Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sierra Madre and Arcadia: A Tale of Two Cities

For 50 minutes of peace, love and understanding click here.
A fairly short tale actually because it is late and I am a little exhausted from all of this stuff right now. More on that in a minute. But here is the first half of the story.

It used to be that Sierra Madre was the lawless lands when it came to politics. There were more wild and crazy controversies, fights, feuds, and general mayhem found in The Foothill Village than just about anywhere else on the planet. It was from those days that The Tattler first found its place in our little world, and all of that controversy had sustained this blog for nearly a decade. Trust me, I was always very grateful. There was a lot to write about.

But obviously those days are now in the past. Last night Denise Delmar was made the Mayor of Sierra Madre in about as peaceful and untroubled a manner as you would ever hope to see. The only thing that was even close to a controversy was who would become the next Mayor Pro Tem, with John Harabedian and John Capoccia struggling over who could hand the honor to the other guy the most. Eventually Capoccia won and Harabedian was convinced to accept the honor.

After which everyone went out into the City Hall foyer to enjoy some cake and soda.

Things were the very opposite last night in Arcadia where no Mayor was chosen at all, and won't be until after a 45 day "cooling off period" has taken place. The problem being that the current Mayor Pro Tem, the eminently unqualified though next in line Sho Tay, is now faced with both the potential consequences of a rather unfortunate Brown Act situation, plus an ongoing two count FPPC investigation into his having possibly run a crooked political campaign.

This in front of a seething packed house as 35 residents angrily spoke to both sides of the issues during public comment, and mostly in no uncertain terms. According to the majority of these speakers you apparently are either a racist who has serious problems with Asian folks, or someone who countenances unchecked corruption in a city government lacking for all ethical values. There appeared to be little middle ground between the two sides as each persuasion seemed quite convinced that they alone were occupying the moral apex.

The current Mayor of Arcadia, Peter Amundson, will now remain in that office for an additional month and a half, which hopefully will be enough time for Sho Tay's guilt or innocence to be clearly established by these ongoing investigations. If it turns out that he actually is a crook, then the gig will fall to councilmember April Verlato, who would then become Arcadia's first woman mayor in quite some time.

There is also the matter of what could have been wide ranging voter fraud in District 5, something calling into question the legitimacy of Roger Chandler's election to yet another term. Something that will also be closely looked into during that now momentous 45 day cooling off period.

Oh, and there was no cake afterwards. Anywhere. Like I said, a tale of two cities.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Landslide Roger: How Extensive Was Voter Fraud In Arcadia's City Council District 5?

It is not a question of whether there was voter fraud in District 5 or not, but rather how much. I believe there were enough potentially illegal votes cast there to put Roger Chandler over the top, and that when he is sworn in for yet another term at Arcadia City Hall this evening we could all be witnessing a rather grotesque and tragic farce.

I have been provided with deeds to the homes of certain people who voted in District 5. However, they own them outside of Arcadia, or in one case in town but outside of District 5. Kind of troubling, right? Empty nests there somehow became full again. Some very good people have been working hard to uncover this story, and you are the beneficiary of their due diligence.

Send some good thoughts their way.

This is what happens when you have you have a city government that refuses to honor its legal obligation to guarantee fair elections, and instead turns a blind eye. Private citizens have to fill the void when bad government reneges on its responsibilities.

We'll start with John Wuo, the former Arcadia Mayor who resigned from office during the Gem Coins scandal. Six votes were cast from his house. John Wuo, plus Jane Wuo, his wife, were two of them. Also voting from that address were Jennifer Wuo Aoki, 37 years old and married to Brent Aoki. They are the co-owners of a home at 17107 Halldale Ave, in Gardena. Do you think Jen lives at home with her dad and not at the home she owns with her husband in the South Bay?

Jeffrey Geng Han Wuo, 41 years old, is John Wuo's eldest child. He also voted in this election. Do you think he lives in Arcadia with his dad?  Or does he own a home with his spouse, Teresa Wuo, at 19437 Twin Hills Place, in Northridge? While it's nice that the Wuo children are successful and do own homes, it's just unfortunate they don't appear to own them in District 5.

I wonder how that conversation with John Wuo and his children went down? "Trust me, kids. No one ever checks voter rolls. And we really do need to help Uncle Roger."

Then there is the Hsia family, with 5 votes cast from their home at 1125 S. 5th Avenue. Two votes were cast by the husband and wife owners there, so those were probably legal ballots. But the others? It looks like Sen-Shihuan Shirly Hsia (37 yo) and Sengli Hsia (40 yo), own a home together at 11367 Mineral Peak Court in Rancho Cucamonga. The 5th vote cast at that house was by the 43 years old Sen-Ling Hsia.

At 1809 S. 2nd Avenue, 5 votes were cast. Jen and Chun Ping Wang are the husband and wife owners of the property. But Reynold Wang, a 34 year old, who also voted from that address, appears to own a home at 15821 Approach Avenue in Chino. Where do you think he actually lives? Most likely in the house that he owns, right?

Then at 2028 S. Santa Anita Avenue, where only 4 votes were cast, Helen and John Shen are the husband and wife owners, so presumably they live there. But Tony and Lisa Shen, who also voted from that address, might actually be title holders at 19 W. Naomi in District 4, not in District 5.

Why would they register to vote out of 2028 S. Santa Anita in District 5 when the home this couple owns is in District 4?  Do you think all of these folks will register to vote in D4 at that Naomi address in 2 years when Mayor Amundson runs? It appears they might be flexible. Run to the sight of the ballots.

I hope residents of District 5 will contact the LA County Registrar's Office and report this alleged unlawful activity. Until Arcadia gets its badly neglected voter rolls in order, this type of possible voter fraud is likely to continue. Unless remedied all future elections in Arcadia could retain the reputation for fraudulence.

Freedom of the press and voter integrity are stalwarts of our Democracy. Citizens must fight to protect their rights and, most importantly, their freedom to elect government officials in fair and legal elections. Did that happen here in 2018? Perhaps not.

Don't let this election go down in history as a loss for Pro-Preservation Arcadia. Pull back the curtains and reveal the puppet master hidden behind them. District 5 was a close election, and only a relatively few votes made the difference. What you have seen above are possible examples of how that difference was actually achieved. There are more.

Here are those deeds that I mentioned earlier. I am posting them to back up much of what I've written above.


Late Breaking News!


Mod: The following comes to us from the Chinese language news paper The World Journal, which you can link to here (click). Apparently the Godfather himself, Singpoli founder and proto-developer Kin Hui, will be speaking on the behalf of Sho Tay and his dreams of Arcadia Mayorship this evening. Obviously somebody is more than a little bit worried. As they should be. Here is what the World Journal has to say about all of this.

"Following the end of Arcadia city council election, most of Chinese put their attention into the 24th Arcadia Mayor election. As MPT Sho Tay previous stated that he had most possibility to become the mayor of Arcadia. But the result of this election could make my Mayor possibilities change. Mayor Peter Amunson will be the key playor in this mayor election.  Some of Arcadia Chinese residents with Singpoli CEO Kin Hui will be attending 24th night city mayor election meeting to show fully support Sho Tay in the meeting."

Mod: Things get more and more exciting all of the time.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Monday, April 23, 2018

Sho's Woes: Sho Tay Supporters Demand the City Shut Down the Free Press in Arcadia for Reporting the News

Mod: As readers of this blog are aware, Arcadia Mayor Pro Tem Sho Tay is currently under investigation for possible California campaign law violations by the FPPC, and likely by the City Attorney as well for a rather broad Brown Act violation at last Tuesday evening's City Council meeting. This while Mr. Tay will also presumably face a vote tomorrow night by his elected colleagues on the council regarding his fitness to serve as Mayor. There have been a number of letters sent to City Hall by his supporters, three of which were forwarded to me. However, rather than discussing any of the reporting here or at the Arcadia Weekly on Sho's woes, the demand seems to be that the city shut down the local press for reporting news they didn't want to see.

Dear Councilman, Councilwoman, and City Manager,

I am writing to show discontent with current print of "Arcadia Weekly" story on "Councilman Tay".  This newspaper has continuously attacked the only Asian councilman on Arcadia council, providing info to mislead readers that Sho Tay is unqualified but never disclosed the contribution and work Councilman Tay brought to Arcadia Asian community. They have done it in the past and they kept doing it in every election. It's a strongly biased and discriminatory newspaper. Please disclose how much is City of Arcadia sponsoring this local newspaper to publishing biased newspaper. I, as a taxpayer, felt that we should not continuing sponsor such newspaper.

Best Regards, Andrew Lin

Mod: Here is the next missive.

Dear City Managers,

I have noticed that Arcadia Weekly is not posting articles in a neutral manner. I don't understand why the city did not stop or warn this newspaper.

It has came to a point that makes me as a resident feeling sick and disappointed to see such a long time newspaper which represent Arcadia has made such unprofessional comments. Whoever is in charge of this newspaper should be warned and stopped immediately and apologize to wrongly accused victims.

Sho Tay did not divide the city, in fact he has pulled Arcadians together. It is Arcadia Weekly and Sierra Madre Tattler have divided the city. I strongly urged the city to take further action to these newspapers.

Sammie Fong
District 4

Mod: This third letter is far longer. Here is a four part screen shot.


Mod: I can't speak for the Arcadia Weekly, but this blog will continue to post news as we see fit. The notion that certain Sho Tay supporters actually believe the City of Arcadia could send their police to a reporter's house and drag him off in handcuffs in order to, in Angie's words, "incorporate civility and foster a welcoming interactions environment," seems very Orwellian to me. Hopefully Angie has finally read the article that caused her to write so long a letter, and now understands the possible legal woes Sho Tay is facing. Also why these problems could make him an unsuitable choice for Mayor of Arcadia. There will be more news on the Arcadia situation tomorrow. 

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Tim Donnelly's One Weekend 'Cinco de Mayo' Border War With Mexico Will Be Held May 5 - 6

Mod: We like to catch up with former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly occasionally, mostly because he is quite a colorful character. Tim, who you will recall once upon a time represented Sierra Madre and other area communities in Sacramento for a couple of years, is apparently going to war with both Mexico and California in just two weeks. Very ambitious of him for sure. The following came to my attention via an email blast from the news site Politico

THE BUZZ: If there's any doubt about how Donald Trump's tweetstorm slamming California and Gov. Jerry Brown on border and immigration issues is playing with his base, look no farther than the email from Tea Party darling and former state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, which hit inboxes around California Thursday, headlined "CALLING ALL MINUTEMEN."

THE MESSAGE: "Dear Patriots, If you believe that our borders should be secure, laws enforced and immigration a controlled, orderly process, then Gov. Jerry "MoonBeam" Brown thinks you're a 'low-life' that should 'chill' out and just accept that millions of illegal aliens are here....THE TIME FOR TALK IS OVER..."

DONNELLY, who's mounting a CA-08 primary challenge from the right to GOP Rep. Paul Cook, challenges conservative and "patriot" voters to "send a message to "MoonBeam" that you refuse to allow him to turn our communities into cesspools and sanctuaries for illegal alien criminals." Their plan: to amass at a designated border location about 70 miles from San Diego on the weekend of May 5-6. He says the response has been "overwhelming."

Mod: This sent me scrambling to Google News to find articles I could cite here, but ironically the only one in existence was from the Spanish language newspaper La Opinion. I ran it through Google Translator for the benefit of The Tattler's Anglophone readership, and this is what emerged. It is certainly not flattering to Mr. Donnelly.

Candidate to the Congress of the United States summons to "Patriots and Minutemen" to watch the border (La Opinion link): Tim Donnelly, an ultra-conservative congressional candidate in San Bernardino, California on Tuesday, called on anti-immigrant militias to make a symbolic effort on the border on May 5. Donnelly, a former tea party candidate and self-appointed "Minuteman leader," apparently wants to revive the movement that exactly 13 years ago captured the country's attention by sending thousands of volunteers to "patrol" the border to stop undocumented immigration .

In a statement from his campaign, Donnelly called for the revival of controversial militias, after California Governor Jerry Brown decided not to send the National Guard to the border while its mission is related to immigration.

"Since the illegal Governor Brown has decided to side with the criminals and ignore President Trump's call to send troops to the border - by threatening our communities," the people must resist this tyranny, " Donnelly said.

The Republican candidate for Congress for District 8, occupied by Republican Paul Cook, called on "all Minutemen and patriotic groups to come to the aid of their country and do the work that the irresponsible Governor Brown has refused to do."



The call is for next May 5 - a day of celebration for the Battle of Puebla in Mexico that is symbolically celebrated in the United States - and supposedly aims to summon supporters of the anti-immigrant movement in the town of Boulevard, California.

But instead of summoning militias to stand for a long time on the border "to help the Border Patrol", Donnelly plans an only one weekend mobilization, to send a message to Governor Brown.

"Let the cartels and criminals who want to penetrate the border know that from 9 am on Saturday May 5 to 9 am on May 6, the border will be safe," he said in the statement.

Despite his self-definition of "Minuteman Leader," Donnelly was not among the actual leaders of the vigilante movement, which was rejected by the leadership of both parties but later won the sympathy of some politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger, when he was a candidate for governor of California.

The intense media coverage that the movement obtained in 2005, driven by the anti-immigrant sentiment that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, had its effect on national politics and ended with the temporary sending of national guard troops to the border by George W. Bush.

Tea bag optional.
Donnelly, on the other hand, has lost more elections than he has won, although he served as an Assemblyman from California between 2010 and 2014, before submitting his candidacy for governor, which he lost in 2014.

For its part, the Minuteman movement and some of its leaders at the time are given credit for the anti-immigrant movement that followed their training and even for the phenomenon that elected Donald Trump. Recently, Jim Gilcrist, former leader of a Minuteman faction, said in an interview with Vice that his movement was responsible for raising the issue of immigration to a prominent place in US politics.

In reality, the Minuteman movement ended up dissolved and divided, and at least two of its leaders were imprisoned for various reasons. For example, Chris Simcox, founder with Gilcrist of the initial movement, was imprisoned in 2013 for sexual abuse against three girls, including his own daughter.

Shawna Forde, Arizona's Minutemen leader was sentenced to death for the murder of Brisenia Flores, 9 and his father Raúl, in a trailer near the border in 2009.

There were also multiple allegations of fraud against Minuteman leaders for funds sent by citizens to "build a wall on the border" that was never built.

Mod: There's no doubt that one of these fellows wanting to have sex with his own kid is disturbing. But as long as we're also speaking of fraud, did any of these Minutemen ever claim that Mexico was going to pay for their version of the wall? 

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sierra Madre Final Vote Is In - And Nothing Has Changed!


Well, OK, the numbers are a little larger than the last time we checked. It does look like Bencosme is going to remain stuck forever at just under the 1,000 vote mark. Which is kind of sad because even I broke that threshold. I think I was at the $5 a vote level. Modest by today's standards, though at the time it seemed like a lot.

However, I don't recall having had a budget of anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000 dollars. No, I know I didn't. We won't really know about MrAndy B's complete boodle for certain until sometime in July when final campaign financial disclosures will be revealed. And yes, we will find out. It is very important that we do.

Remember our latest Tattler aphorism: "The big money is in lying. Truth is for volunteers."

But I digress. These truly are great days for Sierra Madre. The city is in the best shape it has been in years, preservation is making regular work-a-day folks into home owning millionaires and, God bless us all, the voters have actually become smart enough to elect people who represent their interests. As unbelievable as that may have seemed just a few years back.

So, can we celebrate yet? Well, I am happy to tell you, folks are getting ready for that. The political juggernaut previously known as Preserve Sierra Madre (actually, they still are), sent out the following email blast yesterday. For people who worry so much they sure do sound happy.

Dear SupportersThere will be an installation ceremony for the new Mayor of Sierra Madre at the next City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 24th beginning at 6:30 pm. 

We are very pleased and excited at the re-election of the three candidates endorsed by Preserve Sierra Madre: current Mayor Rachelle Arizmendi, Mayor Pro-Tem Denise Delmar and former Mayor Gene Goss.  They have done an outstanding job in their four years on the City Council and we expect the same from them over the next four years.  

All of you made a difference in this election and helped to make this day possible so it might by fun to attend this event.  The formal presentation will occur towards the end of the meeting and refreshments will be served in the City Hall reception area immediately following the City Council meeting. We hope to see you there!

Thank you for your support. Steering Commiteee

Did you see that? The word committee had three e's at the end. I'm telling you, I have never seen them so wild before.

For those of you who enjoy walking on the analytical side of life, I was on an e-mail chain yesterday where they broke down the vote totals in some surprising ways. Or at least I was impressed.

We had a meeting of Inspectors with Laura Aguilar yesterday. Interesting facts: Vote by mail was 1,521 ballots, or 19.8%. Precinct voting was 1,161 or 15.0 %. Overall that was 35.9%. Total ballots cast: 2,682.  I don't know how that compares to the last few years, but in the '80's and 90's we had well over 50%. 

Another interesting fact: Many ballots had only two votes, Denise and Andy.  And, many had single votes --- most of those were for Delmar. Of the vote by mail ballots, the County invalidated 10.  

There were an additional 7 with no signature. Laura contacted those folks and got signatures from 6. And, all in all, only 12 ballots were not counted, those were for signatures that didn't match the registration. People who say that elections are not on the up and up need to take heed. I think Sierra Madre has the fairest elections anywhere.

Many ballots voted yes on Measure D and didn't vote for the council candidates. But the no votes got 81.7%; Yes 18.2%

You know what? Somehow all of this makes me happy.

Paul Lauritz (1889 - 1975) "The Evening Hour, Sierra Madre"

Wait. Even more good news for Sierra Madre?

Mod: I know. You might find yourself wondering, am I reading The Tattler? But this really is more good news. Remember the conversations here recently about some impending Sacramento high density housing development mandates, and how even Sierra Madre's funky little bus station by Kersting Court might have become the cause of some big LULU (Locally Unwanted Land Use) development? Well, all of that misery died last week. Here is an article you should enjoy.

The takeaway from the sudden death of California's most controversial housing bill in years (NPR link): The most controversial state housing bill in recent memory died with a pretty resounding thud.

Senate Bill 827, which would have forced cities to allow taller, denser development around public transit, got only four votes on the 13-member Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing. Both Democrat and Republican lawmakers voted against the bill.

Authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener, Democrat from San Francisco, the bill would have allowed developers to build five-story apartment buildings near major public transit stops, including neighborhoods previously zoned for single family homes. The bill received a ton of media attention, including a fairly flattering write-up on the front page of the New York Times.

UrbanistYes In My Backyard” (YIMBY) groups mourned the bill’s death as yet another roadblock to building the new housing the state so desperately needs. Cities and anti-gentrification groups cheered the demise of what they viewed as an unprecedented inroad on local control.

Mod: Too much joy, I'm telling you. The rest of the good news is available at the link.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Friday, April 20, 2018

Did Mayor Pro Tem Sho Tay Trigger The Brown Act At Tuesday Evening's Arcadia City Council Meeting?

Mod: I was forwarded the following email sent by Arcadia resident Laurie Thompson to City Attorney Stephen P. Deitsch this past Wednesday. It now appears Sho Tay has opened up a legal Pandora's Box with some of the words that slipped from his loose lips at Tuesday evening's City Council meeting. Here is her note to City Hall.

Last night MPT Tay described a vote taken in closed session regarding public safety in Arcadia.  Can you please provide the date of this closed session and a copy of the notice of the agendized item?  I do not recall the Brown Act allowing for a closed session to discuss public safety and crime. If this meeting truly did occur, please provide the reference in the Brown Act that allows for such a meeting.

This claim by MPT Tay seems dubious at best.

Also please send me copies of any other emails or letters you receive regarding MPT Tay’s claims of closed session deliberations as I want to start a support group for victims of MPT Tay’s false claims.

Laurie Thompson
Resident

Mod: City Attorney Deitsch has yet to reply to Laurie, which is not surprising. I'm not sure that he, or anyone else there, has decided quite how to handle this latest mishap from a loose cannon who apparently doesn't understand right from wrong. 

Do Post Offices in other cities have to do this?


Mod: You might have thought that one of those highly compensated cops in Arcadia would have stopped by and checked up on the Post Office every once in a while.

Final Arcadia vote totals


Mod: To look at the exact same thing on the City of Arcadia site, please click here.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The FPPC Launches An Investigation Into Arcadia Mayor Pro Tem Sho Tay's Possible Misuse Of Campaign Funds

With Arcadia's City Council reorganization scheduled for this coming Tuesday, today's news couldn't be coming at a worse time for Mayor Pro Tem Sho Tay. His elevation to Mayor, which due to the custom of succession should have been a nearly automatic process, is now very much on the minds of many. Can an elected official under investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for serious campaign law violations still be voted by his colleagues the next Mayor of Arcadia?

The complaint was filed because of independent cash expenditures made by the Committee To Elect Sho Tay Arcadia City Council 2018 in support of the campaigns of Bob Harbicht and Roger Chandler. Candidates cannot send mailers supporting other candidates. This is considered a "fraudulent use" because it in effect makes contributions seem like they went to one candidate, in this case Sho Tay, and not to the candidates that the contributions actually benefited, which was Harbicht and Chandler. What Sho Tay did was allow contributions from real estate interests to go through him and not directly to Harbicht and Chandler as they should have by law.

Here is the passage from an FPPC document that spells out the law in this situation. It comes from that portion dealing with the legal use of campaign funds (link):


Sho Tay's wife, Sherry Tay, is the Treasurer of his Committee. This could also possibly be a serious problem according to the FPPC rule book (link).


The opening of this investigation means that the FPPC has found clear evidence of campaign law violations. Now they are determining just how egregious these violations were, and how much money they should fine Sho Tay. Here is the FPPC's notification.


Mod: Today's edition of The Arcadia Weekly also has a report on this scandal (link).

Arcadia Mayor ProTem. Under Investigation by FPPC - State Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) Scrutinizes Multiple Complaints

By Terry Miller

Arcadia Weekly has received documents regarding an investigation into Mayor Pro Tem Sho Tay’s election campaign alleging unfair political practices, specifically eluding to spending campaign dollars he received and used to support candidates Bob Harbicht and councilman Roger Chandler.

This newspaper has learned that at least 3 separate complaints against Sho Tay have been filed for not only financing the printing and distribution of “misleading and false” mailers, but also not disclosing campaign funds he received within the required 24 hour period after receipt.

Arcadia Weekly has also learned that Sho Tay received two separate payments of $2500 and $1000 on January 15 for his campaign. Tay did not disclose the $3500 until March 13, 2018.

Ironically, Sho Tay never needed the campaign funds as he was appointed to council when the only opponent to Tay’s campaign abruptly changed his mind at the eleventh hour.

Another complaint registered is in regards to Sho Tay’s conflict of interest in not disclosing, initially, on his election paperwork that he owns a gun range.

Councilman Tom Beck took exception Tuesday to Sho Tay’s use of derogatory mailers attacking him. Beck held up copies of mailers during the meeting that Tay had paid for which directly attacked Beck in English and Chinese during the election.

Councilman Beck’s assertion was that it was an ugly campaign where his opposition insisted that he (Beck) wasn’t for a safer Arcadia, or a stronger police force. Beck pointed out that all council members had voted 5-0 when it came to public safety, therefore Harbicht and Chandler’s statements were completely unfounded.

Councilman Beck also made a concerted effort, during Tuesday’s council meeting, to point out that traditionally candidates donate unspent campaign funds to local charities…and not for personal gain i.e. spending money supporting other candidates.

Tay countered saying he doesn’t understand why people were picking on him when all he wanted to do was ‘unite’ the council and the community at large.

Mod: Here are some of Mayor Pro Tem Sho Tay's possibly illegal campaign flyers.


sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What Is Up With Sierra Madre's Kersting Court Now?

The topic of renovating Kersting Court is once again rising from its shallow cobwebbed resting place and is beginning to work its way through the Community Services Commission. This isn't the first time such a thing has occurred, which is why some folks have been keeping a wary eye on these latest Kersting developments.

Just to give you the bare bones of what has only just begun this time, to the left is a document put together this week by the Community Services Commission detailing how this could all break down. Again, it is just a start, so there is plenty of time to get things done properly. But there is also the potential for other things to occur as well, which is why I've decided to bring it up now. Because the last time this puppy got out of the pen things got a little wild, with the end result being the entire project was unceremoniously jettisoned, and Sierra Madre's rather tiny version of a Central Park remained untouched for a while. Somehow the town survived.

The Last Time This Happened

Here is how a City Hall document (link) created in July of 2016 described what was to become of Kersting Court. Trust me, it was not as well received as its creators probably hoped.


"Permanent Holiday Tree" indeed. I think what probably skewed the imaginations of a concerned portion of Sierra Madre's residents was the accompanying art. In what became derisively known as "Starbucks Park Modern," these illustrations were soon rather famous, but not in the good way.


Using my best "Art Talk" prose, here is how I described this at the time.

But what fascinates me today is the actual art involved. No, not that rather commonplace stuff they're talking about planting in Kersting Court. What I find quite remarkable are the graphic depictions of that once happy place found at the bottom of the staff report. They are really something.

The adult figures shown in these pictures are all sitting up straight, and in the most painfully erect postures imaginable. Their collective gaze, true thousand mile stares, are firmly fixed upon matters both internal and far away. Beyond the park is a vast encircling landscape that is featureless, empty, spiritually vacant, and uniformly gray.

All of which makes Kersting Court appear like an island having no visible exits.

With the possible exception of some well-mannered children, and the obligatory dog of course, nobody seated there is looking at the person next to them. As I said, some there have Starbucks beverages in their hands and, elbows held high, their only concern is consuming those drinks.

Obviously most of those so depicted have contributed to the well-being of the downtown economy by purchasing and ingesting mass manufactured drink products, and paid a little sales tax to do it. Perhaps it is their one true purpose in life?

So is this a new art genre? If so, I would call it Future Kersting. A brave new world populated by people dedicated to both good posture and drinking liquids from cups. All while apparently oblivious to an ominous world that has now consumed them.

I guess we'll have to wait and see how it all rolls out this time. I'm sure we'll have fun.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Paul Krugman Asks An Apt Question: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a pee tape?"

Mod: It has been a minute since we discussed what is quite possibly the most disgraceful fellow to ever move into the White House. But I have been a Paul Krugman fan for years, and in my opinion he really hit a home run with this series of tweets. Of course, you might not agree. That is what is so great about this country, you don't have to. And isn't it fun to think that national politics can be just as bizarre as the local version?

Paul Krugman Asks An Apt Question: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a pee tape?" (Daily Kos link): Dusting off a famous phrase from John Kerry’s Winter Soldier testimony Paul Krugman asks: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a pee tape?"

Twitter: “I've met a fair number of serving officers in the U.S. military. They're very impressive -- smart, sophisticated, well-informed. And they take honor very seriously. What must it be like for them now?

They know perfectly well that the current commander-in-chief is a man of no honor whatsoever -- dishonest, corrupt, quite possibly being blackmailed by a hostile foreign power.

Could such a man deliberately wag the dog? That is, might he engage in military action -- killing people, and putting U.S. servicemen and women at risk -- to distract from his scandals? Of course he could.

Was the Syria strike an example? Not clear. But the suspicion is obvious and unavoidable. And who knows what comes next? So if you're in the military, you have to be asking yourself: how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a pee tape?”

Trump supporters rip decision to strike Syria (Politico link): Some of President Donald Trump’s staunchest backers tore into his decision to attack Syria late Friday night, arguing it was unnecessary, reactionary and even Clinton-esque.

In tweet storms and video responses, they compared Trump’s decision to attack Syrian targets to actions taken by President George W. Bush or a hypothetical President Hillary Clinton.

“We lost. War machine bombs Syria. No evidence Assad did it. Sad warmongers hijacking our nation,” tweeted conservative author and radio host Michael Savage. Savage also posted a video discussing the missile strikes, tearing into Trump’s decision.

There was a clear sense of disappointment among a certain strand of Trump supporter as the president announced a “precision strike” against the regime of Bashar Assad on Friday in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack last week.

The anguish came from supporters who latched on to Trump’s “America First” promise during the campaign. They argued that Trump’s decision undermined his promise to disentangle the U.S. from global conflicts, saying it reeked of the same old, same old.

Donald Bush,” tweeted Mike Cernovich, a conservative author and once a staunch supporter of Trump.

“Congratulations to the Trump administration for adopting the same failed foreign policy and ignoring of the constitution as the last two administrations,” tweeted Doug Stafford, a strategist for Sen. Rand Paul’s RANDPAC.

Mod: And then there was that time Republicans threatened to impeach Obama if he bombed Syria without congressional approval. The following is from Sept of 2013.

Hunter: Obama inviting impeachment if he strikes Syria without Congress (Washington Times link): Rep. Duncan Hunter said Tuesday that President Obama would be breaking the law and even inviting impeachment if he went ahead with strikes on Syria after a congressional rejection.

“I think he’s breaking the law if he strikes without congressional approval,” Mr. Hunter, a California Republican, told The Washington Times. “And if he proceeds without Congress providing that authority, it should be considered an impeachable offense.” Mr. Obama this weekend sent Congress a draft resolution authorizing use of force to take out Syria’s facilities for weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons.

But the president said he believes he still has authority to strike unilaterally without backing from Congress, and his aides reportedly said they believe he could still act even if Congress voted next week to reject his request for authorization of force.

Mod: Personally I find it hard to believe that there are still people who actually believe Trump is a conservative. Then again, they probably never really got it anyway. They just wanted their side to win.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Monday, April 16, 2018

LA Conservancy: Pasadena, Sierra Madre and Arcadia

 Clunk!
Mod: I've been enjoying some of the comments left on the so-called Arcadia's Best site back during the recent election, and there really is a wealth of fine blogging material there. I don't know if it is the naivety of the commenters themselves, or if they were expected by AB's administrator to say such things, but some of these folks really missed the point. One such individual, who alludes to himself as Nelson G, even referred to the LA Conservancy as "extremist." Here is this dude's rather wild ride:

I support the preservation efforts, but not the over reaching draft ordinance as it stands today. I am very aware of LA Conservancy. In fact, the recent push for historic preservation ordinance in Arcadia was triggered by an “F” grade received by Arcadia in 2014 for the lack of historic preservation effort. OMG, an F! The fact is, there are more cities getting F than the sum of all other cities getting all other grades. That makes you wonder how objective the criteria used by LA Conservancy are. How legitimate is LA Conservancy? I feel that their views are quite extreme, as are their criteria. For example, a city will get credit for “Owner Consent Not Required for Designation”. How outrageous! I wonder if getting an F from LA Conservancy is a bad thing or good thing. Of the small list of poster children you provided, our close neighbor San Marino fare even worse than Arcadia, because they had the sense to not waste $120k on a “Survey of Historic Resources”, hence lower total score. San Marino has not adopted a historic preservation ordinance, although they may be considering one. San Marion has proved that it is possible to do a good job preserving their city over the years, without the tyrannous preservation ordinance. Our other close neighbor Temple City got 0 points for their historic preservation effort. But they are $120k richer than us. There are more cities getting 0 than 100% for sure. 

Just to help Nelson understand how the LA Conservancy works (link), not every city in Los Angeles County has received an ignominious 'F' grade. As a matter of fact, 2 out of the 3 cities this blog covers actually did rather well. Proving that some cities do take some pride in making themselves both attractive and historically interesting. Here are the grades for these towns, in descending order.



The news on the two cities cited above came from overviews, which is what I have supplied to you here. However, with Arcadia there isn't very much good to talk about, so sadly there was no such overview provided. So what I am going to do here is go directly to the LA Conservancy report card. As you already know, it isn't what anyone would call pretty. 25 out of a possible 245 points never could be anything but bad.


It is sad to think that the one thing Arcadia did have going for it was the Denny's windmill. Unfortunately, the windmill itself fell off its spindle recently and crashed through the restaurant roof. Think of it as a new version of the Grand Slam breakfast.

Maybe our friend Nelson G should consider that a metaphor worth pondering.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Homeland Security Begins to Compile a Database of Journalists, Bloggers and Social Media Influencers

 Link
Mod: Back when anybody actually cared about what was being said there, the following remarks were left on the so-called Arcadia's Best website by some humorless little knob who uses the anonymous handle "Edmund L." At the time I thought it was just about the funniest thing I had ever read there.

"As an Arcadian resident I’m curious and puzzled by how some of our residents will take so seriously what the infamous Sierra Madre Tattler writes about what’s going on in our town and in the Arcadia election. First of all, we seriously question the legitimacy of this blog. We never see any authorship to any of those articles. All the comments following the articles are anonymous as well. Can people believe in those articles and comments? Yet, some campaign helpers of this election are using these articles to send to different communities and even posted those on the Nextdoor application, only to be taken down as illegal posting by Next Door administration ... He always calls us Arcadians Peacockians and calls Arcadia Peacocktown with a rather disrespectful tone. His articles are even more out of touch of reality, they are full of misleading information, personal attacks, and sometime pure lies ... I would like to urge our own city news paper to be very cautious and prudent when they decided to publish articles with that seemingly illegal blog. This will ruin Arcadia Weekly’s reputation and credibility, soon to lose subscriptions and commercials when they found out the connections."

I'm not sure how many subscriptions a free distribution newspaper can lose, but you do understand that some people will say anything to make a point. And trust me, I've been kicked off of far better websites than Next Door. Obviously City Council meeting gadfly Edmund L. did not make his points that well since his candidate, Aloha Bob Harbicht, just lost his second City Council race in two years. But where I might have underestimated Edmund L. is with his comment that The Tattler could be an "illegal blog." You know, like many blogs are in China, or in any other similar third world dictatorship. According to the Huffington Post he may have been on to something.

Link
Homeland Security To Compile A Database Of Journalists, Bloggers And Influencers (Huffington Post link): The Department of Homeland Security sparked concerns among media circles after news spread that the agency was creating an online database to monitor journalists, bloggers, social media influencers and others. Word got out after Bloomberg Government surfaced a job posting from DHS seeking a contractor for a “media monitoring services” project. The job entails creating a searchable database that has the ability to track about 290,000 news sources, both foreign and domestic, according to the DHS’s statement of work.

The contractor will help DHS monitor “traditional news sources as well as social media, identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event,” the job description reads.

“Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers.”

The online platform should also be able to instantly translate media from 100 languages, including Chinese and Russian, into English. It should also be able to analyze the coverage’s “sentiment” and “momentum.”

With President Donald Trump’s aggressive rhetoric against the mainstream news ― he once labeled journalists as the “enemy of the people” ― many in the media industry saw the database as yet another attack on the free press.

Department Of Homeland Security Compiling Database Of Journalists And 'Media Influencers' (Forbes link): In today’s installment of "I’m Not Terrified, You Are," Bloomberg Government reports on a FedBizOpps.gov posting by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the relatively benign-sounding subject “Media Monitoring Services.”

The details of the attached Statement of Work, however, outline a plan to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers and are enough to cause nightmares of constitutional proportions, particularly as the freedom of the press is under attack worldwide. And "attack" is not hyperbolic.

Every day, journalists face serious consequences including physical violence, imprisonment and death. A few days ago, the Committee to Protect Journalists launched its annual Free The Press campaign to raise awareness about imprisoned journalists throughout the world.

Link
On May 3, UNESCO will once again mark World Press Freedom Day "to inform citizens of violations of press freedom — a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered." Meanwhile, the United States government, traditionally one of the bastions of press freedom, is about to compile a list of professional journalists and "top media influencers," which would seem to include bloggers and podcasters, and monitor what they're putting out to the public.

What could possibly go wrong? A lot.

Mod: So who knows, maybe Edmund L's desires could come true. No more pestiferous blogger to disrupt the campaign message of whatever development industry funded meat puppet he will be genuflecting to during the next election. America could soon become more like the country Edmund left behind than he ever dreamed possible.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Is Public Education Going Out Of Business In Pasadena?

Mod: Scott Phelps, who is just about the only Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education member who dares discuss real issues in public, published the following unpleasantly stark appraisal of what is going on at the local public school system recently in the Pasadena Weekly. This isn't a pretty picture, and obviously not very many people care all that much about what is going on there. Practically the only elected official discussing this in such realistic terms is Scott. The PUSD has become a poor peoples option, with most having the wherewithal to do so having bailed out on it long ago. Pasadena, a city that prefers to be viewed as quite an enlightened place has, judging by the way it does public education at least, become something of an apartheid society. 

PUSD is far from out of the woods when it comes to fiscal stability (Pasadena Weekly link): To address its budget crisis, the Pasadena Unified School District submitted a mandatory Fiscal Stabilization Plan to the County of Los Angeles in February, and then took a major step in implementing that plan by issuing over 100 preliminary teacher and administrator layoff notices for the 2018-19 year by the legally required March 15 deadline.

This plan reduced expenditures for the current 2017-18 year by about $4 million, and by over $12 million for the 2018-19 year. The board then adopted its second interim budget on March 15, per county requirements.

To try and reverse as many of the preliminary teacher layoffs as possible, the PUSD has offered a retirement incentive to its senior teachers. This would minimize the number of layoffs of more junior teachers and also the disruptive effect of teacher turnover to school sites, some of which had over 10 teachers receive layoff notices.

The United Teachers of Pasadena’s (UTP) bargaining position (despite not surveying — until just this past week, results not shared yet — the many teachers who would like this retirement incentive to be enacted) has been that they won’t agree to this retirement incentive unless we agree to use the savings from it to provide raises for teachers in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Despite the PUSD’s obvious budget challenges described above, UTP has insisted on raises, even when our county-appointed fiscal adviser met with them to explain the situation.

Throughout the crisis, they have been steadfast in their request for a 3 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2017, and another 3 percent increase on July 1, which reminds one of the 6 percent raise they complain was so hard to get in 2015-16.

In addition, during a month of trying to get the UTP to agree to accept the retirement incentive, the district increased its retirement incentive offer and extended the timeline for it, but UTP has not budged in its insistence on tying the offer to raises. They have claimed that the retirement incentive would generate millions in “surplus money.”


The second interim budget approved by the board on March 15 shows that over $8 million in reductions will be needed for the 2019-20 school year in order to maintain the state-required 3 percent reserve. That means that during the 2018-19 school year, for which over $12 million in reductions have already been made and which is not very far away, we will be trying to find $8 million in further reductions or more revenue so that we don’t have to lay off more staff.

We will have to submit a new Fiscal Stabilization Plan with the first interim budget in December. So describing any savings as “surplus money” is fallacious. That money simply doesn’t exist when you are already making reductions and faced with declining enrollment, corresponding flat revenue, and the annual significant mandatory cost increases described in detail above.

This is magical thinking, and it is why no one can find any record of any district ever agreeing to any such use of any savings from retirement incentives, which are notoriously difficult to calculate given the many variables affecting rehiring.

Yes, the 6 percent raise agreed to in the settlement in the spring of 2016 was difficult. The other two PUSD bargaining units had agreed to much smaller raises much earlier in the 2015-16 school year.

But that same 6 percent raise is now a documented part of our budget challenges, as is the large increases in costs that are invisible to employees like mandatory pension increases, health care cost increases, workman’s compensation costs, etc.

So pushing hard for that raise has contributed to our current challenges. Pushing hard now for raises just prevents the district from reducing the number of layoffs.

The board and many fellow parents and teachers earnestly hope that the UTP leadership will help us retain as many of their colleagues as possible, and agree to the retirement incentive without further delay and without insistence on raises that the county wouldn’t allow anyway.

We also encourage all of the concerned parents and teachers to lobby the leadership to survey their membership so that all members can weigh in on this important issue.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com