sins of commission

 

 
 
about the film sins of commission

Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Times’

California on the Skids

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Twenty-thousand layoff notices go out Tuesday morning

LOS ANGELES — The state of California — its deficits ballooning, its lawmakers intransigent and its governor apparently free of allies or influence — appears headed off the fiscal rails.

(Source: NY TIMES)

Mathematically, it’s really simple. If people can’t build, they don’t by property, if they don’t buy property, the don’t pay property taxes. If there are no property taxes, the economy hits the rails, basic services, including police, and fire, follow soon thereafter. 

The state, nearly out of cash, has laid off scores of workers and put hundreds more on unpaid furloughs. It has stopped paying counties and issuing income tax refunds and halted thousands of infrastructure projects.

(Source: NY TIMES

In a democracy, what happens to the least of us happens to the most of us.

SINS OF COMMISSION documents several AMERICAN stories that happen to take place in California but could happen anywhere in America… whenever people come smack up against quasijudicial regulatory agencies: Agencies or commissions that make their own rules, enforces the rules they make, and then pass judgment - usually without the hope of appeal, since you’re appealing to the same commission who sentenced you. 

When the time comes for our elected representatives to explain why the state of California, once the 5th largest economy in the world, is being flushed out to sea faster than crap into the Santa Monica Bay, they won’t admit they allowed property rights to erode. The biggest offender, along the coast at least, is the California Coastal Commission.

As California government continued its grinding downshift toward insolvency, lawmakers appeared to be settling in for an overnight stay at the Capitol as they spent a fourth afternoon searching for the last vote needed to span the state budget gap.

(Source: LA TIMES)

California is faced with a projected $42 billion deficit (CNN).

Interesting footnote. A few weeks ago, I was invited to screen SINS OF COMMISSION to an organization in the real estate sector. But as quickly as I was invited, they uninvited me because they didn’t want to be seen as anti-coastal commission - even though members of this group have been hardest hit by the double whammy of the state’s economic crash, and onerous over-regulation by the triple C that is helping to bankrupt the state.

It’s sad to watch. The Golden State — which a decade ago was the booming technology capital of the world — has been done in by two decades of chronic overspending, overregulating and a hyperprogressive tax code that exaggerates the impact on state revenues of economic boom and bust. Total state expenditures have grown to $145 billion in 2008 from $104 billion in 2003 and California now has the worst credit rating in the nation — worse even than Louisiana’s. It also has the nation’s fourth highest unemployment rate of 9.3% (after Michigan, Rhode Island and South Carolina) and the second highest home foreclosure rate (after Nevada).

Roughly 1.4 million more nonimmigrant Americans have left California than entered over the last decade, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council. California is suffering more than most states from the housing bust, but its politicians also showed less spending restraint during the boom.

(Source: Wall Street Journal)

You don’t have to be a physical engineer to know once a foundation collapses, whatever is built on top goes down. That’s why Property rights is considered the “cornerstone” of democracy…. pull that away and poof - viola!

 

California Coastal Commission - Time for Change - Part 1

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Something happening here…what it is ain’t exactly clear…

-Crosby, Stills and Nash

Current California lobbyist registration laws exempt lobbyists who try to sway the California Coastal Commission’s land-use decisions.

Don’t the people deserve to know who is influencing the California Coastal Commission? 

HISTORY

The California Coast is the symbol of our state and personifies the bond WE, the people, have with our land and all nature.  Arguably, it is our most precious natural asset and touches the lives of millions of Californians and people from around the world.

It’s good for the soul. Its a place to recreate, relax, and still a great source of fresh air. It’s not only good for us, but the coast is home to all kinds of fish, birds, mammals, and a wide range of plants. The coast also drives our economy. Coastal visitors bring more than $2 billion a year to Los Angeles County.¹

Three decades ago, oil spills blackened California’s beaches. Uncontrolled development threatened public access to the coast. California voters acted to protect the coast to show the world our commitment to be good stewards of our coastal resources for future generations of Californians and all people everywhere. 

It seemed like a good idea back then to create the California Coastal Commission, a government entity that would protect the coast. It also seemed like a good idea to protect that group from the politics of politics by isolating it from the electoral process.

Only one of these concepts is still a good idea…can you guess which one?

Coastal California Today 

The health of the coast is at risk. Runoff and sewage degrades the water, harms marine ecosystems and closes the beaches the California Coastal Commission is supposed to protect.  

By what rights does the California Coastal Commission have the power to determine whether a house can be seen from a trail, or the open sea, or what color it is, or if people can plant a rose bush, when the coast - the natural resource they’ve actually been mandated to protect, isn’t doing so well? Isn’t that akin to rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic? 

All Californians know beach access is important. The coastal commission likes to puff up its chest, pat itself on the back, and point to beach access or Beach Clean Up Day (a very good thing) with pride. But doesn’t it seem a little bit deceitful because what good is beach access or a clean beach if the water is too polluted to swim in?

Santa Monica Bay beaches exceed newly adopted bacteria standards. The beach at Santa Monica Pier was by far the most polluted in Santa Monica Bay and was the second most polluted beach in California this summer.²

Los Angeles County beaches received the lowest marks in the state, with nearly one in five beaches receiving F grades. Malibu’s famed Surfrider received a D. Long Beach had the most polluted beaches, according to the report. Nearly half its 25 monitored beaches received C to F. ¹

FOLLOW THE MONEY

TOM HAYDEN tried to reform the California Coastal Commission. Way back in 1988 he smelled a skunk. He authored AB 4122 in an attempt to prohibit Coastal Commission members from engaging in political fund-raising activities. It was defeated. (probably with money from the same organizations he was trying to save us from.)

Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed requiring that lobbyists’ private (ex parte) communications with members of the Coastal Commission be fully disclosed and posted on the Internet. Why? If federal election campaign contributions are public, why not California Coastal Commission lobbist contributions?

California State Sen. Denise Ducheny of San Diego introduced Senate Bill 1295 Februray 19, 2008. Currently, the California Coastal Act allows the commission to initiate an appeal of a coastal development permit with the action of any two members of the commission.

It just doesn’t seem right that the people who make the appeal also decide the appeal,”

-Sen. Denise Ducheny

(Source:  North County Times, March 13, 2008)

Predictably, SB 1295 was also defeated.

The California coast is way too important to be left to the whims of political appointees who are beholding to their patron and easily swayed by the green cash lobbyists so readily throw.

Feeling burnt? Help us get the message out.

Donate now through the International Documentary Association, our fiscal sponsor.

Footnotes:

1 http://articles.latimes.com/2008/sep/26/local/me-beaches26

2 http://www.healthebay.org/assets/pdfdocs/brc/summer/2007/report_print.pdf

CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION - Time for a New Urban Wildland Fire Strategy? - Part 2

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Given the high costs involved in fighting fires, and the high risks to life and property, perhaps its time to test Scott Franklin’s concepts on a wider scale. In order to accomplish this, cooperation is necessary between resource management agencies and fire officials. Mr. Franklin says that this method will actually preserve the chaparral Californians want to preserve, and agencies like the California Coastal Commission are charged with preserving- contrary to what is happening now. Mr. Franklin is not alone. 

Too much fire will eventually decimate the native flora.

-Naturalist Rick Halsey, LA TIMES November 26, 2008.

Scientists in Southern California are finding new evidence that frequent fires are gradually replacing chaparral and sagebrush with highly flammable and prolific nonnative weeds, The Los Angeles Times reports. The landscape change is extending the region’s annual fire season, deepening the threat of mudslides, and endangering animal species. Ecosystems forged over time to thrive by being burned every 60 to 100 years are now being scorched every 10 to 15 years — or even more often.

(Source: LA Times - Mike Anton)

Slow destruction of chaparral and the transformation into grassland will have devastating effects on the landscape of California.

-Naturalist Rick Halsey, LA TIMES November 26, 2008.

Chaparral, he says, does not need to burn to the ground every 30 years to remain healthy. Just the opposite. Too much fire will eventually decimate the native flora — some of the most diverse in the nation — leaving a biological wasteland of invasive weeds. (Source: LA TImes- Joe Mozingo)

This article was published on November 27, 2008. Does anyone get the irony here? California resource management agencies, especially the California Coastal Commission, an agency that prides themselves on environmental cleansing, and routinely demands people cut down Eucalyptus trees, and up root rose bushes because they are “non-native”, as a condition to receive a building permit, are surprisingly silent on this issue.  Mr. Anton continues,

Last October’s Santiago wildfire destroyed native sage scrub while the recent showers have created meadows of flammable, nonnative weeds. Ecologists fear the changed landscape will become a greater fire danger.

(Source: LA Times - Mike Anton) 

Most of the information on fire saftey from CALFIRE concentrates on the need for a defensible zone around homes. BUT what about the larger issue… the huge spaces that surround communities? What’s going on there?  This is one of the key topics of SINS OF COMMISSION. The public needs to become engaged in the interagency dialog regarding land management issues we face in large open spaces.  

If we continue to fight fires, and do nothing to treat the underlying brush (fuel), it seems like we’re destined to repeat the same devastating mistakes again next year, and we Californians can’t afford that. It is ecologically and fiscally irresponsible, and appears criminally negligent to all forms of life.



 
 
Subscribe for Updates
First name
E-mail
 
facebook international documentary association imdb youtube