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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, February 1, 2012

Boondoggle Projects Threaten California with Third World Status

Gov. Jerry Brown has an interesting definition of “third world.”

In an interview with a San Francisco radio station last week, Brown said California would become “a Third World country” unless the state builds a ghastly $100 billion high-speed rail line that’s been fraught with mismanagement, cost overruns and shaky ridership projections.

It’s an odd claim, considering many third-world nations are characterized by crumbling infrastructure, failed boondoggle projects and constant budgetary trouble. In much of the third-world, a new leader will pour massive amounts of a nation’s fortune into a single prestige project, only to have it fail when poor planning, bureaucratic incompetence and malfeasance slowly eat up all the funds.

By this definition, California seems currently on track to become America’s third-world state. Just like high-speed rail, the same spending lobby is promoting a nearly $1 billion per year tax hike so that a politically appointed panel can dole out favors to cronies. The $1 billion in new taxes under Proposition 29 goes into a lockbox that only this politically-influenced commission can access. Not even in cases of waste or abuse can the Governor or the Legislature make any changes! Proposition 29 sounds like it was plucked straight from the playbook of some Latin American dictator or Middle Eastern sheikh.

Jerry Brown ought to find the nearest dictionary. Pouring money into boondoggle projects while neglecting vital services like education and public safety is the surest way for California to join the third-world. Until California can figure out how to pay for what it already has, voters need to say no to more new spending.
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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


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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