Guest Post: The Most Covenanted Place on Earth
1. In 1967, the Walt Disney Company gets special authority to govern its property in Florida as a local jurisdiction separate from any other city or county, and with some special privileges like being able to make its own building and fire code different from the state's.
2. In 2022, because Disney's gone all woke, DeSantis signs a bill to eliminate this special district entirely.
3. I can't find what goes in the middle here, but it seems like the 2022 bill was never implemented--possibly because it did not account for who would pay for the infrastructure that would be abandoned, or who would take over the district's debt. There was talk that maybe a county would get the shaft.
[Mini-Heebie's-Take: my memory is that bill was written to defer implementation until summer 2023. In other words, it was just for election purposes and not ever really intended to take effect.]
4. On Feb. 27, 2023, DeSantis signs a new bill, this one a takeover rather than dissolution, renaming the district, making all directors to be appointed by the governor immediately, and removing its state law exemptions.
5. Now it turns out that quietly on Feb. 8, 2023, the previous board adopted a set of restrictive covenants with Disney that will prevent the new board from exercising almost any authority over the company - for example, it has to allow Disney to build at any density, and even get Disney's approval changing the exteriors of district-owned properties.
Most amusingly, Disney made sure to make the agreement as long-lasting as possible complying with the rule against perpetuities, which requires the agreement to lapse 21 days after the death of some person living when the agreement starts. And the anchor they picked was...
This Declaration shall continue in effect until twenty one (21) years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England living as of the date of this Declaration.
If I parse this language correctly, that's his five grandchildren, from George down to Lilibet, but no grandchild born in the future counts, and the 21-year clock starts when the last of the five dies. I guess it makes sense since whichever of those particular five is longest-lived will probably live a very long time indeed.
Of course there will be a ferocious legal battle with the state trying to void the agreement.
Heebie's take: Anything that makes DeSantis look like a dumbass is good with me!
I'm so annoyed with myself because I saw this Afroman story on Reddit a few days ago and intended to post about it, and I would have been in front of all the major news stories, damnit.
Afroman was out of town on the day of the raid. But his ex-wife and kids, then 10 and 12, live nearby and came over when they saw the police presence. She recorded parts of the raid on her phone, while other scenes were captured by security video cameras around the house.
No charges came from the search, but that wasn't the end of the story.
Afroman is the guy from the song Because I Got High. ("I was gonna clean my room until I got high. I was gonna get up and find the broom but then I got high." It's the silliest song in the world, but still kinda fun.)
So Afroman says:
"I asked myself, as a powerless Black man in America, what can I do to the cops that kicked my door in, tried to kill me in front of my kids, stole my money and disconnected my cameras?" he says. "And the only thing I could come up with was make a funny rap song about them and make some money, use the money to pay for the damages they did and move on."
He released an album with songs about the raid and made music videos out of the surveillance footage. He created merchandise and social media posts calling out the officers who had been involved.
The video for another number, called "Will You Help Me Repair My Door," is a montage of clips from the raid.
It shows officers standing outside of his house and kicking down his door, as well as combing through his closet, turning over his CD collection and flipping through a wad of cash.
"Did you find what you was looking for?" he sings. "Will you help me repair my gate and door?"
This sounds like great fun! Did the cops appreciate Afroman's exercise of his first amendment rights?
Now, some of them are suing him, his label, and a Texas-based music distribution company for invasion of privacy.
Four deputies, two sergeants and one detective from the Adams County Sheriff's Office are accusing the rapper of profiting from the unauthorized use of their likenesses, at their personal and professional expense.
In a complaint filed in an Ohio pleas court last week, they say it's been more difficult and dangerous to carry out their duties "because of comments made and attitudes expressed toward them by members of the public" who have seen the videos.
They say they have received death threats, and also suffered "humiliation, ridicule, mental distress, embarrassment and loss of reputation."
It's really kind of delicious.
Over the years, I've been on assorted awards committees - nothing terribly prestigious, but maybe a $300 award or something - and they always struggle to get nominations. Sometimes the nomination or application process is cumbersome, sometimes it's short and quick, but it generally seems pretty hard to generate enthusiasm.
There is a reason for an awards process - outstanding work does deserve to be honored. It's helpful for people who are doing great work if they can put something on their resume that reflects that extra commitment.
But here's what it feels like to me: I'm wondering if there was some era where giving awards was seen as this innovative hott thing that the great business leaders were teaching in business school as a cure-all for motivation, engagement, outreach, blah blah blah. This golden solution was so easy to implement that it proliferated all over the place (especially compared to, say, raising wages or reducing workload). Then we're stuck with all this proliferation of awards.
So: was there a specific era where awards proliferated and multiplied all over the place? Or was there a slow, steady creep over time? Why am I stuck suffering through so many awards ceremonies and why does every nominating committee look at the nominations and say things like, "Well, maybe we can shuffle around the candidates so that we have at least one nomination in each category..."?
Guest Post: Donziger
Minivet writes: This seems meaty: Supreme Court declines to take appeal of conviction of environmental lawyer Steven Donziger for contempt.
The simplest takes are calling this a shameful final vindication of a vicious, profit-driven persecution of a climate activist. But of course the appeal was not about the facts of the case, but a different legal question.
One point on which my Twitter is somewhat divided is his original conviction for fraud. He got a huge judgment against Texaco in an Ecuadorian court for environmental damage, but later Texaco's successor Chevron sued him for fraud and won, in particular based on him having bribed the judge. On the one hand, he got his day in court and we usually take a guilty verdict as a decent indicator in the absence of other specific knowledge. On the other hand, it is possible to imagine Chevron faking evidence or suborning testimony when this much was at stake, so from that perspective perhaps nothing can be conclusively proved. But this opinion piece suggests there were at least some significant elements of misconduct he admitted to, including paying off a court-appointed damages expert.
The foundation of the contempt charge is where Donziger fully loses my sympathy. It seems undisputed that he was evading the orders to disgorge whatever money he had gotten before the fraud conviction, specifically withholding evidence that would uncover the money. Whether the judgment was right or wrong, once it came down and appeals were presumably exhausted, that was time to give the money back. It wasn't like he was resisting being imprisoned.
The appeal to the Supreme Court, then, was on the basis that the judge had appointed a special prosecutor on the contempt charge (who got the conviction) after the DOJ had declined to take his referral on resource grounds. I think it's reasonable for judges to have that inherent authority, and the fact that only Gorsuch and Kavanaugh wanted to take the case suggests that they only meant it as another step in tearing down the administrative state under the guise of "separation of powers."
And of course the Supremes were never going to vindicate either side of the original case, since they always start from the facts found at trial.
Heebie truly has no take.
I want to ask a question, knowing full well there's an obvious, dumb answer and I'm wondering if there's also a more subtle, interesting answer. The question is: in an age where all sorts of cheap shit is manufactured quickly and nimbly by factories, isn't it astonishing that all our clothes are made by hand? Are there any other mass-produced items that are essentially made by hand? I look at my IKEA dresser or plastic bins in the pantry or the books sitting beside me - none of those are made by hand in any sense. And yet the clothes I'm wearing were probably mass-cut, but the seams were sewn individually on machines somewhere. (Maybe I'm wrong about this?)
The immediate, dumb answer is that it's very cheap to exploit labor. The slightly more interesting answer is probably that this was entrenched as a means of production before factories were churning out plastic crap at the current fantastic pace, and there is no comparable, cheap, handmade way to make plastic bins for my pantry.
But still, in all the industries that have been disrupted and mechanized: why not clothes production? How hard can it be to make a smart machine where you feed in a pattern and it spits out the sewn product, considering we do that for a zillion other products on the cheap?
And now to become fully a parody of myself: it's sexism, isn't it?
Check Ins, Reassurances, and Concerns, 3/26
This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.
Episode Kobe fifty six