- 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]
Following the example of California voters, Evergreen State voters were turning down the measure by a 45-55 margin at latest count [KING]. Less happily, the town of SeaTac south of Seattle will now experiment with a $15 minimum wage [same], and those in New Jersey are inscribing an indexed minimum wage into their state constitution. [Star-Ledger] Voters in Westchester County, N.Y. chose to retain County Executive Rob Astorino, whose battles with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have been chronicled in this space. [White Plains Patch]
More: Quirky soapmaker Dr. Bronner used its own product labels to crusade for the unsuccessful GMO bill. Thank you, Citizens United, for protecting its freedom to do so! [Caleb Brown]
When local governments lack a properly compliant attitude:
The federal monitor overseeing Westchester’s much-debated court settlement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development over affordable housing asked County Executive Rob Astorino on Wednesday to remove a news release from the county’s website, saying it contains falsehoods….
[Manhattan-based attorney James] Johnson cast doubt on whether Astorino can say whatever he wants about the controversial 2009 settlement.
During a conference call with journalists shortly before Astorino’s news conference, Johnson said the settlement calls for the county to educate the public about the benefits of integration. Astorino, on the contrary, has been antagonistic toward much of the agreement, Johnson said.
Johnson says Astorino wrongly suggests that HUD is pressing for construction of more than the 750 units of “affordable” housing specified in the settlement; Astorino responds that HUD officials keep citing a study under which a much larger number of units would be required to bring the towns into compliance. Westchester voters elected Astorino in part because of his criticism of the much-disliked deal. [Newsday, paywall; earlier here, here, here, etc.]
I’ve got a new piece at Reason on the long-running dispute between the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the government of Westchester County in suburban NYC. Claiming that Westchester has failed to follow through on promises of attracting more minority homeowners, HUD is suing the county and wielding funding cutoffs to get it to step up a large commitment to subsidized housing, override town zoning rules, and enact an ordinance forbidding private landlords from turning away Section 8 tenants. The WSJ editorialized yesterday on the subject. Further background: ironic that county is being penalized after seeking to cooperate [Gerald McKinstry, Newsday; Joanne Wallenstein, Scarsdale 10583]; former Democratic county legislator backs county executive Rob Astorino on so-called “source of income” legislation [Journal-News]; similar law already in effect in Washington, D.C. [Examiner]; earlier coverage here, here, etc., and my 2009 City Journal account.
P.S. Shortly after our piece, a Second Circuit panel ruled the county out of compliance. ProPublica, the foundation-supported reporting-and-opinion outfit, has been doing a series of reporting-and-opinion pieces taking the plaintiffs’ side, including this latest.
- “MPAA: you can infringe copyright just by embedding a video” [Timothy Lee, Ars Technica]
- NYC: fee for court-appointed fire department race-bias monitor is rather steep [Reuters]
- Larry Schonbron on VW class action [Washington Times] Watch out, world: “U.S. class action lawyers look abroad” [Reuters] Deborah LaFetra, “Non-injury class actions don’t belong in federal court” [PLF]
- Will animal rights groups have to pay hefty legal bill after losing Ringling Bros. suit? [BLT]
- You shouldn’t need a lobbyist to build a house [Mead, Yglesias]
- “Astorino and Westchester Win Against Obama’s HUD” [Brennan, NRO] My two cents [City Journal] Why not abolish HUD? [Kaus]
- “Community organized breaking and entering,” Chicago style [Kevin Funnell; earlier, NYC]
I’ve got a new piece up at City Journal on Tuesday’s sensational Westchester County upset, in which GOP challenger Rob Astorino knocked off Andy Spano, the longtime Democratic incumbent county executive, by a convincing 58-42 percent margin. Taxes were a key issue, but so was the county’s consent to what was billed as a landmark housing-reform settlement in which it agreed to arm-twist affluent towns into accepting low-income housing. Many Westchester residents were wary of the potential consequences — and downright insulted when Spano suggested that to resist the lawsuit further would be to make the generally liberal-leaning county a “symbol of racism”.
The federally brokered settlement is itself of interest far beyond Westchester, if only as the occasion of a truly remarkable rhetorical flourish from an Obama Administration official, HUD deputy secretary Ron Sims: “It’s time to remove zip codes as a factor in the quality of life in America.” It was also hailed at once in some quarters as a model for similar legal action against other suburban jurisdictions considered guilty of not being hospitable enough to low-income housing. The Westchester voter revolt, I argue in the piece, may serve as a signal to local officials elsewhere to fight, rather than roll over, when the social engineers and their lawyers come knocking (cross-posted from Point of Law).