Into Antiques?

On ebay you'll find over 100 categories covering the Medieval and Renaissance periods, through Georgian, Regency and Victorian, to Edwardian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Antique Dealers in California

Linda Stamberger

Linda Stamberger, author of "Antiquing In Florida", is a Florida expert and freelance writer of many genres. Visit this site to read her articles - some of which are available for purchase - as is her book.

Brooks Novelty Antiques and Records

Brooks Novelty is an all-vinyl record store. We specialize in: jukeboxes, vintage soda machines, antique slot machines, pin balls, arcade games, neon clocks and signs, rare concert posters, old advertising signs and much more!

The Antique Company

Established in the late 1900's, we occupy a huge corner building with a small garden area that leads to another 1000 sq foot store (called TAC) that contains our Mid Century collection.

Vintage Westclox

Westclox photo identification gallery and history and information of clocks, watches and other timepieces. This site primarily displays American clocks made by Westclox that were made from the early 1900's up to about the 1960's.

Antique Appraisals On-Line

We are one of the country's largest, oldest, most qualified and respected appraisal services. The majority of our appraisals are estate and personal property evaluations for valuation documentation purposes. However, we have evaluated goods and personal property for natural disaster losses (hurricanes), theft, fire, freight and shipping damage after the loss has occurred.

Connoisseur Antiques

Featuring fine antique furniture, Connoisseur Antiques is a Los Angeles Antique Furniture Showroom specializing in antique clocks and mirrors, European and French antiques, Antique Lighting, Chandeliers, Sconces, Armoires and much more.

Liz's Antique Hardware

Antique Hardware is the backbone of our business. We offer a complete selection of door, window and furniture hardware, lighting and accessories circa 1890 to 1970.

San Francisco Antique and Design Mall

San Francisco Antique and Design Mall is the largest antique mall in northern California. We opened our doors in October 1997 with 75 dealers and today we have over 200 of San Francisco's most professional antique specialists.

Ambiance Antiques

Importer of 18th and 19th Century French Antiques

C'est La Vie Antiques

European Antique and Accessories in San Diego, CA.

Lang Antiques

We carry a large selection of fine antique jewelry, antique rings & antique engagement rings. We also have vintage estate jewelry, vintage estate rings & vintage estate engagement rings from the Victorian, Art Nouveau, Edwardian & Art Deco style periods.

Once in a Blue Moon Online Thrift Store

We are an online thrift store featuring new, used, and unusual items.

Monday, June 11, 2012

California Death Row suicide highlights executions' delays - San Jose Mercury News

California Death Row suicide highlights executions' delays - San Jose Mercury News

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- When James Lee Crummel hanged himself in his San Quentin Prison cell last month, he had been living on Death Row for almost eight years -- and he was still years away from facing the executioner.

California's automatic death penalty appeals take so long that the state's 723 condemned inmates are more likely to die of old age and infirmities --or kill themselves -- than be put to death.

Since capital punishment was reinstated in 1978, California has executed 13 inmates, and none since 2006. But 20 have committed suicide, including Crummel, who abducted, sexually abused and killed a 13-year-old boy on his way to school in 1979. Another 57 inmates have died of natural causes. The ponderous pace of this process has helped make the state's death row the most populous in the nation, and it has generated critics from all quarters.

Victim rights groups say the delays amount to justice denied. Death penalty opponents say the process, like execution itself, amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

And now the state's voters will get an opportunity this November to vote on a measure that would abolish the death penalty, which critics deride as an inefficient and expensive system for a financially troubled state.

It took the Supreme Court four years to appoint Crummel a public defender, and it took his attorney almost that long to file his opening brief after several time extensions. Crummel's appeal was

expected to consume a few more years before the high court decided the case.

While most condemned inmates welcome legal delays, even those seeking a speedy resolution are stymied.

Scott Peterson, who was sentenced to death seven years ago for murdering his pregnant wife Laci, is attempting to get his case before the Supreme Court as soon as possible, because he says he was wrongly convicted.

Peterson's parents hired a top-notch private appellate lawyer after sentencing, while other Death Row inmates wait an average of five years each for appointment of taxpayer-funded public defenders.

"We are moving at lightning speed compared to most automatic appeals," said Peterson's attorney Cliff Gardner. "He wants to establish his innocence."

The slow wheels of death penalty appeals, and the billions of dollars spent on them over the years, are making converts of some of capital punishment's biggest backers, including the author of a 1978 ballot measure that expanded the types of crimes eligible for capital punishment in the state.

Retired prosecutor Donald Heller, who wrote the 1978 proposition, and Ron Briggs, the initiative's campaign manager who now serves on the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, say they support abolition in California because the system is too costly and hardly anyone is being put to death.

"We'd thought we would bring California savings and safety in dealing with convicted murderers," Briggs said in a statement. "Instead, we contributed to a nightmarish system that coddles murderers and enriches lawyers. "

The current measure -- known as the SAFE California Act -- would convert all death sentences to life in prison without parole and redirect $100 million from the death penalty system to be spent over three years investigating unsolved murders and rapes.

Despite the growing backlog, district attorneys continue to send murderers to death row. Five new inmates have arrived this year, and several more are expected, including Los Angeles gang member 24-year-old Pedro Espinoza who was convicted of shooting to death a high school football player. A jury recommended death for Espinoza, and a judge is scheduled formally sentence him in September.

Meantime, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley is attempting to immediately resume executions of two longtime Death Row inmates Mitchell Carleton Sims, 52, and Tiequon Aundray Cox, 46, who have exhausted all of their appeals. Sims has been on Death Row since 1987, Cox since 1986.

"It is time Sims and Cox pay for their crimes," said Cooley, who is asking that the inmates be executed with a single drug rather than the three-drug lethal cocktail now being challenged in federal and state courts. The California District Attorneys Association is backing Cooley's attempt to resume executions.

Cooley argues appeals rather than trials consume the lion's share of what the state spends administering the death penalty in California. Cooley wants executions to remain on hold until after the November election. But if the death penalty is retained, he proposes a change in the law to allow the State Court of Appeal to start handling death penalty appeals rather than automatically sending every case to the Supreme Court for review.

Appealing the death penalty in California takes decades for a variety of reasons. There are too few qualified attorneys to handle too many automatic death penalty appeals, resulting in inmates waiting about five years each for a public defender. Once an inmate is represented by counsel, it still takes additional years to put together the voluminous trial record that serves at the heart of the appeal.

Those records often exceed 70,000 pages, according to Peterson's attorney, adding that he wouldn't be surprised if his client's record reached 80,000 pages.

Gardner says he expects to file his appeal brief later this month, which would be a first for any inmate sentenced to death during the past 12 years.

None of the estimated 250 prisoners in that category is as far along as Peterson, according to a study of California's death penalty published last year by 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Arthur Alarcon and Loyola Law School professor Paula Mitchell.

They estimated that $4 billion has been spent on all facets of the state's death penalty since 1978, including $925 million on appeals.

California's death penalty, the authors said, is a "multibillion-dollar fraud on California taxpayers" that has seen "billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent to create a bloated system, in which condemned inmates languish on death row for decades before dying of natural causes and in which executions rarely take place."


California deficit drives shift in state's welfare philosophy - Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES - Pressured by a $16 billion budget deficit, Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing a major overhaul of the state's welfare-to-work program with the strategy of slashing people's benefits to motivate them to get jobs faster.

The move, if approved by the state Legislature as part of the 2012-13 budget package, would save $880 million, but beyond the savings, analysts say it represents a shift in the philosophy of how the Golden State helps its neediest residents.

"It's a reversal of the state's historic commitment to these families and children," said Scott Graves, senior policy analyst with the California Budget Project. "It's a very significant change."

California is the national leader in welfare recipients. About 3.8 percent of state residents were on welfare in 2010, the highest percentage in the country. In fact, California houses about a third of the nation's welfare recipients, while only housing one-eighth of the national population.

Most of the recipients, however, are children - more than three-quarters of the 1.5 million in the welfare-to-work program CalWORKs, which stands for California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids. The rest are mostly single mothers who must work or participate in job training and related activities to receive cash assistance.

The state has traditionally held a relatively generous attitude toward welfare. For instance, CalWORKs gives cash grants to children even when their

parents are ineligible for benefits for various reasons, such as being illegal immigrants, receiving disability, or failing to abide by the program's rules. Only three other states - Indiana, Oregon and Arizona - have such an expansive policy.

California also allows parents to receive job services and cash grants for up to four years. Before last year, the limit was 60 months.

The policies have made the program an expensive budget line - the state spends $2.9 billion on CalWORKs and related programs - and an easy target for lawmakers looking for costs to trim with little political fallout. In years past, lawmakers have proposed doing away with benefits to children with ineligible parents and even slashing the whole CalWORKs program.

The state's budget woes have given renewed impetus to whittle away at CalWORKs. Last year, the maximum five-year benefit period shrunk to four years and monthly grants were diminished 8 percent. A family of three currently receives $638 a month, less than the rate in 1988.

For the next fiscal year, the governor is proposing more sweeping cutbacks, including a 27 percent cut in cash assistance to children with ineligible parents and further slashing the time limit for full benefits from four years to two years.

Other rule changes would restrict benefits to mothers of younger children and families earning poverty-level wages and increase sanctions on those who violate program terms.

"We felt the program was losing its focus of welfare-to-work," said Todd Bland, deputy director the state Department of Social Services' welfare-to-work division. "The reason we wanted to refocus is because of the very difficult budget environment."

The changes also come at a time when California is appealing federal penalties of $160 million because it failed to move enough welfare recipients to private sector jobs of at least 30 hours a week in 2008 and 2009, a requirement to receive federal money that helps pay for CalWORKs. Many California recipients are given part-time, publicly subsidized jobs so they get work experience.

CalWORKs recipients say getting a regular job that pays enough to support a family is not easy as lawmakers think.

Sarah Smith, a 31-year-old divorced mother of four in Los Angeles County, had been a stay-at-home mother since the age of 18, only working sporadically between having children. She was forced to turn to CalWORKs a year ago after her husband stopped paying child support. She received $850 a month in cash aid and $700 in food stamps.

She's also been able to make herself more marketable through the job services the program offers. She's beefed up her clerical skills, self-confidence and resume with a minimum-wage, temporary job as a customer service assistant with the county Department of Social Services, but the job ends this month.

She's hoping she now will be able to find a permanent job. If not, she will try for a subsidized job program where the county pays half her salary and the private employer pays the rest.

Policymakers don't realize that people need a chance to rebuild their lives, Smith said, adding that CalWORKs aid is far from enough to live on.

"It's still a juggling act," she said. "People are trying to get jobs. No one really wants to be on welfare. Most people are trying to get off it."

Nearly half of CalWORKs families move off the program within two years, but about 18 percent are long-term. Those families are often have very young children and headed by parents who lack a high school diploma or job skills, or have a family member with a disability, according to a report by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Brown's reforms aim to get parents off welfare before they become entrenched. The plan calls for parents to be hired or employable within two years of entering the program by providing job training and counseling, mental health, substance abuse and domestic violence support services, and child care. They must either work or participate in those activities to get the cash aid.

After two years, the services and some money would be cut off if they do not find a private sector job - a move that would affect about 130,000 parents, according to the state Legislative Analyst's Office.

Those parents could still receive a much-reduced cash benefit for child maintenance. A parent with two children would receive $375 a month, a drop of $263.

If parents do find employment, they could still be eligible to receive services such as child care for another two years and some cash aid if their income remains below a certain level.

Social service providers say it's overly optimistic to expect the private sector to absorb tens of thousands of people, many with minimal job skills, with California's unemployment rate the second highest in the nation at 10.9 percent in April. Only 11 percent of CalWORKs parents had private sector jobs of at least 30 hours week in 2009, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

"CalWORKs recipients are living on a shoestring as it is," said Frank Mecca, executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California. "This is going to plunge many children into poverty and likely increase homelessness. You're shredding the safety net at a time when it's needed most."

Republicans say it's about time California pushed harder to get people to self-sufficiency, and say more is needed. Halving the time limit is a good move, but continuing to give parents cash for children with no strings attached defeats the purpose of welfare-to-work.

"It removes the responsibility from the parent. You're taking away the accountability from the oversight of the program," said Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, vice chairman of the Assembly Human Services Committee.

Instead of focusing on half measures of welfare reform, the governor should concentrate on job-stimulation strategies so people have a place to go, he said. "If there's no regulatory reform, he's wasting his time," Jones said.

The debate over CalWORKs' mission is likely to continue, especially if state revenues continue to fall short, said Caroline Danielson, policy fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

"The interest is in reorienting the program toward work," she said.


California also the land of pricey energy - Victorville Daily Press

California, as just about everyone already knows, is among the nation’s highest-taxed, most-regulated and most-expensive states to live in.

Now, a report from the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group, shows California also has the sixth-highest energy costs among the states in 2012.

Energy costs, like taxes, regulations and the cost of living, are direct consequences of meddlesome, overbearing government intrusion. Yet, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration prepares more of the same as the California Air Resources Board ratchets up additional regulatory burdens, including plans to impose an unnecessary carbon-emission cap-and-trade auction that will drive energy providers’ costs even higher.

Refineries must pay to emit greenhouse gases through the cap-and-trade program scheduled to launch in August.

Those costs will be passed along to consumers just as surely as is every other cost resulting from government mandates and regulations.

In the report, “Energy Cost Index 2012: Ranking the States,” the small-business group examined a combination of the pump price of regular gasoline and the cost of electricity.

The group’s message should influence Mr. Brown’s policymaking, but probably won’t.

“High energy costs take a heavy toll on consumers, as well as on businesses of all types and sizes,” the report says. “That is most certainly the case with small businesses that so often operate on very thin margins.”

Sadly, it isn’t surprising that Mr. Brown intends more harmful government intrusions, considering how oblivious he has been to the harm government meddling already has caused.

California’s cost of gasoline, for example, ranks third-highest, behind Hawaii and Alaska. California’s electricity cost ranks 10th.

Seventy-two percent of small-business owners recently polled said higher gas prices affect their business, and 43 percent said their business may not survive if energy prices continue to rise.

What’s Mr. Brown’s reaction? So far, it is to propose more of the same harmful policies.

“Energy cost differentials between states speak to the competitiveness of each state in terms of attracting and keeping businesses,” says the small-business group’s report.


California 'not out of the woods' says Controller - The Business Journal

California is not out of the woods yet, says the state's controller.

California State Controller John Chiang said that although revenue was $83.5 million above budget estimates in May, "the General Fund is not out of the woods."

"Most of the increase over expectations in May owes to strong growth in the insurance tax, which is a tax on gross premiums, which was up $130.6 million relative to the estimates for the month," wrote Chiang in his monthly budget newsletter.

But revenue from the "Big 3" sources that are the state's most important -- income taxes, sales taxes and business taxes -- were all down, coming in 2 percent below estimates. Together, these three sources account for about 90 percent of California's general fund revenue in a year.

Sales taxes were $106.3 million below expectations, while personal income taxes were $14 million short.

Chiang warned that "the major drivers of revenues in the state are still showing signs of weakness."

Also, these budget estimates are new ones, revised downwards in May by the state as it foresaw "more tepid improvement in revenues than previously forecasted."

Compared with Governor Brown's original January budget proposal, the general fund is now $2.653 billion short. The January guess was for $74.745 billion in revenue for the fiscal year so far (July 1, 2011 to May 31, 2012). The May revision calls for just $72.093 billion.

June is the most important month now, said Chiang. "While May revenues were steady, June revenues are the ones to watch. The last month of the fiscal year is now the biggest."

If this June is like previous Junes, said Chiang, the state legislature will spend most of it figuring out how to cut costs.

"Sacramentans can expect 450 hours of daylight during June, more than any other month," wrote Chiang. "The Legislature may use the long days reviewing reductions for 2012-13."

Steven E.F. Brown is web editor at the San Francisco Business Times.

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California man beats stepson for dropping ball, video shows cruelty - Examiner
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