'No more capacity' for Syrian refugees in Turkey - BBC News
Thousands of Syrian refugees are trapped at a border crossing with Turkey after they fled from Syria's second city Aleppo.

Thousands of Syrian refugees are trapped at a border crossing with Turkey after they fled from Syria’s second city Aleppo - where Syrian government forces are fighting rebels.

Turkey is refusing to let up to 35,000 people cross, saying it is providing food and shelter on the Syrian side of the border.

So If It Isn't About Race

So…. here’s my lengthy feelings on Tamir Rice:

IF police, in fact, assumed he was a “grown man” they had ZERO right or reason to harrass or approach him for having a gun in an open carry state.

SINCE they DID opt to approach him, one can reasonably assume they are liars that did not in fact assume he was an adult. Because one cannot assume someone is a grown man and yet not treat them by the laws and standards the state has set for Grown Men.

ANY half decent prosecutor would have pointed this out. Which brings me to a key point here: Even more disgusting than the incompetent police is the level of incompetence and unethical behavior shown time and time again by prosecutors and public defenders. I don’t comprehend how one can do four years of undergraduate study, pass the LSAT, do four years of law school, pass the Bar. And yet still be unable to make such an obvious logical analysis. Explain yourself.

Here is what is clear: Either the prosecutor missed the point I just made, which makes him incompetent. OR he wilfully ignored it which is grossly negligent and unethical. As it is the prosecutors job to get convictions, not to help the defense.

This same situation can he cross applied to Mike Brown.
You have an officer who somehow allowed a right handed person to reach in the car and punch his right cheek, showing incompetence on his part. Then you have crime scene techs who allow the officer to go home and shower before collecting evidence or photographing (Which any Intro to Forensic Science class will teach you is a horrible decision). Then you have a medical examiner who runs out of batteries and allows the body to lay there for hours, gross negligence. And icing on the cake: A prosecutor who presented a defense in front of the grand jury rather than a case for indictment. Unethical.

Time and time we see these odd cases.
Let’s say, for craps and giggles, there is no racism involved.
Note above, I did not mention Brown or Rice’s race at all. Because, when you take race off the table; the stories STILL don’t add up.
Once you take race off the table, you’re left with rampant incompetence, gross negligence, and horribly unethical behavior.
So. Either they’re racist and need to be fired OR they’re incompetent, negligent, and unethical and need to be fired. Either way, they screwed up. And saying “it isn’t about race” does nothing more than make the parties involved look like complete…… well, idiots.
Either they are racist or they are incapable of doing the job they’ve been trained and educated to do. The job MY tax dollars pay for them to do. Pick one. Those are literally the only two options.

Which brings me to my final point: CITY GOVERNMENTS SHOULD HAVE HIGHER LEVELS OF ACCOUNTABILITY. It’s the CITY hiring these incompetent officers, MEs, and prosecutors. The city WE pay taxes in. I spoke a few months back about why I believe local Law Enforcement Officers should be required to have Criminal Justice degrees. (I’ll actually expound on that on a later post); but really, we need more rigorous examination for all city paid employees. WHY is there so much incompetence? From the Police Department to the Prosecutor’s office; we’re seeing people who simply cannot do their job. And it is high time that the cities responsible for placing them, answer to the citizens that pay them.

Flint residents told that their children could be taken away if they don't pay for city's poison water

There is no denying that the water in Flint is undrinkable and that it is contaminated with lead and other substances, and it is clear that the government of Flint is responsible for the problem.

However, the city’s government continues to charge people for the poison water and then threatening to foreclose their home or take their children if they refuse to pay. 

Michigan law states that parents are neglectful if they do not have running water in their home, and if they chose not to pay for water they can’t drink anyway, then they could be guilty of child endangerment. Activists in Flint say that some residents have already received similar threats from the government if they refuse to pay their bills.

Besides the actual Flint Water Crisis and the fact that people are getting poisoned, the government now is trying to take people’s kids away from them for not paying the bills they charge them for this poisoned water. People SHOULD NOT pay for this,moreover, people should get a refund for threat to their health! This is a nonsense.

'White Lives Matter' Rally Held in South Philadelphia, Local Councilman Attends

Our councilman joins local racists in “protesting” fabricated incidents in which not a single white person was hurt or a single life lost while millions of people of color in this city and country are afraid to even walk down the street because racist cops get away with murder, quite literally. 


Mark Anthony Thomas is the MIT Sloan Fellow working with the city of Los Angeles as Senior Advisor on Livability. The above photoset includes some of Mark’s photos of illegal dumping in LA neighborhoods.

CTZN: You’re a poet, living in one of the world’s creative capitals, and your big focus is on street cleaning. What’s creative about that?

MAT: I’ve met with 70-80 people so far. I haven’t said no to anybody. I was recently looking at the illegal dumping issue with some day laborers, and getting their perspective on why people dump in certain neighborhoods, and that shaped my thinking. And by spending time in the fashion district, that’s when you see the entrepreneurial spirit of the city in an intense way. Manufacturing is so disconnected from so many people who curate conversations. LA has 300,000+ workers in manufacturing. To spend time with them and see the apparel marts, see people selling garments, see how a piece works its way up to the street, to the retail side, it’s an inspiring perspective. I’ve tried to have an open mind. I’ve been on rides with the sanitation workers. I’ve seen all sides of things. There’s things I think people would be really proud of with the city… there are programs that are models for the rest of the world. Then there areas that have room for improvement. 

I actually think that’s where the organic takes over. You don’t necessarily, as the city, want to steer. You don’t want to control where creative artists will take a neighborhood. The city’s role is to make sure they have the minimum platform for success. We all know that the city is not in this place yet, but once we have walkable neighborhoods, clean streets, the creatives will take it from there and make this city more dynamic. That’s the future of LA.

In LA with something to say about livability? Contact Mark Anthony Thomas.
Oakland to Create 'Dept. of Race and Equity' - Breitbart
Oakland has hired the director of Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights to head a new race and equity department in Oakland.

As if Oakland doesn’t have enough problems to deal with, the city council wants to add this mess? Good grief! What a waste of city funds and time! I would say vote these people out of office, but the people of Oakland all drink from the same kool-aid, so this initiative will probably make the city council more popular. 

Good news, the Living Walls murals are safe. In fact, the meeting tonight of the City of Decatur Historic Preservation Commission was only discussing the murals so that Lyn Menne, Assistant City Manager, Community & Economic development, could explain the Living Walls project to the commission and to the public. Since the murals are art and not signage, they are not subject to this commission. Also, the murals do not deface any protected historic signage.  Menne wanted the artists of Living Walls to come here to nurture the city of Decatur with public art. The murals will remain up as long as they last or until the owners paint over them. Click on picture for more images and more info.

Economically, a free parking pass is a very nice thing to have, and there are always enough people who are a bit unscrupulous when it comes to parking that you can’t expect self-restraint,” said Donald Shoup, a UCLA urban planning professor and author of “The High Cost of Free Parking.

Sea of Blue Disabled Placards in Many US Cities

Wait, I’m sorry, please remind me whose “self-restraint” we’re talking about here? Are you saying disabled people should “restrain” ourselves from leaving our homes and using our parking permits? I mean, god forbid we park all day at a meter because that’s the only place we can park and be able to get to work or school or wherever else we have to be that day.

Maybe city governments should be the ones “restraining themselves” from playing doctor and balancing their budgets on the backs of disabled people.
Stanton today asks taxpayers to raise tax

Stanton should just merge with Garden Grove or Anaheim.  Stanton is an unnecessary city government. Fun fact:  Stanton became a city for the first time in 1911 to thwart a plan by Anaheim to build a sewer farm.  It disincorporated in 1924 to lower taxes for residents.  It became a city again in 1956 for no apparent reason, but I imagine it was because residents were jealous of Garden Grove which incorporated that same year.  Stanton is approximately three square miles – far too small to be a city.

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Athens City Council Considers Appropriations Ordinance

With the end of the fiscal year approaching, Athens City Council is considering an ordinance that would authorize the city auditor to reduce the 2011 year end appropriations without individual approval from council.

The ordinance was introduced during last week’s council meeting by Jim Sands, co-chair of the finance and personnel committee. The recommendation was first made during an audit several years ago as a way to help avoid an end-of-year rush to close out the budget, according to Sands.

While the city auditor has always been responsible for reducing appropriations, he or she must have approval from council before taking action. This becomes challenging when council takes a short recess from mid-December through the first of the year because they are not available to approve these reductions, said City Auditor Cathy Hecht.

Read more from The New Political.

Athens City Roundup for December 29, 2011
  • City approves ‘12 budget (The Athens NEWS)
  • Athens Mayor wants moratorium on fracking process (WOUB)
  • Stimson biz owners concerned about proposed strip club (The Athens Messenger, subscription required)

For other Athens City Roundup posts, click here. For other posts about fracking, click here. For other posts about the proposed Stimson Ave. strip club, click here.

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The Dawn of the Municipal Chief Innovation Officer

This article came out two week ago. It  talks about how city governments are coming up with new roles for people dealing with technology and innovation infrastructure. The article deals with many aspects of open data and governance that we will discuss during classes.

However, I believe its focus on the “innovative” nature of the job really misses the  historical aspect of innovation in the city. It seems that before such office there was no innovation at all. This would mean denying the innovation brought about by communication technologies during the previous two centuries. 

Another problem with the article, at least how I see it, is that it misses the great problem of confusing civic with market-driven innovation. The author gives the example of Philadelphia’s program to train citizens in Internet usage as an example of civic engagement.  Yet, when speaking about the CIO’s job, he states that he is 

 describing innovation as a business executive might define it. And he insists that the CIO job in a city hall is really not all that different from what it entails in a Silicon Valley firm. Private-sector CIOs are focused on increasing profit, or shareholder value. CIOs in cities – all two of them, that is – are trying to figure out how to deliver better services at lower costs, and with tactics no one has ever tried before.

This is a fairly reductionist account of what drives innovation in the city. Innovation, when coming from a business model is about profits. Innovation, when coming from city governments, is about civic engagement. Approaching the user as a consumer is not the same as approaching him as a citizen.  While these two might come together on some aspects, I find it very problematic to mash them up. 

Watch on

No long post on how to improve Trenton this week. Instead I just wanted to share this video that the City of Trenton released via their YouTube page about a press conference where Mayor Mack announced the re-hiring of 12 police officers.

Last fall about 100 police officers (one-third of the entire Trenton Police Department) were laid off due to a non-renewal of funding for their positions.

I’m no mathematician but I don’t understand how $3 million over the course of three years only funds 12 police officers per year. Do they each actually have total compensation packages over $83,000?