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Real public servants are free enterprising individuals who, inspired, embrace challenge, take risks, and create, sometimes big, and often, they create jobs in the process, all out of their ideas, and self initiative...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Voter-Approved First 5 LA Program Spends $200 Million of Taxpayers Money without Oversight

By Stephen Kruiser

As the Los Angeles Times reports, a recent independent audit of the First 5 LA Commission revealed massive problems with the agency, including lack of accountability, spending oversight or competitive bidding.  First 5 LA is part of a statewide program created in 1998 by Prop 10, a measure which was supposed to use funds from a tobacco tax to promote health and education of young children.  According to the audit, it’s not exactly fulfilling its mission.  From the Times:

An audit by Harvey M. Rose of San Francisco found First 5 LA's commission was unable to monitor money that was being spent "since monthly programmatic expenditures are not presented relative to a budget." Auditors also concluded the agency was overstaffed while under-spending on programs for children.

So, First 5 LA is spending too much on public employees and not enough on kids.  Not to mention doling out $200 million without a competitive bidding process and operating with such a lack of oversight that there’s no way to determine if the agency has signed agreements "for inappropriate purposes or with unqualified vendors or grantees”.  Sounds like standard operating procedure in California, which has seen similar accountability and oversight problems with other initiative-created agencies as well.

And yet, former pro Tem and career politician Don Perata is pushing another measure – the so-called California Cancer Research Act – to create yet another unaccountable bureaucracy with six political appointees that can spend nearly a billion each year, including millions on staff salaries and pensions and overhead.  With huge budget problems and public pension costs spiraling out of control, the last thing California needs is another big-spending bureaucracy with no oversight or accountability.

The measure is slated for the June 2012 ballot in California. 

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Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database

Key

Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night. But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.

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