This is certainly not a unique thought, but what I heard several commentators say this week—people like Jonathan Alter of Newsweek and Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, both on MSNBC Monday evening—bears repeating: Dick Cheney chewed up and spat out the U.S. Constitution while running the Bush administration's foreign policy. But here's the thing: The programs he championed that violated several of this country's foundational principles have shown no signs of actually having worked.
We learned this week that Cheney was behind a campaign to deliberately leave Congress' intelligence committees in the dark regarding CIA activities, which is an apparent violation of law. Add that to his unnecessary war against Iraq that has killed 4,323 American servicemen and women, his torture and warrantless-spying campaigns and his assault on due process and, man, Cheney wasn't kidding when he said his plan was to work in the shadows amid his war against terrorism.
More than just about anything—I would even trade in a World Series win by my beloved Dodgers for this—I want to see Cheney face trial for his own acts of terror.Business columnist Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times laid out a pretty good case on Monday for separating residential property from commercial and industrial property when it comes to taxation.
I've always leaned slightly against Prop. 13, which, among other things, stopped reassessment of property values until the property was sold, because it results in lower revenues for cash-poor programs aimed at California's neediest citizens. But I've remained sensitive to the tax effect of exploding values on property owned by people of modest means, and I've seen numbers that have challenged some of my assumptions.
Hiltzik opines that not only are large companies that hang on to property for decades benefiting from lower taxes; some of them are finding loopholes that allow them to avoid paying higher taxes even when property is sold. I think I favor repealing Prop. 13's provisions for business property but adding mitigating tax breaks for vulnerable small businesses.The state teachers union rolled out a new commercial this week ripping Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his proposal to temporarily suspend Prop. 98, which sets minimum funding levels for education, to help close a $26.3-billion budget deficit.
There's a good reason to dislike Prop. 98—namely, the way it ties the hands of legislators in times like these—but that doesn't mean you're against higher funding for education. Despite what union-haters might say, schools are absolutely not over-funded in California; the state ranks below the national average in per-pupil spending. Yes, teacher pay here is the highest in the country, but it should be No. 1 or 2, given where California ranks nationwide in cost of living.
But no amount of increased funding would make up for lousy parenting when it comes to student success. Economic distress feeds lousy parenting. We need to keep that in mind as we decimate programs that help families in economic distress. If we dismantle the social safety net, it doesn't really matter how much we spend on education.You might have seen our July 1 story revealing that hotel developer Doug Manchester might be willing to give up a chunk of the land he controls, but the federal government owns, at the Navy Broadway Complex.
Well, as the legal fight between Manchester and critics of his awful Pacific Gateway hotel-office-retail project plods along, I hope the city is quietly talking to Manchester and the Navy about some kind of deal for some of that land.
I remain steadfast in my opinion that the Navy should have to give back to the city any land that it's not using for military purposes—which is what the original deal between the city and the feds said—but if that's ultimately a losing battle, I hope city officials are quietly talking to the Navy and Manchester about getting more land at Broadway and Harbor Drive for a waterfront park that would better link the property to the in-progress effort to beautify and make better public use of the land along San Diego Bay.Finally, will someone please ban the installation of gigantic inflatable beer bottles atop neighborhood restaurants? Every holiday weekend, it seems, that gaudy Hula's restaurant and bar in Hillcrest blows one of those mammoth things up, and it's a ridiculous eyesore. City Councilmember Todd Gloria, I'm looking at you.