July 11, 2014

The last day to submit FCC comment on network neutrality is July 15 2014


The last day to submit FCC comment on network neutrality is July 15 2014. This is it folks. If you want blogs and small non corporate websites to have a chance to make a difference in the world this is it. Tell the FCC's Tom Wheeler than corporate greed is not ok and that he should look out for us, the ones he is sworn to protect, not his country club buddies from the cable industry that spewed him forth (We are aghast at the fact Obama appointed him). Yes Mr Wheeler you are a Dingo watching our baby. Wheeler disagrees

You can make a comment here.  Email address not required. This is your last chance to tell the FCC what you think. This is more effective than writing to Congress. After this they have to finalize the rules to deal with this defeat (thanks again to the Supremes) you can also send an e-mail to make your opinion known at openinternet@fcc.govr or direct a tweet to Wheeler @TomWheelerFCC

These are all the comments so far (205,000)   This is the FCC press release as of may 15 calling for comment.

Other good background info: PBS on the future

Kickstarter

Businessweek: Wheeler Backtracks

Vox: Beyond Net Neutrality

Vox: Pressure on FCC

Vox: What is neutrality

And Last but not least, Susan Crawford's Book on the issue


Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA | A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™ | click here to receive LAAG posts by email

State Water Resources Control Board Prohibition of Activities and Mandatory Actions During Drought Emergency

The State Water Resources Control Board is putting teeth into its drought restrictions. This will affect Lakewood. Read the regulations or go to the homepage for the State Water Board Drought Year Water Action. Vote to take place July 15, 2014

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA | A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™ | click here to receive LAAG posts by email

July 7, 2014

Lakewood is correct in opposing a California Assembly resolution which seeks to eliminate the ability of cities to outsource services

The City of Lakewood is opposing this California Assembly resolution (also reprinted below as of this posting; House Resolution No. 29) which seeks to eliminate the ability of cities to outsource services, including law enforcement and fire. The problem of course is that those two services are just provided for other government bureaucracies (LASheriffs Dept.; LACoFire) so there is no threat to government unions. Don't fret Assembly Democrats. Now as for trash services and street sweeping etc, as the recent price increase in Lakewood suggests, we need to make sure there is full transparency at the city level for all services provided. Transparency heads off problems (like this Assembly resolution) but people at the city of Lakewood try their hardest to keep things "hidden" in plain view. ["oh you can always come into the clerk's office and ask to see a document"...yeah like voters have the time, energy and know how to do that...they can't even find time to vote!] All documents regarding outside contracting need to be posted on the city's website. How many times have we brought this up? What are you afraid of [Lakewood City Council] if someone sees an outside services contract? All those contracts should have a clause in them that says they are to be web posted as well as all documents that relate to the contract. Don't like that Mr. Contractor then don't contract with the city. Can you imagine how much Lakewood services would cost (i.e. taxes) if we had to pay government union level benefits and wages to all service providers? We are already paying outrageous sums to "grass cutters" for parks and center medians vs what private contractors would likely cost. This resolution is opposed by cities and of course supported by bloated over priced public unions who are bankrupting the state. This Assembly resolution needs to be stopped...now. And they way to do it is with more transparency.

Amended IN Assembly April 03, 2014 Amended IN Assembly March 13, 2014 CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2013–2014 REGULAR SESSION House Resolution No. 29

 Introduced by Assembly Member Gomez (Coauthors: Assembly Members Alejo, Ammiano, Atkins, Bloom, Bocanegra, Bonilla, Bonta, Bradford, Buchanan, Campos, Chau, Chesbro, Dababneh, Dickinson, Fong, Frazier, Gatto, Gonzalez, Hall, Roger Hernández, Holden, Jones-Sawyer, Lowenthal, Nazarian, Pan, John A. Pérez, Quirk, Rendon, Ridley-Thomas, Rodriguez, Skinner, Stone, Ting, Weber, Wieckowski, Williams, and Yamada)

 February 04, 2014 Relative to outsourcing public services.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST HR 29, as amended, Gomez.

WHEREAS, Public services and assets are the fabric that binds our communities together. They are also a ladder to the middle class; and WHEREAS, Faced with severe budget problems in the wake of the Great Recession, state and local governments across America are handing over control of public services and assets to corporations that promise to operate them better, faster, and cheaper; and WHEREAS, Outsourcing these services and assets often fails to keep these promises, and too often it undermines transparency, accountability, and shared prosperity and competition - the underpinnings of democracy itself; and WHEREAS, Outsourcing means that taxpayers have less say over how future tax dollars are spent and have no ability to vote out executives who make decisions that could harm the public interest; and WHEREAS, Outsourcing means taxpayers are often contractually limited to a single for-profit corporation; and WHEREAS, Outsourcing frequently means that wages and benefits for public service workers fall and the local economy suffers while corporate profits rise. The Center for American Progress Action Fund has found that of the 5.4 million people working for federal service contractors in 2008, an estimated 80 percent earned below the living wage for their city or region. For-profit corporations are three times more likely than the public sector to employ workers at poverty-threshold wages; and two million private sector employees working for federal contractors earn less than $12 an hour - too little to support a family. That is more low wage workers than are employed by McDonald’s and WalMart combined; and WHEREAS, Outsourcing means that taxpayers often no longer know how their tax dollars are being spent. Meetings and records that used to be open to the public can become proprietary information when corporations take over; and WHEREAS, The Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda is one model that may help ensure transparency, accountability, shared prosperity, and competition in the operation of public services and assets; and WHEREAS, Planks in the Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda would require governments to post information about their contracts online and require contractors to open their books to the public, ensure that governments have the capacity to adequately oversee contracts, to cancel contracts that fail to deliver on their promises, prohibit law breaking companies from getting government contracts, require contractors to pay their employees living wages and benefits, require competitive bidding on contracts that guarantee company profits at the expense of taxpayers; and WHEREAS, Recent polling shows that taxpayers oppose the outsourcing of public services and assets to for-profit companies and support these common sense controls to ensure that their interests are protected; now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, That the Assembly opposes outsourcing of public services and assets, which harms transparency, accountability, shared prosperity, and competition, and supports processes that give public service workers the opportunity to develop their own plan on how to deliver cost-effective, high-quality services; and be it further Resolved, That the Assembly urges local officials to become familiar with the provisions of the Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda; and be it further Resolved, That the Assembly intends to introduce and advocate for responsible outsourcing legislation; and be it further Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™ click here to receive LAAG posts by email

July 2, 2014

Using private email for official government business may finally be ended in California


Interestingly its only taken 4 years for this issue to finally come to a head after we first raised the issue in 2011. The problem is simply that of public officials elected and otherwise using private non government email addresses for official government business and communications (with residents..or worse) as a way to "coyly" avoid Public Records requests laws. Its an old Karl Rove trick from 2007 (which may have been where local politicos learned it). But the law looks like it may finally be catching up with the politicos who like to play fast and loose on this. This article (by Chriss Street no less) notes that the California Supremes are going to be taking up the issue and given California's penchant for "Sunshine", city and local government politicos hiding their emails in private email accounts better start cleaning up their email accounts now (time to purge!). You will note that unlike most small cities, the Lakewood city council members do NOT have their own email addresses @lakewoodcity.org. Hmmm how interesting. Even if they did have emails @lakewoodcity.org they are not published anywhere to be found.

Our simple solution to the problem posed by the League of California Cities faux dilemma (in its opposition letter to the California Supremes) is not to allow elected officials and employees of government entities use non government email accounts to send and receive email messages (and attachments!) that pertain to government or taxpayer related business or issues. If the official errors on the side of inclusion and there is something personal on the government e mail server we let the government public records code sort that out. Its more than capable of doing that. We agree its too hard to police and store and get access to private email. That's one of the reasons the government officials want to use it and why we don't want them to. But that is no excuse to just allow officials to keep bypassing the open government problem Karl Rove style. If a government official receives a government related email on his private email account he/she just forwards that to his/her government email account and then responds (if necessary) with the government account. This can also be set up to take place automatically. All smartphones allow multiple domain emails on one phone. If you cant handle that then you have no business using email. Gmail allows you on the fly to select which domain and which email you want to reply from. This is simple people. Pay attention old fogies on the Calif Supreme court! Time for the email shuffle to end and evading public records requests.  This is not a technological problem. Its just a "problem" that local government officials don't want fixed.


Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™ click here to receive LAAG posts by email

June 6, 2014

water and trash service rate increase hearing at Lakewood City Council Chambers on June 24, 2014 at 7:30 pm


Just so that everyone is aware there is a water and trash service rate increase hearing at Lakewood City Council Chambers on June 24, 2014 at 7:30 pm. You must object to the rate increase before that time in writing (presumably to the Lakewood city clerk at dhayward@lakewoodcity.org not to our site) which will be much more effective that rambling on at the meeting. (we find that communicating with the City is much more effective if done in writing so that there is a paper trail) In classic Lakewood "non transparency" style no information whatsoever has been posted about this rate increase (on www.lakewoodcity.org) as of this posting (and the city has been planning this since at least March 2014). We made the following public records request to the city this week and we will try (if we get a timely response from Lakewood) to post what we get back (if anything) on this site. We need this information well in advance of 6/22/14 so that we can respond to the proposed increase in writing before the 6/24/14 hearing. Hopefully with the new "bolstering" of the California Constitution and the Public Records Act under the recently passed Proposition 42 (on June 3, 2014) we can expect to see local government entities give a little bit more respect to public records act requests.

Here is what we were seeking in the public records request: 

1. copies of all staff reports or 3rd party reports and all attachments regarding the rate increase and its need and or justifications

2. Any surveys, studies or any other documentation showing water and trash rates in any other cities done at any time in the last two years

3. communications to / from the Edco trash/waste company wherein they justify and or explain the need for a price or rate increase

4. Any proposed amendments to the Lakewood municipal code regarding the rate increase

5. Any forms or rules proposed for protests to the rate increase

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™ click here to receive LAAG posts by email