San Francisco’s Escalating Police Overtime Costs and Zero Cash Bail Policy Spark Worries Regarding Public Safety

San Francisco’s Escalating Police Overtime Costs and Zero Cash Bail Policy Spark Worries Regarding Public Safety

In 2022, the city budgeted for 2,023 positions for police officers, marking the lowest numbers since at least 2004, according to city budget documents.

The Eye-Popping Salary of a Police Sergeant

In 2023, the third highest-paid city/county of San Francisco employee was a police sergeant who made $587,059, mainly due to an astonishing $356,378 in overtime.

The Overtime Conundrum

The soaring overtime costs within the police department are primarily attributed to what the city has termed perennial staffing shortages.

A Dwindling Force

The budgeted positions within the police department have reached their lowest levels since 2004, as indicated by city budget documents.

Seeking Voter Approval

The board of supervisors considered the possibility of presenting a charter amendment for approval by voters at a March 5, 2024, election.

This amendment would aim to establish minimum staffing levels for the police force. This concept was rejected by voters in 2020.

Unprecedented Low Point

As of September 2023, the city reported having only 1,578 full-duty sworn members in its police force.

According to the department’s assessment, this number is an unprecedented low point in recent history, and it is approximately 600 officers less than deemed necessary to fulfill the city’s public safety requirements.

Fierce Competition for Talent

The city cited its struggles competing with the compensation offered by other police departments during recruitment efforts.

For instance, the city of Alameda had recently started providing a $75,000 recruiting bonus for new hires.

Salaries for San Francisco Police Officers

The starting annual salary for a San Francisco police officer in 2023 was $103,116. After seven years of service, an officer could make $147,628 per year, as stated on their official website. These figures do not include overtime.

The High Price of Overtime

During the 2023 fiscal year, which ended on June 30, five city police officers accrued more than $300,000 each in overtime pay.

The Ongoing Struggles

The perennial staffing shortages and financial incentives offered by other departments made it difficult for San Francisco to maintain its police force at desired levels.

Public Opinion and Voter Rejection

The proposal to establish minimum staffing levels for the police department, while deemed necessary by some, faced voter rejection in 2020, and its fate in 2024 remains uncertain.

Overtime’s Pervasive Role

The massive overtime expenditures in the police department served as a testament to the severity of the staffing shortages and the city’s struggle to maintain law enforcement services.

Los Angeles County’s Zero Bail Policy

Meanwhile, 29 cities and counting in Los Angeles County are suing the county over its zero bail policy that went into effect at the beginning of the month as the result of another lawsuit.

Legal Challenge

In their lawsuit, the cities allege the new policy, implemented on October 1, does not “take into consideration the protection of the public, the safety of the victim, the seriousness of the offense charged, the previous criminal record of the defendant, and the probability of his or her appearing at the trial or hearing of the case.”

Impact on Offenses

Under the new bail schedule, assault, stalking, domestic battery, and violation of a protective order will still require cash bail.

In contrast, human trafficking, battery of a peace officer, and sex with a minor will trigger a judicial review.

However, most individuals arrested for most offenses will either be cited and released at the site of their arrest or booked and released at the law enforcement office with orders to appear in court for arraignment on a set date.

Support for Zero Cash Bail

In response to the lawsuit, Associate Director Claire Simonich of Vera California, the state branch of the national criminal justice reform organization the Vera Institute of Justice, told The Center Square that the data does not support what its opponents say and that zero-cash-bail is a safe and effective criminal policy.

Past Implementation

“A similar version of the policy has been in effect on and off for the last three years in Los Angeles County. Violent crime and property crime effectively dropped or remained unchanged compared to the two years before the policy was in place.”

Pandemic Origin

Los Angeles County initially instituted a zero-bail policy to reduce incarceration-driven COVID-19 infections during the pandemic.

After ending the policy, Los Angeles County was ordered to re-adopt the policy due to “dismal” pre-trial detention conditions.

Challenges to the Policy

A broad coalition has emerged challenging the policy, ranging from Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna to Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami, a leading candidate challenging Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon in the 2024 election.

Concerns Over Public Safety

“Our communities have not been shy about telling us how nervous they are about this change,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors regarding the policy.

“Crime victims who see offenders immediately released from custody are left with little confidence in the criminal justice system. I understand the need to respect the constitutional rights of arrestees, but zero bail can demoralize deputies and police officers who work hard to make arrests, only to watch the offender walk away with a citation as the victim looks on in disbelief.”

Balancing Public Safety

“The total number of cities now suing over LA County’s $0 bail policy has reached 29. All of us want a bail policy that is fair and just for every resident of LA County. That, however, should be done in collaboration with the 88 cities and their residents, victim groups, and law enforcement agencies that are going to be directly affected by immediately releasing individuals who are arrested for crimes,” said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami, who is running against Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon in the 2024 election, to The Center Square.

“No one supports oppressive bail. However, most of us don’t support repeat offenders who have been negatively impacted.”

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Speaker Mike Johnson Faces Media Attention Over Stance on LGBTQ+ Issues Grounded in Christian Beliefs – Is He Ultra-Bigoted?

Speaker Mike Johnson Faces Media Attention Over Stance on LGBTQ+ Issues Grounded in Christian Beliefs – Is He Ultra-Bigoted?

In the first 48 hours following Rep. Mike Johnson’s assumption of the speaker’s gavel, the media engaged in a frenzy, focusing on his Christian faith and unwavering opposition to homosexuality based on his religious beliefs. 

Old Fashioned

While it’s not uncommon for politicians to reference the Bible, Johnson’s stance against same-sex unions has become increasingly rare in contemporary politics. 

Had That In Common Before

It’s worth noting that even President Joe Biden, in his quest for political acceptance, abandoned his previous beliefs on sexuality.

This former senator once supported legislation that defined marriage as strictly between one man and one woman and even referred to homosexuals as “security risks.”

The Evolution of Joe Biden

To understand the political landscape surrounding Rep. Johnson’s views, it is essential to recognize the significant shift that Joe Biden made in his stance on gay marriage. 

Saying Openly

He openly stated, “Things are changing so rapidly, it’s going to become a political liability in the near term for someone to say, ‘I oppose gay marriage.'”

This suggested a clear political motivation to adapt to changing social norms. 

Don’t Get Left Behind

It signaled that the LGBTQ+ movement had gained momentum, and anyone opposing it would be left behind.

A Blast from the Past

Rep. Johnson has a well-documented history of opposing the redefinition of marriage.

Back in 2004, he penned an editorial supporting Louisiana’s Defense of Marriage Amendment, a stance similar to the federal legislation once supported by Joe Biden.

He Called That

Johnson’s words from that time reflect his views: “If we change marriage for this tiny, modern minority, we will have to do it for every deviant group. Polygamists, polyamorists, pedophiles, and others will be next in line to claim equal protection. They already are.”

The Media’s Hysteria

The media, which largely overlooked Joe Biden’s earlier views on homosexuality, has been quick to highlight Rep. Johnson’s track record.

They emphasize that Johnson views gay marriage as “sinful,” “destructive,” and “dangerous.” 

Making Headlines

They report his beliefs that a “homosexual agenda” will harm Christianity and society and that same-sex relationships are “inherently unnatural.”

This has led to headlines from various news outlets, such as ABC News, USA Today, and The New York Times.

He an Anti-Gay

CNN pointed out that Johnson has a “history of harsh anti-gay language” and suggested that he predicted same-sex marriage could have a detrimental impact on America.

The Washington Post mentioned that he aimed to narrow the separation between church and state.

Seeing the Future

While the media focuses on Rep. Johnson’s past statements, they fail to examine whether his views have stood the test of time.

To gain a more comprehensive understanding, it is crucial to consider his arguments fully rather than relying solely on sensational headlines.

Johnson’s concerns about the potential consequences of breaking down sexual taboos have arguably proven to be prescient.

The Proliferation of the “T” in LGBT

One of the significant changes since the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in 2015 has been the rapid proliferation of the “T” in LGBT.

The gay rights movement has aligned itself with the transgender movement, resulting in a more fluid approach to gender identity and sexuality.

The consequences of this shift have been significant, with activities that challenge traditional norms becoming more mainstream.

Children and Hypersexualization

The media often overlook the potential consequences of tearing down sexual taboos. While being gay does not equate to pedophilia, the destruction of one sexual norm can lead to an unraveling of others.

This has manifested in various ways, including the increased sexualization of children and adolescents.

Redefining Marriage and Families

Redefining marriage has not only transformed the institution of marriage itself but has also redefined families. Legal unions are now based on adult sexual desires rather than procreation.

This has further led to the commodification of reproduction through practices like surrogacy. Adoption agencies that uphold traditional values about a child’s right to a mother and a father have faced legal challenges.

The Push for “Open Relationships”

Contemporary discussions on sexuality are increasingly promoting “open relationships,” including polygamy and polyamory. The changes in sexual norms and attitudes continue to evolve.

Could’ve Predicted This

Rep. Johnson’s views may be at odds with most Americans who have embraced the core arguments of the Obergefell decision.

Biblical Alignment

However, his stance is consistent with thousands of years of Biblically orthodox teaching on sin and sexuality. 

The Dissenters

The Obergefell dissenters, including Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito, predicted that the decision could infringe on religious liberty and lead to the vilification of those unwilling to conform to the new orthodoxy.

In this regard, Rep. Johnson’s outspoken traditional beliefs align with their concerns.

The Media’s Role in Fulfilling Prophecies

The media’s coverage of Rep. Johnson’s views may label him as ultra-bigoted. However, his predictions have, in some ways, been realized.

2015 Court Decision

In 2015, the Supreme Court decision opened the door to a significant shift in societal norms, which has had far-reaching consequences for various aspects of American life. 

The Role of the Media

The media’s focus on sensational headlines often overshadows the broader societal implications of this transformation.

The Good Old Days

Rep. Johnson’s opposition to same-sex marriage may be out of step with contemporary politics. However, it reflects a broader concern about the impact of changing values on American society.

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Ohio’s Abortion Rights Struggle: Voter Confusion, Reversed Laws, and the Ongoing Battle for Reproductive Freedom Bring Fears to Life

Ohio’s Abortion Rights Struggle: Voter Confusion, Reversed Laws, and the Ongoing Battle for Reproductive Freedom Bring Fears to Life

In Ohio, the debate over abortion rights has taken center stage following the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court. As the issue has made its way to voters, it’s become evident that support for abortion access remains strong. The question now is whether the wave of anti-abortion activism in states like Kansas and Michigan will also impact Ohio in the coming year.

Issue 1

Abortion rights activists in Ohio focus on “Issue 1,” a proposed constitutional amendment that, if passed, would guarantee the right to make reproductive healthcare decisions, including abortion.

This initiative has been inspired by the success of abortion rights advocates in other states who managed to put similar issues on the ballot.

Changing the Rules

However, they’ve encountered hurdles along the way. Notably, Republican lawmakers in Ohio called for a special election in August, also named “Issue 1,” which sought to change the rules, making it more challenging for the abortion rights amendment to pass. 

Unexpected Voter Turnout

Ohio voters turned out in greater numbers than expected and rejected this effort, making the threshold for passing an amendment a simple majority.

Voter Confusion

The fight over the reproductive rights amendment itself is now in full swing, and the back-to-back votes have led to some voter confusion.

First Yes Then No

Abortion rights supporters were asked to vote “no” on Issue 1 in August and “yes” on Issue 1 now, leaving some voters uncertain about how to cast their ballots.

A Common Problem

Ariana Allen, a nursing student at Ohio State University’s Lima campus, expressed her confusion after speaking with an anti-abortion activist. 

Not Making a Mistake

Allen wants to ensure her vote aligns with her pro-abortion rights stance and plans to conduct more research. She said, “So I don’t make [a] mistake – because I am for abortion rights.”

A Fight for Voters

Anti-abortion groups are actively contacting voters, urging them to vote “no,” and anticipate reaching over 600,000 voters.

Meanwhile, Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, an abortion rights group, estimates their canvassers will have contacted more than 3 million voters.

The Law in Question

All of this unfolds in Ohio, a state where a strict abortion ban is looming. The law, currently tied up in court, bans most abortions after about six weeks and includes no exceptions for rape or incest. 

Overturning the Law

The ban briefly took effect last year following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, which overturned decades of abortion rights precedent.

The case received national attention when a 10-year-old rape victim was forced to travel to neighboring Indiana for an abortion.

A Tragedy for All

Both sides acknowledge the tragedy of that 10-year-old girl’s ordeal.

Amy Natoce, press secretary for the anti-abortion group Protect Women Ohio, says, “What happened to that 10-year-old girl, let’s be clear, was absolutely tragic.”

Ending the Conversation

However, Natoce does not explicitly state whether the girl should have had access to an abortion in her home state, leaving that decision to voters and the legislature.

Natoce said, “That is up to the voters and the legislature to decide,” and “If Issue 1 passes, the conversation ends.”

Optimistic Opposition

Desiree Tims, a progressive Ohio think tank leader and a proponent of the “Vote Yes” campaign, is optimistic that Ohio voters will align with the trends seen in other states last year.

Stand Up and Fight

Tims believes, “What the Republicans, frankly, have done in this environment is they have created a window for advocates on the left to say, ‘See, look! This is what we’ve been talking about,’” and “Our greatest fears, our nightmares, are coming true. And this is our time to stand up and fight back.”

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Texas School District Faces Backlash Over ‘The Whiteness Project’ Lesson Plan, Amidst Accusations of Promoting Racism and Self-Hate in Students

Texas School District Faces Backlash Over ‘The Whiteness Project’ Lesson Plan, Amidst Accusations of Promoting Racism and Self-Hate in Students

One school district in Texas faces scrutiny after a lesson plan titled “The Whiteness Project: Millennials” went viral. Here’s the whole story. 

A Picture of the Assignment Went Viral

An account named “Libs of TikTok” posted pictures on the social media platform X of an assignment that students were given to complete. The title of the assignment was “The Whiteness Project: Millennials.”

The Whiteness Project

Students were instructed to watch a video on the Whiteness Project’s website and then answer a number of questions “in complete and full sentences.” 

Complete Alone or With a Partner

The students were allowed to complete the assignment “with a partner or on [their] own.”

Privileges of Whiteness 

One question on the assignment read, “What privileges does Connor talk about having because of his whiteness?” Another question asked how Connor’s life might “be different” if he were “a person of color.”

Suit Up and Show Up

In the video, a man named Connor claimed that he “would be in jail if [he] was not white.” The man claimed he was arrested “more than 20 times” but never served jail time because he would “get a lawyer, suit up, and show up.”

Talking About Whiteness

The first part of the assignment mentioned the “importance of talking about whiteness.” 

Colorblindness: The New Racism

The second part of the assignment was about “Colorblindness: The New Racism.” One of the questions asked how “colorblindness” was a “form of white privilege.” 

What Is Colorblindness?

Colorblindness is a racial ideology that suggests “the best way to end discrimination is by treating individuals as equally as possible, without regard to race, culture, or ethnicity.”

White Privilege Experience 

Students were also asked to “free write” two paragraphs about their “own experience with whiteness and white privilege.” 

Texas Banned Critical Race Theory 

Texas passed a law prohibiting public schools in the state from teaching critical race theory to students.

The School District “Promptly Addressed the Matter”

The school district released a statement saying one teacher “independently identified and shared the activity with a class of students.” The school district also said they “promptly addressed the matter with the teacher.”

Teacher Should Be Fired

One person on X was shocked that some schools were “still trying to get away with this toxicity.” This person said, “The teacher should be fired and shouldn’t teach again.”

Broken Education System

“Homeschooling is the only solution,” said one person. He thinks America’s “broken and obsolete public education system” can’t be fixed. 

Homeschool or Private School

On Libs of TikTok’s post on X, many comments suggested homeschooling. One person said parents “carefully vet a private school or opt to home school.”

Against the Law

One woman spoke out, saying, “This is against the law, not to mention RACIST. They are teaching these kids to be racist.”

Fostering Racism

One person said, “Imagine making kids apologize for how they were born.” Someone else agreed, saying, “This is how you foster racism.”

Focus on the Basics

According to many people, public schools should focus on the basics such as “math, science, and history.” One comment read, “Pushing any kid to feel bad for their skin color is backward. Real education doesn’t demonize.” 

We Are All Equal

One person said they were “tired of the racism and teaching kids to hate themselves.” Their comment said, “We are all equal. Period. End of story.”

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Ban on Teens at World Press Photo Exhibition in Hungary Stirs Global Concerns Over Freedom of Expression and LGBTQ+ Rights

Ban on Teens at World Press Photo Exhibition in Hungary Stirs Global Concerns Over Freedom of Expression and LGBTQ+ Rights

The Hungarian government has banned under-18 visitors from the prestigious World Press Photo Exhibition in Budapest, over images with LGBTQ content. 

Shocking and Mind-Boggling

In a decision deemed “shocking,” and “mind-boggling” by the event director, Hungarian lawmakers have prohibited people under the age of 18 from visiting the World Press Photo Exhibition currently being held in Budapest. 

A Complaint Is Filed

A complaint was filed against the prestigious exhibition by far-right Hungarian lawmaker Dora Duro, concerning a set of five photos with LGBTQ themes from Filipino photojournalist Hannah Reyes Morales.

No Explicit Content

The set shows a series of photos of an elderly LGBTQ community living in the Philippines, who all live together in a shared home. They contain no explicit content.

Violation of Hungarian Laws

However, the Hungarian government has affirmed Duro’s complaint, citing a violation of a “child protection” law passed in 2021.

The law was established to ‘protect’ children under the age of 18 from sexual propaganda, with a focus on LGBTQ content. 

Ban on Teenagers and Children

As such, the Hungary National Museum, which is hosting the show in Budapest, has been prohibited from allowing teenagers and children under the age of 18 to visit the exhibition.

Even parental consent will not allow teenagers to circumvent the ban.

The Executive Director Speaks

Many people have spoken out about the ban, including Joumana El Zein Khoury, the executive director of World Press Photo.

“The fact that there is limited access for a certain type of audience is really something that shocked us terribly,” she told the Associated Press.

It’s Positive and Inclusive

“It’s mind-boggling that it’s this specific image, this specific story, and it’s mind-boggling that it’s happening in Europe,” she continued.

Khoury also described the photo set as “so positive, so inclusive,” and affirmed that this is the first time the series has been censored in Europe.

Morales Responds

Reyes Morales also responded to the complaint against her work in an email statement where she insisted that the subjects of her photos were “icons and role models” and were “not dangerous or harmful.” 

“Being Kept in the Shadow”

“What is harmful is limiting visibility for the LGBTQIA+ community, and their right to exist and to be seen,” her statement read.

“I am beyond saddened that their story might not reach people who need it most, saddened that their story is being kept in a shadow.”

Taken Without Prejudice

Tamara Revesz, a Hungarian former jury member of the World Press Photo exhibition, has also condemned the decision.

“Everyone is free to think what they want about the images on display,” he stated. “These pictures were taken without prejudice, and we too should take what we see here without prejudice.”

A Perceived Outrage

But Dora Duro has stood by her decision to file the complaint, describing the photo set as an “outrage” and denying that the government’s response infringed on freedom of expression and freedom of the press. 

“Not the Biggest Problem in the World”

“How the LGBTQ minority lives is not the biggest problem in the world,” she told the Associated Press.

“What we see as normal, what we depict and what we convey to (children) as valuable influences them, and this exhibition is clearly harmful to minors and, I think, to adults too.”

The Next Step

This latest announcement is just one in a series of similar moves by Hungary’s right-wing government under nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

The government has been working to limit and restrict material that is seen as promoting the LGBTQ community, particularly in media. 

Government Overreach

But the decision could be seen as an unfortunate case of government overreach, as around half of the 50,000 people expected to visit the exhibition were students who will now be unable to access any of the collection. 

No Comment

The World Press Photo Exhibition is a prestigious global event visited by around 4 million people each year, so the decision has garnered a lot of attention.

So far, Hungary’s cultural ministry has not responded to requests for comment or interviews.

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Missouri Appeals Court Rejects Biased Abortion Ballot Language: A Win for Transparency

Missouri Appeals Court Rejects Biased Abortion Ballot Language: A Win for Transparency

A Missouri appeals court has ruled against anti-abortion ballot language put forth by a Republican Secretary of State. Here’s the full story. 

Politically Biased Language

A Missouri appeals court has taken serious issue with the way Republican-written summaries of abortion-rights ballot measures were described.

The court ruled that the language used in these summaries was politically biased and lacked impartiality. 

Playing to the Base

The case revolved around ballot summaries created by Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who also has his eye on the governor’s seat in 2024.

Ballot summaries play a crucial role in helping voters understand complex constitutional amendments and policy changes, especially those related to abortion. 

Demonstrably False

Ashcroft’s initial descriptions of the proposed amendments were demonstrably false.

They framed the amendments as permitting “dangerous, unregulated, and unrestricted abortions, from conception to live birth, without requiring a medical license or potentially being subject to medical malpractice.” 

Not Going to Happen

However, the appeals court panel expressed concerns about the accuracy of this portrayal, stating that allowing unrestricted abortion “during all nine months of pregnancy is not a probable effect of initiatives.”

Consequently, they largely upheld summaries that a lower court judge had rewritten to be more objective. 

Fact Based 

The revised summaries approved by the appeals court provide a more coherent perspective.

They inform voters that the amendments would “establish a right to make decisions about reproductive health care, including abortion and contraceptives” and “remove Missouri’s ban on abortion.” 

No Backing Down

Secretary of State Ashcroft intends to appeal the court’s ruling, asserting, “We stand by our language and believe it fairly and accurately reflects the scope and magnitude of each petition.”

Knocked From the Ladder

This court decision has been welcomed by abortion rights advocates, who view it as a victory for Missourians’ right to direct democracy.

The ACLU of Missouri celebrated the ruling, stating, “Today, the courts upheld Missourians’ constitutional right to direct democracy over the self-serving attacks of politicians desperately seeking to climb the political ladder.” 

There’s a Surprise

Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s office is supporting Ashcroft’s summary language in court, while abortion rights supporters believe that the court has struck down misleading and stigmatizing language. 

It’s Roe v. Wade Again

Missouri is one of several states grappling with issues related to abortion access following the significant changes brought about by the fall of Roe v. Wade last year. 

Ensuring Reproductive Rights

Ohio, another such state, recently put a measure on the November ballot to ensure abortion access after overcoming legal challenges from opponents.

Ohio’s voters in August rejected a measure that would have made it harder to amend the state constitution in the future, a move supported by abortion opponents. 

Countrywide Battles

Efforts to either protect or expand abortion access are underway in several states, including Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and South Dakota, while other states, like Iowa, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania, are pushing for restrictions. Colorado is witnessing efforts for both pro-choice and pro-life measures. 

On the Right Side of History

In previous elections, voters have consistently favored the side supported by abortion rights advocates in states with abortion-related ballot measures. 

Support for Abortion Rights

A recent poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that most voters, even in states with strict abortion bans, believe that abortion should be legal early in pregnancy.

The poll also revealed that most voters support certain limitations on abortion.

Election Interference 

The news of the legal challenge to the questionable wording of the abortion rights ballot measure was met online by celebration from commenters.

One such post read, “Once again, Republicans proving they cannot win unless they lie, cheat, steal, fraud or gerrymander votes.”

Not Holding Back

Others were more scathing with their criticism, with one poster commenting, “An engineer/lawyer that knows medical care yet doesn’t have an MD license.”

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