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Religion, Politics and World Events They make great dinner conversation, don't you think? plus Political Film

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Old 05-21-11, 04:10 PM   #26
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

Quote:
After divisive pastor starts House session, speaker apologizes



By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Bob Von Sternberg

As protesters chanted against an anti-gay marriage amendment outside the House chamber Friday morning, controversial pastor Bradlee Dean took to the House rostrum to give the prayer for the day.

According to those present, Dean, who has suggested he approves of the death penalty for gay people on a radio show, was accusatory toward Democrats and insulting to people who do not believe in Jesus.

"I know this is a non-denominational prayer in this Chamber and it’s not about the Baptists and it’s not about the Catholics alone or the Lutherans or the Wesleyans. Or the Presbyterians the evangelicals or any other denomination but rather the head of the denomination and his name is Jesus. As every President up until 2008 has acknowledged. And we pray it. In Jesus’ name," he said.

The House session broke down as leaders huddled with their staff members to discuss what to do. Both his words and his background ignited the firestorm.

The session quickly ended and Republicans huddled in a private caucus meeting for more than an hour.

Immediately after the House came back to order, DFL Rep. Terry Morrow took to the floor to say the hope of peace in the daily prayer had been "crushed by a single person's words."

He said the House had been fragmented and needed to be repaired.

"This can't happen again," Morrow said.

Democrats in the chamber expressed shock and said they were appalled. Some Republicans joined in the condemnation. Majority Leader Matt Dean said the prayer was inappropriate. House Speaker Kurt Zellers put it more bluntly, calling it a mistake.

When the House reconvened, Zellers stepped down from the speaker's chair and addressed his fellow House members. He called Dean "a man I personally denounce." Allowing him to deliver the prayer was wrong, "and for that I apologize to each and every one of you." He said he agreed with Morrow's criticism.

"I can only ask you for your forgiveness ... That type of person will never, ever be allowed on the House floor again," Zellers said.

Earlier, Zellers issued a more expansive written statement: "I respectfully apologize to all members in the Minnesota House of Representatives and all citizens of this state for today’s morning prayer. As Speaker of the House, I take responsibility for this mistake. I am offended at the presence of Bradlee Dean on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives. I denounce him, his actions and his words. He does not represent my values or the values of this state."

In an interview, Dean said he was surprised his words started a firestorm.

"I said a prayer. If a prayer starts a firestorm, so be it," he said. He said he was welcomed onto the House floor and departed with good feelings. "How it went from that to this, I'm not sure."

Dean said he had watched his prayer himself three times and it should have been clear he had no intent to ostracize anybody.

He said it wasn't right to call him "anti-gay" and said the idea that he had approved of the death penalty for gays had been debunked.

But also spoke admiringly of the time when homosexuality was illegal.

"I'm simply fighting for our posterity. I'm simply fighting for our next generation and the way to do that is to go back to who we are rather than what we are becoming...We don't enforce those laws anymore and we wonder why we are going backwards," he said. "If you were to ask me my position as far as enforcing the laws of sodomy in the state of Minnesota, I would say absolutely yes. Yeah. Yeah."

Asked about Zellers' apology for allowing him to speak, Dean said: "I apologize for him being in the position he is in if he doesn't understand what I said."

Zellers had originally hit the reset button on the session and invited the regular House chaplain to say a second prayer. The House also re-did the daily Pledge of Allegiance and roll call.

House officials said that the guest chaplains are suggested by members and are advised to be non-denominational and inclusionary.

Rep. Ernie Leidiger, R-Mayer, arranged the guest pastor's visit, but said he was unaware of Dean's view of homosexuality, calling it "radical thinking – that kind of thinking, I think back to Nazi Germany… I don’t agree with that.”

Saying he should have done a better job of "screening" Dean, he explained his rationale for inviting the pastor:

Quote:
I met him about six months ago and what I saw was a good presentation about bringing the Constitution back into the schools. A few months after that one of his people called and said we’d like to have Bradley come on and do the prayer in the morning … And I said I’m not really sure how we get that scheduled up here, so call the clerk’s office. My input was, I’d seen his presentation, he does a good job of talking to students, talking about the Constitution, talking about we need to understand how our country was formed, how important it was to know about the Founding Fathers …Little did I know there’s another side of him, which, by the way, I just learned today… I didn’t realize he was that controversial a figure. I’ve never listened to him on the radio.
As for what effect the controversy could have on a pending vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota, Leidiger said he hopes "this doesn’t derail at all the agenda. It’s the leadership’s decision really to see if [the vote on the amendment] needs to be rescheduled.”

Whereas previously it was a foregone conclusion that the marriage amendment, defining marriage as only the union of one man and one woman, would get a House vote this year, now that is less clear. Zellers Friday said he didn't know if the measure would get approval in the final three days of this years regular session. He noted it could get a vote next year and the constitutional question would still appear on the 2012 ballot.

Before Zellers apologized, two of the Legislature's openly gay members, Rep. Karen Clark and Sen. Scott Dibble, both of Minneapolis, issued a statement denouncing Dean's prayer. Clark called him "a hateful person" and said his presence in the chamber was "reprehensible."

The Minnesota Catholic Conference also denounced Dean, saying he "disrespectfully turned the prayer into a polemic and his words divided the chamber rather than brought people together.” He "does not speak for those supporting a marriage amendment in Minnesota," the pro-amendment league stated.
http://www.startribune.com/politics/...122326544.html
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Old 05-21-11, 04:11 PM   #27
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

Quote:
After divisive pastor starts House session, speaker apologizes



By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Bob Von Sternberg

As protesters chanted against an anti-gay marriage amendment outside the House chamber Friday morning, controversial pastor Bradlee Dean took to the House rostrum to give the prayer for the day.

According to those present, Dean, who has suggested he approves of the death penalty for gay people on a radio show, was accusatory toward Democrats and insulting to people who do not believe in Jesus.

"I know this is a non-denominational prayer in this Chamber and it’s not about the Baptists and it’s not about the Catholics alone or the Lutherans or the Wesleyans. Or the Presbyterians the evangelicals or any other denomination but rather the head of the denomination and his name is Jesus. As every President up until 2008 has acknowledged. And we pray it. In Jesus’ name," he said.

The House session broke down as leaders huddled with their staff members to discuss what to do. Both his words and his background ignited the firestorm.

The session quickly ended and Republicans huddled in a private caucus meeting for more than an hour.

Immediately after the House came back to order, DFL Rep. Terry Morrow took to the floor to say the hope of peace in the daily prayer had been "crushed by a single person's words."

He said the House had been fragmented and needed to be repaired.

"This can't happen again," Morrow said.

Democrats in the chamber expressed shock and said they were appalled. Some Republicans joined in the condemnation. Majority Leader Matt Dean said the prayer was inappropriate. House Speaker Kurt Zellers put it more bluntly, calling it a mistake.

When the House reconvened, Zellers stepped down from the speaker's chair and addressed his fellow House members. He called Dean "a man I personally denounce." Allowing him to deliver the prayer was wrong, "and for that I apologize to each and every one of you." He said he agreed with Morrow's criticism.

"I can only ask you for your forgiveness ... That type of person will never, ever be allowed on the House floor again," Zellers said.

Earlier, Zellers issued a more expansive written statement: "I respectfully apologize to all members in the Minnesota House of Representatives and all citizens of this state for today’s morning prayer. As Speaker of the House, I take responsibility for this mistake. I am offended at the presence of Bradlee Dean on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives. I denounce him, his actions and his words. He does not represent my values or the values of this state."

In an interview, Dean said he was surprised his words started a firestorm.

"I said a prayer. If a prayer starts a firestorm, so be it," he said. He said he was welcomed onto the House floor and departed with good feelings. "How it went from that to this, I'm not sure."

Dean said he had watched his prayer himself three times and it should have been clear he had no intent to ostracize anybody.

He said it wasn't right to call him "anti-gay" and said the idea that he had approved of the death penalty for gays had been debunked.

But also spoke admiringly of the time when homosexuality was illegal.

"I'm simply fighting for our posterity. I'm simply fighting for our next generation and the way to do that is to go back to who we are rather than what we are becoming...We don't enforce those laws anymore and we wonder why we are going backwards," he said. "If you were to ask me my position as far as enforcing the laws of sodomy in the state of Minnesota, I would say absolutely yes. Yeah. Yeah."

Asked about Zellers' apology for allowing him to speak, Dean said: "I apologize for him being in the position he is in if he doesn't understand what I said."

Zellers had originally hit the reset button on the session and invited the regular House chaplain to say a second prayer. The House also re-did the daily Pledge of Allegiance and roll call.

House officials said that the guest chaplains are suggested by members and are advised to be non-denominational and inclusionary.

Rep. Ernie Leidiger, R-Mayer, arranged the guest pastor's visit, but said he was unaware of Dean's view of homosexuality, calling it "radical thinking – that kind of thinking, I think back to Nazi Germany… I don’t agree with that.”

Saying he should have done a better job of "screening" Dean, he explained his rationale for inviting the pastor:

Quote:
I met him about six months ago and what I saw was a good presentation about bringing the Constitution back into the schools. A few months after that one of his people called and said we’d like to have Bradley come on and do the prayer in the morning … And I said I’m not really sure how we get that scheduled up here, so call the clerk’s office. My input was, I’d seen his presentation, he does a good job of talking to students, talking about the Constitution, talking about we need to understand how our country was formed, how important it was to know about the Founding Fathers …Little did I know there’s another side of him, which, by the way, I just learned today… I didn’t realize he was that controversial a figure. I’ve never listened to him on the radio.
As for what effect the controversy could have on a pending vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota, Leidiger said he hopes "this doesn’t derail at all the agenda. It’s the leadership’s decision really to see if [the vote on the amendment] needs to be rescheduled.”

Whereas previously it was a foregone conclusion that the marriage amendment, defining marriage as only the union of one man and one woman, would get a House vote this year, now that is less clear. Zellers Friday said he didn't know if the measure would get approval in the final three days of this years regular session. He noted it could get a vote next year and the constitutional question would still appear on the 2012 ballot.

Before Zellers apologized, two of the Legislature's openly gay members, Rep. Karen Clark and Sen. Scott Dibble, both of Minneapolis, issued a statement denouncing Dean's prayer. Clark called him "a hateful person" and said his presence in the chamber was "reprehensible."

The Minnesota Catholic Conference also denounced Dean, saying he "disrespectfully turned the prayer into a polemic and his words divided the chamber rather than brought people together.” He "does not speak for those supporting a marriage amendment in Minnesota," the pro-amendment league stated.
http://www.startribune.com/politics/...122326544.html
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Old 05-21-11, 04:54 PM   #28
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

So offensive, we posted it twice.
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Old 05-21-11, 05:35 PM   #29
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

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Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
So offensive, we posted it twice.
I only posted it once. I can't help it if IB decided to put it up on the thread twice.
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Old 05-21-11, 06:49 PM   #30
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

What's the problem? He said what he believed. You don't want to hear that kind of crap, don't invite people like Bradlee Dean.
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Old 05-23-11, 12:57 PM   #31
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

The worst thing about that story is how the House completely broke down after that. GET ON WITH YOUR JOBS DAMNIT! Instead of just blowing it off and getting to work they spent the whole day soaking their wounded vaginas about something some asshole said. I get the feeling some politicians love it when stuff like this happens so they can be egotists/prima donnas/attention whores and not get any work done.
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Old 05-26-11, 09:43 PM   #32
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

I think this is a real great moment, not a sarcastic great moment:

Quote:
State Rep. Boman switches to Democratic Party

Published: Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 2:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 2:51 p.m.

MONTGOMERY | State Rep. Daniel Boman, who represents part of Tuscaloosa County, switched to the Democratic party today.

Boman, a 36-year-old lawyer from Sulligent, said Wednesday’s vote on a bill to change the state’s tenure and fair dismissal laws for educators convinced him he was in the wrong party.

Boman, elected as a Republican last November, voted against the tenure and fair dismissal bill that Democrats said removes much of the due process for teachers facing discipline or firing.

His district includes Fayette and Lamar counties and a slice of northwest Tuscaloosa County.

Boman’s switch changes the dynamics of the Tuscaloosa County legislative delegation. The delegation, previously 4-3 Republican, now becomes 4-3 Democrat.

The switch reduces the number of elected Republicans in the House from 66 to 65 and increases the number of Democrats from 39 to 40.
http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/articl...701/1007?tc=ar
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Old 05-27-11, 01:07 PM   #33
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

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Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
I think this is a real great moment, not a sarcastic great moment:



http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/articl...701/1007?tc=ar
I don't really have a problem w/ voting with the other party 100% of the time, if you feel it is the right thing to do, but somehow actually switching parties mid-term bugs me a little bit.
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Old 05-27-11, 01:17 PM   #34
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

I think it's pretty sad that one vote at age 36 can make an elected official change his mind about what party he belongs in. It tells me that he is basically a nimrod. If one can switch based on one vote, perhaps you shouldn't affiliate yourself with a political party to begin with.
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Old 05-27-11, 04:13 PM   #35
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

Microchips... http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insid...ted-microchip/
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Old 05-31-11, 12:53 PM   #36
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
I think this is a real great moment, not a sarcastic great moment:



http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/articl...701/1007?tc=ar
Wow a state senator from a state you don't live in changed sides. I fail to see how this is a "relevent" moment or even an "interesting" moment, let alone a great moment.
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Old 05-31-11, 01:07 PM   #37
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

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Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
Wow a state senator from a state you don't live in changed sides. I fail to see how this is a "relevent" moment or even an "interesting" moment, let alone a great moment.
JasonF impresses easily.....well depending on which 'team' gains something.
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Old 05-31-11, 01:16 PM   #38
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

In a win a small battle, but lose a huge war story.

A single Democrat managed to fillabuster a portion of the Texas state budget relating to education. As a result, the budget was not balanced and a special session needs to be called. Gov. Rick Perry called the session to start right away.

Based on state law, the governor calls and sets the agenda for the special session. Also, the rules that allow for a fillabuster/two-thirds vote needed to pass certain items go out the window. So, the bill that the Dems tried to block will pass easily, but in addition a few bills they were able to stop in the regular session:

An insurance reform bill, a bill outlawing sanctuary cities (namely Houston and El Paso), state Medicaid reform, and redistricting will probably all be called in the special session in addition to the budget and will all be passed. The only move open to the Dems at this point is to leave the state like they did during the last round of redistricting.



http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/05...led-right.html
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Old 05-31-11, 06:40 PM   #39
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

CA Legislature is in session...must pass laws...must pass laws...must pass laws...

Quote:
Amazon Tax Bill Passes State Assembly

The state of California could collect more than $1 billion a year by taxing Amazon and other online retailers if a bill approved by the Assembly becomes law.

Assemblyman Charles Calderon, a Democrat from Whittier, says his legislation doesn't impose a new sales tax, but extends one that California should already have been enforcing.

AB155 passed, 47-16, with the support of one GOP lawmaker Tuesday. It now heads to the Senate.

Other Republicans rejected the bill because they said it would invite lawsuits, drive business out of California, and get the state entangled in the messy task of regulating the Internet.

The measure extends the sales tax to online companies that have a presence in the state, including those that work with sister companies with offices in California.

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/po...122907299.html
Good to see that it was a bipartisan vote.
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Old 05-31-11, 08:20 PM   #40
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

I'm kind of shocked that North Carolina did this before CA:

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Old 06-01-11, 06:04 AM   #41
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

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Originally Posted by RoyalTea View Post
I'm kind of shocked that North Carolina did this before CA:

I actually support the ban on tanning beds for children mentioned in that video, frankly.
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Old 06-01-11, 08:53 AM   #42
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

It was great to see Gov. Daniels veto the Indiana bill that would have changed the distribution of proceeds from forfeitures.

http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/g...a691dcafe.html

Quote:
INDIANAPOLIS | Legislation changing the distribution of proceeds in forfeiture cases was vetoed Friday by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Senate Enrolled Act 215 would have given nearly 90 percent of forfeiture proceeds to the county prosecutor and police agencies involved in a case that led to the seizing of criminally used property, with the remainder going to the Common School Fund.

In his veto message, Daniels said paying out 90 cents of every forfeiture dollar for the "expense of collection" is improper.

"That is unwarranted as policy and constitutionally unacceptable in light of the Supreme Court's recent guidance and the plain language of Article 8, Section 2 of the Indiana Constitution," Daniels said.

Under the state constitution, proceeds from all seizures are required to be paid into the Common School Fund, which is used for loans to school corporations for construction and technology projects.

On April 27, two days before the end of the legislative session, the Indiana Supreme Court reaffirmed that all forfeiture money must be paid to the Common School Fund.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly nevertheless approved the distribution change on April 29 by a vote of 53-43 in the House and 45-5 in the Senate.

State Sen. Richard Bray, R-Martinsville, said he sponsored the legislation because too many police agencies were deducting "law enforcement expenses" from forfeiture proceeds and not sending any money to the school fund.

Such a shame he's not running for President. But I was told he is a 'joke.' If he's a joke, then we definitely need more comedians in office.
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Old 06-01-11, 09:15 AM   #43
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

There was an item several years ago about a former sheriff that did quite nicely for himself with money received from fees collected from tax warrants. The police and sheriffs departments have since been consolidated into one department but apparently there are still issues with lucrative fee collections.
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Old 06-19-11, 01:03 PM   #44
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

Here's a good one from CA

Quote:
Reporting from Sacramento— The roof on the three-bedroom Pasadena rental where Don Jones used to live seems unremarkable until he hands over the invoice showing what it cost: $103,443.

Fortunately for Jones, he didn't have to pay that. His landlords, California taxpayers, footed the bill


The state Department of Transportation, which bought the houses on Jones' block decades ago to bulldoze for an extension of the 710 Freeway, also spent $103,472 to replace a roof across the street and $80,606 to install the one next-door, agency records show. On a nearby avenue, a once-grand house, now dilapidated, sports a $171,508 roof that was put on in 2006 even though nobody lived there.

Looks like they put a million-dollar roof on something that's not worth saving," said Robert Richardson, a retired Caltrans employee who handled rental of the properties and agreed to a tour of the neighborhood recently. "This house has been vacant for at least a decade."

The prices are four to five times what most homeowners could expect to pay for a new roof on a similar house in the area, said Kim Smith, a contractor at J.N. Davis Roofing who said he has been fixing roofs in Pasadena for nearly 30 years.

"This is such a waste," Smith said.

The houses are among more than 500 the agency bought in a swath of Pasadena, South Pasadena and Los Angeles along the planned freeway's path. In response to a Los Angeles Times public records request, Caltrans provided documentation of 33 roof repairs and replacements between 2005 and 2010 on houses the department owns in Pasadena. The average cost to taxpayers was $70,994, the records show.

In addition to putting on new shingles, many of the jobs included replacing the wood supports beneath the roofs and the trim around the edges. Others included smaller repairs, such as gutter replacements and paint touchups, records show. Some garage roofs were repaired too.

The expenses were challenged by three private contractors and a state agency that reviewed the records at The Times' request. A state lawmaker who represents the area, a longstanding critic of Caltrans' ownership of the houses, has demanded an investigation.

"I'm very, very alarmed," said Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cańada Flintridge), who asked the Assembly's government accountability committee, of which he is a member, to investigate how the costs climbed so high. "If there are questionable practices here, we need to get to the bottom of that."

Jones, who was evicted in late May in a dispute with Caltrans that began over the roof, said he hadn't asked to have the old one replaced because he never had a problem with it. But the new one leaked, he said, bringing in more than rain water. "Bees were also coming in.… It was like a plague," Jones said.

Caltrans does not rely only on tenant complaints to decide when to install a new roof, said department spokeswoman Deborah Harris. She could not say what prompted the replacement in Jones' case.

Andrew P. Nierenberg, the Caltrans deputy director in charge of managing properties in the Los Angeles region, said the costs are so high because many of the houses — which may still be bulldozed one day or sold if the freeway plan is scrapped — are historic landmarks and must be expensively retrofitted when repairs are needed.

"I have to go through this very detailed process of submitting all the plans to the State Historic Preservation Office," Nierenberg said. "This is not like a roofing job, it's more like a restoration job."

And it's not just top-of-the-line shingles running up the bills — although those chosen for Jones' house by Caltrans' in-house architectural historian cost $32,000. Taxpayers also shelled out thousands of dollars to replace rotten wood and waterproof sheeting that had been neglected for decades because of state budget crises, Nierenberg said. The state has owned most of the houses since the late 1960s and 1970s.

Milford Wayne Donaldson, who runs the State Historical Preservation Office and reviewed the Caltrans documents at The Times' request, said blaming the high price of the roofing on historical standards is "bogus." The shingles, which are made of asphalt but look like cedar, were only about a third of the overall cost of the roof on Jones' home.

Donaldson said that disposing of old shingles cost $10,000 for one neighboring home and $8,000 for another. The agency also spent $3,000 to replace some rotten wood.

"That's an awful lot," said Donaldson, an architect and former contractor who said he had overseen hundreds of roof replacements.

He also noted a "whopping fee" tacked onto each project. Broken into a series of separate charges, the fee went to the Direct Construction Unit, a small arm of the state's General Services Department. It amounted to nearly 20% of the cost of each job, the records show.
Documentation for Jones' roof shows a 7% "DCU fee," a 7% "contingency" fee, a 2% construction design support fee and a half-percent charge labeled "warranty." The agency also added a "contract administration" fee of $2,210, which amounts to an additional 2%.

"This is the percentage that we have to charge to cover our costs," said Eric Lamoureux, acting deputy director of General Services. The money pays for drawings, photographs, inspections, permits and "handling [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] issues."

He, too, cited historic preservation requirements, along with the need to replace underlying roof supports, as a primary reason for the high costs. But records show the same fees on a $95,626 roof replacement for a "non-historic structure" a few blocks away, also in 2006.

Asked about that job, Lamoureux said in an email, "I misspoke previously in referring to all of these projects as historic structures."

Nierenberg, the regional Caltrans deputy, conceded: "This is very high for a non-historic property.… The total project price, the total project labor, seem unreasonable."

The people who managed that project have since retired, Nierenberg said.

He also said he couldn't offer details about why the department evicted Jones and his wife, who has Alzheimer's disease, from the house they had lived in for more than a decade. Jones, 65, said he had argued with four state construction workers in 2006 after complaining that the new roof leaked.

Ultimately, Jones said, Caltrans offered him a confidential $20,000 settlement to leave quietly. Then, on June 6, a department lawyer sent him an email threatening to try to take the money back after learning that he had spoken to The Times.

Caltrans' decades-long ownership of the houses in the path of the proposed freeway has been a constant sore point for residents, historical preservationists and local elected officials, many of whom want the state to sell the homes back to private owners who could maintain them.

Responding to complaints in the 1990s that the properties were becoming run-down, the department set out to spend $20 million fixing up 81 of the homes. The money ran out after 37 were restored.

Portantino said it's time to sell the houses, especially given the state's budget woes. "We're talking about assets worth $400 million; we're in a budget crisis. Wouldn't it be nice to have that money?"
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...515,full.story
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Old 06-19-11, 10:25 PM   #45
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

Quote:
State Sen. John McGee arrested for drunken driving, grand theft
Statesman staff - Idaho Statesman
Published: 06/19/11

State Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, was arrested overnight by Ada County Sheriff's deputies for misdemeanor drunken driving and felony grand theft.

McGee, 38, was being held in the Ada County Jail on Sunday. Officials said he'd make an initial court appearance Monday afternoon.

According to Sgt. Carlos De Leon with the Ada County Sheriff's Office, events unfolded like this:

McGee began drinking at a golf course at about 10 p.m. Saturday night. At some point, McGee left the clubhouse on foot and walked for a distance, eventually coming upon a parked Ford Excursion with a 20-foot travel trailer near the Muir Woods Subdivision in Southeast Boise.

The keys were in the vehicle and McGee drove away about 2:20 a.m. Sunday. McGee pulled the vehicle into a long driveway in the subdivision near Overland and Victory roads and Five Mile Road, in an attempt to turn around. The Excursion and travel trailer were jack-knifed in the home's yard.

Two kids in the house were watching McGee's activities. They told officials he exited the vehicle, walked up and down the street a few times, got in the back of the Excursion and went to sleep. The kids called police.

Deputies arrive on scene at 3 a.m. and found McGee in the truck. McGee told deputies he was headed to Jackpot. McGee was transported to the Ada County Jail where he registered a blood alcohol content of .15 on a breath test, nearly twice the legal limit of .08. He was booked into the jail at 4:27 a.m. Sunday.

McGee has served as a Senator for Idaho's 10th district since 2004. He was elected Senate Majority Caucus Chairman in December, leaving chairmanship of Transportation, where he championed Gov. Otter's failed efforts to raise fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees for transportation spending. McGee was also a key player in getting GARVEE bonds approved year after year.

A former aide to Gov. Kempthorne, McGee is frequently mentioned as candidate for higher office, including governor. He considered run for 1st Congressional District in 2010, but took a pass, saying he was focused on raising his young family. He is also the chairman of the Canyon County GOP.
http://www.idahostatesman.com/2011/0...#ixzz1PmbaQPlK

I can't imagine being so drunk that I would steal a trailer, let alone steal it, jackknife it, and going to sleep in the cab.
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Old 06-19-11, 11:25 PM   #46
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

and that is when you know you have had a bad day.
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Old 06-20-11, 08:14 AM   #47
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

An actual great moment

Quote:
DENTON -- When the A-train commuter rail line makes its inaugural run June 20 between Denton and Carrollton, Chris Ryan plans to be among the first to climb aboard.

Ryan, who works and takes postgraduate classes at the University of North Texas, can't wait to leave his car at his Dallas home and instead ride the rails to campus.

"My parking costs on campus and my gas ends up being about $300 a month," said Ryan, 26, who added that he plans to buy one of the passes that will be offered to university students and employees. "So when you compare that to a regional transit pass for $120 a month, or less if you buy a semester pass, you end up saving a lot."

At a time when transit advocates in Fort Worth and other areas of North Texas are struggling to pay for and build new rail lines, officials in Denton County have managed to get the A-train up and running quickly -- and without federal funding.

On the first day of revenue service, commuters will be able to catch trains at any of five Denton County stations for a ride to Trinity Mills in Carrollton. There, they can transfer to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit light-rail system and connect to the extensive Dallas-area transit network.

On Saturday, a launch party will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at all five Denton County stations, each of which will feature live music, food and free rides for visitors who want to try the train.

The festivities come less than eight years after voters in the conservative county approved a half-cent sales tax to pay for the 21-mile line.

First spoke

The line represents a change in the traditional way that transportation corridors are aligned in the region. Instead of serving primarily the downtowns of Dallas and Fort Worth, the A-train is aimed at the population in the Metroplex's middle. The plan is to eventually connect the A-train to the Cotton Belt line that extends to the north side of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, Grapevine and Fort Worth.

"It's the first spoke in our new hub-and-spoke system in the region," said Denton County Transportation Authority Chairman Charles Emery, who has championed the A-train since it was little more than a dream back in 2002.

Part of the line runs parallel to Interstate 35E, a badly congested highway that likely will be under reconstruction between Lewisville and Denton during the next couple of years. Emery envisions motorists getting a good look at the trains whizzing by while they sit motionless in traffic on I-35E -- and perhaps deciding themselves to give the rails a try.

"I believe it's hitting at the right time," he said.

Initial projections are that the A-train will count 2,500 to 3,000 passenger trips per day, said Dee Leggett, vice president for communications and planning. That's the equivalent of 1,250 to 1,500 customers making a round trip each day, because each time a person boards a train counts as a passenger trip.

But several officials said they wouldn't be surprised if the ridership is much higher.

They noted that the Trinity Railway Express achieved its 10-year goal of an 8,000-passenger trip level shortly after service between the downtowns of Dallas and Fort Worth began in 2001.

Tolls for trains

The real break in the A-train project came in 2007, when Emery and other supporters devised a way to pay for the service without federal funding.

During that time, the North Texas Tollway Authority took over the Sam Rayburn Tollway project (formerly Texas 121) and made a $3.2 billion payment to the region for other transportation projects. Denton County got $1.5 billion, based on estimates that included how many residents from each county would use the toll road.

Emery and others persuaded Denton County officials to set aside $250 million of that toll road revenue for the $325 million rail project. That left only a gap of $75 million, which is being covered by bond funds and the sales taxes collected in four cities along the line.


Skipping the application process for a federal new-start transit grant likely shaved several years off the time it took to get the rail line opened to the public.

Meanwhile, the Fort Worth Transportation Authority is in the process of applying for a federal grant to cover up to half the estimated $600 million cost of building a commuter rail line from southwest Fort Worth to Texas Christian University, the Stockyards, Grapevine and D/FW Airport.

Officials said, however, there's no guarantee that the T's project will score high enough compared with other commuter rail projects in the U.S. to win the competition for funds. Also, there is no guarantee the federal government will continue to fund local rail projects through the federal new-starts program as it has in the past.

"It means we're going to have to be creative when we're talking about how to pay for it," said Tom Shelton, who as a senior program manager with the North Central Texas Council of Governments is overseeing the development of passenger rail lines across Dallas-Fort Worth. "Clearly, we're not going to rely on federal funding as much as we have in the past."

Connections

The A-train will begin each day in downtown Denton, where buses offer frequent connections to UNT and Texas Woman's University. The A-train will make stops at Medpark near Denton Regional Medical Center, Highland Village/Lewisville Lake, Old Town Lewisville and Hebron before connecting to DART.

Initially, the A-train is renting sets of Budd diesel cars from the Trinity Railway Express, which are being temporarily covered with the A-train and Denton County Transportation Authority logos. The A-train has ordered a new set of Stadler Bussnang AG rail cars that are scheduled to be delivered this year or in 2012.

The A-train will operate about every 25 minutes during peak periods, and every 60 to 80 minutes during nonpeak times.

While many in the community might assume the main goal of the line is to get Denton County residents to jobs in Dallas' commercial core, A-train officials say they expect that a majority of the riders will head north into Denton each morning in what traffic planners call a "reverse commute." That's because many of the riders, like Ryan, will use the A-train to get to classes or jobs at area universities, or Denton's growing medical district.

At UNT, Ryan says he's looking forward to riding the A-train, even though it will add about 45 minutes to his commute, including time spent transferring trains and catching the shuttle bus from the downtown Denton station to campus. But Ryan figures he can spend that idle time reading or catching up on work, or counting the money he saves by not driving to school.

And each day as the train crosses Lewisville Lake, he can wave to the thousands of motorists stuck on nearby I-35E.
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Old 06-29-11, 12:02 AM   #48
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

I just got this notice today...

Quote:
Special Notice

Sales Tax Does Not Apply to City and County Paper Bag Surcharges

Some cities and counties have enacted ordinances that prohibit certain retailers from providing plastic bags to customers. In addition to the ban on providing plastic bags, under certain ordinances, the customer is generally required to pay the retailer a specific amount for each paper bag the customer is provided. These ordinances typically impose the charge upon the customer. Some of these ordinances specifically require that the retailer indicate on the customer’s receipt the number of paper bags provided and the total amount charged for the paper bags.

Under these circumstances, this charge is imposed by the local jurisdiction upon the customer, not the retailer. As such, this charge is not included in the retailer’s gross receipts and is not subject to sales or use tax.

If you would like more detailed information regarding the application of sales tax to paper bag surcharges, you may visit our website at www.boe.ca.gov, or call our Taxpayer Information Section at 800-400-7115, Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding state holidays. Please note that the Taxpayer Information Section does not have information about ordinances enacted by local government. For information on a particular ordinance and its effective date, please contact the respective city or county public works department.
I'm kind of surprised paper bags aren't taxable.
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Old 06-29-11, 01:44 AM   #49
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

The bags would be taxable if the retailer charged for them, instead they giving them away and collecting a paper bag tax for the city and/or county. The notice is saying the paper bag tax is not taxable.
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Old 06-29-11, 05:03 AM   #50
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Re: The One and Only Great Moments in State Government thread

Massachusetts wins the Trifecta!

Quote:
Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi guilty of conspiracy, extortion, fraud

By Kyle Cheney
State House News Service

BOSTON —

After a six-week trial, a jury needed only hours before finding former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi guilty on seven of nine counts in his public corruption case, including conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and extortion.

The verdict made DiMasi the third consecutive House speaker convicted of a felony. Jurors found DiMasi, a North End Democrat often described as the most powerful person in state government during his run as leader of the House, had deprived Massachusetts citizens of his honest services.

Codefendant and lobbyist Richard McDonough was also found guilty on seven of eight counts, including conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud, and three counts of wire fraud.

The jury acquitted former DiMasi accountant Richard Vitale on all counts. At the Moakley Courthouse, Vitale hugged McDonough’s wife and family and said, “This isn’t over.”

DiMasi's wife Debbie broke down in tears after the verdict was read during the noon hour. DiMasi attorney Thomas Kiley embraced Mrs. DiMasi, telling her, “I’m sorry.”

"This is perhaps the best tried criminal case I've ever conducted," Judge Mark Wolf said.

The convictions stems from charges that DiMasi sold his office as part of a scheme to rig software contracts in exchange for kickbacks. The verdict casts a lurid pall over his tenure in the House, an era marked by the passage of a 2006 universal health care law and now increasingly remembered for a string of corruption scandals that have eroded public faith in state government.

DiMasi, who was speaker from 2004 to 2009, faces a maximum sentence of five years on the conspiracy charge and 20 years for each of the six other counts on which he was convicted.

The verdict was delivered after a six-week trial that featured testimony from Gov. Deval Patrick, his senior staff, former lawmakers and current and former State House staffers. Even an adviser to President Obama – David Simas, a former Patrick aide – was called to the stand.

DiMasi is the third consecutive House speaker to face a felony conviction. His predecessor, Thomas Finneran, pled guilty in 2006 to obstruction of justice in connection with testimony he provided in redistricting litigation. Finneran’s predecessor Charles Flaherty pled guilty to tax evasion in 1996. Neither served time in prison.

The conviction tops a list of lawmakers accused or convicted of crimes in recent years. Former Sen. Anthony Galluccio spent six months in jail last year for violating a probation agreement he made after pleading guilty to a hit-and-run accident in October 2009. Former Sen. Dianne Wilkerson is serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence after pleading guilty last year to accepting $23,500 in bribes.

Earlier this year, former Sen. James Marzilli was sentenced to a three-month jail term after pleading guilty to accosting four women in downtown Lowell on the same day in 2008. Marzilli was also sentenced to five years of probation and must wear a GPS monitoring device for the first year. He must also perform 200 hours of community service and undergo mental health or sex offender treatment.

The verdict arrived as many of DiMasi’s former colleagues settled in for a formal session in the House.
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