The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) faced some of its heaviest criticism to date last week on Capitol Hill. Hearings addressing the failings of the agency were headed by Senator Claire McCaskill and centered around NHTSA's part in General Motors' deadly ignition switch recall delay. The death toll (currently at 20) continues to rise as a result of GM and NHTSA allowing the dangerously defective vehicles to remain on the roads for about 10 years from when the problem was first recognized. While the criticism of NHTSA is well-deserved, it is past time for harsh words to be accompanied by an overhaul of the agency.
There was little doubt that once CEO Elon Musk and Tesla announced they would locate their electric vehicle battery “Gigafactory” in Nevada, that Silver State lawmakers would vote in a special legislative session to support targeted tax breaks and incentives – even at the breathtaking amount of $1.3 billion.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, the courter, would have appeared an extreme fool if he didn’t already have the political backing needed for the deal. But there were other mini-surprises: Unanimity at the legislature; four separate bills passed to construct the package; and benefits enjoyed by other industries in Nevada that were rescinded to help with the Tesla payoff.
Department of Labor officials these past several years haven't been shy about conveying their political preferences to their own labor force. An ongoing Capitol Hill probe has found out as much. Late last month the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a report concluding that the Obama-era department has spent at least $725,000 on elevator posters, publicity contests and other forms of advocacy intended to boost employee morale. Most, if not all, of this motivational agitprop was the doing of first-term Secretary Hilda Solis. Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a longtime critic, noted: "This questionable activity has been going on for some time. As my staff has learned, in 2009 DOL began producing weekly elevator posters for the 23 passenger elevators at DOL's headquarters in Washington, D.C." Tax-funded ideology marches on.
Yesterday, the White House provided a background briefing via conference call for reporters covering President Obama's speech last night on the American response to the advance of ISIL. A "senior administration official," who was not identified by name fielded the question of "which countries will join the United States in launching airstrikes in this area?"
The administration official is now probably glad he was not identified. He probably should have consulted a map before giving this answer:
Melvin E. Lowe, a New York political consultant, was found guilty yesterday of conspiring with State Senator John Sampson of Brooklyn (in photo) to defraud the New York Senate Democratic Campaign Committee out of $100,000. Sampson is under indictment on unrelated charges of embezzlement, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI. He allegedly embezzled $440,000 from escrow accounts on foreclosed properties.
Sampson and Lowe were caught up in an investigation prompted by NLPC's exposé of former State Senator Shirley Huntley, who was jailed for looting a nonprofit organization she founded, for which political allies had arranged to secure taxpayer funds. The scheme was detailed in a New York Post article of March 6, 2011.
State Senator Malcolm Smith, a former Senate Majority Leader, yesterday lost a Democratic primary for his seat in Queens. He is scheduled to face a retrial in January for attempting to bribe Republican Party officials to allow him to run for New York City mayor as a Republican in 2013.
Smith, and his finances, first came under scrutiny by federal prosecutors after NLPC exposed his involvement with a charity called New Direction Local Development Corporation. Along with U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Smith used New Direction as a political slush fund. Among other financial irregularities, the nonprofit raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never received the money.
National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell should resign or be fired. Goodell either saw, or should have seen, the elevator video of Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice clocking his fiancé.
Goodell's should be KO'ed by this episode. It would be an appropriate irony. Domestic violence is a serious issue. Goodell has jumped on a number of causes where there is far less consensus either within the NFL or society at large. He has obligated the NFL to politically correct stances on issues that seem to reflect his personal political beliefs.
It's official. Chrysler has now completely merged with Italian auto maker, Fiat. It had taken a bit over five years for Fiat to gain total control of the bailed out, once-American Chrysler Corporation. Back in June of 2009, President Obama gifted (payment was made in the form of "technology") an initial 20% stake in Chrysler to Fiat as part of his orchestrated auto bailout process. Fiat parlayed that into full ownership and is now showing its gratitude to the American taxpayers who helped fund the deal by relocating Chrysler's headquarters to London; a move which will lessen the company's corporate tax rate.
Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife were found guilty yesterday of charges related to their acceptance of gifts from a businessman named Jonnie Williams, Sr. They are most likely going to prison where meals, soap and everything else will be free. Unfortunately, Virginia taxpayers will be paying the price for their misrule long after they are released.
McDonnell's transportation plan, signed in 2013, puts a huge tax burden on ordinary citizens and helped corrupt Virginia politics. It obligates taxpayers to funding projects like the recently opened Metro Silver Line, which will never come close to breaking even. Made possible by the issuance of bonds (debt), these capital-intensive projects cannot simply repealed by the Legislature and another Governor. We are stuck with them, and the costs, forever.
Today the company will announce its plans to build a battery manufacturing plant near Reno. The new gambit was the culmination of competition that pitted at least five states against one another for the “privilege” of hosting Tesla’s “Gigafactory” – named so because of the amount of stored power they plan to produce. Cost to build the plant is estimated to be $5 billion, and Musk said he expected the winning bidder to cover at least 10 percent of that, according to the Associated Press. That means at least $500 million in some form of incentives or conciliations from Silver State taxpayers.