Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jerry Brown unveils Jobs Initiative for California’s Informal Economy

Posted by CotoBlogzz

Informal economies operating in the world today are usually viewed as an artifact of globalization.  Often referred to as  “under the table,” “underground,” “shadow,” and  “invisible,”  economies, many have developed around the economic survival activities of workers who have been excluded from the formal economy for a number of reasons and  include widely divergent groups, such as undocumented workers, professionals who do unreported jobs on the side, craft workers who exchange work in kind,  and marginalized native workers who, because of cutbacks in welfare programs, must accept any work they can find

A study  in the informal economy of the City of Los Angeles by the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit, public policy research organization, titled Hopeful Workers, Marginal Jobs: LA’s Off-the-Books Labor Force, offers an in-depth look at the  local informal economy. The study shows that in the period following the economic recession of 2001 and as late as 2004 economic recovery was still out of sight. In spite of that, the informal economy held relatively steady during this period while the formal economy continued in serious decline. The 2005 data, not included in the Economic Roundtable study, indicates a continuation of the same trend and concludes that  that the economic stagnation of southern California that was triggered by the recession of 2001 would have been worse without the ameliorating effects of the informal economy.  The current gap between the states formal and informal economies is not to difficult to extrapolate, form the study.

With this in mind, Jerry Brown has launched a new Jobs Initiative to help stimulate California’s formal and informal economies:  The goal is to have up to 50% of the undocumented workers in California whether employed or not, be willing to come forward and bite the hand that fed them by asserting that their respective employers knew they were undocumented- not unlike the charges currently being levied against Meg Whitman.

The trail-blazing jobs initiative is self-funded and is estimated that it can create some 5 million jobs for unscrupulous attorneys.  Some sources tell us that the initiative is not seating well with Senator Boxer, as the only jobs she can point to having created are related to the printing of the  $3,000 signs with the message: “We are creating Jobs”.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Barbara Boxer's Hail Mary

Posted by CotoBlogzz 09-29-2010

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA - Almost two years ago to the day, we argued that despite the perceived landslide victory  associated with then president-elect Obama, the nation remained heavily divided along a values divide  and that Senator Boxer and Speaker Pelosi were  vulnerable in what we  characterized as a disruptive political environment.  People laughed.  Most credible polls now show that we were right, but then again, we never wavered! 

Then in December 2008 we asked Senator Boxer to share with us how she planned to handle the mid-term elections.  We never did get a direct response to the question, although she did write in a newsletter that as a result of "new data from the Labor Department confirms that our nation faces the worst economic crisis of our lifetime" and in response to the crisis, she stated that "I'm working every day to find solutions to our economic situation.”

What the Senator and her staff  heard, according to the aforementioned newsletter was that  " ..strong support for jobs programs, for extending the Food Stamp program to help those families that are suffering, and to revise the COPS program that helps local law enforcement with staffing needs" and she is "also working with my Senate colleagues to enact an economic recovery package that will create good jobs while also benefiting communities across America with roads and bridge projects, better flood control and other infrastructure programs, and mobilizing the nation for energy independence.” - Where is the beef? 

Now, just like Senator Harry Reid,  Boxer  claims to not be responsible for the national economic meltdown and or  the Great California Jobs Exodus.

Previously  assemblyman Chuck DeVore noted that  "Barbara Boxer first ran for office unsuccessfully when Richard Nixon was President, Californians wore polyester bell bottoms and the laptop wasn't even a dream. Unfortunately, her views remain mired in the past and California can no longer afford her."

In  a recent political ad,  using  what can best be described as a Hail Mary, using a football metaphor, she slams her Tea Party opponent Carly Fiorina for her success while at HP.  Not much different from the federal government bailing out grossly mismanaged too big to fail organizations such as Government Motors, Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac, while going after too well-managed to let them succeed organizations such as Google, Apple Microsoft, Adobe and Intuit, for example

With this background, is it fair to question the Senator’s  assertion that she has not  been part of the worst economic crisis in a life time? -  In other words, the evidence points to the fact that the Senator has been part of the problem, and not part of the solution – no?

Santa Ana's Association for Firefighters and Paramedics Settles Deceptive Fundraising Tactics Charges

Posted By CotoBlozz 09-28-2010

LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a settlement with the Association for Firefighters and Paramedics over charges of  using deceptive fundraising tactics and diverting thousands of dollars from the care of burn victims to pay for meetings in resort communities. 

"The trustees of this charity grossly abused their responsibilities as guardians of charitable assets," Brown said. "They betrayed the trust of donors by squandering donations on such things as an expensive Caribbean cruise and trips to posh resorts." 

According to the Attorney General, the  Association for Firefighters and Paramedics, Inc., based in Santa Ana, misrepresented how and where donations would be spent, and mailed out invoices for pledges that had never been never made. Board members also diverted $33,000 from the charity for out-of-town board meetings in San Diego and Las Vegas, and a Caribbean cruise for board members and their families before a meeting in Florida. 

The settlement, filed in the Orange County Superior Court, recovers $100,000 in funds diverted from the charity, plus attorney's fees and investigative costs. According to the Attorney General, for the next four years, the charity's fundraising materials and program expenses will be closely monitored. 

Coto’s New Jobs Initiative- of Schools, Dogs and Horses

Posted By CotoBlozz 09-28-2010

Coto de Caza, CA – By statue, a homeowners association is chartered merely with the repair, replacement and maintenance of common property.  However, like in Washington DC, Sacramento, Bell and other local governance prone to be afflicted with the Bell Syndrome, Coto’s local governance continues to expand, stimulate and subsidizeclick here to count the ways

The bone-headed decision to construct the Varo/Yocham Dog Park turned out to me merely a stimulus bill designed to stimulate business for real estate agents and other service providers like the Pet Supply, Allison McDorman Custom Canine Training, Groomingdale’s and others.   No soon did the park open, that maintenance is already required and schedule.   Not to mention the expansion of the refuge lane at Plano Trabuco and Coto de Caza Dr. when the CZ Master Association’s population has been aging and declining for the last ten years. But, according to CZ's Xochitl Yocham, residents of Grand Coto II on Plano Trabuco, are very happy!

But wait, there is more – Coto de Caza continues to look for yet one more stimulus bill. In this case realtors and prospective buyers of the MerryHill School and related property are trying to get signatures from Coto residents, including the  General Store, and the Equestrian Center to  consent to having  the county approve  a rezoning allowing the building of condominiums in said property.  And just like any other Parasitic bureaucracy, the county is more than likely to approve the rezoning request, sort of like it approve the Polo Arena

Can I interest you  in buying a condo right next to the Equestrian Center and the Dog Park?  What you smell is not a dead fish….

Craigs List Strikes Again – Man charged with molesting boy he met on CraigsList

Law enforcement is seeking the public's help in identifying potential additional victims

Posted by CotoBlogzz 09-28-2010
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA  - Mark Aime Brosseau, a 54-year-old man has been arrested and charged for engaging in illegal sexual conduct with a 14-year-old boy he met on, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office

Brosseau, was charged today with one felony count each of lewd acts upon a child, contacting a child with the intent to commit lewd acts, and meeting a child with the intent to engage in lewd conduct. He faces a maximum sentence of five years and four months in state prison if convicted. Brosseau is being held on $100,000 bail and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Oct. 1, 2010.

According to the OCDA’’s office,
a series of proactive arrests were made by HBPD in early 2010 involving an undercover detective posing as a minor child on “This arrest indicates the importance of parents monitoring their children's use of the Internet,” reads a press released issued today.
The investigation is ongoing. HBPD and the Orange County District Attorney's Office are seeking the public's help in locating anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim. Please contact HBPD Detective Kevin Johnson at (714) 960-8834 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Randy Litwin at (714) 347-8794. 
Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CA’s AG Launches the Gong Show – Sues Bell Officials

Posted By CotoBlogzz

LOS ANGELES, CA  – Yesterday, California’s Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr., announced his office is suing eight top Bell officials and council members with fraud, civil conspiracy, waste of public funds and breach of fiduciary duty, and demanded they return hundreds of thousands of dollars in unwarranted salaries. 
The  lawsuit was filed against former city manager, Robert Rizzo; former assistant city manager, Angela Spaccia; former police chief, Randy Adams; council members Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo, and George Mirabel; and former council members Victor Bello and George Cole. The suit also alleges that the defendants deliberately misled the public about the true amount of their compensation. 

The suit demands the defendants return all excessive compensation and asks the court to establish appropriate salary levels for pension purposes. Rizzo's last annual base salary was $787,638, Adams' $457,000, and Spaccia's $336,000. Bell city council members were paid $96,000 a year before they took a recent cut. Cities of similar size pay their council members $4,800 a year. 

Brown also said he is widening his statewide probe of public salaries and benefits. As part of the broadened investigation, he is serving a subpoena on the city of Vernon to obtain compensation records for city officials and employees. News articles have reported that one city official there received an annual salary of $785,000, and another received compensation totaling $1.6 million in a single year. Vernon, an industrial city near Bell, has a population of less than 100. 

Since 1993, the Bell city council raised Rizzo's salary 16 times, with an average increase of 14 percent a year. In 2005 alone, the city council raised his salary by 47 percent. Since 2003, council members also awarded themselves salary increases of 16 percent a year. 

In 2008, Rizzo had a phony memorandum prepared for public distribution that showed council members were paid $673 per month and Rizzo was paid $15,478 per month, according to the AG.  In fact, council members were actually paid $7,666 per month, and Rizzo was paid $52,325 per month. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Trio Charged with murder in casino gambling winnings case

 Posted by CotoBlogzz 09-10-2010 

SANTA ANA, CA  - The Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) filed charges today against Tad Allen Carroll,  f Barbara Ann Hamel and Michael William Ross, for the special circumstances murder for financial gain of a 55-year-old man after following the victim home from Hawaiian Gardens Casino to rob him of $10,000 in gambling winnings, according to the OCDA's office.

 Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) coordinated the investigation of this case with assistance from the Hawaiian Gardens Casino. 

Carroll, 41, formerly of Buena Park, Hamel, 47, and Ross, 26, both of Long Beach, are all charged with one felony count each of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery, second degree robbery, and attempted second degree robbery. Ross and Carroll are each additionally charged with one felony count of second degree robbery. If convicted, each defendant faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. An arrest warrant has been issued for Ross. 

According to the OCDA's office, in the early morning hours of June 18, 2010, Ross is accused of entering the Hawaiian Gardens Casino (Casino) in Los Angeles and surveying winning gamblers with the intention of robbing them after they left the Casino with co-defendant Carroll. Ross is accused of watching Ki Lee closely as he was gambling. Lee later visited the Casino's cashier window to cash in his chips and left the Casino with approximately $5,000 in cash. Ross is accused of contacting and informing Carroll of Lee's winnings. Carroll is accused of following the victim to his home. Upon arriving at the victim's home, Carroll is accused of approaching Lee with what appeared to be a gun and robbing him. The defendant is accused of fleeing the scene. Lee reported the incident to the LASD.

In the early morning on Sept. 3, 2010, Ross is accused of entering the Casino and surveying winning gamblers with the intention of robbing them after they left the Casino. Co-defendants Carroll and Hamel are accused of waiting in a Pontiac Grand Prix outside the Casino with the intention of robbing winning gamblers that Ross was watching. Ross is accused of closely watching 55-year-old Chi Bui who had been winning while gambling with his friend Kim Nguyen. At approximately 4:00 a.m., Bui went to the Casino's cashier window, cashed in his chip winnings having over $10,000 in cash, and left the Casino with Nguyen. Ross is accused of following the victims out of the Casino and making a phone call to Carroll and Hamel. 

Carroll and Hamel are accused of driving and following Bui, who was driving Nguyen to her Santa Ana home. Carroll and Hamel are accused of blocking-in Bui's car after he stopped alongside the curb in front of Nguyen's home. Carroll is accused of getting out of the vehicle, approaching the victims, and pointing a knife at them to steal their winnings. He is accused of knocking Bui to the ground and getting back into the Grand Prix. Hamel is accused of driving over Bui's head, killing him instantly, and then fleeing the scene with Carroll. Nguyen called 911.

The SAPD were able to link the three defendants to the two crimes with the assistance of the Hawaiian Gardens Casino, LASD,  California Department of Corrections, Parole Fugitive Apprehension Team, and United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force.  

Carroll was arrested Sept. 8, 2010, in Anaheim. Hamel was apprehended in Long Beach later that day. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Ross. 

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact Supervising Homicide District Attorney Investigator Helen Moreno at (714) 347-8492 or the Santa Ana Police Department at (714) 245-8390. 

Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Psst Mr. Wanna a CA Drivers License for $500? No test required – Trio get jail for Drivers license scam

Posted by CotoBlogzz 09-09-2010

SACRAMENTO, CA  - According to the Attorney General’s Office (CAAG),former DMV employee Rodney Wheatly, 46, of Fairfield and his two co-conspirators, Donald McGowan, 55, and Maricar Bazemore, 37, both of Vacaville, all entered no contest pleas to a single felony charge of unlawful access to a computer system and running a scam in which unlicensed drivers paid up to $500 to acquire a phony driver's license without taking a DMV driving test.

Wheatly was sentenced to one year in Sacramento County Jail, and the other two defendants were sentenced to six months. The prosecution was handled by the AG’s office,  following a DMV undercover investigation. Although investigators believe the trio issued about 20 fraudulent driver's licenses,  they were unable to confirm a precise number. 

The investigation was initiated in late 2009 after a concerned citizen called DMV's Office of Internal Affairs to report a scheme involving the illegal sale of California driver licenses at a Napa DMV field office. 

DMV investigators set up an undercover operation in which one of the agents posed as an unlicensed driver with a record of failed driving test attempts. The agent made initial contact with Bazemore over the phone and claimed to be a friend of a friend with an interest in purchasing a license. Bazemore agreed to meet the agent at a Taco Bell in Vacaville, adjacent to the senior citizens' home where she worked, and told the agent to bring $500 for the license. 

At the Taco Bell, the agent and another undercover investigator posing as her boyfriend met with Bazemore and McGowan, who was introduced as the best friend of Wheatly, the DMV employee. Bazemore and McGowan instructed the undercover agents to drive to the Napa DMV field office where Wheatly would process the driver's license. 

Before entering the Napa DMV field office, the agent paid McGowan $300. Inside, Bazemore instructed the agent to complete an application for a driver's license and directed her to Wheatly's window where she was told her driver's license would be mailed to her. 

Upon leaving, the agent requested that Bazemore and McGowan provide her with a temporary driver's license before she paid them the remaining $200. They agreed, and the exchange was made the following week at the same Taco Bell in Vacaville.

Costa Mesa Man, a DUI Driver to be arraigned for killing pedestrian

Posted By CotoBlogzz 09-09-2010

SANTA ANA, CA  - Beau Richard Cook, a  drunken driver will be arraigned today for killing a pedestrian after losing control of his vehicle and crashing, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

Cook, 26, Costa Mesa, is charged with one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of ten years in state prison.

At approximately 11:24 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2010, Cook is accused of leaving work and consuming alcoholic beverages and driving in his Scion, heading southbound on Harbor Boulevard in Santa Ana. He is accused of speeding and running a red light at the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Warner Avenue. The defendant is accused of swerving and losing control of his vehicle to avoid hitting a vehicle making a legal U-turn. He is accused of hitting the center median and skidding across the southbound lanes of traffic. Cook is accused of driving up on the curb of the sidewalk and shearing off a fire hydrant and hitting victim, 57-year-old pedestrian Eloisa Aguilar, causing her to be thrown and land in the adjacent shopping center parking lot. Witnesses called 911.
The victim died at the scene due to blunt force trauma injuries. 
Cook was transported to the hospital to be treated for a broken leg and pelvis he sustained in the crash. Approximately an hour and a half after the crash the defendant had a blood alcohol level of .08 percent. 

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Misguided DOE’s Gainful Employment Rule & Public Education Reform

Posted By CotoBlogzz

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA - Larry Sand, the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a self-described non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues—information teachers will often not get from their school districts or unions, recently made the argument that the Los Angeles Times may have started a revolution in teacher accountability by measuring  teacher performance and posting it in its Los Angeles Teacher Ratings web page using a technique called value add, where value add is the difference between a student’s expected growth and actual performance.

From the various media reports, the response has been predictable:  teachers' unions characterize the LA Times  rating process as flawed, while those seeking accountability, like Mr. Sand, think it is about time.

Now consider  that research by Adam Schaeffer of the Cato Institutes Center for Education Freedom shows that The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)  spent $29,780 per student in fiscal year 2007-08, way above the $10,000 advertised by the school district. Diane Lenning, seeking a post as Superintendent of California schools argues that in order to fix the LAUSD-  a district she characterizes as an albatross - it should be broken “into about ten smaller mid-size  districts to  bring more efficient and effective oversight of Los Angeles Schools.”

While Gabriella Holt, a local community leader recently appointed to LA County Board of Education suggested that perhaps Charter Schools could help - in our Facebook exchange, we understand she is open to home-schooling.

According to Mr. Sand, he began his teaching career in New York in 1971.  Since 1984, he has taught elementary school as well as English, math, history and ESL in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where he also served as a Title 1 Coordinator.

In the case of Ms. Lenning - she  has a point - big government does not work – dinosaurs tend to disappear and albatrosses are not very efficient, and we think Ms. Holt is on the right track.  While it is  very easy to understand why  Mr. Sand would think that starting to measure teacher performance would be the start of a revolution in teacher accountability, this is hardly the case.

Newsflash:  All effectively run private sector businesses have and continue to use some sort of value add metric.  If an employee does not add any value, the employee is let go – many times on the spot.  While if a public sector employee is incompetent or even accused of misconduct, chances are that years and hundreds of thousands of Dollars in legal fees later, that person is still receiving a “pay check”.  So, while Ms. Lenning’s  and Mr. Sand’s ideas may be necessary, these are not sufficient to start a revolution in public education.  by any means. 

What is required in public education is a real revolution.  A paradigm shift – the slaying of the Public Education Hydra, including the Department of Education.

This requires the decoupling of the Evil Twins:  the US Economic Triple Constraint: 1)  Card Check 2)  Health Care and  3) Cap & Trade, and  California’s Triple Threat: 1) Public sector organized labor 2) un-elected, un-checked parasitic bureaucracies and 3)  lobbyists.   and public education.  This requires the privatization of not only K1-12 public education, but also Liberal Arts Education,given that for  profit universities such as Argosy, Kaplan, DeVry and the University of Phoenix, offer a higher quality education, sans the parasites – the move would free up billions of dollars that could be used by the current research universities to make sure the US continues to be competitive in a global arena:

Keep in mind that for the last 30 years in California, students have developed the FDH (Fat, Dumb and Happy) Syndrome, while the union spends some $200 million/every ten years just to pursue its own political agenda, and thousands more in Los Angeles alone to teach students how to prepare sushi, while lobbying the states legislature to "CRIMINALIZE" Home-school.  Wit the last $26 billion teacher bailout the President characterized as "special interest freebie, ONLY if you think it is a special interest"

Arguably, Jaime Escalante, of Stand and Deliver fame,  was a game-changer in education, conclusively demonstrating that when willing and competent teachers want to teach, they can teach advanced math to the most disadvantaged students – such as Garfield HS in Los Angeles, CA.    However, the California Teacher’s Association (CTA) fought Escalante when he argued that he could teach advanced placement math in a class with more than 50 students, despite the overwhelming evidence siding with Escalante.   

More recently  Doug Lemov in  his Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College book -  featured as the cover and full length feature story in the March 7 issue of the New York Times Magazine -  opines that Escalante was a uber-teacher, the likes of which not too many have seen,  and not a good model for the average instructor, arguing that his 49 techniques can be better scaled to fit the more mediocre instructor, instead of trying to convert every teacher into Escalante-like. “A few teachers may be born with an intuitive gift for teaching, but when I watch a great teacher I see mostly hard work and attention to detail,”  according to Lenov.

The excuse that “Teachers only have so much time with the kids, and teaching to the lowest common denominator is a disservice to those that are learning.” is just that- an excuse - as Escalante, Lenov and a myriad of CTA-independently minded educatiors will tell us.

OK, forget Jaime Escalante - as most teachers would probably not qualify to seat in one of his an advanced placement math class, but what part of Doug Lemov's book " Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College" does the CTA not understand?

Enough with the excuses.  Enough  with passing the devalued Buck. Enough with the deflection.  As President Reagan would argue, "public sector organized labor is an anachronism in the 21st century" - Privatizing public education is the only sensible answer

But wait, there is more: The Department of Education (DOE) we characterize as a parasitic bureaucracy and largely responsible for the FDH Syndrome and the malaise afflicting public education, in a City of Bell action we affectionally characterize as Bellisimo, has proposed a rule that would limit educational and economic opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Americans in its misleading  Gainful Employment rule would make entire programs ineligible for Title IV financial aid if they fail to meet a one-size-fits-all metric test that has little to do with academic quality. 

We continue to argue legislators, politicians and the general public to take a stand against the Evil Twins: the US Economic Triple Constraint: 1)  Card Check 2)  Health Care and  3) Cap & Trade, and  California’s Triple Threat: 1) Public sector organized labor 2) un-elected, un-checked parasitic bureaucracies and 3)  lobbyists.  

We continue to argue that public education is a national security concern and can only be fixed through a paradigm shift – real revolution, not evolution, or devolution in the case of the CTA
Send a message to the DOE, a most parasitic bureaucracy and tell it to forget about its Gainful Employment rule and focus more on how to extinguish itself and make way for real education innovators.  You can pick up a petition from just about anyone involved in  real  education, or click here, for an example.