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Friday, March 23, 2012

Richard Rider calls Prop 29 a new high speed rail

California’s high-speed rail is a massive spending boondoggle from the 2008 ballot. Its cost nearly doubled to about $100 billion while not a single mile of track has yet been laid? Well, if you liked high-speed rail, you’ll love Proposition 29, coming to the California ballot this June. High speed rail, said Richard Rider, Chairman of the San Diego Tax Fighters, at a recent appearance on San Diego’s NBC affiliate, “promised in writing that it was going to operate under certain restrictions and now does not.”
That’s because special interests, with no accountability to voters or to taxpayers, hijacked the process doling out favors to political cronies and driving up the cost. It’s a reminder, Rider explained that “the idea that we should be budgeting money at the ballot box has not worked well for us.” Like high-speed rail, Prop 29 creates an unaccountable commission packed with political appointees. The decisions this commission makes over the nearly $1 billion in annual new taxes it will administer are untouchable for 15 years, not even in cases of waste, fraud or abuse. That means that even though California schools are laying off teachers, this special interest spending commission can dole out favors as it pleases, with no strict controls over spending. The fact is Prop 29 does nothing to fix California’s $10+ billion budget deficit but does everything to make sure that the reckless spending that got California into the fiscal mess it’s in will continue unabated. Californians have a choice this June. Hopefully they’ll come to realize that decades of unsustainable spending on questionable projects put California in the sorry state it is today. Prop 29 is just more of the same for California—something the state just can’t afford.
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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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