FOIA Request to Hamilton County Attorney's Office

Stamped "Received" by Hamilton County Attorney's Office on March 28 2012:

Under the Freedom of Information Act, I am requesting access to any and all information pertaining to costs accrued by the Hamilton County government related to: 1. the resolution adopted by the Hamilton County Commission authorizing Commission Chair Larry Henry to seek legal enforcement of rules & regulations pertaining to the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn, 2. the petition for Declaratory Judgment filed in Federal Court against members of Occupy Chattanooga, 3. the motion to dismiss the petition for Declaratory Judgment filed in Federal Court. I would like to specifically review any and all invoices submitted by Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. to the Hamilton County government in relation to the aforementioned legal actions as well as other costs generally.

I am asking for this information as a citizen journalist and Hamilton County resident.

The Australian: - Ted Baillieu to dump carbon target

THE Baillieu government will today dump state Labor's 20 per cent greenhouse emissions reduction target by 2020, in the latest pro-jobs policy shift designed to shore up support among an ambivalent business community.

An independent review of Victoria's Climate Change Act will warn against keeping a state-backed target when the national benchmark is as low as 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.

The review also will cite modelling stating that even with an emissions trading scheme, meeting the 20 per cent target would require the Baillieu government to spend an extra $2.2 billion to buy international offsets.

The decision to dump the 20 per cent reduction target by 2020 -- based on 2000 levels -- comes despite the Coalition refusing to oppose the target when it was passed during Labor's last term in power.

The target is included in state law but will be repealed by the government, which has control of both houses of parliament.


The Guardian: Cleaning up the Global Compact: dealing with corporate free riders

US dollars notes are checked at the Kore
Now there is a realisation that companies must look beyond profit to their environmental and social impacts if they want to ensure long term performance. Photograph: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

If you want to know whether greenwash is alive and well, look no further than the thousands of companies being thrown out of the world's largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative, the UN Global Compact. More than 750 businesses, including major corporations in Europe and America are likely to be kicked out in the next six months alone, with hundreds more to follow. These are on top of the 3,100 businesses already delisted in the past few years.

Executive director Georg Kell is on a mission to clean up the organisation and ensure that members are building sustainability into their core activities and not using the Global Compact for PR purposes. While some companies have been removed because of bankruptcies and mergers, Kell says he is dealing with "free riders who joined but had no intention to stay engaged."

Non-governmental organisations have long criticised the Global Compact, which promotes 10 principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption, because it has no effective monitoring and enforcement provisions.

They also accuse businesses of using it to oppose any binding international regulation on corporate accountability and for benefitting from the Global Compact's logo, a blue globe and a laurel wreath, which is very similar to the UN logo, while continuing to perpetrate human rights and environmental abuses.....


PILA Grant Application is now available!

The 2012 PILA Grant Application and Information Packet has been posted to the PILA TWEN Site. Please note the applications are due Friday April 13, 2012 by 5:00pm in the PILA Mailbox (inside the SBA Office). NO LATE APPLICATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED.

PILA will be hosting an information session next Monday, April 9, 2012 at 5:00pm in Room 304. This session will have a representative from the Office of Financial Aid to explain the details that are set out in the document called "PILA Grant Information." We will also have past grant recipients present to share their experiences and answer any questions you may have.

Learn More About Equal Justice Works Fellowships

Next Monday, April 2nd, Equal Justice Works will put on a presentation, Fellowships: Beyond the Basics from 3-5 p.m. at Boston College Law School East Wing Room 115 A. The address is 885 Centre Street Newton, MA, 02459.

At this informational session Nita Mazumder of Equal Justice Works will provide attendees with tips on how to apply for both Equal Justice Works and Americorps post graduate fellowships. Hope you can attend!

The Majestic 12 Movie Theater Showcases Fiction of "Free Markets"

It is nice to know that when push comes to shove, that city and county governments, local foundations and corporate "citizens" are all capable of coming together to address the deep, fundamental challenges being faced by so many of our city's most vulnerable people - like the challenge of eating a crab cake while relaxing on a La-Z-Boy in the "VIP auditorium" of the downtown movie theater.

Get this: That "Majestic 12" movie theater in the heart of downtown Chattanooga - the one that forces you to buy 3-D glasses for 3-D movies instead of letting you bring your own and that has a private Republic Parking lot that charges an arm and a leg for parking. Yeah, that theater - you're paying for that. And you will be paying for it for over a decade. See, local "planners" thought that the movie theater downtown needed to "compete" with the one in Hixson, otherwise other downtown business, which are privately owned, might not make as many profits. And we all know that private profits made by private corporations are the deepest concern of public officials. So everyone got real busy and set out on this huge collaborative effort to make certain that the tax-payers can guarantee that businesses will thrive!

The Majestic 12 property is actually owned by RiverCity Co., a private "non-profit" organization whose Board of Directors is comprised of the usual corporate suspects (like Jim Berry whose Republic Parking is a corporate leech of the worst variety) as well as numerous publicly elected officials who serve in an unelected capacity to plan, finance and manage downtown developments to the benefit of private companies. 

RiverCity Co. owns the building that the Majestic 12 theater is located within but agreed to lease the building to Carmike Cinemas, a Columbus Georgia based theater company, for the next 20 years.

All together, RiverCity Co., the Lyndhurst Foundation and the Benwood Foundation have invested over $12 million dollars in the theater, providing the necessary finances for a roof that recycles rain water downstairs in the toilets and a lot of other green goodies that help contribute to the smug sense of self satisfaction that comes from eating a crab cake while watching Twilight in a LEED certified movie theater. This makes me want to rename the theater: "The Majestic 12 Million".

But that is not the end to the great collaboration! The Hamilton County government agreed to give Carmike Cinemas a tax-abatement for 15 years! The Chattanooga city government, not wanting to appear stingy when it comes to corporate charity gave the theater a 14 year abatement on city property taxes. So we the tax-payers are picking up the tab for a movie theater that charges more for a bucket of popcorn and a soft-drink than I have ever been hired at an hourly wage. 

What this story tells us is that the Foundations, area non-profits and city and county governments are literally more committed to working together to subsidize a private for-profit corporation that shows movies while serving gourmet snacks, than they are to fund the social welfare agencies which incurred several millions of dollars in losses resulting from the fallout between the City and County governments during the expiration of the 45 year Sales-Tax-Agreement. Social welfare agencies that provide necessary services to the homeless, abused and neglected children, and provide early testing for speech and hearing disorders.

What this tells us is that the urban priorities of our city and county governments reflect those of private interests. Our elected politicians are more concerned in padding - and guaranteeing - the profits of businesses (some of which, like Carmike Cinemas, are not even locally owned) than we are in meeting the most basic needs of our most vulnerable citizens. Tourists and suburbanites get to ride a free electric shuttle to the tax-payer subsidized and foundation financed movie theater. Folks living in public and subsidized housing have to pay a tax to ride a CARTA bus, sometimes for hours round trip, to get to a grocery store or a job interview - unless that interview is at Volkswagon, because the bus line does not even go out there.

What this tells us is that the neo-liberal urban agenda affects everything. Our government operates for and on behalf of private interests and acts accordingly. Our communal resources are just a trough to guarantee the gluttony of insatiable corporate parasites.

So, if you want to view a good piece of fiction, all you have to do is go to the Majestic 12 movie theater. It is there that you can such fantastical and ironic pieces entitled "free markets" and "government for the people".

UPDATE 3.26.2012 9:20 AM:   After talking to a few folks I think it would be a good idea to make some clarifications:
1. I do not think a "free market" is a good thing, so I am not advocating on behalf of free markets. What I am saying is that most of these large downtown corporations are parasites on our community: they steal resources, exploit our labor and privatize profits while socializing the cost and the risk of doing business by getting our government to agree to stipulations that work to the benefit of private interests over the broader public - that is neo-liberalism.

2. If we were going to spend our community's resources on a movie theater downtown, then it needs to be one that is community owned, operated and managed. The workers should get paid a living wage. We should have a community board that determines what movies are played. How cool would that be? What if we could showcase movies made by local highschool students? If adverts were for local businesses? If we showed historically important films, indie films, if we catered to the particular interests of the people in our community? Why is it that a publicly financed, owned, and operated movie theater seems absurd - but not a private for-profit business that leeches off all of us, pays their workers shit, and is totally unaccountable to the population that is supporting it is not?

If you know how to rap and are from South Korea (i.e. Ban Ki Moon) than you qualify for World Bank Prez

World Bank nominee Jim Yong Kim showcases rapping talent

President Obama has announced that he is nominating a Korean-born American academic, Jim Yong Kim, to be the new head of the World Bank.

President Obama also listed Dr Kim's many extra-curricular talents including basketball and golf.

After the announcement, footage emerged of the new nominee starring as a rapper in an "Idol" competition last year at New Hampshire's Dartmouth College, where he is president.

International Human Rights Fellowship

Clinical Fellowship, International Human Rights Clinic
Santa Clara University School of Law

Santa Clara University School of Law is seeking a qualified candidate to serve as a clinical fellow in the school’s new International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC). The IHRC provides a unique educational opportunity for students to gain first-hand, practical experience working on international human rights litigation and advocacy projects. It combines classroom education with supervised case and project management, providing students practical training in advocacy and lawyering skills.

Position Description: The clinical fellowship position is a nine-month academic appointment commencing on Aug. 1, 2012, with a possibility for supplemental summer employment. The position may be renewed for one additional term commencing on Aug. 1, 2013. The fellow will report to the Director of the International Human Rights Clinic and will supervise student work on clinic projects, participate in the planning and conduct of the clinic, assist with teaching a substantive law and legal skills seminar, and assess the development of new clinic projects. The clinical fellow will also be responsible for counseling and mentoring students, including advancing student job opportunities by arranging for students to work with partner organizations on clinic cases.

Essential qualifications:

1. JD degree or comparable degree from a law school outside the United States.
2. At least two years of experience as a practicing lawyer, including experience with international human rights litigation and/or advocacy.
3. Excellent organizational, communication, and writing skills.
4. Enthusiasm and demonstrated interest in student development.
5. English fluency is required. Fluency in a second language, particularly Spanish, is desired.
6. Prior experience teaching in an international human rights clinic is desired.

Application Procedure:
Applicants should send a cover letter and a resume or CV to:
IHRC Clinical Fellowship Search Committee
c/o Ms. Elyse Amberg
Santa Clara University Law School
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053

Applications also may be sent via e-mail to Ms. Amberg at Applications must be received by Friday, March 30, 2012.

Inquiries: Inquiries may be addressed to Professor David Sloss, Director of the Center for Global Law and Policy, at

Scientists who invented GLOBAL WARMING will be immune from any prosecution - UN will give them full diplomatic immunity-privileges

Fox News - Fair & Balanced

Mammoth new green climate fund wants United Nations-style diplomatic immunity, even though it’s not part of the UN


Published March 22, 2012


EXCLUSIVE: The Green Climate Fund, which is supposed to help mobilize as much as $100 billion a year to lower global greenhouse gases, is seeking a broad blanket of U.N.-style immunity that would shield its operations from any kind of legal process, including civil and criminal prosecution, in the countries where it operates. There’s just one problem: it is not part of the United Nations.

Whether the fund, which was formally created at a U.N. climate conference in Durban, South Africa last December, will get all the money it wants to spend is open to question in an era of economic slowdown and fiscal austerity. Its spending goal comes atop some $30 billion in “fast start-up” money that has been pledged by U.N. member states to such climate change activities.

A 24-nation interim board of trustees for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is slated to hold its first meeting next month in Switzerland to organize the fund’s secretariat and to get it running by November, as well as find a permanent home for the GCF’s operations. The board expects to spend about $6.7 million between now and June of next year.

But before it is fully operational, the GCF’s creators—194 countries that belong to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and who are also U.N. members—want it to be immune from legal challenges and lawsuits, not to mention outside inspections, much like the United Nations itself cannot be affected by decisions rendered by a sovereign nation’s government or judicial system.

Despite its name, the UNFCCC was informed in 2006 by the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs that it was not considered a U.N. “organ,” and therefore could not claim immunity for its subordinate bodies or personnel under the General Convention that has authorized U.N. immunity since the end of World War II.

A UNFCCC resolution granting similar immunities would need to be “accepted, approved or ratified” by each individual member of the Kyoto Protocol before it took effect, the U.N. legal office advised. Even if UNFCCC members decided to ask the U.N. General Assembly to grant them similar immunity it would require each U.N. member state to make changes in domestic legislation, the opinion declared.

Click here for the legal office communication.

The immunity that the UNFCCC wants also governs where the Green Climate Fund can make its home. Among other things, the GCF board is charged to consider whether any would-be hosts have “the ability to provide privileges and immunities to the Fund as are necessary for the fulfillment of its purposes, and to the officials of the Fund as are necessary for the independent exercise of their official functions.”

In other words, without offering immunity, you cannot host the Green Climate Fund.

Click here for the resolution launching the fund and seeking immunities.

Countries interested in hosting the Green Climate Fund have until April 15 to let the board know. The U.S. is not considered likely to be one of them.

According to an official of the U.S. Treasury, which strongly supports the existence of the GCF, the full extent of the immunities still remains to be worked out by the fund board, although the wording of various UNFCCC resolutions indicate that immunities like those held by the U.N. are clearly envisaged.

Even beyond the U.N., immunities from outside inspection and legal action have become a hallmark of international organizations, whose members often consider them a necessity to keep their operations, and their officials, from facing harassment in national courts. Among others, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), an organization initially sparked by Bill Gates, has been granted such immunities under U.S. law, according to the International Organizations Immunities Act. The World Bank, among other development finance institutions, also enjoys immunities.

Critics of such immunities, on the other hand, say that they are a barrier to proper external oversight of vast amounts of international spending, a potential facilitator of corruption, and a dangerous weapon against the protection of property rights and other civil rights of those affected by the institutions’ actions.

“Immunities amount to a veil of secrecy,” says Bea Edwards, executive director of the Government Accountability Project, a Washington-based whistleblower protection organization.

“They are an immunity from external audit or oversight. They build in a structural conflict of interest at any immune institution for any internal oversight mechanism.”

Those differing views could be even strongly felt in the years ahead due to the sweeping environmental actions that the GCF intends to finance and foster in its bid to forge a new, global “green economy” to forestall hazardous “climate change.”

For one thing, there is the hoped-for size of the GCF: $100 billion in annual spending would be more than well more than double the amount ($44 billion) spent in 2010 by the World Bank , heretofore the world’s largest development institution. The scope of the climate fund’s ambitions is also likely to vary widely across much of the developing world—where oversight is already weak, and national governments, which would execute most of the GCF’s projects, are often spectacularly corrupt.

For another, private investors as well as public-private partnerships, in addition to governments, could be contributing resources through the GCF, meaning that private interests could also benefit from the cloud of secrecy that immunities would place over the fund’s operations.

(Under U.N. immunity rules, property and funds “administered” by a U.N. agency “in furtherance of its constitutional functions” count as its own.)

That cloud of secrecy and privilege—at least, as codified by the U.N., is formidable.

According to the U.N.’s convention on privileges and immunities as applied in 1947 to U.N. “specialized agencies,” their property and assets “shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process,” except when waived. And even then, waivers can never apply “to any measure of execution,” meaning whatever was done with them.

U.N. premises as well as property and assets, are immune from “search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative judicial or legislative action.” All archives and documents, including even those “held” by the agencies, are considered “inviolable.”

Such agencies can move money, gold or any kinds of funds outside of any national regulation; are exempt from taxes, customs duties and import or export restrictions.

The same bulletproof status goes for their officials.

In the case of something like the GCF, this is “an issue of extending privileges and immunities to property rights,” in the opinion of Allan Meltzer, a distinguished professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University. “And these privileged people will not necessarily protect the property rights of others,” he adds.

A consultant at various times to the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and Congress, Melzer also chaired a Clinton-era congressionally-mandated advisory commission on International financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Says he: “Rather than extending immunities, we should be emphasizing the rule of law. If we want to do environmental things, we should do them above board, not in secret.”

Judging from the course it has set for itself, the masters of the Green Climate Fund evidently disagree. However, questions sent last week, and again early this week, by Fox News to the CGF regarding its operations and immunities had received no reply before this article was published.

George Russell is executive editor of Fox News and can be found on Twitter@GeorgeRussell

Click here for more stories by George Russell.

Best Employers for workers over 50

As most readers may (or should know) in America the standard agreement between employers and employees is that we're hired at will.   The legal phrasing is below:

Any hiring is presumed to be "at will"; that is, the employer is free to discharge individuals "for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all," and the employee is equally free to quit, strike, or otherwise cease work.[wiki footnote]

The "at-will" rule has its genesis in a rule in Horace Gray Wood’s 1877 treatise on master-servant relations. Wood cited four U.S. cases as authority for his rule that when a hiring was indefinite, the burden of proof was on the servant to prove that an indefinite employment term was for one year.  Please see for additional information.

Well, if you've ever felt like you were a servant (or slave) to your company, the above surely will make you feel worse.  On the positive side, such employment law does allow companies to treat employees as variable rather than fixed costs.  So, they can easily restructure (lay off) operations when times are tough.

With the above in mind, older employees should try to work at companies more conducive to ethical work practices.  The list below of Best Employers for Workers over 50 is sourced from, September 2011.

So, why are we highlighting this list in a Socially Responsible website.  Well, it stands to reason that companies who treat employees well also treat other stakeholders well.  These "emotionally intelligent companies" often are more open minded - seeking outside opinions before making drastic decisions.

AARP's Methodology:
Prospective employers essentially submit a detailed application to AARP that include questions for screening companies.  AARP considers HR policies/practices such as worker training, recruiting, and health & pension benefits.  Applications are evaluated by an independent survey firm, and later to a panel of judges.  We were pleasantly surprised that AARP disclosed background information on the judges link.

AARP's methodology is similar to National Association of Female Executive's (NAFE).  As such, we note some negatives:
  • Prospective employers are pushed to AARP via a self initiated application process, and not pulled in by an active approach
  • Prospects (and thereby chosen companies) are in similar industry fields (i.e, healthcare)
  • Prospects' human resources policies/practices are not required to be dedicated solely towards older employees.  Note that this is not the case in terms of working mothers policies/practices, which have become more developed over the years.

Interesting Findings about the list:
  • Despite the great strides made by socially responsible stalwarts, the truth is, socially responsible companies were overwhelmingly privately-owned on this list.  Blue Chip public companies were nearly non-existent.
  • Most were healthcare companies.  Privately-owned healthcare companies were the highest proportion we have ever seen.  Well, leave it to a healthcare company to recognize how important this benefit is to older employees.  
  • However, reviewing previous lists going back to 2002 reveals that the trend of private and/or healthcare cos has grown steadily.  Just when the first "baby boomers" are reaching 65, it appears that conventional publicly-owned companies such as Deere & Co. are no longer appearing on the list.
  • Universities also were well represented in the list 

    AARP also created a "short-list" for older workers, the International version, which did include some well known corporations such as BMW, Centrica, Daikin, DSW21, Marks & Spencer and National Australia Bank.

    Best Employers for Workers Over 50
    2011 Winners (U.S. list).

      1. Scripps Health

      2. Cornell University

      3. National Institutes of Health
      4. First Horizon National Corporation

      5. West Virginia University
      6. The YMCA of Greater Rochester

      7. Atlantic Health System
      8. Mercy Health System
      9. Bon Secours Richmond Health System
    10. The Aerospace Corporation
    11. WellStar Health System
    12. MidMichigan Health
    13. City of Glendale, Arizona
    14. Massachusetts General Hospital
    15. Pinnacol Assurance
    16. Stanley Consultants

    17. Central Florida Health Alliance

    18. National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

    19. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
    20. Brevard Public Schools

    21. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    22. Pinnacle Health
    23. TriHealth, Inc.
    24. Cianbro Corporation
    25. Securian Financial Group, Inc.

    26. Lee County Electric Cooperative
    27. Manheim

    28. Monongalia General Hospital
    29. George Mason University
    30. Nevada Federal Credit Union

    31. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

    32. Michelin North America

    33. Saint Vincent Health System
    34. University of Massachusetts Medical School
    35. University of Southern California
    36. Cabell Huntington Hospital
    37. Virginia Commonwealth University

    38. Ochsner Health System
    39. FCCI Insurance Group
    40. Saint Barnabas Health Care System
    41. ACUITY, a Mutual Insurance Company

    42. S&T Bank

    43. University of Pittsburgh

    44. West Virginia University Hospitals
    45. Eastern National
    46. Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center
    47. DentaQuest
    48. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
    49. San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind

    50. Kaiser Permanente