Thursday, May 26, 2011

Arcata Eye on Lawsuit

Lawsuit Targets Arcata Panhandling Law
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
by Daniel Mintz - Eye Correspondent

ARCATA – Having declined to strike aspects of its panhandling ordinance, the City of Arcata will have to defend itself against a lawsuit from a well-known political consultant.

Arcata resident Richard Salzman, who has helped coordinate the campaigns of District Attorney Paul Gallegos and several other liberal candidates, announced his filing of the lawsuit on May 19. It attacks the ordinance’s prohibitions against spoken and written requests for handouts, arguing that they’re unconstitutional.

The complaint, filed by Salzman’s attorney, Peter Martin, states that the ordinance’s ban on panhandling signage and comments “places an impermissible burden on the free speech rights of citizens in a public forum” and “presents an unacceptable risk of chilling and/or suppressing protected speech.”

Salzman is asking the court for an injunction on enforcing the ordinance, a declaration that it’s unconstitutional and recovery of costs involved with filing the lawsuit.

The ordinance’s prohibition of aggressive panhandling isn’t being challenged in the lawsuit.

In a press release, Salzman alleged that the City is violating basic civil rights and targeting the poor. “If first they silence the poor and the homeless, and I say nothing, who will speak up when they try to silence me?” he asked.

The City Council approved the ordinance last year but Arcata Mayor Susan Ornelas and Councilmember Shane Brinton voted against it. The council recently voted not to amend the ordinance, with Brinton casting a lone dissent vote.

In addition to banning aggressive panhandling and solicitations, the ordinance prohibits begging within 20 feet of businesses, parking lots, banks with automatic teller machines, bus stops, foot bridges and intersections.

Its findings section states that other city laws have failed to have an effect on a situation that has “generated an enhanced sense of fear, intimidation and disorder, and has caused many retail customers to avoid shopping or dining within the City.”

In an interview last February, when Salzman notified the City of his intent to sue, City Attorney Nancy Diamond said the ordinance is modeled after what’s been done elsewhere in the state and country, and what’s been tested in court.

“We are not the first community to look at panhandling ordinances,” she said. “This is very widespread and there is a fair amount of judicial law we were able to look at … we weren’t acting in a vacuum.”–-may-25-2011/comment-page-1/#comment-31373

Friday, May 20, 2011

Salzman files lawsuit against City of Arcata

5.20.11 Arcata, CA – On Thursday May 19th Richard Salzman filed a lawsuit in Superior Court of California against the City of Arcata claiming that their Panhandling Ordinance is unconstitutional.

In March the City of Arcata declined Salzman’s request to amend its panhandling ordinance. ”I requested that they amend their ordinance so as to comply with our guaranteed protection of free speech as outlined in the United States Constitution. Since they declined to do so I felt compelled to file a complaint yesterday in the Superior Court of California against the city” said Salzman.

Salzman has stated that he is a proud lifelong member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and staunch defender of the Constitution of the United States and the First Amendment right to free speech.

As written, the ordinance makes it a crime to merely hold up a sign asking for a hand out. By denying citizens constitutional right of free speech, Salzman contends the City Council overstepped its authority.

“If first they silence the poor and the homeless, and I say nothing, who will speak up when they try to silence me?” Salzman asked. He notes that the section of the ordinance against “aggressive panhandling,” including blocking one’s path, any physical contact or shouting, was left unchallenged by this legal action.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Actually, "the Rich" Don't "Create Jobs," We Do

Saturday 14 May 2011
by: Dave Johnson, Campaign for America's Future

You hear it again and again, variation after variation on a core message: if you tax rich people it kills jobs. You hear about "job-killing tax hikes," or that "taxing the rich hurts jobs," "taxes kill jobs," "taxes take money out of the economy, "if you tax the rich they won't be able to provide jobs." ... on and on it goes. So do we really depend on "the rich" to "create" jobs? Or do jobs get created when they fill a need?

Here is a recent typical example, Obama Touts Job-Killing Tax Plan, written by a "senior fellow at the Cato Institute and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth,"

Some people, in their pursuit of profit, benefit their fellow humans by creating new or better goods and services, and then by employing others. We call such people entrepreneurs and productive workers.

Others are parasites who suck the blood and energy away from the productive. Such people are most often found in government.
Perhaps the most vivid description of what happens to a society where the parasites become so numerous and powerful that they destroy their productive hosts is Ayn Rand’s classic novel “Atlas Shrugged.” ...

Producers and Parasites

The idea that there are producers and parasites as expressed in the example above has become a core philosophy of conservatives. They claim that wealthy people "produce" and are rich because they "produce." The rest of us are "parasites" who suck blood and energy from the productive rich, by taxing them. In this belief system, We, the People are basically just "the help" who are otherwise in the way, and taxing the producers to pay for our "entitlements." We "take money" from the producers through taxes, which are "redistributed" to the parasites. They repeat the slogan, "Taxes are theft," and take the "money we earned" by "force" (i.e. government.)
Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner echoes this core philosophy of "producers" and "parasites," saying yesterday:

I believe raising taxes on the very people that we expect to reinvest in our economy and to hire people is the wrong idea,” he said. “For those people to give that money to the government…means it wont get reinvested in our economy at a time when we’re trying to create jobs.”
"The very people" who "hire people" shouldn't have to pay taxes because that money is then taken out of the productive economy and just given to the parasites -- "the help" -- meaning you and me...

So is it true? Do "they" create jobs? Do we "depend on" the wealthy to "create jobs?"

Demand Creates Jobs

I used to own a business and have been in senior positions at other businesses, and I know many others who have started and operated businesses of all sizes. I can tell you from direct experience that I tried very hard to employ the right number of people. What I mean by this is that when there were lots of customers I would add people to meet the demand. And when demand slacked off I had to let people go.

If I had extra money I wouldn't just hire people to sit around and read the paper. And if I had more customers than I could handle that -- the revenue generated by meeting the additional demand from the extra customers -- is what would pay for employing more people to meet the demand. It is a pretty simple equation: you employ the right number of people to meet the demand your business has.
If you ask around you will find that every business tries to employ the right number of people to meet the demand. Any business owner or manager will tell you that they hire based on need, not on how much they have in the bank. (Read more here, in last year's Businesses Do Not Create Jobs.)

Taxes make absolutely no difference in the hiring equation. In fact, paying taxes means you are already making money, which means you have already hired the right number of people. Taxes are based on subtracting your costs from your revenue, and if you have profits after you cover your costs, then you might be taxed. You don't even calculate your taxes until well after the hiring decision has been made. You don't lay people off to "cover" your taxes. And even if you did lay people off to "cover' taxes it would lower your costs and you would have more profit, which means you would have more taxes... except that laying someone off when you had demand would cause you to have less revenue, ... and you see how ridiculous it is to associate taxes with hiring at all!

People coming in the door and buying things is what creates jobs.

The Rich Do Not Create Jobs

Lots of regular people having money to spend is what creates jobs and businesses. That is the basic idea of demand-side economics and it works. In a consumer-driven economy designed to serve people, regular people with money in their pockets is what keeps everything going. And the equal opportunity of democracy with its reinvestment in infrastructure and education and the other fruits of democracy is fundamental to keeping a demand-side economy functioning.

When all the money goes to a few at the top everything breaks down. Taxing the people at the top and reinvesting the money into the democratic society is fundamental to keeping things going.

Democracy Creates Jobs

This idea that a few wealthy people -- the "producers" -- hand everything down to the rest of us -- "the parasites" -- is fundamentally at odds with the concept of democracy. In a democracy we all have an equal voice and an equal stake in how our society and our economy does. We do not "depend" on the good graces of a favored few for our livelihoods. We all are supposed to have an equal opportunity, and equal rights. And there are things we are all entitled to -- "entitlements" -- that we get just because we were born here. But we all share in the responsibility to cover the costs of democracy -- with the rich having a greater responsibility than the rest of us because they receive the most benefit from it. This is why we have "progressive taxes" where the rates are supposed to go up as the income does.
Taxes Are The Lifeblood Of Democracy And The Prosperity That Democracy Produces

In a democracy the rich are supposed to pay more to cover things like building and maintaining the roads and schools because these are the things that enable their wealth. They actually do use the roads and schools more because the roads enable their businesses to prosper and the schools provide educated employees. But it isn't just that the rich use roads more, it is that everyone has a right to use roads and a right to transportation because we are a democracy and everyone has the same rights. And as a citizen in a democracy you have an obligation to pay your share for that.

A democracy is supposed have a progressive tax structure that is in proportion to the means to pay. We do this because those who get more from the system do so because the democratic system offers them that ability. Their wealth is because of our system and therefore they owe back to the system in proportion. (Plus, history has taught the lesson that great wealth opposes democracy, so democracy must oppose the accumulation of great, disproportional wealth. In other words, part of the contract of living in a democracy is your obligation to protect the democracy and high taxes at the top is one of those protections.)

The conservative "producer and parasite" anti-tax philosophy is fundamentally at odds with the concepts of democracy (which they proudly acknowledge - see more here, and here) and should be understood and criticized as such। Taxes do not "take money out of the economy" they enable the economy. The rich do not "create jobs, We, the People create jobs.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

ACLU & Tea Party United on Free Speech

ACLU, Tea Party unite in Northern California over free speech

By ROBIN HINDERY, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- A free-speech dispute in a Northern California city has forged an unlikely alliance between two strange political bedfellows: the regional chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a local tea party group.

The ACLU of Northern California and the North State Tea Party Alliance are often at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, but they have come together in their opposition to new restrictions on leafleting in front of the library in Redding.

The policy requires reservations for leafleting at the library and restricts the activity to about 10 percent of the main entrance. It also prohibits pamphleteers from approaching patrons or placing materials on car windshields in the library parking lot.

The two groups filed parallel lawsuits last week claiming the new regulations are unconstitutional. Shasta County Superior Court Judge Monica Marlow on Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of the Outdoor Public Forum Policy, which was approved last month by the Redding city council.

The plaintiffs acknowledge that the two groups are unexpected allies, but say free speech is an issue that unites people of all political stripes.

"We have differences of opinion, but on this issue we agree," said Don Yost, a plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit and chair of the organization's Shasta-Tehama-Trinity chapter. "First Amendment freedoms aren't just for people you agree with."

Tim Pappas, the attorney for the North State Tea Party Alliance, which includes eight or nine smaller tea party organizations in the region, said the two groups have found humor in the public's and the media's surprised reaction to their partnership.

"We kind of laugh and talk about how we don't see eye-to-eye on every issue," said Pappas, who also serves as assistant public defender for Shasta County. "But the issues that we do see eye-to-eye on make us absolute, 100 percent partners."

The collaboration has expanded outside the courtroom. Yost was invited to discuss the ACLU's efforts to protect free speech at a recent rally of about 150 tea party activists in Redding -- an experience he described as "very pleasant."

The lawsuits allege Redding is violating its citizens' constitutional right to free speech and free assembly in a publicly owned space.
The library, which receives about 20,000 visitors each month, is "a real cultural cornerstone of the community, a central place in Redding where people come to receive and exchange ideas," said Linda Lye, staff attorney for the San Francisco-based ACLU of Northern California.

The next hearing is scheduled for June 13.

Redding city attorney Rick Duvernay, who drafted the leafleting policy, said the final ruling will hinge on whether the judge believes the library is a traditional public forum. If so, the new restrictions would have to withstand the highest level of free-speech protection guaranteed by law.

Supporters of the policy believe the library is a limited public forum, said Duvernay, whose office is representing the defendants in the lawsuits. Both suits name the city of Redding and its city council, but ACLU also names the county's public libraries director, Jan Erickson, while the tea party suit includes city manager Kurt Starman.

"They have the opinion that the library is a quiet place where people come to get information, not necessarily a place where First Amendment activities are practiced, where ideas are pushed upon them," Duvernay said.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Johnny Too Bad" re-write for John Ross

"Johnny Too Bad"
re-write for John Ross
(original by The Slickers)

Written and preformed at John Ross' memorial service held at Trinidad CA Cemetery at the grave of E. B. Schnaubelt who's headstone reads: 1855–1913, “Murdered by Capitalism” on May Day 2011, by: Fred Neighbor, Joyce Hough, Steve Griffith, Gregg Moore.

Walking down the road
with a notepad in your waist
Johnny you’re too bad, ohhhh

Walking down the road
with a typewriter round your waist
Johnny you’re too bad, ohhh

You’ve been writin’ and a fightin’ for changes
for so long
You were an old muckracker and an agitator
you had no fear, John.

There were many days when yo...