- Not the theater’s fault, says a Colorado jury, rejecting Aurora massacre suit [ABA Journal, earlier here, here, and here, related here, etc.]
- Senate GOP could have cut off funds for HUD’s social-engineer-the-suburbs power grab, AFFH. So why’d they arrange instead to spare it? [Paul Mirengoff/PowerLine, more, earlier] Related: federal judge Denise Cote denies motion to challenge supposed speech obligations of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino under consent decree with HUD [Center for Individual Rights; earlier here, here, etc.]
- “Earnhardt Family Fighting Over Whether One Earnhardt Son Can Use His Own Last Name” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
- Freddie Gray charges, bad new laws on pay, the state’s stake in world trade, armored vehicles for cops, bar chart baselines that don’t start at zero, and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
- “You can be fined for not calling people ‘ze’ or ‘hir,’ if that’s the pronoun they demand that you use” [Eugene Volokh on NYC human rights commission guidance]
- Despite potential for schadenfreude, please refrain from taxing university endowments [John McGinnis]
Under New York City’s stiff gun control laws, it can be famously hard to obtain a carry permit from the NYPD’s license division — at least, famously hard if you’re an ordinary resident without cash or connections to spare. Now, scandal [DNAInfo, New York Daily News]:
A Brooklyn businessman has been charged by the feds with obtaining gun permits for friends and other businessmen by paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to NYPD officers in its License Division, authorities said on Monday….
In all, Lichtenstein boasted that he obtained 150 weapons for his friends and associates, charging them about $18,000 each time, and giving $6,000 of the payout to his police connections. If true, that means corrupt officers raked in as much as $900,000.
It’s yet another reminder, Ira Stoll points out, of the general rule that draconian regulation begets corruption — and a caution to those who propose to inflict NYC-style regulation on other parts of the country.
- Clarifying Penn Central: does a government taking property violate Fifth Amendment when it groups together commonly owned parcels in such a way as to avoid an obligation to provide just compensation? [Ilya Shapiro, Ilya Somin on Supreme Court case of Murr v. Wisconsin]
- How to win NYC real estate cleverest-deal-of-year award: sacrifice floor space to outwit regulation [Alex Tabarrok]
- Desert delirium: “Phoenix has the cheapest water in the country” [Coyote]
- If you ban low-quality housing you might discover it was the only housing low-income people could afford [Emily Washington, Market Urbanism]
- Who’s cheering on/gloating over climate-speech subpoenas? Media Matters, of course, and some others too;
- “Exhibiting Bias: how politics hijacks science at some museums” [John Tierney, City Journal]
- Hadn’t realized Karen Hinton, of Chevron-Ecuador suit PR fame, was (now-exiting) flack for NYC Mayor De Blasio [New York Post; Jack Fowler/NRO]
NYPD threatens immigrant-owned shops with closure using what are sometimes questionable nuisance abatement claims, then uses its leverage to push for warrantless access to information on customers. “Most cases resulted in settlements, 333 of which allow the NYPD to conduct warrantless searches. In 102 cases, the owner agreed to install cameras that the NYPD can access upon request. Another 127 settlements require storeowners to use electronic card readers that store customers’ ID information, also available to the NYPD upon request.” [ProPublica, Radley Balko, TechDirt]
Even as absurd NYC policy ideas go, this one’s a doozy [Seth Barron, City Journal]:
To encourage a “sustainable, resilient food system,” New York’s city council has proposed a $5 million municipal farm-subsidy program, under which the city would buy development easements in the Hudson Valley. In this way, the council plans to help feed “3 million New Yorkers liv[ing] in neighborhoods without adequate supermarkets.” It’s alarming to consider that New York could suffer food shortages so acute that the city government must establish its own agricultural supply chain.
EDITED, see comments: Correspondent Carl Edman shares an anecdote on Twitter of a Soviet dignitary visiting London who asked about the bureau in charge of food supply to the city “and was shocked when told that there was no such thing and nobody in charge. At least that won’t happen in future NYC!”
- To keep your sex business free from the coils of federal regulation, your best bet might in fact be Ted Cruz, implacable opponent of Operation Choke Point [Elizabeth Nolan Brown; more from Snopes on rather silly attacks on Cruz for doing job lawyers are expected to do for clients in Texas case]
- Snoopy, you’re not systematically important: judge frees MetLife from SIFI designation under Dodd-Frank [Thaya Brook Knight/Cato, John Cochrane]
- What with Sen. Elizabeth Warren trying to put a lid on some companies’ criticism of the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, hope it’s still OK for the rest of us to talk about it [Thaya Brook Knight, Cato]
- Sen. Warren isn’t only one using letters to SEC to browbeat businesses: New York City elected Public Advocate Letitia (“Tish”) James tries to hassle gunmaker Sturm Ruger to comply with various demands of gun control advocates [Manikandan Raman, Benzinga/Yahoo; more on Ms. James and her blames]
- Next term Supreme Court will consider case on scope of insider trading law, Salman v. U.S. [Ira Stoll, more] “Returning to Common-Law Principles of Insider Trading After United States v. Newman” [Richard Epstein, Yale Law Journal on Second Circuit’s decision via Stoll]
- DoJ cracks down on big-investor activism — at least when of a sort antitrust enforcers don’t like [Matt Levine]
The Slate Star Codex blogger decided to read, and belatedly review, The Art of the Deal (1988) by real estate developer and now-GOP nomination frontrunner Donald Trump. Trump and his campaign aside, the book affords insights into the legal and regulatory side of the development business. Following a funny description of the role of the real estate developer in coordinating deals, Alexander writes:
…The developer’s other job is dealing with regulations. The way Trump tells it, there are so many regulations on development in New York City in particular and America in general that erecting anything larger than a folding chair requires the full resources of a multibillion dollar company and half the law firms in Manhattan. Once the government grants approval it’s likely to add on new conditions when you’re halfway done building the skyscraper, insist on bizarre provisions that gain it nothing but completely ruin your chance of making a profit, or just stonewall you for the heck of it if you didn’t donate to the right people’s campaigns last year. Reading about the system makes me both grateful and astonished that any structures have ever been erected in the United States at all, and somewhat worried that if anything ever happens to Donald Trump and a few of his close friends, the country will lose the ability to legally construct artificial shelter and we will all have to go back to living in caves.
But if you are waiting for new proposals from Trump about reforming regulation, you might need to go on waiting:
Here is a guy whose job is cutting through bureaucracy, and who is apparently quite good at it. Yet throughout the book – and for that matter, throughout his campaign for the nomination of a party that makes cutting bureaucracy a big part of their platform – he doesn’t devote a lot of energy to expressing discontent with the system. There is no libertarian streak to Trump – in the process of successfully navigating all of these terrible rules, he rarely takes a step back and wonders about a better world where these rules don’t exist. Despite having way more ability to change the system than most people, he seems to regard it as a given, not worth debating. … the rules are there; his job is to make the best deal he can within those rules.
- NYPD retiree “shared his happiness at scoring the disability pension, as well as his achievements running marathons” [New York Daily News]
- Scott Greenfield on public sector unionism and Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association [Simple Justice, earlier] Pending Illinois case raises issues parallel to Friedrichs [Cato podcast with lead plaintiff Mark Janus and attorney Jacob Huebert]
- San Diego voters tried to address public employee pension crisis, now state panel says doing things by ballot initiative violates obligation to bargain with unions [Scott Shackford, Reason]
- “Staten Island Ferry deckhand who has already pocketed $600K in job related injuries sues city for $45M” [New York Daily News]
- Detroit “firefighters were paid for 32-hour days….Numerous top-level fire officials signed off on the overtime.” [Motor City Muckraker]
- “Without public worker unions, who would lobby against making it a crime to strike a pedestrian with right of way?” [Josh Barro on NYC controversy]
- “Not Even a Criminal Referral to the Dept. of Justice Can Get You Fired From the VA” [Amanda Winkler, Reason]
New York City issues its regulations on how employers, retailers, and other businesses covered by discrimination law must handle gender identity. “The NYCHRL requires [businesses] to use an individual’s preferred [pronoun] …such as they/them/theirs or ze/hir.”
Few books of our own era would make it onto my desert island list; one is Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers. While I’m late getting to Michael Lewis’s new profile of Wolfe, it’s reason enough to renew a Vanity Fair subscription, especially the priceless story of how Wolfe rewrote his dissertation on status jockeying among 1930s literary leftists after Yale turned it down as “tendentious” and “disparaging” to its oft-lionized subjects.
Early in my time at the Manhattan Institute, after Wolfe’s New York novel The Bonfire of the Vanities had made a gigantic popular success, I put together a roundtable on “Today and Tomorrow in Tom Wolfe’s New York” with Terry Teachout, Richard Vigilante, the late Walter Wriston, and others. MI published it as an envelope stuffer one-off with, if memory serves, a cover letter in which Wolfe himself mentioned observations the various participants had made, but in his own words. Not to say I was awe-struck at this, but for the next few days I wandered the streets of New York talking to the trees.