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Comments made by GAPsquared

Legal Update: What Employers Can And Can't Do

I wonder if Dan Eaton, Esq., the guest legal analyst that commented on the legal case involving an employee that communicated with her attorney using "company e-mail", would clarify a few details about the court decision. Did the court's decision pivot on the employee using company-owned computer equipment to access her own personal email account with a 3rd party provider like say AOL or Gmail, or did it hinge on her having used an e-mail account on the company-provided e-mail service. I hope he can clarify that point in this comment section. Thanks.

February 2, 2011 at 9:18 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

SD Community Farm Padlocked

Maureen, these farmers may have legal "squaters rights" to the land they have worked and occupied all these years. If some of them can prove that they have used/occupied this property consistently for a number of years in a row, then the city may have surrendered its right to remove them from the property without offering consideration to the farmers. I seem to recall that these laws work like those in a common law marriage, and must be asserted by skilled attorneys to preserve the farmers' rights to continue using the land or to receive compensation for being evicted. Perhaps there is a land use attorney that will offer their services 'pro bono' in return for garnering the publicity associated with what could prove to be a high profile case.

November 16, 2010 at 2:43 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

The Impact of California's Biggest Tax Revolt

Prop 13 has allowed many homeowners who purchased their home before 1978, to avoid having their tax bill rise along with escalating property values. In principle it makes sense: don't penalize those who purchased and held onto their owner-occupied residence. As people age and retire their income usually levels off and then declines. Aging homeowners shouldn't be forced to sell or borrow against their property simply to pay property taxes.

If, however, the rate of tax revenue needed to run state and local governments rises, the rates at which ALL homeowner's taxes are assessed should rise as well. If particular homeowners cannot pay the increases, they should be able to petition for an abatement (delay) of the payment of any increase based on an income or liquidity-based formula.

This could work like when Medicaid or Medical pay for a patient's end of life healthcare costs in return for a lien on the patient's real estate holdings. The dying patient's spouse is allowed to live in their family home until they die, with the outstanding amount paid before any funds are distributed from his/her estate.

The local or state government could carry the "abated" property tax payment(s) as a receivable, and either collect them after the homeowner and his/her spouse die or sell the subject property, or the state could sell the receivable to an investor in advance of that date at a discount on the face value of the receivable.

The moratorium on property tax rate hikes for pre-1978 residences turned into rental properties, as well as on Commercial office or industrial real estate, has none of the redeeming qualities of the Prop 13 features mentioned above for homeowners. These should be abolished as soon as possible.

If Prop 13 is a "third-rail" for elected officials, we'll just have to use the ballot initiative process to fine-tune the unfair features of Prop 13.

February 23, 2010 at 8:03 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Water Conservation In San Diego Is Working

On the show today about how well water conservation is working in San Diego, there was a comment from one the guests about how water agencies are not-for-profit entities and that they pass the "costs" of acquiring and delivering water on to their customers. I question whether that comment is true.

What proportion of retail water rates are put into a fund that is accumulated to repair and replace the aging water transportation infrastructure from Northern to Southern California? How much goes to improve existing reservoirs and build new ones? Tens of billions of dollars need to be deployed to address these projects.

By passing along only the direct, short-range costs of water and pretending the indirect long-range costs of infrastructure maintenance and improvement are going to be funded by others, our water agencies are setting up Californians for disaster -- man made and acts of God. Regardless of the cause, millions of Californians' lives will forever change when levees in the central valley are breached, or the main aquaduct breaks or a dam or reservoir fails.

What will our water bureaucrats do to solve serious problems like these, how long will it take them and where will the funds come from? The truth is that San Diego's water fiefdoms and the county water authority are managed and staffed by "indecision makers". Their vacillation is driven by the desire to preserve the status quo, not offend anyone, and keep their jobs.

One of these days, however, the water delivery infrastructure will fail, the state won't be able to borrow the billions to fix it, the federal government will no longer be able to print the billions they'll be asked to provide and private capital will swoop in to fund the projects. In the process they will also displace the bureaucratic agencies with for-profit companies that will impose rates that will bring our wasteful ways -- and our ability to determine our own destiny -- to an end.

Instead of patting themselves on the back for asking for and receiving the support of San Diegans in achieving a short-term savings of 8% year over year this summer, our water agencies should be instilling in their constituencies a vision for how we can keep Southern California habitable (and affordable) for the next 10, 20, 30 years. I think San Diegans can achieve more water savings and will support incremental rate increases, if the case is made for such objectives.

But, alas, who will lead such an endeavor? Certainly not another committee of technocrats conjuring another watered down message!

September 28, 2009 at 6:49 p.m. ( | suggest removal )