Does NYC Case Undercut Body Cameras?

Police body cameras can definitely be a force for good, but not Excalibur.

Now a New York City grand jury has decided not to indict a white policeman caught on film by a bystander putting an illegal chokehold on Eric Garner, who died. Some suggest this shows that police body cameras won’t work.

Two thoughts: (1) It matters that police officers know their actions and conversations are being recorded. Studies show that both the police and the people they come in contact with behave better when police wear cameras. In the NYC case, police didn’t necessarily know they were being filmed.

(2) Cameras won’t guarantee an indictment against an offending police officer, of course, nor should they, even when you and I might think the video evidence warrants it. Nor guarantee a policeman is cleared when we believe that’s the right decision. But it is irrefutable that the additional evidence gathered by a video and audio recording can be invaluable in any case. Regardless of whether or not a court or grand jury decision is correct.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/garner-case-weaken-argument-body-cameras/

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Ferguson: Problem & Solution

Months of unrest, including the riots and looting in the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision earlier this week not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, might have been avoided.

How, you ask? The use of personal police cameras is growing.  These cameras are worn on the officer’s uniform and record what goes on during their sh1408552000000-AP-Stop-and-Frisk-Camerasifts.  Having a video record of what is said and done by officers and by others who interact with the officers can make a world of difference in determining fault in a violent incident, and also on a daily basis, even when there is no such incident.

In Rialto, California, near Los Angeles, these body cameras have been used by 70 of its uniformed officers and a study conducted after their introduction showed public complaints filed against officers plunged an incredible 88 percent compared with the previous 12 months. Moreover, officers’ use of force fell by a whopping 60 percent.

The use of these cameras can only serve to help police do their job more effectively. The video recording can be a strong factor in keeping the police from abusing their powers and in protecting those same law enforcement officials when they must defend themselves.  Had Ferguson, Missouri, Officer Darren Wilson been wearing such a lapel camera, the events of that fateful day in August might have turned out differently. But almost certainly the events since that fateful August day, which have split the community and to an extent the entire country, would have been far different.

Knowledge is power. The truth shall set us free.

 

Townhall: Justice Vision by Paul Jacob

http://townhall.com/columnists/pauljacob/2014/11/16/justice-vision-n1919323

 

CNN: Protesters torch police car in another tense night in Ferguson

http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/25/justice/ferguson-grand-jury-decision/index.html

 

The Guardian: California police body cameras cut violence, complaints

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/04/california-police-body-cameras-cuts-violence-complaints-rialto

 

 

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by | November 26, 2014 · 5:07 pm

Leading the Charge for Term Limits

Michigan native and Liberty Initiative Fund Field Director Scott Tillman and his father Jeff are leading a grassroots effort in the Wolverine State to keep legislative term limits as they currently exist.  He has created an organization called Citizen Cavalry to bring attention to the efforts of outgoing State Senate majority leader Randy -486c9a655825d994Richardville, who is making the weakening of term limits one of his priorities of the lame duck session.

Tillman is touring the state with a 10-foot wooden horse, adorned with banners bringing attention to Richardville’s efforts.  The legislative term limits were approved by voters on a 1992 ballot measure, which amended the state’s constitution.

“It takes a big horse to scare away lame ducks.” Scott Tillman said of the horse. “We don’t want professional politicians, we want citizen legislators.”

Tillman has already found support in a Lansing area lawyer, Gregory Schmid.

“Long-term power breeds corruption,” Schmid said. “We want smart people to be in the legislature and to be experienced in government, but not entrenched. We’re trying to stamp out longtime fiefdoms.”

Read more from: Michigan Live

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by | November 21, 2014 · 9:05 pm

DC Council Tackles Police Takings

The Washington, D.C. City Council voted unanimously to advance legislation making significant reforms to the use of civil asset forfeiture by the city’s police force.  A second and final vote will take place on December 2.

Throughout the United States, the rules of civil asset forfeiture allow police officers to seize personal property such as cash, cars and even houses without charging the owners of that property with any crime. Police are also allowed to keep the proceeds in most jurisdictions around the country and a large part of the proceeds when they work through the federal “equitable sharing” program.

The legislation in Washington, D.C., will end the requirement that citizens have to post cash bonds to challenge such seizures, provides greater transparency about what is taken by police and how citizens can challenge those takings, would put all proceeds into the city’s general fund and not allow police to keep the funds they seize, and it will also end the city’s involvement in the federal program that shares the proceeds from civil asset forfeiture with local police departments.

Still, many rightly complain that the bill doesn’t go nearly far enough. For instance, it would allow asset seizures until 2018 through the federal “equitable sharing” program, justified because $670,000 per year has already been budgeted for the police operations from those proceeds.

Liberty Initiative Fund has launched a “Stop Stealing” campaign, working with local and state-level activists to put reform measures on the ballot, which will bring an end to the abuse of civil asset forfeiture.

Washington Post: DC Council votes to overhaul asset forfeiture

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Mass. Voters End Automatic Gas Tax

Last week, Massachusetts voters stopped automatic gas tax hikes by voting YES on Question 1, which repealed the legislature’s bill requiring the tax on gasoline to automatically rise with the rate of inflation in Massachusetts.

Supporters of Question 1 were outspent better than 17 to 1, but voters could not be dissuaded from a good idea. Liberty Initiative Fund was the largest single donor in favor of Question 1.

Opposition to the measure came almost entirely from construction companies likely to gain additional state business if the measure was defeated – a NO vote being to uphold the legislature’s enactment. A handful of companies and their related associations raised and spent more than $1.7 million against Question 1.

The election results saw the “Vote Yes” campaign win a 53 percent majority, garnering 1,091,131 votes versus 968,909 votes, 47 percent, against Question 1.

Boston.com: How Your Life Will (or Won’t) Change From the Massachusetts Ballot Question Results

Ballotpedia: Mass. Automatic Gas Tax Increase Repeal, Question 1

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Add 22 Pages to Arkansas Constitution?

ISSUE 3 KILLS TERM LIMITS, HIKES POLS’ PAY!!!

Have YOU Read It?

While you’re reading this story, thousands of Arkansas voters are being cheated, robbed of their right to vote – at least, to vote without their votes being counted against them.

Issue 3 on the Arkansas ballot kills and guts the term limits law voters enacted by citizen initiative in 1992 and supported again in even higher numbers ten years ago.

TrojanHorseTermLimits

Now comes Issue 3 to weaken the current House limit of 6 years to a whopping 16 years! Senators now limited to 8 years would be able to stay in power for 16 years as well. SIXTEEN YEARS? That’s no limit!

WORST OF ALL? The ballot wording doesn’t tell voters this simple fact. If it did, as the politicians who devised this dirty trick well know, Issue 3 would go down in flames.

Instead of informing voters that the amendment lengthens the limits, the ballot wording actually lies to voters, telling them that the measure is “setting term limits.”

Here is what voters will read on their ballot about Issue 3:

AN AMENDMENT REGULATING
CONTRIBUTIONS TO CANDIDATES FOR
STATE OR LOCAL OFFICE, BARRING GIFTS
FROM LOBBYISTS TO CERTAIN STATE
OFFICIALS, PROVIDING FOR SETTING
SALARIES OF CERTAIN STATE OFFICIALS,
AND SETTING TERM LIMITS FOR MEMBERS
OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The first part of the ballot wording is about contributions because Issue 3 outlaws corporate contributions. Not mentioned is the fact the U.S. Supreme Court has already said that provision is unconstitutional.

The second part says it will bar gifts from lobbyists to certain state officials. But this watered down provision will continue to allow plenty of gifts to legislators, including all-expense paid travel junkets from the biggest, richest lobbyists and special interests.

The third part of the ballot wording says the measure “provides for setting salaries.” Care to know how it “provides” for those salaries? Issue 3 sets up an “independent citizens commission” to set salaries. Elected? No. They’re appointed. By whom? By the very same politicians behind Issue 3.  So much for “independence”!

Issue 3 allows a group of cronies appointed by legislative leaders to hike the pay of legislators and other elected officials. How high, you ask? Well, there is no limit. The pay raise could be $25,000 or $50,000 or $100,000.

What can citizens do about that? If Issue 3 passes, NOTHING. This crony commission has absolutely no check on their power to set salaries – and to set them as high as they wish.

Last, but not least, is the ballot wording’s FLAT-OUT FALSEHOOD about “setting term limits.” Issue 3 is a world record for lies and deceptions – even for politicians!

THE PEOPLE ARE ARKANSAS ARE BEING DECEIVED AND DEFRAUDED.

Virtually no one – including the media – has read the entire 22-page, more than 7,500-word longest constitutional amendment in Arkansas history and knows what’s in it. And there has been a nearly total news blackout about its numerous provisions, with little if any reporting about the UNLIMITED PAY RAISE in Issue 3 or the DESTRUCTION of TERM LIMITS.

Already about a third of registered voters in Arkansas have cast their ballots in early voting completely unaware that the “tough-on-politicians” sounding Issue 3 is a lie written by politicians to destroy their term limits and snatch a big fat pay raise.

If you live in Arkansas, please warn your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. And do it NOW. If you know people in Arkansas, please call them or email them a link to this story. Don’t let the politicians and special interests steal their vote.

READ ALL 22 PAGES POLITICIANS ARE ATTEMPTING TO JAM INTO YOUR STATE CONSTITUTION (the gutting of term limits is on Page 16):

Issue 3 – Longest Amendment in AR History

 

 

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by | October 30, 2014 · 7:50 pm

Massachusetts’ Question 1 Questions Automatic Tax Increases

After the Massachusetts Legislature raised the state’s gasoline tax and then passed a law making future tax hikes automatic, tied to cost of living increases, citizens mobilized to gather enough petition signatures to put the issue of the automatic tax increases to a voter referendum on this November’s ballot. The referendum is known as Question 1.

Unless Question 1 passes, whenever the cost of living goes up, the cost of driving your car will go up as well. At a protest against the automatic tax increases, Richard Sourcinelli expressed a popular sentiment, “Let’s raise taxes, they never have an alternative, it’s always let’s just raise taxes.”

Voters should have a say in how and when the gas tax is raised, if at all. Question 1 would eliminate the automatic hikes, requiring a vote in the legislature to increase the tax.

But winning a Yes vote for repealing the gas tax law won’t be easy. CommonWealth Magazine reports that, “The Vote No campaign has raised nearly $1.7 million, far more than the $91,000 raised by the Vote Yes group.”

Why the disparity? The gas taxes collected are slated to go toward road construction and maintenance in the Bay State. And – surprise, surprise – the biggest opponents of Question 1 are construction companies doing business with the state.

“The big supporters of gas tax indexing are the Construction Industries of Massachusetts Advancement Fund of Framingham ($200,000), Suffolk Construction ($100,000), the Utility Contractors Association of New England ($100,000), the Massachusetts Aggregate and Asphalt Pavement Association ($100,000), and Hostetter ($90,000),” the magazine reports.

“The biggest donor to the Vote Yes campaign is the Liberty Initiative Fund of Woodbridge, Virginia,” according to the magazine, noting that LIF is “a group whose stated goal is to hold government accountable, fight crony capitalism, and protect individual liberties.”

WWLP-Channel 22: Locals protest Massachusetts automatic gas tax
Gas taxes automatically increase every year

CommonWealth Magazine:Breaking down big donors to ballot campaigns

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Term Limits coming to Your Neighborhood?

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan has  made a short video highlighting the grassroots efforts of dedicated individuals to establish municipal term limits in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Visit the Mackinac Center’s website: http://www.mackinac.org/

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The Truth about Phoenix’s Pension Fight

The Arizona Republic, the state’s largest newspaper, endorsed a YES vote on Proposition 487 in an editorial entitled, “Phoenix punted on pensions, Prop. 487 doesn’t.” The proposition, which will be on this November’s ballot, would prevent abuses of the system, known as “pension spiking,” and create a 401(k) style retirement program for new city employees.

Liberty Initiative Fund has been a major donor to the Prop 487 campaign.

The Republic editorial makes a number of important points:

“Phoenix officials had it in their power, once, to stave off Proposition 487, which ends traditional pensions for newly hired civilian employees.

“They declined. Actually, they did worse than simply decline. Faced with an increasingly expensive system that has been grossly abused by Phoenix’s highest paid and most influential retirees, the Phoenix City Council in 2013 proposed to voters changes that in some respects have made the system worse.”

“City leaders, for example, could not bring themselves to truly end the inappropriate practice of pension spiking, the artificial, end-of-career pay boost that helped balloon former City Manager David Cavazos’ annual pension to $232,000. Prop. 487 will.”

As for Prop 487, the paper wrote:

“Prop. 487, which would replace the pension with a 401(k)-type plan, is not a cure-all for past mistakes. It will not fix all of Phoenix’s growing pension woes. . . .

“But, in the end, these dramatic changes will give Phoenix control over skyrocketing pension costs that threaten to strangle the city’s ability to provide the services Phoenix residents have come to expect.”

The entire editorial can be found here.

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Grand Rapids Battle Over Term Limits

Term limitation for politicians is typically a hotly debated issue wherever it is proposed and Grand Rapids, Michigan, is no exception. The grassroots Grand Rapids Citizens for Municipal Term Limits group worked for months to gather enough petition signatures to place the issue on this November’s ballot.

Supporters argue that term limits open up the system and promote new ideas, preventing elected officials from becoming too comfortable in office and encouraging them to be more responsive to voters. The group hopes to raise enough money to be able to send out at least one mailer to voters.

Take a look at the mailer from proponents of municipal term limits: Term Limits Card 

Bonnie Burke, a leader of the pro-term limits group, wrote for the Grand Rapids Press:

“Term limits mandate that open, competitive elections are held in every seat at least once every eight years. This ensures that the commission better represents the current thinking of the citizens.

“Open-seat elections inspire serious, goal-oriented candidates to step up to the job, putting their experience from the private sector to work. This experience, much broader in commissions with term limits than those saddled with entrenched incumbencies, can be put to work in fresh ways.”

Meanwhile, opponents of term limits quickly organized against the charter amendment. The group, Protect Your Vote GR, consisting mainly of the big business lobbyists from the Chamber of Commerce and representatives of organized labor, has already stuffed mailboxes in the city with postcards claiming the ballot issue amounts to “hijacking of our local democratic process” and will “erode local control and silence your voice.”

Yet, it’s what those mailers don’t say that is most interesting, going out of their way not to mention two words: term limits.

MLive: Advocates make their pitch for and against term limits in Grand Rapids
http://www.mlive.com/opinion/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2014/10/guest_columns_advocates_make_t.html

Common Sense: Grand Rapids’ Grand Alliance
http://thisiscommonsense.com/2014/10/10/grand-rapids-grand-alliance/

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