“¡Hasta la victoria siempre!” Cuba: An enchanted land to be revealed

Would you like a cohiba cigarOn a recent trip to Havana I encounter this wonderful and delightful inhabitant.  Of all the country’s I have traveled in the world, I found Cuba by far too be one of the safest.

My favorite restauranta – Gringo Viejo Calle 21 No. 454 e/ E yF Vedado C. Habana, Cuba  – Tel: 831-1946.  This experience was like stepping through a portal in time……And the food –  an epicurean’s delight.

Travel to Cuba as most of you know has been taboo for most US citizens.  So in reality, the decision to go would be an act of civil disobedience.

It was back in 2011 when I presented the question to then Palo Alto Mayor Pat Bert on extending a hand in friendship to Cuba and perhaps becoming the second US city too become a sister city with Habana.  Mobile Alabama being the first.  He said no, it would become to controversial.

Tourism is a billion dollar industry and a missed friendship opportunity for Palo Alto. Think about it. Were friends with China, Vietnam and countries of the former Soviet Union.

At some point in time, the political biases of narrowed thinking politicians will hopefully change. That moment may have finally arrived…..

Palo Alto City employees so valuable that they deserve 4.5 % rises?

Are 211 Palo Alto City employees so valuable that they deserve 4.5 % rises.  No.

The City Council is spineless and afraid to upset the Public Employee Unions and thus risk losing votes and union money for re-election.

So the pay and benefits  always go up. Also the method of deciding if  ‘raises’ are necessary is wrong.  Currently the City compares its pay scale to that of neighboring cities.  Who cares what other cities are paying?

Public Serpents or Public Servants?

If our employees want to leave for work in Mt View or Menlo Park or anywhere, let them try.  Those jobs are already filled.   And if Palo Alto employees do quit.  Good.  Maybe they’ll try to find work in private business and then discover how  little they are really worth.

The Internet job boards are full of qualified, engineers, accountants, finance, and management people who would replace City fat cats for half the pay and no benefits.  Private sector workers are paid less money and few benefits but  are actually accustomed to producing profitable results on time and on budget.

Our current highly paid Public Serpents routinely harass individual property owners with arcane building requirements and failed to rebuild our own libraries and their own City Hall Palace on time or on budget.  City Hall employees need to be fired not rewarded.

Way to many laws

There are too many laws today. Eric Garner was killed by NYC police for selling one cigarette.   This crime of ‘tax evasion’ was prompted by the high Tax Laws passed by NY legislators.

Police are armed to enforce the law.  Break the law and if you resist arrest, the cops may kill you.  It’s their job.

Never support a law unless you are willing to kill for it, because sometimes, that’s exactly what happens.

Legal scholar Douglas Husak, in his excellent 2009 book “Overcriminalization: The Limits of the Criminal Law,” points out that federal law alone includes more than 3,000 crimes, fewer than half of which are found in the Federal Criminal Code. The rest are scattered through other statutes.

A citizen who wants to abide by the law has no quick and easy way to find out what the law actually is — a violation of the traditional principle that the state cannot punish without fair notice.

In addition to these statutes, he writes, an astonishing 300,000 or more federal regulations may be enforceable through criminal punishment in the discretion of an administrative agency. Nobody knows the number for sure.

Husak cites estimates that more than 70 percent of American adults have committed a crime that could lead to imprisonment.

We are moving toward “a world in which the law on the books makes everyone a felon.”  Example:  More than half of young people today download music illegally from the Internet. That’s been a federal crime for 20 years. These kids, in theory, could all go to prison.

In Silicon Vally, County Supervisor Joe Simitian often uses the catchphrase, ‘there ought to be a law.’   Call or write to him and he’ll do what he can to make someone a criminal.

People have a hard time obeying the Ten Commandments.   Thou shalt not murder.  Thou shalt not steal.  Why would  300,000 more laws be any better ?  Instead of more laws, maybe we need wise Judges and honest lawyers.

Local retired public defender critical of Menlo Park police shooting, criticized

….Regarding the three Menlo Park police officers involved in the shooting and killing of an alleged burglary suspect on November 11. Here are a few questions that need answering before we hear from San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe’s stock conclusion that “the officers acted entirely reasonably in gunning down the suspect.” Case closed.

  • Why was the suspects dead body apparently allowed to be dragged around the crime scene, potentially irreparably
    compromising the evidence?
  • Why is Wagstaffe prematurely running interference for these three officers by predicting, even before his crime lab has completed its testing, that the three body worn cameras, attached to each of the officers, will contain no video evidence of this is incident?
  • Why were potential citizen witnesses apparently told not to speak to or cooperate with the press?
  • Did the gun the police claim was found near the suspects body belong to the suspect, or was it placed there by the police?

Please keep digging for the truth in this matter. We need credible answers, not the police and prosecutorial obfuscation. Thus far the answers we are hearing from the police and the district attorney don’t pass the smell test.

Readers response criticizes attorney

….. I also applaud the Daily Post for its continued coverage of the officer involved shooting in Menlo Park,  but I am appalled by James insinuation of police corruption. Body cams worn by police officers are a very new technology that is still undergoing development, both in regard to technology and the standards of usage.

I recently spoke with an acquaintance in law enforcement about a pursuit involving a half dozen officers that all had body cams, but not one of them remembered to turn theirs on.

It is simply not a priority to fumble around trying to activate an electronic device while lives are potentially in danger.As their usage becomes more commonplace, perhaps there will be a better solution to activate them when appropriate.

As for the reason the body was moved, this was covered already in previous reports. The body of the suspect was on top of the gun and the logical thing to do is move the suspect away from the gun when the gun that cannot be moved away from the suspect.

This action could have saved the lives of both the officers and the young boy that witnessed the shooting.

What upsets me the most is that you would accuse a police officer in this era of carrying a “throw-down gun” to plant on an unarmed suspect.

This is the folly of television, movies and crime novels. I find the mere implication that this could be the case to be absolutely despicable and disgusting.

You are no different than those fueling the rioting and violence in Ferguson, Mo., through hyperbole and rhetoric.  I am all for watching the watchers, but let the system do its work and allow all the facts to be gathered before making such a libelous statements.

Editors note:  Mr. James and Mr. David have both presented excellent arguments. We hope the discussions on this important subject continue……

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Palo Alto councilwoman alleges public records request potential invasion of privacy

Palo Alto Councilwoman Liz kniss said she was contacted by 50 people who supported the city’s controversial car camping band before it was repealed but a local activist wants proof that Kniss is telling the truth.

Retired public defender Aram James, who has been a vocal supporter of the rights of the homeless, filed a public records request to see the emails and letters Kniss claimed she received in support of the city’s Vehicle Habitation Ordinance leading up to the Nov. 17 vote when the council appealed the ban.

James wonders why the people Kniss claimed emailed her didn’t show up to City Hall that night to express their support for a law that prevented people from sleeping in their cars.

Privacy issues

Kniss told the Post yesterday that those emails were sent to her personal email account and that she is in discussion with City Attorney Molly Stump as to whether they are subject to James’ request.

“I find it incredible invasion of people’s privacy, since they emailed me personally” Kniss said. “This is a tender issue and many people might not want their name on a public record supporting the ban.”

Kniss voted to repeal the band Nov. 17. The vote was 7-1 with only Councilman Larry Klein voting to keep the ban in place despite the advice of Stump, who warned the council the ordinance could expose the city to lawsuits since a similar ban in Los Angeles was deemed unconstitutional.

“I’ve never had my emails asked for and I’ve been in office a long time,” Kniss said yesterday. James wants to see the evidence, however” I’m looking for the facts” James said. He wants to make sure she is being “straightforward.”

Random checks by the public help ensure government officials are “living up to what they are saying.” Her personal emails are subject to disclosure laws if they relate to city business, he said. “That’s public information,” he said.

Some emails weren’t saved

Kniss isn’t sure, however she saved all the emails in her personal account. Someone may have to “dig it out of storage,” Kniss said.

The city will provide James an answer to his request no later than Dec. 12, according to David Carnahan, the city’s deputy city clerk.

The Council passed the car-camping ban last year. But the city decided to put the ban on hold until December 2013 when it learned of a case that challenged the ban in Los Angeles.

In June, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Los Angeles ban, which prohibited the use of cars “as living quarters,” was unconstitutional because it was too difficult for people to know when they were breaking the law.

Cheyenne Desertrain vs. City of Los Angeles

Opinion United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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