We mentioned Philip K. Howard’s new book “The Rule of Nobody” the other day. Here’s another excerpt (which also appeared in the Wall Street Journal’s “Notable and Quotable”:
The 2009 economic stimulus package promoted by President Obama included $5 billion to weatherize some 607,000 homes—with the goals of both spurring the economy and increasing energy efficiency. But the project was required to comply with a statute called the Davis-Bacon Act (signed into law by President Hoover in 1931), which provides that construction projects with federal funding must pay workers the “prevailing wage”—basically a union perk that costs taxpayers about 20 percent more than actual labor rates. This requirement comes with a mass of red tape; bureaucrats in the Labor Department must set wages, as a matter of law, for each category of construction worker in each of three thou- sand counties in America. There was no schedule for “weatherproofers.” So the Labor Department began a slow trudge of determining how much weatherproofers should be paid in Merced County, California; Monmouth County, New Jersey; and several thousand other counties. The stimulus plan had projected that California would weatherproof twenty-five hundred homes per month. At the end of 2009, the actual total was twelve.
Following up on the sensational Blue Line crash at the Chicago Transit Authority’s O’Hare Airport terminus: “The CTA’s contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union authorizes the agency to fire rail operators who have had two serious safety violations in a short period of time [emphasis added], and officials said the two incidents when [Brittney] Haywood dozed off qualify her for termination.” Falling asleep just once at the controls of a train wasn’t enough! [CBS Chicago] More: Bill Zeiser, American Spectator.
Northwestern athletes’ “college football participation = paid work to be governed by labor laws” argument may boomerang with a whopping tax bill [TaxProf, Bleacher Report on NLRB giving nod to idea]
Under an environmentalist banner, the city of Los Angeles plans a scheme to wipe family-owned trash haulers and replace them with unionized monopoly providers [L.A. Times, Scott Shackford/Reason]
“Union representatives join federal government safety inspectors on site visits to non-union businesses” [Patrick Howley, Daily Caller; SHRM, Better Roads, Associated Builders and Contractors on OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) letter of interpretation]
Hilarious: Steven Pearlstein column gloats re: unstoppable UAW-at-Volkswagen tide of history, reaches print after vote [WaPo; "claque," "rabid," "Babbitts," etc.] “We also looked at the track record of the UAW. Why buy a ticket on the Titanic?” [Reuters] “No wonder they wanted card check.” [Mickey Kaus; more, Kevin Williamson]
Only 1,999 unclarities left to go. I explain yesterday’s decision in Sandifer v. U.S. Steel Corp., the “don/doff” case, at Cato at Liberty (& welcome SCOTUSBlog readers).
Reuters on the phenomenon of police harassment of local political opponents (earlier here, here, etc.) By no means are the reports limited to California:
There also have been allegations of intimidation by police in Cranston, Rhode Island.
On Jan. 9, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung announced that state police will take over an investigation into a flurry of parking tickets issued in the wards of two council members. The pair claim the tickets were issued as retribution after they voted against a new contract for police that would have given them a pay raise….
Major Robert Ryan, a spokesman for the Cranston Police Department, said: “The matter is under investigation, and pursuant to law enforcement’s bill of rights, no-one is going to comment on this.”
As readers may recall, those high-sounding “law enforcement bill of rights” gimmicks serve mostly to entrench law enforcement personnel against consequences or accountability for misbehavior, and thus have less than nothing to do with the Constitution’s actual Bill of Rights. More: Radley Balko.
Columnist George Will cites the Cato Institute amicus brief in Harris v. Quinn, the Supreme Court case over whether states may properly herd home caregivers reimbursed by government checks into collective representation [syndicated]. Earlier here. More: Ilya Shapiro, Michael Greve.
More: Reports on the oral argument from Ilya Shapiro, Cato, and from Reuters.
Last year we linked a report about a series of unfortunate events that kept happening to elected officials in Costa Mesa, Calif. after they resisted negotiating demands from the city’s police union. One saw his supporters’ businesses harassed by cops, while another was picked up on a bogus DUI charge phoned in by a private eye with ties to an Upland, Calif. law firm, Lackie, Dammeier, McGill, and Ethir, known for extremely aggressive representation of police unions around California.
Now the Lackie, Dammeier firm is in turmoil following a raid on its offices by the Orange County District Attorney’s office. Former Costa Mesa councilman Jim Righeimer, target of the bogus DUI report, and council colleague Steve Mensinger have also alleged in a lawsuit that the law firm’s private investigator attached a GPS device to Mensinger’s car. Lawyers for the two believe the device allowed the investigator to trace the pair’s whereabouts to the bar, allowing for the called-in DUI report which failed when Righeimer produced evidence he had consumed only a couple of Diet Cokes. Mensinger “said the device was affixed to his car during the entire 2012 election season and came to his attention only when he was alerted by the Orange County district attorney’s office.” [L.A. Times, more] The Orange County Register reported: “Mensinger and Righeimer are strong supporters of reforming public pensions and privatizing some city services. … Besides Mensinger, [investigator Chris] Lanzillo is also suspected of following former El Monte City Manager Rene Bobadilla to his home in June 2011, according to a police report obtained by the Orange County Register.” And more recently: “Though they made no admissions, lawyers for the law firm and Lanzillo argued in court papers that placing a tracking device on Mensinger’s truck wouldn’t be an invasion of privacy.” The Costa Mesa police union, also named as a defendant, says in a separate filing that it wasn’t involved with any GPS-tracking plan. [Daily Pilot]
That’s not the only trouble facing the firm: “A statewide police defense fund is no longer sending [it cases] after a forensic audit uncovered triple-billing, bogus travel expenses and ‘serious acts of misconduct.'” [Orange County Register] According to press reports, the firm is in the course of dissolving.
The phrase “evoked the ‘military-industrial complex’ about which President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned the nation in a speech days before he left office in 1961.” [Times-Union]