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August 28, 2007: Draft Edition

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At last -- a budget

Governor's list of cuts helped end impasse

By Judy Lin - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDTWednesday, August 22, 2007


The California Senate passed a $103 billion budget Tuesday, ending a 52-day delay that stopped payments to vendors and threatened scores of state-supported health care facilities with closure.

All eyes now turn to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to cut $700 million as part of the deal that got the minimum two Republican votes needed to pass the budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. The governor is expected to make his vetoes and sign the budget within days.

In the end, the general fund spending plan was nearly identical to the version passed by the Assembly a month ago with no new taxes, a $3.4 billion reserve and $2.5 billion in early debt payments. As the Senate voted, the Assembly also approved the changes.

The budget directs $1.3 billion away from public transit, which advocates say will force transit agencies to cut services and increase fares.

Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman and Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, ultimately provided the Republican votes needed in the Democratic-controlled Legislature for a two-thirds vote after the GOP caucus held back for weeks demanding more program cuts and protection of infrastructure bonds from greenhouse gas lawsuits.

Other Republican senators acknowledged success on many of their fiscal demands, but they continued to cite worries about next year's budget, which is projected to carry a $5 billion deficit.

The compromise reached Tuesday protects road and levee projects funded by bonds passed last year from lawsuits through 2009 -- after the state Air Resources Board adopts new regulations to comply with a new law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.


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Dan Walters: Stalemate ends, but not deficits

By Dan Walters - Bee Columnist
Published 12:00 am PDTWednesday, August 22, 2007


This year's version of California's perpetual budget crisis ended Tuesday with a whimper, not a bang -- and it left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

All of that, however, is political theatrics. The most important thing about the stalemate was that it failed to accomplish the one thing it should have done, which was to force the governor and legislators of both parties to own up to the state's precarious finances and take some concrete steps to improve them.

Although Schwarzenegger has pledged to veto about $700 million in spending to bring the budget into operational balance, it's a fiscal house of cards. The budget itself is based on unrealistic assumptions, especially on the revenue side of the ledger, and much of his supposed spending reduction is just bookkeeping sleight of hand that will do nothing to close the chronic gap between income and outgo.

Once the veneer is stripped away, the budget is probably $2 billion-plus out of balance this year and the "structural deficit," as it's been dubbed, may be $5 billion or more next year as the economy cools and revenue flattens.


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Four weeks, a flood of bills

Amid budget rancor, legislators also prepare to decide the fate of a spate of political blockbusters.

By Jim Sanders - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDTMonday, August 20, 2007


Verbal donnybrooks from California's budget impasse have set a tense stage for a four-week frenzy in which legislators will decide the fate of more than 800 bills on issues ranging from health care to low-flush toilets.

As millions in state bills go unpaid and pressures mount for passage of a state spending plan, lawmakers returning to the Capitol today after weeks of summer recess face a mountain of other key issues as well.

Decisions on political blockbusters ranging from expanding health care for millions of uninsured Californians to granting marriage-like rights to live-in couples must be made before legislators adjourn Sept. 14 to avoid being shelved for the year.

Proposals would ban smoking in vehicles when children are present, prohibit minors from using cell phones while driving, restrict use of various chemicals in baby products, toughen standards on bottled-water labeling, and increase vehicle fees to raise about $167 million for fighting air pollution.

Lawmakers will decide whether to require lower-flush toilets, make restaurant chains post the calories of menu items, ban use of the food-flavoring agent diacetyl, and expand the state's family leave program so temporary pay can be provided to workers who leave their jobs to care for a seriously ill grandchild, grandparent, in-law or sibling.

Back at the Capitol for an encore, after failing in past years, are bills to permit same-sex marriage, replace private health insurance with a state-run system, require child passengers under 8 to ride in booster seats and expand an existing program that allows mothers to surrender their newborns at hospitals without fear of prosecution.

Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, is pushing a new twist on marital rights, Senate Bill 11, which would grant many of the same legal privileges and responsibilities to opposite-sex couples who live together and register with the state as domestic partners.

Hard feelings from the budget fight could cast a partisan pall over the Capitol, but Democrats solidly control both legislative houses and can pass or kill most bills without GOP help. Intense focus on ending the budget impasse, however, could detract from the time or attention given to other matters.

All sides agree the Legislature's plate is full, with 275 bills pending in the Assembly and 562 in the Senate.

After shelving the idea last year, lawmakers will wrestle with whether to strip the Legislature of the right to draw its own districts -- which can tilt the balance of power -- and to give such authority to an independent citizens commission.

Schwarzenegger has vowed not to support the term limits initiative unless Californians also can vote on the redistricting overhaul, which would apply to legislative, Board of Equalization and perhaps congressional races.

Rather than citing specific bills, Mendelsohn said the GOP governor is pushing for consensus on health insurance, redistricting and water improvements before the Legislature adjourns.

Various proposals by Schwarzenegger, Perata and others would have lawmakers consider constructing new reservoirs, creating a canal to move water from Northern to Southern California, adopting measures to protect the Delta, and placing a multimillion-dollar water bond before voters.

Remembering Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans, legislators will tackle numerous flood-related issues, including measures to create a Central Valley protection plan, to require local governments to give more consideration to flood risk, and to prod cities and counties to assume some liability if they ignore potential flooding as they approve new tracts for development.

Lawmakers also will consider placing before voters a constitutional amendment to limit government's ability to acquire private property through eminent domain unless it is used for a public purpose.

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911 calls sounded alarm on Migden's wild drive

Senator pleads no contest to reckless driving in her erratic I-80 ride in May.

By John Hill - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDTSaturday, August 11, 2007


State Sen. Carole Migden repeatedly banged the median, swerved across lanes and narrowly missed hitting a number of other cars in a wild ride down Interstate 80 in May, according to 911 calls released Friday by the California Highway Patrol.

"They're going to hit someone," said one caller, who with her sister had been following Migden's state-issued Toyota Highlander for about six miles. "They've almost hit people a few times. It's a white older woman driving, my sister said. Oh, she's loaded. It's really scary."

Migden, 58, pleaded no contest Friday in Solano County to misdemeanor reckless driving for the May 18 incident, which came to an abrupt halt when she rear-ended a car on Highway 12 near Fairfield, slightly injuring the driver.

She was sentenced to two years of court-supervised probation and paid $710 in fees and fines, as well as unspecified restitution to the injured motorist.

A CHP investigation found that she was at fault and said that her use of a cell phone contributed to the collisions.

The CHP said Migden passed a field sobriety test, which involves blowing into a medical device to screen for alcohol in the system. But she apparently did not undergo examination by a drug recognition expert, which the CHP sometimes requires when a driver is noticeably disoriented. The test is designed to detect drugs, including prescription medicines, other than alcohol.

The 911 tapes released Friday cover 27 minutes, as Migden drove east on Interstate 80 from the Hilltop Mall in Richmond to the Highway 12 exit. There were eight calls in all, with some people calling more than once.

The first couple of callers misidentified Migden as a man.

"He's swerving on the road, and he's nearly hitting a lot of cars, and he's hitting the median," said the first caller, who saw Migden's SUV near the Hilltop Mall exit. "He just keeps hitting the median, the wall on the freeway, and he's doing it again."

A short time later, near Exit 26, a female caller reported, "There's this really wild driver. ... Right now, he's riding in the middle of two lanes. He almost hit the back of our car, and then he sped up and almost hit another car. He's driving really fast right now. Oh, my God."

Near the American Canyon Road exit, a male caller reported, "There's an impaired driver who's going to cause a major injury accident."

He estimated Migden's speed as 85 mph, and said he saw her hit the center divider.

"She's been crossing three lanes at a time, wandering back and forth," he said. "She's been on the phone, reading a book. ... She's really scary. Watch out."

Near the Red Top Road exit, the woman traveling with her sister called to report "a drunk driver ... weaving all over the place."

The woman called again to report that Migden had exited at Highway 12, where a few minutes later she rear-ended another car.

She is "just oblivious, on her cell phone," the caller said, "but there's no way that's the reason why she's driving like ... she's obviously drunk."


Migden Escapes Driving while on Drugs Charges: CHP Protected a State Senator

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August , 2007

After a bit of research, I still cannot find the cell phone law, or how Migden voted on it. But the cell phone excuse does not ring true

Although Migden was given a Breathalyzer test, she was involved in an accident involving an injury.She appeared intoxicated despite the clean Breathalyzer, and should have been tested for drug use.

Why was she not tested for drugs? Simple: The CHP protected her by not forcing her to submit to a full drug screening.

Migden is a threat to the public in office, and on the streets. It's time to make our politicians accountable to the voters, and the law.

Step one: read our initiative. Our initiative will make the politicians accountable to, and dependent on the voters to get elected.

Step two: Make the police fully and openly accountable for their actions, or their lack of action in Migden's case.

Also See:

Corruption Updates 57, 3rd article on the page, Migden rear-ends car in Solano County

Corruption Updates 60, 5th article on the page, Migden returns to Senate, faces questions on crash

Corruption Updates 63, 3rd article on the page, '96 Migden accident recalled

Corruption Updates 67, 9th article on the page, Charge Migden,CHP advises: reckless

911 calls sounded alarm on Migden's wild drive, bee, august 11, 2007

Special interests buying politicians in Sacramento, bee, 2-23-08


Migden raises a constitutional question: Are political bribes transferable between election campaigns? bee, 3-5-08

Migden busted for corruption, fined 350,000, bee, 3-21-08

Crazy Migden going down in flames, bee, 4-1-08

FPPC countersues crazy Migden for $9 million, bee, 3-26-08


The big crazy migden question: Is bribery free speech? committee, 3-16-08


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Political lobbying: Tribe generous with freebies

Legislators and aides have been wined and dined during push for more slots at casinos.

By Shane Goldmacher - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDTSunday, August 5, 2007


From helping three legislative aides bring "sexy back" at a Justin Timberlake concert to treating GOP lawmakers to dinner at Morton's steakhouse, the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians has been very generous in 2007.

The Southern California Indian tribe, which operates a casino near Temecula, wined and dined California lawmakers and staff to the tune of $32,000 in the first six months of 2007, according to lobbying reports filed with the state.

The gift-giving campaign came as the state Legislature considered -- and ultimately passed -- legislation to allow thousands of new slot machines at four Indian casinos, including one operated by the Pechanga tribe.

The free meals and tickets are all legal. Under California law, lobbying interests, such as an Indian tribe, a corporation or a union, can spend up to $390 per year on gifts for each legislator or staff member.

But the extent to which the Pechanga tribe relied on freebies stands out, even in the multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign that pitted wealthy gambling tribes against powerful labor unions.

One in four state lawmakers dined or attended an event on the tribe's dime in the first six months of the year. And aides for another dozen of the Legislature's 120 members were treated to a meal, a show, or both.

Each interest group in the compact fight tried to curry favor in different ways.

Several tribes bulked up their lobbying operations, signing lobbyists for short-term contracts. The Morongo Band of Mission Indians spent more than $3 million on a television and direct mail campaign urging the state Assembly to pass the compacts.

Unite Here, the hotel and restaurant employees union spearheading the opposition because of what the union termed a lack of worker protections, put anti-compact door hangers in the district of Sen. Tom Torlakson, an Antioch Democrat carrying compact legislation for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

The California Labor Federation opposed another Democrat, Sen. Jenny Oropeza, who voted for the compacts, in her special election bid for Congress, backing her opponent and sending volunteers to campaign door-to-door in the Long Beach-area district. She lost the race.

On March 8, the tribe treated Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and his point man on the compacts, Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, to dinner at the tribe's resort hotel. The two Democratic lawmakers, four top aides and the tribal leadership sat down for a $4,300 dinner.

The Pechanga tribe has treated lawmakers and staff to tickets and meals before 2007, reporting lobbying "activity expenses" in seven of the eight quarters in the 2005-06 legislative session.

But in the first half of this year, the tribe spent more on such expenses than the previous two years combined.

Among the 2007 gifts to lawmakers and staff were dozens of lunches and dinners, 19 tickets to Kings games, seven tickets to the opening round of the NCAA college basketball tournament, four tickets to Disney on Ice, three seats to see pop star Timberlake and one ticket (for Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville) to the Wiggles, an Australian band that plays children's music.

The tribe's biggest lobbying activity expense was a June 20 luncheon, celebrating the tribe's 125th anniversary. The event cost nearly $10,000, and was attended by 10 lawmakers, numerous staff and two members of the state's Gambling Control Commission. It constituted a $75 gift for each attendee.

Eight days later, the Assembly passed the compacts of Pechanga, Agua Caliente, Morongo and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, and attached "memorandums of agreement" to address Democratic concerns about audits, workers' compensation, family support payments and gambling addiction programs. A fifth tribe, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, refused to sign such a memorandum, and its compact is pending.

The casino-style slot machine expansion promises to bring the state an estimated $13.4 billion to $22.4 billion over the next 25 years, according to the governor's office.


Indians Out-Bribing Dem Political Leadership, and Everyone Else in the Capitol: Unions Defeated

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., September 2, 2007

The Indians bribe money surpassed the bribe money of the unions, so the Dems rolled over to the bigger player. Those of you who think the Dems operate on principal better get over this delusion if you want to ever live in a democracy again.

The Dems are exactly the same as the Repugs, with one small difference. The Dems serve almost exactly the same corporate bribers as the Repugs,  but pretend to be "democratic," until the big buck come out, and they roll over like the dogs they are.

Also See:

Corruption Updates 20, 5th article on the page, INDIANS REVENGE ATTACK ON DEMS FOR KILLING SLOT SETTLEMENT

Search the Corruption Database under

Indians (4 Abstracts)

California (181 Abstracts)

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Dan Walters: Term limit bugaboo rises anew

By Dan Walters - Bee Columnist
Published 12:00 am PDTFriday, July 20, 2007


They'll never admit it -- and in fact, go to great lengths to deny it -- but everything of importance that Democratic legislative leaders are doing this year is colored by their hope that voters will loosen up term limits next year.

That's especially true of Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, a young, ambitious politician who yearns to remain in his high-visibility position until something better, such as the mayoralty of Los Angeles, beckons, but would be forced out of the Legislature next year by term limits. The ballot measure he supports would cut total legislative service from 14 to 12 years, but allow someone to spend all 12 in one house, thus extending Núñez's career and those of other termed-out lawmakers.

It's more or less conventional wisdom in the Capitol, for instance, that one factor in the Assembly's 180-degree turnaround on ratification of new gambling compacts with Southern California Indian tribes was a fear that the tribes, which have demonstrated a willingness to spend lavishly on political causes, would commit millions of dollars to opposing the term limit measure headed for the Feb. 5 ballot.

Núñez denies that vociferously, insisting that he turned the compacts loose after a nine-month blockage because the state needs money from expanded gambling to close its chronic budget gap, even though ratification was considered a betrayal by his long-time labor union allies.

More evidence of how matters are skewed by the pending term limit measure is found in what happened to a bill that would have allowed public access to police disciplinary proceedings. The measure, Senate Bill 1019, cleared the Senate but was buried in the Assembly Public Safety Committee after the head of the Professional Peace Officers Association sent messages to legislators that were it to proceed, rank-and-file police groups would oppose easing term limits. "Ensure that it be understood that this will only be the beginning," John R. Stites told legislators.


Threats Against Term Limits Initative Used by Special Interests to Compel their Political Slaves into Obedience

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., September 2, 2007

Nunez Using Fraudulent Reform to Protect Party and his Political Ambitions

The article below was written for CU 56_9 on May 17, 2007

We need redistricting to restore any semblance of democracy in California.

We need to maintain term limits to maintain any semblance of democracy in California.

Term limits work. Without term limits the products of monopolized electoral districts are virtually impossible to remove.

Before term limits, California politicians either died in office, or got thrown in prison. Those were about the only ways to remove them.

Here's the Nunez angle: Pass the term limits on the flood of special interest bribes he's collecting as I write, and kill the redistricting initiative. It would be a "win-win" situation for Nunez.

Under the Perata Plan, there is no possibility of a "win-win," where Term limits are loosened, and redistricting is defeated. Under Perata's Plan either both pass or both lose. But Perata's plan avoids the possibility of a "Lose-Lose" situation that Nunez's plan risks.

The "lose-lose" scenario is defeating Nunez's bid to loosen Term limits, while passing the initiative to take redistricting out of the Legislature's dirty hands. Ironically, Nunez's "lose-lose" scenario is the preferred outcome for the health of our democracy, but not for Nunez or the Democrats.

Nunez's plan could blow up in his face under the "lose-lose" scenario, so why is he risking it?

Nunez wants to split the issues of Term Limits and Redistricting to please Pelosi, and the Democrat Congressional Mafia. They would prefer that redistricting not be on the ballot at all. But Nunez is sharp, maybe too sharp. By unwrapping Redistricting from Term Limits, Nunez can get it all, without trading Term Limit extensions for Redistricting, which is the heart of the Perata Plan.

Congressional Dems prefer that nothing be done to alter the Democrat's monopoly on California's Congressional delegation, which is assured under the current districting set up.

Also See:

Corruption Updates 23, 10th article on the page, ASSEMBLY TRIES TO TRADE CORRUPTION REFORM FOR MORE CORRUPTION

Corruption Updates 35, 4th article on the page, NUNEZ-ARNIE REDISTRICTING STALLED BY CONGRESS

Corruption Updates 56, 9th article on the page, Dems: Leaders split over plans to redistrict

Corruption Updates 66, 1st article on the page, Nunez: Term-Limit Donations can't fail to catch Nuñez's eye

Corruption Updates 89, 6 th article on the page, Term-limit supporters seek probe of Perata

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Nunez (12 Abstracts)

Term Limits (6 Abstracts)


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Term limit petitions ready

Supporters file 1.1 million signatures, aiming to be on the presidential primary ballot in February if they're certified.

By Jim Sanders - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDTTuesday, July 24, 2007


A drive to alter California's legislative term limits has collected 400,000 signatures more than necessary to place the issue on the February ballot, backers announced Monday.

Submittal of the drive's 1.1 million signatures to county officials throughout the state Monday came at a tense time for the Legislature, which is tangled in a lengthy budget impasse that threatens to delay payments to state vendors.

California's existing term limits, adopted in 1990, limit legislators to six years in the Assembly and eight years in the Senate, allowing 14 years of service if an incumbent forced from one house wins election to the other.

The new proposal would reduce the total number of years that a lawmaker could serve to 12, but would allow all of them to be served in the Assembly, the Senate or a combination of both.

Sitting legislators are granted an exception -- they could serve 12 years in the house they are serving now, regardless of whether they were termed out of the opposite house.

Núñez could lead the Assembly for six additional years if voters pass the measure. Perata could oversee the Senate for four additional years. Both are scheduled to be termed out next year.



Defeat Corporate Politician's Grasping for Monopoly of Power

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August , 2007

Terms Limits will extend and deepen the relationship between politicians and the special interests. Once elected, this unholy alignment will keep officeholder in power, and insulated from the will of their voters, by monopolizing special interest bribes to fund unassailable election campaigns.

The day that the candidates are put up by, and the elections are determined by the voters of a voting district, is the day I will oppose Term limits. Until then, term limits are required to keep our political monopoly under some kind of check.

Also See:

Links and Commentary on Term Limits follow entry #6, Above.

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Term Limits


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Voting decision creates turmoil

Counties fear limits on electronic machines will cause chaos.

By Kevin Yamamura - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDTSunday, August 5, 2007


County registrars warned Saturday of chaos before the February presidential primary after Secretary of State Debra Bowen's curtailment of electronic voting in California, and they said it may be impossible for counties and manufacturers to comply with her orders in time.

The former Democratic state senator, an electronic voting skeptic who fought in the Legislature to require a paper trail for digital ballots, installed across-the-board changes after University of California researchers found security flaws in three electronic systems.

Barring a legal challenge, Bowen's actions will force 21 counties to shutter most of their touch-screen machines. Those counties, who use machines made by Diebold Election Systems and Sequoia Voting Systems, will instead ask most voters to fill bubbles on paper ballots to make their selections, a method known as "optical scan."

The counties will be allowed to keep one electronic voting booth in each precinct to accommodate disabled users. Counties and manufacturers must install a series of security measures in order to keep even one booth, ranging from a reinstallation of software to extensive auditing procedures.

Dan Ashby, a San Pablo electronic voting critic who heads the California Election Protection Network, praised Bowen for her actions. After her announcement, the group posted on its Web site a huge photo of bursting fireworks with the words, "Thank You Debra."

"Election officials are probably going to fight tooth and nail against the decertification order, but we think truth and logic are on our side," Ashby said. " ... The best use for the machines would be to melt them down for scrap. But before we can do that, we have to do a withdrawal in stages."

One of Bowen's biggest decisions put Los Angeles County in limbo for February's election. The secretary of state decertified the county's entire $25 million electronic voting system because manufacturer Election Systems & Software did not provide equipment in time to undergo review.

Only Orange County, which uses Hart InterCivic's electronic voting system, can continue to allow all voters to use touch-screen machines, provided new security measures are met. Bowen said Hart's machines are less vulnerable to attacks from viruses than those made by Diebold and Sequoia.

Bowen estimated that more than two-thirds of California voters already cast paper ballots, a number she believes will continue to rise as more people vote absentee.

County officials elsewhere may fight Bowen's actions, and Bowen said Saturday she would not be surprised if her office faces legal action from counties or manufacturers. She said she consulted with legal counsel at length Friday and believes she can withstand a challenge.

Paul McIntosh, executive director of the California State Association of Counties, said many local officials have been frustrated by the fact that three different secretaries of state have changed electronic voting requirements over the last four years. He said Bowen has ignored county officials since taking office in January.



Black Box Cheating Finally Curbed

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August, 2007

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Makers of voting machines battle critics over UC study

SF Chron, Tuesday, July 31, 2007


(07-31) 04:00 PDT Sacramento -- County election officials and makers of voting machines squared off Monday against Secretary of State Debra Bowen and critics of electronic voting in a hearing that could determine how the Feb. 5 presidential primary election is run.

A state-sponsored study released last week that found that virtually all voting machines used in the state are vulnerable to hackers "had more to do with headlines than with definitive science or the pursuit of legitimate public policy," said Steve Weir, county clerk for Contra Costa County and president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials.

Allowing a team of University of California computer experts unlimited access to the voting systems, along with any needed passwords, source code and manuals "is not a real world scenario," said Steven Bennett, a spokesman for Sequoia Voting Systems, whose equipment is used in Alameda, Napa and Santa Clara counties.

But opponents of the growing use of electronic voting systems hailed the test as proof that the systems can be rigged to change election results and demanded that they either be junked or taken out of the hands of the private vendors.

County election officials already have issues with Bowen, who they claim shut them out of the voting machine study of equipment made by Sequoia, Diebold and Hart InterCivic. The UC "Red Team" attack by hackers purposely ignored any security measures that would be taken by local counties, such as limiting access to the computer centers, putting guards over the voting machinery and training poll workers and other election officials to look for suspicious activity.

Bowen has been a longtime critic of the handful of companies that make the voting machines used in California. During her campaign for secretary of state last year, she criticized Republican incumbent Bruce McPherson for certifying a number of electronic voting systems.

She still has an Internet ad on her campaign site called "The Midnight Adventures of a Diebold Voting Machine," which slams McPherson and shows a pair of burglars hacking into a Diebold machine and laughing about how easy it is.

Opponents of electronic voting praised Bowen for taking a tough look at the voting machines and their vendors. Allowing private companies to provide the equipment that collects and counts votes in a public election is a disaster waiting to happen, they argue.



Voters: Insist on Paper Trail to Protect Your Democracy

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., September 2, 2007

Our democracy has been internally smashed by corruption and bribery. For the past few years we have seen an assult on the process of voting itself, in Florida and Ohio, among other states.

Under these circumstances of incredible corruption, every part of the election process must be non-partisan, open, and completely verifiable. These black boxes fail all of these tests, and must not be deployed in any elections until every machine produces at least two hard paper copies of the ballots cast.

One copy should go to the voter, and the other should be used to verify the black box count. Every other system must be rejected to protect what little legitimacy our elections still maintain.

The County Clerks of California who resist fully verifiable voting mechenisms should be ashamed of themselves, and removed from office at the earliest possible convenience of their local voters.

Also See:


Corruption Updates 34, 1st article on the page, PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION WAS FIXED IN OHIO

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U.S. judges order review of California prison crowding

Saying Schwarzenegger's plans fall short, they clear the way for a cap on inmate populations.

By Nancy Vogel
Times Staff Writer

July 24, 2007


From the Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO — Federal judges seeking to improve prison medical care called the state's latest efforts insufficient Monday and ordered creation of a three-judge panel to consider capping California's inmate population.

The move — the first for a state prison system — has the potential to prompt early release of inmates. Experts and elected officials, however, said that less-drastic measures might appease federal courts and that releases, if necessary, could be made in ways that minimize any threat to the public.

The rulings are an escalation of federal intervention in California's prisons, which now house nearly 173,000 inmates, 17,000 of them in gymnasiums, day rooms, classrooms and other areas not designed as dormitories. Prompted by class-action lawsuits on behalf of inmates, federal courts have declared the level of medical and mental health care in the prison system unconstitutional and turned over healthcare operations to a court-appointed receiver.

Inmates' attorneys sued to request a population cap in November 2006, five weeks after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in the prisons. The lawyers suggested that instead of releasing thousands of prisoners, state officials could use home detention, electronic monitoring or residential drug treatment programs to divert low-risk convicts and parole violators from prison.

"I'm really pleased," said Don Specter, director of the nonprofit Prison Law Office in San Quentin. "We fought long and hard for this."

In separate rulings, U.S. District Judges Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento and Thelton Henderson of San Francisco concluded that a $7.4-billion prison reform package enacted by the Legislature and Schwarzenegger in May could worsen prison conditions because it calls for adding beds without bolstering staff.

The judges expressed hope that the governor and Legislature would swiftly find ways to make early release of prisoners unnecessary.

In a written statement, Schwarzenegger said he would appeal the ruling, but he also expressed confidence that recent efforts to reduce overcrowding — including the forcible transfer of 40 inmates to a Mississippi prison last week — would satisfy the courts. Nearly 400 inmate volunteers had already been sent to prisons in Arizona and Tennessee.

"Today, the federal judges encouraged the state of California to continue with our efforts to reduce overcrowding," Schwarzenegger said. "The judges said that if we are successful, further population orders will not be necessary. There is no immediate threat of inmate release.

Karlton has issued at least 77 orders since February 1996 in his effort to bring proper screening and timely, skilled care to the mentally ill in California's prisons.

Despite some progress, he wrote in his ruling, care remains in violation of the U.S. Constitution's ban on the infliction of "cruel and unusual" punishment.

State Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) hailed the ruling as "profound" and "the right decision."

She said the Legislature and executive branch in California have "largely abdicated their responsibilities" to operate effective, humane prisons.

She urged Schwarzenegger to sign her pending legislation, SB 110, which would create a sentencing commission to simplify and organize California's 1,000 felony sentences and 100 felony sentence enhancements, which were largely passed piecemeal by the Legislature.

Romero also urged prison officials to begin figuring out which inmates might be suited to getting out of prison before finishing their sentences.

Assemblyman Todd Spitzer (R-Orange)...expressed disappointment that Karlton and Henderson dismissed this year's prison bond package, known as AB 900, as insufficient.

"When we passed AB 900, we were working on a time frame that acknowledged that we would address and solve the overcrowding by the middle of next year," Spitzer said.

Karlton concluded that the multibillion-dollar prison package would have no appreciable effect on overcrowding in the next two years, if ever. The legislation neglects the critical issue of staffing, he said, noting that every level of the mental health care system is already understaffed.

Henderson pointed out that the legislation will not create enough beds to house the projected population of the most dangerous inmates.

"It is unclear whether the legislation would reduce the impacts of overcrowding in any meaningful way," he wrote.

John Boston, director of the Prisoners' Rights Project of the New York City Legal Aid Society, said that only twice before have three-judge panels been created to address prison overcrowding.

"What's going on in California is the first time this process has been invoked on a statewide level," Boston said.



Inhumane Prisons in California Finally Addressed by Courts

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August , 2007

The article below was published on May 17, 2007, in CU 57_1

Enough is Enough: Arnie Argues to Perpetuate California's Inhumane Prison Conditions.

Sufficient Time has Passed to Prove California Irresponsible

What's going to happen with California's inhumane prison system? Nothing. Prisons are unimportant to the politicians except as a tool to prove themselve tough on crime/

The Assembly and Governor were just told the California K-12 School system needs 25 Billion a year to even have a chance to successfully educate the kids. Their response to this news?

Nunez: "This is a conversational opportunity...."

Arnie: "no amount of money will improve our schools without needed education reform..."

Let's look at what this means for prisons. There are three 'hot buttons" for California Politicians: Education, Crime, and Taxes. The Politicians always are "for" education, "tough" on crime, and "against" taxes.

California's political leadership just received and acknowledged the above study's conclusion that our schools are in a death spiral. Their response? The leaders of both parties openly stated they will do nothing about it.

They are openly refusing to spend the minimum amount of money required for basic educational needs. Education is arguably the leading hot button issue, something every politician is "for," and both sides have abandoned it.

Voters are not as sympathetic to prisons as they are to education. Politicians use prisons differently than schools. The politicians use prisons as places to put the criminals they are getting "tough" on, not as a place they put money.

Prisons are where politicians put their mouths, not our money. This is what really happened when they all tripped over each other to sing the praises of the euphemistically named "three-strikes" law, without paying the costs for their tough on crime crusades. Life in prison is a political football for irresponsible politicians.

Three Strikes, and a flood of other "get tough on crime" to get elected programs, have overwhelmed our prison system.

Now it's time to pay the piper for our harshness. Now it's time for the politicians to put our money where their mouths were. The tough on crime campaigns, and our rapidly expanding population, are demanding we cash the checks our political big mouths wrote.

But putting money into prisons violates the third political hot button: taxes. "No New Taxes" is axiomatic to successful politicians since the first Bush fried for his "no new taxes" lie. Since then, taxes have become a "third rail" for Republicans and Corporate Democrats,

Our harsh criminal laws, combined with deep poverty in California have coordinated to create a prison crisis the state is refusing to face, just as it is refusing to face the crisis in the schools. California's political leadership is irresponsible, and has failed its duty to maintain effective schools or humane prisons.

California's failure to fix it's cruel prisons is tantamount to publicly announcing that we intentionally inflict cruel and unusual punishment as part of doing time.

This unconstitutional condition forfeits California's right to run its own prisons. Thank god.

Arnie's total package of proposals, AB900 combined with his proposed early release and involuntary out of state transfer program is insufficient to immediately address inhumane prison conditions.

Arnie and the Assembly will not do a thing to immediately end, or significantly relieve, the current state of institutional inhumanity in California prisons. Or in California's schools.

The total package Arnie presented to the courts is insufficient to ease the situation in the prisons in the short or long term.

The legislature, the Governor, and the voters have fallen far short of acting responsibly, let alone humanely, with the power of crime and punishment. What will our political leadership do?

Nothing. Remember, we just received news that our children's schools have failed, and the politicians are doing nothing. Our leaders will do nothing about the prisons.

The court will seize the prisons, after Arnie bullshits them a lot, but the State won't take substantive action that actually changes prison conditions.

The court will eventually seize the prisons, bring them up to Constitutional Standards, and make California pay the bill.



Also See:

Corruption Updates 1, 8th article on page, “Lagging prison reform

CU Upcoming: not posted yet:3-16-07 “Study: Schools need billions”

Corruption Updates 8: 9th article down: Hagar Bashed in Hatchet Job. Bee, 7-16-06.

Corruption Updates 8, 5th article down: Prison union buys Angelides, “Mr. Clean Candidate”. Bee, 9-6-06.

Corruption Updates 16, 5th article on page, “CALIFORNIA PRISONS INHUMANE

Corruption Updates 34, 3rd article on the page, State Prisons in "Tailspin"

Corruption Updates 47, 11th article on the page, State appeals prison ruling

Corruption Updates 52, 7th article on the page, Calif:Capitol embraces prison deal -- but will judges?

Corruption Updates 56, 8th article on the page, Health czar rips prison bed plan

Corruption Updates 57, 1st article on the page, State offers prison deal

Corruption Updates 66, 6th article on the page, Court to consider capping prisons

Corruption Updates 86, 9th article on the page, Ruling could spring inmates early

Corruption Updates 107, 10th article on the page, U.S. judges order review of California prison crowding

Big Prisoner release plan, 12-21-07

Madrid case over? 10-25-07

Needless prison deaths continue, 9-20-07

Valley Fever: 10% infected at pleasant valley prison, 9-9-07

Folsom staph, 8-29-07


arnie's private prisons, bee, 3-9-08

ca prison conditions inhumane, bee, 3-6-08



Federal overseer seeks to seize $8 billion for California prison healthcare, lat, 8-14-08

This is a Corruption Crisis, not a Budget Crisis

$3 Billion for California Prison Health Care in This Terrible Year of Budget Deficits Can Be Avoided if Our State Government Acts, caprogressreport, 8-3-08


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Prisons (23 Abstracts)


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11)The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited. After the abstract there's analysis and commentary, links to related articles, and a link to the database with suggested search terms.

Harding is arrested, released on bond in school contract case

By Terri Hardy - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDTThursday, August 23, 2007


A former top Natomas school administrator turned himself in to authorities Wednesday morning and was arrested on conflict-of-interest charges.

Frank C. Harding Jr., who formerly headed the facilities departments for the Natomas and Elk Grove unified school districts, was released on $70,000 bail by late afternoon, said Lana Wyant, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office.

Harding is scheduled for arraignment on Aug. 29. If convicted, he could face more than eight years in state prison.

Prosecutors alleged that Harding violated state law while at Natomas when he awarded contracts to a construction management company in which he had a continued financial stake.

The district attorney's probe followed a Bee story that found Harding had granted no-bid contracts worth $433,900 to Educational Facilities Program Management, a firm he founded.

Harding left Natomas in the spring to head Elk Grove Unified School District's facilities department. He was placed on administrative leave there nine weeks later, following a Bee story that found he had listed degrees on his résumé that appeared to come from a diploma mill.

Harding was fired from Elk Grove in July for "dishonest behavior."


Self-Dealing School Official Busted

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August , 2007

Also See:

Corruption Updates 57, 8th article on the page, Natomas land deal raises new questions

Corruption Updates 58, 10th article on the page, Schools chief ripped at Natomas forum

Corruption Updates 107, 11th article on the page, Harding is arrested, released on bond in school contract case


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Natomas (2 Abstracts)


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Official on leave long before firing

By Melissa Nix - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDTSaturday, August 11, 2007





Database Search: Natomas

Frank C. Harding Jr., the facilities director fired from the Elk Grove Unified School District three weeks ago for "dishonest behavior," apparently hadn't been on the job for some time.

In the weeks before Harding's July 23 dismissal, district officials would not confirm his employment status in response to numerous queries from The Bee.

A district document obtained this week, however, shows he had been on paid administrative leave for nearly a month before his dismissal.

Harding earned $31,000 during his tenure with Elk Grove Unified -- $11,000 of it while he was on leave. He was hired at an annual salary of $148,596.

District officials didn't make Harding's leave public until after a 6-0 vote to fire him at a meeting held July 23. That night, neither district spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich nor Superintendent Steven M. Ladd could specify how long Harding had been on leave.

In early May, as controversy simmered over a questionable land deal Harding secured for his former district, Natomas Unified, Cooper-LeVangie called Harding a good hire and said he'd been rigorously interviewed.

In mid-May, as questions arose about the veracity of Harding's university degrees, which some education experts say came from a diploma mill, Ladd and Amavisca continued to publicly voice confidence in Harding.

And both pledged faith in the district's screening process.

"We done good," Amavisca said, in a Bee article published May 18.

Officials didn't know at the time that the company contracted to vet Harding's academic credentials never did so.

District officials said they were slow to release information about Harding's leave of absence because of privacy issues.

"As a routine matter, the district does not discuss personnel matters with third parties and ... does not share personnel records openly," Graswich said in an e-mailed statement Friday.

Harding was associate superintendent of facilities at Natomas Unified when he supervised the controversial purchase of 41 acres of farmland outside city limits at a record price. In late May, City Councilman Ray Tretheway called for a state audit of the deal.

In addition, Harding awarded five no-bid contracts to a construction company he had founded and to which he may have continued to be financially tied during his Natomas tenure.


Elk Grove Tried to Hide its Incompentence behind "Personnel Records" wall of Bullshit

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August , 2007

The personnel records of all public employees must be open to their employers, the citizens of this state.

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13)The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

McNerney draws fire from backers of medicinal pot

Freshmen Dems blamed in defeat of plan to stop feds

Friday, July 27, 2007


(07-27) 04:00 PDT Washington -- Backers of a proposal that would have blocked federal authorities from interfering in state-approved medicinal marijuana programs, stung by a disappointing defeat in the House, are zeroing in on freshmen Democrats such as Rep. Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton who opposed the proposal.

The proposal, which advocates have introduced for several years, would have barred the Drug Enforcement Administration from stopping the medicinal use of marijuana in the 12 states including California where voters or the legislature have moved to legalize such pot use.

But the House voted 262-165 to defeat the bipartisan amendment offered by Reps. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach (Orange County).

The medicinal pot forces, who cite public opinion polls and votes of the public in California, among other states, as they lobby lawmakers, were particularly angry that freshman Democrats, including McNerney, voted late Wednesday against the proposal, which was an amendment to the annual Justice Department spending bill.

Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project called McNerney's vote "appalling.''

"How can anyone call themselves a progressive, which he regularly does, and then vote to send AIDS and cancer patients to jail after voters in his own state voted to help them instead?'' Mirken asked. "People who support him need to ask him some questions.''

McNerney, who alone among the Bay Area's all-Democratic House delegation voted against the measure, tied marijuana use to other illegal drugs.


The Dems are Tools of Corruption, not defenders of our Constitution

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August , 2007

Ok, you got this one? Rohrabacher, an ultra-conservative from the OC sponsored the law protecting the medicinal use of pot, while Mcnerny, the "liberal" Democrap voted against it.

The voters have to get tired of trading corrupt Repugs for corrupt Democraps sooner or later. Someday we may come to the point where politicians actually protect everybody's pursuit of life, libery, and happiness, rather than telling us what we can and cannot do to ourselves, or among consenting adults.

Someday. But not as long as people like McNerney are in office.

Also See:


Corruption Updates 22, 6th article on the page, MONEY WINS IN ALMOST EVERY POLITICAL RACE

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McNerny (2 Abstracts)


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14) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

800 of Bay Area's spans rated same as fallen bridge

But ‘structurally deficient’ label doesn’t necessarily mean road in danger of collapse

Friday, August 3, 2007


More than 800 Bay Area bridges have been deemed "structurally deficient" by Caltrans, the same rating held by the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed Wednesday.

That's about 16 percent of the roughly 5,100 state- and locally owned bridges in the nine-county area. Across California, more than 13 percent of the 23,000 bridges have been classified as structurally deficient, a term that can mean the paint is peeling from a span, it has too many potholes - or, in the worst case, is at risk of failure.



California's Infrastructure Rotten: Only good for making Rich Richer

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., September 2, 2007

Our public infrastructure is a cash cow for our corporate interests if they are draining it, or maintaining it.

The draining part is what PGE did during privatization: they drained the electrical infrastructure until it imploded, then we paid them for screwing us.

The politicians have aided the business class in maintaing a mass influx of illegal foreigners into California, and surprise, nobody has paid the costs of educating, imprisoning, and medicating these criminals as their 3rd world wages put a fortune in the bosses' pockets..

Who pays to subsidize cheap, illegal labor? The average middle-class taxpayer who lost a quality education for their children are paying every school day of their children's lives. The average middle-class worker who has seen their real wages drop in the face of unlimited illegal immigration has paid with more sweat for less money. The average Californian pays everytime they are gridlocked in our overwhelmed highway system. Citizens who need emergency medical service pay every time they need an Emergency Room. California's natural environment is paying with each species killed by daming every river to slack the thirst of this swelling illicit population.

The maintaining rip-off is typified by Don Perata, the King of Corruption, who took in millions from developers and highway engineering firms to ram through an infrastructure ballot measure that would feed their massive profits by privitizing highway building and mainteince.

Beware the plans of our bribed politicians. They are attempting to drain the last bit out of our natural and social infrastructures to line the pockets of their corporate sponsors.

Also See:

Corruption Updates 2, 2nd article on the page, Perata Takes a HALF-Mil to Sell Out:..half-mil to kill bills

Corruption Updates 95, 7th article on the page, Perata Advances Great Water Grab to fuel further Massive Expansion of Southern California

East Bay Express, Living Large

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Infrastructure (0 Abstracts)

Perata (21 Abstracts)

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Mayor to pay $2,500 fine for campaign finance violations

Friday, August 3, 2007

(08-03) 01:45 PDT Los Angeles (AP) –


Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has agreed to pay a $5,200 fine for violating multiple campaign finance laws related to his 2003 race for the City Council.

Villaraigosa violated 30 aspects of city campaign finance laws, according to a proposed agreement he signed Thursday.

Villaraigosa accepted four contributions from individuals in excess of a $500-per-person limit. His campaign also failed to file copies of 23 pieces of campaign literature with the city Ethics Commission and to send the panel scripts or recordings for a radio ad and two prerecorded phone calls.

Villaraigosa could have faced a maximum $150,000 in administrative penalties. Ethics Commission staffers recommended a smaller fine based on cooperation and the absence of any "prior enforcement history."

The staff dismissed another allegation that Villaraigosa exceeded by $39,000 the $150,000 limit on contributions from corporations, unions and other entities.

That violation could have cost him an additional $39,000. Kaufman said Villaraigosa was able to demonstrate that the contributions came from the personal funds of individuals.


Villaraigosa Cheats on Wife, Cheats on "Contributions," and attempted Unconstitutional takeover of LA Schools:

Next Stop, the Governorship?

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August , 2007

Also See:

Corruption Updates 35, 3rd article on the page, HUGE SPECIAL INTEREST BATTLE OF THE BUCKS OVER LA SCHOOLS

Corruption Updates 35, 9th article on the page, LA MAYOR SELLING INFLUENCE THROUGH SCHOOL ELECTIONS

Corruption Updates 89, 4th article on the page, LA: Mayor’s girlfriend is placed on leave

Corruption Updates 93, 10th article on the page, Villaraigosa, Liar and adulterer, still seen as 2010 Gov contender

Corruption Updates 107, 14th article on the page, LA Mayor to pay $2,500 fine for campaign finance violations

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Villaraigosa (5 Abstracts)

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16) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

Attack by chiropractic chief

Chairman of state panel who earlier apologized for actions rips legislators, industry group in article.

By John Hill - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDTSunday, August 12, 2007


When Richard Tyler appeared before legislators this spring to explain his actions as newly installed chairman of the Board of Chiropractic Examiners, he apologized profusely for what he described in one public setting as "gross errors in judgment."

But that conciliatory tone was notably absent in an article written by Tyler now appearing on a chiropractic Web site.

In an article headlined "The California horror story," Tyler, a friend of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from his bodybuilding days, refers to those gross errors in judgment as "only procedural mistakes" that were quickly corrected.

In the article written for the World Chiropractic Alliance, Tyler also has some choice words for the legislators who listened to his apologies. He calls their proposal to put chiropractors under greater control of the Legislature and governor "heinous."

Others attract his wrath as well. The state's foremost chiropractic association, Tyler writes, is "a sellout" whose "stupidity" threatens the profession.

The board's former staff engaged in "almost ritualistic sadism" against chiropractors, he writes.

"Now here's the horrifying part: virtually no one came to our support," he writes.

Since March, Tyler has been at the center of controversy at the state board, whose main responsibility is to protect the public by licensing and investigating complaints against the state's 15,000 chiropractors.

Tyler and other board members appointed by Schwarzenegger -- including Franco Columbu, the governor's longtime friend and a former bodybuilding Mr. Olympia -- said the previous board and its staff persecuted chiropractors and took an overly narrow view of what they can do.

With Tyler, appointed by Schwarzenegger in 2004, as chairman, the board took several legally questionable steps to address those concerns. It fired the executive director without due process, ejected a deputy attorney general assigned to the board to provide legal advice, and approved a chiropractic college that did not have an active application before the board.

The board also endorsed a controversial technique in which patients are put under anesthesia prior to getting chiropractic adjustment. That procedure is the subject of a criminal prosecution in San Joaquin County.

Faced with legislative scrutiny of its actions, the board reconsidered or revised most of them, while Tyler repeatedly apologized.

In the meantime, Ridley-Thomas and Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park, wrote bills that would make the Board of Chiropractic Examiners part of the state department that includes other boards and bureaus regulating professions. The measure, if approved by voters in June, would also allow the Legislature to make changes to the 1922 initiative that governs chiropractors.


Arnie's Musclehead Friend Reaffirms his Ignorance

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., August , 2007

Also See:


Corruption Updates 49, 7th article on the page, Arnie Buddy Board member still claims Ph.D: Arnie's Doctors Quack like Ducks

Corruption Updates 107, 16th article on the page, Attack by chiropractic chief

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Board of Chiropractic Examiners (6 abstracts)

Arnie (51 Abstracts)

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