Monday, August 22, 2016

Edison and San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant

Mod: If you ever look at all of the mishmash of costly numbers located at the upper right hand corner of your Edison electric bill, you will notice something there called "nuclear decommissioning charges." This is the cash that gets taken from you to pay for the Edison's catastrophic failures at the San Onofre nuclear power plant. A radioactive mess that will somehow have to be contained for a few centuries. Talk about a gift to future generations. To add insult to injury, according to the Los Angeles Times today, those decommissioning charges that you are so generously paying for might not have been assigned to you in the most aboveboard kind of way. And yes, I am sure you are surprised to hear this.

A tainted settlement on San Onofre closing costs

After the San Onofre nuclear plant shut down unexpectedly in early 2012, regulators approved a deal dividing up the $4.7 billion in closing costs.

The terms of the settlement were worked out by Southern California Edison, which owns 78% of the plant, in negotiation with San Diego Gas & Electric, consumer advocates and environmentalists. They decided that ratepayers would be responsible for most of the bill — $3.3 billion, minus various credits — while the two utilities’ shareholders would pay the rest.

That apparently seemed reasonable to most of the parties at the time, although consumer groups initially wanted investors to pay more of the costs and some smaller stakeholder groups did not agree to the final deal. But the agreement avoided a protracted litigation process that consumer advocates worried could result in a worse outcome for ratepayers if it was influenced by then-PUC President Michael Peevey, a former chief of Edison, who some suspected was not on the side of customers.

That deal seems a lot less reasonable now, in light of troubling information that has emerged since about secret meetings to discuss how costs should be allocated between Peevey and Stephen Pickett, who was then Edison’s executive vice president for external relations. The meetings were held during the year before the deal was made.

Consumer advocates say they might have rejected the settlement terms and pushed harder for utility shareholders to cover more of the cost of decommissioning if they knew at the time about the meetings, which they say gave an unfair negotiating advantage to Edison at the expense of ratepayers. The PUC in May agreed to reopen the settlement and consider whether it ought to be changed.

The secret meetings occurred in March 2013, after the replacement steam generators failed, forcing the plant to close — but before Edison had decided to shut down the plan for good. Peevey and Pickett were both at an energy industry conference in Warsaw at the time. The notes from that meeting, on hotel stationery, appear to lay out possible ways to allocate the costs associated with shutting down the nuclear plant.

Mod: You can read the rest here.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Man Who Says God Punishes Gays with Natural Disasters Had His Home Destroyed in the Flood

Mod: Interesting Sunday reading from Esquire Magazine - link.

Tony Perkins, who has made a career railing against LGBT people-including saying that God sends natural disasters to punish them-just had his house destroyed by a natural disaster.

Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as an anti-gay extremist hate group. Tony Perkins also lives in Louisiana, where there's been massive flooding this week that has killed 13 people and destroyed thousands of homes-including Tony Perkins'.

"This is a flood, I would have to say, of near biblical proportions," Perkins said, adding that he's now living off "God's provisions."

Here, via SPLC, are some other quotes from Tony Perkins.

"While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem."

"The videos are titled 'It Gets Better.' They are aimed at persuading kids that although they'll face struggles and perhaps bullying for 'coming out' as homosexual (or transgendered or some other perversion), life will get better. … It's disgusting. And it's part of a concerted effort to persuade kids that homosexuality is okay and actually to recruit them into that lifestyle."

"Those who understand the homosexual community-the activists-they're very aggressive, they're-everything they accuse us of they are in triplicate. They're intolerant, they're hateful, vile, they're spiteful. .... To me, that is the height of hatred, to be silent when we know there are individuals that are engaged in activity, behavior, and an agenda that will destroy them and our nation."

And, in a 2015 interview, he agreed with extremist Messianic Jewish pastor Jonathan Cahn that Hurricane Joaquin was a "sign of God's wrath" over the legalization of gay marriage and abortion, saying: "God is trying to send us a message."

Was God trying to "send" Tony Perkins a message this week? Or was He trying to "send" Ted Cruz a message, who appointed Perkins to his failed presidential campaign's "advisory council for religious liberty?"

Or was He trying to "send" the Republican National Committee a message? After all, they allowed Perkins to play a decisive role in crafting the Republican Party platform last month, including a fun little provision that advocated for sending LGBT people to gay conversion therapy-a thoroughly debunked and possibly destructive method of "treatment."

Or is Perkins just a normal person, like LGBT people, who now has to overcome adversity?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Letter to the Sierra Madre Weekly that needs comment

I have no idea what happened, nor do I really care all that much. But there is something about this that is kind of disturbing.

Dear Editor:

In response to ‘Mind Your Manners, Good Folk!” – Aug. 11 Letters – The coward whose name was withheld by request, get your facts straight before you make unsubstantiated allegations and think you were one inconvenienced by the “rude and boorish behavior of the two ladies …”

You say they “apparently arrived a few minutes before the concert and proceeded to neatly fold and set aside” your blankets. Did you see them do this? Did anyone see them do this? No!

Because I personally set up my mother and her friend’s chairs on Saturday evening ( without moving or folding and blankets or chairs.)

These two “rude and boorish” ladies happen to be Matriachs in this great city, residing here since 1950s, raising their families of six and eight children, attending St. Rita’s Church every Sunday and sacrificing many hours ( years) of dedicated service for many community events.

Yup, Sir (and I say this reluctantly), are the one who should be ashamed for your rude and boorish behavior by harassing and threatening them.

As for your ethical guidelines and responsible citizen remarks, perhaps you should take a look in the mirror and ask yourself if it’s appropriate to verbally abuse two very fine, morally upstanding women in their mid-80’s- with no basis whatsoever.

Could you imagine if people actually got as upset about unfair and dishonest taxation schemes or crumbling infrastructure as some do when squabbling over blanket placement at a Memorial Park concert?

Friday, August 19, 2016

New York Daily News Video of Naked Donald Trump Statue Being Removed From Union Square (Graphic)

Link here

The New York City Parks Department Explains

Trump advisers waged covert influence campaign (link)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A firm run by Donald Trump's campaign chairman directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine's ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country's pro-Russian government, emails obtained by The Associated Press show. Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, never disclosed their work as foreign agents as required under federal law. 

The lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine's then-president. At the time, European and American leaders were pressuring Ukraine to free her. 

Gates personally directed the work of two prominent Washington lobbying firms in the matter, the emails show. He worked for Manafort's political consulting firm at the time. 

Manafort and Gates' activities carry outsized importance, since they have steered Trump's campaign since April. The pair also played a formative role building out Trump's campaign operation after pushing out an early rival. Trump shook up his campaign's organization again this week, but Manafort and Gates retain their titles and much of their influence. The new disclosures about their work come as Trump faces criticism for his friendly overtures to Russian President Vladimir Putin 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Trump's Latest New Campaign Manager - Breitbart News Head Stephen Bannon - Is A Certifiable Wacko

The New York Daily News has a great article up this morning called "Trump not crazy enough for you? Here are five ideas spread by the site run by the mogul’s new campaign CEO" (link). The website referred to is Breitbart, and it is just about as far to the right as you can get these days.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has hired Breitbart News executive chairman Stephen Bannon as his new campaign chief executive. Here are a few of the ways the Daily News describes the kinds of unpleasant and conspiratorial things advocated for by Mr. Bannon, this week's latest flavor of the week guy hired by Donald Trump to run his campaign.

White Supremacist LeaningsBreitbart News has often been accused of spreading the same race-baiting diatribes and thinly veiled white nationalist leanings as Trump himself. Much of those have been written by controversial columnist Milo Yiannopoulos, who has frequently littered the internet with overtly racist and hateful statements. In March he penned a comprehensive defense of his opinions and theories, many of which have been deemed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as evidence of a "a noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right."

Anti-gay RhetoricIn the same vein, Breitbart News has been accused of pushing anti-gay bigotry and has even given a mouthpiece to anti-LGBTQ hate group leaders like Austin Ruse. Ruse's faction, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), has been labeled a hate group by the SPLC. Ruse, for example, has written on Breitbart about hateful conspiracy theories surrounding the tragic death of Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and tortured in a brutal hate crime in Wyoming in 1998.

Trump reportedly paid for good coverageIn addition to spewing pro-Trump odes and anti-Clinton conspiracies, Breitbart News actually took money from the bigoted billionaire — a sinister exchange that has cast a wide shadow over the site's credibility. "The company's top management was allowing Trump to turn Breitbart into his own fan website — using it to hype his political prospects and attack his enemies," BuzzFeed News reported in August 2015. Breitbart editors and writers alleged the company had a financial arrangement with Trump, according to BuzzFeed.

Classy, all the way. To put this all into perspective, here are a couple of recent articles run on Breitbart. Just to give you an idea of the kinds of things Donald Trump finds to be informative and enjoyable reading. So much so that he hired the guy responsible for them to run his presidential campaign. These - and many other examples - are featured in a Media Matters post called "Breitbart News’ Worst Headlines" (link).

Bill Kristol being a Republican conservative who has shown the unfortunate temerity to criticize the always thin-skinned Donald Trump (link).

These are certainly not the kinds of things you would have found on the resume' of someone running the campaign of a major party presidential candidate in the past. Or at least not in the United States. Then again, we have now boldly entered into a whole new kind of crazy now.

There are people who are very excited by the hiring of Mr. Bannon. One such group of folks can be found on something called Alt Right. They are people who have found sympathy at Breitbart in the past, and are now more than happy to return the favor. Here is how they are described by the news site The Daily Beast (link):

Alt Right Rejoices at Donald Trump’s Steve Bannon Hire: As Breitbart’s chief, Steve Bannon did a lot to normalize the racist, anti-Semitic world of the alt right. Now they rejoice as he joins the campaign of their king.

Donald Trump’s campaign is under new management—and his white nationalist fanboys love it. The campaign’s new chief executive, Stephen Bannon, joins from Breitbart News—where he helped mainstream the ideas of white nationalists and resuscitate the reputations of anti-immigrant fear-mongers.

White nationalists today invest a lot of energy worrying about growing Hispanic and Muslim populations in the U.S. Turns out, Breitbart News spends a lot of time worrying about those things, too. And in Bannon, they see a media-friendly, ethno-nationalist fellow traveler.

“Latterly, Breitbart emerged as a nationalist site and done great stuff on immigration in particular,” editor Peter Brimelow told The Daily Beast.

VDare is a white supremacist site. It’s named after Virginia Dare, the first white child born to British colonists in North America. Brimelow said he and Bannon met briefly last month and exchanged pleasantries about each other’s work.

“It’s irritating because is not used to competition,” Brimelow added. “I presume that is due to Bannon, so his appointment is great news.”

Brimelow isn’t the only prominent white nationalist to praise the Bannon hire. Richard Spencer, who heads the white supremacist think tank National Policy Institute, said he was also pleased. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has given favorable coverage to the white supremacist Alt Right movement. And Spencer loves it.

Just when you thought this election wasn't scary enough.

Ivanka Trump partying with the Putins
You just can't make this stuff up. This from the gossip site Gawker (link):

So let's see if I have this straight. Wendi Deng is the girlfriend of Vladimir Putin. But she is also the ex-wife of Fox News owner and all-around media empire billionaire Rupert Murdoch? And a dear friend of the Trumps as well?

Amazing. Wendi Deng is a one woman Bilderberg.

One more

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sierra Madre City Councilmember John Harabedian's Controversial New Employment Opportunity

I picked up on this article from my Google News feed. I don't know if you are aware, but you can identify any number of topics of interest to you, input them into the easy to use application found there, and should something show up on the Internet somewhere regarding your concern it will appear in your email within a matter of minutes.

Just in case you are wondering how I manage to come across such things. And frankly, this one is quite interesting. It comes from a venerable legal news service called The Los Angeles Journal (link), which apparently has been around from way back in the 1800s. It is a subscription only site, so I am not able to provide you with a direct link to this particular article. But as a service to you, the concerned Sierra Madre resident who needs to know, I am reproducing it here.

All of which sounds somewhat good. After all, who could ever have a problem with helping out po' bucker litigants with potential $100 million dollar lawsuits on their hands? Legal counsel does not come cheap, after all, and you will always need money to make money.

However, and as any close follower of the governmental and legal affairs of this portion of God's greatest land is likely to tell you, larding something over with the familiar language of social concern does not necessary mean that this interesting legal service will limit itself to just the downtrodden and oppressed. Not when there is some of that long green to be made.

After all, isn't it true that when you want to sell people on something in California, the proven way of doing so is to claim it will help make the world a better place? Investors take note.

I was fortunate enough to be able to discuss today's news with someone who knows a lot about this expanding niche legal field, and he enlightened me about some of the claims our guy John Harabedian makes for himself in the above article. The obvious undertone being that he is taking a very lucrative position and spinning it as the embodiment of advanced legal social responsibility.

Here are a few points.

- Harabedian will be salaried and highly paid, but Bentham, the company, operates on the premise that they’re “evening the playing field.” They find cases likely to win, that normally would take too much money and time to litigate, and fund the attorneys working on them, knowing that they, the investment company, will get a cut of the ultimate award.

- It’s very hush hush, you rarely find out which cases they are even involved in, but this company will at least tell you they have a 90% success rate of winning cases, so far they have put money into 180 lawsuits and have gotten back $1.7 billion from their investments.

- The red herring Harabedian flies is that they’re helping fund the cases of average joe’s who have been wronged and can’t afford to litigate their cases. The reality is they only really pick large commercial litigation where the payout is big enough to be worth their while. So two big companies fighting over trade secrets or breach of contract would be an obvious example. Opponents of the practice say it’s flooding the system with frivolous lawsuits.

Harabedian will decide quietly, confidentially, to back this company or that company in its suit, because even if the business in legal trouble is rich and powerful, it can’t put so much of its capital at risk litigating. So he gets big business connections by deciding which corporation gets to have their bill footed in the short term, based on strength of case and wealth of opponent. Part of it is the merits, but who wouldn’t get a better chance at winning with unlimited funds to litigate and appeal? It’s a blank legal check and he’s the new gateway.

- Even if everything stays above board, the more believable story is he’s taking the revolving door special interest business route up the ladder, so it is a time-honored political path. Harabedian is just trying to spin it as something less sinister than what it is.

A press release from Bentham IMF is available on-line and you can link to it here. Note this line: "Clients utilizing Bentham’s funding have retained an average of 63% of all case proceeds."

I guess that leaves 37% for the investors. Operators are now standing by to take your call.

Monday, August 15, 2016

All Kinds of Hell is Now Breaking Loose on Planet Trump

Is Donald refusing to honor America?

Mod: Yesterday's New York Times revelation (link) that $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments had been made to Darn Old Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort by pro-Russian Vladimir Putin political party hacks from the Ukraine is blowing up in full technicolor today. Here's a few stories that lay this all out.

Internet freaks after Lewandowski posts Times story on Paul Manafort’s sketchy ties to Ukraine (link): The New York Times dropped a bombshell Sunday night revealing an expose on Donald Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s ties to Ukraine.

According to the story, Manafort’s work was consulting for Ukraine’s political party in power. Investigators say the network Manafort is associated with was once used to steal assets and control elections in the country. The ties to Russia and Ukraine came under attack when the FBI found that Russian government hackers were responsible for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. Interestingly, the DNC staffer who was researching Paul Manafort’s ties to Russia had his personal data targeted.

Their expose “offers new details of how he mixed politics and business out of public view and benefited from powerful interests now under scrutiny by the new government in Kiev.”

“He understood what was happening in Ukraine,” the Times quotes Vitaliy Kasko, a former senior official with the general prosecutor’s office in Kiev. “It would have to be clear to any reasonable person that the Yanukovych clan, when it came to power, was engaged in corruption.”

Adding, “It’s impossible to imagine a person would look at this and think, ‘Everything is all right.’”

Manafort has been doing international consulting since the 1980s, particularly for dictators, including Viktor F. Yanukovych who was removed after an uprising in Ukraine before fleeing to Russia two years ago.

Since leaving, investigators have looked into practices under Yanukovych and found what they called the “black ledger,” a list of names and how much cash was doled out to them. The ledger was in a third-floor room of the Party of Regions headquarters along with two giant safes filled with $100 bills.

“This was our cash,” Taras V. Chornovil, the former party leader told the Times. Though he claims it was the sketchy financial dealings that caused him to leave the party. “They had it on the table, stacks of money, and they had lists of who to pay.”

Over the course of five years, Manafort’s name appears 22 times totaling $12.7 million.

It wasn’t long before Trump loyalist and paid CNN shill Corey Lewandowski tweeted the story. Lewandowski and Manafort were notorious for infighting on the Trump campaign while Lewandowski was at the helm. He’s also spent the last few months, since being fired from the Trump campaign, attacking Manafort in the media, including calling for Manafort’s immediate dismissal after Melania Trump’s plagiarism scandal at the Republican National Convention.

Trump campaign meltdown: Paul Manafort paid off by Russia, Roger Stone attacks Corey Lewandowski (link): In the hours since the New York Times uncovered millions of dollars in illegal secret cash payments made from a Vladimir Putin puppet to Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, all hell has broken loose within the Trump campaign – and much of it is playing out in public for all to see. One of Trump’s top surrogates is publicly gloating over Manafort’s criminal connections, while another top Trump surrogate is publicly accusing is accusing a fellow Trump surrogate of “working for Hillary Clinton.”

The Trump campaign meltdown began late Sunday evening when the NY Times published the story exposing Manafort’s millions of dollars in hidden illegal payments from Vladimir Putin lackey Viktor Yanukovych. Corey Lewandowski, who had been Trump’s campaign manager until he was fired this spring and replaced with Manafort, tweeted out a link to the article as if to gloat about the fact that his replacement is being taken down by a corruption scandal.

Even as Corey Lewandowski was enjoying his revenge, another Trump surrogate Roger Stone got wind of it and fired back by claiming that Lewandowski was now “working for Hillary Clinton” by way of calling him a traitor. Lewandowski actually works as a commentator on CNN now, and it’s not clear what his on-air approach will be to the Manafort story, as CNN wasn’t broadcasting live news on Sunday evening while the drama was exploding.

Meanwhile Donald Trump himself has had nothing to say about the matter, but he now has several problems. There’s the fact that he may have to fire Paul Manafort due to his illegal financial connections to Russia’s Putin. There’s the fact that Corey Lewandowski appears to be so excited by the downfall of Manafort he’s no longer remaining loyal to Trump. And there’s the fact that Roger Stone is now publicly attacking Lewandowski. It all leads to the question of just who might be running Donald Trump’s campaign by the time the smoke clears tomorrow – if there is indeed anything left of his already dying campaign to salvage.

Clinton campaign responds to shocking revelations about Paul Manafort’s pro-Kremlin ties (link): Clinton campaign press secretary Robby Mook issued a late-night statement on the bombshell in the recent New York Times detailing Donald Trump’s campaign chair Paul Manafort and his questionable dealings in Ukraine.

Mook notes that this comes just before Trump is scheduled to give a major foreign policy address Monday on what his strategy will be if he is elected as president.

“We have learned of more troubling connections between Donald Trump’s team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine,” Mook said in the statement. “Given the pro-Putin policy stances adopted by Donald Trump and the recent Russian government hacking and disclosure of Democratic Party records, Donald Trump has a responsibility to disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort’s and all other campaign employees’ and advisers’ ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities, including whether any of Trump’s employees or advisers are currently representing and or being paid by them.”

Trump made news just two weeks ago when he told ABC News that Putin is “not going into Ukraine,” seemingly unaware Putin already had annexed Crimea.

Trump also called on Russia to hack Clinton’s server just prior to the Democratic National Convention. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you find the 33,000 emails that are missing,” he said. “I think you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press!”

He was later denounced by an ex-CIA official who questioned the Republican Party candidate’s patriotism, called treasonous and faced backlash from his own party. Much like the recent “joke” about President Obama being the founder of ISIS, Trump later said that he was being “sarcastic” about the request. Like with the latest claim of “sarcasm,” the press didn’t understand Trump’s “joke” then either.

Mod: Here is my question. Can you support Donald Trump and still claim to be a patriot?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

What is Donald Trump's connection to Vladimir Putin?

Another interesting video has turned up, and I am anxious to share it with you today.

To view this video about Putin's apricot colored genius click here.

One more. After all, it is the weekend.

Video? Click here.

After watching these two videos, can you say with certainty that Donald Trump has not betrayed this country and its people? Can it be the GOP nominated an actual traitor?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Interesting Video

Link here.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Megan Corinne Sterling, 34, of Sierra Madre.

I actually knew Megan Sterling. The Sierra Madre connection was just a coincidence. She worked inside sales for the Anaheim Ducks hockey team and was my source for tickets to their games a few years back. My kids were big hockey fans at that time and she hooked us up with some good seats despite the fact that we were not season ticket holders. Very sad to see her name show up in a story like this one (link).

Thursday, July 28, 2016

It's Vacation Time For The Tattler

As the world descends into chaos, I figured it was as good a time as any to put The Tattler on vacation. Once a year is enough, and that time is now. Should be back up and running around August 7. Try and stay cool and I will see you then.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

You Can Watch Last Night's City Council Meeting Here!

Link here and you can be viewer no. 18!

People have been asking what happened at last night's City Council meeting, so here you go. Two precious hours of scintillating viewing, available on The Tattler way before it will be on the City of Sierra Madre website. So you know, the July 12th City Council meeting video is not yet available there either (link), but never you fear. If you have a hankering to live dangerously near the cusp of an unthinkable cosmic reality as it looked two weeks back, you can click here for that as well. 

Which leads us to the topic of community communication. While we just did here for free something that the City of Sierra Madre would likely need $10s of thousands of dollars to achieve (repost a video already available on YouTube), that doesn't mean they cannot communicate. The City Council did so last night, and they didn't spend a lot of money doing it. 

Talk is still cheap, even at City Hall.

The big question last night was about spending a couple ten grand to stick two poles into the ground somewhere near Lima so that informational banners can be stretched across Sierra Madre Boulevard. These banners would then inform concerned Sierra Madre residents driving by of the latest exciting events in town. 

Or at least those events City Hall wants you to know about. I remember last spring Earl Richey wanted to pay the city to put up a banner on the two poles located near Kersting Court. The intent being to inform the residents that many of the claims being made for Measure UUT were vast crocks of municipal merde. Naturally he was turned down. 

Which might bring up the question of a government monopoly on information in town. Something that could be the real motive here. The city does not enjoy competition when it comes to news and whatnot, and the search for ways to control all of that is apparently an endless one. 

But they really shouldn't worry. Chances are that case of Civility Paralysis (a condition also known as CP) many share will not allow them to think too much about that sort of thing anyway. And we won't bring up anything like that here. Far be it from The Tattler to cross that psychological chasm with you today. Or at any time for that matter. We are hardly psychological miracle workers here.

Long story longer, that two poles for $25,000 community communication gambit was turned down. Too embarrassing even for this City Council seeing how it wasn't all that long ago they were postcard pimping for a utility tax increase. And with that new more robust parcel tax they're going to start trotting out this fall, public perception is everything. 

The two year tax increase cycle must always be properly nurtured and maintained. It is a process, after all.

That $95,000 a year new City Hall hire to run the two poles in the ground initiative didn't happen, either. No poles, no job apparently. Mercifully it didn't even come up.

Other things happened last night as well. They filled the empty slot on the Planning Commission. One of the big house boys got it. They also selected someone to assume a seat somewhere in the vast library volunteer bureaucracy. Somebody with fund raising experience we were told. 

But you can watch all that on the video we have so thoughtfully provided above.

Me? I am going to sleep. I have work in the morning. As always, it is later than you think.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Banner Poles At Lima: Doesn't This Look A Bit Familiar?

The city that howled about its financial woes before Measure UUT was passed now wants to spend a whole lot of money on something called banner poles. Kind of in the vein of the generic saccharine nonsense being concocted for Kersting Court Park, it apparently is part of the current move to turn Sierra Madre's delightfully organic downtown into something that looks just like everywhere else. Which makes sense since the people responsible for this come from everywhere else.

There is an item to be discussed this evening that deals with City Hall's need to communicate with a community that often ignores them. And rather than trying to get folks attention by producing information that is relevant or entertaining, they instead are focusing on the hardware of communication. Which, as we should all know, can be futile. It is never the paper or the billboard, but rather the words that each contain. If people don't find your content to be interesting or relevant to them, it really won't matter where you put it.

Here is how a portion of this agenda item for tonight's City Council meeting reads (link). The following details all of the ways the city communicates with its residents.

You would think that would all be enough. But apparently not. Here is the paragraph dealing with the storied history of banner poles, and why spending $26,000 to get them would be fine and dandy.

The reason these banner poles were not accepted by the City Council way back when is they were a part of the 2006 Downtown Specific Plan. The very same sopping bucket of architectural processed cheese so unceremoniously dumped by the voters when they passed Measure V. That sort of thing was very unpopular back then.

Like I said, it was a suggestion that came with the DSP. Part of the make-downtown-extend-to-Lima idea, enlivening that side of town. So “downtown” would not be just Kersting Court and Baldwin, but instead lasts a few blocks longer. More businesses, more money.

That has now already happened, of course. Subway and all those little shops that opened in the block east of Memorial Park are part of it, with the Kensington further extending this theme. The successful bakery on the corner of Lima and the Boulevard, which is always crowded at meal times, the Mexican fast food joint that is also always busy, all of that.

Here is something interesting. Like I said, those banner poles were part of the 2006 DSP. And I still have the maps. Look for the purple arch on the left side of the following graphic.

I am not sure that a city that was so recently screaming poverty in order to get itself a utility tax increase should be spending $26,000 on banner poles. And those are 2006 prices. Who knows what they would cost today.

Of course, those poles wouldn't just take care of themselves. You would need to hire someone to maximize their potential, along with the rest of the communication network.

Good money if you can get it. However, don't get your hopes up too high. It is unlikely that a Sierra Madre resident would be hired.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Letter: Resident Concerns About No. Michillinda Water Main Repairs

Mod: The following is on the schedule for tomorrow night's City Council meeting (link).

Mod: Bruce Inman's rush to judgement contracting predilections are apparently at play here once again, and this has raised concerns for at least one Sierra Madre resident. The following email went out to the City Council over the weekend.

Date: Sun, Jul 24, 2016 at 3:14 PM
Subject: Concerns about work by Stephen Doreck Equipment Rentals

Dear Mayor Goss, Mayor Pro Tem Arizmendi and City Council Members Capoccia, Delmar and Harabedian,

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Staff will be asking you to approve an “emergency” contract with Stephen Doreck Equipment Rentals (“Doreck”) for a quarter of a million dollars to replace a water main, bypassing the normal bidding process.  The report notes that Doreck has worked for the City previously and states “Staff has had no problem with the firm’s work quality or scheduling.”  This statement by City Staff is extremely troubling.

Our property, and our neighbors’ property, were significantly damaged by Doreck during the company’s September 2014 installation of the Mountain Trail water main.  Doreck personnel failed to exercise due care in re-connecting the new water main and their error created a huge water pressure surge, more than a normal household system could tolerate. 

Doreck’s error destroyed our garden irrigation system and damaged our neighbors’ shower systems and hot water heaters.  Again, this was an incredibly basic mistake by so-called professionals. 

At that time, City Staff were well aware of what happened, and also aware of the fact that, adding insult to injury, Doreck refused to reimburse us for the damage done until we filed a case against them in Small Claims Court.   Only then did Doreck did reimburse us for our repairs and for all the wasted water.

How can the City’s Staff tell you they have “no problem” with a company that has previously done significant damage to Sierra Madre homeowners, let alone recommend the company receive a no-bid $250,000 contract?

Mod: So what is the rush? This water main has been around since the Roosevelt era. The extra month required to properly bid this out for repair is suddenly the end of the world?

This from the Mountain Views News

A couple of things that we can take away here. The first being Chief Giannone is having a hard time finding people willing to take the job. So much so that he is actually asking Sierra Madre residents if they would be willing to sign on. Has that ever been done before? 

The second? It appears that the LA County Sheriffs are going to be in Sierra Madre for a lot longer than anyone at City Hall has been willing to admit. Including the elected ones. Meaning that $100,000 a month hit will go on for quite a while. 

Of course, the cost of maintaining separate day and night police forces is not cheap. About $1.4 million a year in additional expense is my guess. 

Propping up a sacred cow Sierra Madre Police Department could end up being one of the most expensive things the city has ever done. Not exactly what the city was supposed to be doing with that utility tax hike.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Connecting Donald Trump To Vladimir Putin - Selling Out America One Golf Course At A Time

Mod: The timing is certainly interesting. There wasn't very much attention paid to the rumored Putin/Trump connection before the Republican convention. But now? Now articles are hitting the Internet at the rate of around one an hour. It's like somebody saved all of this stuff until after the nomination. Perfectly amazing. The people whose job it is to protect this country from its worst enemies have decided it is time to get rid of this bum. Real power at work. Here is a selection of the latest news reports on Putin's apparent control over the Republican Party's candidate for President of the United States, and why that is a very bad thing for everyone who loves this country.

Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin (The Washington Post - link): Trump’s relationship with Putin and his warm views toward Russia, which began in the 1980s when the country was still part of the Soviet Union, have emerged as one of the more curious aspects of his presidential campaign.

The overwhelming consensus among American political and national security leaders has held that Putin is a pariah who disregards human rights and has violated international norms in seeking to regain influence and territory in the former Soviet bloc. In 2012, one year before Trump brought his beauty pageant to Moscow, then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called Russia the United States’ top geopolitical threat — an assessment that has only gained currency since then.

Trump has conveyed a different view, informed in part through his business ambitions. Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world.

Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Does Donald Trump Have A Subversive Partnership With Vladimir Putin's Propaganda Machine? (Newsweek - link) The opponent wields a “firehose of falsehood” with “a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions.” He “entertains, confuses and overwhelms the audience” with exaggerations and unfounded rumors. His technique is entirely new, confounding decades of conventional wisdom that says effective political messages should stay close to the truth.

Donald Trump? No, Vladimir Putin, who has piloted “a remarkable evolution in Russia's approach to propaganda,” according to a new study from RAND, a think tank based in Santa Monica, California, which has been supplying the Pentagon and CIA with ideas since 1948. Despite ignoring past principles of propaganda, RAND says, Putin has “enjoyed some success” in his main goal: undermining Western unity, and specifically its military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO.

His success stories: The rise of Moscow-backed right-wing “populist” movements in Europe, along with Western disunity over Ukraine, Turkey, Syria and how to deal with Syrian refugees. And now Donald Trump?

Traitor Trump?
Donald Trump Invites Putin to Invade Melania’s Hometown (The Daily Beast - link): Donald Trump is now on the record saying he wouldn’t necessarily back NATO members if Vladimir Putin decided to invade. That’s a bit ironic since one of the countries most threatened by NATO’s collapse is Slovenia, where his wife, Melania, was born.

In an interview with The New York Times, Trump said the U.S. would not provide military aid to NATO members unless they put 2 percent of their GDP toward the alliance. “Have they fulfilled their obligations to us? If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes,” Trump said.

Trump’s comments drew the ire of both U.S. defense officials and of NATO. Officially, the Pentagon refused to chime in, desperate to keep the wall between politics and the troops. But around the proverbial Pentagon water cooler, the talk among some is quite different. Officials noted that many member nations are trying to meet their financial obligation, which is aspirational, not a condition of the alliance. Such rhetoric, some fear, could encourage Putin to seek additional territory from nations like Poland and the Baltic states.

“Let’s just move forward with plans to hand Eastern Europe to Russia,” one U.S. defense official scoffed.

Why Russia is rejoicing over Trump (Politico - link): MOSCOW — Excited by Donald Trump’s pledge to promote “easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia,” the Kremlin establishment earlier this month invited Trump adviser Carter Page to speak before graduating students of Russian School of Economics. Page did not disappoint. In his remarks, Page condemned current American policy for its “often-hypocritical focus on democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.” When a Russian student asked Page whether he really believed that American society was liberal and democratic, Trump’s adviser grinned and delivered a line that might have come from Vladimir Putin himself. “I surround the word ‘liberal’ with quotes,” he said. ”I tend to agree with you that it’s not always as liberal as it may seem,” he said. “I’m with you.”

It was thus perfectly in keeping with Trump campaign’s entente with the Kremlin that last week Trump aides reportedly watered down the new Republican platform on Russia, removing language that called for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces. Page, an energy expert, has close ties to Russian business and relationships with executives at Gazprom, the giant state-run gas company. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has worked as a lobbyist for former Ukraine’s former Russia-aligned president, Viktor Yanukovych.

For Putin, Trump is the gift that keeps on giving. Shunned and sanctioned by western leaders for Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, Putin now sees a future ally riding into view. The Kremlin and its right-wing supporters also enthusiastically applaud the isolationist they see in Trump, who has suggested he might curtail U.S. involvement in NATO and European affairs, and who derides the same political “mainstream” that has deemed Putin a pariah.

It's Official: Hillary Clinton Is Running Against Vladimir Putin (The Atlantic - link): The Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump, has chosen this week to unmask himself as a de facto agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a KGB-trained dictator who seeks to rebuild the Soviet empire by undermining the free nations of Europe, marginalizing NATO, and ending America’s reign as the world’s sole superpower.

I am not suggesting that Donald Trump is employed by Putin—though his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was for many years on the payroll of the Putin-backed former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. I am arguing that Trump’s understanding of America’s role in the world aligns with Russia’s geostrategic interests; that his critique of American democracy is in accord with the Kremlin’s critique of American democracy; and that he shares numerous ideological and dispositional proclivities with Putin—for one thing, an obsession with the sort of “strength” often associated with dictators.

Trump is making it clear that, as president, he would allow Russia to advance its hegemonic interests across Europe and the Middle East. His election would immediately trigger a wave of global instability—much worse than anything we are seeing today—because America’s allies understand that Trump would likely dismantle the post-World War II U.S.-created international order. Many of these countries, feeling abandoned, would likely pursue nuclear weapons programs on their own, leading to a nightmare of proliferation.

Putin’s wager on Trump is paying off already (The Salt Lake Tribune - link): The secret plot to control America, launched from abroad, is an old theme in American pop culture. "The Manchurian Candidate," a film made in 1962, imagined a Chinese scheme to engineer a coup d'etat. Aficionados of paranoid thrillers may also recall "Lucky Bastard," a 1998 Charles McCarry novel, which featured a U.S. president controlled by a Soviet case officer who happens to be his wife.

But now it is 2016, truth is stranger than fiction, and we finally have a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, with direct and indirect links to a foreign dictator, Vladimir Putin, whose policies he promotes. And yet it is not secret, it is not a plot, there is no conspiracy. No one has been hypnotized or recruited by foreign intelligence. Just as Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, openly accepts Russian money, the Trump campaign advertises its Russian links and pays no real political price.

He has also surrounded himself with people whose deep links to the corrupt world of Russian business would normally disqualify them from U.S. politics. He brought in a foreign policy aide, Carter Page, who has long-standing connections to Russian companies, including Gazprom, and has supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine. His campaign manager, Paul Manafort, worked for many years in Ukraine on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian president ousted in 2014. While living in Kiev, Manafort had plenty of time to absorb the disinformation tactics perfected by the Kremlin, all of which are now being put to use: the thugs at meetings, the appeal to extreme emotions — those bereaved mothers at the convention — and, of course, fake websites and Internet trolls.

Russia is clearly participating in the Trump campaign. The theft of material from the Democratic National Committee a few weeks ago was the work of Russian hackers. Russian state media and social media, together with a host of fake websites and Twitter accounts with Russian origins, actively support Trump and are contributing to some of the hysteria on the Internet. I'm not arguing that any of this has been decisive. But whatever resources Putin wagered on Trump, they are paying off.

Donnie! Come give Vlad a big kiss!

The Real Winner of the RNC: Vladimir Putin
(Slate - link): Donald Trump’s convention has been marked by gross incompetence in all areas save one: He’s been highly effective in moving the Republican Party toward Vladimir Putin. The deftness of this reversal of policy is so anomalous that we need to consider its causes, as well as its consequences.

To recap: The Trump campaign showed little interest in the writing of the Republican Party platform, even as the document evolved to undermine the nominee’s political strategy and took stances at odds with his own. But his aides did intervene aggressively in one committee meeting. They pushed hard to soften the platform’s stance on providing military assistance to Ukraine. When pressed about this change, Trump aides literally ran in the other direction.

Then, on Wednesday, Trump told the New York Times that he would abandon our nearly seven decades–old commitment to collective security in Europe. If Putin rolled tanks into Eastern Europe, Trump would have to check whether those countries paid their fair share to NATO before fulfilling our obligations to protect them.

For his part, Putin has recognized the opportunity that the Trump campaign presents. He has thrown Russian propaganda behind it; his intelligence services have purloined documents from Democratic Party servers, and they have begun publishing them on the internet.

And why not? Trump is Putin’s geo-strategic dream. NATO has been effective at curbing Putin’s military adventurism. Russia may mess around in eastern Ukraine, but it won’t set foot in Estonia or Poland. That’s because it has little interest in fighting a war with an alliance obligated to protect those countries. Rather than facing a resolute, unified West, he prefers conducting a negotiation with a fragmented one and has sought to destabilize Europe through support of Trump-like figures in France, Italy, and elsewhere. Nobody believes in the art of the deal more than Vladimir Putin—and in Trump, he sees a na├»ve, egomaniac whom he can roll.

Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin’s enabler: Understanding the Republican frontrunner's fondness for Russia's strongman (New York Daily News - link): It’s too easy to imagine the horror with which statesmen like Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan would view Donald Trump’s rampage through the GOP. I’d like to hear instead from the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, the founding father of the Red Scare in the 1950s, or from his fellow redbaiter Richard Nixon.

I can imagine them waving a stack of papers and shouting, “I hold here in my hand a list of names of people at the highest levels of the Trump campaign who have worked for the Russian government under the direction of a former agent of the KGB!”

This charge would be entirely accurate, although it’s always been dubious that there is anything former at all about Vladimir Putin’s KGB status. It’s well-established that Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and two of Trump’s top advisers, Carter Page and Michael Flynn, have ties to Russia and the Kremlin.

Manafort worked for years as the chief political fixer for Viktor Yanukovych, Putin’s puppet ruler of Ukraine. Page used to work for Russian energy giant Gazprom and was recently in Moscow on Trump’s behalf to explain that America shouldn’t interfere in global affairs (especially Putin’s), talking points that come straight from Russian state-controlled TV. Trump himself has frequently praised Putin’s “strength” while suggesting that the two of them would get along very well.

Meanwhile, Putin’s giant global propaganda machine promoted Trump through the GOP primary and makes it quite apparent that Moscow would much prefer him to Hillary Clinton as President Obama’s replacement. What had been lacking until now was any tangible return on the Kremlin’s investment.

That changed last week when members of the Trump campaign worked with pro-Trump delegates to change a GOP platform amendment on American aid to Ukraine, which was invaded by Putin in 2014 and where Russian forces maintain a destabilizing conflict. The amendment originally followed the recommendation of nearly every top U.S. military and security official to “provide lethal defensive weapons” that would help Ukraine’s fragile democracy defend itself.

The Trump staff got the language changed to “appropriate assistance,” a meaningfully meaningless phrase that no doubt pleased Putin very much.

Mod: Perhaps the most devastating article of all is next. Spend some time with this one. The payoff is big.

Trump & Putin. Yes, It's Really a Thing (Talking Points Memo - link)

Mod: There are plenty more stories just like the above available on the Internet. Just go to Google News and tap in "Trump + Putin." Literally pages of articles will pop up. This is one of the truly great political scandals of our time. Donald "Treason" Trump could very well be a traitor to the United States of America.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Does Donald Trump Love Ivanka Just A Little Too Much?

View video by clicking here.

Here is a video making the Internet rounds right now. It is taken from the just concluded Republican National Convention, and I thought I'd post it here for you to check out. What you need to remember is Ivanka Trump is not this guy's wife. It is his daughter.

In an article just published on the Us Magazine website (link), body language expert Patti Wood describes the above action this way:

When it comes to Donald’s hug with Ivanka, who introduced the real-estate tycoon turned politician at Thursday night’s gathering, Wood tells Us that his hand placement was inappropriate. As viewers witnessed, the business mogul showed his appreciation for his daughter’s glowing statements by kissing her cheeks and then placing his hands on her lower hips.

“He patted her in a sexually dismissive way. That repetitive pat with open hands on that location is usually a set of body language cues to say, ‘The sex with you, it was good,’ or, ‘That was fun sexual play,’” Wood says. “I want to be clear that is not even a pat you would give to a child under the age of 5. You would pat them higher up on the back.”

Since Donald’s strange hugs with his wife and daughter (whom he shares with ex-wife Ivana Trump) aired on national television, many have taken to social media to share their opinions about the physical contact.

“Daddy Donald was more (inappropriately) affectionate to Ivanka than to Melania,” one viewer tweeted, while another sniped, “Donald grabs Ivanka's ass gave [Melania a] weird friend zone hug.”

Here is another video that explores this awkward Trump father/daughter dynamic. The generational viewpoint is interesting as well.

Video clip here.

Also this. Donald Trump speculating about a potential Playboy Magazine pictorial of his daughter on The View. Does he really say he would have sex with her?

Video click here.
Pretty much. Here is the quote. 

Perhaps that is all just a little unfortunate?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lo-Cal Shocker: Is Joe Mosca Making A Run For An Encinitas City Council Seat?

Joe learning the secret hand sign.
We have been monitoring the situation in Encinitas for a while now, and it appears that some news about our twice used carpetbag's latest political ambitions is starting to leak out.

Encinitas Undercover, which functions as a kind of Tattler for that now at-risk city (their opinion might differ), yesterday listed Joe Mosca as one of the potential City Council candidates there. Yes, it really does seem like it is deja vu all over again down suburban San Diego way, as we shall soon explain.

So where and when did this story first begin? It was first revealed as part of an article published last year in a weekly newspaper there called the Encinitas Advocate (link), and we were fortunate enough to pick up on it fairly quickly. Here is how they first announced the emergence of Joe Mosca on the Encinitas political scene back in September of 2015.

Former Sierra Madre mayor appointed to Parks and Rec CommissionThe Encinitas City Council on Sept. 9 appointed Joe Mosca, the former mayor of Sierra Madre in Los Angeles County, to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

“I know how to get things done, and I know how to get things done with limited city funding,” said Mosca, an Olivenhain resident, in explaining his qualifications to the council. He also cited his experience on various regional boards.

As a commissioner, Mosca said he’d like to focus on maintaining and highlighting city hiking trails.

Of course. Hiking trails.

Those who are familiar with Joe's political activities in Sierra Madre immediately picked up on an obvious pattern (link). The carpetbagger who almost immediately jumped into local politics shortly after arriving, in a traditional small California city in severe risk of falling prey to predatory and destructive development, all while claiming to be a staunch defender of community traditions he did not even know existed a year earlier.

Did I get it all?

As we saw in this town, the Joe Mosca who ran for a City Council seat as a slow growth preservationist quickly became the willing attack dog for developers once he was elected to office. So is he now going to try that one all over again? Why? Is it now a career choice?

Here is how Encinitas Undercover broke the news yesterday (link).

We'll keep an eye out to see if this one goes anywhere. Hopefully it was all just speculation.

Bill Maher compares Donald Trump to Mussolini

Mod: I know it isn't a very flattering comparison. Then again, why anyone in Sierra Madre would want to make a developer president is beyond me.

Bill Maher on Trump’s Scary RNC Speech: ‘He Looked a Lot Like Mussolini’ - The host of ‘Real Time’ railed against the Republican presidential nominee’s speech at the Republican National Convention: ‘It was just really about death.’

“He looked a lot like Mussolini tonight,” said Bill Maher. “Did you see that? He would say something and then [shake his finger].”

The outspoken political satirist had, like many Americans, just witnessed the Republican National Convention’s closing speech delivered by their nominee, Donald J. Trump. And boy, was it a grim affair.

Terrorism. Immigrants. Joblessness. More terrorism. In Trump’s mind, America is a country on the brink of total and utter collapse, where people are drinking their own urine, knifing each other for bread and water, and making themselves shiny and chrome before hurling their emaciated bodies at oncoming traffic.

“He convinced a lot of people that he could look like a president—for the Hair Club for Men,” joked Maher. “If you were watching this speech, this was pretty remarkable how bleak this speech was. It was just really about death. Crime is going to kill you, immigrants are going to kill you, terrorists are going to kill you. He has a new hat: ‘Make America Goth Again.’ It was so depressing, Melania started plagiarizing a suicide note.”

“And of course the people in the hall loved it,” Maher added. “They were like, ‘Finally! A candidate who can bring this country apart!’”

Mod: I would have included selling out NATO for the benefit of Vlad "The Impaler" Putin, but maybe that is just me. Free Estonia. For the rest click here.