California Coastal Commission
For those keeping score at home:
The Court of Appeal modified its opinion, adding more footnotes to make it clear that they really meant what they said.
The Legislature is pushing to get the situation corrected on its end by May.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/29/2003 12:29:00 PM
An Unintentional Experiment
A combination of work, computer problems, a desire not to blog on the potential war kept me away from the blog for a while. Traffic dropped off considerably, indicating that the visitors I was getting were somehow attracted by content and not just dropping by for a look based upon some link. A reason to keep blogging.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/29/2003 11:00:00 AM
California has updated its rules of court. The mediation and arbitration rules have changed. Here's a particularly interesting one:
Rule 1620.3. Voluntary participation and self-determination
A mediator must conduct the mediation in a manner that supports the principles of voluntary participation and self-determination by the parties. For this purpose a mediator must:
(a) Inform the parties, at or before the outset of the first mediation session, that any resolution of the dispute in mediation requires a voluntary agreement of the parties;
(b) Respect the right of each participant to decide the extent of his or her participation in the mediation, including the right to withdraw from the mediation at any time; and
(c) Refrain from coercing any party to make a decision or to continue to participate in the mediation.
It makes you wonder what was going on that caused the court to issue a "no coercion" rule. The prior rule provided that the mediator was required to donate three hours and the mediation could only end earlier if the parties and the mediator agreed. Sometimes, the thought of sitting there for a while could jumpstart stalled proceedings, but I can't recall ever forcing anyone to stay or hearing of another mediator doing so.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 11:08:00 PM
My two cents on medical liability reform
After doing the work that led to the analysis below, I came to the conclusion that we do need reforms. If you read that HHS study, it's hard not to conclude that doctors are, indeed, leaving the practice and some areas are particularly hard hit by the effects of high premiums. It's also apparent from the study (and my previous post did not address this) that in states without caps, we have not gotten the most money to the victims most in need of the money. The cap does not seem to be the best option, though, because it does not fix the problem of getting the money to the victims proportionate to their needs.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 11:06:00 PM
Bush's Medical Liability Reform
Bush proposed reforms to the medical liability system that would limit non-economic damages (generally known as "pain and suffering" damages) to $250,000. Calpundit did a post that pointed out why $250,00 is not enough. We entered into an e-mail discussion which led me on a hunt for the underlying data.
I suspected that the $250,000 limit was plucked from California's law, which limited non-economic damages to $250,000. That law is embodied in California Civil Code section 3333.2 (California statutes are available here.) That suspicion was borne out by visiting the HHS study that supports Bush's position and reading some of the information cited in the footnotes. The reference to California's law is ubiquitous and almost every other state that has made some effort at reform has picked the $250,000 number. (Refer to the section of this document entitled noneconomic damages.)
So here's where we get to the part where we show that Calpundit is right about $250,000 not being a lot of money. California's law was passed in 1975 and there's been no adjustment for inflation. None of the states who have since limited noneconomic damages since then have picked a number lower than $250,000 and several have picked higher numbers. Two have instituted reforms which addressed the concerns raised by Calpundit. Alaska calculates the limit in part by multiplying a dollar amount by the number of the years in the life expectancy of the plaintiff and Wisconsin indexes the limit for inflation. It seems to me the ideal statute would combine those concepts.
Here's a concern that became apparent when I did the research. Roughly half the states in which a limit was passed by the legislature saw that limit declared unconstitutional by the courts in that state. How does the President plan to tackle that hurdle?
The HHS study had a fair amount of data supporting the proposition that a limit on noneconomic damages lowers the rate of premium increases but I must admit it raised some questions. First, take a look at the chart on page 16. In states with caps of $250,000 or less the average rate increase was 15%. In states with $350,000 or less the average was 12%. Why would a higher cap result in a lower increase? The answer appears to be that California and Montana have higher rate increases and they skew the $250,000 and under numbers higher. Clearly there's some other factor at play in CA and MT than the cap. CA and MT are remarkably dissimilar so I can't guess at what it is. Also suspicious was the comparison to average rate increases in "select" states without caps. That average was 44% but who selected these states and would a review of all states show a different result? After all there are only 50 states. How long would it have taken to average them all out? Finally, before I leave this chart, my 7th grade math teacher told me not to average percentages. A 5% increase among ten people and a 15% increase among 1000 people does not average out to a 10% increase across the board.
More compelling was the comparison of premiums for malpractice insurance between CA from 75 to today compared with the rest of the country. CA premiums went up 167% and the rest of the country increased 505%. That chart is on page 19.
Now, having read the HHS study, I am convinced that lowering the cap does lower premiums. However, I was unconvinced that this was objective and not just an effort by insurance companies to force states into limiting awards by raising premiums and driving doctors out of the state. The PIAA had some interesting information on claim payout rates rising over the years in their remarks to Congress but it was not sorted by state.
The HHS study does make the link between no cap leads to higher premiums leads to doctors leaving the state. I am left to wonder, though, if there are different studies showing different conclusions. What feeds my insecurity about the conclusion is the anecdotal evidence about high premiums and doctors leaving practice here in the "model" state, California.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 09:34:00 PM
Andrew Sullivan's letters policy is:
Letters will be published anonymously, for the point is the debate itself, not the identity of the participants.
Fair enough, but isn't that an odd statement from someone whose blog is named andrewsullivan.com?
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 11:22:00 AM
The budget and unfunded mandates
This post is quite long but I think it's worth taking a close look at one area of the budget and analyzing the options. Then you can watch what the Legislature does.
An "unfunded mandate" occurs when the state (or any government) passes a law and does not provide enough funds to comply with that law. We rarely have unfunded mandates but we certainly have underfunded
mandates. Class size is one. K-3 classes in CA public schools must be at 20 or less, which requires additional teachers. There are numerous budget problems with this. Many schools would like to go to an average size of 20 to 1. For example, suppose there are 102 1st graders and 95 second graders. With an average class size, you could have 5 first grades and 5 second grades (10 teachers, 10 classrooms) with an average class size under 20 (19.7 or 197/10). Under the law, though no class can exceed 20 so those first-graders would require 6 classes of 17 each and the second grade would require 5 classes of 19 students each. Now we have to pay for 11 classrooms and 11 teachers, which no real difference in educational quality.
According to the Legislative Analyst, the underfunding of class-size reduction is about to get worse:
Concerns Regarding Current-Year K-12 Reductions. School districts are well into the current fiscal year, having budgeted existing core programs on the assumed receipt of the above funds. It will be difficult for school districts to absorb a reduction of this size this late in the school year, especially since the Governor's proposal would require school districts to continue to meet all of the program requirements of each of the categorical programs. For example, while the proposal would reduce
K-3 class size reduction funding by $180 million, school districts would still have to meet the 20 to 1 student-to-teacher requirement of the program. In our December report, Analysis of the Mid-Year Budget Proposal, we identified many alternative possibilities for current-year General Fund savings in K-12 education which eliminate program requirements along with reducing funding.
Let's see if the Legislature corrects the issue by moving to an average class-size proposal or leaves schools in a funding crunch or just suspends the 20-1 requirement in certain areas, losing the benefits of reduced class size.
UPDATE: I was not quite correct in this post. CSR (Class Size Reduction) is not a mandate. It is optional. However, the state gives incentive money to schools that implement it. At this point, it will be difficult for the schools to do without the incentive money.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 10:57:00 AM
The budget, in general
If you have not read the Legislative Analyst's analysis, it's worth a look. The self-defined bottom line:
Although the administration has somewhat overstated both the size of the problem and the level of required solutions, its budget sets forth an ambitious plan for dealing with the enormous fiscal problem facing the state. In evaluating and acting on the budget proposals, the Legislature will be confronted with making fundamental decisions about the scope of government services; how these services are distributed among the citizenry; and what the nature, amount, and mix of taxes in California should be. And, it will need to act quickly in order to avoid a further deterioration in the state's fiscal situation. link
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 10:35:00 AM
The anti-war rallies
An interesting article in the LA Weekly on the organizers of the current crop of rallies:
If public-opinion polls are correct, 33 percent to 40 percent of the public opposes an Iraq war; even more are against a unilateral action. This means the burgeoning anti-war movement has a large recruiting pool, yet the demo was not intended to persuade doubters. Nor did it speak to Americans who oppose the war but who don’t consider the United States a force of unequaled imperialist evil and who don’t yearn to smash global capitalism.
This was no accident, for the demonstration was essentially organized by the Workers World Party, a small political sect that years ago split from the Socialist Workers Party to support the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. The party advocates socialist revolution and abolishing private property. It is a fan of Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba, and it hails North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il for preserving his country’s “socialist system,” which, according to the party’s newspaper, has kept North Korea “from falling under the sway of the transnational banks and corporations that dictate to most of the world.”
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 10:29:00 AM
Trevor Law Firm
Trevor law firm is a plaintiff's firm that files lawsuits against small businesses and negotiates settlements. There has been a fair amount of negative reaction, which has been well-summarized on Overlawyered.com.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 10:22:00 AM
I took a day off yesterday. If I had not, I would not have been able to stop posting anti-Saddam rants, which aren't really the point of this blog.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 10:15:00 AM
The Hoover Institution at Stanford University publishes an essay a week. I don't always agree with them but I always find them interesting. I see them as a paid advertisement in the Weekly Standard. I don't know how much exposure they get through the Knight/Ridder syndication. You can read them online.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 10:14:00 AM
Los Angeles ranked third in the 2002 AFIRE survey.
It's a rare accolade.
For 11 years the association has been asking foreign investors for the five American cities where they would most like to invest, and the only other time L.A. made the cut was 1996, when it was fourth. link
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 10:02:00 AM
Economic good news from CA?
Last year was a record year for jobs in Ventura County.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 09:54:00 AM
From my mail
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is building a replica of Air Force One. Regardless of your political persuasion, there are some interesting things at presidential libraries. The Nixon Library has bronze statues of the leaders of the time standing in room talking. You can walk among them. It's a similar idea as Madame Tussaud's but the bronze gives the impression of being frozen in history. The Reagan Library has a replica of the Oval Office (decorated as it was at Reagan's presidency.) These exhibits are good for kids, especially, who seem to benefit more from seeing concrete examples of rooms and people. When I grew up on the East Coast, we could drive to Washington DC and "see" the government. It's a more daunting trip from CA. I think a replica of Air Force One that visitors can go in and explore is an excellent idea.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 09:46:00 AM
On the former, while the history is interesting, it does not make the KKK any more benign to me and Byrd should have been more vehement in his rejection of the organization years ago and now. The latter is just silly fun.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/19/2003 09:33:00 AM
I know I have not hit CA at all this morning. If you're looking for CA angles, my recommendation this am is the CA section of Political State report. A piece on the Coastal Commission case and school budget cuts.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/17/2003 08:57:00 AM
Neither here nor there
While I'm on the NY times, here's a piece describing how part of a article on blogging evolved.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/17/2003 08:52:00 AM
How We Spin
The NY Times article excerpting the Saddam letter has the headline: It's for Oil, which is what the times thinks is the cause. I'm reminded uncomfortably of a teacher in the course of my progressive education telling me that Hitler did not really care about exterminating the Jews. The Jews had the money in Germany and he was just trying to distribute that money more fairly. It's a dirty little secret but these views do exist.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/17/2003 08:47:00 AM
I mentioned earlier in passing that the appeasement of Hitler before WWII never sat well with me once I learned about it in high school history. Many against the war insist that Saddam is more contained than Hitler and therefore the situations are not similar. However, they are certainly similar in their views of Jews.
I read once that Churchill was the leader most against appeasement of Hitler because he was the only one who had read Mein Kampf and understood what Hitler was planning. I hope the "international community" is not making the same mistake that many made in the years leading up to WWII.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/17/2003 08:41:00 AM
Carnival of the Vanities #17
It's up at greeblielink
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/16/2003 11:57:00 AM
A state appeals court Wednesday upheld a California law that allows people who claim they were forced into slave labor during World War II to sue Japanese companies that do business in the state.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected arguments that a 1951 treaty between the United States and Japan pre-empted the 1999 law, and that the law infringed on the federal government's exclusive power over foreign affairs.
I have not had any luck before the 2nd district lately, so anything I would have to say is probably biased.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/16/2003 08:51:00 AM
Lawyers and ethics
After the OJ Simpson trial, California passed a new ethics rule limiting an attorney's ability to comment on an ongoing case to the media. Essentially, a lawyer is not allowed to use the media to try to influence the outcome in his or her case.
I am, therefore, astonished to watch the lawyer representing the Bakley family in a civil wrongful death suit against Robert Blake. He has been trumpeting quite loudly Blake's refusal to answer questions in the deposition and asked the public to draw a conclusion because Blake did not deny the killing. I do not have a link for you yet. The reports on the Net have not included the soundbites I watched on television.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/16/2003 08:46:00 AM
From Rough & Tumble:
Some in the state GOP say they believe that the party must soon shift strategies, adding to a playbook that until now has mostly involved simply opposing any new taxes. Pressure is mounting, they say, for Republicans to propose a plan of their own. Evan Halper in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/15/03 link
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/15/2003 10:54:00 PM
Iain Murray was fired for blogging. An amazing thing to me. If you can, drop some money in the tipjar.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/15/2003 10:49:00 PM
There was no blogging yesterday and there's likely to be none today. Every now and then, the practice of law requires a lot of attention. This is one of those times. I was able to whiz through my blog reading last night because I saw that Volokh and Instapundit had the same problem.
I pulled out the bloghop rating. I was frustrated because I did not know why anyone chose a particular rating. So email me or comment to let me know.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/15/2003 10:21:00 AM
The problem exists mainly in areas with a fast-growing demand to join Girl Scouts and where volunteers are difficult to find, said Girls Scouts spokeswoman Ellen Christie in New York. Councils in sparsely populated areas and in large urban centers like greater New York and Los Angeles have girls on wait lists, Christie said.
About two years ago, one of the Calblog twins joined Girl Scouts. I was and still am very impressed with Girl Scouts, so this year the other twin joined and I became a leader. I like it a lot and we will probably be in Girl Scouting for a long time. They plan to be assistant leaders when they are old enough (15 or 16) and full leaders after that.
Now I have a full volunteer plate. I generally have a half dozen time-intensive, ongoing commitments and every year, I swap some out and add new ones. So I have been through a lot of volunteer organizations. One problem that the Girl Scouts have are the training requirements. First, the orientation interview, then Topics and Traditions, then training for the level of organization (Daisy Leader, Brownie Leader) and then 3 levels of camping training. Each course takes 2-3 hours, plus FIrst Aid and certification in CPR. The camping and the level training have to be redone every couple of years. Plus there''s a minimum 3 hours of cont. training every year just in case you somehow manage to get all the rest in in your first year. Add to that the regular meetings (plus planning and coordinating with the girls' parents) and the monthly Service Unit meetings and the cookie sales.
I have a co-leader who's been around longer than I have and very helpful parents. That's the only way I manage it. I am not surprised there's a shortage of people who can spare the time even if they have the desire.
I realize the benefit to all this training (especially in the camping area), but a lot of what we learn is repeated in the manuals and I could read it all at my convenience in half the time. Do Boy Scout Leaders have this much training? Very few of the other activities, if any, have this level. I teach Sunday School and there is required training but not as much and the written materials have the required background and references to other sources if there's something you don't know.
Until they address that problem, I don't think the shortage will be solved.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/13/2003 05:12:00 PM
Another new law: disclosure of computer security breaches
Davis signed over 1100 new bills last year. I'll never be able to read and analyze all of them. It's nice to find other people doing the same. LawMeme has this one:
A new California law requires companies to notify customers of security breaches that expose personally identifiable financial information. The law's reach extends to all companies with customers in California; it takes effect on July 1.
SecurityFocus has a full story with good analysis link
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/13/2003 04:49:00 PM
Westlake Village-based ValueClick (www.valueclick.com) and 24/7 Real Media
announced that the two companies have settled a suit brought against
ValueClick and Mediaplex by 24/7. 24/7 will license its patents to
ValueClick in exchange for a payment. 24/7 Real Media had sued Valueclick
and Mediaplex for infringing upon its online ad delivery patents.
Any judgment received in trial, no matter in whose favor, would not have awarded a mutually beneficial business relationship.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/13/2003 11:56:00 AM
Do not lose it in correspondence with opposing counsel. Letters containing gratuitous ad hominem garbage could provide satisfaction of the subjective element of malice [for a malicious prosecution action]. link
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/13/2003 11:52:00 AM
Where Can You Be Sued?
Bag and Baggage has a good roundup of recent articles on the net jurisdiction decisions.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/13/2003 11:41:00 AM
News vs. analysis
The LA Times has an article covering the criticisms of a Bay Area program that teaches students about the disadvantages of abortion. Deep in the article, there is this paragraph:
There's no doubt that the majority of students and parents either like the program, remain neutral or find nothing objectionable. But First Resort has run into protesters before.
So the views presented are clearly a minority position. Shouldn't they be presented as opinions on the opinion page, rather than as news?
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/13/2003 08:41:00 AM
Trouble in Paradise
Robert Novak has an interesting piece on tension between the White House and Republican Senators.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/13/2003 08:22:00 AM
For six hours, peace ruled the Harbor Area’s streets.
* * *
Some 70 gang officers — about 60 more than normal — patrolled the streets of Wilmington, San Pedro, Harbor Gateway and Harbor City on Friday night to clamp down on gang activity. Less than half the officers were from the Los Angeles Police Department.
The night marked the first time the LAPD invited the South Bay Gang Task Force to assist its officers, something forbidden under former Police Chief Bernard Parks, but welcomed under the department’s new leadership. link
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/12/2003 10:30:00 PM
Nike v. Klasky
The California Supreme Court ruled that "commercial speech" has less protection under the Frst Amendment than other speech. On Friday, the US Supreme Court granted cert and will hear the matter. I'm not going to comment on this. Even though I published a law review comment on the first amendment , constitutional law is not my forte. In fact, it was during the struggle to do that comment that I discovered that it was not my forte. I am following this case though because, in advising businesses, I do need to let them know what they can and cannot do. I'll limit my role to reporting the results. If you want some interesting reading on the matter, I point you to the Volokh Conspiracy pieces here and here.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/12/2003 01:29:00 PM
Commenting on New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s meetings with the North Koreans, Time’s Margaret Carlson had this quip on Capital Gang:
I think we should all sleep better tonight knowing that peace is at hand between New Mexico and North Korea. link
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/12/2003 01:03:00 PM
Who thinks this stuff up?
From the Oakland Tribune: New parking meters in S.F. not biker-friendly. San Francisco has a huge bicyclist population that uses the parking meters as parking spaces. Bike racks are insufficient in number to handle the number of bikes. Now the city is replacing the meters with bulky contraptions that the bikes can't be shackled to. A rider said:
"We depend on the meters," said Steve Bodzin, who pedals to work in the financial district, where scores of bikes are locked to meters. "The meters are our parking spaces. They would never do that to cars: suddenly change all the parking spaces so that a whole bunch of people would no longer be able to park."
I don't think it's a case of favoring cars over bikes. Although there is some discussion in the article about the tension between bikes and autos in rush hour traffic, motorists benefit when some motorists choose a smaller bike over yet another car on the road. So this move benefits no one. I think it is just a sign of someone failing to think through a decision.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/12/2003 12:46:00 PM
I was going to refer you to Ann Salisbury's piece on Political State Report about a bill intended to fix the budget process but the discussion continues on Calpundit and you can just start there. Kevin does a very good look at the numbers that the new bill would produce, coming to the conclusion that we'd be in better shape under the bill but not out of trouble. I wonder if Kevin can figure out if the tax cut and the tax hike balance each other out?
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/12/2003 09:49:00 AM
Taxes and the Economy
There's an interesting article in today's LA Times about the differences in the Davis approach to a sluggish economy, raising taxes, and the Bush approach, cutting taxes. How would you be able to tell in a couple of years which worked? If CA lags ahead or behind the rest of the country? I can think of numerous variables that would adversely affect the objectivity of such a look.
I have not looked at the numbers yet, but I wonder if the fed tax cut plus the state hike will result in any net gain or loss to CA residents. Maybe we're just moving federal money into the state coffers without the usual negotiations and restrictions. Later this week, I'll write a piece about the usual tension in that area -- looking at federal special education funds.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/12/2003 09:33:00 AM
Martin Sheen marched in today's antiwar protest in LA. On KNBC news tonight, he said he was doing it "to end [his] own silence." Really, he said that. Since when has he been silent?
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/11/2003 11:14:00 PM
Not going there
The summary on the front page of the LA TImes reads:
The Porn Scene No One Is Watching
In California's unregulated porn film industry, an alarming number of performers are infected with HIV and other diseases. And nobody seems to care.
Accompanying the summary is a narrated slide show. I kid you not.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/11/2003 10:29:00 PM
No Laci yet
The second "body" in the Berkeley marina was an old anchor. Yes, this is one person's tragedy and its outcome will not make a difference in my life. I'm still riveted by a missing person story. It amazes me in a country with so many people and so much news coverage about one person and no one knows anything.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/11/2003 09:19:00 PM
Death row pardon
I am against the death penalty. Any reason against it, I agree, from the serious to the silly reasons (I'll let you decide which reasons are which.) Anything that prevents an execution generally pleases me. However, the ends do not justify the means and a blanket pardon of all death row inmates by a governor who lost reelection on his last day in office gives me a bad taste in my mouth, to say the least.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/11/2003 09:05:00 PM
The only thing that would have made the Steelers-Titans game more exciting for me would have been if the Steelers had won. I did not send half the family halfway across the country to watch the Steelers lose. Apparently, someone did not get the memo.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/11/2003 09:02:00 PM
The need for revenue may allow the Indian casinos to expand. Nevada has no income tax you know. I have no personal aversion to gambling.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/11/2003 08:00:00 AM
Learning the Ropes
Thanks to Ernie the Attorney, I mastered news aggregators today. What fascinates me about learning is that it seems that not understanding something is usually the result of "missing a piece." So it was with aggregators. I had mastered all the complicated stuff like coding everything right and validating and submitting the feed but I had missed a really basic concept like "what's an aggregator". Ernie pointed me to one and once I saw one, it all fell in place. Yet no matter how many times something like that happens, the next time I can't figure something out, I'll still be looking at the minutiae not realizing I made some basic mistaken assumption at the beginning.
Other than that, news aggregators are cool and Ernie was very helpful to someone he barely knows.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/10/2003 06:51:00 PM
Sometime in the third week of this blog, I made it to the Instapundit links. Thanks Glenn!
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/10/2003 12:17:00 PM
The Oakland school
In light of the comments to my previous post, I'm expounding on my views.
First, I am highly in favor of alternative schools. Problem public schools are not a new problem. When I was in high school in New York in the 70s, the local public high school was nothing to write home about. My mother did a bangup job finding alternatives. I went to a very progressive magnet school. My younger brother bounced around a while and ended up at an alternative school with small classes for those who could not hack high school. My youngest brother went to an expensive private school when my mother managed to finagle a full scholarship.
I have no problem with some of what the school does. Teaching about patriarchy and sexism is fine. Teaching them in combination with instruction on the good things in our "patriarchal and sexist" society is better. Yes, I learned all that and more in high school. I also learned why the South felt the need to secede and the bad side of Lincoln. I also learned why the constitution was a great thing and why it left out some important people (women, blacks). I also recall a very indepth discussion with a history teacher who tried hard to explain to me why appeasing Hitler with Czechoslavakia seemed like a good idea at the time. (I did not agree or even comprehend and we can probably trace my pro-war stance to that very day.)
Then there's going too far. Assigning ransom notes is too far. On the other hand, if there was an assignment and one child chose to write a ransom note, I think it would be too far to discipline said child, as happens in some mainstream schools. See the difference? Allowing children to express those views and teaching them those views are not the same.
Similarly, I think it goes too far to teach them to write rap songs against the police. Maybe some of those students and their families actually welcome police protection.
Interestingly, the Weekly Standard points out that one reason the students like the school is the small class size and increased attention. No surprise there.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/10/2003 12:12:00 PM
A "body" was found in the Berkeley marina near where her husband was fishing. Latest news is that it is not Laci. Innocent or guilty, that must have been a hellish wait for the husband. What if you're innocent and it looks like they're finding the body near where you innocently were?
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/10/2003 09:14:00 AM
Update: I was going to limit the links to what seems to be my new favorite page, but read his pieces such as this one about how a former liberal became unwillingly hooked up with the Republicans because the Democrats just moved away from his ideals. It's a point that I often have to explain to those who still recall my liberal days. I have to admit that I gave up on the Democrats much later than Esmay.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/10/2003 09:04:00 AM
A story that hasn't gotten enough coverage
It bubbled up during the holidays. I want to resurrect it. When there's enough outrage to change it, I'll consider we have done our job.
Biology teacher Omar Hunter taught his class about the periodic table, then gave them an assignment: Write a ransom letter to President Bush. Students were to pretend they were holding an element for ransom, listing its physical and chemical properties and why it is crucial, along with their demands, he said..
Joanne Jacobs did a nice blog piece about it. The Opinionjournal's Best of the Web picked it up. The Weekly Standard did a good piece but it's subscriber only. I lost the trail after that.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/10/2003 08:43:00 AM
Rough & tumble has a roundup of articles on Davis' new plan. Short summary: more taxes.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/10/2003 08:31:00 AM
I sent the Calblog husband, a lifelong Steeler fan, off to Tennesee with the eldest twin, who has been a Steeler fan since yesterday, to see tomorrow's playoff game with the Titans. Frequent flyer miles, a reasonable hotel, and tickets off of ebay made it all come together. It took two days to convince my husband it was not too extravagant. It took the same two days to convince my daughter, who had her heart set on the Super Bowl, that it was extravagant enough. Good thing law school taught me to argue both sides of a case.
In the "small world" department, the ebay seller is from PA. His wife works in the suburban hospital where Calblog husband was born.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/10/2003 07:56:00 AM
Also on my desk
The school sent home a glossy brochure from the U.S. Department of Education No Child Left Behind program. (Actually, with twins, we got two). The brochure is entitled homework tips for parents. It is 14 pages long. There are 6 pages in English, 6 pages in Spanish and 2 pages of credits and program info (in English). One has to wonder why we could not have a brochure in each language instead of giving everyone both. And what about our school's large contingent of Korean parents? To top it off, it looks like the material without all the flashy graphics would fit in a page.
I try to calm myself with the thought that the fancy printing created jobs and may appeal to the people who need the info most. If you want to take a look, it's available here.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/10/2003 07:45:00 AM
I have on my desk the first issue of The Progressive Republican by the California Republican League. They proclaim to be pro-choice, fiscally conservative, and environmentally conscious. They print an article on page 10 by the chairman of the state party, Shawn Steel, denying that Simon's conservativism cost him the election and counter it with a page 1 piece by Mark Herrick countering the argument. It's easier to read if you start on page 10 and then read the page 1 piece.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/09/2003 10:49:00 AM
Don't get too excited
One of my employees told me she reads this page regularly. When I expressed pleasant surprise, she said "I figured if you were going to post all your random musing, I'd better check and see what's going on."
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/09/2003 09:50:00 AM
The Gift of Presence
Before you die, make sure you have a story like Helen and Me to tell about your own life.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/09/2003 08:45:00 AM
Back to the law
With all the hoopla over gay marriage and the backlash to Vermont's civil unions, California is moving forward on providing the necessary legal framework to get it done. Domestic partnerships are legalized in Family Code section 297, et. seq.. The law applies to members of the same sex and to seniors over the age of 62. This year, the Legislature added law allowing domestic partners to inherit each other's separate property in the absence of a will.
Several years ago, I was setting up the health insurance plan for the law firm. I had the option of adding same sex partners in the same category as spouses. There was one problem: if one did not want a spouse covered, there had to be an affirmative statement that the employee was declining coverage. I was faced with the prospect of asking any employee if there was a same sex partner for which they would decline or accept coverage. I thought and still think that would be an awkward conversation with new employees setting up health insurance.
The new law provides what I like in a law -- a bright line. "Are you married or in a domestic partnership?" is much easier. No discussion of whether the roommate is more than a roommate or whether there's an intention of something longterm. File an affidavit with the state and we'll recognize the relationship legally. Before that, we give you privacy and won't pry until you want to tell us. (I disagree with a "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but we certainly should follow a "don't ask" policy about all private issues.)
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/09/2003 08:15:00 AM
Go forth and read
Lawmeme has a couple of interesting pieces up today -- one on Lexmark suing to prevent third party vendors from selling toner for their printers and another on a school in London using retina scanning to pay for lunch.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/09/2003 07:58:00 AM
I really like Discover magazine. Science is explained in a way that even a business lawyer can understand. The current issue, which is more current than the issue listed as "current" on the Web, has an article on uses for GPS systems. Some people are playing a game called geocaching in which they find boxes of junk or treasure (depending on your perspective). There's also a move afoot to link hypertext to physical space. One would be able to read text on the GPS device only when moving to the place where the text is linking.
The latter sounds interesting but given the rarity in which I see people using books that walk you through an area explaining each place, I doubt there will be much reading of the GPS text after the novelty wears off.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/08/2003 12:42:00 PM
Raising Logical Children
I recycled an old chestnut here. I mentioned in the comments that I recycle old chestnuts often for my children. My main purpose is to teach them to think. Here are a few I like:
A plane crashes on the border of two countries. Where were the survivors buried?
(Survivors don't get buried).
A rooster lays an egg at the very center of a pitched roof. Which way does it roll?
(Roosters don't lay eggs).
We now have at the house a book of things like this -- Lateral Thinking Puzzles. I tried to get the daughters interested in Encyclopedia Brown but the stories seemed dated for them. We also keep logic puzzles like Rush Hour around.
I point out to them out to be critical of what they're told. I've explained how "apparently" means the person doesn't know for sure and on Fox News, if the interviewer starts calling someone "sir", it is not a sign of respect.
My father was the master of the Socratic method for raising children. If you asked a question, his first response was "what would your guess be?" Then you'd not only have to come up with a guess, but you had to explain it. If you did not guess the right answer, the next step was "let's look it up. Where do you think the answer would be?" (Pre-Internet, I considered this quite mean when I was a child). Only if all other avenues failed would he help.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/08/2003 11:36:00 AM
Jarrieta's post at Poltical State Report on a plan to have health insurance covered by the state touched off a nerve. Be sure to read the comments.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/08/2003 09:17:00 AM
For those of you keeping score, here's today's play-by-play.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/08/2003 09:05:00 AM
The Republicans in California
Nofziger also has an interesting look at Gerry Parsky, I have not found the Parsky Watch website he mentions. It appears to be an e-mail list not a website. Caveat: don't take this link as an endorsement of either Nofziger or Shawn Steele.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/08/2003 08:49:00 AM
More on power
I do generally subscribe to the adage "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." There is a danger though to attributing too much to that theory.
When I was in law school, I was editor-in-chief of law review. About 2 days after I got the job, I was presented with a difficult decision to make. In hindsight, I made the wrong decision. You have heard the cliche "if I had known then what I know now." Well, if I had known then what I knew only a month or two later, I would have made a different decision. (I made an attempt to correct it then but it was too late.)
A professor I respected was furious and accused me of letting power go to my head. It was a terrible fallout and it stung bitterly. What he did not realize though is that I had not let power go to my head. I had very carefully looked at the situation and made what I thought was the right decision. I had simply made a mistake.
A similar principle applies to politics and the analysts. Often when one party disagrees with a program propounded by the other party, they ascribe nefarious motives to the other side. I have now reached the saturation point with those accusations. Rarely are they true and the overuse prevents recognition of situations in which it is true.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/08/2003 08:35:00 AM
Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Lynn Nofziger writes:
too often too many members of congress forget why they came here. In fairness, most come here because they want to make things better for their country and their fellow citizens. But it doesn’t take long for most of them to get delusions of grandeur, to begin to think that they came here to rule, not to serve, to become convinced that they are superior in every way to those who sent them here
He then segues into blaming the problems on alcohol and members of the opposite sex. I don't agree. See the title.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/08/2003 08:22:00 AM
Davis suggests taxing legal services
The article is here. There's also a mention of tinkering with Prop. 13. I thought the whole purpose of propositions was so the government couldn't tinker.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/08/2003 08:18:00 AM
Update: I figured the explanation should be obvious and it was. It took a while to come to it though. While driving home, listening to music and not thinking, the answer popped in my head. I checked the site and was correct. I won't spoil it for you though.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/07/2003 05:12:00 PM
We got power around noon today so I will not return to the 19th century when I leave the office tonight. Blogging activity will pick up after the freezer inspection.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/07/2003 03:10:00 PM
No means no at any time
The California Supreme Court has decided that withdrawal of consent during the act of intercourse turns the consensual act into rape if the other participant continues. I would have thought this was the law (with factual issues about whether the withdrawal of consent was communicated) but apparently there was a split among the state appellate courts.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/07/2003 11:01:00 AM
In the dark
It's now been 32 hours of no power at the Calblog house. There was pandemonium in hour 15 when the Calblog children discovered the microwave did not run on batteries. At hour 19, dusk fell and the Calblog husband arrived home 30 minutes later to two girls sitting in the dark, not quite sure what to do about it except call Mom and say "are you sure he's on his way?" Reading by candlelight was almost relaxing except that eldest child announced every five minutes the time and the name of the television show she was currently missing.
I grew up in an era when blackouts were frequent. One of my earliest memories is the big blackout of 65 (?) that took out the entire eastern seaboard. I learned early that you don't call the power company during a widespread blackout. If the lights went off, we looked out to see how far the darkness spread and only called if the outage was limited to our apartment building. Imagine my surprise this morning when the power company indicated we should have called the moment it went out, even though vast areas were out and gradually being reconnected. Apparently, our call during hour 14 was the first they had heard of it. After that, we received computer-generated calls telling us power had been restored, although it had not. At hour 30, one of the less pleasant customer service people informed us that we had been without power only since 4 pm the previous day and others had been waiting longer. We then explained that we were one of the others that had been waiting longer. We now have the name of a very helpful supervisor. Alas, we still have no power.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/07/2003 10:51:00 AM
Make a contribution to the practice of law
The State Bar of California is filling committee positions. The committees are composed of both attorneys and public members so you should fit in one of those categories! Here's an excerpt:
Would-be volunteers have a wide range of options, from committees dealing with access and fairness issues, to executive committees focused on particular areas of the law, to a commission that evaluates judicial nominees for the governor. Some committees require special qualifications.
The application deadline is January 31. Those appointed to the 2003-2004 positions by the State Bar Board of Governors will begin their terms Sept. 7, 2003. Most appointments carry a three-year term.
The board seeks a diverse mix of attorneys and public members from various backgrounds and fields of practice. Applicants must be willing to volunteer their time, expertise, experience and perspective.
Limited means should not deter an attorney from applying for a position. While volunteers are not paid for their services, they are reimbursed for approved travel expenses.
Get the full scoop here.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/06/2003 04:49:00 PM
A group of Marin County women plan to march naked through San Francisco on Jan. 18 to protest the possibility of war with Iraq," the Associated Press reports . . . .
* * *
It would be easy to scoff at Donna Sheehan and her fellow bare-naked ladies, but it would be wrong. Not only do we applaud her courageous vulnerability, but from now on we won't take anyone seriously who expresses "antiwar" sentiments without getting naked.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/06/2003 01:43:00 PM
Blowin' in the Wind
There's no power at the Calblog House. It's been 11 hours since the power went out, the longest outage since I have been in California (over 15 years now). Fortunately, there's a Calblog office, which has power an a coffee machine.
The wind was blowing down the canyons at 50-60 miles an hour last night. One of my twin daughters took refuge downstairs where the wind was muffled enough for her to fall asleep. The other daughter slept in my bed clutching my hand. It was as loud as I ever heard it. Lightening flashed in the distance and I wondered why we had lightening in a windstorm. It turned out to be generators flashing as they went out around the valley.
A 50-foot redwood in the yard uprooted and was tilted precariously towards the neighbors' yard. As I type, it is being removed at no small expense. Another 15-foot liquid amber tree snapped and can't be saved either, although it does not threaten anything.
The power is out at the elementary school but they are pressing on using the sunlight through the windows. Another elementary school in town closed, causing one to wonder what situation worse than a power outage had occurred there.
Emergency vehicles abounded. I passed four scenes with fire trucks and ambulances within a mile of the house. Roads were blocked off when fallen branches blocked them entirely but driving on any of the streets required bobbing and weaving. There are reports of fires and a train wreck.
Tonight's winds are supposed to be worse. Should be interesting.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/06/2003 12:12:00 PM
The Beltway Boys on Fox News announced their yearend Winners and Losers. Worst campaign of the year? Bill Simon.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/05/2003 10:31:00 AM
Football in LA
Casey Wasserman, owner of the LA Avengers, said yesterday that the NFL will decide to send a football team here within the next 18 months. He added that he thinks it will be a current franchise.
Probable choice: Chargers to the Rose Bowl.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/05/2003 10:28:00 AM
The California Coastal Commssion
Check out Ann Salisbury's piece on Political State Report about the Legislature's problems in getting the commission fixed quickly enough.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/04/2003 11:00:00 AM
Also from the LA Times this morning:
Voters tried to end bilingual education with Proposition 227 in 1998, but school districts throughout California are still struggling to implement the controversial law, even as new federal standards requiring improved test scores take effect.
One of the problems with lawmaking by initiative is the failure to think through the consequences. In this instance, there are practical problems that were not provided for. I'm working on a longer piece on the initiative process. If anyone has input, let me know.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/04/2003 10:47:00 AM
We can't make this stuff up
A lawyer is trying to stop the Super Bowl until the stadium is more accessible for the disabled. Isn't there a less drastic solution? Take some of the proceeds to make those improvements for example.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/04/2003 10:43:00 AM
Criminal subpoenas to businesses
A preview of an article in the Jan. 20, '03 Forbes. A quote:
Every day businesses across America get subpoenas from law enforcement agencies. The police are trying to uncover illegal activity, and they want business records--a Visa chit, a printout of 200 phone calls, a copy of every check a bank customer has written. Most businesses want to be helpful. But who should bear the costs of collecting the information?
Under existing law the costs are borne by business. And sometimes those costs are huge. The U.S. Telecom Association says that one of its member companies spent $3.7 million a year accommodating law enforcement subpoenas (and civil investigative demands, which are subpoena-like orders coming from agencies rather than grand juries). link
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/03/2003 11:06:00 PM
Construction Defect Law
Massive changes in the law regarding construction defects. Construction defect litigation has become a minefield. A homeowner determined to be unhappy could bankrupt a small construction company. A homeowner with a small problem could never afford to litigate it. Expect the new law to be an improvement for both sides of the transaction. It imposes clear standards on the construction, which is a boon for homeowners, and requires homeowners to allow the contractor an opportunity to fix defects before litigation. With any luck, it will stop overreaching lawsuits while correcting the real problems. The statutes are at Civil Code sec. 895, et. seq. and free access is available here.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/03/2003 10:52:00 PM
"As simple as it sounds, the No. 1 reason why small companies go out of business is they run out of cash," he said. "You can recover from a bad hire, a bad product launch or an unhappy customer. But cash is the lifeblood. We learned that the hard way at Gold Hill."
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/03/2003 10:34:00 PM
Mediation gets another bump up
District Judges May Limit Civil Cases to 4 Days There have been many roadblocks to getting the wanted result in court, not the least of which is the cost of getting there. Now litigants face the task of limiting the evidence they present. The system is overwhelmed and the only way to fix it is to steer more cases into alternative dispute resolution methods.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/03/2003 09:23:00 AM
A new market for California wine
From Political State Report: A U.S. district court has removed restrictions preventing New York state residents from buying wine from out of state. link
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/03/2003 09:13:00 AM
Death penalty -- The California Supreme Court upheld the death sentence Thursday of a Los Angeles man despite a finding by a lower court judge that three prosecution witnesses lied during his murder trial. Maura Dolan in the Los Angeles Times Claire Cooper in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/3/03 link
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/03/2003 08:55:00 AM
The cyber cafes
When I read that China was closing down Internet cafes, I thought they were having difficulty handling freedom but the cafes are a problem here too. Today's LA Times has a full report. Glendale considered banning them altogether at one point.
LawMeme has been following this too and there was a long exchange in the comments about the problem of violent videogames. I wonder if the problem is the games or the cafes.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/03/2003 08:51:00 AM
The Lobbyist and the Defict
Tomorrow's LA Times takes a flyover view of the plans that lobbyists are pitching to close that $35 billion deficit. Not much meat there but if you're going to follow the game, you have to watch the pregame show and get to know the players. (Can you tell I'm watching the Orange Bowl while blogging?)
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/02/2003 08:04:00 PM
A Proper Introduction
Others (you know who you are) have suggested I change my name to "Justene", as in "Cher" or "Madonna". The joy of having an uncommon first name is that I can call clients, opposing counsel or just about anyone and say "it's Justene." They know who it is and the phone answerer only has to recall one name. Quite by accident, when I started this site, I became "Justene." The fields with my last name were not fields that published. After a few days of being a single-monikered being, I decided it was gimmicky. So my last name ought to appear in a few places on the page now. After the firm webpages are rebuilt, I'll include a link there and you can find out more than you ever needed to know.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/02/2003 07:53:00 PM
If you were here earlier today, it was a bit of a mess, loading slowly, comments appearing and then disappearing. As I suspected, it was something simple. I don't know what but when I started over, it worked fine. I hope you will feel free to leave a comment or two or a dozen.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/02/2003 06:20:00 PM
It ain't going to be pretty
More on Water Law by polizeros:
Did I mention that water in Southern California comes from hundreds of miles away, often from other states? Add to this a thicket of bewildering water laws; i.e. upstream rights trump downstream rights, "I got there first" rights, and "Use it or lose it" rights. Then understand this particular water war involves several states, multitudes of water boards, and pits powerful cities against also quite powerful farmers, and you get an idea of the complexity of this battle.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/02/2003 11:52:00 AM
The immigration question
Calnews.com has an article attributing some of our problems in California, and particularly the deficit, to illegal aliens. I don't agree with this. If illegal immigration is changing the face of America so be it. America's face has been changing a long time and should continue to change long after we're gone. Here in the suburbs of LA, illegal immigrants do make the economy go 'round. In fact, when the twins were little, my insistance on a "legal" nanny severely reduced the quality of the applicant pool.
I do feel for the ranchers on the border though. I think they're bearing a disproportionate share of the burden of illegal immigration. I believe that the ranchers are driven by economic necessity and not racism in their efforts to keep out illegal immigration.
My solution? Open the borders. Yup. Give me your tired, your poor, etc. Do it legally. We'll have problems still but fewer than we have now and nothing we can't handle.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/02/2003 08:45:00 AM
I'll believe when I see it
Davis is planning to create jobs. The Rough & Tumble site has links to many papers with the report.
Actually, I hope Davis is successful. I'm not crazy enough to want to live in a bad economy just to prove Davis a failure.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/02/2003 08:23:00 AM
Worth a visit
Quotes from the American Revolution. I also watched part of the American Revolution marathon on Discovery Civilization Channel today. I gave up when I got to what they ate when they ran out of food. It's amazing we won that war.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/01/2003 11:09:00 PM
An interesting article on mediating cases by e-mail. I have often settled cases by e-mail, communicating with both my client and the opposing counsel by e-mail. The main benefits I have found are that we can accommodate differing schedules and the posturing (by all of us, including me and my client) generally disappears. Yet I have never used it in my mediation practice nor have other mediators that I have used when I am the advocate made use of it. So my New Year's Resolution is to try to incorporate it into my mediations in which I am a mediator. I'll keep you updated on the progress. If any of you have any experiences you would like to share, I'd love to hear them (by e-mail of course.) Let me know if you don't want your e-mail published.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/01/2003 05:56:00 PM
The clock ran out on a crucial Colorado River water deal Tuesday, meaning Southern California will lose a big chunk of its liquid supplies and water lawyers may have plenty of new business in 2003.
When I added mediation to my practice, I was surprised at how many tree cases came through the door. I learned a lot about tree law in the last year. I suppose it's time to brush up on water law. A shortage in water supplies is likely to have a ripple effect in areas we don't expect.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/01/2003 01:20:00 PM
The California Legislature plans to fix the California Coastal Commission quickly to deal with the decision that caused all the hoopla. Life will return to normal with the CCC taking control of the coast (up to you whether you think that's good or bad.) All the pending cases are in limbo though.
posted by Justene Adamec at 1/01/2003 01:02:00 PM
Comments on So California news, law, and politics by Justene Adamec. There are occasional forays into other topics because, after all, it is a blog. Offline, I am a lawyer and mediator. Email justenea -at- yahoo.com.