Saturday, May 30, 2015

Back to School

Part of this was distressing but the push towards co-housing is what I am focusing on.  I have been advocating this for the last 3 years.  I tried desperately to get an Architect to co-author the subject as I have found several active and on going developments in the area that are models of this type of housing.

There is a wealth of books and contractors who specialize is "aging in place" and frankly that is something I am not sure is always viable.  The Post links to a Professor who believes not and he makes the point that it is not always a sustainable model and again its origins are out of fear, lobbying from the AARP and the belief that there are all kinds of services available to assist you.  We know that is not the case but understanding the needs and demands in build/design for an older resident is necessary.

As for classes on aging I am unsure I need that.  I do think this is the never ending attachment to Boomers and their willingness to whip out a check book for any fad or fashion that passes.   Although I should be flattered as we know that now MElinneals now are the largest segment of the population and there is not a day or moment I am not reminded of that - from craft beers to hipster facial hair - I can only hope they get as burned out as I.

What the article neglects to mention is looking at the larger demands of aging and the need for affordable medical care, public transport, community building and overall demands on families with an aging family member and those who have no family in which to rely.  When you read that hideous and unsubstantiated article in the Post that women become severely mentally ill and incompetent you either go "what the flying fuck" or what are we going to do with regards to that?  I go for the former.

We need to build alliances and we need to build community. We do both poorly and we do both well but we do so in such disjointed and disparate ways that once again this article demonstrates it is about income and education, the poors are not addressed at all.  Yes we all age with pensions, extended families and our physical and mental facilities all fully operational until we fall, get depressed, have a disease and then off to the aged home where mistreatment and exploitation abounds!  Man aging is a bitch and she is a bully Nurse!  I am starting to see a positive in becoming a mentally ill idiot, I won't know what is happening to me.

Aging doesn’t always come naturally. Classes are teaching boomers how.

For The Washington Post
By Fredrick Kunkle
May 29 2015

Ann Zabaldo guided her graying students through the steps they’d need to take to reimagine the rest of their lives in the communal existence that has come to be known as “co-housing.”

“Nobody is ever going to care for you the way people who know you are going to care for you,” Zabaldo told the class of about 45 students. “Affinity is the new amenity.”

Then Zabaldo — who helped organize Takoma Village Cohousing and now works as a consultant helping other co-housing ventures get off the ground — plunged into the intricacies of finding suitable real estate in the pricey D.C. market, writing up policies on pets and shacking up with “Three Bettys and a Bob.”

Senior co-housing, and all its complications and rewards, was one of the bigger draws at what amounts to a college on how to age successfully.

The four- to eight-week courses, presented by nonprofit organization Iona, were designed especially with baby boomers in mind. Since 2011, a generation that has almost continually reinvented itself also has been hitting retirement age.
Ann Zabaldo talks to about 45 attendees about co-housing, an alternative to retirement communities, at Iona in Washington. (Kate Patterson /For The Washington Post)

But boomers tend to see themselves as forever young and have sometimes been reluctant to embrace the last stage of life with the same gusto as their youthful activism, said Lylie Fisher, director of community development at Iona.

So Iona, which receives part of its funding from the District’s Office on Aging, launched Take Charge/Age Well Academy in September 2013. Its core class is “Take Charge of Your Aging 101.” There are now seven courses, ranging in cost from about $115 to $145, that focus on themes such as eating well, physical fitness and age-proofing the home. The faculty includes regular instructors and guests.

“We want them to be making these core decisions about how to live into a ripe old age with a great aging plan — having all the practical decision-making things,” Fisher said. “Our biggest challenge is that younger older adults don’t want to have anything to do with us.”

Mary Gerace, 70, who has attended courses such as “Age Well, Live Well 101,” “What Me Move?” and “Mindful Living,” said life experience motivated her to enter the classroom again.

“I looked at the way some of my family aged, and at the age of 80, they started to decline,” she said. “And at 70, I have about 10 more years of productivity, and I wanted to figure out how to take advantage of that.”

During one recent class, Jason Dring, a geriatric physical therapist with the Isabella Breckenridge Center, discussed the physical dynamics of aging, such as muscle atrophy and the ways to combat it. Then he demonstrated simple functional tests to monitor one’s physical capability and keep it in tune. One such exercise required the participants to see how many times in 30 seconds they could rise from a chair without using their hands and sit down again.

“Thirty seconds is a really long time!” one woman said. Then he gave them their scores, noting that a 65-year-old woman should be able to do between 11 and
16 repetitions.
Ann Hawkins asks a question during a class called "What Me Move?" about co-housing. (Kate Patterson /The Washington Post)

That same day, Tori Goldhammer, of Living at Home Consultations, discussed age-proofing one’s house.

About 20 attendees jotted notes as Goldhammer offered tips on the importance of good lighting and hand railings to avoid falls, as well as using special door hinges to widen entryways for wheelchairs.

A larger group attended Zabaldo’s seminar on co-housing. The modern practice originated in Denmark in the late 1960s as some families closely organized their lives and homes around shared facilities in a kind of intentional community. Architects Charles Durett and Kathryn McCamant introduced the concept to the United States in the late 1970s after the couple, who are married, observed the Danish arrangement and wrote about it in a book. Senior co-housing evolved from the broader movement as communities aged, Zabaldo said.

The latest trend is that in Washington and other pricey metro areas, the cost of real estate has forced the model of co-housing to evolve from private ownership of a home and some shared facilities to joint ownership of a home — an arrangement Zabaldo said has come to be known as “Three Bettys and a Bob.” Each person would have his or her private areas and there would be communal spaces, such as the kitchen and dining area.

Today, there are about 130 completed co-housing communities in the United States, including Eastern Village Cohousing in the District, and about 11 of those are targeted to elders, Zabaldo said.

Though Eastern Village is multigenerational, a smaller group of older residents who call themselves The Sages operates as a miniature version of a senior co-housing community, Zabaldo said.

Such arrangements are better done with people you want to get to know, rather than friends, Zabaldo told the class.

“We are young/old,” said H. Weston Morrison, 67, a retired associate producer at WRC (Channel 4) who signed up for the classes. “We are not old as our parents and grandparents [were], and part of that is we’re talking about aging. Our grandparents just aged.”

Friday, May 29, 2015

American Insecurity

I think this title from Paul Krugman in today's NYT says it all and explains it all.

We are barely making the end meet the middle to meet the means. But denial and anger and frustration are all part of the American mindset. We have never had a problem reconciling words and deeds, right Thomas Jefferson?

It boggles the mind that the expression "how the other half lives" is never more relevant than today. I was talking to some students and I said "we confuse the idea of diversity and assume that it eliminates division. The reality is go to some public schools to see you will have very segregated school population and it is not just by color but by academic achievement and the other by sports. You can have a two tier or three tier school and even within each tier further divisions as we have within our own class structure. The tree of society begins at its base, the seeds from which it grows.

America the land of the insecure. We wait for that apple cart to turn over every day.

Insecure American
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
MAY 29, 2015

America remains, despite the damage inflicted by the Great Recession and its aftermath, a very rich country. But many Americans are economically insecure, with little protection from life’s risks. They frequently experience financial hardship; many don’t expect to be able to retire, and if they do retire have little to live on besides Social Security.

Many readers will, I hope, find nothing surprising in what I just said. But all too many affluent Americans — and, in particular, members of our political elite — seem to have no sense of how the other half lives. Which is why a new study on the financial well-being of U.S. households, conducted by the Federal Reserve, should be required reading inside the Beltway.

Before I get to that study, a few words about the callous obliviousness so prevalent in our political life.

I am not, or not only, talking about right-wing contempt for the poor, although the dominance of compassionless conservatism is a sight to behold. According to the Pew Research Center, more than three-quarters of conservatives believe that the poor “have it easy” thanks to government benefits; only 1 in 7 believe that the poor “have hard lives.” And this attitude translates into policy. What we learn from the refusal of Republican-controlled states to expand Medicaid, even though the federal government would foot the bill, is that punishing the poor has become a goal in itself, one worth pursuing even if it hurts rather than helps state budgets.

But leave self-declared conservatives and their contempt for the poor on one side. What’s really striking is the disconnect between centrist conventional wisdom and the reality of life — and death — for much of the nation.

Take, as a prime example, positioning on Social Security. For decades, a declared willingness to cut Social Security benefits, especially by raising the retirement age, has been almost a required position — a badge of seriousness — for politicians and pundits who want to sound wise and responsible. After all, people are living longer, so shouldn’t they work longer, too? And isn’t Social Security an old-fashioned system, out of touch with modern economic realities?

Meanwhile, the reality is that living longer in our ever-more-unequal society is very much a class thing: life expectancy at age 65 has risen a lot among the affluent, but hardly at all in the bottom half of the wage distribution, that is, among those who need Social Security most. And while the retirement system F.D.R. introduced may look old-fashioned to affluent professionals, it is quite literally a lifeline for many of our fellow citizens. A majority of Americans over 65 get more than half their income from Social Security, and more than a quarter are almost completely reliant on those monthly checks.

These realities may finally be penetrating political debate, to some extent. We seem to be hearing less these days about cutting Social Security, and we’re even seeing some attention paid to proposals for benefit increases given the erosion of private pensions. But my sense is that Washington still has no clue about the realities of life for those not yet elderly. Which is where that Federal Reserve study comes in.

This is the study’s second year, and the current edition actually portrays a nation in recovery: in 2014, unlike 2013, a substantial plurality of respondents said that they were better off than they had been five years ago. Yet it’s startling how little room for error there is in many American lives.

We learn, for example, that 3 in 10 nonelderly Americans said they had no retirement savings or pension, and that the same fraction reported going without some kind of medical care in the past year because they couldn’t afford it. Almost a quarter reported that they or a family member had experienced financial hardship in the past year.

And something that even startled me: 47 percent said that they would not have the resources to meet an unexpected expense of $400 — $400! They would have to sell something or borrow to meet that need, if they could meet it at all.

Of course, it could be much worse. Social Security is there, and we should be very glad that it is. Meanwhile, unemployment insurance and food stamps did a lot to cushion unlucky families from the worst during the Great Recession. And Obamacare, imperfect as it is, has immensely reduced insecurity, especially in states whose governments haven’t tried to sabotage the program.

But while things could be worse, they could also be better. There is no such thing as perfect security, but American families could easily have much more security than they have. All it would take is for politicians and pundits to stop talking blithely about the need to cut “entitlements” and start looking at the way their less-fortunate fellow citizens actually live.☐

Beat Down

Rather than do three blog posts about the subject of assaults on women and the ever increasing sexism and misogyny I am condensing this to one post.

First up: Two fraternities are under suspension

We have here the UW
A University of Washington fraternity is barred from holding social events in the wake of a sexual-assault allegation that followed a party last week.

David Hotz, UW director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said Thursday that Zeta Psi Fraternity “is currently under an interim social suspension by the University of Washington.”

Hotz’s statement did not elaborate on the allegations or the timetable of the suspension.

Friday, a UW police bulletin said Seattle police were investigating an event that occurred the previous evening “during a party in a residence in the 4700 block of 21st Avenue N.E.”

Seattle police are the lead investigators because the alleged incident happened off campus, Hotz said Thursday. He said the restriction of the fraternity bars it from hosting events with 24 or more people and involving alcohol.

The bulletin had few details but said the victim was treated at a hospital after the incident. “A female friend escorted the victim from the location after the incident and called police,” the bulletin said

And another fraternity at Penn State - gee that place is a hot mess. Where is JoePa when you need him? Oh dead.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The national office of the fraternity suspended by Penn State over a Facebook page in which photos of nude and semi-nude women were posted says it respects the university’s decision to suspend it for three years.

Kappa Delta Rho executive director Joseph Rosenberg said in a statement Wednesday that the fraternity looks forward to working with the university to “effectuate improvements in the Greek system on campus.” He says the fraternity will try to regain recognition on campus after the suspension expires.

Penn State said Tuesday that its investigation found some fraternity members engaged in sexual harassment, hazing that included boxing matches and a “persistent climate of humiliation for several females.”

The school canceled the fraternity’s recognition as a campus organization until May 2018.

And we have a woman brutally assaulted and raped on a cruise. The bitch deserved it apparently she was traveling alone. Women you need to have something attached to your vagina to be safe! The woman, a Michigan resident, endured 45 minutes to an hour of abuse at the hands of Ketut Pujayasa, a room service attendant. Pujayasa, 29, is currently serving a 30-year term in federal prison after pleading guilty to attempted murder and aggravated sexual assault.
You can read the full details of this brutal assault and Holland America's priorities with regards to this case here. Overflowing toilets are #1!

And people wonder why I don't do cruises. That might be now my #1 reason.

And lastly women are more mentally ill that previously believed. Remember hysteria! Good times. Then we had the Valium craze of the 70s, Diary of a Mad Housewife so much better than the current Bravo ones. And the repudiated idea of post partum depression, thanks Tom Cruise. And then there is menopause! Good times for big pharma. There is a pill for all what nature does to you.

So men apparently who go on violent rampages, assault women and children, rape, post abusive words and images on Facebook much more significantly than women are solidly healthy when it comes to mental issues. And if the DSM V was used to diagnose these unspecified but serious illnesses to the point you can't shit by yourself well I want to point out that the DSM V is junk like much of the pseudo sciences of late.

Here is another good example of mental health crisis - remember satanic cults? This was another paranoid round of media hyperventilation that led to families and businesses being destroyed due to the storytelling of children and testimony by "experts" with regards to bizarre rituals and abuse that frankly is not only impossible but disturbing to the level of recall and detail that small children were able to provide. Radley Balko makes an excellent point about this subject in his blog.

And if all else fails good music can calm the soul and affect the mind. As I already wrote about meditation not medication has an amazing cognitive effect. But don't listen to country music it is apparently ruined by too many women song writers! Those bitches.

This is America, we hate blacks, immigrants who are usually black and/or brown so there are two birds with one stone we could wipe out with a drone; we loathe women who are single and/or childless or have no husband and let them play in the part by themselves; we hate gays, single or married, we hate poor people, we hate smart people, rich people, dumb people, gun toters, gun haters, the mentally ill, the homeless; we hate people who dress weird (okay that might be just me), we hate anyone who says anything remotely critical about anything we like, we hate fat foods, GMO's, we hate Muslims, Jews, Jesus lovers, Jesus haters, big car drivers, I could go on but even this bores me and I hate tons of shit. Okay Lawyers, Doctors and stupid people - none of those are mutually exclusive.

But we really are not dealing with any of it. When someone speaks up for the gays there is someone who says but this is not what Jesus says.. so you were there and heard it from Jesus directly? And then there is always those who counter with "I can't care about your movement as my movement is bigger badder stronger better." What.the.fuck.ever.

I get why people try to bring me down as I never stop coming and calling the shit as I smell it. We have some weird version of an America where white people are all in nuclear perfect families, working hard with appropriate children, no drugs or alcohol, we all go to the Christian church and we are all fine with our houses and cars and the environment is all good. Gee and they call me "mentally ill." I need someone to wipe my ass for all the shit here.

Grant You This

I was perusing Mr. Balko's blog at WaPo and found the below announcement for grants by the prestigious McArthur Foundation to reduce the use of incarceration rates.

Now granting is ostensibly giving the money to the same groups who have been taking grants and monies to do just the opposite. To suddenly switch gears will need a serious undertaking and oversight by those municipalities in order to meet the grants obligations and demands. Is there an oversight committee and unbiased individual who will in fact comply and do so without recourse? That is the million dollar grant question.

I know that in King County that the City Attorney wanted to release low level offenders pending trial or sentencing and that was met with hostile resistance and utterly abandoned. The fear factors run high when communities believe that the dangerous element is now to be free among society. So a massive public re-education and information is also necessary to teach the community about what this means, the costs and the long term benefits that this program will accomplish. And here is NIMBY front and center. The same people who cluck cluck about this run amok when they think that big dangerous black man in prison beige is now free to join you and me.

I wish all of the players in this the best at this point it can't be worse that what is currently going on.

MacArthur Announces 20 Jurisdictions to Receive Funding to Reduce Jail Use

Press Release
Published May 26, 2015

After a highly competitive selection process that drew applications from nearly 200 jurisdictions in 45 states and territories, MacArthur today announced it is awarding 20 jurisdictions $150,000 grants and expert counsel to create plans that will lead to fairer, more effective local justice systems.

The grants are a part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, the Foundation’s $75 million initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails. From this group, 10 jurisdictions will be selected in 2016 to receive a second round of funding – between $500,000 and $2 million annually, depending on the size of the jurisdiction – to implement their plans for reform.

The 20 jurisdictions range from large cities including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Houston to small localities like Mesa County, CO, and Pennington County, SD, as well as the State of Connecticut. Together, the selected jurisdictions represent 11% of the nation’s jails capacity. Therefore, the initiative has the opportunity to impact a large proportion of today’s jails population, as well as pioneer evidence-based alternatives to incarceration that other jurisdictions can successfully adopt and implement.

Each of the sites selected has demonstrated the motivation, collaboration, and commitment needed to make real change in their local justice systems

“Nearly 200 diverse jurisdictions responded to our challenge, reflecting nationwide interest in reducing over-incarceration,” said Julia Stasch, President of the MacArthur Foundation. “Each of the sites selected has demonstrated the motivation, collaboration, and commitment needed to make real change in their local justice systems. The aim is that local efforts will model effective and safe alternatives to the incarceration status quo for the rest of the country.”

Despite growing national attention to the large number of Americans confined in state and federal prisons, significantly less attention has been paid to local justice systems, where the criminal justice system primarily operates and where over-incarceration begins. Jail populations have more than tripled since the 1980s, as have cumulative expenditures related to building and running them.

According to recent research from the Vera Institute of Justice, nearly 75 percent of the population of both sentenced offenders and pretrial detainees are in jail for nonviolent offenses such as traffic, property, drug, or public order violations. Further, low-income individuals and communities of color disproportionately experience the negative consequences of incarceration.

MacArthur created the Safety and Justice Challenge competition to support jurisdictions across the country seeking to build more just and effective local justice systems that improve public safety, save taxpayer money, and yield more fair outcomes. In light of the large-scale response received to the Challenge competition and in an effort to build a broad network of jurisdictions that are engaged in local justice reform, the Foundation plans to create new opportunities – open to jurisdictions across the country – for funding to support training, technical assistance, and promising local innovations that seek to reduce the misuse and overuse of jails.

As part of the initiative, the Vera Institute of Justice recently released a new report, The Price of Jails: Measuring the Taxpayer Cost of Local Incarceration, showing that hidden costs make jails far more expensive than previously understood. The report finds that because other government agencies bear significant costs not reflected in jail budgets, taxpayers are spending more to incarcerate people than official statistics show.

Several of the nation's leading criminal justice organizations will provide technical assistance and counsel to the 20 jurisdictions as they prepare their comprehensive plans for local reform: the Center for Court Innovation, the Institute for State and Local Governance at the City University of New York, the Justice Management Institute, Justice System Partners, the Pretrial Justice Institute, and the Vera Institute of Justice.

In alphabetical order, the 20 jurisdictions are:
  • Ada County, ID
  • Charleston County, SC
  • Cook County, IL
  • Harris County, TX
  • Los Angeles County, CA
  • Lucas County, OH
  • Mecklenburg County, NC
  • Mesa County, CO
  • Milwaukee County, WI
  • Multnomah County, OR
  • New Orleans, LA
  • New York City, NY
  • Palm Beach County, FL
  • Pennington County, SD
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pima County, AZ
  • St. Louis County, MO
  • Shelby County, TN
  • Spokane County, WA
  • State of Connecticut

The MacArthur Foundation has been active in promoting justice reform for more than 20 years. Through its Models for Change juvenile justice reform initiative, the Foundation supported reform in more than 35 states in an effort to create a more rational, fair, effective, and developmentally appropriate juvenile justice system. MacArthur also supported seminal research on the effects of modern neuroscience on criminal law and has a rich history in international justice, including helping to establish the International Criminal Court. During the exploration of a strategy for criminal justice reform, the Foundation supported the National Academies of Sciences 2014 report The Growth of Incarceration in the United States.

Stamp Out Hunger

As a card carrying member I do know what it means.  I also know how little it actually does for you with regards to providing food when you are a single individual as that is even less than the crap they provide families.  It works to be less than $30 week.  

My rent just went up so cable just went out.  The rising costs of utilities means, less showers, no garden and I already don't own a car so where I don't go out and do things and used to stay home and watch TV means learning how to do so on the Internet.  By the way Cable which is now being moved towards being a utility has not yet happened so even there the rates of cable internet are by what you are willing to pay and what they will charge you... those are inherently different things. 

Do less with less.  I joked yesterday that the two do-it-yourself moving boxes on the street were my new two room apartment and I only had to pay parking fees which may or may not be less than my inflated rent over the long run.  Free on Sunday!   

People hate the truth. We are this prop ourselves up nation that is pretty much the extent of our understanding, compassion and acceptance.  We are always sure that not by the grace of god go I but that person is somehow an inherent failure that deserved it.  

We are a nasty group of people.  That is the truth.  Remember the war on poverty? Funny it is like the war on drugs only that one led to 3 million incarcerated and an entire generation of black men, over 1 million behind bars.  Now if we put those same principles to putting people to work and earning a living wage that secondary war might have not been necessary.    One was if you look at the numbers was a whopping success, the insurgency worked!  Look here comes the SWAT team to save us from the evil doers.    Shame they didn't bring a burger instead of an AK-47.

In two weeks I will have to rely on food stamps once again.  I have been wanting to lose weight.  Turning a negative into a positive. America try that.  
May 29 2015

Public dependence isn't a permanent condition, although politicians often talk about people in need of government aid as if they constitute some kind of fixed class — as if welfare recipients have always needed welfare, as if the families on food stamps today are exactly the same ones on food stamps a decade ago.

The reality is that Americans who need government aid, like Americans living below the poverty line, represent a shifting population. A parent who loses his job — and the health care that came with it — may need to rely on Medicaid temporarily. A graduate who can't find more than part-time work right out of school may need food stamps until she does.

That's not to say that everyone meets this model. But it's hard to sweep people enrolled in these programs into some category wholly apart from the rest of us -- because many who needed help in the past don't necessarily today or won't tomorrow. Who's poor changes with time and circumstance. And their ranks swell and shrink with the health of the economy.

This point is clear in a report the Census Bureau just released on who participates in the country's major means-tested programs: Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance, welfare and Supplemental Security Income (which is meant to help the elderly and disabled). Census' Survey of Income and Program Participation tracks people over time, and so it's possible to see what happens to those enrolled one year in a program a year or two later.

This new data follows participation from 2009-2012. And it reveals, across those four years, that the vast majority of people receiving welfare — about 63 percent — participated in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program for cumulatively less than 12 months. Less than 10 percent were enrolled in the program for most of that time. Similarly, about a third of people using food stamps and Medicaid were what the Census would consider "short-term program participants." And the same is true of about a quarter of people getting housing assistance:

This means that sizable shares of people moved out of these programs within a year of needing them (or that they needed them for stretches that amounted to less than a year over a four-year period). And this snapshot reflects a particularly rough stretch in the economy at the end of the recession.
For further context, this is the scale of the assistance we're talking about:

At any given month in 2012, just 1 percent of the U.S. population was relying, for example, on welfare, the program that's drawn particular scrutiny of late.

This picture doesn't negate the reality that many people do get mired in poverty for years at a time, even whole generations. And some groups — blacks, female-headed households, adults with less than a high school diploma — are particularly likely to need these programs for longer stretches of time. But it's also true that many of the people who've needed a safety net have used it only temporarily — and that some taxpayers who support it now will likely need it in the future

Picture This

More ways that the rich find themselves at an advantage in regards to the criminal justice system. When I read this I thought another way a Lawyer can delegate responsibility and extricate themselves from actually working and arguing with regards to the defense of their client. And of course add to the billing rates

Another bunch of bullshit to add to the list with junk science, expert testimony, eyewitness testimony, informants, prosecutorial misconduct, police malfeasance, judicial incompetence and overall clown car circus show that has now become a courtroom.

A Flattering Biographical Video as the Last Exhibit for the Defense

The New York Times
MAY 24, 2015

GILROY, Calif. — About 3,000 miles from New York, members of a camera crew gathered around Anthony Quijada, trying to do for their not-famous, not-rich client what some high-priced lawyers are doing for theirs in New York courts: Make a video that can keep him out of prison.

Lawyers are beginning to submit biographical videos when their clients are sentenced, and proponents say they could transform the process. Defendants and their lawyers already are able to address the court before a sentence is imposed, but the videos are adding a new dimension to the punishment phase of a prosecution.

Judges “never knew the totality of the defendant” before seeing these videos, said Raj Jayadev, one of the people making the video of Mr. Quijada, who lives in this Northern California city of about 52,000 people. “All they knew was the case file.”

Yet as videos gain ground, there is concern that a divide between rich and poor defendants will widen — that camera crews and film editors will become part of the best defense money can buy, unavailable to most people facing charges.
Mr. Quijada during the filming of a biographical video. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Videos, especially well-produced ones, can be powerful.

In December, lawyers for Sant Singh Chatwal, a millionaire hotelier who pleaded guilty in United States District Court in Brooklyn to illegal campaign donations, submitted a 14-minute one as part of his sentencing. Elegantly produced, the video showed workers, relatives and beneficiaries of Mr. Chatwal describing his generosity.

As he prepared to sentence Mr. Chatwal, Judge I. Leo Glasser said he had watched the video twice, including once the night before. The judge, echoing some of the themes in the video, recounted Mr. Chatwal’s good works. Judge Glasser then sentenced Mr. Chatwal to probation, much less than the four to five years in prison that prosecutors had requested.

Yet efforts such as those on behalf of Mr. Chatwal are hardly standard. While every criminal defendant is entitled to a lawyer, a day in any court makes it clear that many poor people do not receive a rack-up-the-hours, fight-tooth-and-nail defense like Mr. Chatwal did.

Even in cities with robust public defense programs, like New York, lawyers may be handling as many as 100 cases at once, and they say there is little room to add shooting and editing videos to their schedules.

“It’s hard for me to imagine that public defenders could possibly spare the time to do that,” said Josh Saunders, who until recently was a senior staff attorney at Brooklyn Defender Services, adding that lawyers there are often physically in court for the entire workday. He sees the humanizing potential of videos, he said, but “I would also be concerned that defendants with means would be able to put together a really nice package that my clients generally would not be able to.”
Continue reading the main story Social biography video for Anthony -- a remarkable young man who is sure to inspire anyone he comes across through his story of transformation, courage, and belief. Video by Silicon Valley De-Bug

Mr. Jayadev’s nonprofit, Silicon Valley De-Bug, a criminal justice group and community center in San Jose, Calif., believes that videos are a new frontier in helping poor defendants, and is not only making videos but also encouraging defense lawyers nationwide to do the same. The group has made about 20 biographical videos for defendants, one featuring footage of the parking lot where a homeless teenage defendant grew up. With a $30,000 grant from the Open Society Foundation, De-Bug is now training public defenders around the country.

Given that a defendant has a right to speak at sentencing, a video is on solid legal ground, said Walter Dickey, emeritus professor of law at the University of Wisconsin Law School, “though the judge can obviously limit what’s offered.” Professor Dickey said that because, at both the state and federal levels, the lengths of sentences are increasingly up to judges rather than mandated by statute, it followed that videos that “speak to the discretionary part” of sentencing were having a bigger role.

Mr. Jayadev takes a standard approach to his projects: The producers identify the defendant’s past hardships and future prospects, then select supporters or family members to describe those, usually in a visual context, like a pastor in a church pew. Mr. Jayadev said he found it was more natural to have the defendant talking to someone off-screen, rather than staring at the camera.

For Mr. Quijada, “this story is around this young man’s transformation from a life that had sort of run its course,” Mr. Jayadev said.

Mr. Quijada, 23, a former gang member with some arrests as a teenager, was paralyzed from the waist down in a 2011 shooting. In 2013, he was arrested and charged with possessing an unregistered gun.

For Mr. Quijada, a student at Gavilan College, a community college in Gilroy, a lot was riding on the video and his possible sentence.
Mr. Quijada in a hallway at the library. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

His lawyer, Lisa McCamey, had filed a motion requesting that his gun conviction be downgraded to a misdemeanor from a felony. If the judge acquiesced, Mr. Quijada could hold onto his Section 8 housing. If not, that benefit would be in jeopardy.

In his wheelchair outside the life sciences building on campus, with Mr. Jayadev and his co-workers recording, Mr. Quijada gave a stiff explanation of how he wanted to reform himself and become a business lawyer.

“You don’t have to give a speech, man,” Mr. Jayadev said kindly. “It doesn’t have to be formal.”

“I’m driven to be commercially successful...” Mr. Quijada said, trying again.

“Take a deep breath,” suggested Fernando Perez, a De-Bug staff member, looking into the view screen of his camera. “Relax.”

Eventually, the videographers got the footage they were after, particularly when they followed Mr. Quijada to his small apartment. They filmed the collage that his sister made after their father died; they recorded his mother and sister talking about him as a child.

A few weeks later, De-Bug completed the nine-minute video. It opens with Mr. Quijada at Gavilan, describing, over a light piano soundtrack, his coursework at the college. (Until recently, De-Bug made sentencing videos available at no cost. When demand surged, the group began to charge lawyers about $1,000 to $3,000 per video.)

The videography is not perfect — there are some shots out of focus and some lighting miscues. But it gives a sense of Mr. Quijada’s life outside the courtroom.

At Mr. Quijada’s sentencing, Judge Edward F. Lee of Santa Clara Superior Court said he had not looked at the video. He stepped away to watch it but made no mention of it after he returned to the bench.

Rather, Judge Lee questioned what made this case different from Mr. Quijada’s previous arrests.

“Because I wasn’t paralyzed, and I didn’t lose my father yet, and I didn’t realize that I don’t have other people to depend on anymore,” Mr. Quijada said.

Judge Lee denied the motion to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor, and sentenced Mr. Quijada to 90 days in jail. “I don’t know if it made a difference to the judge or not,” Ms. McCamey said of the video. “It made a difference to everybody else.”

LaDoris H. Cordell, a former state court judge in Santa Clara County who is now the independent police auditor in San Jose and who has seen some of Mr. Jayadev’s videos, said she would like them to be used more widely.

“I’m very wary, and I was as a judge, of the double standard,” where wealthy defendants can afford resources that poorer defendants cannot, she said. “It is a problem, and what Raj is doing, these videos, is something that should be available to anyone who needs to have it done.”

A prosecution, she said, “usually is a one-sided process, and now it’s like the scales are being balanced out.”

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Night Nurse

Night Nurse is the name of a Marvel Comics comic-book series published in the early 1970s, as well the alter ego of a fictional character, Linda Carter, known for her willingness to help injured superheroes. And at times we want to believe that Nurses are a type of superhero for their care and support of those injured, ill or infirmed.

Then I read Alexandra Robbins article last month in the Washington Post that was titled, "Nurses make fun of their dying patients but that's okay.." and the over 1000 comments that resulted, many were negating that gibberish and could not believe that anyone in their right mind would endorse any caregiver mocking the terminally ill, dying or sick as a method of stress release and outstanding coping skill. I wrote a scathing blog piece about her and I was not the only one who called her out on her loathsome article.

Then the other day at the gym I picked up a Marie Claire and found another article by Ms Robbins about how the bullying climate of the Nursing profession was destroying nursing careers and risking patient health. And this time stealing from a much better writer, Tina Fey, the term "Mean Girls" was applied to illustrate the cruelty and unethical behavior of Nurses to other Nurses.

This then contradicts her article in Slate where Doctors are such bullies that they are the reason Nursing and health care is at risk.

And now today another article in the New York Times about the shortage of Nurses and how it risks patient safety. Perhaps she is unaware of travel nurses, the Kelly Girl nurse service.

And another for Politico discussing the bias and preferential treatment by hospitals that Nurses are complicit in for fear of their jobs but are trying to warn others about how and when medical care is both unsafe and absurd.

What the flying fuck is this woman's problem? Aside from being a bad writer she is peddling a clearly shitty book I am amazed that no one has looked at some of these articles and asked for a consistent message. And to think I am called out for being "non sensical" okay then.

What is tragic is that none of this is new information. Some of it more salacious but it is the writer at this point who is muddling the message. Is she pro Nurse? anti Nurse? Concerned about medical care or just the town gossip who is telling tales and tattling? I refuse to read the book as frankly I neither need nor want to. I have anger issues when it comes to the issue of garbage medical care and the excuses that accompany it.

We have a massive problem in this country with regards to medical care as we have seen Veterans treated shabbily, poor people mistreated, the elderly abused and exploited and the overwhelming cost and abuse of the system that is complicit in drug addictions and malpractice that affects all patients both rich and poor - Joan Rivers anyone?

I do hope Alexandra Robbins has some type of Google alert on her name as she is suffering from a clear case of Narcissism and writers block. I don't need the DSM V to prove bad writing or mental illness.

And I do believe their are ethical good Nurses as those who have refused to force feed political prisoners but for every story as that is the counter story of the "mean girl" nurses who do mistreat patients as the story of these charming bitches elaborates.

Or we have this Nurse in the UK who murdered patients. Makes one think that bullying is lesser of that evil.

And this comes on the heels of Cameron being re-elected PM in Great Britain promising to provide more care and have more hours available to seek treatment from their NHS. Of course the NHS members are in arms about that having to work more or find more staff but they aren't killing anyone - yet.

But as one can see this type of decision was not well received in Paris either.

The Medical Industrial Complex is like OZ and the man behind the curtain clearly does not want to be exposed. There is an arrogance and duplicity that aided of course by their partners-in-crime, Attorneys, that have enabled this to go own for decades. It is why we have the odd pricing schemes, inflated and inconsistent costs, mis-diagnosis, excessive testing and utter incompetence.

There are a myriad of reasons why medical care is so slipshod but the bully nurse culture is a distressing one. Ms. Robbins had she had a consistent message perhaps that could have been an essential element in why reform is so necessary. But Ms. Robbins has a book to plug and she will center her argument to reach the highest bidder with regards to theme and intent. Ah Tis Pity She's a Whore! Now that was a tragedy and often believed to be written by Shakespeare. No but an equally great writer. Lessons Ms. Robbins could use.

Bitters are for Drinks

I realized that when you elect to criticize anything you are immediately labelled "bitter" or "angry" They are often believed to be one in the same and they are not. So when someone says you sound "bitter" I respond how so and with what regard? Then the stumbling and saying well you are upset over this issue. Yes I am and that is anger, bitterness is a much longer phased in emotion that is the result of anger not acknowledged or addressed. I have no problem acknowledging my anger and those issues that make me angry. And I have no problem acknowledging the one thing I am bitter about - my Attorney and his abject laziness and inability to actually communicate with me. And again that is also probably a reflection of the issues I have living here and the type of personality that manifests here. So while I loate Attorneys I can say that perhaps they may be, emphasis on may, be better elsewhere but I seriously doubt that.

And anger is not rage either. That is often again the result of bitterness and anger that has gone unresolved. And not everyone responds to those emotions in rage. We see it often reflected in suicides, addictions and other pathological behaviors that can be turned inward.

In Yoga we call it ahimisa, meaning non-violence. Even being angry can be an act of violence to the emotiosn. It is why I practice meditation and prayer. A Harvard man.. yes Harvard... found that meditation not medication reduces not only stress but alters brain functioning in a positive way. When anything positive comes from Harvard I am amazed but mostly then it validates what again many have known for thousands of years.

But I also say that acknowledging one's anger can come from expressing it. And in Seattle (and in many liberal bastions) we don't like that at all. Unless you have something nice to say then say nothing at all should be our town motto. If you do have the audacity to say a negative thought, expect to be promptly reprimanded with a passive aggressive response. "I don't understand your point" "You are telling me this why" "You are not making any sense." Funny I must be non sensical or so unitelligible it is a wonder I am a teacher. It took me awhile to figure out that was the way of saying "I don't want to hear you neener, neener" And yes when one is "passionate" about any subject you can veer on the level of unitelligible but allow the opportunity to let emotions subside and ask salient questions to clear up one's confusion. It only acclerates anger to be accused and demeaned.

We don't like conflct when it means our world view is shaken. We assume people angry are also bitter, sociopaths and ragealochics who will go postal.

As I see in Seattle the two cities and the children that live in them I can see the differences of children raised in families where the anger is supressed, opressed and misdirected. They are deeply anxious, deeply troubled children who for them learning is utterly a challenge to the point they may has well be hiking the Pacific Trail as sitting down to cite three facts versus those of opinions in readings. It is tragic at times to wonder what will happen to them so you focus on the now and hope their anger does not turn into bitterness.

And as I tried to reconcile my anger at this city I live and cannot wait to leave I found an episode of Iconoclast done in 2006 with one of my all time favorite writers, Maya Angelou, and one of my all time favorite comedians, Dave Chappelle; The two sat down together for a brilliant episode of this former Sundance series. Chappelle had already walked away from his show on Comedy Central at this point, and in Part 2 of the episode Angelou imparts some great advice: You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.

I thought what a perfect pair in which to see how taking one's own path means that you will find the way home and home is wherever you need and want to be. Seattle is just my physical home for now and my spiritual home is where I am most of the time and that keeps me from being bitter. And so excuse this my emotional rant for the day but I needed to vent and to let it go.

Watch, laugh and learn. And have a drink with a touch of a bitter.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Schoolyard to Prison Yard

Much is made of this statement. The implication is that school is the breeding/training ground for youth who will offend in life and end up in prison. Wow that is a lot of credit.

What it does indicate are the "problem children." Those are the students who have a history of behavior and in turn academic problems that lend itself to criminal adult behaviors. And what it neglects is that the criminal justice system has decided to try juveniles as adults and sentence them to adult prisons, then in turn elect through laws and legislation to prevent them from sexual assault, to end up in solitary confinement. And that in turn leads to further behavioral and psychological problems that lead to longer incarceration and more solitary confinement. So it should be from the bullshit in institutional racism to insanity.

I have never understood kicking kids out. Try keeping them in. Many of them actually want to leave but nothing says hey guess what kid you are in in this for the next 18 years and you think this is prison just wait and in time enough you may get there but in the meantime we are going to do our damn best to ensure that is not going to happen.

But then legislators and the media encouraged the zero tolerance policy and so anything thought of as a felony is a felony. Remember the 15 kids arrested in California last month for consensual sex for sexual offenses as regardless it is illegal for minors in Californa to have sex. Or the 13 year old arrested for a sex crime sending a dick pic to his girlfriend of the same age? Or the little girl under 10 in Oregon taken to an adult jail for slapping her friend or former friend across the face? If you don't that is okay, as I do.

By the time children enter schools the damage is either done or ongoing. Schools don't perpetuate it, society does, families or lack thereof do. Schools reflect the society at large they are not independent of that.

So when I read this my first thought oh good this is Washington State again where people are in some misguided belief we are some crazed group of liberal hippies who shoot up and share joints with anyone. Wrong again.

Read this and realize that is America, anywhere.

Raised, and Imprisoned, by the State
A prisoner and former foster child on the kids he knew — and the inmates they became.

By Arthur Longworth
Marshall Project

Life Inside offers perspectives from those who work and live in the criminal justice system.

In this prison, the yard is only an acre and a half. But we pack into it hundreds at a time. Like every other place in here, it smells and sounds like people.

Outside prison, mass incarceration is measured in numbers, which is understandable, because the numbers are staggering. But after more than 30 years in prison – my entire adult life – I have mass incarceration sewn into my flesh and bones. I can’t turn away from it or choose not to know it, and it leaves me with little or no capacity for hope. It buries me. It keeps me from breathing.

Arthur LongworthArthur Longworth is a 50-year-old inmate at Monroe Correctional Complex in Monroe, Washington. He is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for an aggravated murder he committed when he was 20.

When I close my eyes, certain faces of mass incarceration appear, unbidden, in my consciousness:

Boo’s is wide and moon-shaped. He is the little Native American kid who wouldn’t let go of my leg at my sister’s foster home. He’s called me uncle ever since. If I open my eyes, I’ll see him as clearly as I did when we were boys, because he’s on this yard with me. At least a lifetime ago, he shot someone during a drug deal. He has life without the possibility of parole.

Dean’s face is brighter and buoys me. He is the boy I met in a receiving home in Tacoma, Washington when he was nine and I was 12. Both of us, at that point, were already veterans of an interminable number of state placements. Dean was in the control unit in Walla Walla with me when guards firehosed me every week and kept me naked and in leg shackles for months. He lifted my spirit by giving me a thumbs-up through the narrow window slat of his cell door whenever the guards dragged me by. Dean is on the yard of a prison 60 miles south of here. Two decades ago, he struck out under this state’s three-strikes law — for burglary. He has life without the possibility of parole.

I shared a room with Robert at the boys’ home in Silverdale, Washington the night he snuck out the window. He said he’d be back by morning, but he wasn’t. He was in an article in the next day’s newspaper because he beat up and robbed a man outside a tavern. I wasn’t surprised to learn that the man died a week later: Robert was bigger than all of us and always unaware of his strength. He is at a place 400 miles east. He has life in prison.

Dan’s face is haggard; he looks old, though he’s only a few years older than me. I first saw him when I was at a boys’ home outside Centralia in Washington. I never expected that he’d come to prison because he was the son of a staff member. Prison, I believed, was for those who were raised by the state. Maybe whatever was wrong inside of us rubbed off onto him. Dan hasn’t been to the yard since his friend, Dennis, died in the cell next to him. Maybe he’s given up. He has life without the possibility of parole.

I haven’t known James’s face long, but I know where he came from, and it troubles me deeply. Like me, he was at O.K. Boys Ranch, and he committed almost the same crime I did. But he’s 20 years younger, and has more of this ahead of him. He too has life without the possibility of parole.

And then there’s Tony, whose face, I hope, no longer shows the strain of his unending incarceration. He got let go from his job at the license plate factory after he lost part of his hand in the metal-cutting machine. He often talked to us about the state boys’ ranch in Eastern Washington, where he grew up. He ran laps in the yard, taught us math, did the best he could. For 25 years. And I swear I still hear his voice in the corridor when it’s crowded, even though I know it can’t be him because he hung himself in his cell.

He had life without the possibility of parole.

They, we, are mass incarceration. We grew up inside of it, never outside of it. Our lives as boys — free of education, free of a home, free of hope — pulled us into becoming the numbers. And now we are in here forever, without the chance of parole.

But those aren’t the only faces I see. There’s one more that I think of every day, the face of a person I keep close in order to never forget why I wasn’t delivered into this innocent or blameless. As a boy, I stabbed and killed a person. I’m bound irrevocably to that terrible act, and obligated to the human being I committed it against, in a way that feels separate from my punishment. No matter how bad it gets in here, prison doesn’t feel like it makes up for anything.

But prison, even in the form it has devolved into, has still taught me something: no amount of pain or misery the system assigns can undo the crime I committed or make me any sorrier than I was the moment I committed it.

My remorse can be the seed of my change. Although I cannot undo my crime, I can do good. I can care about others. I can see them.

Milk and Honey

I am always amazed at the delusional quality Seattle residents have about their city of choice. Most have moved here and have nothing but good to say about the overpriced housing, the falling apart infrastructure, the regressive tax system, the shitty school, the bizarre BERTHA, the divided transit system and of course the Police. They don't. Most people live in a bubble of denial and stupidity.

I have been called 'bitter', no I am not, I am angry and I actually voice my anger. I will explain bitterness in another post as I have that too - about Lawyers and Doctors. I pretty much give stupid people (in America the undereducated) a free pass as they at least did not pay 6 figures in which to excuse themselves for being both stupid and assholes. Angry yes, but bitter only about my fucked up Attorney and that "relationship" of which I am trapped.

I own my anger and bitterness like a sweet rose that I would like to beat the living shit out of the City of Seattle for its sheer arrogance and ignorance. I own mine, I don't own a car or property as it is a few things less that the city can sieze and not a day goes by thanking God for that choice.

And once again I am proven right about this city and its need to generate money any which way is possible. And upping traffic fines is always reliable and the poor they are the lowest hanging fruit and easily reliable to shakedown.

And to note that the article states one can join a work crew or a social service agency (community restitution) as alternative ways to work off crime. The City of Seattle and King County are looking askance as the latter as they have little way of actually documenting and knowing that the time required has been met as many are simply showing up getting the pass and walking away. I have no idea who is doing that but they also may be the fraudulent voters who are busy trafficking in humans so they have connections.

And yes you are sent to jail if the alternative is not met. Jails bursting at the seems as misdemeanors are on the rise and why cause they are easy slim pickings to prosecute. This article discusses why. And I have been saying for quite some time those are money makers. And they are often exaggerated and the ante is upped to ensure more ways fees and fines are collected. And of course few Attorneys are ever present and available for these. When my fucknut Attorney said he can no longer work on my appeal he said get a public defender, they said here we will loan you the money to go back to him. The myth that you will get a Lawyer in time for the first hearing is zero to none and that is the most critical when the issue of bond and release come into play or go to jail directly to jail to wait until hell freezes over and someone can get you out.

Seattle is not any exceptional land of milk honey and love and forgiveness. It is just like any other city in America. Fueled by a need for cash and a bureaucracy that demands it like milk and honey.

Leaked E-mail: What a King County Superior Court Judge Really Thinks About Raising the Cost of Traffic Ticket Fines

by Sydney Brownstone
May 21, 2015
The Stranger

A $12 increase in a traffic fine may not seem like much, but when a local judge added up all of the additional fines and demonstrated how a person gets processed through the system, he showed how courts disproportionately demand hours and money from poor people.

Earlier this week, the Washington State Supreme Court ordered a $12 increase in the maximum fine for most traffic violations. They did this despite being warned that such a policy would have a disproportionate effect on poor people and people of color.

Here's why that'll happen:

People of color are often disproportionately cited for traffic violations. In 2012, a Washington State task force on race and criminal justice found that minority drivers are cited more frequently and charged with more serious offenses than white drivers. Another Seattle Times report from 2000 found that black drivers in the city had twice the risk of getting a ticket over white drivers.

Increasing traffic fines means making it more difficult for poor people to be able to pay these tickets. And failing to pay or show up in court can leave people with a misdemeanor and, eventually, a suspended license. (One of the most common cases processed by misdemeanor courts is a "driving with a suspended license" charge. The vast majority of these charges are pressed when a person fails to pay a traffic ticket or show up in court, and the people who end up with them are disproportionately poor and/or not white.)

There are more examples of people of color getting excessively cited for traffic violations in other states and cities. The second-largest source of income for the city of Ferguson, Missouri, for example, is court fines and fees—most of which come from misdemeanors and traffic violations largely shouldered by black residents and the poor. You see where this goes.

On Wednesday, a source leaked The Stranger an e-mail about all this written by Judge Ronald Kessler of the King County Superior Court. It had been sent to all King County Superior Court judges, as well as one member of the state supreme court. In the e-mail, Kessler walks through what would happen to someone tagged with a broken license plate light under the new, increased fine.

Adding up all the base-rate fines and additional assessments (more fines tacked on to regular fines), that's a $100 penalty just for having a broken license plate light. If you don't have $100 handy to pay off your fine, you have to work it off—six hours of picking up paper or working at a food bank. And that doesn't take into account the "time spent in court asking for work crew or community restitution," Kessler added.

Advertisement("Or the respondent takes five minutes to write a check while standing in line at Starbucks awaiting a latte," Kessler wrote. "Or the respondent goes online and pays it with a Visa, earning frequent flyer miles.")

So here it is, from a judge's keyboard, how the criminal justice system is stripping hours off of some people's lives, but not well-paid white people's lives. The process, as you can see, is totally insane:

A driver is cited for defective license plate light, RCW 46.37.050 (a classic Driving While Black infraction, but that's, perhaps, another issue). RCW 46.63.110(3) tells the supreme court to set monetary penalties for infractions. IRLJ 6.2(d) declares the penalty to be $42. RCW 46.63.110(7) adds $17[1]. RCW 46.63.110(8) adds $20[2]. The penalty plus penalties is $79. Then there's the 70% public safety and education assessment, RCW 3.62.090(1), and another 50% public safety and education assessment, RCW 3.62.090(2). The penalty plus assessments is even more; I plead the lawyer/judge arithmetic/math dysfunction, so let’s round it off at $100.

Assume that all of this can be worked off in work crew or community restitution. Assume it happened in Seattle and the respondent can work it off at $15 per hour, and round it down. That's six hours picking up paper (work crew) or helping out at a food bank (community restitution), not including the time spent in court asking for work crew or community restitution. Or the respondent takes five minutes to write a check while standing in line at Starbucks awaiting a latte. Or the respondent goes online and pays it with a Visa, earning frequent flyer miles.

The District and Municipal Court Judges Association has regularly deplored the use of penalties and assessments to fund court programs but then supported them because we need the money. The Superior Court Judges Association deplores the idea of increasing fines, but then supports it because we need the money.

Where does it say that fines need to keep up with the rate of inflation?[3] Is $12 more going to make for better citizens, or is it certain to impose a greater burden on the poor whether they pay or work it off?

[1] "Under no circumstances shall this fee be reduced or waived."

[2] "The court may not reduce, waive, or suspend the additional penalty unless the court finds the offender to be indigent. If a court authorized community restitution program for offenders is available in the jurisdiction, the court shall allow offenders to offset all or a part of the penalty due under this subsection (8) by participation in the court authorized community restitution program."

The $10 per day we pay jurors was set in 1959.

"What's ironic is that a part of the motivation [of the supreme court raising traffic fines] is to have more funding available for public defense," Doug Honig, communications director for ACLU of Washington, said. "And what this does is take people who are already judged to be indigent, or some of the people in need of public defense, and attacks them further to provide public defense for them. Assuming they can even pay, which is questionable."

The court could reverse the decision, but otherwise the new fine goes into effect in July.

Diversity? Lawyers? No thanks.

This is a book by a Lawyer I may read. I have laughed reading the "blawgs" by the Attorneys who profess to care about the profession and the legal decisions and positions that affect their work and the greater society. I have found them akin to being little more than most blogs (mine included) - opinions, bitching, reflections and some insight. And like most - a heavy dose of advertising, bragging and arrogance.

I have said many times that if you smell it you dealt it and change comes best from within, ground up versus trickle down. So while these arrogant assholes opine on the state of the country and the state of the laws, I suggest a case of mirror mirror on the wall who doth fuck us all?

I hate Lawyers... hate. That anger is now full on bitterness when I meet or encounter one of their ilk I have no ability to discern the tree from that forest.

And I feel that a lot of the problems come from their union, whoops I mean professional association, that does little to actually improve the quality of life for both Lawyers and Clients. They are an immense professional body that wields immense influence if not a monopoly on all things matters of law and education with regards to law. They could easily work to eliminate some of the costly hurdles and walls that prevent many who wish to enter the field or in fact have done so with immense debt. They could look at their members and survey the problems with addictions and depressions that cloud their careers and lives. They could look at the entire criminal and civil codes, the Judges they put forward to serve by appointment or election and stand up for those who choose to serve in the trenches vs those like David Boies who serves the checkbook. (If anyone really believes that Boies took the Prop 8 case as a defender of gay marriage then ask him if he discounted his fees or did so pro bono?)

Attorneys could simply look at their own members and count the dicks whoops I mean the men that dominate and the gender and color of their associates and wonder why like many costly fields this seems to be the case.

It takes one to know one and this woman does. Perhaps she hits them where it hurts.. well that is their checkbook but Lawyers hate truths as well, its vulgar!

Law is the least diverse profession in the nation. And lawyers aren’t doing enough to change that.
Lawyers are leading then push for equality. But they need to focus on their own profession.

By Deborah L. Rhode
The Washington Post
May 27 2015

Deborah L. Rhode is the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law, the director of the Center on the Legal Profession, and the director of the Program in Law and Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University. Her new book, The Trouble with Lawyers, will be released in June 2015 from Oxford University Press.
From the outside, the legal profession seems to be growing ever more diverse. Three women are now on the Supreme Court. Loretta Lynch is the second African American to hold the position of attorney general. The president and first lady are lawyers of color. Yet according to Bureau of Labor statistics, law is one of the least racially diverse professions in the nation. Eighty-eight percent of lawyers are white. Other careers do better — 81 percent of architects and engineers are white; 78 percent of accountants are white; and 72 percent of physicians and surgeons are white.

The legal profession supplies presidents, governors, lawmakers, judges, prosecutors, general counsels, and heads of corporate, government, nonprofit and legal organizations. Its membership needs to be as inclusive as the populations it serves.

Part of the problem is a lack of consensus that there is a significant problem. Many lawyers believe that barriers have come down, women and minorities have moved up, and any lingering inequality is a function of different capabilities, commitment and choices.

The facts suggest otherwise.

Women constitute more than a third of the profession, but only about a fifth of law firm partners, general counsels of Fortune 500 corporations and law school deans. The situation is bleakest at the highest levels. Women account for only 17 percent of equity partners, and only seven of the nation’s 100 largest firms have a woman as chairman or managing partner. Women are less likely to make partner even controlling for other factors, including law school grades and time spent out of the workforce or on part-time schedules. Studies find that men are two to five times more likely to make partner than women.

Although blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans now constitute about a third of the population and a fifth of law school graduates, they make up fewer than 7 percent of law firm partners and 9 percent of general counsels of large corporations. In major law firms, only 3 percent of associates and less than 2 percent of partners are African Americans.

The problem is not lack of concern. I recently surveyed managing partners of the 100 largest law firms and general counsel of Fortune 100 companies. Virtually all of the 53 participants in the study said diversity was a high priority. But they attributed the under-representation of minorities to the lack of candidates in the pool. And they explained the “woman problem” by citing women’s different choices and disproportionate family responsibilities in the context of a 24/7 workplace. As one managing partner put it, “You have to be realistic. It’s a demanding profession. . . . I don’t claim we’ve figure it out.”

Such explanations capture only a partial truth. Minorities’ under-representation in law school does not explain their disproportionate attrition in law firms. And even women who work long hours and never take time out of the labor force have a lower chance of partnership than similarly situated men. Moreover, although data on women’s desires for partnership is lacking, what the research on women’s leadership preferences generally does not show is substantial gender disparities. In law, women experience greater dissatisfaction than men with key dimensions of practice such as level of responsibility, recognition for work and chances for advancement.

Moreover, substantial evidence suggests that unconscious bias and exclusion from informal networks of support and client development remain common. Minorities still lack the presumption of competence granted to white male counterparts, as illustrated in a recent study by a consulting firm. It gave a legal memo to law firm partners for “writing analysis” and told half the partners that the author was African American. The other half were told that that the writer was white. The partners gave the white man’s memo a rating of 4.1 on a scale of 5, while the African American’s memo got a 3.2. The white man received praise for his potential and analytical skills; the African American was said to be average at best and in need of “lots of work.”

Women are subject to a double standard and a double bind. A cottage industry of research suggests that what is assertive in a man seems abrasive in a woman, and female leaders risk seeming too feminine or not feminine enough. They may appear too “soft” or too “strident – either unable to make tough decisions or too pushy and arrogant to command respect. Mothers, even those working full-time, are assumed to be less available and committed, an assumption not made about fathers.

So, too, women and minorities are often left out of the networks of mentoring and sponsorship that are critical to career development. In American Bar Association research, 62 percent of women of color and 60 percent of white women, but only 4 percent of white men, felt excluded from formal and informal networking opportunities. Such networking is often crucial to building client and collegial relationships that are essential to advancement.

To address these issues, legal organizations need a stronger commitment to equal opportunity, which is reflected in policies, priorities and reward structures. Leaders must not simply acknowledge the importance of diversity, but also hold individuals accountable for the results. The most successful approaches generally involve task forces or committees with diverse members who have credibility with their colleagues and a stake in the outcome. The mission of those groups should be to identify problems, develop responses and monitor their effectiveness. Mentoring programs and training in unconscious bias are equally important.

As an ABA Presidential Commission on Diversity recognized, assessment should be a critical part of all diversity initiatives. Leaders need to know how policies that affect inclusiveness play out in practice. That requires collecting both quantitative and qualitative data on matters such as advancement, retention, assignments, satisfaction, mentoring and work/family conflicts. For example, although more than 90 percent of American law firms report policies permitting part-time work, only about 6 percent of lawyers actually use them. Many women believe, with good reason, that any reduction in hours or availability will jeopardize their careers. Those who take reduced schedules often find that their hours creep up, the quality of their assignments goes down, and they are stigmatized as “slackers.” That needs to change

Although bar leaders generally acknowledge the problem of work/life balance, they often place responsibility for addressing it anywhere and everywhere else. Clients get much of the blame. Law is a service business, and expectations of instant accessibility reportedly make reduced schedules difficult to accommodate. Yet the problems are not insurmountable. The evidence available does not indicate substantial resistance among clients to reduced schedules. They care about responsiveness, and part-time lawyers generally appear able to provide it. In one recent survey of part-time partners, most reported that they did not even inform clients of their status and that they adapted their schedules to fit client concerns.

Most important, lawyers need to assume personal responsibility for professional changes. They can support workplace initiatives and expanded efforts to increase the pool of qualified minorities through scholarships and mentoring. To make all these reforms possible, they must not be seen as “women” or “minority” issues, but as organizational priorities in which everyone has a stake. The challenge is to create that sense of unity and to translate rhetorical commitments into daily practices.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Ladder

I have long believed that each generation has the obligation if not the necessity to see that the subsequent generations get a leg up. And that goes beyond one's familial obligations but to the larger community as a whole to ensure that the whole is a sum of its parts and the parts are in good shape to the keep the whole running.

That to me is the fundamental concept of sustainability, keeping things moving and going along with minimum destruction or interruptions. Then came the "disrupter's" who were the product of the first generation that were utterly failed by a system that despite its failings was working and enabling many to climb the ladder of meritocracy.

Meritocracy has now become the mythical unicorn that if you "work hard" and do the right things you will be successful, have a home, a job and family. And for some that may be higher up the rung than the other but the sum of the parts keeps the wheel going. And each rung has the ability and if not obligation to ensure that all can reach it if so inclined.

Today the wheel is a massive machine with complex parts and yet there are few that ride in the car in which it is attached. I do think of the movie Snowpiercer as perhaps the most salient metaphor for our current climate (pun intended if you have familiarity with either the Graphic Novel or film on which I am referring). And if you see it you will fully understand the nature of how the train runs and why it runs. And a train to nowhere is not a train anyone wants to ride.

I read this op ed piece today in the New York Times and perhaps the author gets it better than most as we have often viewed Vegas in both mythical and metaphorical concepts. It is the land of gambling and in fact that is what many are doing now as they gamble it all to find someway up the mythical ladder held by the unicorn.

Long Odds in the Game of Life
By Brittany Bronson
MAY 26, 2015

LAS VEGAS — THE first essay assignment I give to my freshman composition students is to answer the question, “Why are you pursuing a university education?”

Many respond generally. To obtain a good job. Some refer to specific careers. A few reference learning. Mostly, my students mention money.

My students are very concerned with money, for good reason. They’ve spent their adolescence watching their parents survive or crumble under the Las Vegas housing crisis and endure the nation’s highest unemployment rate.

Most are from Nevada, and they attend my university for the in-state tuition. In fact, 95 percent of the students still live at home or off campus to save money. Many work part time to avoid crippling student loans, despite the scheduling conflicts it creates with their course work and additional years it often adds to obtaining their degree.

When I ask my students about the doors they hope their education will open, they have rather modest answers. To help run a father’s ramen noodle factory. To take over a family business that manufactures uniforms for hotels. Many students mention entry-level positions at local companies like Wynn Resorts or Zappos. Occasionally some have more robust dreams, like becoming a chief executive. Over all, their goals are fairly reasonable for anyone investing money and time at the university level.

But are they realistic?

Probably not, according to Richard Vedder, the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. “There are too many college graduates for the kinds of jobs they expect to hold,” he said.
The problem is exacerbated in Nevada, which has not traditionally relied on college-educated workers. The 2015 Assets and Opportunities Scorecard ranked Nevada 47th in business and jobs and 51st — worst, behind even Washington, D.C. — in underemployment.

I personally meet several definitions for being underemployed. I have an advanced degree but work part-time in a low-skill job as a waitress. Also, my high-skill job at the university pays little and can’t guarantee me full-time work. Like most Las Vegans, I’m required to work multiple jobs to patch together a comfortably middle-class income.

So how do Nevada’s graduates avoid underemployment? Stephen Brown, the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has a simple answer: They leave. “There is a strong desire to stay where one grew up, but part of the U.S. experience is moving,” he said. “Those students who do best are those who will relocate to cities demanding educated workers.”

Yet underemployment is a national phenomenon; as many as 22 million Americans fall into the category. Once considered a rite of passage, it now extends later into the average graduate’s working life, and the longer it lasts, the greater threat it poses. The more low-skill work we compile on our résumés, the less likely we are to convince employers we’re qualified for something else. Much ink has been spilled over how choosing the right major is crucial to avoiding underemployment. Talk to sociology majors graduating this month; I doubt they’re expecting to go straight into high-paying jobs. And it’s no secret that graduates of elite universities, whether they studied astrophysics or English, have better career trajectories than those from lower-tier schools.

But when it comes to students like mine, pursuing a humanities degree or maxing out student loans for the best available education are not options. They don’t always have the luxury to prioritize the intellectual experiences offered on a college campus over the monetary ones that demand their attention away from it. Their choices are shaped by immediate economic concerns more than their hoped-for, dreamed-of careers.

Even many career-building options are out. During a résumé-drafting project, a student approached me in tears, explaining that he could not afford to forgo his minimum-wage job to take an unpaid summer internship or semester abroad, even though it would bolster his résumé and foster professional connections.

Others have worked jobs they’d rather forget. A colleague’s student worked five years at a Vegas strip club. Including the job on her résumé risked being disregarded. Not including it painted the picture of another business major with no work experience, who took six years to finish her degree.

A student who was an undocumented immigrant had worked as a nanny and a landscaper, but had not done what he described to me as “legal” work. He could advertise his soft skills like multitasking and customer service, but lacked the “hard” skills that our STEM-obsessed job market favors. And yet, from what I’ve seen, many of my students would make excellent employees, wherever they worked. It might not show on their résumés, but their childhoods in a struggling yet diverse city like Vegas make them highly empathetic and capable of thinking beyond their own experiences. More than half of them can articulate complex ideas in a language that isn’t their first, an intellectual accomplishment unreached by many students at more prestigious schools.

For today’s college graduates, the path to underemployment begins early, and those with certain levels of financial privilege will have an easier time avoiding it. Despite my students’ practical choices of less expensive educational paths, they are still some of the most likely to struggle. As you learn quickly here in Vegas, the game isn’t rigged, but the odds don’t work in your favor.

The Government of Nots

Well as they say, Clarissa will explain it all to you.

I have long had problems with "Obamacare" and not for any other reason that it was a bad law. I have the same problem with the Marijuana legalization law in Washington State, not because I am anti pot, I am anti the bad law in which it was written.

Most legislation is not actually written by Legislators, even those trained in the law. They barely read bills as the Patriot Act has come to demonstrate what happens when they don't. Legislators are busy people, fund raising and taking the checks of the lobbyists who have drafted the laws that they need passed to meet their clients agenda. Then there are the excessive over laws that are done to appease distressed families or strange non profit groups that have an agenda and need to maintain funding. And that of course might explain why we have a plethora of bullshit fake non profits not doing anything related to the contingency with whom they were formed to serve as the recent Cancer group scandal has demonstrated. These are just one of many redundant fraudulent groups that take advantage of the IRS filing requirement and the idea that people are well stupid.

I can think of several that are utterly political in nature, MADD, Susan G. Komen, Bill Gates Foundation, The Walton Foundation, find a rich person and put their name in the title and viola a fake charity that does neither harm nor good as well they don't have to do anything frankly to meet that requirement as a 501C organization.

Patchwork Oversight Allows Dubious Charities to Operate
The New York Times
MAY 21, 2015

James T. Reynolds Sr. first ran afoul of state regulators for the way he operated his cancer charity in the 1980s. But he kept going, hopscotching from state to state and helping to create new charities that received federal tax exemptions.

Sham charities have long been used to fleece well-meaning donors. But over the last decade, efforts to tighten the way charities are regulated or coordinate action between the Internal Revenue Service and state officials have largely failed either because of regulatory indifference, political lobbying or lack of political will.
Those holes were highlighted this week when the Federal Trade Commission, all 50 states and the District of Columbia accused Mr. Reynolds and four charities that he helped run of cheating donors of more than $187 million, bringing the charges decades after he first hit regulators’ radar.

“Fraud involving charities is viewed as a junior-league crime,” said Dean A. Zerbe, a former staff member for Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who worked on legislation related to charities.

In announcing their action against the charities, F.T.C. officials said three defendants, including Mr. Reynolds’s son, James T. Reynolds II, had settled the civil complaint and agreed to lifetime bans from the charity industry. F.T.C. officials said they were unaware of any criminal actions brought against their principals.

Much of the oversight responsibility for charities rests with the I.R.S., which awards tax exemptions to charities and monitors them for compliance. Few come under close scrutiny, however.

“There’s no central, powerful oversight of nonprofits in America,” said Sandra Miniutti, vice president of Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities in the United States. “There are more than a million charities, and the I.R.S. will say they don’t have enough resources to monitor them.”

A few years ago, the division of the I.R.S. that oversees tax-exempt organizations came under fire in Congress after disclosures that it was singling out the Tea Party and similar political groups for scrutiny. Morale and staffing at the unit has fallen over the years, said Steven Miller, a former acting I.R.S. commissioner.

But even before the political controversy, the tax agency’s oversight of charities was dropping. A report in December by the Government Accountability Office found that examinations of charities and tax-exempt groups had steadily declined over the years and that review rates were lower than for other filers. In 2013, the I.R.S. examined 0.71 percent of all charitable organizations’ filings, compared with 1 percent for individuals and 1.4 percent for corporations, the G.A.O. found.

In addition, the G.A.O. reported that the I.R.S. did not have “quantitative measures of compliance” or “particular aspects of noncompliance” to guide its reviews of charities.

“They’re focused on people who don’t pay their taxes, areas where they can make money,” said Ms. Miniutti of Charity Navigator. “Going after bad charities isn’t a way for them to increase revenue.”

A spokesman for the I.R.S. did not make agency officials available for comment. “Federal law prohibits us from commenting on any specific tax matters involving taxpayers or organizations,” the agency said in a statement.
The relative lack of oversight by the I.R.S. has put the onus on other agencies and the states to monitor potential fraud at charities. The F.T.C., for example, has previously brought actions against groups claiming to to be charities.

The I.R.S. has been little help in those efforts.

“In the charities world, the I.R.S. is the elephant in the room in a lot of conversations,” said Sean Courtney, an assistant state attorney general in New York. “But it’s a silent elephant because it doesn’t really participate. It’s there, but it’s not really a partner.”

Nearly a decade ago, Congress, at the urging of a former New York State charities regulator, William Josephson, allowed the I.R.S. to share data on tax-exempt groups with states that were investigating them.

The idea was to allow states and the I.R.S. to bring joint actions against the worst offenders so they could be quickly stripped of their tax-exempt status rather than retain that benefit for years, as the cancer charities did, said Mr. Josephson, who is a retired partner at the law firm Fried, Frank.

After the law’s change, California, Hawaii and New York State entered into information-sharing agreements with the I.R.S. But state officials said the terms of the agreement, laid down to protect taxpayer privacy, were too onerous and undermined the partnership.

“If we left information from the I.R.S. on our desks with our doors unlocked, we were subject to criminal penalties,” said Yael Fuchs, an assistant attorney general in New York State’s charities bureau. She said that the bureau underwent numerous audits to make sure it was following the rules.

Even at that cost, the information the states obtained from the I.R.S. could rarely be acted on, officials said. “There was very little we could put to use,” said Hugh R. Jones, the supervising deputy attorney general for Hawaii. “It was frustrating to have some documents and not be able to do anything with them, or to let charities know what we knew. It was like we painted ourselves into a corner.”

Mr. Jones said Hawaii and other states unsuccessfully tried to clarify the terms of the agreement, but the controversy that erupted in 2013 over the tax agency’s audit of the Tea Party group made it unfeasible.

“That unit of the I.R.S. was mired in inquiries and hearings,” he said. “It was put in defensive mode.”
Mr. Josephson, who had pushed the plan to share information about charities, said he believed the arrangement could have succeeded if state regulators had worked together as a group to promote it.

But he and other experts said regulation of charities at the state level was a hodgepodge. Some states oversee them through the offices of their attorneys general, others through tax authorities.

Some people, however, including Mr. Zerbe, the former Senate staff member, said that many other states largely ignore problems with charities.

“Twenty of the states on any given day are O.K., and 30 are nowhere to be found,” said Mr. Zerbe, who now is a lawyer at Alliantgroup, a tax consulting firm in Washington.

Mr. Jones, the deputy attorney general in Hawaii, said that his state had sued one of Mr. Reynolds’s charities, the Cancer Fund of America, in 1989 for deceptive trade practices. The charity paid a $250,000 settlement, he said.
“It’s not like states didn’t do anything,” Mr. Jones said. “It really took a coordinated effort to bring these four charities to their knees.”

And that is why I am not surprised that the penalties tied to Obamacare are not working to compel, force or encourage those to sign up as expected. Nor am I surprised that the case is once again at the Supreme Court and that every elected Republican wants to see this shitty legislation utterly overturned as their primary agenda. As frankly it is bad law. The intent and idea of "insurance for all" is desperately needed but this bill fails to do that. It is garbage and is contributing to many a problem with the upturn in hacking into medical records, bizarre and unequal billing and rates and none dealing with vision or dental for adults as a part of our health care.

Now they admit that Congress like the Patriot Act, the Affordable Care Act used bad "wording." And that declaration of war on Iraq and those smoking guns were bad images too.

We demand legislation, we demand accountability and yet the very institution in charge of enabling and providing such fails on almost every count.

The problems in the Veteran's Hospitals that come with every passing day another revelation of shoddy care and tragedy that all could be resolved with actual accountability. But in our Government the lowest hanging fruit is how we define responsibility. And it shows with our close to 3 million incarcerated. Clearly we have priorities.

Not one of the bankers, the GM executives, engineers or Attorneys that concoct these bullshit laws or obfuscate the realities will ever see a jail cell, will ever pay out of pocket the fees or costs that are levied on the great unwashed, they will never check a box, lose a job or have a black booted thug break down their door in the name of the law. This is America where the rich are free to do what they want when they want and you will serve them lunch for 3.18 an hour, the federal minimum wage for tipped workers. They don't eat fast food so who cares what they make!

This is the Government that is not willing or capabale to do what needs to be done and like all the rich I blame the poor. Too busy working to become enraged and in turn engaged. This not a Democracy much like our Government which is not much of one either.