The Farsider is an independent
publication that is not affiliated with the San Jose Police Benevolent
Assn. The SJPBA has allowed the Farsider to be included on its website solely for the convenience of
the retired San Jose Police community. The content of this newsletter does not represent or reflect
the views of the San Jose Police Benevolent Association's Board of Directors or its membership.
July's Membership Meeting will be held this coming Tuesday, July 11th, due to the holiday.
This article from the Wall Street Journal was sent in by Laurie McNamara, JoeMac’s widow. It’s shouldn’t come as a surprise that several cities are in a pension bind like San Jose was — and is…
Ill-Funded Police Pensions Put Cities in a Bind
that try cutting the retirement plans face pushback both from
the officers, some of whom quit, and from a generally pro-police public.
Heather Gillers and Zusha Elinson
Wall Street Journal — July 4, 2017
When the city of San Jose had trouble affording services such as road repair and libraries because of the cost of police pensions, it obtained voter approval to pare them. What happened next proved sobering for other cities in the same pickle. Hundreds of police officers quit. Response times for serious calls rose.
Faced with labor-union litigation, San Jose this year restored previous retirement ages and cost-of-living increases for existing police officers, and last month it gave them a raise.
Police pensions are among the worst-funded in the nation. Retirement systems for police and firefighters have just a median 71 cents for every dollar needed to cover future liabilities, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data provided by Merritt Research Services for cities of 30,000 or more.
The combined shortfall in the plans, which are the responsibility of municipal governments, is more than $80 billion, nearly equal to New York City’s annual budget.
Broader municipal pension plans have a median 78 cents of every dollar needed to cover future liabilities, according to data from Merritt. The 100 largest U.S. corporate pension plans have 85% of assets needed on hand, according to Milliman Inc. data as of March 31.
And yet any attempt to bring police pensions into line with today’s municipal budgets and stock-market performance runs into the reality that many officers won’t stand for it—and they often have the public behind them.
“They have extra clout because people love police,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. “I love police. You love police. An electrician—you don’t have that emotional tie.”
His city, like San Jose, found itself facing widespread police-officer resignations when it moved to cut their pensions. In Dallas, the situation became so difficult the state legislature stepped in this spring to work out a solution.
Police pensions were the first non-military retirement systems to be created in the U.S., in the second half of the 19th century. In later years, when municipal budgets were tight, augmenting pension promises in lieu of raises became a way governments could make peace with politically powerful police unions without incurring immediate new spending.
In the 1980s and 1990s, robust investment returns made governments’ pension promises look affordable. By 2001, major police and firefighter plans followed by the Public Plans Database, which tracks 150 major state and local pension plans, had a median 101% of what they needed to pay for future obligations.
The 2008 financial crisis wiped out pension-plan earnings at the same time that it put stress on municipal budgets, leading some cities to contribute less to the plans each year than what actuaries calculated was needed.
Also, many cities continued to assume robust 1990s-era investment returns when they calculated annual pension contributions. Their pension debt grew as those returns failed to materialize and cities didn’t adjust their contributions to the plans.
Memphis, Tenn., gambled it could cut police pensions without any impact on public safety. The city council voted in 2014 to end pensions for municipal workers, including the police, with 7.5 years of service or less, and replace the pensions with a hybrid plan combining pension and 401(k)-style benefits.
In the following two years, about 100 officers affected by the changes left the force, out of a total of about 2,000. Homicides rose to a record 228 last year from 167 in 2014. Billboards erected by the police union around town read, “Welcome to Memphis: 228 homicides in 2016, down over 500 police officers.” Memphis currently has 1,928 officers, down from 2,416 in 2012.
The city’s mayor, Jim Strickland, has since pledged to increase police staffing. A spokeswoman for the city said enrollment in the police academy is increasing despite the reduced benefits package. Even so, city officials recently announced a $6.1 million grant for retention bonuses. Meanwhile, the police union is trying to get certain benefits restored in court.
One of the first cities that tried to bring police pension costs down was San Jose, where former Mayor Chuck Reed asked voters to approve pension cuts as part of a 2012 ballot measure.
Among the hundreds of police officers who quit after voters said yes to the change was Tim Watermulder, who left to join the Oakland police department in 2013. It had been announced that the police-academy class in which he graduated would be the first to operate under a new system providing lower cost-of-living increases and a retirement age of 60 instead of 50.
“You start to see what police work is really like every day,” said Mr. Watermulder, 35 years old, who fought in Iraq with the U.S. military before becoming a police officer. “I really started thinking about ‘Can I do this job till I’m 60?’”
About 180 of 1,109 sworn officer positions in San Jose are currently vacant. San Jose has the lowest number of officers per capita among the nation’s 35 largest cities, according to a Journal analysis of Federal Bureau of Investigation data from 2015, the most recent available.
Response times for the most serious calls rose to an average of 7.3 minutes last year from 6.1 minutes in fiscal 2011, according to the police department.
San Jose is still safe compared with many other cities, but its violent-crime rate jumped last year to the highest since 2008. “A lot of it had to do with us not having enough officers,” said San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia. His advice to other cities seeking to shore up their finances by cutting police benefits: “Don’t make a crisis into a bigger crisis.”
Crime has risen in many cities in recent years, not just in those that have lost officers. Per capita homicide rates are up in 27 of the country’s 35 largest cities since 2014, according to homicide data. The causes of such increases are hard to pinpoint, but there is little doubt “losing hundreds of officers would make a big difference in the ability to control crime,” said Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
San Jose, to retain and recruit officers, has gone beyond rolling back changes it had tried to make in retirement ages and cost-of-living increases for existing police officers. Police got a 10% raise last month, to be followed by 3% raises in 2018 and 2019.
Since those measures were put in place, police-academy enrollment has risen sharply. “It looks like were now on the right track,” a city spokesman said.
Dallas has had an unusual struggle with the police-pension issue. The funding level of its plan for police and firefighters earlier this year fell to just 36%, among the lowest in the nation.
A trouble spot has been a plan created 25 years ago in an effort to keep experienced officers from leaving for police jobs elsewhere after they qualified for police pensions around age 50.
Officials figured they couldn’t afford sufficient wage increases to keep those officers, so instead they would sweeten pension benefits, said Steve Bartlett, who was mayor when the special fund was created.
That deal allowed officers who worked into their 50s to earn a pension and a salary at the same time. Terms provided for a guaranteed 8% to 10% return on the assets contributed to the plan, forcing the pension fund to make up the difference when market returns came in below that threshold. Officers who stuck around long enough could potentially accumulate $1 million in the special fund.
“They said, ‘Hey, the retirement is top notch. You may not be paid well initially, but in the end you’ll be a millionaire,’ said Brad Uptmore, a Dallas police officer for 10 years.
The promised return became harder to deliver after the financial crisis, as real-estate investments the fund made from Hawaii to Paris went sour and triggered more than $500 million in losses.
Spooked by the losses and talk of benefit cuts, hundreds of police and firefighters quit, withdrawing $500 million from the roughly $3 billion fund and pushing it closer to insolvency.
The city sought help from the Texas legislature. In late May the state government approved a package that requires the city to contribute an additional $25 million to $40 million a year to the pension plan while also cutting benefits.
Under the legislation, a police officer who is now 40 and retires in 2035 can get a pension that year of $95,339, compared with $109,583 under the old pension structure, according to a hypothetical calculated by the pension fund.
The changes may not be enough. The plan will still have less than half what it needs to cover its liabilities, according to an estimate provided by the fund to legislators. A review by S&P Global Ratings concluded that “more reforms will be needed.” Mayor Rawlings agreed the city has “much work ahead.”
Many longtime Dallas police officers won’t be around to see how the changes pan out, including Mr. Uptmore. He left to join the much smaller police department of Southlake, Texas, in the spring of last year—one of 336 Dallas officers who left in 2016.
“Once you realize there’s no gold at the end of the rainbow, I think you stop pursuing that,” Mr. Uptmore said.
THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF SAN JOSE AND THE SJPD
“Oops,” says the SJPD to the DOJ’s pencil pushers. “We’ll try to do better in the future. Scout's honor.” (or words to that effect)
DOJ Says SJPD ‘Improperly’ Tracked Federal Funds
By Robert Salonga <rsalonga@bayareanewsgroup.Ecom>
SAN JOSE — A new Justice Department audit report chides the San Jose Police Department for sloppily tracking or “improperly” sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds, including tens of thousands in expenditures that couldn’t be readily accounted for.
Though the report released Thursday does not accuse SJPD of breaking any law, it contends the department did not have separate accounting for its use of DOJ “equitable sharing revenue.” That is money generated when a local law-enforcement agency participates in an investigation that results in a federal asset forfeiture, like an illegal gambling crackdown that ends up being prosecuted in federal court.
The report found that the department allowed “commingling” between the federal funds and other revenue sources, making it difficult or in some cases impossible to accurately report how much of the money was being used.
“Based on our audit work, we determined that the SJPD did not have sufficient internal controls and lacked formal policies and procedures to properly account for and manage the use of DOJ equitable sharing funds,” the agency’s Office of the Inspector General stated.
The amount of money reviewed by the audit — $569,461 between 2012 and 2015 — accounts for less than 0.05 percent of the annual police department budget, which was a shade over $344 million for the current fiscal year ending Friday.
Police Chief Eddie Garcia was conciliatory about the audit, chalking it up to accounting and procurement discrepancies that he pledged will be remedied in compliance with the DOJ’s recommendations.
“There was no misappropriation of funds, no fraud, no missing revenue. Having said that, everyone in this department is held accountable,” Garcia said. “When these audits come in, we absolutely want to get better as an organization. I applaud the DOJ for doing this audit. We welcome this information.”
Additionally, the report found the department improperly invested some of the federal funds in stocks, bonds and marketable securities, and says that in one 10-year stretch, over $1.2 million went unused — presumably to save for the purchase of a new police helicopter — instead of being spent more expediently in accordance with the aims of the equitable sharing program.
“We found that the SJPD was not in compliance” with a requirement “that prohibited agencies from retaining equitable sharing funds unnecessarily,” the report said.
Other issues included the use of the federal funds to pay for gift cards for two of the department’s recent gun-buy-back events. Auditors found the process used to collect the guns was not methodical enough to make clear which weapons were being obtained with the federal funds, making any accounting an estimate at best.
The audit also faulted the department for being late in submitting some spending reports, and for placing the money into the city’s general fund where it drew investment income in violation of the funding agreement.
The Office of the Inspector General made 13 recommendations to the police department to shore up its accounting of the funds, 12 of which SJPD agreed with and promised remedies in a response letter.
The two parties stalemated over the use of $33,390 to purchase window coverings for the South San Jose police substation, with the audit asserting a conflict of interest with a vendor who had a personal connection to a city employee. The department disagreed, arguing that the affiliation did not have any bearing on the procurement of the window coverings.
Otherwise, the proposed remedies include clear separation and accounting for the equitable sharing funds. Police attributed the helicopter purchase delay to budget cuts that grounded the helo unit, but stated burgeoning plans to get to the chopper.
“No organization is perfect, and this makes us get better,” Garcia said. “My staff that works in finance works extremely hard and extremely diligent, but they’re not perfect either, and this gives us areas to tighten up on.”
Garcia added: “The steps that we are taking to address these issues, the DOJ is in agreement that this is the right direction to go.”
The 911 calls in Grass Valley never cease to amaze me. The attachment is from The Union newspaper of June 17th. I especially like the first entry from Friday, 2:28 p.m., and the last line, "in case something comes up.”
Jim Roach, 2057 <email@example.com>
• • • • •
You introduced me to Diamond and Silk in the Farsider a few months ago and I have been a fan ever since. Have you seen their latest rant about the controversy between President Trump and MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough? If not, the link is below.
Red State <RedState70@comcast.net>
Thanks for bringing their latest video to my attention, Red. They are fun to watch, but I’ve been busy and missed this clip of the dynamic conservative duo. I especially love watching the assorted facial expressions of Silk. After I posted this video on the San Jose cops’ Facebook page, the comments received indicate that they have several other fans besides us. HERE is a link to the video.
• • • • •
Hope you had a good 4th. I figured it was time for me to chime in on Health Care. Actually, it's too complicated and somewhat over my head, but here's a quick two-cents worth.
Health care, as Warren Buffet was saying the other day on PBS, has to do (mostly) with costs. Forty years ago health care took up 5% of GNP, now that percentage is slightly over 17% and rising. A lot of people are making a whole lot of money, and they've managed to make it so convoluted, complicated and entrenched that it seems nearly impossible to untangle. The Democrats couldn't do it, and now the Republicans can't either. There is so much money and so many pressure points, and no one knows how much cheating and sabotage has taken place in order to preserve the institutional status quo. It's only a little bit about patient care. It's a lot about institutions’ bank accounts, which is their bottom line. Start tracking the money flow and you will see.
I'm no expert, but Buffet's off-the-cuff solution — Single Payer — might be the best way forward. Between Medicare and Medicaid we've got a good start in that direction. Control cost through the ballot box. The medical establishment would have to do some ego shifting and reinvent a cheaper but better version of itself, but even that could be done. Plus, if you wanted extra insurance, that too would be available through private market plans. Best of both worlds.
Lawmakers are feeling like they have polio or something, like they are paralyzed, afraid to stand up. It's just change of course, but then, everybody is scared of change. Everyone knows the price of everything, but no one knows the value of anything, until they lose it. So they better get with it.
Dave Scannell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For what it’s worth, I'll also add my two-cents about health care. When Obama was elected, he had both the House and Senate to do his bidding, and what he and many Democrats really wanted was a single payer system not unlike Canada’s and the UK’s. But the Democrats knew there wouldn’t be public support for a single payer system. So they hatched the Affordable Care Act that they managed to pass without so much as one Republican vote. The beauty of this to the Democrats’ way of thinking is that it would eventually be too costly and fail, thereby forcing the government into a single payer plan, which was their original goal. All this time the Republicans held fast to the mantra of “repeal and replace,” which was ridiculous because they have not been able to do either. And if they do manage to repeal it, what are they going to be able to replace it with? One of the major differences between Obamacare and what the GOP wants to do is take away the mandate that forces young, healthy people to purchase health care or be fined. Without that revenue, new taxes will have to be generated in order to make up for the loss of revenue. Bottom line: I’ve got a $50 bill that says we will have a single payer plan by this time next year, and the Republicans will be blamed for it since they were the last ones to carry the ball on the health care issue.
• • • • •
The world famous Morgan Hill parade was a total success. I took a few photos, and here is one of the reviewing stand.
Mike Egan <email@example.com>
Son-of-a-gun, Mike. Looks like you managed to capture almost all of the fine citizens of Morgan Hill. Well done! (???)
RETIRED OFFICER NEEDS OUR ASSISTANCE
Please help support retired SJPD Officer Juan Reyes Battle ALS.
Come enjoy a spaghetti dinner and help support Juan in his fight with ALS.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. All proceeds, including tips, will go directly to the Reyes family to help reduce medical costs and help them purchase new accommodations for Juan's accessibility needs (i.e proper bed, ADA shower, etc.).
Tickets will be pre-sold at the cafe and will be available the night of the event. Each meal will include spaghetti, bread, salad and a drink. Flyer is below.
Mike Alford, President <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Police & Fire Retirees Assoc.
NEW RETIREES’ ASSN. NEWSLETTER NOW AVAILABLE
The latest electronic version of the Billy & Spanner is now available on-line. Thank you to all who have agreed to receive the on-line version of the newsletter
Click HERE to download the newsletter.
AN INVITATION FROM THE NEWLY FORMED “SJPD EMERALD SOCIETY”
Contact Margie Thompson at <email@example.com> for more info about this…
DATE CHANGE FOR GARY KEITH’S FIFTH
ANNUAL OLD TIMERS’ GATHERING
Metro, H-Cars and MERGE Assoc.
All active and retired Cops and friends of SJPD are welcome. Expect to see all the usual suspects. Everyone is welcome. This year we will be there for two days.
July 25-26 (Tuesday and Wednesday)
Arrive on Tuesday by 3:00 p.m.
Seafood Buffet Dinner on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.
Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino
711 Lucky Lane
Coarsegold, CA 93945
Group ID #170725AMERICA
Tell them you are from America’s Best Law Enforcement Agency
RSVP to Jack Baxter at 707-513-7023 or <firstname.lastname@example.org> as soon as possible for a good head count. Please share this notice since we don’t have everyone addresses.
THINK OF THE MESSAGE THIS IS SENDING TO SOUTH AMERICAN COUNTRIES
(Tucker Carlson video regarding this below…)
San Francisco to Pay $190G to Undocumented Immigrant Over Sanctuary Law Violation, Lawyer Says
FOX News — June 30, 2017
A man from El Salvador in the U.S. illegally who sued San Francisco after police turned him over to immigration authorities in violation of the city's sanctuary law is set to be awarded $190,000, his attorney said Thursday.
Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno, 33, reached the settlement agreement with the city attorney's office, said Saira Hussain, a staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus who represented Zarceno. The agreement must be approved by the Board of Supervisors.
“It’s really important for San Francisco to remain a sanctuary city not in name only but also in practice,” Hussain told The San Francisco Examiner. “Our hope is that the department is going to look into this further and really examine the way that the department can do more."
Figueroa-Zarceno sued San Francisco in January for violating its sanctuary city law.
The construction worker said he went to police in December 2015 after getting a call from authorities that his stolen car had been found. Instead of helping him, he said, officers detained him and called immigration authorities.
He was taken into custody by federal authorities outside the police station and was in jail for two months. He has been fighting his deportation since his release.
"What happened to me was very unfair and it was an injustice," Figueroa-Zerceno said. "I went into the police station to seek help and they didn't tell me what was happening and they arrested me and treated me badly."
City law prohibits law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal immigration officials except when violent criminals are involved.
Part of the law's purpose was to encourage immigrants to report crimes they may be afraid of disclosing because of fear that investigating officers would turn them over to immigration authorities.
San Francisco's sanctuary law was thrust into the national debate on immigration after the July 2015 slaying of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle.
The man charged with murder in Steinle's slaying, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had been released by San Francisco sheriff's officials months earlier despite a request by immigration officials to keep him behind bars.
House Republicans took action Thursday to crack down on illegal immigrants and the cities that shelter them.
One bill passed by the House would deny federal grants to sanctuary cities and another, Kate’s Law, would increase the penalties for deported aliens who try to return to the United States.
Tucker Carlson discussed this issue on his show. Click HERE to watch the segment…
OFFICER WOUNDED, SUSPECT DEAD IN SHOOTOUT IN DUNDALK, MARYLAND
(Real-time video of the shootout below…)
Gunfight Includes Shotguns and Dual-Welding Pistols
By Officer Blue
June 29, 2017 — Blue Lives Matter
Dundalk, MD – Baltimore county prosecutors announced that the Dundalk officer-involved shooting on a metro bus earlier this month was justified. Intense video from the gunfight has been released showing the moment it started inside the bus and body cam footage during the gunfight.
The incident happened on June 7, after Blaine Erb robbed two people in a shopping center parking lot and then fled onto an MTA bus on Dundalk Ave.
Officers stopped the bus to look for Erb, and as they went to contact him, he pulled his pistols. Erb then opened fire on Officer Slocum, who was unable to get a safe shot with all of the passengers on the bus.
The officer retreated around the side of the bus as all of the passengers fled. Other officers responded to the area and engaged Blaine Erb in a gunfight as Erb shot at officers with a pistol in each hand.
During the gunfight, Officer Slocum was shot in the leg. Other officers used a tourniquet to save her.
After an intense gunfight, officers were able to shoot Blaine Erb until his blood pressure dropped to 0, at which time he was taken into custody. Prosecutors declined to charge him because he was dead.
Despite Blaine Erb actively attempting to murder police officers by shooting at them with multiple firearms, Baltimore Sun’s Alison Knezevich reports that Erb’s niece says that police didn’t need to kill him and “police could have fired at Erb ‘with a non-lethal shot.'”
Knezevich reports that the prosecutor said that the videos “greatly contributed to our ability to make a quick decision in this case,” and “It’s clear that several officers were in danger and civilians were in danger. The officers had to protect themselves and the community.”
You can see the video of the gunfight below.
Click HERE to view the real time footage.
Below is the text that accompanies the video. It provides details not covered in the article above…
A police shootout that seriously injured an officer and a bystander in Dundalk, prosecutors said. Baltimore County Deputy State's Attorney Robbin S. Coffin said video footage from police and MTA cameras show officers took proper action during their June 7 confrontation with Blaine Robert Erb, 35, on June 7. Officer 1st Class Slocum, a 13-year veteran assigned to Precinct 12 in Dundalk, was shot twice in a lower extremity during the confrontation. She has been released from the hospital, police said June 13. Police said officers were called around 2:49 p.m. June 7 for an armed robbery in progress on Dundalk Avenue near Avon Beach Road. Officers received information that a man had robbed two people at gunpoint. According to MTA bus video obtained by 11 News, Erb got on a bus -- at Belclare Road and Dundalk Avenue near the Logan Village Shopping Center -- in Dundalk at 2:53 p.m. Just after that, two police officers stopped the bus and got on to talk to Erb and that's when he pulled a gun and fired a shot at an officer standing at the rear exit. Erb then told everyone to get off the bus.
Erb is then seen in the video with two guns standing in the rear exit, firing in all directions. That goes on for about a minute and a half, at which point he stopped and reloaded. At one point, he walked to the front of the bus and fired some shots and police fired back. Erb eventually made a run for it. Meanwhile outside, a police body camera captured the tense moments. One officer switched from a shotgun to a pistol. Erb went down on a nearby lawn. The officer runs closer, but Erb did not listen to police. "Drop the gun. Drop the gun," can be heard in the video. Erb was shot, and the gun battle was over. "I actually had to watch it a couple of times because I was a little bit in disbelief," Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger said. Shellenberger said after reviewing the case, which included social media video, police body-camera video and MTA video there is no doubt the police shooting were justified, and no further action would be taken. "And when you look at all three of those, you get a very complete picture that these officers were justified in using deadly force because not only were their lives in danger, but the lives of many civilians in the area were in danger," Shellenberger said.
THIS MAY BE A WIN FOR THE GUN LOBBY, BUT FOR HOW LONG?
Judge Blocks California's High-Capacity Magazine Ban
A federal judge on Thursday blocked a California law set to take effect Saturday that
would have barred gun owners from possessing high-capacity ammunition magazines.
By Don Thompson — Associated Press
US News and World Report — June 29, 2017
In this June 27, 2017 photo, a semi-automatic rifle is displayed with a 25 shot magazine, left, and a 10 shot magazine, right, at a gun store in Elk Grove, Calif. A federal judge is blocking a California law set to go into effect Saturday, July 1, that would have barred gun owners from possessing high-capacity ammunition magazines. San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez said in ruling Thursday, June 29, that the law banning possession of magazines containing more than 10 bullets would have made criminals of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens who now own the magazines.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday blocked a California law set to take effect Saturday that would have barred gun owners from possessing high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The judge ruled that the ban approved by the Legislature and voters last year takes away gun owners' Second Amendment rights and amounts to the government taking people's private property without compensation.
California law has prohibited buying or selling the magazines since 2000, but until now allowed those who had them to keep them.
"Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of otherwise law-abiding citizens will have an untenable choice: become an outlaw or dispossess one's self of lawfully acquired property," San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez wrote.
He issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law from taking effect while he considers the underlying lawsuit filed by the National Rifle Association-affiliated California Rifle & Pistol Association.
Meanwhile, a Sacramento-based judge on Thursday rejected a similar challenge by several other gun owners' rights organizations, creating what Ari Freilich, staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, called "dueling opinions" that may be sorted out on appeal.
"Unfortunately this law will be delayed but we are confident it will go into effect, and soon," he said.
He called the San Diego lawsuit and ruling part of an effort by the NRA "to delay and dismantle California's law brick by brick."
Had the ban taken effect, owners would have been required to get rid of their magazines by sending them out of state, altering them to hold no more than 10 bullets, destroying them or turning them into law enforcement agencies. Possession could have been punished by $100 fines or up to a year in jail.
Owners can now keep the magazines until a final ruling by Benitez or if an appeals court overturns his injunction, said Chuck Michel, attorney for the NRA and the California Rifle & Pistol Association.
"This court recognized that the Second Amendment is not a second-class right and that law-abiding gun owners have the right to own these magazines to defend themselves and their families," Michel said.
State lawmakers approved the ban last year as part of a package of bills adding to what already were some of the nation's strictest gun laws. Voters agreed in November when they approved Proposition 63, a measure that toughened the penalties by allowing violators to be fined or jailed.
Benitez said he was mindful of voters' approval and government's legitimate interest in protecting the public but added that the "Constitution is a shield from the tyranny of the majority."
Gun owner's constitutional rights "are not eliminated simply because they possess 'unpopular' magazines holding more than 10 rounds," he wrote in a 66-page decision.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra criticized the decision but did not say what he will do next.
"Proposition 63 was overwhelmingly approved by voters to increase public safety and enhance security in a sensible and constitutional way," Becerra said in a statement. "I will defend the will of California voters because we cannot continue to lose innocent lives due to gun violence."
Supporters say that magazines often holding 30 or 100 bullets are typically used in mass shootings and aren't needed by hunters or civilian owners.
"Clearly it escalates the lethality in any mass shooting when high-capacity magazines are involved," said Amanda Wilcox, a spokeswoman for the California chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence whose daughter was fatally shot.
Forcing assailants to change magazines more frequently gives victims time to flee or subdue the shooter, Becerra argued in court filings.
He listed as examples the shooting in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people and injured 53; the terrorist assault that killed 14 and injured 22 in San Bernardino; the massacre of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; and the Arizona attack that killed six and wounded 13 including former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Moreover, the government wouldn't own the magazines in the way it would property seized for a new highway or public building, he argued, since the magazines would be destroyed by law enforcement agencies.
Becerra said opponents' Second Amendment challenge has repeatedly been rejected by other courts, allowing at least seven other states and 11 local governments to already restrict the possession or sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines.
STORIES OF THE WEEK
Received from Steve Postier
A fleeing Taliban terrorist, desperate for water, was plodding through the Afghan desert when he saw something far off in the distance.
Hoping to find water he hurried toward the mirage, only to find a very frail little old Jewish man standing at a small makeshift display rack selling ties.
The Taliban terrorist asked, "Do you have water?"
The Jewish man replied, "I have no water, would you like to buy a tie, only $5."
The Taliban shouted hysterically, "Idiot infidel! I do not need such an over-priced western adornment. I spit on your ties, I need water!"
"Sorry, I have none, just ties, pure silk, only $5."
"Pahh! A curse on your ties, I should wrap one around your scrawny little neck and choke the life out of you, but I must conserve my energy and find water!"
"Okay," said the little old Jewish man, "It does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie from me or that you hate me, threaten my life and call me an infidel. I will show you that I am bigger than any of that. If you continue over that hill to the east for about one mile you will find a superb restaurant, having the finest food and all the ice-cold water and drinks you could want."
Cursing him again the desperate Taliban staggered off over the hill.
A couple hours later he crawled back with a $5 bill in his hand in his hand and said, "They won't let me in without a tie!"
• • • • •
Nun and the Warm Milk
Received from Tom Weston
In a convent in Ireland, the 99-year-old Mother Superior lay quietly. She was dying. The other nuns had gathered around her bed laying garlands around her and trying to make her last journey comfortable. They wanted to give her some warm milk to drink, but she declined. One of the nuns took the glass back to the kitchen. Then, remembering a bottle of Irish Whiskey that had been received as a gift the previous Christmas, she opened it and poured a generous amount into the warm milk.
Back at Mother Superior's bed, they lifted her head gently and held the glass to her lips. The very frail nun drank a little, then a little more, and before they knew it, she had finished the whole glass down to the last drop. As her eyes brightened, the nuns thought it would be a good opportunity to have one last talk with their spiritual leader.
"Mother," the nuns asked earnestly, "Please give us some of your wisdom before you leave us."
She raised herself up very slowly in the bed on one elbow, looked at them and said, “Don’t sell that cow.”
• • • • •
Grandpa and Grandma from a child’s eyes…
After Christmas, a teacher asked her young pupils how they spent their holiday away from school. One child wrote the following:
We always used to spend the holidays with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live in a big brick house, but Grandpa got retarded and they moved to Florida.
Now they live in a tin box and have rocks painted green to look like grass. They ride around on their bicycles and wear name tags because they don't know who they are anymore. They go to a building called a wrecked center, but they must have got it fixed because it is all okay now. They do exercises there, but they don't do them very well. There is a swimming pool too, but all they do is jump up and down with their hats on.
At their gate there is a doll house with a little old man sitting in it. He watches all day so nobody can escape. Sometimes they sneak out and go cruising in their golf carts.
Nobody there cooks, they just eat out. And they eat the same thing every night -- early birds. Some of the people can't get out past the man in the doll house. The ones who do get out bring food back to the wrecked center for pot luck.
My Grandma says that Grandpa worked all his life to earn his retardment and says I should work hard so I can be retarded someday too. When I earn my retardment, I want to be the man in the doll house. Then I will let people out so they can visit their grandchildren.
• • • • •
-- This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you
need to shut up.
"Five Minutes" -- If she is getting dressed, this is half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given 5 more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.
"Nothing" -- This is the calm before the storm. This means "something," and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with 'Nothing' usually end in "Fine"
"Go Ahead" -- This is a dare, not permission. Don't do it.
(Loud Sigh) -- This is not actually a word; it's a nonverbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over nothing.
"That's OK" -- This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can make to a man. "That's OK" means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.
"Thanks" -- A woman is thanking you. Do not question it or faint. Just say you're welcome.
And last but certainly not least...
"Whatever" -- This is a woman's way of saying "$#%& you!"
THE BEST OF THE LATE NITE JOKES
Very limited this week due to the 4th of July holiday and vacations by various late night talk show hosts.
June 28 — 29
June 28: I saw that President Trump retweeted a 16-year-old who posted a photo calling CNN the "Fake News Network." When asked what it's like to have a child follow you on Twitter, the 16-year-old said, "Pretty cool!"
Some parents are planning to boycott Disney World's Hall of Presidents now that it features Trump. Or as their kids put it, "Oh, no. Guess we'll just have to do Splash Mountain again."
I saw yesterday Republican senators took coach buses to the White House to meet with Trump about healthcare. You could tell which senators actually read the bill, 'cuz they were the ones buckling their seatbelts.
The other day, a man in Minnesota got arrested, and handed the officer a Monopoly "Get out of jail free" card. Then when he got to prison, his cellmate handed him a card that said, "You won a beauty contest."
A woman in South Carolina just gave birth to a 14.4-pound baby boy. The doctor was like, "Congratulations! It's a man!"
June 29: Trump accused Mika Brzezinski of getting plastic surgery, which is odd, because that’s the only thing covered by his healthcare plan.
Today is the 10th anniversary of the release of the first iPhone. It’s also the 10th anniversary of someone asking their bartender, “Um, can you charge this for me?”
Airbnb is planning to launch a luxury service for mansions. They say it’s perfect for people who want to have everything stolen from their mansion.
A woman gave birth to a baby on a recent Spirit Airlines flight. When the flight attendant said, “Is there a doctor on board?” the passengers said, “Of course not. This is Spirit Airlines.”
For the fourth time, a small town in Kentucky has elected a dog as its mayor. People were so excited; at the victory party, they kept chanting, “28 more years! 28 more years!”
June 28: President Trump today met several Native American tribal leaders. They had a lot of questions for the president, such as, "How the hell did you manage to lose money running a casino?"
During a phone call with the Irish prime minister yesterday, President Trump reportedly told an Irish journalist in the Oval Office that she had "a nice smile on her face." Then he said, "Wait, now it's gone."
According to new research, a press-on patch for the flu vaccine works just as well as the flu shot. You just remove the adhesive backing and place it firmly over your co-worker's mouth.
A British man who previously set a record for making the world's largest Rubik's cube recently created what he believes is the world's largest fidget spinner. And then he went home and slept in the world's emptiest bed.
Spirit Airlines recently gave a family 21 years of free travel after a mother went into labor and gave birth mid-flight. Though they probably should have given those free flights to the guy sitting next to her.
June 29: Last night, President Trump hosted the first fundraiser for his 2020 re-election campaign. The event was black tie, but white guests.
Today, President Trump met with the newly elected president of South Korea. “Do you speak English?” asked the president of South Korea.
This weekend is the July 4th holiday weekend, or as your dog calls it, PTSD Day.
According to a new study, the best-received smiles are those that have a pleasing balance of teeth, which is incidentally the worst-received compliment. “Has anyone ever told you how your balance of teeth is pleasing to the eye? Is this seat taken?”
A company in New York City has opened what some are calling a nonalcoholic cocktail bar that creates drinks using lemons and herbal ingredients instead of alcohol. And this is cool — they’re using empty chairs instead of customers.
A new poll found that 10 percent of people post vacation photos on social media to make others jealous, and 100 percent of people click on them to see co-workers in a bathing suit.
June 28: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that voting on the [healthcare] bill would be delayed until after the Fourth of July. It's a smart move. You don't want to strip people of healthcare until after the holiday that mixes booze and explosives.
The New York Times said Donald Trump "faltered in his role as a 'closer.'" Yeah, usually, he's a great closer. Just look at his casinos. Oh wait, you can't, they're gone.
According to the Times, Trump failed to sway Senate Republicans who didn't support the bill. His top aides didn't lobby for it, and one Republican senator said the president did not have a grasp of some basic elements of the Senate plan.
If you haven't heard, there's been another global cyber-attack. This time, hackers unleashed a virus called GoldenEye, which you may remember as the name of Pierce Brosnan's first James Bond film. Which means it's a pretty good virus, but your dad still thinks Sean Connery's malware was better.
June 29: I’m going to say something I didn’t think was possible anymore: I am shocked by something Donald Trump said. I thought, by now, that my soul had calcified into a crouton. Not true, because today, the president of the United States tweeted, “How come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”
First of all, someone bleeding badly at your door, and you say no? Sounds like your healthcare plan. I mean, turning them away from your hotel during the middle of winter is literally the story of Christmas. Only there wasn’t a wise man in sight.
Let’s stop pretending Trump is a symptom of something. He’s the disease, and the only cure is three and a half years of liquor and bed rest.
Of course, the first lady defended her husband via her spokesperson: “As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.” Yes, as the first lady says, “When they go low, we go 10 times lower.”
WEEKLY SNOPES URBAN LEGEND UPDATE
Click HERE for the most current update.
• • • • •
Happy belated Independence Day. Hope yours was enjoyable. Mine? Not so much. After seeing what this chicken could do while I was munching on one of Colonel Sanders’ drumsticks two days ago on the 4th of July, I resolved to never bring home some food from KFC ever again. God only knows how many potential piano players I have eaten over the last several decades, including those that are undeniably patriotic. Give a look and a listen to THIS chick play “America the Beautiful” on the keyboard! (4:50)
• • • • •
We don’t know what Asian country this is, but it doesn’t matter. Focus on Man’s Best Friend guarding his owner’s bicycle, then watch what happens after the owner returns and gets ready to ride away, but not until the dog gives the OWNER the green light to leave. (0:57)
• • • • •
This cop's body cam footage is shaky, but watch what happens after he frees a dog whose leg is tangled in a wire fence. You will find it hard to believe, but the PROOF is in the video. (2:49)
• • • • •
It’s been said by those in the know that the great apes share 97 percent of our human DNA. Watch how THIS Orangutan responds to a magic trick for confirmation. (0:38)
• • • • •
Did you know that during the winter, Hummingbirds get together and socialize at a private heated spa? True story. Not fake news! HERE is 48 seconds of proof.
• • • • •
When performing skits on the Carol Burnett Show with Harvey Korman, Tim Conway had only two objectives: 1) To make the audience laugh, and 2) To crack up Harvey. Check out THIS short except from one of the shows. (1:18)
• • • • •
Step aboard this B-17 on a secret mission during World War II where two heroic flyboys plan on jumping out with the intent of blowing up a NAZI bridge. (8:51)
• • • • •
When I”m in need of a good belly laugh I watch this 10-year-old video of a couple of news anchors covering a runway model as she stumbles in some shoes that are insanely difficult to walk in. I’m not laughing at her, mind you, I’m laughing at the uncontrollable laughter of the NEWS anchors. It’s a perfect case of laughter breeding laughter. (1:29)
• • • • •
Think about this clip the next time you fly. Put another way, do not throw out your boarding pass where others can find it. THIS is why: (1:17)
• • • • •
Imagine getting assaulted and sustaining two shiners because the fried chicken you just sold wasn’t warm! That’s what happened at a chicken shack in Baxley, George. Watch and listen to THIS. ((2:31)
Follow up to the item above: BOLO for this couple and help the US Marshals and Baxley PD search for them, as well as tons of Georgia TV viewers. (2:50)
• • • • •
Leave it to cop to screw up the natural order of things, right? Watch all 51 seconds of THIS clip received from Feebie Tom Weston and you will see what we mean. (0:51)
• • • • •
Bob Kosovilka is rather proud of how easily HIS former comrade handled this Repo call that concluded in an attack that began with a shove and ended with a shovel. Note that the Russian cop adhered to the correct escalation of force (voice, hands, etc.) (1:43)
• • • • •
Bob also pointed out that this repeating video clip shows how Russian cops train for a felony car stop. Will the technique be taught at police academies here in the States? Perhaps some day if our divided society continues to spiral down as too many cultures demand a larger and LARGER piece of the American Pie. (0:28)
• • • • •
The Central Antwerp Rail Station in Belgium was the venue of the first flash mob that received over 1 million views. The song was “Do-Re-Mi” from “The Sound of Music.” That was eight years and 32 million views ago. (You can view it below.) This flash mob takes us back to the Antwerp Station with 250 new dancers who entertain the travelers with some music those of you who recall the movie “Grease” with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John will recognize. Click HERE to view the video and get ready to tap your feet. (4:13)
If you don’t remember the original Antwerp “Do-Re-Me” flash mob from 2009 with 200 dancers, or would like to view it again, click HERE. (4:01)
• • • • •
Let’s head over to the Denver Airport and see what’s cookin’ there. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find some millennials who have excellent TASTE in music and like to swing. (5:20)
• • • • •
Can something be too cute? Animal lovers should enjoy THIS short clip that shows animals loving humans. (1:17)
• • • • •
For this week’s closer we chose THIS compilation clip of soldiers coming home to their dogs after serving overseas. It also includes a couple of special segments that are just as interesting and heartwarming as the reunions. (5:59)
• • • • •
At ease. Dismissed!
Pic of the Week
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