Friday, January 14, 2011

When does a cell phone become a computer?

Reading an Orange County Register Editorial, Court hangs up on Fourth Amendment, I learned that the California Supreme Court ruled on January 3, 2011 police may search the files and data stored on the cell phones of suspects who are arrested without having to obtain a warrant. 

The Administration of Justice major in me thinks the practice is a quick way to get information to use against the suspect.  As an investigatory practice, it sounds expedient.

The Constitutionalist in me says STOP!  What's the rush? Go get a warrant. 

The editorial sums up the ruling like this:
It is archaic and short-sighted to liken cell phones to an article of clothing or a wallet; they are more akin to minicomputers, often containing extensive, intimate personal and professional data. Applications on phones store financial information, bank records and passwords, not to mention personal e-mails, photos and text messages. Giving police offers undue power to seize and peruse cell phones without a warrant is a threat to fundamental rights.
Indeed, it is archaic and short-sighted.. 

My current Blackberry has far more computing power than my home PC, which is admittedly old and outdated but still in daily use.  Like most smart-phone users, my Blackberry provides direct access to my social network accounts, multiple email accounts, confidential work files, and sensitive data.  My phone acts as a single portal into the far corners of my life.  As such, I protect my phone like I would others might protect their laptop or a fine piece of heirloom jewelry.

Often, when posting bail and being released, personal items such as the clothes of the suspect are returned to him or her.  If a phone was truly on the same level as clothing, officers might remove the battery and inspect it for physical contraband before returning it to the suspect.

The standards, though nearly the same, are different when it comes to arrest versus search and how each are carried out.  In California, the officer must have probable cause to detain or arrest someone.  The search and seizure of property, however, is a little more strict. First, only a judge may issue a warrant.  Second, before the judge can sign off on the warrant, two requirements must be met: the judge must reasonably believe (1) that a crime has been committed, and (2) that evidence of that crime is likely to be found in the place(s) described in the search warrant.1 If the facts presented in the warrant application are convincing, the judge must sign and issue the search warrant.2

It takes a good argument supported by evidence to get a judge to sign a warrant.  This process helps create a filter against abuse and unreasonable searches and seizures.  Unfortunately, the California Supreme Court thinks that the mere arrest of a suspect, no matter the circumstances, allows for law enforcement to  dig into the arrestee's personal property which may be unrelated to the reason for their arrest. 

Imagine if a Justice of the Supreme Court were arrested, say for DUI, and their phone searched.  Would information in their phone, such as a text message to his or her spouse requesting a ride home after a few too many drinks, be used against them at trial?  Yes.  What if the Justice was married but requested a ride home from a secret lover?  Would the secret be out of the bag and would it would the information be used against the judge at trial?  Yes.  Would the Justice be more likely to think a warrant necessary for the search of his or her phone?  Yes, especially when the divorce attorneys obtained the same information used by the criminal court for the DUI from the court transcripts. 
1California Penal Code 1525 -- Issuance; probable cause; supporting affidavits; contents of application. ("A search warrant cannot be issued but upon probable cause, supported by affidavit, naming or describing the person to be searched or searched for, and particularly describing the property, thing, or things and the place to be searched.")

2California Penal Code 1528 -- Issuance; magistrate satisfied as to grounds; formalities; command; duplicate original warrant. ("(a) If the magistrate is thereupon satisfied of the existence of the grounds of the application, or that there is probable cause to believe their existence, he or she must issue a search warrant, signed by him or her with his or her name of office, to a peace officer in his or her county, commanding him or her forthwith to search the person or place named for the property or things or person or persons specified, and to retain the property or things in his or her custody subject to order of the court as provided by [California Penal Code] Section 1536.")

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The California Redevelopment Association

Did you know that the City of Fullerton (acting as the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency) pays $8,400 per year to be an agency member of the California Redevelopment Association?  I bet you didn't know there was such an entity, much less that your tax dollars were being funneled to it. 

It seems everyone wants to skim a little bit of Fullerton's cream for their own baby.  This association isn't much different than our own Fullerton Redevelopment agency.

The association skims $8,400 each year so that agency staff can receive more misguided recommendations to pass along to the Agency's board members who are also our city council members- one and the same, while our Fullerton Redevelopment Agency skims $16,639,720 in property tax revenue (the tax-increment) that was intended for education, public safety, and the infrastructure. 

Population segment of dues: 100,001-200,000, $1,160 (actual population from Ca. Dept. of Finance 2009, 137,624)
Tax-increment segment of dues: 14,000,001-18,000,000, $7,240 (actual tax-increment as reflected in the FY 2010-2011 Amended Budget, $16,639,720) http://www.calredevelop.org/external/wcpages/wcwebcontent/webcontentpage.aspx?contentid=228

Redevelopment agencies: the low-hanging fruits

"Whenever the state has a budget issue, they immediately go for the low-hanging fruit and raid the redevelopment agencies." - Matt Fertal, city manager of Garden Grove, Orange County Register January 11, 2011, "City officials blast cuts to redevelopment agencies".

I read that and had to laugh.  "Low-hanging fruit".  Yes, that just about sums up what Redevelopment Agencies are all about.  Who would have thought you could lump together redevelopment and cell phones (also on the Governor's proposed chopping block), but there you go.

The Fullerton Redevelopment agency has been skimming tax dollars that would normally be used for paying for public safety, education, and infrastructure for more than 30 years.  In that time we have seen the Agency take over significant portions of our city's tax base and slowly erode a system that had been in place for more than half a century so that certain companies could receive taxpayer subsidized corporate welfare and sweetheart deals that were not available to many struggling local businesses. 

In the end, the taxpayer looses. We think we know where our tax dollars are going and how they are being used, but do we? 

The Subdivision Map Act Seminar Is Back

COST: $195   
Group discounts available.  

TIME
Registration: 8:30 am
Class: 9:00 am - 4:30 pm
Includes the 2011
edition of the
Map Act Navigator
(a $49.95 value)


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Congress Cuts 5% While Obama Care Costs Me 15% More

In his regular email newsletter, Representative Ed Royce mentioned cuts to Congress's budget.  Royce said, "...last week I voted for a bill that cuts Congress’ own budget by 5 percent. At a time when families and small businesses across the country are cutting back, Congress should also tighten its belt. The bill will save taxpayers up to $35 million in 2011.  This is the first step of an ongoing effort to rein in spending." 

Unfortunately, with each bill passed, taxpayers are robbed.  Obama Care caused Blue Cross Blue Shield to change their business model.  The new model includes an additional $244 per month for my family to continue the coverage that we had from 2010.  According to our agent, the additional cost is directly related to Obama Care. 

Looking back at previous changes in our costs and coverage, the changes were very minor, not anywhere near a 15% addition

I don' have an extra $244 for anything, much less to pay for federally mandated health care that forces every man, woman, and child to have health insurance (making insurance companies even wealthier) or face stiff fines and the possibility of going to jail. 

I hope Representative Royce will continue to fight for real health care reform and cutting government waste at all levels.  For starters, I suggest reformers look at California's Department of Managed Health Care.

Bail: What it is and what it isn't

Michael Fidelis is a bail bondsman and Fullerton business owner.  He is also a local blogger. 

In a recent blog post, Michael writes about INS holds on suspects in jail waiting for their day in court.  I always thought that this was a good idea.  However, it can put a big monkey wrench in the cogs of freedom we take for granted. 

Assuming everyone does their job correctly, the INS hold should give U.S. citizens any reason for concern.  However, if someone doesn't do their job or follow through on a process, you could find yourself sitting in a cell with no right to bail untill the matter is cleared up.

Michael writes about various bail issues and, as I said, he is a local businessman.  Please visit Michael's blog at http://www.callforbail.com/blog/ to learn more about bail and read his thoughts on your freedom. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Could Fullerton Follow Mammoth Lakes Into Bankruptcy?

After the City Council voted to back out of a 1997 developments agreement, Mammoth Lakes was hit with a $30 million judgment which has been upheld by a California appellate court.  As the L.A. Times story says, "The court found that the town did not live up to its end of the bargain."  Mammoth Lakes City Council is now looking at municipal bankruptcy as an option.

Sound familiar? 

Chevron filed suit against the City of Fullerton when the City Council voted 3-2 to back out of a development agreement with the company.

Assuming the new council members, Bruce Whitaker and Patrick McKinley, vote to approve the various entitlements to Chevron, the suit could be dropped.  It does, however, call into question the process in which councils enter into development agreements and the long-term ramifications of not honoring their contracts.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

OC Register: Habitat homes create Fullerton community

On a quiet, low readership Saturday, the Orange County Register posted an article, read it here, to showcase the work of Habitat for Humanity in Fullerton.  This is one of the very few times that I think the City may have used Redevelopment Agency tax-dollars in a nearly responsible manner.  In fact, I think it might have been the very best use of tax-dollars by the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency to date.

Usually the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency robs Peter to pay Paul.  More specifically, the Agency skims tax dollars that would otherwise be directed to public services such as police, fire, street maintenance, education, etc.  Then the Agency takes the fruits of their "crimes" and spends the money evicting very-low-income residents.  The Agency will then strong-arms the property owners to sell their investments to the Agency before the owners can realize the return on their investment properties, all under the threat of eminent domain and an even lower return on their now doomed investment should the case go to court. 

Once the property is in the hands of the Redevelopment Agency, the existing structures are bulldozed to make room for fewer units.  The rental costs, much less the mortgage, for these new units is usually higher than the old tenants could possibly afford.

This leads to using public funds to export very-low-income and low-income residents from Fullerton.  I suppose that is one way to deal with poverty, albeit the wrong way.

In this latest article, the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency spent $2.4 million to evict dozens of poor families, bulldoze apartments, and give the properties to Habitat for Humanity.   The math works out to $218,181 per home being funded with public money. 

But $2.4 million is a drop in the bucket.  Let's not forget two prominent events of 2010 which I think epitomizes just how irresponsible the Agency and our own City Council has acted.


It is only a matter of time before the public employee unions realize one of the many reasons cities are cutting funding for departments is because redevelopment agencies are skimming tax revenue.  

Greg Sebourn

Orange County Bail Bonds

The Beauty of a Storm

The Beauty of a Storm
Orange County, Ca.

My Grandma - A Eulogy

LET'S TALK ABOUT 1914 FOR A MOMENT.



FOR STARTERS, GRANDMA WAS BORN TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1914 IN HER FAMILY'S ATWOOD RANCH HOUSE.



IT IS WORTH NOTING THOSE ALSO BORN IN 1914:

JACK LALANNE

JOE DIMAGGIO

DANNY THOMAS



AND WHO DIED IN 1914:

JOHN MUIR, THE FAMOUS NATURALIST FOR WHICH NUMEROUS ROADS, PARKS, HOTELS, AND NATURE RESERVES ARE NAMED.



IT IS ALSO WORTH NOTING THAT IN 1914 WOODROW WILSON SIGNS MOTHER'S DAY PROCLAMATION AND BABE RUTH MAKES HIS MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT WITH THE RED SOX. MOTHER'S DAY AND BASEBALL- TWO OF MY FAVORITES!! (PERHAPS HER NICKNAME "BABE" CAME FROM BABE RUTH???)



GRANDMA WAS BORN INTO A PERIOD OF TIME FILLED WITH TURMOIL. IN JUNE OF 1914 ARCHDUKE FRANZS FERDINAND WAS ASSASSINATED. WITHIN ONE MONTH WORLD WAR I RAGED ACROSS EUROPE. TWO DAYS AFTER HER BIRTH HOWEVER, GERMAN AND BRITISH TROOPS INTERRUPTED WWI TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS. (PERHAPS THEY PAUSE KNOWING THAT A GREAT WOMAN WAS BORNE) WORLD WAR I CONTINUED UNTIL THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES IN 1919.



ALTHOUGH SHE WAS ONLY 5 YEARS OLD, SHE SAW THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS CREATED AND THE 19TH AMENDMENT WAS APPROVED BY THE U.S. CONGRESS GUARANTEEING THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN TO VOTE.



SHE LIVED THROUGH MANY NOTABLE EVENTS. LIKE THE 1933 LONG BEACH EARTHQUAKE OR WHEN ATWOOD FLOODED ALONG WITH MOST OF ORANGE COUNTY IN 1938 AND THE FLOOD-WATERS CLAIMED MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE, 43 OF WHICH WERE FROM ATWOOD! ALL OF THIS DURING A TIME THAT WE READ ABOUT IN SCHOOL AND KNOWN AS "THE GREAT DEPRESSION". SOMEWHERE IN ALL OF THAT SHE FOUND THE LOVE OF HER LIFE, GRANDPA LEO, GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL, GOT MARRIED, AND HAD KIDS!



THEN THERE WAS WORLD WAR II. FROM PEARL HARBOR TO HIROSHIMA, GRANDMA WAS RAISING MY UNCLE BOB AND MOM ARLINE. WITH AIR-RAID SIRENS AND BLACKOUTS SHE WAS A WIFE AND MOTHER. WHAT A TIME TO RAISE CHILDREN! I BET GRANDMA'S PARENTS WERE ABEL TO TELL HER A THING OR TWO ABOUT RAISING KIDS IN WARTIME.



GRANDMA WAS THERE WHEN THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA HELD THEIR 3RD ANNUAL NATIONAL JAMBOREE IN 1953. SHE SAW AIRBASES OPEN IN '42 AND CLOSE IN '99. SHE WATCHED WALTER KNOTT START UP HIS BERRY FARM AND WALT DISNEY TURN ORANGE GROVES AND STRAWBERRY PATCHES INTO DISNEYLAND!



SHE SAW THE HORSE AND CARRIAGE FADE AWAY INTO HISTORY AND SPACE TRAVEL EXPLODE BEFORE HER WITH THE FIRST LUNAR LANDING. JUST IMAGINE HOW MUCH TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED OVER THE LAST 100 YEARS. FROM TUBE RECTIFIERS TO SUPERCONDUCTORS; FROM TRANS-ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH CABLES TO SATELLITE TV.



SHE SAW MORE IN HER 93 YEARS THAN MOST OF US WILL EVER READ ABOUT, LET ALONE LIVE THROUGH!



OF THOSE 93 YEARS IT IS MY HONOR TO HAVE BEEN HER GRANDSON FOR 35 OF THEM. SHE WAS MY MOTHER WHEN MOM HAD TO WORK. SHE WIPED MY NOSE AND PUT FOOD IN MY MOUTH. SHE LET ME PLAY WITH GRANDPA EVEN THOUGH SHE NEEDED HIM TO TAKE HER TO THE STORE. SHE WAS MY GRANDMA AND I WILL MISS HER IMMENSELY.



JUST LOOK AROUND THIS ROOM; SHE DID THIS. SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING SO MANY GOOD PEOPLE INTO THIS WORLD AND TOGETHER TODAY. THIS IS HER LEGACY.



A Dedication To My Loving Wife, Stacey. Thank you for all you do for me!

Brad Paisley - I Thought I Loved You Then


I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you
You had me mesmerized
3 weeks later in the front porch light taking 45 min to kiss you goodnight
I hadn’t told you yet but I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I remember taking you back to right where I first met you
You were so surprised
There were people around
But I didn’t care I got down on one knee right there
And once again I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I can just see you with a baby on the way
I can just see you when your hair is turning gray
What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more
But I’ve said that before.

Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Well look back some day at this moment that we’re in
And I'll look at you and say I thought I loved you then
And I thought I loved you then...

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