Patterico's Pontifications

4/14/2009

L.A. Times Op-Ed Omits Significant Conflict of Interest

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 11:10 pm

On Sunday, the L.A. Times published an opinion piece by self-styled police watchdog Merrick J. Bobb, who praised a local police chief. Bobb’s commendation gained credibility from Bobb’s apparent status as a disinterested police expert, who seemingly owes no personal allegiance to the chief. What readers weren’t told is that the chief has been Bobb’s (presumably paid) consultant since 2004.


Above: Self-styled police “expert” Merrick Bobb

Praising his own consultant

Bobb’s piece centers around issues of police confidentiality in connection with an officer-involved shooting. After Pasadena police officers shot a suspect, Pasadena P.D. Chief Bernard Melekian sought to reveal the officers’ names at a news conference. A Pasadena police union obtained a court order to prevent the chief from revealing the officers’ identities, arguing that disclosure could subject the officers to retaliation from gang members. Bobb’s piece sided with the chief. From the very first sentence, Bobb heaps praise on Chief Melekian:

Bernard Melekian, Pasadena’s police chief and head of the California Police Chiefs Assn., is a model police executive — honest and forthright, dedicated to building community trust and willing to subject his department and himself to the scrutiny that comes with transparency.

Bobb’s piece repeatedly extols Melekian’s virtues. Bobb says the chief “followed the rules of good policing” and gushes: “[Chief Melekian's] willingness to hold himself and his department accountable to the general public is admirable.” Bobb’s sermon of praise ends with a paean to “transparency.”

How ironic that Bobb shows no “transparency” about his own relationship with Melekian.

Instead, the reader is led to assume that Bobb has no personal interest in defending Melekian:

Merrick J. Bobb is executive director of the nonprofit Police Assessment Resource Center and special counsel monitoring the Sheriff’s Department for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

What Bobb fails to mention, and The Times does not disclose, is that Melekian is a paid employee of Bobb’s consulting firm.* The web site for the aforementioned Police Assessment Resource Center lists Melekian as one of only two “senior advisors” to Bobb’s firm:

Chief Bernard Melekian joined PARC as a senior advisor in June 2004. He is the Police Chief of Pasadena, California, and has occupied that position since 1996.

Melekian’s presence at Bobb’s consulting firm lends Bobb credibility in claiming an understanding of police procedures and tactics. Melekian’s experience is critical, because Merrick Bobb has absolutely no police experience, whatsoever.

(more…)

Perry Mason Arrested

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:05 pm

For unauthorized practice of law:

A Houston man named Perry Mason was arrested on Tuesday, accused of the unauthorized practice of law, officials at the Harris County District Attorney’s office said.

Assistant District Attorney Hamilton Burger said the 43-year-old faces the death penalty if convicted. Della Street could not be reached for comment.

OK, I made up the second paragraph. But the first one is genuine.

Government Motors Follies: Surgical Taxpayer-Soaking Edition

Filed under: General — Karl @ 2:29 pm

[Posted by Karl]

In our last episode, I commented that The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle may have been mistaken in thinking a General Motors bankruptcy was “inevitable”:

McArdle may be underestimating the lengths to which the Obama Administration and a Democratic Congress will go to bail out the UAW and its electorally-important, white, blue-collar, workers in the swing states of the upper Midwest.

Ed Morrissey highlights today’s New York Times report that GM has prepared a “surgical” bankruptcy, in which taxpayers would shell out tens of billions of dollars to cover the legacy costs of the company’s health care obligations.  Cap’n Ed is shocked:

I suspected that any real resolution to this would require restructuring of GM’s pension obligations.  I didn’t expect that we would have to completely underwrite them.

I don’t know how Ed could have expected anything else.

–Karl

Obamanomics: Like economics, but backwards

Filed under: General — Karl @ 6:24 am

[Posted by Karl]

Robert J. Samuelson deconstructs Pres. Obama’s economic vision:

What Obama proposes is a “post-material economy.” He would de-emphasize the production of ever-more private goods and services, harnessing the economy to achieve broad social goals. In the process, he sets aside the standard logic of economic progress.

Since the dawn of the Industrial Age, this has been simple: produce more with less. (“Productivity,” in economic jargon.) Mass markets developed for clothes, cars, computers and much more because declining costs expanded production. Living standards rose. By contrast, the logic of the “post-material economy” is just the opposite: Spend more and get less.

Consider global warming. The centerpiece of Obama’s agenda is a “cap-and-trade” program. This would be, in effect, a tax on fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas). The idea is to raise their prices so that households and businesses use less or switch to costlier “alternative” energy sources such as solar. In general, we would spend more on energy and get less of it.

The story for health care is similar, though the cause is different…

***

Together, health care and energy constitute about a quarter of the U.S. economy. If their costs increase, they will crowd out other spending. The president’s policies might, as he says, create high-paying “green” or medical jobs. But if so, they will destroy old jobs elsewhere. Think about it. If you spend more for gasoline or electricity — or for health insurance premiums — then you spend less on other things, from meals out to home repair. Jobs in those sectors suffer.

We already have an example of how this plays out in the energy sector.  Obama has used Spain’s green initiative as a blueprint, but a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid found that every green job created by the Spanish government destroyed an average of 2.2 other jobs, and that only one in 10 were permanent.  Obama promised to create three million “green jobs” which suggests he would kill at least 6.6 million (or as many as 11 million) jobs elsewhere in the economy.

Obamanomics: Progressive, but not progress.

–Karl

Court: Franken = Senator

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:20 am

The court declined to rule on the question of whether Franken is a royal jerk, noting that this question has already been settled in the court of public opinion. But the next Senator of Minnesota? You betcha!


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