Monthly Archives: June 2016

This was last week’s news, but the WSJ provides a nice summary today so …

hilklaryBosniaImage1How did a top Clinton donor end up as a State Department security advisor? 

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of Mr. [Rajiv K. ]Fernando, because you arguably never should have. Mr. Fernando is a one-time Chicago securities trader who in July of 2011 somehow found himself sitting on the International Security Advisory Board, with the ability to access the nation’s most sensitive intelligence.

Mr. Fernando had no background that would have qualified him to sit on the ISAB alongside the likes of former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, former Defense Secretary William Perry, a United Nations chief weapons inspector, members of Congress, and nuclear scientists. That Mr. Fernando didn’t belong was apparent. “We had no idea who he was,” one board member told ABC News. So how exactly did he get there?

We now finally know, thanks to State Department internal emails that the government was forced to turn over to the watchdog group Citizens United. And thanks to ABC News, which began digging into Mr. Fernando’s bizarre appointment when it first happened.

In August 2011, ABC requested a copy of Mr. Fernando’s resume from the State Department. This, the internal emails show, sent a press aide reeling to find answers to how a trader had ended up on the ISAB. Even the aide noted that it was “natural to ask how he got onto the board when compared to the rest of the esteemed list of members.”

The response came only a few hours later in an email from Wade Boese, chief of staff for an undersecretary of state: “The true answer is simply that S staff ( Cheryl Mills) added him,” Mr. Boese wrote. “Raj was not on the list sent to S; he was added at their insistence.”

S, in this situation, stands for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Ms. Mills, a longtime aide, was her chief of staff. Why would Hillary want to entrust the nation’s secrets to a man with no intelligence experience?

Here’s what we do know: Mr. Fernando, before his plum appointment, had given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation. He had been a top bundler for Mrs. Clinton in her 2008 presidential run, and later a major Obama fundraiser. He gave tens of thousands more to a political group that helped Hillary pay off her 2008 campaign debt by renting her email list.

The 2011 emails reveal that the State Department knew it had a problem on its hands. “We must protect the Secretary’s and Under Secretary’s name,” the press aide warned. Ms. Mills, the messages say, asked staff to “stall” the news organization. Damage control came in the form of Mr. Fernando’s quick resignation, on grounds of “additional time needed to devote to his business.” Uh huh.

This is how Hillary Clinton operates. Donald Trump, for all the trouble his out-loud musings cause him, can nonetheless take credit for perfectly distilling, in five short words, what would be the defining nature of another Clinton presidency: The politics of personal profit. Give money to the Clinton Foundation; get special favors. Figure out a way to slip the Clintons some speech money, or cattle-futures trades, or donations; get rewarded in the political arena.

This is also why Mrs. Clinton kept control over her home-brew email server. The Citizens United release shows that messages about ISAB appointments were forwarded to Mrs. Clinton’s personal account—where they fell into a black hole. Were there email discussions about the personal-profit merit of appointing Mr. Fernando? Ask Mrs. Clinton’s webmaster, Bryan Pagliano. Or not. He recently invoked the Fifth during a deposition 125 consecutive times.

News organizations have also noted that Mr. Fernando is missing from the State Department website listing former ISAB members. So the department has also scrubbed the national record of actual facts. Much as it deliberately cut a portion from the video of an uncomfortable press briefing, or as the administration attempted to censor the transcript of the Orlando shooter’s 911 call.

As for Mr. Fernando, a message left on a cell number that appeared to belong to him was not returned. But he’s still bundling—this time for Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 bid. A peek at the Clinton Foundation website shows he continued to donate and is now listed as having given between $1 million and $5 million. If he keeps that up, he’ll likely be in the running to become President Hillary’s own secretary of state.

As I noted yesterday, the State Department has yet to produce a single document or an honest answer about any of Clinton’s secret dealings except under court order. It has stonewalled the press for 7 years, just like the rest of the administration, and continues to do so: Just today, it told the judge who has ordered it to produce all emails concerning the Clinton Foundation by July that it will need 27 more months to comply, We are living under the rule of a completely lawless government.


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It’s business as usual at the Clinton White House

I did not have sex with that woman - is that what you're asking?

I did not have sex with that woman – is that what you’re asking?

Bill meets the Attorney General for a 30 minute private chat on the tarmac in  private (presumably unburied) jet, to “talk about our grandchildren and how old friends are doing”. Nothing whatsoever about the ongoing FBI investigation into his wife’s email crimes, and certainly they didn’t broach the subject of the House Report on Benghazi that was to be released three hours later. “Why, that would be wrong!:

Even National Public Radio is appalled.

A strange thing is uniting Democrats and Republicans in Washington: the widespread disapproval of a meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac in Arizona.

Lynch told reporters that the impromptu conversation on her government aircraft in Phoenix on Monday centered on social issues, from talk of grandchildren and Clinton’s golf game to their recent travels. Nothing came up, the attorney general said, about any ongoing Justice Department investigations.

But the chat took place in the midst of an FBI investigation into the security of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which she used to conduct government business as secretary of state. And that’s creating a major appearance problem for the presumptive Democratic nominee for the White House and the top federal prosecutor in the coOn CNN, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., praised the attorney general for her law enforcement bona fides but offered this advice: “I think she should have said, ‘Look, I recognize you have a long record of leadership on fighting crime, but this is not the time for us to have that conversation. After the election is over, I welcome your advice and input.'”

Cornyn said the disclosure of the meeting between Bill Clinton and Lynch only heightened his concerns. “‘This incident does nothing to instill confidence in the American people that her department can fully and fairly conduct this investigation, and that’s why a special counsel is needed now more than ever,” Cornyn said in a statement.

From the standpoint of legal ethics, Lynch did nothing wrong, said New York University law school professor Stephen Gillers. Gillers said he didn’t think the attorney general needed to recuse herself from overseeing the email probe. But Gillers took a sterner tone with Bill Clinton.

“It was the height of insensitivity for the former president to approach the attorney general,” Gillers said. “He put her in a very difficult position. She wasn’t really free to say she wouldn’t talk to a former president,” after Clinton boarded her plane in Arizona.

“He jeopardized her independence and did create an appearance of impropriety going onto her plane,” Gillers added.

Gillers said he takes Lynch at her word that no sensitive law enforcement matters came up in the 30-minute airport chat.

But, he said, the episode “feeds the dominant narrative that the Clintons don’t follow the usual rules, that they’re free to have back channel communications like this one and that’s true even if we assume as I do that nothing improper was said. The public will be suspicious.”

Y’ah think? If there are two more brazen criminals in politics right now than Bill and Hillary, they’ve somehow kept under the radar. Four more years? Really?


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The elite strike another blow at the poor, “for their own good”

Al Gore’s daughter has been arrested for protesting  natural gas pipeline construction project that, when completed, will bring more natural gas to New England.

Miss Gore, her bio shows, is a graduate of The Cathedral School, Harvard University and Columbia Law School, and is married (though now separated) to a biotech venture capitalist. It is unlikely, in other words, that she has suffered financial difficulties in the past nor is she likely, much as we might wish it, to do so in the future. But what about the people she wants to deprive of natural gas?  Different story.

Natural gas produces 28% less CO2 per heating unit than fuel oil which is something Miss Gore and her Buddhist friends who accompanied her to Boston profess to be concerned about. Far more important to real people, as opposed to glitterati nitwits like Gore, is the cost of heating their homes. Here’s the  Massachusetts Department of Energy calculations on the difference between fuels : Natural gas, $879 ; fuel oil, $2,248; propane, $2,569. There are no other heating alternatives in New England (leaving aside wood stoves: impractical in cities, highly polluting elsewhere). There are no unicorn shit/biomass plants, no solar energy plants, nothing. The choice for a New England homeowner is to use one of those three fuels or freeze in the dark. We know what Miss Gore would choose for the peasants – I wonder whether Donald Trump would agree?



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There’s a buyer for every house, but sometimes it can take a while to find him

48 Locust

48 Locust

48 Locust Road, waaaay up to our west, reports a contract It was asking $1.850 million yesterday, but it started off at $2.950 in 2007 and stayed around there through 2009 before being pulled. It’s been back on for 400 days now at this price, and patience seems to have paid off.

The buyers paid $2,397,500 for it in 2005 and must have spent some real money renovating it, so that isn’t such a good deal. I liked the house, a lot,; but hated the price, back when it was for sale back in 2005 because, although it was in rough shape, it still had a lot of its 1850 charm and the grounds were beautiful. The grounds are still nice, but I don’t see any of the original farmhouse left which, to my taste, is too bad.


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And a sale on Upland

44 Upland Drive

44 Upland Drive

44 Unpland Drive, $3.5 million. It started at $4.5 a year ago June, but what can you do? Except drop the price, of course.


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Sale price reported

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 1.40.54 PM80 Round Hill Road sold for $4.080 on an asking price of $4.250, so pretty impressive. It’s a classic old (1913) house on two beautiful  acres on lower Round Hill, so it has a lot going for it. On the other hand, it’s going to take a lot of money and work to bring it up to date.

Start with the kitchen

Start with the kitchen

But don't forget the master bath

But don’t forget the master bath





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Contingent contract on Jofran

4 Jofran

4 Jofran

4 Jofran, asking $1.895 million. Pleasant house, good mid-country location. Interesting price history here because it illustrates the strengthening of prices in this part of time. The previous owner listed it at $2.395 in 2010, which was not out of line with sales on this street in the 2004-2007 years, but could sell it until 2011, when it fetched $1.580. These owners updated the baths and freshened it a bit, and have found a buyer in about 3 months.


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When automatic rifles go astray

The President did not have sex with those guns - he is not a crook, either

The President did not have sex with those guns – he is not a crook, either

One of the guns used by ISIS in the Pari attacks turns out to have come from a Phoenix guns dealer via Obama’s “Fast and Furious” gun distribution scheme.

One of the guns used in the November 13, 2015 Paris terrorist attacks came from Phoenix, Arizona where the Obama administration allowed criminals to buy thousands of weapons illegally in a deadly and futile “gun-walking” operation known as “Fast and Furious.”

A Report of Investigation (ROI) filed by a case agent in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) tracked the gun used in the Paris attacks to a Phoenix gun owner who sold it illegally, “off book,” Judicial Watch’s law enforcement sources confirm. Federal agents tracing the firearm also found the Phoenix gun owner to be in possession of an unregistered fully automatic weapon, according to law enforcement officials with firsthand knowledge of the investigation.

The investigative follow up of the Paris weapon consisted of tracking a paper trail using a 4473 form, which documents a gun’s ownership history by, among other things, using serial numbers. The Phoenix gun owner that the weapon was traced back to was found to have at least two federal firearms violations—for selling one weapon illegally and possessing an unregistered automatic—but no enforcement or prosecutorial action was taken against the individual. Instead, ATF leaders went out of their way to keep the information under the radar and ensure that the gun owner’s identity was “kept quiet,” according to law enforcement sources involved with the case. “Agents were told, in the process of taking the fully auto, not to anger the seller to prevent him from going public,” a veteran law enforcement official told Judicial Watch.

It’s not clear if the agency, which is responsible for cracking down on the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, did this because the individual was involved in the Fast and Furious gun-running scheme. An ATF spokesman, Corey Ray, at the agency’s Washington D.C. headquarters told Judicial Watch that “no firearms used in the Paris attacks have been traced” by the agency. When asked about the ROI report linking the weapon used in Paris to Phoenix, Ray said “I’m not familiar with the report you’re referencing.” Judicial Watch also tried contacting the Phoenix ATF office, but multiple calls were not returned.

The DOJ claims it has no information, Judicial Watch says it does. So far, every single one of Hillary’s  emails “discovered” in State Department files came to light only after Judicial Watch pushed past the State Department’s fierce, repeated denials that such documents existed, and that’s just one of the many times Judicial Watch has proved and exposed lies by Obama’s administrative agencies and departments.

And by Obama himself, who, ABC news revealed as far back as 2012, lied about the origins of Fast and Furious and said it “started under Bush” when it fact, it was initiated in 2009, 9 months after Obumski took over the presidency.

My money’s on Judicial Watch in this one.



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When automatic ad placements go wrong

So I’m reading this story: “Drunken woman wields hatchet after boyfriend refuses to have sex”, and this Amazon ad pops onto the page: “Hey, interested in hatchets? We’ve got hatchets!” Er, okay ….

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 9.52.46 PM


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If this is racist, what is stealing another race’s victimhood and claiming if for your own in order to gain professional advancement?

I have no idea how Harvard could have confused me for a person of color - I'm flabbergasted

I have no idea how Harvard could have confused me for a person of color – I’m flabbergasted

Radio commentator at Trump rally called “racist” for referencing Elizabeth Warren with an Indian war whoop. Really? Only in Liberal MediaLand™, where any supporter of Trump is, ipso facteroid racist. In the real world, racism has an objective definition:

” prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”

The war whooper was making no statement about Indians at all, pro or con, superior or inferior. He used a war whoop to belittle Warren’s claim to be an Indian, which she is not, she has now confessed.

Her fraud wasn’t racist either, in the technical meaning of the world, but merely a cynical act to take advantage of opportunities intended for other people of other races. Warren falsely claimed Indian heritage throughout her professional teaching career to procure tenured positions under affirmative action policies. Nasty, unethical, even despicable, if you don’t appreciate hypocrisy in a self-proclaimed liberal champion of “the oppressed”. But not racist; in fact, she didn’t care two cheap moccasins about the Indians, either way, just as long as she could use their suffering to her benefit. That’s exploitation, not racism.

From Legal Insurrection:

Very few people understand just how Warren claimed to be Native American, and why. The full version is summarized at, the website at which we accumulated all the research we did on Warren during the 2012 campaign. (Note: Her self-narrative has problems beyond the Native American issue — read, for example, about how she represented major corporations against the interests of consumers.)

The short version is that Warren never claimed Native American status until she was in her 30s, and climbing the law professor ladder.

In the 1980s, Warren listed her status as Native American when entering her biographical information in the national law professor directory that was used for hiring purposes by law schools. There was no internet then, and the paper directory was the source for information about prospective law professor hires. Entering herself as Native American landed Warren on a short list of “Minority Law Teachers” in the directory.

Elizabeth Warren 1986-87 AALS Directory Section List II Minority Law Teachers entry

Why would Warren do such a thing?

When this was expose during the 2012 campaign, Warren said that she wanted to meet other law professors who were Native American like her, maybe have lunch with them. The problem is that no one reading the directory would know she claimed to be Native American; that specific status was not listed, only that she was a “Minority Law Teacher.” So she could not possible meet other Native American law teachers through her listing.

Warren claims that she never told anyone at Harvard Law that she was Native American, but when she was a visiting professor at Harvard Law in the early 1990s she somehow ended up on a list of “Women of Color in Legal Academia.”

Soon after permanent hiring, Harvard Law touted her Native American status. Warren claimed when the Boston Herald exposed Harvard Law’s position not to know why she was promoted that way.

Did Warren get the Harvard Law job because she claimed to be Native American?

We don’t know, neither she nor Harvard Law have released her hiring file. But that’s not really the pertinent question. What we do know is that she tried to benefit from the claim, so at minimum there was an attempt to exploit that false claim.

UPDATE: Damn it, Walt brings up the excellent point that Miss Warren was merely “self-identifying” as an Indian and, while that might have been considered at best crazy and at worst grossly exploitative back in the 80s, her actions should be viewed by today’s standards, where we are all free to identify ourselves as we feel at the moment. If Warren wants to self-identify as a gay Indian princess warrior and use a particular gender’s bathroom or appropriate a particular racial employment preference, who are we to gainsay her?

So forget everything I’ve written.

Betsy goes to war

Betsy goes to war



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When snowflakes hit reality. Or, “hahahahahaha!”

  • Snowflake, meet stone wall

    Snowflake, meet stone wall

    “With all the attention being paid to college-aged social justice warriors and microagressions, one has to ask: What happens when all these delicate snowflakes enter the workforce?”

Roger Simon finds out or rather, this sensitive young girl does:

I was able to get a summer internship at a company that does work in the industry I want to work in after I graduate. Even though the division I was hired to work in doesn’t deal with clients or customers, there still was a very strict dress code. I felt the dress code was overly strict but I wasn’t going to say anything, until I noticed one of the workers always wore flat shoes that were made from a fabric other than leather, or running shoes, even though both of these things were contrary to the dress code.

I spoke with my manager about being allowed some leeway under the dress code and was told this was not possible, despite the other person being allowed to do it. I soon found out that many of the other interns felt the same way, and the ones who asked their managers about it were told the same thing as me. We decided to write a proposal stating why we should be allowed someone leeway under the dress code. We accompanied the proposal with a petition, signed by all of the interns (except for one who declined to sign it) and gave it to our managers to consider. Our proposal requested that we also be allowed to wear running shoes and non leather flats, as well as sandals (not flip-flops though) and other non-dress shoes that would fit under a more business casual dress code. It was mostly about the footwear, but we also incorporated a request that we not have to wear suits and/or blazers in favor of a more casual, but still professional dress code.

The next day, all of us who signed the petition were called into a meeting where we thought our proposal would be discussed. Instead, we were informed that due to our “unprofessional” behavior, we were being let go from our internships. We were told to hand in our ID badges and to gather our things and leave the property ASAP.

We were shocked. The proposal was written professionally like examples I have learned about in school, and our arguments were thought out and well-reasoned. We weren’t even given a chance to discuss it.

— “I was fired from my internship for writing a proposal for a more flexible dress code,” a young special snowflake writes into Ask a, whose proprietor replies:

Firing the whole group of you was a pretty extreme reaction, but I can understand why they were highly annoyed. Y’all were pretty out of line. You were interns there — basically guests for the summer. Their rules are their rules. This is like being a houseguest and presenting your host with a signed petition (!) to change their rules about cleaning up after yourself. You just don’t have the standing to do that.


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And a contract on Old Forge

9 Old Forge

9 Old Forge

9 Old Forge Lane, asking $1.7 million. It’s a decent house, but it’s also listed as land, and with two good acres here, it may well be selling as a building site.

You know, for all we complain about today’s new construction looking alike, the ranches that sprouted all over town in the 60s were just as uniform, and bland. Maybe it’s a good thing to just replace the housing stock every few decades and continue on.


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They lied: the third time is NOT always the charm

26 Cobb Island

26 Cobb Island

26 Cobb Island sold for $3.850 in 2011 and $3.850 in 2014, so it probably seemed sensible for the current owner to also list it at $3.850, which he did. Today, alas, he’s dropped it to $3.650.


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An older home, which probably explains its difficulties, but I like it

61 Sawmill Lane

61 Sawmill Lane

61 Sawmill Lane has cut its price to $3.795 million.  The way our market punishes houses of this era (1948) that probably won’t be enough, but …gee. It’s got 4.88 acres in the 1-acre zone, for starters, and the town assessor’s card indicates that that property is contained in two separate lots. I don’t know the respective sizes of those lots, nor whether the creek running through the land will pose insurmountable difficulties in splitting off another building lot, but at the very least, you have great privacy with beautiful grounds on a street very close to town. That’s rare.

The house is definitely dated, and suffers from the dread “low ceiling” syndrome; you can’t change ceiling height (easily) but updating kitchens and baths isn’t hard. No mention of what the wiring’s capable of handling, though, and that can be a bear; there’s a new a/c system, the listing says, but those can be wired separately, with a new service dedicated solely to the a/c, without upgrading the entire house. It’d be nice if the system has been brought up to today’s standards, and you’d certainly want to ask.

So there you have it. Assuming there’s still some negotiating room in that price, you could get a very nice house in central Greenwich for perhaps a very reasonable sum.


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At long last love, on Lindsay Lane

29 Lindsay

29 Lindsay

29 Lindsay reports a pending sale. Current asking price, $3.995. 2007 asking price, $5.2 million. Lots of on the market periods over those 9 years, interspersed with rentals (at $15,000, so no real harm here). The town appraises the land at $3 million, the building at $1.4, and for a 1967 house, that sounds about right.

It’s a good looking house, on a good street. If the owners hadn’t stuck so far to their $5.2-$4.9 range, it would have sold long ago. I suppose the rental income encouraged them to hold fast, until it didn’t.

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Price cut on the water

2 Meadow Place2 Meadow Place, Old Greenwich, down to $3.995 million. The owners paid $3.950 in 2014, so there’s no need for panic, but I wonder whether they’re encountering buyer resistance due to being in the “SLOSH Zone” (no kidding; that’s what our guvmn’t calls it: Sea, Lake, Overland Surge Zone”). According to your friendly rulers, it’s  Lime worst, green bad, yellow, still bad. You wanna stay dry, stay red. On the other hand, I’ve lived in a lime/green zone for decades without incident. It all depends how high your own house is above sea level, regardless of the general zone.

UPDATE: A reader sent along the revised 2013 flood zone map, which I’ll also put on a link, in a minute, showing the various flood zones (VE, AE, etc., which I presume are different from the SURGE zones. In the flood zone map the lime – green color scheme is reversed, with dark green now being the worst and lime being better. That’s confusing. The map below is the 2010 SURGE chart.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 1.33.04 PM



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A contract for this house, finally

21 North Street

21 North Street

21 North Street,asking $4.750 million. This is a wonderful house, built by two of the best builders/architects in Greenwich, Alex Kaali-Nagy and Dinyar Wadia, but built in the wrong place. The seller paid $5.650 million for it in 2006 and put it back up for sale in 2010 for $4.995. I thought that was a pretty good deal, and I had clients who were almost ready to bite (the word was that he’d take less), but just couldn’t get over its location on this busy end of North Street. They eventually found something about as nice, but certainly not built to this quality. As for the owner, he eventually pulled it off the market, rented it out, and then put it back up for sale a year ago at $4.995, again.

Despite the location, the house is set down off the road and once you’re on the property itself, the noise level is minimal (my clients agreed with me on that point). But still, it is where it is, and that’s a problem. I’m pleased for the owner that he’s finally found someone to appreciate this home’s merits: it has many.



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Ready Chris sent this along yesterday when we were discussing the merits and demerits of a certain fat (large boned) pit bull owned by another reader (you know who you are, EOS), and I thought it really fit in to th general political tone of this blog.



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Expert analysis

"Well that's true, but this time I REALLY mean it"

“Well that’s true, but this time I REALLY mean it”

June 29, 2016: “Renowned analyst [sic] “Nate Silver announces that Hillary has “an 80% chance” of beating Donald Trump this November.

August 6, 2015: Renowned analyst Nate Silver announces that Trump has “a 2% chance of winning the Republican nomination”. 

June 29, 2016: Quinnipiac Poll: Trump, Clinton race dead heat.


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When constituencies collide, just pass two conflicting laws and appease them both

Today is Clown Day atLA City Hall

Today is Clown Day at LA City Hall (Really)

June 29, 2016: LA, will impose penalties on private companies that use criminal background checks during the hiring process.

April 7, 2016: Uber pays $25 million to LA, SF, for not conducting thorough-enough criminal background checks of its drivers.

Criminal background checks weed out many poor folks who are represented by powerful civil rights organizations, unregulated Uber threatens the taxi union, which contributes heavily to LA politicians. What to do, what to do?!



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