Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Protecting the public from felons

Yet another relatively minor crime that has been blown up to the point where it will cause the removal of a person's right to vote and to own a firearm for the rest of his or her life.

The court carries government water

So the Supreme Court says that no American can fight an unjust law allowing his rights to be violated, unless he can prove that the law directly affects him. This means that the government is free pass laws aloowing them to spy on you, as long as they keep it a secret.

Gotta love them checks and balances.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ignorance of the law is certain

There is a well known legal quote that "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." Of course, that was once easier than it is now.

In 1925, all of the Federal Laws fit into this volume:

Now, the United States Code looks like this:

There is also the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which are administrative rules that have been adopted by Federal agencies like the BATFE, the FCC, FAA, EPA, and others. These rules have the force of law. That set of books looks like this:

Then there are the laws and administrative codes for your state, your county, and the city that you live in. On top of that are the hundreds of books of court cases that explain, modify, and expand on all of those laws.

In short, there is no way for anyone, even someone who has spent his life studying the law, to know and comply with the law.

Remember, the only power that governments have is the power to crack down on criminals. The more criminals, the more power the government has. When there are not enough criminals, one makes them by declaring so many things illegal that it becomes impossible for men to live without becoming criminals.

That is where we are today.

Obey me, says the cop

and So a friend posts this on Facebook:

and I comment that the cop was out of line, and a cop responds thusly:

^your an idiot! That cop had every right to stop him and ask for his ID and take is gun because of his (cop) investigation if the subject is carrying legally. Shame on the cop for letting a fool fluster him with mumble jumble that didn't even make fucking sense... They should have arrested him for resisting I would have

I then ask her what law she would arrest him for. After all, in order to resist arrest, one must be subject to arrest in the first place.

If the subject is carrying legally or not. Your a fool to if your think we encounter joe blow and just because he says oh yeah I have a permit to carry we believe him! He is required to show ID anyway and PROVIDE it when asked by LEO.  The officer told him to investigate if he is a felon or not he should never have taken that guys word.
You get that? The cop here thinks that she has reasonable suspicion to detain him on the presumption that he is a felon, and it is up to him to prove that he is not. Under this presumed standard, a cop can detain anyone at any time, on the presumption that he is a felon. Then she says this:

And the officer received calls (again like the officer said)about the guy openly carrying that's enough right there to stop and question him. We receive call and investigate, but that's right officer only act on their arbitrary opinions when it comes to enforcing. I would like to know what you did for thanksgiving/Christmas/new years. I spent my with my squad protecting the streets but yet we still have people like you who have no respect for LEOs
That is right, respect my AUTHORITAH, because I have to work holidays. Or something like that. Someone calls in and claims that they see you performing a LEGAL activity, and the cops will detain you. Oooh, look- a black woman sitting on the front seat of a bus.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


For some reason, this picture really makes me laugh.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Theme park carry and crime

There is a lot of misinformation about carrying weapons in theme parks.
Some say that no crime happens at the theme parks. Huh. Disney does a good job of keeping things quiet. For instance, the entire Disney complex is private property for miles around, and they use off duty deputies for security, which means that they can keep many stories out of the news, but a few leak out. Read on:
Car burglarized, computer and gun stolen. Disney says couple should not have called police.
Farmington man charged with groping girls at Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon water park
Pennsylvania woman claimed a person in a Donald Duck costume groped her breast
A man took his 4-year-old son and a waiter hostage in a room at one of the resort's upscale hotels.
The death of a man discovered near a Walt Disney World hotel remains under investigation
Two Connecticut tourists robbed, kidnapped in Disney World
Robbed at Disney World Florida
 Even more examples can be found in a post I did awhile back.
As a tourist, there is no law that states you cannot carry a weapon in the theme parks. However, if they find out that you have a weapon, they are free to ask you to leave. There are exceptions to this:
If you are in a hotel room with your weapon, the state says that "A hotel or motel room is considered a private dwelling if the occupant is there legally, has paid or arranged to pay, and has not been asked to leave.  Wassmer v. State, 565 So.2d 856, 857 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990)."

Now, what they can do is refuse to allow you to spend another night there.

The theme parks rarely use magnetometers to inspect incoming guests. In fact, in the past 20 years, I only know of one theme park that does this: Universal Studios, owned by NBC. However, due to the long lines created by this, the only times that I have seen this done is Halloween Horror Nights, and certain events in venues like the Hard Rock. Otherwise, the theme parks just perform a cursory bag inspection. Concealed carry easily slips by, and I know this because I do it several times a month in every Orlando area park.

As far as employees go, you are covered by the guns in parking lot law, as long as you have a concealed weapons permit and you leave the weapon secured in your vehicle. Universal has tried to claim that they are exempt because they have a school (an audio/visual arts school) located on their property, but this is smoke and mirrors. No court is going to rule that a theme park that is selling alcohol is a school. Likewise, Disney claims that they are exempt from the guns in parking lot rule because they have a license to manufacture explosives (for their fireworks show). That is also smoke and mirrors:

The law states that, among others, employers that perform certain activities on their property are exempt. Among these activities is:
(e) Property owned or leased by a public or private employer or the landlord of a public or private employer upon which the primary business conducted is the manufacture, use, storage, or transportation of combustible or explosive materials regulated under state or federal law, or property owned or leased by an employer who has obtained a permit required under 18 U.S.C. s. 842 to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in explosive materials on such property.
To understand why this is smoke and mirrors, you have to look at Orange County land records. The Disney complex is not one piece of property. It can't be. A hotel can't operate on property that is licensed to manufacture explosives, the fire code would never allow sleeping areas to be located in an explosives plant. The way Disney solves this is to break the property up into smaller plots of land. The land where Disney is licensed to manufacture explosives is a different piece of property than where the employee parking lot is located. The property where the employees park certainly does not have as its primary purpose the storage of explosives. That is why Disney is in the wrong here.

As a guest, you are not covered by the guns in parking lot law, because that portion of the law was struck down by the courts as being unconstitutionally vague.

Fifth Amendment, Haynes, and 922(o)

There is a Supreme Court decision involving the National firearms act that was decided in 1968. In that case, US v Haynes, Miles Edward Haynes appealed his conviction for unlawful possession of an unregistered short-barreled shotgun. His argument was ingenious: since he was a convicted felon at the time he was arrested on the shotgun charge, he could not legally possess a firearm. Haynes further argued that for a convicted felon to register a gun, especially a short-barreled shotgun, was effectively an announcement to the government that he was breaking the law. If he did register it, as 26 U.S.C. sec.5841 required, he was incriminating himself; but if he did not register it, the government would punish him for possessing an unregistered firearm -- a violation of 26 U.S.C. sec.5851. Consequently, his Fifth Amendment protection against self- incrimination ("No person... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself") was being violated -- he would be punished if he registered it, and punished if he did not register it.

The Supreme Court agreed:
We hold that a proper claim of the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination provides a full defense to prosecutions either for failure to register a firearm under sec.5841 or for possession of an unregistered firearm under sec.5851.
Later that same year, in the Ohio case State v. Schutzler (1969), Gale Leroy Schutzler attempted to quash an indictment for failure to register a submachine gun in accordance with O.R.C. sec.2923.04, which required registration of automatic weapons. At the original trial, Schutzler argued that the registration requirement violated his Fifth Amendment rights, based on Haynes. On appeal, the Court of Common Pleas did not agree with any of Schutzler's arguments, including his citation of the Fifth Amendment. Where the Haynes decision was based on the fact that Haynes was an ex-felon, and therefore his possession of a sawed-off shotgun was illegal, Schutzler was not breaking the law by possession; his only violation of the law was his failure to register the submachine gun and post a $5000 bond. Had he been an ex-felon, the Haynes decision would have protected him. Because he was not a convicted criminal, he did not receive the benefit of the Fifth Amendment's protection.

The law in the United States (18 USC 922(o)) is that all machine guns (defined as any gun which fires more than one shot per operation of the trigger) must be registered with the Federal Government, and a $200 tax paid upon transferring it to a new owner. However, Congress has also refused to allow anyone to transfer a machine gun that was not already legally possessed prior to May 19, 1986.

How is this applicable today? Well, the courts ruled that Haynes had no way to legally escape his quandry: He was in possession of a sawed off shotgun, and whether her registered it or not, he would run afoul of the law. A person who was not a convicted felon could escape self incrimination merely by registering his weapon and paying the fee. The place where Haynes found himself is the exact position that a person who owns a machine gun manufactured after May 19, 1986 finds himself: If he registers the weapon, he incriminates himself, and if he fails to register the weapon, he is still guilty of a crime.

I wonder if any lawyers have looked at this one...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The seedy underside of ambulance billing

Obama made a statement during his state of the union address that he wanted to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour. This is going to hurt many, and specifically will hurt people employed by ambulance services. Let me illustrate:

Section 4531 of the Balanced Budget Act, passed in 1997, added a section 1834 to the Social Security Act which mandated a national fee schedule for all ambulance services furnished by Medicare. This fee schedule applies to all ambulance services, including volunteer, municipal, private, independent, and institutional providers, i.e., hospitals, critical access hospitals (except when it is the only ambulance service within 35 miles), and skilled nursing facilities.

Section 1834 (l) also requires mandatory assignment for all ambulance services. Ambulance providers and suppliers must accept the Medicare allowed charge as payment in full and not bill or collect from the beneficiary any amount other than any unmet Part B deductible and the Part B coinsurance amounts.

There are three types of Ambulance Fees: basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Life Support (ALS), and Specialty Care. BLS are calls where the patient basically needs a ride that is not possible with other means of transport like wheelchair vans, but there are no medications needed other than oxygen, and the patient does not need cardiac monitoring or anything else.

These fees are broken down by ZIP code. In the State of Florida, the allowable fee for BLS transport is $216, plus about $7 per mile. That is all that the ambulance company is allowed to charge, and from this amount of money, the company has to buy the ambulance, pay for supplies like oxygen, BP cuffs, bandages, sheets, insurance, license fees, employee salary, employee benefits (Obamacare), fuel, vehicle repairs, etc.

Now step up to ALS: The allowable fee is now $258, plus about $7 per mile. An ALS truck requires at least one paramedic, a host of additional drugs, a Cardiac Monitor, and other supplies in addition to the ones required by a BLS truck. The drugs can be quite expensive, with Glucagon costing over $100 per dose. The drugs cost the provider thousands of dollars per truck, and most of them expire each year and have to be replaced. The Cardiac monitor costs over $10,000. It costs a lot more money to operate an ALS ambulance, but the fee for an average 10 mile transport is only 10% more. You get $40  more for an ALS call, but to run that call, you must pay the medic more, buy more expensive drugs, buy more expensive equipment, pay a more expensive ambulance fee, and on and on.

The vast majority of ambulance calls are routine BLS transfers. There is not as much profit in running ALS units, because they are so expensive, and roughly 80% of ambulance calls are BLS, meaning that expensive ALS trucks wind up running BLS calls.

These fees are capping what an employer can pay employees, so many companies are cutting back on ALS units and employees, because there is much more profit in running a patient to a dialysis appointment from his home than there is in transporting a heart attack victim to where he can get appropriate care for his problem.

What does this have to do with minimum wage? Well, what this means is that an EMT, with less than 200 hours of training, is earning $9 an hour. A paramedic, with over 1200 hours of training, is earning somewhere in the neighborhood of $13 an hour. What is happening is that it is not profitable to run ALS calls.

Sure, all 911 calls are ALS, but the nationwide average is that only 40% of them pay. Now Obamacare will ensure that we get payment percentages that are much higher, but as long as those payments remain with the Medicare caps, 911 will not be sufficiently profitable to carry out. All of this means that private ambulances are going to go the way of the Dodo: the only way to perform ALS profitably is to be taxpayer subsidized, or commit fraud. More on that later.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


In order to promote justice, this principal should be fired. I'm not going to hold my breath, though.

Scene safety?

Fifty two percent of all EMS responders report having been physically attacked on the job at some time within the previous twelve months. According to the University of Maryland, the risk of nonfatal assault resulting in lost work time among EMS workers is 57 cases per 10,000 workers per year. The national average for all professions is about 1.8 cases per 10,000 workers per year, making the relative risk for EMS workers about 30 times higher than the national average. This isn't just EMS getting hurt: in 1999, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 2,637 nonfatal assaults occurred to hospital workers--a rate of 8.3 assaults per 10,000 workers. Healthcare providers are twice as likely, and EMS workers 15 times as likely, to be assaulted on the job than police officers or prison guards are. Some locations and cities are obviously seeing injury rates that are far above the average.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified violence in the medical setting as a potential hazard, and found the training of medical staff to identify and deal with potential violence ineffective. It is the third leading cause of on the job injuries in EMS (only lifting patients and vehicle collisions injure more EMS workers) and the second leading cause of on the job fatalities (behind vehicle accidents), yet the only training we get is "don't enter the scene unless it is safe." This approach is obviously not working. There remains a reluctance on the part of EMS agencies and hospital administrators to provide training to effectively address workplace violence.
This begs the question: Why are EMS agencies so reluctant to face this issue? In most agencies, there is no policy for dealing with violent encounters, training for dealing with such encounters is rare, yet the problem seems endemic. There appears to be a variety of reasons, some may not recognize the extent of the problem, and thus don't perceive the need for training personnel in basic defensive measures, while others erroneously perceive using defensive tactics as fighting, or a form of aggression. Still other agencies feel that the liability that defensive uses of force would bring upon the agency is greater than the costs of treating injured employees. Whatever the reason, allowing the situation to continue as it is now is resulting in seriously injured workers, and the problem is not going to get any better until we as a profession find a way to deal with this issue.
Some changes are desperately needed if we are to see an improvement in the number of injuries that are inflicted upon EMS workers by their violent patients. It is obvious that the current policy of "scene safety" is not working. There is a definite need for research into this area that impacts the safety of our medical workers, so that a solution can be found for preventing and dealing with this epidemic of violence.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Protecting yourself

A couple of recent incidents have caused me to have to adopt a new personal policy. In the first, I was lecturing an Anatomy and Physiology class, part of the class was about reproduction. I talked about spermatazoa, oocytes (female eggs), and genitalia, and how they worked to pass on genetic material in humans. Two female students filed a sexual harassment complaint against me, and said that talking about those things is offensive. They also complained that, during a break, I told a joke involving a gay bar and another student that was in the class. The problem was that I was not the one that made that joke, it was another student.

When they got the complaint, the school flew off the handle and pulled me off the class without even seeing if the mention of genitalia was appropriate to the class material. I was on the verge of resigning from teaching. If you can't mention body parts in an anatomy class, how can you possibly teach it?

 So the next morning, I went to the CEO of the school, who questioned several other students from that class, and they confirmed that the lecture was professional and well done, and that the off color joke had not been me. I finished the lecture as originally scheduled.

 (On a side note, certain immature students need to decide if they are cut out for the paramedic profession. I pity their future coworkers, because those girls are a lawsuit or a termination waiting to happen. Talk about potentially career ending coworkers.)

The second incident involves a car accident. I was backing up in a parking lot, when another vehicle, also backing up, collided with mine. There were no witnesses at the time. That is, until a week later. That was when a man came forward and suddenly the accident was confirmed as my fault. My insurance is now paying the damages.

After those incidents, and after seeing the number of stupid police stops, I have decided to do the followng:

I am going to purchase a couple of video cameras, and will be recording certain high risk activities like driving and teaching class. I am looking for an in vehicle DVR system that will record my driving. It has to have certain features:
1 Record front and rear views with audio
2 Store video in a secure format that can only be accessed with a password
3 It would be nice if it could transit video off site on request

There will be a second camera bought that will record my lectures, and I will archive them all for a period of time, perhaps two weeks or a month.

That is the world we live in now. Cover your ass is the name of the game.

Monday, February 11, 2013


One of the disagreements that I have with the TEA party is about pay and benefits of public workers. The TEA partiers like to claim that public sector workers get an overly generous pay and benefits package when compared to private sector workers.

Firefighters in Central Florida are required to graduate from the fire academy, have passed the state firefighter exam, graduate from EMT, pass that state exam, graduate from Paramedic school, pass that state exam, and then take and pass other minor classes like EVOC. All in all, this takes about two years of full time school. (a year for paramedic, 3 months for EMT, and six  months for firefighter) At the end of that schooling, you are paid a starting wage of $13.25 an hour, on average. The work schedule of a firefighter is 56 hours a week, but firefighters do not receive time and a half for over time until they work more than 53 hours in a week. This means that the $13.25 an hour translates to just $40,000 a year. (although 3% is deducted to pay for pension)

Working for private EMS is not an option, because although they get overtime when working more than 40 hours, the starting pay for a non-emergency paramedic nets you a starting pay of $13 an hour for that year of training. So pay is $26,000 a year. Now one would think that this means that firefighters are being paid a fair wage, but remember that private EMS in Central Florida means routine transports of shuttling people back and forth from the nursing home to their dialysis appointments. There is no skill or decision making to be done there.

Compare that to registered nurses: RNs have a two year school. One year, if you are already a paramedic. for that two years of schooling, the starting pay for an RN is $32.50 an hour. That is equal to about $65,000 a year. This leaves a prospective firefighter with a choice: Spend two years in school to work 56 hours a week for $40,000 a year, or spend the same time in school to make $65,000 a year working 40 hours a week. The difference used to be that firefighters got a decent pension.

Not any more. Firefighters hired after July 1 (the beginning of the fiscal year) in Florida will likely not be allowed to partake in the pension plan. This makes nursing a lot more lucrative. This is one of the reasons why I left, and is the reason why many firefighters, including my son, go to nursing school in order to leave what is increasingly a bad career choice.

I understand that the TEA partiers want to save money and pay less taxes, and if that is what they want, I can respect that. However, when that happens, don't complain about the level of service you get from the lower paid workers that arrive at your house, because the smarter ones left for greener pastures. Especially considering that public pensions only account for 3% of the state's budget, while Medicaid eats up 30% of the state budget.

The savings are in giveaway programs, not by cutting the pay of people who will simply find employment elsewhere.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Several days ago, Graybeard put up a post about how we may not be capable of thinking like gun grabbers. After reading this:

“The Senators feel the best course of action is to remove all weapons from law enforcement and private citizens so no one else gets hurt,” said a Senate communications intern. “When the gunman realizes that nobody else is armed, he will lay down his weapons and turn himself in…. that’s just human nature.”

I realize that he was right. There is no way that I can get my head that far up my ass. (PS: I know the article is satire.)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Phake Photo

The Obama skeet picture is most likely a fake:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stay away from H&R Block

I have used Turbo Tax for years, ever since I discovered how H&R Block does taxes: They put some schlub that has no accounting or financial experience through a class on how to use their software, and then they simply ask what the computer tells them to, and fill in the blanks. Then they charge you a pile of money for it.
Problem is, they often screw it up. Case in point: My girlfriend. She has done her taxes at H&R Block for years. She was showing me her return, and I caught an error. We went through her taxes for the past three years, and they have caused her to pay nearly $4,000 more than she should have.
Now we are having to file amended returns. For 2010, she is past the three year limit on filing an amended return, so that money is gone.
We just finished her amended return for 2011, and the IRS owes her $1724, thanks to the wonderful morons at H&R Block.
Once her refund check comes in, we will have to refile her 2012 taxes as well.
What got me started was her complaining that H&R Block claims that they will file a 1040EZ for you for free, but then they charged her $85, because they had to file a 1040A in order to take advantage of a $71 credit that was available to her. The difference in her refund of $71 caused them to charge her an extra $85 in preparation fees, meaning a net loss of $14 to her. We began looking closer, and saw that they had missed quite a few deductions and credits, including education credits.

Friday, February 1, 2013


So I went last night to see Penn and Teller perform at Hard Rock Live, located at Universal Studios Orlando. Even though there was no advance warning on the tickets, there were magnetometers set up at the entrance, and they were searching everyone. I walked up to the security guard and asked him if there were somewhere that I could secure my weapon. He said that they did not even allow cops to carry weapons in the venue. He said that because they served alcohol inside, it was illegal to carry weapons.

I pointed out that he was wrong, that state law actually says that:
Any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose (emphasis added)
Since the area was primarily devoted to concerts, and the sale of alcohol was incidental to that use, I think that the law is pretty clear there. But, hey, private property and all that, and not wanting to miss the show, I asked what to do, and was told to lock it in my car.

There are two problems with that: I have pared my car in valet parking, and there ARE notices everywhere, both in regular and valet parking, that say Universal Studios is not responsible for valuables left in parked  automobiles. I pointed this out, and he suggested that I rent a locker in a nearby nightclub. So, I walked the several hundred yards to the club, and rented a locker for $4.

This didn't surprise me, as Universal is owned by NBC, who are hardly defenders of gun rights, but it did surprise me that Penn and Teller would allow this sort of behavior at a show.

In short, the magnetometers were BULLSHIT.