Rent Seeking 101: Schwarzenegger to sign environmental exemption bill to allow construction of LA Football Stadium

Big shocker. When the Governor of  Ca-Lee-For-Nee-Yah wants to build a football stadium, he does not need to follow the environmental rules everyone else must follow.

From NBC Los Angeles:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he’s going to sign an environmental exemption bill that will clear the way for construction of the LA Stadium.

State senators approved the bill, which would nullify a lawsuit over the project’s environmental impact report by citizens in neighboring Walnut. Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the bill in support of the stadium because its impact on the local economy and its ability to generate jobs.

There will be more than 6,700 new jobs created because of the stadium, causing an addition $21 million in new tax revenue and $762 million in new economic activity, according to an LA Stadium spokesperson.

Schwarzenegger hopes developer Majestic Realty Co., the driving company behind the project, doesn’t poach any California teams to play in the proposed venue. They have indicated their plan to approach seven teams in hopes of luring one to LA. The list includes the three California teams: San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers.

This is typical.  A homeowner, who has an endangered snail darter on his property would never get such a generous exception, but for the construction of a football stadium, and jobs, the environment can always wait. I have no doubt that Majestic Realty Co. actively engaged the state legislature and sought rents from California. Among these rents, are the ability to construct without concern for the environment.

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“XXXXXXX” Vanity Plate nets man $19,000 in tickets

via  The Birmingham News H/T How Appealing:

For Huntsville resident Scottie Roberson, the letter X — seven of them, to be exact — led to more than $19,000 in Birmingham parking tickets.

Roberson said he has been to Birmingham only once in the past five years and left without a ticket. He said city officials told him the tickets were issued by mistake because of his vanity plate — XXXXXXX.

Roberson, 38, said the plate is an homage to his days of building custom cars, when he was given the nickname “Racer X.” He uses seven X’s, he said, because seven is his favorite number.

When Birmingham parking patrols find cars without license plates parked illegally or at expired meters, they enter seven X’s in place of the plate number, city officials said. The parking citation form calls for a plate number, and the practice is to use X’s when no number is available.

I had a friend in Virginia whose Vanity plate read “1I1I1I1I.” The police could never properly distingush between the Number “1” and the Letter “I.” As a result, he never had to pay the tickets.

Hopefully my John Galt License Plate (still hasn’t arrived yet) won’t get me any tickets. Though I’m doubtful.

Big Brother is Reading Your Tweets!

I love when the government tries to figure out what everyone in the world is doing, aggregate this information, and make decisions based on it. All in the name of security, right?

via Exclusive: U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm That Monitors Blogs, Tweets | Danger Room | Wired.com (H/T Instapundit)

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media. It’s part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using ”open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.

Visible crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. (It doesn’t touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at the moment.) Customers get customized, real-time feeds of what’s being said on these sites, based on a series of keywords.

I wonder what the CIA’s dossier about me includes? My codename is very likely John Galt.

Detroit Shrugged. WNBA Shock Moving From Detroit to Tulsa

Things just seem to get worse and worse for Michigan.

via WNBA’s Detroit Shock reportedly moving to Tulsa – ESPN.

The Shock had a lot of success on the court, but not in the stands in a state with four major professional teams along with Michigan and Michigan State athletics.

In the 2003 WNBA Finals, Detroit did draw 22,076 fans — setting a record for the largest crowd to watch a women’s professional basketball game — but most games were sparsely attended with a curtain covering up the upper level of The Palace of Auburn Hills.

On a somewhat related note, while at Charlotte Airport, I noticed that Terminal 4 had movie posters of all movies filmed in North Carolina. Alongside such classics as Taledega Nights, one of the posters was of a classic, Juwanna Man, that dealt with Woman’s Basketball. I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about the WNBA, and probably will never blog about them, so there you go.

Who is Juwanna Man?

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First SCOTUS Opinion of the Term Released in Corcoran v. Levenhagen!

The Per Curiam  slip copy in JOSEPH E. CORCORAN v. MARK LEVENHAGEN, hot off the presses. H/T @ SCOTUSOpinions

7th Circuit reversed in Habeas case.

We now grant certiorari and hold that the Seventh Circuit erred in disposing of Corcoran’s other claims with-out explanation of any sort. The Seventh Circuit should have permitted the District Court to consider Corcoran’sunresolved challenges to his death sentence on remand, or should have itself explained why such consideration was unnecessary.
In its brief in opposition, the State argues that Cor-coran’s claims were waived, and that they were in any event frivolous, so that a remand would be wasteful. Brief in Opposition 9–10. Nothing in the Seventh Circuit’sopinion, however, suggests that this was the basis for thatcourt’s order that the writ be denied.
The petition for certiorari and the motion for leave toproceed in forma pauperis are granted. The judgment ofthe Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is vacated,and the case is remanded for further proceedings consis-tent with this opinion.

This should be Justice Sotomayor’s first real opinion, so it is pretty cool. Any guesses who wrote it? I always try to guess with Per Curiams.

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Moscow Mayor Plays god, promises no snow this winter, and dumps it all on country-folk

This story from Time is pretty cool:

Pigs still can’t fly, but this winter, the mayor of Moscow promises to keep it from snowing. For just a few million dollars, the mayor’s office will hire the Russian Air Force to spray a fine chemical mist over the clouds before they reach the capital, forcing them to dump their snow outside the city.

The air force will use cement powder, dry ice or silver iodide to spray the clouds from Nov. 15 to March 15 – and only to prevent “very big and serious snow” from falling on the city, said Andrei Tsybin, the head of the department. This could mean that a few flakes will manage to slip through the cracks. Tsybin estimated that the total cost of keeping the storms at bay would be $6 million this winter, roughly half the amount Moscow normally spends to clear the streets of snow.

But not everyone is happy. What about residents outside the city?

So far the main objection to the plan has come from Moscow’s suburbs, which will likely be inundated with snow if the plan goes forward. Alla Kachan, the Moscow region’s ecology minister, said the proposal still needs to be assessed by environmental experts and discussed with the people living in the area before Luzhkov can enact it. “The citizens of the region have some concerns. We have received lots of messages,” she told the RIA news agency.

No worries. Moscow has a proud tradition of screwing the country-folk in order to benefit those in the cities. I wonder if Walter Duranty is covering this story.

And because I so seldom get to post in Russian, Кто такой Джон Галт?

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New Article: Legal Fictions and Juristic Truth

From SSRN H/T Legal Theory Blog, a really interesting article about legal fictions and why society accepts them. Here is the abstract:

The classic legal fiction is a curious artifice of legal reasoning. In a discipline primarily concerned with issues of fact and responsibility, the notion of a legal fiction should seem an anathema or, at the very least, an ill-suited means to promote a just result. However, the deployment of a patently false statement as a necessary component of a legal rule is a widely practiced and accepted mode of legal analysis. In rem forfeiture proceedings rest on the fiction that the inanimate object was bad. Attractive nuisance re-imagines the child trespasser as an invitee. A host of doctrines bearing the term “constructive” in their titles adopt an “as if” rationalization that deems something to have occurred despite the fact that it did not (e.g., constructive notice, constructive eviction, and constructive discharge).

Legal commentators writing in the diverse fields of law and literature, tax policy, and empirical legal studies have taken a renewed interest in legal fictions, including Fuller’s influential work from the 1930s. They have applied the label “legal fiction” to an eclectic group of legal rules, including slavery, the doctrine of discovery, the tax code, and empirically erroneous legal presumptions (i.e., discredited legal regimes, complex statutory schemes, and empirical legal errors). These newly identified legal fictions do not satisfy Fuller’s classic definition of a legal fiction because they are neither acknowledged to be false nor demonstrably false. The enduring conundrum presented by the classic legal fiction is that it retains its utility despite its falsity, similar to false statements used in science and mathematics in order to advance a proof or hypothesis.

Any discussion of fiction necessarily invokes a concept of reality against which the fiction can be measured. Thus, before we can speak intelligibly of fictions, we must first be able to identify truth. Does it make any sense to refer to slavery as a fiction when it was, in fact, a legal system that brutalized millions? Is the choice of a tax base “false” simply because it is statutorily prescribed? Certain legal rules, such as those governing eye witness testimony, explicitly incorporate statements of fact that are readily verifiable by reference to real world events. Slavery and the doctrine of discovery encompass abstract concepts, such as liberty, autonomy and sovereignty that are not provable in any conventional sense of the term. They stand as juristic truths independent from questions of empirical proof.

Fuller cautioned that a legal fiction becomes dangerous when it is believed for then the fiction can approximate a lie, but there is also danger when the force of its constitutive power is ignored. When this occurs, the label of fiction works a denial and removes from memory important lessons regarding the law and the fragility of the human experience

While in law school, the doctrine of legal fictions always perplexed me. The strongest legal fiction seems to be is Ex Parte Young. The Supreme Court with Young sidestepped the 11th amendment, and allowed a citizen to sue a state official for injunctive relief, even though the citizen could not sue the state itself. The entire 11th amendment jurisprudence never made sense to me from an originalist perspective, and I am somewhat sympathetic to Justice Souter’s position in Seminole Tribe and Alden v. Maine. But, having the ability to sue the state for injunctive relief is an essential element of federal litigation.

In the context of First Amendment rights, Professor Volokh wrote:

“The corporation-as-person is a valuable legal fiction, and it’s built on the same sort of metaphor we often use with regard to groups (e.g., “the Catholic Church teaches,” “the ACLU argues,” and the like).”

But, Volokh cautions lawyers not to fall into the trap of actually believing that our legal fictions and our metaphors are real.

I have been batting around a paper on legal fictions, though I haven’t made much progress beyond the title: “Legal Fictions. Why is it good to be false?

This article probably touches a lot of ground I was thinking about, but I’ll keep pondering this dilemma. Why do we accept legal fictions? If we suspend our disbelief, and accept the basic premises of the fiction, are the positive results worth it?

On a related note, perhaps one of the greatest legal fictions is our modern incorporation doctrine.  Even Professor Balkin in Abortion and Original Meaning concedes that incorporation through the due process clause doesn’t really make sense from a textual perspective. I am inclined to agree. I am currently developing this topic in an article co-authored with Ilya Shapiro, discussing incorporation through the privileges or immunities clause. More details shortly.

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