Anti Aloha?

There's an article in this week's Honolulu Weekly (I have a weakness for the people of Hilo) about a hotel that I stayed at in Hilo.

I was on a multi-island business trip, visiting a prospective client in Honolulu, a client at Kapiolani Community College, a former client on Maui, and leading a training with Hawaii County.

The hotels booked for me is a story to itself.

Honolulu: My room was ant infested, the carpeted floor was damp, and no internet access in the room.

Maui: My hotel was very far away from anything. There was no cell coverage, no internet access, and I had to cross a sandy beach (in my work heels) to get to breakfast.

Hilo: It was the night before the hotel was to be turned over to the new owner. Their was a monster party which's theme was truely warranted "f-u" to the new owner. The cab driver on the way to the hotel explained most of the situation to me, so I was concerned that I would have trouble sleeping.

Which I did. At about 3 in the morning I heard splashing outside. Not waves crashing against the shore, but.... I get to the window and all I see are bright-white bare buttocks doing belly-flops into the pool. I'm glad they had a good time, even though it made the next day of training and travel back to the nasty hotel in Honolulu a bit of a bear.

It's a shame that Mr. Fujiyama has to do this to the community that helped to raise him. Even more so - it's a shame that most of us can only sit back and watch it play out.

Big day for Us!

Court agrees to rule on gun case

Posted By Lyle Denniston On November 20, 2007 @ 1:02 pm

FINAL UPDATE 3:20 p.m.

After a hiatus of 68 years, the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to rule on the meaning of the Second Amendment — the hotly contested part of the Constitution that guarantees “a right to keep and bear arms.” Not since 1939 has the Court heard a case directly testing the Amendment’s scope — and there is a debate about whether it actually decided anything in that earlier ruling. In a sense, the Court may well be writing on a clean slate if, in the end, it decides the ultimate question: does the Second Amendment guarantee an individual right to have a gun for private use, or does it only guarantee a collective right to have guns in an organized military force such as a state National Guard unit?

The city of Washington’s appeal (District of Columbia v. Heller, 07-290) seeking to revive its flat ban on private possession of handguns is expected to be heard in March — slightly more than a year after the D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the Second Amendment right is a personal one, at least to have a gun for self-defense in one’s own home. (The Court took no action on Tuesday on a conditional cross-petition, Parker, et al., v. District of Columbia, 07-335, an appeal by five District residents seeking to join in the case. The absence of any action may mean that the Court has decided not to hear that case. If that is so, it will be indicated in an order next Monday. The Court also may simply be holding the case until it decides the Heller case.)

The Justices chose to write out for themselves the constitutional question they will undertake to answer in Heller. Both sides had urged the Court to hear the city’s case, but they had disagreed over how to frame the Second Amendment issue.

Here is the way the Court phrased the granted issue:

“Whether the following provisions — D.C. Code secs. 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 — violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?”

The first listed section bars registration of pistols if not registered before Sept. 24, 1976; the second bars carrying an unlicensed pistol, and the third requires that any gun kept at home must be unloaded and disassembled or bound by a lock, such as one that prevents the trigger from operating.

The Court did not mention any other issues that it might address as questions of its jurisdiction to reach the ultimate question: did the one individual who was found to have a right to sue — Dick Anthony Heller, a D.C. resident — have a right to challenge all three of the sections of the local law cited in the Court’s order, and, is the District of Columbia, as a federal enclave, even covered by the Second Amendment. While neither of those issues is posed in the grant order, the Court may have to be satisfied that the answer to both is affirmative before it would move on to the substantive question about the scope of any right protected by the Amendment.

The D.C. Circuit ruled that the Amendment does apply to the District because of its federal status, subject to all provisions of the Constitution. At this point, therefore, it appears that the Court’s review may not reach a major question — does the Second Amendment also protect individual rights against state and local government gun control laws? But a ruling by the Court recognizing an individual right to have a gun almost surely would lead to new test cases on whether to extend the Amendment’s guarantee so that it applied to state and local laws, too. The Court last confronted that issue in Presser v. illinois, in 1886, finding that the Amendment was not binding on the states.

Some observers who read the Court’s order closely may suggest that the Court is already inclined toward an “individual rights” interpretation of the Second Amendment. That is because the order asks whether the three provisions of the D.C. gun control law violate “the Second Amendment rights of individuals.” But that phrasing may reveal very little about whether the Amendment embraces an individual right to have a gun for private use. Only individuals, of course, would be serving in the militia, and there is no doubt that the Second Amendment provides those individuals a right to have a gun for that type of service. The question the Court will be deciding is, if there are individuals who want to keep pistols for use at home, does the Second Amendment guarantee them that right. Just because the Second Amendment protects some individual right does not settle the nature of that right.

One of the interesting subsets of the question the Court will be confronting is whether the 1939 case of U.S. v. Miller is a precedent for what the Second Amendment means — individual or collective right. If that decision did find in favor of a collective right, the current Court would have to decide whether this was a binding precedent, or whether it should be overruled. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., has already taken a stand on that question. At his nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he said that “the Miller case sidestepped” the issue of whether the Amendment protected a collective or an individual right. He added: “An argument was made back in 1939 that this provides only a collective right, and the Court didn’t address that….So people try to read into the tea leaves about Miller and what would come out on this issue, but that’s still very much an open issue.”

The local law at issue in Heller has been discussed widely as a sweeping ban on private possession or use of handguns. But the Court order granting review took it a step further: the one section that will be at issue that goes beyond handguns is the provision that requires that any gun kept at home be unloaded and disassembled, or at least be locked. Thus, that provision also applies to rifles and shotguns kept at home, in terms of whether those weapons would remain “functional” in time of emergency if that provision were upheld. That part of the order appeared to widen the inquiry in a way that the local residents who challenged the law had wanted.

Additional grants on Tuesday:

The Court also granted review on Tuesday of the question of whether federal labor law bars a state from forbidding a company that receives state funds from using any of those funds to speak out on issues in bargaining with a labor union. That case is U.S. Chamber of Commerce, et al., v. Brown, et al. (06-939). The U.S. Solicitor General, asked by the government for its views on the case, urged that review be granted. At least 16 states have laws or are considering laws like the one in California at issue in the case.

The Court also said on Tuesday that it will hear an appeal by Alabama’s governor, Bob Riley, in a voting rights case — but will not necessarily decide the merits of the appeal. The Court postponed the question of its jurisdiction until its hearing on the case of Riley v. Kennedy, et al. (07-77). That means the Justices will, indeed, hear oral argument, but will focus part of that argument on whether the case is properly before them. The other side in the case contended in its response that the state officials waited too long to file their appeal, thus depriving the Court of jurisdiction.

The merits issue raised by the governor is whether rulings by state Supreme Courts on the meaning of state or local election law do bring about the kind of changes in voting rights that must first get federal clearance before going into effect — for those states and local jurisdictions that are covered by the pre-clearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act’s Section 5.

These other two cases, like Heller, are likely to be scheduled for argument in the March sitting that begins on Mar. 17.

Green for the day? Try a term...

I got an email yesterday from someone asking me when I was going to pick a GP candidate to support.

What?

There's a presidential campaign going on? I didn't notice.

I'll think about it. I've alway enjoyed Kent's platform, Cynthia's a strong candidate, and there's also Kat...

Well...if you are finding your way to my website through the California Green Party, you can look to the right column and I've got link's to all of the candidates that will appear on the primary ballot.

Outside of Kent, Cynthia, and Kat - I'm not interested in hearing about any of the other candidates.

I don't moderate my posts (I don't get that many), so if you'd like to woo me with why I should support one candidate over another - I'm all eyes.

Coffee, Recycling, Oh My!



You know that guy who leaves almost a cup in the carafe.

Or, you may be the person who tosses the recycling in the trash (or the trash in the recycling)

It's about time the Office Linebacker made an appearance!

This is for the Department that had the most attendees to yesterday's meeting - I appreciate it!

After 13 years

My coffeecup warmer finally gave out this morning. I bought it from a thrift store in 1994, used it through undergrad, grad school, and at work. It never made it to summer camp though....

That's a bummer.

Time Lapse

It dawned on me....as I was catching up on LA Live construction, I think I've only been to the gym three times during the entire movie listed under the "Time Lapse" link.

USC and the liquor license debate

Watering holes, developments lead to student rush downtown

Residents say a 1,400 percent increase of liquor licenses downtown might hurt the area.

By: Nicole Dailo and Jean Guerrero

Posted: 11/1/07

USC students fed up with the early curfew on The Row and never-ending line at the 901 Bar & Grill are turning to an influx of bars downtown. But some are concerned by an increase in approved liquor licenses and a development boom in the area feel more like a hangover than added fun.

More than 40 bars and restaurants hold liquor licenses in the Historic Core - a 1,400 percent increase according to state regulations, the Los Angeles Downtown News recently reported.

The area has evolved rapidly since 1998, when the city adopted an adaptive-reuse ordinance allowing vacant office buildings to be rezoned into residential lots.

Amenities such as restaurants, dry cleaners and hair salons followed as the area became more residential. Kevin Keller, a city planner with the L.A. City Planning Department and president of the L.A. chapter of the American Planning Association, said this transition supplemented the demand for clubs and bars in the area.

The influx of downtown haunts, however, is unwelcome to some residents. The area's development is controversial because of a burgeoning over-concentration of alcohol retailers in close proximity to Skid Row.

"We've got folks who are going through things in life that are very difficult, and having access to alcohol could add trials and tribulations," said Ginny-Marie Case, a member of the Downtown Neighborhood Council.

Despite such concerns, planning and construction of developments with liquor licenses has continued.

Earlier this month, the city overturned a previous decision by the zoning administration by approving conditional-use permits for the Santa Fe Lofts, a residential complex that included plans for a street-level bar, said Kate Bartolo, who worked for seven years with the Los Angeles-based real estate company backing the project.

She said the zoning administration was concerned for the homeless on Skid Row because of the "overwhelming temptation" that might arise from new liquor establishments.

Bartolo said the developments will actually benefit homeless people, who are oftentimes the victims of attacks, because many instances of violence could be avoided by enlivening the area's storefronts.

Case expressed mixed feelings about focusing on the perceived problem of too many liquor licenses and bars.

"For all the folks who want to complain about too many liquor licenses, there are bigger issues here," Case said. "There isn't enough affordable housing. This neighborhood has been ignored for many years."

SAFETY CONCERNS

Some students said the prospect of a night out downtown raises safety concerns. Despite rapid growth, many feel the area remains unsafe to frequent late at night.

In spring 2004, a USC junior was shot and killed after being dropped off at a gas station two miles away from his downtown apartment. The student, Maxwell Hazlett, had asked his friends to let him walk so he could look for an open liquor store on the way home, the Daily Trojan reported in 2004.

Charles Hockenbury, a junior majoring in political science, said the consequences of reviving downtown must be calculated before problems arise, because partygoers will give these issues little thought.

"If a place pops up downtown, [students] assume that work has gone into making sure it's a safe and viable option," he said.

Adrian Santos, a junior majoring in public relations, said he thinks downtown is a lot safer than the area around campus.

Since 2006, there has been a 28 percent decrease in violent crimes around the Historic Core, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Throughout the city, there has been an 8 percent decrease within the last year.

Some students said they believe the use of common sense usually suffices in avoiding danger.

"If I'm with a group of people, then I feel safe," said Janet Kim, a second-year graduate student in occupational therapy.

Clara Irazabal, assistant professor of urban planning and design, said increasing activity downtown at night might actually make the area more safe.

"The most effective way to make a district safe is to plan for people to be there at all times. This is safer than security cameras - people make places safe," Irazabal said.

Keller said more careful review of individual cases should suffice in keeping the area safe.

"Patrols, security, training and those kinds of regulations will be placed on each business," he said.

Future hot spot

Some downtown residents and workers said they are optimistic about the young, hip feel development is bringing to the historically business-oriented area.

"People in the area are responding really well to the new development. You can sense that downtown finally has a true feel to it," said an employee at Lost Souls Café in the Historic Core.

With the grand opening of the 7,100-seat Nokia Theater earlier this month and its accompanying Central Plaza, downtown seems to be morphing into a youth-friendly hot spot.

By October 2008, the L.A. Live project plans to unveil a conglomeration of new enterprises, including a broadcasting facility and restaurant along with the ESPN's West Coast headquarters, up to 14 new restaurants, two night clubs and the Grammy Museum, Keller said.

With these new developments that cater to young adults, some say downtown will become an even bigger party spot.

Corey Hall, a senior majoring in business administration, said students are going to start heading downtown for the social scene.

"I think the revitalization of downtown is just going to continue the trend that's already started," he said.

But Tom Aldrich, a senior majoring in business administration, said he thinks students will not go downtown yet because "it's so dirty" and because of the popularity of the 9-0 near campus.

"It's going to take a while, and it depends on whether or not [venues] are strict on [checking proof of age]," he said.

Hockenbury said that while staying close to campus is more convenient for students, the perceived Department of Public Safety crackdown on Thursday-night parties on The Row and the administration's attempt to steer USC away from its party-school reputation is driving students out of North University Park and toward downtown's bright lights.

"Naturally, the first place [students] go is The Row," he said. "But [the crackdown has] been forcing people to supplement their social activity, … and downtown is a short cab ride away."

My Yankee Dilemma.

Can it be? A Yankee coming to town to coach the Dodgers? Oh, if I didn’t need therapy before, I know I need it now.

Let’s recap:

While in high school I began to idolize the Mariners - if for any other reason than they all lived in Seattle, and I wanted to live in Seattle. When I started college, I missed my Math 105 final >twice< because in 1994 and 1995 there were some very important games that could not be missed.

However, I started to notice a trend - my Mariners were moving to New York. There was the beloved and lustful Tino Martinez. A-Rod eventually made it east, Jeff Nelson, Luis Sojo...I’ll stop there. Honestly, when Tino left town, the coffeeshop was a bit down in the dumps about it. He was cute.

Then, I started to read about the Yankee Owner. Then, I just started not liking the stupid Yankee logo.

Joe Torre had better make his way to downtown and start buying up all our Dodger gear. He’s going to get the stadium on opening day and see tens of thousands of diehard Dodger fans - he had better be good and worth all that money.

Andre and Russell deserve nothing less.

The one big upside is that I have a hunch I'll be getting a TON of new bobbleheads for my collection. Good thing I got a better job that allows for more shelf space.