Tag Archive for President Ronald Reagan

Likenesses of President Ronald Reagan Continue to Attract Trouble: California Has Seen Its Share

Fox News Channel, Drudge Report, and other Right-leaning sources are reporting on photos taken at the White House on June 15 of official guests making an obscene gesture in front of a portrait of President Ronald Reagan.

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects Americans from government abridgement of freedom of speech, and people can make this type of gesture at the White House as a political statement without being arrested or punished by the government. (If the Soviet Union had ended up “winning” the Cold War, I doubt such freedoms would be so casually exercised.) Nevertheless, it was bad manners and made the beleaguered Obama Administration look foolish yet again. According to a report today from Fox News Channel, the White House issued a statement on June 22 acknowledging that this was disrespectful behavior.

This incident reminded me of a incident concerning the official portrait of Ronald Reagan at the California State Capitol. His portrait is there because he was Governor of California from 1967-1975. He defeated an incumbent governor – Jerry Brown’s father Pat Brown – in the 1966 election, and then Jerry Brown won the office in the 1974 election after Reagan chose not to run again. (Jerry Brown was Governor of California for two terms from 1975 to 1983 and then was reelected again as Governor in 2010.)

On March 5, 1986, someone slashed the Reagan portrait in the California State Capitol from the nose to the beltline. The painting was restored, but a transparent protective casing was put over it.

Portrait of former Governor Ronald Reagan at the California State Capitol

Portrait of former Governor Ronald Reagan at the California State Capitol.

No other portrait needs special protection; I found an ancient 2004 post on a now-inactive California blog commenting about this (with some foul language): One Difference Between Us and Them.

More recent attacks on Reagan likenesses have been more ambiguous in motive. As reported by the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot newspaper, one month after a bronze Ronald Reagan statue was installed in October 2011 in Newport Beach, California, an unknown culprit wrapped a chain or rope around it and tried to pull it away with a pickup truck. Perhaps the intent was ideological, but that $60,000 statue also made a tempting target for metal thieves. It was repaired, and now a city surveillance camera is operating at the site. In August 2011, a bronze bust of President Reagan was stolen from the Chapman University campus in Orange, California. Once again, metal theft was a suspected reason.

(New Incident added September 20, 2013: Temecula: Reagan Statue Damaged in Apparent Arson FireRiverside Press-Enterprise – September 20, 2013)

(New Incident added December 7, 2013: Vandals Deface Reagan Library – www.localicity.com – December 7, 2013)

Assembly Bill 2358 is moving in the California State Legislature to authorize the installation of a privately-funded statue of Ronald Reagan in the State Capitol Building Annex. If this bill passes the legislature and is signed by Reagan’s successor Jerry Brown, the statue may become another tempting target for political activists to make a statement. (It would take some guts for metal thieves to try to steal it from the well-guarded capitol building, but more foolish things have been done there.)

California Will Authorize Higher Fees to Register Weighing and Measuring Devices: Why Are Some Industries Exempt While Others Victimized?

On Wednesday, April 16, the California State Assembly’s Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection Committee considered Assembly Bill 1623, introduced by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada (D-Vacaville) on behalf of the California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association (representing California’s Sealers of Weights and Measures) to increase the maximum fees that counties can charge for registrations of measuring devices used in commerce, such as scales. The bill also established the authority of counties to assess fees for the registration of additional devices.

State law (Business and Professions Code Section 12001 et seq.) authorizes counties to check devices to insure they are accurate when consumers are charged based on weights and measures.

Assemblywoman Yamada and the California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association argued that the legislature had not increased the fee caps since 2008 and that the current fee revenues did not fully compensate counties for the cost of administering their programs for ensuring accurate weights and measures. No evidence was cited at the hearing to show the extent of this problem, however.

A few other things bothered me about the hearing and betrayed the fundamental weaknesses of the California State Legislature.

First, Assembly Bill 1623 met with opposition from car rental companies, including Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz. Lobbyists representing these companies claimed that counties rarely checked the odometers of the state’s approximately 300,000 rental cars because most odometers are tamper-proof and because consumers rarely sign contracts to be charged based on mileage. They also claimed that the California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association was unable to provide an example of a consumer complaint about faulty odometer measurement in a rental car.

The committee agreed to strike the proposed increase in the maximum device registration fee charged for rental car odometers. That eliminated the formal opposition to the bill, and it passed unanimously.

But who are the other parties who will be stuck with the fee increases? No legislator inquired about them or speculated about the burden such fee increases would have on other industries.

Nor did any legislator ask which industries are most notorious for inaccurate weights and measures, and therefore might deserve a disproportionate burden of the fee increases because of the need for extra government inspection and enforcement of those industries.

Only car rental agencies were exempted, because they had lobbyists with clout opposing the bill unless the committee amended the bill to exempt their devices.

I’m not going to blame the major car rental corporations for hiring lobbyists to get special breaks on paying government fees, but I do blame the legislators (including the committee Republicans) for not seeking more information to determine the effects of the bill.

I guess it’s possible that the members of the Assembly Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection Committee already know the details of Business and Professions Code Section 12001 et seq. and who pays these device fees and which industry is most likely to scam consumers with inaccurate weights and measures, but I doubt it.

A county seal on a Weight Watchers scale.

For example, does Weight Watchers have to pay these fees for each electronic scale it uses? (They are entangled in some way with California regulations for measuring devices.) If so, how much will this Assembly Bill 1623 cost Weight Watchers? Has Weight Watchers ever had a consumer complaint for inaccurate scales that prevented a member from reaching “lifetime goal” and thus becoming exempt from membership fees? If not, why shouldn’t the legislature exempt Weight Watchers from the fee increases?

According to the official committee bill analysis, “The range of weighing and measuring devices included in the registration program currently includes retail fuel dispensing meters; water meters; electric meters that measure electricity that is sub-metered by a mobile home park; apartment complex, or boat dock; liquefied petroleum gas meters or gas vapor meters that are sub-metered; truck scales, cattle scales and grocery counter scales; taxi meters; and a variety of other devices that weigh or meter a commodity offered for sale.”

In addition, the web site for the California’s Sealers of Weights and Measures states that “County Weights and Measures Inspectors inspect and test various types of weighing and measuring devices throughout the county. Examples of some of the types of devices inspected are: gasoline dispensers, propane/butane meters, electric meters, taxi meters, odometers on ambulances, farm milk tanks, pharmacy scales, deli counter scales, livestock scales, concrete batch plant scales, truck scales, etc.”

After the committee approved the bill, Assemblywoman Yamada emphasized that even these authorized fee increases STILL would not be quite enough to pay for the program.

It’s never enough….NEVER ENOUGH. As President Ronald Reagan said in a speech on March 11, 1981 (see video here):

The American taxing structure, the purpose of which was to serve the people, began instead to serve the insatiable appetite of government. If you will forgive me – you know, someone has likened government to a baby. It is an alimentary canal with an appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.