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This week, the Orange County Register (OCR, 2014) endorsed the re-election of Tom Tait as Anaheim’s mayor, calling him the “best [candidate] to lead the city.” Examining the rationale presented in its endorsement, however, I found little to justify the paper’s support.

The OCR cited Tait’s quelling anger and potential violence following riots during 2012 and supporting citizens’ oversight of the city’s police department.

t8The paper applauded Tait’s “dissenting voice,” a council member who consistently votes no “on numerous issues.” It cited Tait as the only council member to oppose a tax incentive to build a hotel near Disneyland and the city’s convention center.

Voting to approve a tax incentive to developers is not unusual, so voting no is not necessarily a virtue. The Los Angeles City Council awarded $500,000,000 in tax incentives for downtown economic development for 2015-2016 (Los Angeles Times, 2014).

Whether to offer a tax incentive depends on several factors; for example, (a) the need for a hotel that satisfies current convention needs and its potential to attract larger future conventions, (b) the return on investment that taxpayers would receive by building a hotel, and, most important, (c) whether not offering an incentive means not building a hotel and losing tax revenues. Tait’s vote seems like a no vote without consideration of positive aspects of providing a tax incentive.

Yes, Tait talks about transparency (endlessly), but the OCR did not cite any evidence of increased governmental transparency in Anaheim since he has been mayor. Transparency was confused with Tait’s rigidity and public comments that torpedoed the city’s negotiations with the Angels. And there is a difference between publicly discussing unfunded pension liabilities and solving this problem.

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CHA Hit paid by Tait Family TrustAnaheim Insider here.

If you could spend $49,750 on anything in your community, what would you spend it on? Just to make it a little easier, here are a few options of what that kind of money buys you in Anaheim:

A. Annual tuition for 199 low income kids to attend the Anaheim Boys and Girls Clubs after school programs.

B. One week of tuition for 239 toddlers to attend preschool at the Anaheim YMCA.

C. Underwrite 497 Anaheim kids living in violent families to attend Youth Violence Prevention Programs at the Orange County Family Justice Center.

D. Pay for 829 Anaheim at-risk youth to attend the 24-week Cops 4 Kids Junior Cadet Program.

E. Fund a malicious mail campaign against your (conservative Republican) council colleagues.

It appears Mayor Tom Tait, who has spent his entire first term of office espousing a platform of “kindness,” prefers option E. 

As this FPPC filing shows, the Tait Family Trust is funding $49,750 in campaign attack mail aimed at Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray and Councilwoman Gail Eastman, his two Republican colleagues. And the hits are just getting started with a hit piece dredging up their votes on GardenWalk from nearly two years ago.

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We’ve posted the Argument in favor of Measure D, which would amend the City Charter to limit the mayor to four consecutive two-year terms, instead of the current limit of two consecutive four-year terms. Here is the Argument Against Measure D that will be in the sample ballot:

ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE D

Opposition to Charter Amendment to Section 504

We urge you to vote “NO” on Measure D. Under Anaheim’s Charter, the mayor and city council members are all elected to four-year terms. Measure D proposes to change the Charter to require the city’s mayor to run for office every two years, while council candidates continue to be elected every four years.

There is simply no good reason to support this proposed change in the law.

The vast majority of American large-city mayors serve four-year terms. A four-year term gives the city’s chief elected official time to set goals and plan for the city’s needs, and it provides continuity of leadership to keep city government both stable and responsive to the voters.
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On Tuesday night, the Anaheim City Council took up the Charter Review Committee’s recommendations, which staff had packaged into four proposed charter amendments for the June ballot. Anaheim voters will have the opportunity to say yes or no to changing the mayoral term from four to two years; legalizing safe and sane fireworks; and enacting a bucket of government efficiency reforms. The council unanimously rejected placing the repeal of term limits on the ballot.

july 4 fireworks patrioticLegalizing Safe and Sane Fireworks
Measure 4 would repeal the city charter’s ban on the sale and use of safe and sane fireworks, which 59% of voters approved in 1986, and the council was unanimous in its support not only for putting the measure before the voters but in hoping they would approve it.

“This is something, I think, that the people want. It’s a good thing. It brings people together on the Fourth of July, it brings neighborhoods together, and it something I wholeheartedly support,” said Mayor Tait. Well put.

As someone who strongly believes we ought to be able to celebrate our freedom and independence with safe and sane fireworks, this is a great development and continues a trend toward reversing the tsunami of fireworks bans that swept Orange County cities in the late 1980s. Fullerton voters legalized fireworks in 2012, and Westminster and Villa Park have also reversed their bans in the last few years.

Two-Year Mayoral Term
The Charter Review Committee recommended this change by a vote of 5-2, with Tom Tait and Lucille Kring’s appointees voting in opposition – and that is how their appointors voted on Tuesday night as the council voted 3-2 to place Measure 2 on the June ballot.

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Anaheim Councilwoman Lucille Kring has scheduled a kick-off fundraiser for her mayoral bid for Monday, December 9 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Diamond Club in Angel Stadium:

Kring mayoral fundraiser

Click here for the PDF of the fundraiser flyer.

Incumbent Mayor Tom Tait is seeking re-election to a second term, and former Councilwoman Lorri Galloway has also announced she will be a candidate for mayor.

Most of the host committee names are no surprise; for example, Mayor Pro Tem Gail Eastman, who was pushed from the OCTA Board of Directors by Tait without explanation. What is noteworthy is the name of conservative Republican Assemblyman Don Wagner.

One potential wrinkle: the Anaheim Charter Review Committee has recommended changed the mayoral term from four to two years. If approved by the City Council, this would be one of the charter amendments on the June 2014 ballot – and if the voters approve that change, then the mayoral candidate will be running for a two- rather than four-year term.

Gail Eastman kick-offJust a reminder: Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Gail Eastman  is holding a re-election fundraiser this evening from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Honda Center’s newly-opened Grand Terrace (2695 E. Katella Avenue, in case you need an address).

RSVP to Jennifer Fitzgerald at (714) 402-3106 or jennifer@cl7communications.com; OR, Download the flyer and make checks payable to: Gail Eastman for Anaheim City Council 2014 and mail to CL7 Communications, Inc., PO Box 10306, Fullerton, CA 92838-0306

You can also fax the above form with credit card information to (714) 459-8165 or email it to  Jennifer@CL7communications.com

There are two council seats up in November of 2014 – both of them currently held by Eastman and Councilwoman Kris Murray. if Anaheim voters approve a June charter amendment to expand the council from four to six members, there will be two addition (and open) council seats up for grabs. keep in mind that (barring judicial interference), the council elections will be conducted on a from-district basis for the first time. In other words, council candidates will still have to stand before all Anaheim voters, but will be required to live in residency-based districts that will be drawn up by the spring.

Gail Eastman is getting a relatively late-start on her fundraising, but there is every reason to believe she’ll be strongly competitive and a favorite for re-election. She came very close to unseating incumbent Lorri Galloway in her first council run in 2008, and was the top vote-getter in 2010.

It’s still unclear who Mayor Tom Tait will endorse/recruit for his presumptive council slate aimed at unseating Eastman and Murray. The mayor will have his hands full with his own re-election battle against Councilwoman Lucille Kring and former Councilwoman Lorri Galloway, so it remains to be seen how much time, energy and money he can put into such an effort. It’s worth noting that in 2012, his only attempt to target a candidate for defeat (aside from the slow-motion undermining of Steve Chavez Lodge’s candidacy) was a pretty nasty hit piece against Jordan Brandman, funded by family members. Brandman was ultimately the top voter-getter.

bacon_kevin_l

Kevin Bacon must be connected somehow!

Several days ago, PBS “SoCal Insider” host Rick Reiff used the term “gutter politics” to refer to what he perceived (wrongly, in my opinion) as attempts to link Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait with gadfly William Fitzgerald’s now infamous anti-Semitic rant. PBS SoCal’s David Nazar went on an even more offbase on-air bender on the same topic.

Yesterday, the Voice of OC – PBS SoCal’s media partner — published a story explicitly attempting to link Anaheim Councilmembers Kris Murray and Jordan Brandman with a scandal to which they have no connection whatsoever.

Will Rick Reiff and David Nazar similarly denounce as “gutter journalism”  this actual attempt to manufacture a link between an elected official (in this case, two) and a dishonorable act – in this case from their station’s online media partner? Is anyone going to hold their breath for that to happen?

Adam Elmahrek’s post is headlined “The Calderon FBI Investigation’s Connections To OC” tortuously attempts to draw a connection to Kris Murray and Jordan.

You see, the FBI is investigation involving Sen. Ron Calderon, his brother Tom and the Central Basin Municipal Water District in LA County. on August 5, the FBI served the district with a subpoena that. According to the Los Angeles Times:

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The Orange County Labor Federation is holding a candidate academy tomorrow at the United Food and Commercial Worker Local 324 hall in Buena Park:

OC Labor Fed candidate school

As the flyer notes, a candidate’s endorsement by the OC Labor Federation is contingent on attending at least one of the above sessions to help them properly “understand” the issues important to the OCLF, such as:

  • Contracting Out: The Impact on the Economy (aka outsourcing to the private sector is evil and must be stopped).
  • Big Box Retailers (aka they are evil and must be stopped unless they unionize).
  • Preserving Quality Public Education (aka the answer is always to spend more of the taxpayers money and accede to teachers union demands)

The OC Labor Federation takes a fairly active role in Anaheim politics. In addition to endorsing candidates, for example, recently-departed OC Labor Fed ED Tefere Gebre leveled the (false) accusation that the Honda Center brought service in-house in order to take advantage of Enterprise Zone tax credits. OCLF President (and UCFW 324 Executive Vice President) Rick Eiden is also a director of OCCORD, which has asked the Attorney General to prosecute every member of the Anaheim City Council (except Mayor Tom Tait).

Anaheim City School District Trustee Dr. Jose Moreno wants the Anaheim City Council elected from single-member council districts. Not ten years from now, or in the near future – but right now. He’s even the lead plaintiff of an ACLU  lawsuit seeking to force the city to switch from at-large election to single-member council districts. Moreno alleges the city is violating the California Voting Rights Act since the city if more than 50% Latino and yet there are no Latinos on the council.

“It’s time, Anaheim!” is a pro-single-member district slogan one often sees on the Facebook page of Moreno and districting supporters.

Judging by his actions rather than his rhetoric, the time ISN’T now when it comes to electing his own Anaheim City School District Board of Education from single-member districts.

The conditions Moreno cites for necessitating council elections by single-member districts are also present in the ACSD – even more so in key respects. The ACSD student body is 86.3% Latino — from which one can surmise that the population withing ACSD boundaries is even more heavily Latino than the city itself.  Furthermore, Moreno is the “only Spanish-speaking, Spanish dominant, Latino-surnamed” member of the ACSD Board of Education. Yet, while he has relentlessly hammered the City of Anaheim to move to single-member councl districts, he has said and done nothing to bring the same system to ACSD.

As I pointed out in a previous post, the ACSD Board of Education can switch to single-member district elections by a simple legislative action and then obtaining a waiver from the state Board of Education – no vote of the people necessary. The ACSD could easily have a single-member district system in place by March of next year – in time for Moreno and other incumbents to run for re-election from single-member districts.

Morenmo had a perfect opportunity at the ACSD Board of Education’s August 26th meeting. The Board took up adding language to the board bylaws regarding ensuring board of education elections were compliant with the state and federal Voting Rights Acts (as well as language stating the board is elected by “all voters in the district.”).

Did Moreno take the opportunity to act on his rhetoric and call for an immediate switch to single-member districts?

Not even close. Here’s a transcript of his exchange on the topic with Superintendent Linda Wagner:

WAGNER: Dr. Moreno, do you have a question?

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Anaheim Insider here.

Did you see the Orange County Register article about how the Orange County Employees Association shuffled political funding through various PACs in order to disguise who was paying the campaign mailers? Among other things, OCEA gave a PAC called California Citizens for Fair Government $75,000 in start-up donations, and provided 81% of the PACs funding during its three-year lifespan:

[OCEA General Counsel Don Drozd] said he checked with the treasurer of the OCEA PAC that funded CCFG and confirmed that OCEA had nothing to do with creating CCFG or deciding how CCFG should spend its money.

That’s pretty hard spin to swallow: “Here’s $75,000 of our members’ dues money. We don’t care what you do with it.”

One of the commenters on the OC Register story reacted this way:

Drozd and Bernadino have a firm grip on every decision OCEA makes. For him to say he didn’t recall the specifics, then specifically deny any strings were attached, is not credible. The proverbial hand in the cookie jar.

The story reminded me of one Adam Elmahrek wrote near the end of the Anaheim city council elections last year called “Disney’s Latest Adventure: Local Campaign Attack Ads.” In it, Elmahrek pointed to Disney’s participation in political committees that paid for campaign mailers advocating for and against Anaheim council candidates and unfavorably compared it to the OCEA’s above-board approach:

Labor unions have also spent big, nearly matching the business establishment dollar-for-dollar in their support of former labor leader John Leos. The difference is following the labor money is relatively easy, while keeping track of Disney’s spending is a bit like riding a roller coaster in the dark [emphasis mine].

Martin Wisckol and Morgan Cook of the OC Register sure made a hash of that claim.

It’s not like Voice of OC can’t analyze campaign reports. Elmahrek spent a lot of time doing that for the above article and for another one called “Disney’s Hidden Hand  In The Anaheim City Council Race.” It seems it’s the hidden hand of its major funder, the OCEA, that escapes the Voice’s notice. [Although the Voice did take advantage of the opportunity to say “See! We’ll criticize the OCEA!” by printing a summary of the OC Register’s article.]

Anaheim Insider here.

If you read Orange County political blogs, you know there are a few very vocal, very deluded bloggers out there, claiming to represent blocs of voter opinion. Here’s an example from a rant Anaheim’s own Cynthia Ward wrote on the hit piece against Lucille Kring from the Orange County Employees Association-funded Voice of OC:

Enjoy that one last term girlfriend. Do you really think these people are going to re-elect you, Lucille? You blew off the support base that would have stood with you if you stood up for us. 

Who are “these people”? What “support base” is Ward talking about? The gaggle of people who come to her house for free food? Vern Nelson? Jason Young? Will she be as effective against Kring as she was in getting Robert Nelson elected in 2010? What a deluded threat.

Lucille Kring has won election to the Anaheim City Council three times. She has strong name ID and a strong base of supporters cultivated over many years of walking precincts, being involved in the community, running for office and serving on the city council. It’s delusional to think she was elected by this imaginary “support base” that exists in Ward’s mind. She has her own support base, and its members could care less what Ward thinks, assuming they even know who she is.

Kring didn’t need Tom Tait’s support to win election to the council last year. He needed her more than she needed him. It was better to have Tait’s endorsement than not to have it. It wasn’t the difference between Kring winning or losing. She finished more than 6,000 votes ahead of John Leos, the candidate whom Tait and the OCEA went all in for.

Read the rest of this entry »

Anaheim Insider here.

Who has seen today’s online article in the OC Register, featuring the mayor and the city council giving their opinions on council districts and the ACLU lawsuit? Here’s what Mayor Tait had to say:

“The people of Anaheim should be given the choice on how they are to be governed – either an at-large system or by districts. The majority of the council has refused to put the choice of district elections before the voters. Sadly, their refusal to do so may cost the city potentially millions of dollars in needless litigation costs. The bottom line is that a district-based system brings the government closer to the people.”

First, it takes nerve for Mayor Tait to say Anaheim voters should be “given a choice on how they are to be governed — either an at-large system or by districts” when the only choice he has voted to put before  the voters is single-member council districts.  The Citizens Advisory Committee recommended putting both choices on the ballot.  When the mayor asked staff to bring back resolutions based on the CAC report, he deliberately omitted asking for one incorporating the CAC recommendation for asking the voters if they want to keep at-large voting.

Mayor Tait even voted against asking the voter if they want to increase the council to six members. For all his talk about “letting the people choose,” the only choices he has supported giving them are ones he favors.

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Jason Young

Jason Young

Since last summer, former Anaheim resident and political irritant Jason Young has used his “Save Anaheim” political committee to buy print ads in the Anaheim Bulletin and the Anaheim Hills News leveling venomous, dishonest, truth-twisting attacks against essentially every member of the Anaheim City Council except Mayor Tom Tait.

Jason Young regularly issued dark warnings of the terrifying reign of doom and political hellfire was preparing to unleash against the objects of his obsessive ire, but the end result was far more hat than cattle.

Still, with the beginnings of the 2014 election season upon us, I was surprised to see on the Anaheim City Clerk website that on July 1, Young filed a Form 410 terminating his Save Anaheim committee.

He also filed the Form 460 for the January 1 through June 30 period. The committee’s final exertions amounted to $4,039.87, funded by contributions from Jason Young himself, plus dinero from Brian Chuchua and Amin David. He used that mighty war-chest to buy a print ad (attacking the GardenWalk project, I believe), buy political data from Political Data, and give himself a little refund.

Why is Jason Young packing in his PAC? Who knows, really? Perhaps Jason Young was overcome with a realization of the expensive futility of his thrashings. Either way, good riddance.

Medical marijuana advocate Jason Thompson

Medical marijuana advocate Jason Thompson

It looks like a medical marijuana initiative may be coming to Anaheim next year.

A new city political committee was filed with the Anaheim City Clerk on June 12 called “Anaheim Safe Access,” which describes its purpose as being “to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of cannabis to all Anaheim patients in medical need.”

The treasurer is Jason Ryan Thompson, a Riverside-based attorney and owner of Thompson Advocacy – which counts medical marijuana dispensaries among its clientele. The principal officer is a Richard Baker of Anaheim. I’ve e-mailed and left a voice-mail for Mr. Thompson for additional information on the committee’s plans, and I’ll report back on what he tells me.Medical marijuana advocate Jason Thompson

In May of this year this California Supreme Court ruled that municipalities had the right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. As Councilwoman Kris Murray wrote in her May e-newsletter:

This ruling is a significant victory for Anaheim, as the City has been working for years to ban dispensaries from operating within our community.  

As background, in 2007, the City adopted Ordinance No. 6067, which banned the establishment and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in Anaheim. Soon thereafter, the City was sued in an attempt to overturn the ordinance and that litigation continues. In 2011, the City Council approved a moratorium to prevent new medical marijuana dispensaries from opening while we continued to work through the courts on the existing litigation and that moratorium expired in January of this year. This moratorium was passed in the wake of numerous dispensaries opening within Anaheim neighborhoods.

The state Supreme Court clears the way for the City of Anaheim to move ahead with a permanent ban on pot dispensaries.

My guess is formation of this “Anaheim Safe Access” political committee is the first step in qualifying a ballot initiative allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in Anaheim.

Dude!

Stay tuned.

The Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting will convene for its final meeting this Thursday, May 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Anaheim City Council chambers.

The CAC members vote on the draft report to the ciy council.

You can read and/or download the draft report here.

PrintIf you’re looking for an opportunity to pump your fist and demand your fair share of other people’s money, then head on over to Anaheim City Hall for the May Day rally being organized by the Orange County Labor Federation.

May Day — or International Worker Day — was established in 1891 by the Second Socialist International.

The OC Labor Federation is a major supporter of carving up Anaheim into 8 council districts – limiting Anaheim residents to voting for only one councilmember rather than having a vote in the election of every councilmember.

The chanting, sloganeering and acts of solidarity begin at 11:00 a.m., and at some point a march will commence — ending at 12:30 p.m. at La Palma Park.

It will be a proletarian good time. Be there, or be a One Percenter square!

Vivian Pham

Vivian Pham

The Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) on Elections is chaired by Vivian Pham, a liberal Democrat who had only lived in Anaheim for two years when Mayor Tom Tait chose her last fall as one of his two appointees to the CAC (the other being another Democrat, Bill Dalati).

I eventually came to the opinion she was almost certainly coordinating with the left-wing coalition, led by OCCORD and UNITE-HERE Local 11, that is lobbying the CAC to recommend electing the City Council by single-member districts. After all, in her capacity as its Community Development Officer, Wells Fargo has funded OCCORD’s activities to the tune of at least $80,000. Furthermore, it is hardly a secret Pham is solidly in favor of single-member council districts.

Other observers of the CAC process have reached the same conclusion, and any doubts I may have had pretty much evaporated during last week’s CAC meeting (you can watch the video here).

Read the rest of this entry »

Wondering what kind of anti-business policies single-member council districts would make more likely in Anaheim? Look no further than UNITE-HERE Local 11’s lobbying of the City of Anaheim to adopt a “retention” policy a la that paragon of mismanagement and ill-governance, Los Angeles.

To illustrate how “retention” works, I’ll excerpt from Los Angeles International Airport’s retention policy, which imposes these requirements on LAX contractors:

  • Contractor agrees to offer to employ and retain for a 90-day period the employees who worked for at least 12 months for the terminated contractor/subcontractors earning less than $15.00 per hour.
  • Contractor agrees to not discharge without cause the employees retained during the 90-day period.
  • Contractor agrees to perform a written performance evaluation of each employee retained at the end of the 90-day period.

[LAX packages their retention policy with a “Living Wage” ordinance: in LAX’s case, contractors were required, as of July 1, 20102, to pay their employees at least $10.70 an hour, along with a minimum health benefit hourly rate of $4.67 per hour (up from $1.70 per hour when the mandate was imposed in 2010).  Plus, the “Living Wage” has to be increased every year. If the contractor doesn’t provide health benefits, then the minimum health benefit hourly rate must be added to their pay – spiking the “Living Wage (in this case) to $15.37 per hour.]

UNITE-HERE is meeting with Anaheim city officials to press their case for imposing a retention policy on Anaheim contractors.

Read the rest of this entry »

I published a series of posts delving into the origins, funding and self-proclaimed mission of OCCORD, one fo the left-wing groups spearheading the drive for electing the Anaheim City Council from single-member districts.

You can read those posts here, here, here and here.

Another major cog in that coalition is Local 11 of the militant union UNITE-HERE, which represents “more than 20,000 workers employed in hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas and convention centers throughout Southern California.” UNITE-HERE also feels it vital to point out that it “boasts a diverse membership, comprising workers from many immigrant communities as well as high percentages of African-American, Latino, and Asian-American workers. The majority of UNITE HERE members are women” — because, as well know, it is absolutely imperative that we identify ourselves by skin-color.

UNITE-HERE is the mothership of OCCORD. As I noted in an earlier post, OCCORD founder and Executive Director Eric Altman led UNITE-HERE’s strategic affairs department for 15 years before starting OCCORD. UNITE-HERE provides funding for OCCORD, and UNITE-HERE Local 11’s second-in-command, Ada Briceno, is the chair of OCCORD, whose current and former staff members have also served stints as UNITE-HERE organizers.

I see the staff of UNITE-HERE Local 11 at every meeting of the Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections. Working hand-in-glove with OCCORD, UNITE-HERE is running a drill of getting bodies up to the microphone during public comments to say how their lives will be better if there were single-member council districts – the goal being to use the public record of CAC meetings to claim broad public support for single-member council districts.

Once the public comments are done, those folks have gone and the meeting settles down to the regular agenda, most of the remaining audience is composed of UNITE-HERE and OCCORD staffers.

Read the rest of this entry »

diana-lopezQuiz time! Who said the following last night during public comments at the Anaheim City Council: “Perhaps another riot will get their attention.”

A) a young firebrand from the Revolutionary Communist Party, or

B) the president-elect of the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association.

If you guessed A)…we’ll you should be right, but, crazily, you aren’t.

That literally incendiary statement was made by  Diana Lopez, as noted the president-elect of the OC Hispanic Bar Association.

Apparently, the council majority’s ending of Cristina Talley’s tenure as city attorney warrants “the community” responding by rioting. That’s really lowering the threshold for urban rioting. Read the rest of this entry »

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