public sidewalks by definition have to receive consideration as public forums thus protecting people exercising their right to free speech by asking for $.

For Jesus' sake people, feed the hungry.

[For you have been a refuge to the poor,
a refuge to the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the rainstorm
and a shade from the heat.

- Isaiah 25:4]

[There is no dispute that the Hare Krishnas' activities are protected by the First Amendment. Rather, the constitutional dispute is over the character of the airport itself.

If an area is not a "public forum," the Government is not constitutionally obliged to accommodate speech or other activities that would have full constitutional protection on a street corner, for example.] Emphasis added
http://www.nytimes.com/1992/01/11/nyregion/supreme-court-to-review-soliciting-at-3-big-airports.html

Monday, May 18, 2009

Last Post Still Pisses Me Off

Took a bit to percolate through my brain, but using the phrase "frequent fliers" in an article on the most incarcerated people in Orlando over the last 10 years attempts a sad, bad, cruel and tasteless joke.

Such "joke" shifts focus from insanity in the policies of Orlando towards homeless people.

Rather than fund drug treatment programs, affordable housing, work training, and shelters for homeless folk, the city fathers spend $ on locking up homeless people, thereby wasting valuable police and jail resources.

Guess they don't want to sully the image of Orlando, where in the immortal words of Eric Cartman, "People starving hardly never."

Waiting for comment from Sentinel reporter.

Monday, May 11, 2009

"Justice" in Orlando, FL: Where Can a Homeless Person Pee?

Orlando bills itself as the City Beautiful.

Yes, we have many beautiful aspects--unless you find yourself homeless in Orlando. Then, you'd find yourself subject to constant arrests and harassment in the name of enforcing city ordinances.

Then we become the City Mean.

Consider the sad cases of Roosevelt Richardson, incarcerated 123 times ove 10 years for the crimes of: "panhandling and other petty crimes such as loitering, urinating in public and trespassing." (Full story below.) That averages out to over once a month for TEN years.

While we all agree having people pee in public violates the sense of decency if not threatening the entire social order, where can a homeless person pee?

Many businesses open to the public violate the provision of the FL Administrative Code which states such must allow members of the public to use restrooms of the establishment, thus they patently violating the law.

While murders in Orlando have increased dramatically--even as the Orlando Sentinel keeps a scorecard--our POlice protect us from panhandlers. Holy misplaced priorities, Batman.

I'd rather give someone a dollar rather than get killed. Hey even if they use it for beer, I figure they need 1 to cope.

Speaking of druthers, Richardson has his: ["I'd rather be walking the streets hungry than full in the jail," Richardson said.]

Will have to dust off my constitutonal law book to check but feel fairly certain the US Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional right to free speech included the rights of Hare Krishnas top ask for $ from people.

By extension, people in America have the constitutional right to ask other people for $.

Given the lack of drug treatment programs, affordable housing, and freaking JOBS please remind President Obama that "infrastrucure includes PEOPLE, which look invisible to us but all had mothers and fathers and maybe siblings.

Get involved in your community; Jesus said to feed people to get into heaven: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…" (Matthew 25: 35, 36)

[Used without permission under Fair Use doctrine because this story deals with an issue of national import: homelesness]

orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orl-most-arrested-051109,0,3935678.story

OrlandoSentinel.com
Jail's 'frequent flier' has been in and out 123 times
Bianca Prieto

Sentinel Staff Writer

At any given time, Rosevelt Richardson is almost certainly at one of two places -- in the Orange County Jail or on an Orlando street corner.

They're hardly his favorite two hangouts. They're just the ones he knows best.

"I've put myself in a rut, and I don't know how to get out of it," Richardson said. "I'm tired of this."

How could he not be? During the past 10 years, Richardson has checked in and out of the county jail 123 times, or about once a month. And right now, he's checked in -- for stint 124. Richardson sits in jail, disappointed with himself but with one inescapable distinction: No one has been booked into Orange County's jail more during the past decade than he has.

Richardson, a 59-year-old homeless panhandler, heads the list of "frequent fliers," the most-booked inmates since 1999, according to jail records surveyed by the Orlando Sentinel.

The group of the county's top 10 fliers is made up mostly of transients who have smiled, cringed, glared and frowned for 836 mug shots. All are men. Most are black.[emphasis added]

Almost all of their arrests are for panhandling and other petty crimes such as loitering, urinating in public and trespassing, records show. Sprinkled throughout the hundreds of arrests are some violent crimes and drug charges.

"In general, a lot of people who come in and out of the jail are people who are homeless or mentally ill," jail spokesman Allen Moore said. "Because of their life circumstances, they get in a position where they violate city or county ordinances [and are arrested]."

On a recent weekday, Richardson pulls up a chair in a barren interview room at the jail. The skeptical look on his face shows through his salt-and-pepper beard and extends to his bald head and eyes. He doesn't yet understand why he would be of any interest to a reporter. He's surprised -- almost pleased -- to learn he's at the top of the list. This time he's here for violating probation on a prior trespassing and panhandling case.

The room echoes as he answers questions about why he can't stay out of jail.

"Because my income is panhandling," Richardson says. said. And in Orlando, that's illegal.

Arthritis invaded Richardson's joints a few years ago, making it nearly impossible for him to do the only trade he knows: migrant field work. He dropped out of school in sixth grade to follow the fields to pick oranges, cucumbers, watermelons and tomatoes, he said.

He fathered four children but left his family when his youngest son was 6 months old. Richardson said he hasn't spoken to them since he left their Gainesville home in 1986.

His small stature, which earned him the street nickname "Shorty Kellem," doesn't help him get work in day-labor jobs. But this time, he hopes a judge will help him get on his feet by ordering him to a work-release program.

"I don't know how to get out of this cycle," said Richardson, explaining that he has to start over every time he's released from jail. "It's wearing me down."

Although life may appear easier behind bars -- the guarantee of three meals a day, a roof over his head and a warm bed to sleep in -- he says he doesn't want to be there.

"I'd rather be walking the streets hungry than full in the jail," Richardson said.

He has past felony convictions on drug charges but says he has been clean for the past four years.

Recurring arrests are hardly limited to Orange County, though its frequent fliers are more prolific than those in some counties. The most-arrested person in Osceola County is Martin Luther Wagner (59 times during the past decade), according to the Osceola County Jail. Wagner also has arrests in Orange County, records show.

In Lake, No. 1 is Thomas Cleveland Bass (52 times). Seminole and Volusia counties were unable to compile similar statistics.

Each time Richardson is picked up by police and hauled off to jail, he loses his few possessions.

When he returns, they have either been tossed out or stolen by other homeless people, who need it, he said. All he owns are the clothes he wore to jail. His identification card expired on his birthday, April 28, so now he doesn't even have that.

"The little stuff I did have is gone," Richardson said.

At the Coalition for the Homeless on West Central Boulevard, clients are offered lockers for a small fee paid by the week or the month. If the rent is not paid, the items are tossed, spokeswoman Muffet Robinson said.

Occasionally, coalition workers will receive a letter or call from the jail asking them to keep the items until the locker renter is out of jail.

"They do what they can to work with the guys," Robinson said. "But we are not a storage facility."

Almost half of the men in the group list the coalition as their home address, according to public records. Privacy policies do not allow the coalition to confirm whether the men are clients.

"It's all trash and litter to most of us, but to them it's their stuff," said Jim Wright, a sociology professor at the University of Central Florida who works with the homeless.

"It must be frustrating as all get out ... when you get arrested and it all disappears."

Although Richardson has grown accustomed to the in-and-out routine, he said he wants change.

Meanwhile, he plans to serve the rest of his several-month sentence.

If anyone is looking for him, he said: "Oh, I'm not hard to find. Just check the jail."

Anthony Colarossi and Gary Taylor of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Bianca Prieto can be reached at bprieto@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5620.

Copyright © 2009, Orlando Sentinel

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Warm Milk and Morphine

Hospitalized briefly in March with minor infection that led to impossibly low blood pressure with a side dish of anemia.

Who knew? Thought feeling faint and listless just result of hangover.

Neighbors called 911 for me and hospitalized for five days.

Roommate for last 3 days: an elderly, insomniac gentleman with penchant for guttural curses and noises and tv viewing all night long, not a prescription for a good sleep.

Took a day for Dr. to authorize sleeping pill. For night without pill, nurse brought me warm milk before morphine shot.

If in Orlando and take sick, I highly recommend Orando Regional Medical Center or whatever they call it nowadays, great food--especially the soups--and staff.

I'd give Fl Hospital ER from previous visit a nod because they have large screen tv's. Food just a touch below ORMC but still really good.

Hope to blog more regularly

Thursday, February 26, 2009

RepubliKKKans blame the victims

As with denying abortions to victims of rape and incest, now RepubliKKKans want to deny relief to people sucked into buying a home at the top of the housing bubble, enticed by the Greenspan mantra and fantasy that housing prices always go higher.

(Cue Blood, Sweat, and Tears, "What goes up...")

Many home buyers got sucked into atrocious Adjustable Rate Mortgages or refinancing schemes sure to lead to foreclosure.

Just today, local Orlando tv "news," WFTV, reported on lady charged $26,000 in closing costs on a loan giving her $9,000 cash for her home equity. (no link) Then her mortgage payment nearly doubled, from $800 to $1500, when her ARM rate reset.

Mortgage companies made boatloads of bucks as prices went up, some by marketing bad loans to gullible customers.

Banks, mortgage companies, and the scions of Wall Street built a financial house of cards on the backs of people who bought houses in the US.

Even Ace Greenberg, forme chairman of Bear Stearns knew the housing bubble would collapse: saying on Frontline [(Question from Frontline): Did you know the housing bubble was going to burst?

I knew this: I knew that it was crazy to see people flipping houses for profit. The vigorish in buying and selling a house is so big that it's ridiculous. I mean, the house has to go up 5 to 10 percent in value before you're even by the expenses and maintenance and so forth. So I thought that was crazy, and the speculation was crazy. I thought it was crazy to see ads where people would lend you 140 percent of the assessed value of your house. I thought that was nuts. Did I know that grassroots brokers were getting people financing that had no business [buying], that they were falsifying their wages, they were falsifying their ability to carry the mortgage? Did I know it was that bad? No, I did not.]

From the NY Times: [They (AIG) were the worst of them all,” said Frank Partnoy, a law professor at the University of San Diego and a derivatives expert. Mr. Vickrey of Gradient Analytics said, “It was extreme hubris, fueled by greed.” Other firms used many of the same shady techniques as A.I.G., but none did them on such a broad scale and with such utter recklessness.] Emphasis added


From Frontline, Inside the Meltdown
[Why would banks in Switzerland and Japan and Brazil be so focused on homes owned by poor people in America? But you have to see what happened between 2000 and 2007. ... It took humankind centuries to get to $36 trillion, and then it took us six or seven years to double that. And in no time at all there's twice as much money looking for something to invest in, but there aren't twice as many businesses and factories to invest in. They had to find something new. One of the things that was growing the fastest and attracting the most investment was the subprime housing market in the U.S. And then you create these leveraged products off of it, so a billion dollars of subprime loans can support $10 billion worth of structured products. Then you create these credit default swaps on top of those. And suddenly that $10 billion that really is based on $1 billion is actually supporting $100 billion worth of investments elsewhere.

And that actually would have been OK ... if they'd seen it as long-shot bets. ... But what they did was they took this stuff and used it as the building blocks on which they built their financial empires. ...]


Plus the mortgage companies themselves completey let standards fall by the wayside, as evidenced by this story at eye on miami about a man with presumably bad credit buying 3 properties in a 1 month period for $750,000 with no money dow2n.

Resonable people ought to agree the former borrower deserves relief while later schmuck deserves foreclosures.

Yet as Geniusofdespair noted in 2007, "This mortgage monkey business leading to foreclosures is going to crash the housing market."

Yet the RepubliKKKan bloodsuckers, having gotten $millions from developers and mortgage companies and banks, use their undead minions in the press spew to spew venom about "helping those who made bad choices."

Meanwhile, tent cities spring up across the US.

Let us call these what we ought: "Bushvilles."


In Hard Times, Tent Cities Rise Across the Country
In uncertain times, more people nationwide find themselves living in tents, on the streets
By EVELYN NIEVES Associated Press Writer
RENO, Nev. September 18, 2008 (AP) The Associated Press

A few tents cropped up hard by the railroad tracks, pitched by men left with nowhere to go once the emergency winter shelter closed for the summer.

Then others appeared — people who had lost their jobs to the ailing economy, or newcomers who had moved to Reno for work and discovered no one was hiring.

Within weeks, more than 150 people were living in tents big and small, barely a foot apart in a patch of dirt slated to be a parking lot for a campus of shelters Reno is building for its homeless population. Like many other cities, Reno has found itself with a "tent city" — an encampment of people who had nowhere else to go.

From Seattle to Athens, Ga., homeless advocacy groups and city agencies are reporting the most visible rise in homeless encampments in a generation.

Nearly 61 percent of local and state homeless coalitions say they've experienced a rise in homelessness since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007, according to a report by the National Coalition for the Homeless. The group says the problem has worsened since the report's release in April, with foreclosures mounting, gas and food prices rising and the job market tightening.

"It's clear that poverty and homelessness have increased," said Michael Stoops, acting executive director of the coalition. "The economy is in chaos, we're in an unofficial recession and Americans are worried, from the homeless to the middle class, about their future."


The phenomenon of encampments has caught advocacy groups somewhat by surprise, largely because of how quickly they have sprung up.

"What you're seeing is encampments that I haven't seen since the 80s," said Paul Boden, executive director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, an umbrella group for homeless advocacy organizations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Calif., Portland, Ore. and Seattle.

The relatively tony city of Santa Barbara has given over a parking lot to people who sleep in cars and vans. The city of Fresno, Calif., is trying to manage several proliferating tent cities, including an encampment where people have made shelters out of scrap wood. In Portland, Ore., and Seattle, homeless advocacy groups have paired with nonprofits or faith-based groups to manage tent cities as outdoor shelters. Other cities where tent cities have either appeared or expanded include include Chattanooga, Tenn., San Diego, and Columbus, Ohio...

In Seattle, which is experiencing a building boom and an influx of affluent professionals in neighborhoods the working class once owned, homeless encampments have been springing up — in remote places to avoid police sweeps.

"What's happening in Seattle is what's happening everywhere else — on steroids," said Tim Harris, executive director of Real Change, an advocacy organization that publishes a weekly newspaper sold by homeless people.]

Friday, February 20, 2009

California RepubliKKKans marching off the cliff.

No one likes to pay taxes.

But even the dimmest bulb should realize a $42 BILLION needs to get paid by raising SOME.

Not so Cali RepubliKKKans in the legislature who fired their leader in favor of 1 who apposes taxes.


Jeepers, even Governor Terminator can do the math:

[''Our caucus is pretty solid in terms of not voting for a tax increase,'' said Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Thousand Oaks. ''We know the dire situation the state is in, but we do more damage by taxing Californians.''

Schwarzenegger criticized that stand during a Wednesday afternoon news conference. He said there is no way to close the $42 billion deficit without tax increases.

''If you think that you can do this without any increase in revenues, then you have a big math problem,'' Schwarzenegger said. ''I despise revenue increases. I hate taxes. But when you're faced with that kind of a reality then that's where you have to go.'']

Wonder when Governor great tan of Fla will get such an epiphany?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why do Republikkans hate American jobs?

Let me put this in terms even Michael Steele, current chairman of the Republikkkan National Committee, can understand.

When you go somewhere and peform a task and someone gives you $ for doing so, that's a job.

As an unemplyed CAD drafter, I damn well know paycheck equals job. Hell, let ME design roadways for 3 years.

Sure a road contract ends, but you can feed yur family in the meantime and then go onto the next contract or job if the economy ever improves.

Of coursee Stephanoupolis can't understand Steele's argument because it's INSANE!


[STEELE: What this administration is talking about is making work. It is creating work.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's a job.

STEELE: No, it's not a job. A job is something that -- that a business owner creates. It's going to be long term. What he's creating...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So a job doesn't count if it's a government job?

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Hold on. No, let me -- let me -- let me finish. That is a contract. It ends at a certain point, George. You know that. These road projects that we're talking about have an end point.]

As a small-business owner, I'm looking to grow my business, expand my business. I want to reach further. I want to be international. I want to be national. It's a whole different perspective on how you create a job versus how you create work. And I'm -- either way, the bottom line is...

STEPHANOPOULOS: I guess I don't really understand that distinction.]