Above the Fold 04.14.09

No guns for mentally disturbed…Chicanery, fraud and X-rated cable TV…The great economic stabilizer…Driving Ms. Margarita…More snow days for Denver city employees…Rescue 911…Red light Roberts Rules of Order…

The Washington Legislature committed an act of lunacy yesterday, outlawing gun sales for mentally ill people who have been involuntarily committed for two weeks or more. The vote came in at 39-1 vote in the Washington state Senate, regional media reports were mum on who or why one senator opposed the bill. Alan Gottleib, spokesman for the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms told the Seattle Post Intelligencer that his group had been satisfied because people can petition the courts to have their firearms “right” restored.

Scams and swindles are running rampant in California as attested to by the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News. In the LAT story, an in-home care program, called In Home Supportive Services, which cares for 442,000 impoverished elderly and disabled people in the state, is under investigation. Audits have found that widespread abuse is wasting the agency’s $5.42 billion budget, though they were less specific on what those funds were being wasted on other than every day overbilling and faking ailments. The Daily News, on the other hand, got the real dirt on a private foster care agency. According to the LADN, agency officials have enjoyed “lives of luxury at taxpayer expense…using public funds to pay for X-rated cable TV, gambling and expensive cars.”

USA Today is giving some credit where credit is due today, reporting that “state and local governments have proven resourceful in avoiding sever spending reductions and mass layoffs that have plagued the private sector.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, state and local governments have added workers in the last 16 months as the private sector has cut millions of jobs. Georgia State University economist says state governments act as an economic stabilizer, “It functions the same way as unemployment insurance kicks in during a recession.”

The Maryland General Assembly came close to the zero hour, but they finally came to a compromise, ending illegal immigrant driver’s licenses. The Washington Post said that Maryland was one of four states that still issued licenses to those who could not prove they were in the country legally. The move was aimed at making the state compliant with the federal security law, Real ID, which is causing a stir in states across the country for its cost.

A 911 system is being blamed in the court of public opion for the deaths of three Pittsburgh police. Though Allegheny County officials are defending their system, saying rather “human error” was likely to blame. Police walked into a gunfight, thinking no weapons were involved when a call came into 911, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

On a lighter note, a Texas city councilman was arrested for opposing red light cameras last week. According to reports, the mayor of Duncanville, Texas had a member of the council arrested for not wanting to spend $59,000 on a red light camera system. “I’m not the one who brought the red light camera scandal to Duncanville,” Ford responded at the private meeting. “I’m the one who brought it to light, but I’m not the one who imposed it on us…” The mayor said he was simply exercising Roberts Rules of Order, but I suspect he’ll have some explaining to do. Please, please watch the video by clicking here – you’ll be glad you did.

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