06 October 2015

If the weather is God's will . . .

So you know how all weather is a sign that God is MAD, BRO, at the liberal heathens? That’s why He mostly sends revenge weather to the bluest of blue states, like Kansas and Florida and Louisiana and Texas. Last week, He was super irate about homosexual relations, as per usual, and since the all-powerful being cannot stop the Supreme Court from decimating traditional goats-for-my-daughter marriage and forcing everyone to rub their same-sex sex-parts all over each other, He sent a fierce hurricane instead.

Bobby Jindal Sorry God Had To Punish Gays With All Those Tornadoes

California Lady Lawmaker Knows What Causes Droughts, And It Is Abortion

Oh, does that sound a little bit crazy insane to you? Well. Shows what you know, because here are two definitely not crazy insane people talking about how yup, marriage equality is the likeliest explanation for Hurricane Joaquin.

Y’all know Tony Perkins already. He’s the president of the hate group Family Research Council. . . Tony was girl-talking and hair-braiding with this other crazy person, named Jonathan Cahn, who is also addicted to announcing grand prophecies that, huh weird, never come to pass. He is a beloved guest of equally dumbass dumbasses, on their radio and teevee programmes, like Tony Perkins and our favorite crazy old uncle, Pat Robertson, and broken-brained Glenn Beck, and so on so forth and et cetera. . . . In his interview with Perkins, Cahn pointed to Hurricane Joaquin as a sign of God’s wrath for America’s legalization of gay marriage, legal abortion and the United Nation’s treatment of Israel, suggesting that the hurricane would strike Washington, D.C., because that’s “where the leadership is.”

Cahn said God was probably sending wind and rain because America has “crossed a gigantic line” and “overruled the word of God massively” because it “legalized the killing of the unborn in 1973 and now we have the striking down of marriage.” . . .

In case you missed it, instead of destroying Washington DC and all the line-crossing evildoers therein, the hurricane instead did a bunch of damage to the Bahamas before dying out in the middle of the Atlantic. Maybe Bermuda is to blame for the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage and abortion. Or maybe God sucks at geography.

The United States did not escape God’s wrath completely, however. He sank a cargo ship, El Faro, which was carrying, according to its owner, nearly 300 trailers and cars, at first considered a sign that He would like us to stop dirtying up His planet with our fossil fuels-consuming vehicles. A spokesman for the Almighty, who preferred to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak on this issue and God can be super vengeful, later clarified that the El Faro was destroyed not because of gay marriage or abortion — both of which he loves, obviously, since He created them and personally performs millions of abortions every year — but, rather, in response to Citizens United.
From Wonkette.

Post Number 7665

This is published post number 7665 between this blog and its companion blog Dispatches At Turtle Island.  The first post was published on July 3, 2005, more than ten years ago.

My July 2006 posts have been labeled.  Eleven months to go.  This is not a trivial task, however.  For example, I blogged more in October of 2005 than I did in the entire year 2014 at this blog, and more than I am likely to blog this year at this blog.

Glendale 180 Project Approval Was Secured Only With Sham Voters

I give props to fellow Colorado attorney Tim Flanagan, whom I have had dealings with in various cases, for fighting the good fight against the City of Glendale in court, in connection with its Glendale 180 project.

The City of Glendale is in Arapahoe County, has under 5,000, almost no single family housing, and is entirely surrounded by the City and County of Denver.

Glendale sold one square foot of vacant brown grass at a corner of a municipal park to five different people (two of whom were city employees), in order to stack the ballot in an August 4, 2015 election to establish a 14.3 acre downtown development authority, and a previous effort to establish a previous special district.

These sham property owner votes allowed it to outvote the three other land owners in a proposed new taxing district (only one of whom, Staybridge Hotels represented by Flanagan, pays property taxes) on a vote to establish a the new taxing district, which passed by a vote of 7-3, two of which were cast by Staybridge which owns 23% of the land in the proposed DDA (71% is owned by the Glendale, which it feels makes its actions morally justified).

The only three actual residents of the proposed DDA (who were registered to vote at Staybridge Hotels addresses) didn't vote, although their failure to vote may simply be because those individuals no longer live at the addresses where they were registered to vote (which is not uncommon for people who list an extended stay hotel as a residential address).

Yet, under election laws that have generally held to be constitutional, property owners may be given a vote in certain kinds of local government elections (in this case, apparently on a one parcel, one vote basis), notwithstanding the usual one man, one vote rule of constitutional law.

Apparently, this little known practice is common in Colorado:
The creation of small landholders is a common mechanism by which to form metro districts in Colorado and meet the ownership requirements laid out in state law, according to Ann Terry, executive director of the Special District Association of Colorado.
Another private taxpayer, the owners of a rug shop, were stripped from the district after making a stink over the City's plan to use the power of eminent domain to take their 6 acre property (they were offered $11 million and turned down the offer), to prevent it from voting against the proposal.  The rug shop owners were pleased to avoid the eminent domain seizure risk, but their removal from the district did gerrymander the group of remaining voters.

Flanagan is arguing on behalf of his client that this cheap trick improperly circumvents TABOR's requirement that new taxes be approved by voters.  The methods used by Glendale are obviously a dirty trick, even if they are common.  While Glendale is free to do what it wants with the 71% of the land it owns, imposing a tax on a single land owner approved with fake voters doesn't sound like a legitimate way to go about doing it.

The larger merits of whether Glendale should be able to use the power of eminent domain to assemble property to make it suitable for business development (one of the main purposes of the DDA is to allow Glendale to use the power of eminent domain to force Staybridge to sell property to it) are also controversial.

Eminent domain is permitted for public works (e.g. pipelines and roads), and to abate urban blight, but it is a long shot to call that part of Glendale blighted, even if it could arguably have a higher and better use in connection with the Glendale 180 plan. But, it is not generally permitted to permit private profit for future land developers.  Usually, property assembly is left to private developers who lack the power of eminent domain.  Those private developers then seek to have the property rezoned for a project once it is assembled, not by a governmental entity.

On the other hand, eminent domain power exists in order to curb "rent seeking" by holdout property owners that get more than their fair share of the total investment in a project by insisting on prices far in excess of the value of their land in its current use that are only possible to realize if they cooperate.

On the law, Staybridge probably faces an uphill battle.  But, it is a fight worth fighting, the legal theory advanced is not frivolous, and even if this battle it lost, it may convince the Colorado General Assembly to change the law of eminent domain going forward in the State of Colorado.

This case could also easily influence the national debate over the use of the eminent domain power to facilitate urban planning in a manner similar to the landmark Kelo v. City of New London case (545 U.S. 469 (2005)), in which the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision "held that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified private redevelopment plans as a permissible "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment."  The City won the Kelo case, but energized opponents of this kind of used of the eminent domain power in the process, resulting in tighter restricts on this kind of taking under federal law, and under state and local law in many places.

05 October 2015

American Apparel Files For Chapter 11

One of the big stories of the second half of the 20th century was the demise of the U.S. based manufacturing of clothing.  American Apparel is one of the few that has sought to reverse that trend, but has struggled to do so.  Even after it emerges from bankruptcy, it will be hard pressed to compete.

Today, it filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, with a reorganization plan pretty much in hand when it filed and expects to have approved within six months.  The case is In re American Apparel, Case No. 15-12055 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.  On Friday, its shares closed at 11.2 cents a share for a market value of $20.5 million, following an announcement in August that it did not have enough cash to last the next twelve months.

It has about $200 million in assets and about $400 million in liabilities.  Secured creditors will provide about $90 million in debtor-in-possession financing and 95% of them have already signed onto the reorganization. The secured creditors group includes "Standard General, Monarch Alternative Capital, Coliseum Capital, Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Pentwater Capital Management, all hedge funds or investment firms specializing in distressed debt."  More than $200 million of unsecured bondholders will be converted to equity.  All shareholders, and probably junior unsecured creditors (if any) as well, will be wiped out.

More than 42% of the stock was held by former CEO Dov Charney who was fired for misconduct in December for reasons include sexual harassment and has lawsuits outstanding against the company. His shares, however, were collateral for hedge fund Standard General which also owns $15 million of bonds from the company, making it the company's biggest creditor before the reorganization, and its biggest post-reorganization shareholder, apart from $70 million in new equity investment in addition to debtor-in-possession financing from secured creditors.

The company has about $600 million in revenues from 8,500 employees at six factories and 230 stores in the U.S. and 17 other countries, but has lost $340 million over the last five years through this year and $45 million so far this year (almost 10% of its sales).  Much of the losses are attributable to interest payments (interest payments will fall $24 million a year under the reorganization), but almost surely not all of the losses are attributable to interest payments, so it will still need to become more profitable after the reorganization.

The company has been unresponsive to consumer demand, producing the same clothes all year around and had relatively high prices relative to its competition.

Mostly from here and here and here.

U.S. is more lethal than violent

The U.S. assault rate is somewhat below average, and it has a sexual assault rate of about twice the mean (but not the highest) among OECD countries.  But, only Mexico and Estonia have higher murder rates, with the U.S. at more than twice the mean.  The U.S. is on the right track, with its murder rate having fallen about 50% from the peak during my lifetime.  But, one key distinction between the U.S. and its peers is likely lax gun regulation.