Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Who Is The Secret Squirrel?

Recently we discussed Glenn Lambdin's idiosyncratic performance at the March 10th City Council meeting. His contention that a secretly recorded tape of City Council members discussing Sierra Madre's rich historical heritage at a publicly announced and attended social event is proof of a cabal of renegade elected officials out to make secret laws designed to defraud the citizens of this community has been received with laughter and hoots of derision here. And for many these latest antics only further confirmed what they've always felt about the colorful individual being discussed here.

Of course, there is that one rather nagging question. Why would he be going after his ideological allies on this City Council, John Buchanan and Joe Mosca? This remains a mystery to everyone I have spoken to. What is it he expects to gain here by embarking on a path that, at least on a fantasy level, could possibly deprive these two gents of not only their positions on the City Council, but also their right to practice law in the State of California as well? Obviously his actions make no sense whatsoever. What did they do, forget his birthday? Run over his dog?

Of course, it could be that the fault lies with us. Perhaps the attempt to apply reason and logic to a situation where none exists is a cultural conceit on our part. One that seeks to deny the target of our concern the right to exist in a primitive parallel universe where City Council types are dragged off screaming in the middle of the night for discussing old blacksmith shops and carriage turnabouts. And then sentenced to a gulag of perpetual agony.

But that is a question I am not prepared to answer today. If you are, then have at it. I can only admit to genuine confusion on the matter.

What I would like to discuss this perfect California day is the search for the Secret Squirrel. A "squirrel," for those new to the parlance, is an individual who carries a small recording device upon his person in hopes of secretly capturing on tape conversations that will cause great embarrassment and misfortune to those he resents. The origin of the term being the animated cartoon character Secret Squirrel, pictured at the top of this page.

And apparently there was a squirrel at this now controversial meeting of local heritage buffs, which was also attended by City Council members. A squirrel that unobtrusively stood by and got much of what was said down on the tape that so over-heated the imagination of Glenn Lambdin. And nobody there seemed to know they were being taped. The squirrel did its work well.

Now the only proof as to the identity of this squirrel that I can offer here today is of the anecdotal variety. There is some guesswork here. And it must be clearly stated that I am merely offering deductions based on conversations I have had with some of the people who did attend this gathering. One that led to the discounting of the squirrel potential of most of those in attendance. And after we whittled that list down, there was only one logical candidate. And my opinion, which is shared by the several other people I have spoken to before writing this piece, is that our Secret Squirrel is none other than that doughty newshound in servitude to the paper that is still - and quite illegally - calling itself "Observer," Dean Lee.

Why Dean? A couple of reasons. The first being that he is almost never without his small hand held recorder. I've included a picture of something similar here. Dean can often be seen at City Council meetings with a device like this in his hand. It saves him the bother of having to write things down like most newsies would. Secondly, as a reporter covering a local story, wouldn't he be expected to attend an event like this? It is very much the kind of soft news item that the "Observer" favors these days. His rather innocuous
presence being in no way notable or out of place at a gathering like this. Such an individual can always count on anonymity at such occasions, the mark of a true squirrel.

Can you name one other person in this town who carries a small recorder of this type? And would be at a public gathering such as the one we're discussing here? And would actually want to tape John Buchanan and Joe Mosca as they expounded mightily upon horseshoe manufacture during the time of Lucky Baldwin.
These planets do align.

And didn't former Mayor Lambdin, during his brief yet energetic speech last week, contend that this taping was actually not all that secret? Perhaps because it would be something to be expected of a reporter? Particularly one widely known to use such a thing?

Now I don't want to be too harsh on our suspected Secret Squirrel. I honestly do not believe that he actually intended to be there with his device taping things with the purpose of inciting such bizarre interest in persons much larger than him. Dean was just covering an event. And I suspect that it was only after the tape was later heard by certain concerned individuals that its supposed potential was deduced. But isn't that always the fate of squirrels? After they deliver the fruits of their labors, those in charge get to interpret the meaning, and for their own purposes.

But we're getting into a matter that will covered in our next chapter on this saga. The one that will deal with our local versions of the cartoon super-spies, Boris and Natasha.


  1. The image of senior buchanan and senior mosca forced to resign from our city council in humiliating disgrace and additionally be disbarred and lose their shyster credentials makes me drool with anticipation. but is this ominous brown act truly so draconian? how does it work? who enforces it? what the hell is it?

  2. I've been looking up a lot of things on the Brown Act, and it doesn't really seem quite as totalitarian as some staffers at the "Observer" might wish. I was going to write about it today, but then I found that Secret Squirrel picture. Depending on what turns up today, I might have it done by this time tomorrow.

  3. So this is how its going to be in this town now?
    Every time someone from the City Council goes
    outside some nitwit with a hidden tape recorder
    is going to be there to follow him around and
    capture every word? What a town!

  4. Your clever column is amusing, Sir Eric.
    Can't help but laugh.
    However.....this is really an outrage. The fact that these councilmembers were given fliers in their packets, inviting them to attend.....and then taped, most likely Boris and Natasha gave Secret Squirrel his instructions.
    My main concern is this will discourage our city council members from ever attending public or private gatherings.

  5. I know of two C.C.'s that purposely avoid these types of meetings for fear the discussions will influence a decision they may have to make in the future.
    They are supposed to look at issues without bias.

  6. 1. I think this is an issue driven town. Buddies on one issue can be sworn enemies on another issue.
    2. My recollection is that Lamden HATED the Cultural Heritage Commission. I can't remember if he was on the Council when CH Commission was disbanded, but I do think he believes in individual property rights over cultural heritage. Didn't he support the initiative to gut the historic registry by allowing to de-list their homes? So if the "tape" discusses strengthening or changing some rule concerning historic preservation that's what would have prompted him (at least in my humble opinion).
    3. If it was Dean Lee, why wouldn't he save it for his own paper instead of giving it to Lamden?
    4. Whoever it was, our Council members need to abide by the Brown Act. It shows a basic disrespect for the elected office to violate the Brown Act. Zimmerman, in spite of his agreement with us on some issues, does seem to show contempt for the citizens of this town in his attitude from time to time. I don't know if that means he would do something like this or not. I thought it just meant he was rude.
    5. Perhaps Lamden was unhappy about the anticipated finger pointing in store regarding budget surplus/UUT/irresponsible past City Councils and wanted people talking about this instead.
    6. Sir Eric, this is surely interesting, but shouldn't we also be discussing WHO AT CITY COUNCIL SHOULD BE FIRED OVER A FAILURE TO PROPERLY ACCOUNT FOR OVER $1 MILLION DOLLARS?
    7. While we're at it, shouldn't we discuss why our city website claims to have City Council meetings up within a week and the newest one is over a year old? That's people's access to their government.
    8. Shouldn’t we continue to discuss the Congregational Church mess? BTW, the Steamers building appears to be FOR SALE. That won’t end up a church too will it?

  7. 8:09 AM - Why would Dean give the tape to Glenn? Because Susan told him to probably. The one thing you need to remember about the "Observer," it's all about Susan's political agenda. And why are you bashing Kurt? This guy has done more to rescue this town from the dirtbags than just about anyone else. You push all that aside because of some imagined slight? And I can't imagine Sir Eric talking about the $1 million surplus any more than he has. The story broke on this site. And have you seen anything about it in the Star News? Or Weekly? Or the God forsaken "Observer?" Of course you haven't.

  8. Oracle at First WaterMarch 17, 2009 at 8:36 AM

    I see a swirling fog... it's clearing now... Dean Lee is a reporter for the, wait, it's coming, the MVObserver... Glenn Lambdung is a columnist for the, wait, it's coming, the MVObserver... Susan Henderson is the publisher of the, wait, it's coming, the MVObserver... do I see... Yes! I do! More to come...

  9. Perhaps Annoymous 8:09 can keep more than one thought in his head at a time. KZim can be a bit brisk - doesn't take away from what he does for town that he isn't very kind.
    This blog could do more follow up I agree with that.

  10. just looked up the brown act on wikipedia. as i read it, some farmer assemblyman from turlock concocted the thing half a century ago. nobody's ever been able to enforce it. buchanan and bait 'n' switch can rest easily. damit.

  11. Don Watts and Kurt Zimmerman were elected to council in 2006. They did not promise to bring us all "peace, joy, serenity"...they promised to bring us the TRUTH. The TRUTH, after being hidden for so long under the rule of the DIRTS, is not comfortable to many, including the city councilmen, Mayor Zimmerman and Don Watts.....don't you all think Don and Kurt would love to have "peace, joy, serenity"? Of course they would.
    The TRUTH often brings disruption, but in the long run, THE TRUTH WILL SET US FREE.
    I personally, thank God for Don Watts, a man who under severe personal and professional attacks, has stood his ground against the lies of the Dirts. Don is a STAND UP GUY, honest almost to a fault. He is a TREASURE to Sierra Madre.
    Mayor Zimmerman is also a stand up guy, who also is honest to a fault. This man didn't have to run for council, same for Don Watts.
    They did because it was the right thing to do.
    They have no self interest or agenda here.
    Mayor Zimmerman is actually a very sweet even shy man, who is humble. Kurt Zimmerman has been one of the finest Mayors we've had in a long time. God Bless you, Kurt and God Bless you Don Watts!
    The vast majority of Sierra Madre residents are so grateful you are there representing us.
    Of course we are also very lucky to have MaryAnn MacGillivray, another honest soul who did not have to run for City Council. A large group of citizens nearly forced her to do so.
    I'm sure she would rather be doing other things with her time. Just as Don and Kurt would. They are doing their time for us, folks.
    Kurt.....Don.....MaryAnn.....THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Anybody want to bet on who 8:09 is?

  13. You can read the Brown Act for yourself!
    Copy & Paste:

  14. 8:09

    The Steamers location is closed. The sign is for leasing the second floor space above Steamers. There is a sign on the door that indicates the manager might open up shop at the Library. Who would give the approval for a private vendor to sell on city property; the "dirty" Library Board of Trustees, the planning commission, or the City Council?

  15. The person who taped that meeting was instructed to do so by a person(s) who have one mission- which is to destroy/discredit certain councilmembers. Why else would the recording be turned over to a person such as Glen Lambdin who is so full of hate and venom? He and Henderson are so obsessed with destroying three members of the council that Joe and John are probably seen as collateral damage.

  16. This has nothing to do with the Brown Act, it is strictly the work of Natasha, Boris, and Secret Squirrel.
    It's an evil scheme to disrupt the city business.

  17. Anonymous @ 8:09 - If you have new information on the $1,000,000 please let me know. I've pretty much exhausted all that I know. Though I do have faith that with the high competence of the majority faction on our City Council all the right things are being done. Of course, if you feel that I am not adequately covering topics of importance to you, please feel free to start your own blog. And as for me? I'll continue to write about whatever I damned well please. One of the joys of ownership.

  18. Write what you damn well please, but please don't forget to follow through with the other stories you've already started!

  19. Let me guess, when MaryAnn is up for Mayor
    in a few weeks all the usual knuckledraggers
    will drag their fat butts into Cityu Hall and yammer about The Brown Act. Thanks for lancing this boil, Tattler. This nonsense is now DOA.

  20. Day already posted the Brown Act link:

    There has been no violation of the Brown Act.
    My neighbor was at that meeting in question and he said John Buchanan answered a question on if it was a violation or not, Buchanan said it was not. Last time I heard, Buchanan is still an attorney. Don't you think him or Joe would have left if it was a violation?
    Sandy Levin will declare it no violation and that will be the end of it.
    Thank you Sir Eric.
    We've had enough of this bully, Lambdin.

  21. Who would have ever thought that the old "No on V" crowd would so quickly dissolve into nothing but a handful of cranks and crackpots. No wonder they couldn't get their audits done!

  22. Bill, some would say the same about the Yes on V crowd especially after reading all these rants about the dreaded DIRTS!!
    Dirts are apparently the monsters some teach their children to fear instead of your neighbors.
    Let V go and get along with your fellow man.
    Forgiveness is divine.

  23. Heh. Yeah. And in the meantime run around with a tape recorder and try to trap city council members. Give it up.

  24. susan henderson's post-luncheon monlogue -- "keeping a community newspaper alive...never loose (sic) your focus!" --for the kiwanis outfit was an anti-climax: just as the questions were getting good the moderator shut the whole thing down. susan, however, manage to deny that the mayor's recent remarks about the doubtful accuracy of her newspaper phased her because she never heard or read them (wanna bet?).But she took on the police chief for charging that Susan got the details all wrong regarding the jailing of t-room tom. The facts will vindicate her, maintained Susan."I choose news that best benefits the community" she declared, then later denied she prints only softball stories flattering the town and never unfalttering yarns which embarrass the city but nevertheless are the vital hard news.
    I'm losing it, can't decipher my own notes, but here are some random quotes from susan the she-martyr: "I worked 40 hours a week for l42 weeks"..."In this town the politics are pretty tough"..."An editor of any newspaper is constantly under attack"..."I give you what I truly believe"..."I will not leave Sierra Madre"... attacks on me don't bother me"... susan the pol "I was the highest paid worker in the Democratic Party"...and remark that she seemed proud of, perhaps because it says it all "I piss people off.I'm very good at it."
    Say what you will. Susan's one tough old lady.

  25. Just got a report from one who attended the Kiwani's meeting.
    Susan Henderson- bitter old woman who was defensive and not enthusiastic. No cheerleading, just a "poor me" in nearly every paragraph she spoke. Susan "the victim".
    Seems her shady past has finally caught up with her. She is a loser on her way out. She lost in court and she will lose in the court of public opinion.
    She did pretty much admit it was Dean Lee who taped the questionable meeting. Said all the papers have reporters who tape events and meetings. This is true, it's just what Dean did with the tape, or what whoever he gave it to did with it.

  26. Thanks for the confirmation. So let's
    put this on the Three Stooges scale:
    Susan - Moe
    Dean - Larry
    Glenn - Curly
    Yep. This case is now closed.

  27. Anon @3:35, I agree that forgiveness is a good thing, and frankly I don't like the label of "dirts," even though you must admit it's handy. One can use "pro-expansion,' "anti slow growth," or "opposed to Measure V, along with the BIA and CAR" instead.
    We are very, very lucky that we have a town left at all, and those who opposed Measure V imperiled Sierra Madre. Had the DSP been implemented, what do you think the town would be like? Just imagine the SMCC having its way! Those who sat on past councils and approved excessive hillside development are not for the town - they are for themselves. Mega Church, slaughtered hillsides, ruined downtown - that would have been the gift of the pro-expansionists. Forgive, of course, we all need forgiveness - but trust? Respect? "Let go"?
    You can't turn your back on a rattler.

  28. Sierra Madre business ownerMarch 17, 2009 at 6:28 PM

    Hey does anyone know if Susan said anything about the possibility of being adjudicated in contempt of court?
    Maybe she likes to make judges angry, too.

  29. SMBO
    All she said was that the name Observer would soon be changed.
    Never mentioned she was under court order to do so.

  30. Won't that mean Susan will once and for all have to
    admit that she lost in Court? I hear the "crowd" at
    her speech today was a little on the sparse side.

  31. Annon 111: They named themselves dirts from their website Downtown Dirt. When it started a postcard was sent to everyone in town announcing the site.

    I heard they were on the sleepy side. A couple of men actually fell asleep.

  32. This is true, the dirts named themselves.
    James Carlson (now a city staffer) went up and down Sierra Madre Blvd. on the Forth of July parade day, passing out fliers announcing BETH IS BACK....VISIT THE DOWNTOWNDIRT.COM website!
    We all know the rest. Beth Buck's fallacious downtown dirt morphed into the Cumquat and then the vile Qunt websites......who in the name of "comedy" came up with the worst possible vile LIES about Kurt Zimmerman and Don Watts imaginable. They were horrific.
    They came up with lies about leading citizens, even involved their children.
    There were at least 3 different writers on those vile websites....one of them is a well known dirt. One of them is now deceased. The other is still a mystery.
    This website will not allow the profane and will not allow attacking people's children.
    Everything Sir Eric posts is true, if he makes an error and can't validate something, he takes it down. If you post on his website using filthy language or attacking a person's children....you do not stay posted, no matter if you are dirts or non-dirts.
    Thank you for enforcing these standards Sir Eric, this is the reason you attract some of the most gifted writers in town to post here.
    Posters, Day, Pasta, Roia, and the new poster Joe Scalzo are very good writers and surely amoung the most knowledgable people in Sierra Madre. Of course Sir Eric is the King, in my book!
    Good evening everyone.

  33. You can't be sure ALL these writers are "in town", this is the "world wide web" after all.

  34. With all of this transparency in Sierra Madre government now, I am wondering if Zimmerman, MacGillivray and Watts will share with their constituents what the actual litigation fees for Carter and Stonehouse have amounted to over the last ten years. Perhaps the mystery million recently found will need to be used to pay those fees?

  35. Anonymous at 4:34 - so I guess that if you see Dean Lee nearby, you'll just have to assume he's taping you. Really adds to that gent's overall appeal, you know?

  36. Sierra Madre business ownerMarch 18, 2009 at 8:50 AM

    Anonymous @ 11:00, yes indeed. Those litigation fees are shocking, and demonstrate that the then-council should have stood up to the legal bullying in the first place. Another reason you can thank Stockley, Torres, Buchanan and Joffe - they mishandled Dorn Platz so badly, so weakly, that the damage is still going on. That 'council' should have fought DP, won the cases (as they were told by more than one lawyer they would) and implemented a reasonable project. Could have been completed by now.

  37. Anon, 3/17, 11 - you don't mention Mosca and Buchanan. Is that because you know they don't advocate transparency? They fought tooth and nail to keep the DSP EIR away from the citizens, so I get your point.

  38. Back to the Brown Act--violation of it is a misdemeanor but I do not think anyone in its history has ever been convicted of it. It's also used to set aside actions of City Council's when a violation has been shown. That's probably what Glenn is up to. He has a well known antipathy to historic preservation so he's got this scary tape in his pocket that will stop (or overturn) any historic preservation laws that come into effect. At least he thinks it's a silver bullet.

    I'm not losing any sleep, though.

  39. Sounds like a red herring to me. MaryAnn is up for Mayor in a few weeks, and can't you imagine one red faced and agitated contractor fidgeting at the podium yelling about the Brown Act? Anybody want to bet cash money that there will be something about this in the "Observer" whenever it comes out? Typical shenanigans from the lunatic asylum.

  40. I agree with Bad Karma @ 12:12. The opposition would like nothing better than to tarnish MaryAnn's name, and prevent her from becoming Mayor in April. The role of Mayor is an important one, it's not just a title.

    The opposition has lost control of this town with the lack of three votes. They have also lost control by not having Joe or John as Mayor this past year. MaryAnn has the necessary skills and expertise to run orderly meetings. She has demonstrated strong leadership qualities which are absolutely necessary in the event of a natural disaster.

    Think back to Kurt's fine ability to lead us through the fires. (Can you imagine what might have happened if Joe had been Mayor at that time??) Last week, Kurt revealed the extra $1 million found in the 2007 audit, and strongly recommended that outside counsel take a hard look at the city's past financial practices. He even stated that there should possibly be a moratorium or repeal of the UUT. (Can you see Joe doing any of this??)

    We are facing tough financial times ahead of us. We need an honest person who will put the city's best interests before his/her own interests. I think the opposition will do anything to prevent this.

    Do not get caught up in the sideshow. We need MaryAnn as Mayor in April!

  41. I wonder who drew this picture it's flying all over the net but i can't find the higher res one. I always liked his rtr tape recorder hidden in his coat, it's sort of a way to spoof secret service agencies of the 80's. If you ever watched movies containing FBI they always show that they are using reel to reel recorders because FBI uses only hi tech technology. Even thou cassettes were more compact and starting to kick in real fast, no FBI movie ever showed agent with a cassette recorder.