Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Life of the Law has Not Been Logic or Common Sense.

Society is just getting too Lawsuit happy here over “Stupid is what Stupid does”.

It’s time for the annual "Stella Awards"!

For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald's in New Mexico where she purchased the coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right?

That's right; these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head. So keep your head scratcher handy.

Here are the Stella's for the 2009:

Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.

Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hub caps.

Go ahead, grab your head scratcher.

Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight, count 'em, EIGHT, days on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming undue mental Anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish. We should all have this kind of anguish.

Keep scratching. There are more...

Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella's when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor's beagle - even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.

Grrrrr ... Scratch, scratch.

Third place goes to Amber Carson of Lancaster , Pennsylvania because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113, 500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. What ever happened to people being responsible for their own actions ?

Scratch, scratch, scratch. Hang in there; there are only two more Stellas to go...

Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000....oh, yeah, plus dental expenses. Go figure.

(May I have a fanfare played on 50 kazoos please?) This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was Mr. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On his first trip home from an OU football game, having driven onto the freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make himself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that he couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded him, are you sitting down, $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mr. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.

I guess, we, as a society, getting more stupid...

Greed Is Good. Money Never Sleeps.


The Bleeding Bell blues.................................

City Manager $787,637
Mayor $376,288
Police Chief $457,000
City Council Members $100,000 +
Population 36,637

A protester displays a caricature of Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez before Monday night’s City Council meeting. Most of the part-time council members get $100,000 a year. The city manager is paid $787,637 a year. July 19, 2010)

Public service means private benefit for the mega-salaried officials in Bell. Angry citizens should put the word 'former' before their titles.

In the newspaper business, when editors are asked what kinds of stories they want to go after, there's a popular two-word answer. The first word is "holy" and the second word is unprintable.

Well, friends, my Times colleagues Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb dug up a genuine "holy [cow]" story in the town of Bell last week, exposing the staggering, colossal, unconscionable salaries that city officials have awarded themselves under the radar of the struggling town's residents.

On Monday, I drove to Bell to see if I could make sense of how it all happened. I parked at City Hall, walked up to the counter and asked to speak to the nearly $800,000-a-year city manager, because I was dying to see what such a specimen looks like.
A clerk dutifully took my name and disappeared. On his salary, Robert Rizzo — or should I say Ratso Rizzo — would surely want to take me out to a nice lunch. Or perhaps pay off my mortgage. He was dumb and arrogant enough, after all, to tell my Times colleagues that if his $787,637 salary was "a number people choke on, maybe I'm in the wrong business. I could go into private business and make that money."

When the clerk returned, she told me Mr. Humility was unavailable.

Maybe he was busy testing the waters in private business, because now that he's been exposed, I'm betting it will get a little hot for old Ratso — and his $376,288 assistant, and the city's $457,000 police chief, and the $100,000 part-time council members. In fact, it already is. Outraged citizens descended on City Hall by the hundreds Monday night demanding that the bums be tossed out on their ears.

"They've awakened a sleeping giant," Denisse Rodarte, a lifelong Bell resident and one of the organizers of the rally, told me in her home a short distance from City Hall.

But why was the giant asleep in the first place, and unaware of the plundering?

Corruption is everywhere in California and beyond, from civic centers to Wall Street. But there's a particular strain of brazen malfeasance in south and southeast L.A. County, with a shameful history of headlines emanating from Maywood and South Gate and Compton and Carson, to name a few. Whether you're talking to residents or think-tank types, you hear some common themes.

Those cities have largely poor, immigrant populations that are too busy working to pay close attention to City Hall, which means they can be easily exploited. Voter turnout is low, in part because many residents are undocumented and even many legal immigrants aren't yet qualified to vote. And there's not much media presence because of cutbacks by everyone in the industry, including The Times, so the rascals are left to steal with impunity.

"It's a very predatory type of mentality," said Cristina Garcia, a Bell Gardens resident who is an adjunct professor at USC.

Garcia, who is now helping organize protests in nearby Bell, said she suspects the vultures deliberately move into cities where they think it'll be easy pickings. Rizzo moved to Bell from Hesperia in 1993 at a salary of $72,000. By 2005, as Vives and Gottlieb reported, he was up to $442,000, and his contract was amended to give him 12% increases annually. The boobs on the City Council, meanwhile, altered the City Charter so they wouldn't have to comply with state guidelines on council salaries.

The cynic in me wonders who's rubbing whose back and what they're getting out of it. And in fact, the L.A. County district attorney is investigating Bell's exorbitant City Council paychecks.

But this may merely be a case of city officials bellying up to the trough and grabbing all they can.

"People get power and it turns to greed," said South Gate Mayor Henry Gonzalez, who was punched by a fellow council member and shot in the head by an unknown assailant back when his town was being ravaged by City Hall thieves in a corruption scandal 10 years ago.

Jaime Regalado of Cal State L.A.'s Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute for Public Affairs said officials in southeastern L.A. County have taken advantage of the fact that many immigrant residents aren't shocked by corruption, having come from countries where it's even more blatant.

"But when it hits the press, as it has in Bell, there's the potential for an uprising," Regalado said.

In fact, no one in Bell knew about the inflated salaries before The Times blasted them across Page 1. But that's not because nobody was interested in local affairs, Denisse Rodarte insisted. It's because City Hall was run like the Kremlin.

"We're not ignorant," said Rodarte, a college grad who works in the nonprofit medical field.

Lots of hard-working people care about their community and how it's run, she said. But it's been impossible to get information out of City Hall, whether she was asking about how to volunteer at the food bank or about why, when there's plenty to worry about at home, Bell officials took over some services for nearby Maywood, which has its own history of rotten scoundrels.

Rodarte said residents were mocked and degraded by council members when they protested the Maywood deal, but they're not going to back down again. She's now signed on with the Bell Assn. to Stop the Abuse (or BASTA, which means "enough" in Spanish), and along with Garcia, her ally from Bell Gardens, she's trying to organize such a movement across southeast L.A. County.

All of which brings us back to Bell's city manager, who makes twice as much as President Obama.

Are people choking on that number, Ratso? Yep.

[These guys have written huge pensions into their legal contracts. [approved by the $100,000 @ year city council members ] At least one is for over a million bucks !

Press Is No Longer Free. It Is A Slave To Immoral Journalists.

The press is no longer a free press. It has become a slave to journalists with no morals and no conscious. They no longer report the news, they manufacture it, manipulate it, spin it. Now that news is a commodity to be bought and sold, it is no longer true or accurate, only sensational, designed to titilate, and inflame the passions. It has become "crack" to the masses, and journalists are worse than "pushers".

New e-mail messages published by the Daily Caller Thursday, July 22, show a coordinated effort by the JournoList's members to destroy Sarah Palin the moment she was named John McCain's running mate on August 29, 2008.
Some even discussed how the former Alaska governor's decision to have a Down Syndrome baby rather than abort it could be used against her.
As the attacks ensued, the Nation's Chris Hayes wrote, "Keep the ideas coming! Have to go on TV to talk about this in a few min and need all the help I can get."
Witness America's so-called journalists conspiring to destroy a woman most of the nation had not even heard of yet:
Ryan Donmoyer, a reporter for Bloomberg News who was covering the campaign, sent a quick thought that Palin's choice not to have an abortion when she unexpectedly became pregnant at age 44 would likely boost her image because it was a heartwarming story.
"Her decision to keep the Down's baby is going to be a hugely emotional story that appeals to a vast swath of America, I think," Donmoyer wrote.
Politico reporter Ben Adler, now an editor at Newsweek, replied, "but doesn't leaving sad baby without its mother while she campaigns weaken that family values argument? Or will everyone be too afraid to make that point?"
Will everyone be too afraid to make that point? This man is currently the National Editor of!
But there's more:
Ed Kilgore, managing editor of the Democratic Strategist blog, argued that journalists and others trying to help the Obama campaign should focus on Palin's beliefs. "The criticism of her really, really needs to be ideological, not just about experience. If we concede she's a ‘maverick,' we will have done John McCain an enormous service. And let's don't concede the claim that [Hillary Clinton] supporters are likely to be very attracted to her," Kilgore said. [...]
Suzanne Nossel, chief of operations for Human Rights Watch, added a novel take: "I think it is and can be spun as a profoundly sexist pick. Women should feel umbrage at the idea that their votes can be attracted just by putting a woman, any woman, on the ticket no matter her qualifications or views."
Mother Jones's [Jonathan] Stein loved the idea. "That's excellent! If enough people - people on this list? - write that the pick is sexist, you'll have the networks debating it for days. And that negates the SINGLE thing Palin brings to the ticket," he wrote.
Another writer from Mother Jones, Nick Baumann, had this idea: "Say it with me: ‘Classic GOP Tokenism'."
Wow! If enough people on this list write that the pick is sexist, you'll have the networks debating it for days.
Getting a sense of just how much control these folks had over the news cycle?
Now enter Time's Joe Klein:
"We're reporting that she actually supported the bridge to nowhere. First flub?" [...]
Time's Joe Klein then linked to his own piece, parts of which he acknowledged came from strategy sessions on Journolist. "Here's my attempt to incorporate the accumulated wisdom of this august list-serve community," he wrote. And indeed Klein's article contained arguments developed by his fellow Journolisters.
It sure did:
--Does the McCain campaign actually think that Hillary supporters will be lured to the ticket by a militant pro-lifer who also believes in the teaching of intelligent design?
--Palin exploded her state's coffers by imposing a windfall profits tax on the oil companies...sort of--no, exactly--like the proposal Barack Obama has made and John McCain has attacked. Apparently, she also supported the Bridge to Nowhere, despite her disclaimer at today's event. So how does McCain explain putting a tax-raising porker on his ticket?
This kind of coordinated attack by journalists should really be offensive to folks on both sides of the aisle.
The need for an independent press is essential to our democracy. That so many members of the media took ideas from one another as to how to sabotage a politician is disgraceful.
As Rush Limbaugh wrote me yesterday:
These people and their tactics are not new, we've seen them before in other countries and other times. They want to destroy contrary and opposition voices and views. They will climb over the law and the people to achieve their aims...They are all the same. They are leftists, disguised as lawyers, judges, scholars, professors, teachers, reporters, anchors, senators, representatives, legislative aids, congressional staff, federal bureaucrats, etc. There is NO Media. We know that now. There is just an incestuous relationship among all these various groups and a revolving door connecting them all.
In the last few days thanks to the Daily Caller, we have learned that the folks on this list acted to bury the Jeremiah Wright story in the spring of 2008, plotted to destroy Palin that fall, and then celebrated when their candidate Barack Obama won the election.
Think there really is a free and independent press anymore?
(Noel Sheppard)
Well you had better think again, and think real hard.

The Obama Administration fired Shirley Sharrod based on a doctored video on Fox News.
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has conveyed "his regret" to former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod over her ouster in the midst of a racially-tinged firestorm, the White House said Thursday July 21, 2010.
"The president told Ms. Sherrod that this misfortune can present an opportunity for her to continue her hard work on behalf of htose in need," the statement said, "and he hopes that she will do so."
Sherrod was forced to resign by her superiors earlier this week after a conservative blogger posted an edited video of her recalling her reluctance 24 years ago to help a white farmer seeking government assistance. She says the posting took her speech out of context.
The statement from press secretary Robert Gibbs' office came at midday Thursday and followed a host of nationally broadcast interviews that Sherrod had given earlier in the day. From network to network, she said she wanted to talk to Obama about her wretched week. But also said she felt there was no need for him to apologize to her, as Gibbs and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had earlier.
The White House said that Obama called Sherrod at midday Thursday, July 22, hours after her television interviews.
For her part, the veteran government employee reiterated that she was uncertain whether she would accept Vilsack's invitation to be reinstated to his department, saying she had to think it over.
The White House statement said, "The president expressed to Ms. Sherrod his regret about events of the last several days. He emphasized that Secretary Vilsack was sincere in his apology yesterday, and in his work to rid USDA of discrimination."
A White House official said that Sherrod did not indicate to the president whether she would accept the job she has been offered at the Agriculture Department. The president tried to reach her twice on Wednesday night but was unable to leave a message, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss behind-the-scenes details.