Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Pasadena's Race Problems Make World Headlines Again

The Westin Pasadena is proud of its pool and view
First I would like to congratulate Pasadena Mayor Terry "One Term" Tornek for maintaining his usual respectful silence throughout this incident. It is this kind of leadership that has helped bring needed publicity to a town that sees itself as occupying a very special place in this world.

As usual One Term Terry has been nowhere to be found on this kind of an issue, and I am sure that a man with as busy a schedule as his spent talking to McCondo developers, real estate professionals, corporate executives looking for tax breaks and Rose Parade passes, along with other concerned stakeholders, finds this approach to be both comfortable and convenient.

However, around the world today Pasadena is once again a topic of heated discussion for being a city having some rather unfortunate problems with race. The Pasadena Star News has an article all about that today called "Activists protest outside Westin Pasadena after video of allegedly racist encounter goes viral." I am not certain what is alleged about it, though. Link to the Star News here.

The part about the travails of the Westin Pasadena's hotel manager, a guy with the unfortunate name of Carl Sprayberry, is particularly enlightening. Talk about your corporate personality type having a really bad day at work. Well deserved, I might add.

But since there are so many articles out there to choose from, I've decided to cite Isle of Wight Radio's reporting today. It is a little more visceral and down to earth, plus it gives you an idea of just how badly the Rotten Rose is once again being perceived by those from beyond the smoggy confines of the San Gabriel Valley.

Racism row after black family asked by white man if they showered before swim (Isle of Wight Radio link): Carle Wheeler said she and her five-year-old daughter were accosted by the man as they swam at the Pasadena Westin Hotel in California, while several white people nearby were left alone.

She alleged that he warned them that people carry diseases into the pool before approaching the pair a second time, claiming to work for the health department.

After hotel staff arrived at the scene, Ms Wheeler said she confronted the man on what appeared to be blatant racism. A video of the row that was posted on Facebook has been viewed more than 3.5 million times.

Ms Wheeler said: It’s sad that I had to explain to my beautiful little five-year-old brown-skinned girl why in 2018 a white man would think it’s OK to ask a little girl and her mom if we showered our presumably dirty black skin before entering a swimming pool.

She added that the man continued to taunt my little girl as she was being escorted away from the mayhem.

Ms Wheeler claimed the group of white people at the pool corroborated her claims, but the hotel manager allowed the man to walk away.

She said: It’s just sad that in 2018 we are still dealing with these issues and still having to teach our children things that people had to teach their children in the 50s and 60s. Nothing has changed. It’s one thing when it happens and you see it on the news, you see it happen to somebody else. When it knocks at your door, it’s a hurtful thing.

Ms Wheeler describes herself as divorced single mother who works as a software developer. I am not trash, she said. I am not dirty. I’m black, educated and proud.

In a statement to the Pasadena Star News, the hotel said: The Westin Pasadena strives to provide a welcoming environment to all individuals. Harassment on any basis is not tolerated. We are continuing to investigate this serious matter and deeply regret that one of our guests experienced this type of behaviour.

The man, who has not been named, has not commented publicly on the incident.

Here is some of the video footage mentioned in Isle if Wight Radio's reporting.

Video Link Here

If anybody knows this pathetic dude, let me know who he is, would you? So far he remains unidentified, and I would love to be the newser to drop the dime on him.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Surprise: San Marino McMansion Developers with Arcadia Connections Also Play the Race Card

A San Marino McManny still in its wrapper (link)
Mod: Here is an interesting article from the San Marino Tribune that should sound familiar to anyone who has been following recent events in Arcadia. Apparently the same race based slander assault on Arcadia's city councilmembers favoring historic preservation over mansionization is now being employed in San Marino, with the result being yet another city is now being torn in half just so some of the usual dirtbags can make themselves a quick buck.

Special City Council Meeting Erupts with Verbal Fireworks - Appeal to Planning Commission’s Approval of Project at 1400 Circle Drive Raises Emotions (San Marino Tribune link): A special meeting Monday night of the San Marino City Council that otherwise is usually a benign exercise in the bureaucratic process erupted into a momentary outburst from the audience, prompting a call for police to maintain order.

The City Council was meeting to consider the appeal by a neighbor to the approved project at 1400 Circle Drive. The project has been winding through the approval process for 18 months and has gone through modifications before it was finally approved by the Planning Commission earlier this year. Council chambers were filled with more than fifty residents who came to show their support for the project, many of whom wore similar white shirts.

The project calls for the demolition of the existing home and a new two-story residence with six bedrooms, a four-car garage, and basement be constructed in its place.

The article goes on to detail the debate over the historic significance of this particular home, and whether replacing it with a vanity castle is really the way San Marino should be going these days. Then an individual named Cole Harris popped up to inject a bit of venom into the process.

“They both are inept,” Harris said in a statement to The Tribune. “The city attorney had to walk them through everything. Our Mayor and Vice Mayor simply do not have the ability and decision-making aptitude to run our city. When it came to making the exact statement on the matter, Mayor Talt’s exact words were ‘it’s a troubling decision for me. However, I’m going to have to go to my base and my base is to protect homes like this.’ That said, his entire contemplation of this decision was not based on facts presented by experts or his own city staff recommendations for approval of the project, but his decision-making process was ‘base to protect homes like this.’ What a disgrace and a smack in the face to his own city staff and to individual freedoms and to the American Dream.

And then this all too familiar and unfortunate charge.

Harris, who said he is a friend of Wu Xiubo, the owner of 1400 Circle Drive, also claimed that he heard Talt say “there are a lot of Asians here” when Talt entered council chambers for Monday’s meeting. Talt denied making the statement.

Mr. Harris is entitled to his opinion about my job performance, as wrong as he is; however, to label me a racist is beyond disgusting,” Talt said on Wednesday. “I did not say what Mr. Harris claims was said. I understand that he is upset at me for voting against allowing who he described to me as his partner to tear down a historical structure and build a new one, but to make such a vicious and untrue attack on me is very sad and unwarranted. I will let my record and relationships in this town speak for themselves on the issue.”

Yes, the politics of mansionization are getting ugly just about everywhere these days. Money really does make people say the darnedest things, and you do have to wonder about the source. Well, OK, maybe not really.

So who is this charmer, Cole Harris? His connections are surprising. He ran for the Republican nomination for California Lt. Governor in the recent state primaries, and so disgusted one of his GOP opponents, David Fennell, that he made the following explosive campaign video attacking the spiky haired, ketchup stain gavone shirted dude.

link here

Nice gang sign, G. Or is it Cole Doggy Dogg? Are real estate investors really going that gangsta on us? Both Harris and Fennell went on to lose their races as Republicans so often do in California (link), but an interesting expose' on this character none the less.

On Ballotpedia the now failed political candidate Cole Harris made this all too familiar sounding pitch on the need to use state muscle and money to force LULU development on cities that don't want it (link).

Jobs and the Economy: The current regulatory environment creates too much red tape and stifles greater prosperity and economic opportunity for Californians. I also believe it is important for the California's government to work with the private sector to develop well paying and sustainable jobs. Housing: Lack of quality and affordable housing is a huge issue in California, and nobody in Sacramento is taking steps to credibly solve the problem, and local governments are not stepping up to do their part. I want to promote the creation of incentives for local governments and accelerate the land use approval process to boost construction productivity and job creation.

Job development. Of course. And nothing says affordable housing for hard working residentially challenged Californians quite like a four garage six bedroom McMansion in San Marino. Hopefully with a circular driveway and a water fountain nymph.

The charges on a deliciously inflammatory political website also called "Who is Cole Harris" (link) are not especially attractive, either. Who knew a Republican Lt. Governor primary race could get this exciting? One where no GOP Lt. Governor candidate even made this November's ballot? Here is a large and spectacular sampling of the blunt charges that have been leveled against the Colester.

Is Cole Harris a self made business genius or did he marry Mainland Chinese money? Are illegal funds from Mainland China being used to influence the California Lieutenant Governor election? Why does Cole Harris only do interviews with Foreign Asian based media but refuses to meet reporters from AmericanDoes he get California government taxpayer contracts for overseas investors?  

Cole Harris said he could put $10 Million more into the Lt. Gov race. Who is following the money? None of what California Lieutenant Governor candidate Cole Harris states on his website seem to be true. 

He describes himself as a "self-made businessman and entrepreneur" but none of the finances that he filed with the California Secretary of State or on his website seem believable. 

The campaign for David Fennell for California Lieutenant Governor reviewed his government campaign filings and with seasoned business leaders it became obvious that none of what these seasoned business leaders saw in Cole Harris's finances or business story looked credible. Our video producer put our "Who is Cole Harris?" video on the website early while we were still gathering facts. We were quickly contacted by multiple unsolicited sources who grew up with Cole Harris and indicated he was a financial fraud. 

California residents who grew up with Harris reported to us that Cole Harris was an uneducated petty thug known for his sexual abuse of women which lead to his multiple arrests. He struggled in high school, did not go to college, left the area after the rape charges and later ended up in China

These sources indicated that Cole then married the daughter of a billionaire in mainland China. His marriage allowed some mainland China family members to get visas to the USA. One source said that the father-in-law made his money in Chinese noodles. Since Cole Harris refuses to do a debate or take interviews from the media, no one can be sure what is true and what is rumor.



Normally candidates try to take as many interviews as possible to get as much attention to their campaign as they can. Cole Harris, however, has refused to debate his opponent David Fennell, participate in any candidate forums, or take interviews from American journalists. This is not normal behavior for a candidate who is not hiding something.

The information we have indicated that Cole Harris has received the majority of his original financing from Mainland Chinese sources but seems to now be getting California government contracts on behalf of foreign investors. While it is fine to have foreign investors if these investors are benefiting from government contracts and influencing a political campaign, those sources and deals need to be open for the public to review. 

Damn, son. How crazy is that wack? This is not Ronald Reagan's GOP. You know, the one where Republicans never say bad things about Republicans? Even if they are alleged sexual molesters?

There is the local stuff as well, of course. Cole Harris is a Foundation Board Member of Arcadia Methodist Hospital and an active Board Member of the International Leadership Foundation, which helps high school and college students with internships and government positions nationwide.

Apparently Cole Harris is also a board member of the Arcadia Methodist Foundation (link), which is also connected to Richard Sun, Eugene Sun, Kin Hui (Singpoli), the ubiquitous Richard McDonald, annoying water weeny Tom Love, plus Christine and Mike Antonovich. Mike being the recently termed out Los Angeles Board of Supervisors mooch that named so many parks and horse trails after himself.

The only name missing here is Bob "The PegasusHuff.

It seems that the Arcadia Methodist Foundation is a "must belong" organization for local mansionization advocates having some of that special sauce. If you know what I mean. Remind me not to go there should I somehow fall ill, or have an accident.

We'll have more on this unfortunate and disconcerting tale of extreme bizarreness soon.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Apparently Police Brutality Is No Big Thing In Pasadena

Above is the notice for an interesting presentation taking place this coming Tuesday evening over in the governmentally challenged City of Pasadena. Something I plan on checking out if I can escape the salt mines early enough. Here is a statement that went along with all of the above. And yes, the guy's name really is spelled "Lerry."

“I was beaten that day as if I was a runaway slave." On Nov 9, 2017, Christopher Ballew was accosted by police for having allegedly tinted windows. Officers Lerry Esparza and Zachary Lujan brutally assaulted him, and then filed deceptive police reports on the incident which accused Ballew of various offenses, which their own dash & body cameras conclusively prove he is innocent of having committed. All charges against Ballew have been dropped, but the officers still have not been disciplined. In this video, we put the available footage under a microscope in order to determine EXACTLY what happened that night.

Below is some of the video footage you will see if you attend Tuesday evening's talk.

Video here.

Not a very good look for the deeply troubled City of Roses. This should be quite an event.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Trump tells Fox News he wants Americans to obey him like North Koreans obey Kim Jong-un

Mod: I'm not sure that the President of the United States is really all that comfortable with this whole American democracy thing. Which might explain why he is a big fan of Kim Jong-un.

Trump tells Fox News he wants Americans to obey him like North Koreans obey Kim Jong-un (Raw Story link): President Donald Trump on Friday told Fox News that he wants American citizens to show him the same reverence that North Koreans show leader Kim Jong-un. During a surprise interview with “Fox & Friends” on Friday, Trump said he was impressed by the respect that Kim commanded from his people.

“He’s the head of the country — and he’s the strong head, don’t let anyone think anything different,” Trump said during the interview. “He speaks and his people sit up in attention. I want my people to do the same.”

Kim Jong-un runs a totalitarian dictatorship in which people face imprisonment or execution if they criticize him. According to human rights watchdog Amnesty International, North Korea has imprisoned an estimated 120,000 people based on political grounds across four separate camps dedicated to imprisoning political dissidents.

The organization further says that people living in these camps are “subjected to forced labor as well as torture and other ill-treatment.”

Despite this, the president has praised Kim for being a “very tough” leader who “loves” the people of his country.

Mod: Now that Paul Manafort is safely locked away in the big house, his old pal Donald Trump doesn't seem to remember too much about him. Including the fact that it was Manafort that convinced him to make Mike Pence the Vice President of the United States. Here is an excerpt from the current issue of The Nation.

Paul Manafort put the Trump-Pence ticket together and maintained ties to the veep even after leaving the campaign (The Nation link): The truth is that Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign was not “limited.” It was definitional. When Manafort was in charge of making sure that the Republican platform-writing process and convention went smoothly, the party suddenly became dramatically friendlier to Russia—to such an extent that the headline on an analysis piece published in The Washington Post just before the convention read: “Trump campaign guts GOP’s anti-Russia stance on Ukraine.”

There will be many attempts to deny and dissemble. But one thing is certain: Manafort definitely put one man in the West Wing of the White House (and the adjoining Eisenhower Executive Office Building): Mike Pence.

It was Manafort who brought Pence, the scandal-plagued and politically vulnerable governor of Indiana, who had backed Texas Senator Ted Cruz in that state’s Republican primary, into consideration as a vice-presidential prospect for Trump. Referring to Trump, Manafort explained last summer that “I brought him in to meet Pence.” That manipulation, said Manafort, fostered the notion that Pence “had value to Trump as a potential VP nominee.”

But the Manafort-Pence connection was about more than just introducing Trump to a Republican stalwart the fixer had known for many years. Veteran Republican strategist John Weaver says, “Remember, Manafort selected the VP and was therefore the most important person on the campaign team.”

The best description I've heard for the Trump Presidency so far (Daily Kos link): On one of the early afternoon shows yesterday on MSNBC, the host had two lawyers on, discussing the Trump Foundation civil charges. One of them was a long time New York attorney, and in just eight words, he described the Trump Presidency absolutely perfectly. He said, "The Trump Presidency is a bust out joint." Being born in, and living most of my life in Chicago, I understood him perfectly. For those of you unfamiliar with mob terminology, I'll briefly explain, and you'll see what I mean.

A bust out joint is a legitimate business. One way or another, usually through either extortion, or unpaid loan shark money, the mob moves in and takes over operation of the business. Let's just say it's a bar. They go on a spending spree, using the bar's lines of credit. They buy as much booze as the liquor distributor will give them on credit. They buy glasses, new cash registers, bar stools, anything they can buy on credit, until the place is maxed out. And when the bills come due, they empty the register, back up a truck, load everything into it and disappear. They sell everything as pure profit, and the bar goes belly up.

The Trump Presidency truly is a classic bust out operation. Since day one, Trump has leveraged the Presidency for everything he can lay his hands on. Pimping his schlock condos, spending weekends and holding summits at Mar-A-Lago or Trump National, and billing the government for his secret service protection rooms and food.

Violating the emoluments clause of the constitution, taking payments from foreign dignitaries and businessmen staying at The Trump DC hotel. Jacking up membership fees at Trump golf resorts. And don't forget about Ivanka getting Chinese patents up the wazoo.


Friday, June 15, 2018

If All Three Sierra Madre Housing Projects Were Built, How Much Money Would The City Get?

McMansion Hell - link
Mod: I assumed that the folks down at City Hall would have a pretty good idea by now of the complete dollar value to them of all the undeveloped properties in town. We're talking fees, rates, taxes and whatever else can be applied to a new home project. Here were my questions to Gabe Engeland.

Gabe - Quite a few people were stunned by the outcome of the One Carter portion of last Tuesday night's City Council meeting. The notion that the city has become vulnerable to predatory mansionization due to its money problems is not a pretty one. I imagine the barbarians must be rushing the gates as we type.

Also the thought that the city is no longer willing to pay for attorneys to hold off developers like CETT, or cannot pay for them, is troubling.

But I've digressed. Here is the request for information. I am assuming that it must exist because who wouldn't want to know? It involves future financial planning, and what else does Sierra Madre have that is potentially worth as much as unbuilt property?

- All of the revenue the city would receive should all of the available properties at the Passionist Monastery be developed. From fees to water hookups to permits to taxes, plus anything else.

- All of the revenue the city would receive should all of the available properties at Stonegate (AKA One Carter) be developed. Same categories and any that I may have forgotten to mention.

- Same deal with Stonehouse. All that cash.

Thanks for this. I think it is information people would like to know.


Mod: Gabe, however, was having none of it. Rather than coughing up any large and interesting numbers, he states here that City Hall has done no such math. 

Hi John - The City is not a partner or party to any development taking place or any proposed developments. The type of information you are seeking is typically created by a developer or owner of a property to show economic benefits to the community. The City has not engaged in any type of financial development scenarios for the properties you have listed.

The Monastery property is zoned institutional. The types of development allowed, either by right or with conditions, in this zone vary greatly, but could range from a hospital to an assisted living facility.

The City currently has a water tap moratorium in place, and because no water taps existed on the property when the moratorium was adopted, no development can take place. The Stonehouse properties have no water taps available and the property cannot be developed. However, Stonehouse is zoned residential, and a residential subdivision development could take place if the water moratorium is ended.

Because we have not seen any submissions for properties this year for the One Carter development we have not calculated the cost of the building or permit fees. We charge for service (plan check, permit, inspection) etc., based on plan submission, but the charges for service equal the cost of the service provided and should not create revenue to the city which is not offset by the expense of the service.

Similarly, because no homes have been constructed, we have not calculated the potential property taxes based on assessed value or any potential impact fees. The City collects property taxes at a rate of 0.0021% of taxable value. A home valued at $1,000,000 will pay $2,100 in property taxes to the City.

Thanks, Gabe

Mod - I have no reason to believe that Gabe is not being on the level here, but you know what? If I was running the show downtown I would have known.

Marguerite Shuster's Tuesday City Council Talk

Mod: Marguerite spoke before the City Council Tuesday evening. She tried to get four of them to see beyond the narrow legal restraints of Madame City Attorney and block CETT's designs on the One Carter hillside. It was probably one of the finest speeches ever delivered in Council Chambers, but unfortunately fell upon some very cold and unsympathetic ears.

Madame Mayor and members of the city council, you will not be surprised to hear that I earnestly hope you will reject this proposed house. Quite simply, it fails the eyeball test, as the City Council rightly determined in its previous ruling. That this eyeball test is legitimate is presupposed even by this proposal, which strictly limits the paint color for the house.

The Hillside Ordinance in its relevant drawings implicitly uses it, and not just bare objective numbers, to demonstrate required conformity of proposed dwellings to the contour of the environment. That the previous owners used an unwise grading plan making such conformity more difficult, at least for houses of the desired size, really is not our fault and shouldn’t figure in the decision.

I would suggest that this is not a decision for one house alone in the larger scheme of things. I believe that it is delusional to suppose that this decision will not set a binding precedent for all future construction in this development. And if you want to see what this location will look like 15 years from now, I refer you to the La Vina development in Altadena: sterile, unimaginative, depressing, fully unfitted to its setting. Its earth tone paint doesn’t fix it.

I’m glad for your noticing how the proposed house and landscaping encroaches on one of the very few fine old oaks remaining on the property, but that you needed to note that a new tree can’t quite be planted right under the current one, is all the evidence one could want that no attention has been paid whatsoever to the environment, doing which is required by the Hillside Ordinance.

Furthermore, mitigation hardly suffices when its fruition could not, at best, be enjoyed by anyone now living on the planet. We mutilate the old and the priceless for what we count immediate gain and salve our consciences with mitigation.

Perhaps you’ve heard the fable of the hungry crow He was tempted with a good meal in exchange for a single feather. He hesitated, being rather attached to his feathers, and initially refused, even as you did with respect to this plan. But he got hungrier, and when the tempter came back, he agreed, and felt much relieved after the fact to discover that he could still fly just fine. You know how it went; he got hungry again, and again, and it was easier and easier to give up feathers. One day, not so very far off, he could no longer fly at all, no longer be what a crow is supposed to be.

Yes there are genuine risks and uncertainties in resisting, but the losses produced by not resisting are clear and certain. There has been something unique about Sierra Madre that we have loved and have wanted to protect, but anyone who has been paying attention knows that that uniqueness is under relentless pressure and is visibly fading away, green fence by green fence.

Please vote no on this one.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Paul Krugman: A "...de facto foreign agent sits in the Oval Office."

Mod: It is my belief that the photo-op staged in Singapore earlier this week was arranged by the same overseas individuals who put Trump into the White House, and designed to make their premier American asset look like he can actually do something. I guess we'll find out if anyone was fooled.

Paul Krugman: A Quisling and His Enablers (New York Times link): Congress is controlled by Republicans. And their response to a president whose actions are manifestly not just un-American but anti-American has been … a few sad tweets from a handful of senators who are unhappy about Trump’s behavior but not willing to do anything real. Most Republicans haven’t even gone that far: They’re just silent.

Why are Republican politicians unwilling to discharge their constitutional responsibilities? Relatively few of them, one suspects, actually want a trade war, let alone a breakup of the Western alliance. And many of them, one also suspects, are well aware that a de facto foreign agent sits in the Oval Office. But they are immobilized by a combination of venality and cowardice.

On one side, tax cuts for the rich have become the overriding priority for the modern G.O.P., and Trump is giving them that, so they’re willing to let everything else slide.

On the other side, the party’s base really does love Trump, not for his policies, but for the performative cruelty he exhibits toward racial minorities and the way he sticks his thumb in the eyes of “elites.” So any Republican politician who takes a stand on behalf of what we used to think were fundamental American values is at high risk of losing his or her next primary. And as far as we can tell, there is not a single elected Republican willing to take that risk, no matter what Trump does.

Trump Dismisses Kim Jong Un’s Atrocities: ‘He’s a Tough Guy’ (Daily Beast link): In an interview with Fox News immediately after his summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, President Donald Trump appeared to dismiss North Korea’s human rights violations and Kim’s atrocities against his own people.

“Hey, he’s a tough guy. When you take over a country—a tough country, tough people—and you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have. If you can do that at 27 years old, I mean, that’s one in 10,000 that could do that. So he’s a very smart guy. He’s a great negotiator,” Trump told Fox News’ Bret Baier.

When pressed further, Trump responded: “Yeah, but so have other people done some really bad things. I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.” Last year, the president made a similar argument when dismissing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s human rights violations. “What do you think, our country's so innocent?” he said at the time.

Reporters thought this video was North Korea propaganda. It came from the White House (Washington Post link): Reporters crowded into a Singapore auditorium Tuesday, expecting President Trump to walk out and announce the results of his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Suddenly, two huge screens on either side of the empty podium came to life. Soaring music boomed over the speakers, and the reporters were bombarded with a montage portraying North Korea as some sort of paradise.

Golden sunrises. Gleaming skylines and high-speed trains. Children skipping through Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang, North Korean flags waving between images of Egyptian pyramids, the Taj Mahal and the Lincoln Memorial. In a split-screen shot, Kim Jong Un waved to an adoring crowd while President Trump stood beside him with his thumb in the air. The pair appeared over and over again, like running mates in a campaign video.

The film went on like this for several minutes, with brief interludes of missiles, soldiers and warships interrupting the fanfare. Some journalists, unable to understand the Korean-language narration, assumed they were watching one of Pyongyang's infamous propaganda films. “What country are we in?” asked a reporter from the filing center.

But then the video looped, playing this time in English. And then Trump walked onto the stage and explained that the film was not North Korean propaganda. It had been made in America, by or on the orders of his White House, for the benefit of Kim. “I hope you liked it,” Trump told the reporters. “I thought it was good. I thought it was interesting enough to show. ... And I think he loved it.”

Kim Jong Un Offers to Host Peace Talks Between United States and Canada (The Borowitz Report link): One day before his summit with Donald J. Trump, the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, has offered to host peace talks between the United States and Canada.

Speaking to reporters at his hotel in Singapore, Kim said that the rising tensions between the North American neighbors were posing an “intolerable threat to world peace.”

In addition to offering to host U.S.-Canada talks in Pyongyang, Kim urged the immediate creation of a demilitarized zone along the border separating the two hostile nations.

“In exchange for Canadian Mounties agreeing to stand down on their side of the border, the United States, in turn, would dismantle its nuclear weapons,” Kim said.

Although stating that “North Korea stands ready and willing to be an honest broker” in peace talks between the two countries, he urged Trump to dial back the “inflammatory rhetoric” that he aimed at Canadians over the weekend.

“Violent language and threats have no place in international diplomacy,” Kim said.

Trump’s Singapore Summit Was a Bust—for the U.S. (The Daily Beast link): The only language on ‘denuclearization’ the two sides agreed on in their joint statement was complete pablum, and it puts the future relationship with South Korea in doubt.

The high-stakes diplomacy between the United States and North Korea has come to a wrap in Singapore. The summit—the first-ever between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader—stayed mostly on-script. But there’s little question that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un got the better end of the bargain out of the meeting; for Donald Trump, like previous U.S. presidents, the prospect of setting North Korea along the path to disarmament remains remote.

From the onset of the summit, which began with the much-anticipated first handshake between the two leaders at the Capella hotel in Singapore, it became clear that no matter what, North Korea would walk away with important propaganda coup.

EU Official Tweets Photo Of Trump And Merkel: ‘Tell Us What Vladimir Has On You’ (Talking Points Memo link): A European Union official tweeted a now-viral photo of a stare-down between President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, joking that Russian President Vladimir Putin has dirt on Trump.

“Just tell us what Vladimir has on you. Maybe we can help,” former prime minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstaft tweeted. The photo was originally posted to Merkel’s Instagram, where it was described as a “spontaneous meeting between two working sessions.”

Verhofstaft was likely referencing the U.S. special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and salacious allegations in the Christoper Steele dossier about Putin possessing incriminating information on Trump.

The quip follows an explosive weekend of meetings between Trump and the rest of the G-7 group in Canada, which ended with Trump agreeing to some language on trade but then pulling out of signing a joint agreement, leaving the summit early and tweeting an unhinged rant of attacks on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trump Insists Parents of Fallen Korean War Soldiers Begged Him to Bring Sons Home (Mediaite link): President Donald Trump made the rather ridiculous claim that parents of fallen Korean War soldiers came up to him on the campaign trail and begged for their sons’ remains to be brought home.

Yet, here is the thing. The math is not exactly in his favor. The Korean War ended in 1953. While at close to 100 years of age they technically could still be alive, it is unlikely that they are attending a campaign event calling for the return of their sons’ bodies. There is also the problem that according to Trump’s account, it is not just one very elderly parent of a Korean war veteran, but more than one, as evidenced by use of the word “we.”

“When you can, president, we’d love our son to be brought back home — you know, the remains,” he recalled them saying, despite the fact he just said he was on the campaign trail and not POTUS yet.

AP FACT CHECK: Trump falsely declares post-summit victory (MSN.com link): President Donald Trump falsely declared victory after his meeting with North Korea's leader and twisted history in celebrating Tuesday's summit with Kim Jong Un.

A look at some of Trump's statements and how they compare with the facts:

TRUMP'S TWEETS: "Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea ... Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea. President (Barack) Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer - sleep well tonight!"

THE FACTS: Trump is wrong to suggest North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat. The five-hour summit did give Trump and Kim a chance to express optimism and make of show of their new relationship. But the two countries didn't nail down how and when the North might denuclearize or shed light on the unspecified "protections" Trump pledged to Kim and his government.

Those details could prove major sticking points in the future while North Korea is believed to maintain a nuclear arsenal capable of threatening the U.S mainland. Independent experts say the North could have enough fissile material for anywhere between about a dozen and 60 nuclear bombs, and last year it tested long-range missiles that could reach the U.S.

Trump is also wrong to say there was an assumption before he took office that the United States would go to war. It wasn't until Trump's tenure that North Korea began testing an intercontinental ballistic missile and the bellicose rhetoric between the two leaders ramped up. Fears of conflict were particularly acute after Trump called Kim "Rocket Man" and Kim pledged to "tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire."

Trump-Kim Summit: Dennis Rodman-Backed Cryptocurrency Potcoin Soars After Meeting (Forbes link): Potcoin, a cryptocurrency geared towards the booming cannabis industry and its fast-growing community, is the first winner from today's historic deal between U.S. president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. The Trump-Kim summit comes after months of negotiations between the two countries, but it all might never have happened if not for retired U.S. basketball player-turned diplomat Dennis Rodman, who is on good terms with both Trump and Kim.

Rodman, while not formally invited to the Singapore summit this week, arrived in the city-state promising to "give what support is needed" to the two world leaders. Sporting a shirt blazoned with the potcoin logo, surrounded by the slogan “peace starts in Singapore,” Rodman pushed through crowds of reporters and gave a rambling, incoherent interview to CNN.

As a result of his appearance in Singapore the Potcoin price jumped by 20% last night, adding $4 million to its market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap data.

Trump calls media America's 'biggest enemy' in angry tweet about North Korea summit coverage (Aol News link): President Donald Trump is apparently not happy about the way his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is being depicted by the media and on Tuesday called "FAKE NEWS" America's "biggest enemy."

"So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. 500 days ago they would have 'begged' for this deal-looked like war would break out," Trump tweeted. "Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!"

His screed came after earlier tweets in which he made the dubious claim that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat.

Trump met with Kim on Tuesday in Singapore, where the two leaders signed a vaguely worded agreement that has been criticized by members of both political parties.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Is Mansionization Now Giving the Finger to Sierra Madre?

View the entire mess here.

It was obviously a throwback event at last night's City Council meeting. This most ancient of arguments re-emerged from a distant past, and was once again trotted out by a Michael Colantuono attorney. That being the city can't afford to pay them any more than it already has to defend the residents' interests in this case, and therefore surrender to a particularly aggressive McMansion developer was the only option left.

Meaning, I suppose, that the people of Sierra Madre got very little for the $200,000 in legal fees recently spent fighting mansionization at One Carter. And no, I don't think they'll be giving it back.

Is there anybody living who hasn't noticed that the Colantuono Law Firm has been with the city all throughout the One Carter disaster? All 14 years of it? And after all the city has gone through they've now declared that City Hall can no longer afford to pay them to help defend the interests of the community?

Perhaps a better solution might have been not to give in to CETT and sign off on a "process" that will now open the floodgates to mansionization throughout the last remaining undeveloped areas in Sierra Madre, but rather hire a better law firm. One that is both more effective and won't cost the taxpayers so much money, or declare that defending the city's interests is not affordable.

But that wasn't done of course, and now the word is out. Sierra Madre can be beaten. They will only fight up to a point. Wait them out, sue often, and in time this city's government will fold. It's a town on a fixed income, and once they've hit their budget limit you can get whatever you like.

Somewhere Andy Bencosme must be laughing.

So why can't the City of Sierra Madre, as represented by its governmental agency, afford to defend the interests of residents who pay some of the highest taxes in California? Because the money is spent mostly on the salary, benefits and pension costs of city employees.


Ironically, the expense of paying for the needs of employees whose job it is to protect the interests of the residents is now so great that defending the place from things like predatory developers is no longer financially feasible. Why? Because most of the money has gone to the employees. Folks who then do not have the budget to act on anything like this effectively because it has now become too expensive to do so.

Which I suppose makes this a government in appearance only.

Someone remarked last night that the City Council of 2018 has now finished what the Council of 2004 started. That is quite a lot to think about.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Preserve Sierra Madre on One Carter and Tonight's City Council Meeting

From "The Living New Deal" - link
Mod: This one originally went out to Preserve Sierra Madre's email list late last week. I'm reposting it here today because this is the best possible day to do so. Or at least that is my hope.

Dear Supporters: During the recent election, Preserve Sierra Madre volunteers walked the streets in support of the three incumbent candidates for re-election. Many of us could not help noticing an unusual number of green fences around various properties throughout the town. Preserve Sierra Madre has also received an increased number of emails expressing concern about demolitions and other building activity around town.

Most recently, 126 E. Grandview, a 1916 home whose prior occupant was Lew Watanabe, has been demolished. There are concerns about several properties at or near 127 E. Highland that will likely be demolished. The owners of 193 Oak Meadow and 325 W. Grandview are proposing to demolish those houses as well.    

A proposed development at the Monastery does not seem to be going away as that owner has met with city officials about their proposal which would be one of the largest housing projects Sierra Madre has seen in decades. Once the water meter moratorium is lifted you can bet that fight will once again rear its ugly head.

Now One Carter/Stonegate is coming back on the City Council's agenda for Tuesday, June 12th at 6:30 pm. The City Council is going to consider whether to rubber-stamp the Planning Commission's approval of a project which could then set a precedent for more incompatible homes in that area. If you recall, the first house proposed by that developer was approved by the Planning Commission, but rejected by the City Council as not being a good fit for that sensitive area - too big a house shoe-horned onto a smaller lot.

Preserve Sierra Madre is very concerned as pressure builds from developers trying to maximize their profits at the expense of the community. Developers have a lot of money and motivation.  Preserve Sierra Madre has no money and no headquarters. We exist only because of all of you who are receiving this information.    

We also recognize that despite our accomplishments over the last few years, Sierra Madre has very weak protections to withstand this onslaught. Our Cultural Heritage Commission was disbanded years ago. Sierra Madre also does not have an Historic Inventory List like other cities, including South Pasadena which takes historic preservation very seriously.

Our Demolition Ordinance is also very weak. For example, the City of South Pasadena also requires a historical assessment of any property before it can be demolished, but unlike Sierra Madre, the city chooses the historical architect who will write the report. When we called the City of South Pasadena to inquire about their requirements they literally laughed out loud when they heard that in Sierra Madre it is the developer that wants to demolish a property who gets to choose the historic architect who will be writing the report. That is what establishes whether or not a house can be demolished.

There could not be a better example of the fox guarding the hen house. If you remember, multiple owners of 126 E. Mira Monte were able to exploit that method of doing things and we all know how that ended up - The 1926 Henry A. Darling House no longer exists.

So there you have it. We are sorry to report that with the existing rules in place, we have resigned ourselves to the fact that while we may have slowed down "progress," the transformation of Sierra Madre is inevitable.

All is not lost, but Preserve Sierra Madre needs help. We need volunteers who can re-energize our coalition, expand it and re-structure it to better confront the challenges ahead. If you are interested in helping and making a difference, let us know.


Monday, June 11, 2018

This Video Got The Tattler Kicked Off Voice Of Arcadia

"Sho Tay Expresses Regret and Apologizes" - Watch the video here.

Now I'm not going to complain too much about this. After all I have been kicked off far better web pages than "Voice of Arcadia." It attracts only a small readership and just a limited amount of commenters. This is also a site that I have found to be ceaselessly dishonest, at times laughable, and obsessed with conspiracy fantasies that most well adjusted people find difficult to take seriously.

But here is a problem I do have. I have made comments on VOA, some rather pointed, and asked a number of questions there as well. I did receive replies, mostly odd, and for a while everything I left there remained peacefully in place. However, when I posted the above video on that site, everything I had submitted was immediately pulled down. Along with the video.

Plus I am now blocked from commenting on there, so I have not been able to ask why this happened. Though I am pretty sure I know the answer.

The reason I posted the "Sho Tay Expresses Regret and Apologizes" video on the Voice of Arcadia site was to counter what I believed was an untrue statement. That being Sho Tay did not apologize at the June 5th City Council meeting.

Here is how VOA put it:

I am not certain how someone "expressing regret" over sending out an illegal and baldly dishonest political postcard during a highly contentious election is somehow going to "restore peace" to Arcadia. The financing of this hit piece mailing is, not coincidentally, being investigated by the FPPC. None of this seems like the kind of thing people would line up behind with much unifying enthusiasm.

So as a reply I posted that video on the Voice of Arcadia site, and it was immediately pulled down.

Obviously somebody there couldn't handle quite that much truth.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

60% of Pasadena Voting Residents Said Yes to Cannabis Dispensaries - Would Voters in Sierra Madre do that?

Ready to take your order?
The City Council in Sierra Madre is on record as being highly opposed to opening any pot dispensaries anywhere within the 3 square miles of the Foothill Village. They just ain't into it, and each of them has clearly said so. Adamantly and in no uncertain terms.

However, the Pasadena City Council also wasn't digging on the pot shop idea, despite statewide voter approval for such places, and pretty much shut down any attempts to open legal dispensaries in their significantly larger city. Like many elected officials they too didn't want to be perceived as being quite that groovy. Not that there was ever very much danger of that.

Which is when some adventurous Pasadena residents decided to take things into their own hands and put a measure on the ballot that, when approved by the voters, would electorally subvert the wishes of the Rotten Rose's legislative body.

There were a couple of devious machinations by Pasadena City Hall along the way, but when all was said and done the resulting Measure CC passed with just over 60% of the vote last week. Which to me was a surprisingly large number.

In an article called Pasadena voters approve marijuana dispensaries in city (link), here is how the Star News laid this story out.

So here his my question. What if a similarly inspired group of concerned voting residents in Sierra Madre decided that they would like to see a marijuana store or two downtown somewhere, and put a similar measure on the ballot? Certainly there would be numerous open locations in town to choose from.

This ballot initiative would not happen just because some people enjoy getting stoned, though there is that. But primarily because a lot more people in town than you are likely aware use marijuana for pain relief and other medicinal purposes. Even some of the folks residing inside that large hulking building across the street from City Hall.

In a Pasadena Star News article titled "Sierra Madre to ban marijuana sales and shops but may reconsider delivery" (link), resident John Lopez made his case for a cannabis dispensary in town.

A ballot initiative like that one in Pasadena could prove more popular here than many might first believe. I'd bet even the Chamber of Commerce would get into it once they get used to the concept. I am pretty certain most of them are familiar with both the product and its effects.

And who knows, perhaps over time they might even take credit for the idea. 


Saturday, June 9, 2018

One Carter: Get Ready For A Whole Lot Of Happy Talk

As you will see, that is if I write this correctly, whenever the One Carter debacle reemerges from an extended period of legal negotiation, much radiant joy emanates from City Hall.

The reason for all of the happy talk is they have a bridge to sell you. Or at least a new housing development, much of it Tuscan in design. Via Duarte. Or Irwindale. Or whatever San Gabriel Valley town the current bad architects might be hiding out. As they probably should.

The conversation we are being asked to have right about now has to do with the level of ecstatic peace you personally feel over the city having avoided an expensive lawsuit with some developer. As opposed to the equally expensive legal negotiations that just wrapped up somewhere. You know, in a place where you were definitely not wanted, or invited.

Add these two revelatory yet legally consequential events together and you're talking about some real money. Actually, they're both real money. Each by themselves.

Here are a couple of articles from the Pasadena Star News that probably should have been cheered down a little by the reporters who wrote them. But they didn't do that because their mission was to sell you something, which they were far too happy to do. This first shiny object comes to us from way back in 2009.

After years of legal battles, Sierra Madre reaching compromise on two large properties (Pasadena Star News link): Officials say they are reluctantly considering a proposal to allow development on two of the city’s last open spaces.

The proposal would end years of litigation surrounding a 103-acre property at 1935 Stonehouse Road and a 63-acre property at 1 Carter Avenue.

Their previous owner, real estate company Dorn Platz, wanted to develop 35 residential units at Stonehouse and 29 residential units at One Carter, but officials denied the Stonehouse application and placed restrictions on both projects.

The developer filed eight lawsuits against the city in response, but lost both properties earlier this year through foreclosure. The new owner, Capital Source, has signaled it is more open to settlement talks with the city.

Capital Source indicated it plans to sell off the lots individually once the litigation ends, officials said.

“These new owners have given us a lot of hope to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Councilman Joe Mosca said.

The proposal calls for compromises on both sides as to how many residential units will be allowed and what zoning restrictions the individual lots would fall under.

It was peace in our times. Nobody could ever lay it on thick quite like Joe Mosca. Of course, nothing was really settled. Except all those legal bills, of course. Today Joe is working the folks down in Encinitas, and you know what? The big topic there is new housing development (link).

This next Star Newser emerged on the remains of recently hewn trees in 2015. It too has a cautiously frothy tone, so you just might want to sing along.

Sierra Madre to make final decision on controversial Hillside development (Pasadena Star News link): The Sierra Madre City Council will make a final decision today about a key Hillside residential development project, putting an end to the years-long issue.

At the meeting, council members will decide whether to approve or deny a Hillside Development Permit and Conditional Use Permit for the property located at 610 Baldwin Court. Approval of the permits would allow the applicant, CETT Corporation, to construct a two-story, 3,125 square foot single-family residence on the lot, a development which some residents and council members say would change the aesthetics of the community.

“Our hillsides are very important to us and the development that goes into those hillsides is equally important to us,” City Manager Elaine Aguilar said.

There is a lot of history to this particular site, as it was established by the City’s founding father Nathaniel C. Carter. Formerly known as One Carter, Aguilar said houses built in the Stonegate subdivision have to abide by Hillside Management Zone guidelines, a set of unique regulations.

Final decisions, indeed. You have to laugh. Well, OK, you don't really, but it might help. Just ask Nathaniel C. Carter. His life wasn't all fun and games either, you know.

It now is 2018, and this third episode in near quadrennial, though joyous, futility doesn't come from the Pasadena Star News. They don't have as many reporters as they used to, and we might not be the beneficiary of their coverage this time.

But trust me, you can't hold back on a level of excitement this large for long, and today it comes from the appropriate City Hall staff report for next Tuesday's City Council meeting. Click here to view all of it.

So here is my question. Who actually won something here?