Oakland Police: No Money to Respond to Crime

Sunday, 08 Aug 2010 02:13 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Oakland Police: No Money to Respond to Crime
2. Five Most Crime-Ridden Court Districts All on Mexican Border
3. Why the ‘Death Tax’ Won’t Die
4. Newsmax Still Growing on Twitter, Facebook
5. Obama Starts Mentioning Bush by Name
 

1. Oakland Police: No Money to Respond to Crime

The city of Oakland, Calif., has laid off over 10 percent of its police force after failing to negotiate a settlement with the police union — whose members earn an average compensation of $162,000 a year.

“What’s going on in Oakland is an example of a phenomenon being seen across the country: states and cities choosing between providing services to the public or maintaining luxury compensation for public employees,” Josh Barro, the Walter B. Wriston Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, writes for the Real Clear Markets website.

“More often than not, public employee unions have been winning this fight.

As the result of the loss of 80 police officers, Oakland’s police chief says cops will no longer respond to 44 categories of crimes, including grand theft.

“At current levels of compensation, Oakland cannot afford to maintain a police department with 776 employees,” Barro observes. “That’s because total compensation for an OPD employee averages an astounding $162,000 per year. But at a more reasonable level of pay and benefits, Oakland could afford to maintain its force, or even grow it.”

OPD officers finishing training receive a starting salary of up to $90,459, before overtime, plus a health plan worth $15,859 last year — compared to California’s private sector mean of about $9,100 — and a pension contribution equal to 9 percent of their salary and overtime pay.

The generous wage and benefit package was negotiated with the police union two years ago. When layoffs were threatened, the union agreed that officers would begin making contributions to their retirement benefits if the city agreed that there would be no layoffs for three years. The city offered only a one-year pledge, and the union declined the offer.

So police staffing “will be cut in one of California’s most crime-ridden cities,” Barro notes.

“The trouble is that localities have been boxed in by unwise contracts and rigid labor laws,” and no city should have to “say it can’t afford a large enough police force because it has to pay each officer $162,000 per year.”

Editor's Note:



2. Five Most Crime-Ridden Court Districts All on Mexican Border

The five U.S. judicial districts where the most criminal defendants were charged with federal crimes last year are the five districts that border Mexico.

There are 94 federal judicial districts covering the 50 states and U.S. possessions, including the South District of Texas, which covers a stretch of border from Brownsville past Laredo. The U.S. attorney’s office filed criminal charges against 8,801 individuals in fiscal 2009, the most for any district, according to an annual report released by the Justice Department.

That number is more than four times higher than the 1,959 persons charged in the Southern District of New York, which includes Manhattan and the Bronx, CNSNews.com Editor-in-Chief Terry Jeffrey notes.

The second most crime-ridden district is the Western District of Texas, which covers the rest of the border. U.S. attorneys filed charges against 8,435 individuals there last year.

Completing the top five are the Southern California District — which includes the San Diego border area but not Los Angeles — where 5,554 defendants were charged, and the districts for the border states of Arizona (5,155) and New Mexico (3,769).

In comparison, the district covering the entire state of Colorado charged 585 defendants, and New Jersey charged 910.

The Justice Department report is “just more evidence that our government is not doing its job of defending our nation’s border with Mexico,” Jeffrey observes.

“According to the Justice Department’s own numbers, federal crime is dramatically disproportionate along that border compared to the rest of the United States.”

The report also discloses that 33 percent of all federal convictions last year were in immigration cases.

Editor's Note:



3. Why the ‘Death Tax’ Won’t Die

The so-called “death tax” levied on the estates of deceased wealthy Americans no longer serves its purpose and should be killed for good. But powerful special interests will see to it that the tax won’t be eliminated, according to tax policy expert Curtis S. Dubay.

Congress gradually phased out the tax with the 2001 tax relief package and no death tax at all is being levied on estates in 2010. But the tax will return next year if Congress does not act.

When Congress passed the estate tax in 1916, it was intended to raise significant revenue for the federal government and prevent the build-up of wealth in a small number of families.

But in 2008, the tax raised only about $24 billion, just over 1 percent of total federal tax collections, down sharply from 5 percent in 1940. And today, “the well-off are more likely to accumulate their fortunes by creating new and innovative products demanded by the global marketplace than through inheritance,” observes Dubay, a Senior Analyst in Tax Policy in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy at The Heritage Foundation.

The tax now presents a significant danger to family-owned businesses, keeps new jobs from being created, and hurts the economy as a whole, Dubay asserts.

But he argues that the tax will not die because an entrenched group of special interests benefits from it and exerts a powerful influence on Congress.

Among the beneficiaries of the tax are estate tax lawyers and planners. Wealthy families hire expensive estate lawyers to arrange their affairs so they can minimize the tax on their estates or eliminate it altogether.

Life insurance companies also benefit. To protect their assets from being liquidated, wealthy families buy life insurance policies that pay the living members of the family enough to cover the death tax liability when a family member dies.

Large businesses benefit because the death tax impacts family-owned businesses that could expand to compete with the larger firms, were it not for the disincentive of the tax.

Dubay concludes that Congress should do “the right thing” and act before the end of the year to kill the death tax once for all.

Editor's Note:



4. Newsmax Still Growing on Twitter, Facebook

Visitors to Newsmax’s website are continuing to link to the social networking services Twitter and Facebook in increasing numbers.

Newsmax’s Twitter account now has more than 2,000 followers, up from 1,670 in June. Twitter enables its users to send and read messages known as “tweets,” text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to subscribers known as “followers.”

On Twitter, Newsmax posts links to stories on politics, health, money and other topics, to be shared by followers and spread to other Twitter users.

The Newsmax Facebook account now has more than 2,300 fans, up from 1,530 in June. Facebook is a social networking website that can be accessed by anyone over the age of 13 with a valid e-mail address. Newsmax allows its Facebook “fans” to link to stories and offers them a chance to comment.

Facebook users visited the Newsmax website about 16,000 times in July.

Visitors can find links to Facebook and Twitter at the bottom of Newsmax’s home page.

Editor's Note:



5. Obama Starts Mentioning Bush by Name

With Democrats’ prospects in the November midterm elections appearing increasingly bleak, President Barack Obama has launched into attack mode and begun invoking the name of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Obama has often criticized Republican policies, but until now he has avoided referring to Bush by name, according to CNN.

That changed this past week.

On Monday, Aug. 2, Obama spoke at a party fundraiser in Atlanta and referred to Republican efforts to “extend Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”

Then on Thursday, he spoke at a fundraiser in Chicago for Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, who is seeking Obama’s old Senate seat in Illinois. He said Republicans “haven’t come out with a single solitary idea that is different from policies that held sway for eight years before Democrats took over, not a single policy difference that’s discernible from George W. Bush. Not one.”

Linking Republicans to Bush is a “core element of the Democrats’ strategy” for November, according to the political website Pollster.com.

But the site cautions: “There is no doubt that Bush's brand is still tarnished, but it is still surprising to see the Democrats fall into the trap of waging the 2010 battle like it is still 2008. It might work, but since Bush has been privately living his life out of office for almost two years and probably will not even be doing the Sunday talk show circuit anytime before the elections, it's a stretch.”

Editor's Note:



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