Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Arcadia Realtor Goes On A Hunger Strike Over City Council Election And Development Issues

Interesting item from the Pasadena Star News this fine morning. Apparently a Realtor in Arcadia has become so upset at the prospect of candidates advocating a slow growth perspective on development winning there in next Tuesday's City Council elections that he has gone on a hunger strike. Here is how the paper sets this story up:

Henry Nunez says he has never participated in a protest, sit-in or demonstration. He didn't even vote in the city's last general election. But now the 51-year old real estate developer and Realtor says he has been on a hunger strike since Easter Sunday - drinking only liquids to call attention to what he claims is "the most important election" in Arcadia's history.

Now normally you don't get quite that level of commitment in municipal elections here in Southern California. Sure some people work very hard on city campaigns, and there are those who can become quite passionate about the issues, but a hunger strike is pretty unprecedented. Especially in Arcadia, which is certainly not the kind of place you'd associate with missing meals over local politics.

So what exactly is the concern that has caused Henry to break the dinner bowl and get his Gandhi on? World hunger? The plight of the world's poor? An end to wars, now and forever? Mmm, apparently not. Would you believe this is actually over high density development?

The 245-pound, Cuban-born Nunez supports three candidates he believes could help create a more modern and innovative general plan for the city, maximize opportunities for mixed-use development around the future Gold Line light rail station and do more to integrate diverse ethnic groups in the community. City staff is now working on a general plan that will soon be presented to council. Those candidates are incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Peter Amundson and challengers Paul Cheng and Sho Tay.

It is worth noting that here in Sierra Madre we are currently experiencing no hunger strikes in support of the development agendas of Joe Mosca, Nancy Walsh, or the guy rumored to be currently enjoying spring break in fun-filled Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Of course, there is a slow growth side to the Arcadia equation, and the Star News asked for their opinion on Mr. Nunez's dramatic protest.

Mayor John Wuo defended the current city council's actions, however, and said every person has a right to their own opinion. "If one person wants something, do we have to do that person's request?" Wuo said. "We have almost 60,000 residents. Are we going to do it 60,000 ways? That's not good government."

So it turns out that Henry Nunez is not your typical Realtor. He apparently is the CEO of the very influential and quite prosperous Henry Nunez Real Estate Co, Inc., a leading developer in the area. And would it really be a controversy over development if there wasn't some kind of money angle? It is here that Mr. Nunez's true agenda is revealed.

"... Nunez, who has developed housing projects in cities such as Upland and Monrovia, admits, too, that he has a personal agenda in his election goals. Nunez, who is an executive officer and past chairman of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, would love to be the primary developer of multi-million (dollar) mixed-use projects between Colorado Boulevard and Huntington Drive.

Now that certainly gives us some insight into what has driven Henry to stage his hunger strike. And apparently that is what is at stake here. Those who are elected in next Tuesday's Arcadia City Council election will be the ones to decide just what kind of General Plan that city will adopt in the next year or so. And the fate of the high density and mixed-use development projects that Mr. Nunez hungers to build hang in the balance.

One of the candidates Nunez is opposing, Councilman Bob Harbicht, wants to maintain limits on the height of development in the downtown area - something Nunez considers "ludicrous." But Harbicht said he made clear to Nunez and others on a citizens' advisory committee last year that he did not want to double the density or raise the height limit from three stories to five stories, as they recommended at the time. "We felt it was a very dramatic change from what Arcadia has been in the last 100 years," noting that all members of the Council and Planning Commission were in agreement. "I don't think Arcadians want very dense development."

There is one thing in this article that I found particularly alarming, and that is Henry Nunez's involvement with the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. This influential organization is home to a couple of Sierra Madre's most shining luminaries in the business world. Not only does Bart Doyle sit on its Board of Directors, but that pesky Bill Coburn is also listed amongst those playing a role in the SGVEP.

Could these solons of commerce also go the hunger strike route over our election just like the SGVEP's Chairman Emeritus Henry Nunez has done in Arcadia? Or possibly adopt other equally radical and troubling strategies to somehow save their candidates from an ignominious defeat at the polls next Tuesday? If so, it could bring a whole new, and potentially troublesome, aspect to the Sierra Madre race.

65 comments:

  1. "Let me build condos or I won't eat!" wailed the red faced Realtor. It looks like those people are nuts everywhere.

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  2. Oh, phiffle! His doctor told him to knock off some of those 245 pounds and he wants you to think his weight loss program is a principled hunger strike.

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  3. Has the gentleman's mother been informed? I think this could be easily solved with a silver spoon and a jar of Gerber strained green beans.

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  4. Wish the election was 2 months away that way there would be one less developer to worry about.

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  5. New twist to the "Biggest Loser".

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  6. Have you ever wondered why these people dont get a real job?

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  7. Hunger strike... seems strange for persons like Coburn and Barty, who have long since waddled onto the real estate gravy train.

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  8. We did have a developer here in town endorse three candidates for city council--his was the Jamison Estate and later the few houses in Ida Mae Lane (named after Mrs. Jamison). Quite spectacular, those homes, among the grandest in Sierra Madre on large lots and still not large enough when early on many variance requests came before the Planning Commission to squeeze pools and pool equipment and bar-b-ques into the left over too small back yards.

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  9. Very interesting.
    So the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership includes Doyle and Coburn.

    Arcadia council candidates....Mayor Pro Tem Peter Amundson and challengers Paul Cheng and Sho Tay.
    These three men seem to have their signs everywhere in Arcadia. Amundson even had teenagers putting his signs on Sierra Madre Blvd, over the Sierra Madre city limits.
    I sent him an email and got a rather snotty reply back.
    I wonder how much money the development special interests and even major political parties are putting into these three guys' campaign?

    Nunez? What a joke. He's probably on the "slim fast diet".

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  10. Wow, that's a new one. Instead of "give me liberty or give me death," we have "give me profit opportunity or I will starve and it will be on your head" (waa-waa-waaaaaaa!). What an interesting and truly embarrassing stance for Mr. Nunez to take.

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  11. According to Larry Wilson's "Public Eye" blog it looks like the Nunez supported candidates in Arcadia have a decided edge in fund raising.

    - Peter Amundson $41,783
    - Paul Cheng $101,356
    - Sho Tay $29,410

    The rest, not so much:

    - Mickey Segal $18,475
    - Bob Harbicht $12,034
    - Jason Lee $28,423

    Shades of the kind of dough rasied by the "No On V" folks in 2007.

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  12. I wonder what Amundsen-Cheng-Tay have to offer their investors (oops, I mean contributors) that is worth $172,549?

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  13. Mayor Wuo, who defended the city's position, is also also a realtor, so this should be noted as the act of an individual...

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  14. Good for Mayor Wuo. When people put principle above their pocketbook, it needs to be commended.

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  15. I personally know 2 realtors in Sierra Madre (not with Judy Webb Martin) who are slow growth advocates.
    I personally know one in Monrovia. Works very hard to save the hillsides there and thinks realtors should NEVER be on City Councils.
    There are a few realtors the Monrovia CC.
    We should never allow realtors on the City Council in Sierra Madre.
    My friend in Monrovia told me that the development interests in Sierra Madre (better known as DIRTS) WILL develop this town, every square inch of it, and will not hesitate to use
    EMINENT DOMAIN to do it.

    That's why this election on April 13th is so critical for Sierra Madre.

    Please vote for those who will support and PROTECT your interest and your property.

    Vote for Don Watts, Vote for John Crawford, Vote for Pat Alcorn and vote YES on Measure ED.

    Your vote will save this city!

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  16. Sorry OK, but all perspectives should be encouraged in town because no one person has all the answers. No one group should ever be excluded from the process just because you personally don't agree with them. A community works by working together, not by segregating against people they disagree with.

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  17. Nice sentiments 8:54, but we have often heard that from people who are quite hidebound and inflexible when it comes to those things they hold near and dear. I am afraid that there really are two camps when it comes to certain issues in the town, but is that really unique to Sierra Madre? One only has to look to Sacramento, or Washington DC, or even our neighbors in Arcadia, to see that this is hardly a local phenonmenon.

    Cumbaya politics is a myth.

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  18. I think OK was addressing the issue of conflict of interest, as represented by real estate interests sitting on City Councils and appointed commissions. Even with required public disclosure of their business and investment interests, it doesn't seem that some of these developers, lobbyists and realtors have been exactly forthcoming about their connections, which is a violation of FPPC guidelines and public trust.

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  19. 8:54 sounds like the designated driver for the Moran campaign while he's lolling about in Lake Havasu on Spring Break.

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  20. Hey, you're only 40 once.

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  21. No profession is precluded from sitting on a city council, and the conflicts of interests laws define a conflict if there is a current (within 18 months) benefit to you, or your immediate family, not a speculation for potential in the future.

    As for specific individuals city on current councils... those in monrovia, arcadia, duarte, altadena, el monte, and other cities around here have all been ethical leaders. Sure there may be some bad apples out there, but not everyone should be painted with such a tainted brush.

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  22. If you read the entire Star News article Henry discusses how he considered being a candidate for City Council in Arcadia, but chose instead to be a Realtor. It is hard to say given the vagueness of the way it was written, but some sort of possible conflict appeared to be a consideration for him.

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  23. ...or he wants to concentrate on his business...

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  24. If you mean the likeness of Bart Doyle, the attorney for the BIA, orchestrating the development of our downtown for financial gain while sitting and voting on the city council isn't conflict of interest, what is.
    Moran, if elected to the council had better be ready to opt out on voting for development interests, his whole family and himself are in the real estate development game.

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  25. It would seem to me that any City Atty that wouldn't advize a City Councilman with personal or family financial stakes in the realty trade to recuse themselves when development issues are to be discussed would be remiss in his/her duties.

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  26. i thought it had been covered by this blog that moran hasnt been in real estate for at least a year...

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  27. Family ties, 10:45. Plus he is involved in loans dealing with realty issues.

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  28. 10:45, you're doing a great job for Moran while he's off on holiday. If by being an account exec for a loan company doing business in real estate loans isn't being in the real estate business what is? Go Fish.

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  29. Is that the same individual pictured with this blog and the Star News under the Gold Line in today's issue? Let the fasting begin!

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  30. conflicts of interest don't apply to what your parents do.

    As for being a loan officer, it is a transaction between an individual and a bank. That whole notational vs. real property distinction that they teach in introductory business classes.

    Go Fish.

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  31. I can't imagine that there aren't a number of development executives that didn't cringe when they saw that Star News article today. Things must be going poorly for them in Arcadia. What a desperate stunt!

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  32. Is it lunch time yet? All this talk about hunger strikes is giving me an appetite.

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  33. Yes, but 10:55 am, isn't that distinction what busted a former Mayor and Councilman effectively allowing him to take early retirement from his financial institutuion? Never underestimate the research ability of Sierra Madre citizens and the pro bono efforts put forth on their behalf.

    So when will Moran be re-joining the campaign trail?

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  34. Okay. So who will get more votes? Bill Tice or Mrs. Walsh?

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  35. Can't we all just get alongApril 7, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    We can all get along as long as one group, like the Downtown Investment Club, doesn't overreach boundaries and bring enormous changes to the town without public approval - hence the great passage of Measure V. Want to do a big development here? Fine, just make sure the community agrees with it.
    So the idea of merging politically is a good one - but everybody has to be respectful and play fair. So far, those referred to as "Dirts" have not played fair, and have shown the most arrogant of attitudes, as in "We will develop the city and the hillsides the way we want, and don't pay any attention to who our friends and supporters are - after all, we all have the same values near and dear to our hearts."
    No thanks.

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  36. Just read the whole article about Nunez in the PSN.
    It's comforting to know that they have their pro-development crazies too.

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  37. Nunez has been living on water, coffee, tea and Mountain Dew. And he's 51. That means he's ingesting caffeine and sugar and/or sugar substitutes, and that mysterious elixir water, the never-ending substance developers don't worry about.

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  38. Most fasts, for health or social justice, do not include Mountain Dew.

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  39. Speaking of a dude doin' the Dew, is Mr. Moran really rockin' Spring Break, or is that just a rumor?

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  40. Good plan, Nunez.

    If you need to you could hold your breath until Mahony makes Pope and they let you tear down the library and build a strip mall.

    In a related story a chunky dude threatened to shut his eyes really, really tight unless everybody votes for one of those harsh dames running for governor, and they let him sell timeshares at the Arboretum.

    This just in: A plus-size ex mortgage banker promised to sing 99 Bottles of Beer On the Wall just as loud as she can until Judge Judy gets appointed to the Supreme Court and she is allowed to erect a tent city at Santa Anita Racetrack.

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  41. If I don't get to build condos I will beat up these cute little bunnies. It will all be YOUR fault, too, because I am a victim.

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  42. Anyone who would like CRAWFORD, WATTS and ALCORN signs in their yard (show your pride for the good guys), please call John or Diane Shear
    355-4776. We'll deliver to your yard.
    Thanks so much to all of you who are supporting us!

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  43. Just got a Nancy Walsh card. That picture makes it look like smiling causes her some real discomfort.

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  44. 3:57 pm, if we were not enjoined from personal attacks, I'd comment on Mrs. Walsh's photo as well. Suffice to say we can assume it is her and not a toad.

    Anyway, usual blah blah from a nouveau candidate trying to appeal to a broad range of voters. Didn't mention her talent for tap dancing.

    I predict Bill Tice will get more votes.

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  45. Time for the Tattler Board to start running some odds on the election?

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  46. from Nancy's postcard: 'sensibly integrate Measure V into the planning process.' You got it wrong Nancy--Measure V drives the planning process. It is the underpinnings of the planning process. Measure V is the planning framework. Your vote for Alcorn, Crawford and Watts will elect people who understand Measure V.

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  47. Anon at 10:40, you mean Josh should opt out like Don Watts had to do during One Carter because he was architect?

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  48. Is it true that Moran is paying Coburn and Miller to do PR for his campaign? I wouldn't believe it but since he's not been seen canvassing nor has he been at Mary's in several days it's sounding more and more likely.

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  49. 4:23 I beg to differ. I believe you are the one who has it wrong. Measure V is exactly what we have to work with in the planning process. It is the law. This has been a huge problem with the council since Maryann was elected. Seems to me that the majority of council thinks that Measure V equates to doing nothing, leaving us with a Blight Is Better Slogan for our sad looking downtown. Unless when you state "Measure V drives the planning process" you mean it drives us to have abandoned property downtown.

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  50. Nancy's Happy Meals is missing it's burger.April 7, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    Got Nancy Walsh's card today. Poor dear still doesn't understand what Measure V is. Can someone please explain it to the befuddled lady.

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  51. 4:36

    The current owners of the SNF overpaid when they bought the property with their sole intent to build 55 condo 3 stories high plus retail. They were not able to build what they had been promised by past administrators, so they let the property sit and rot when the economy tanked. Do not blame anyone in the city for the condition of the property. Measure V has nothing to do with the condition of the property, the greedy owners do. Letting it fall into disprepair is a "F you" to the city.

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  52. like the world wouldn't be better off with a few less realtors

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  53. I was glad to see the Nunez victim ploy.
    We've had so much of it locally in this campaign, it was a relief to widen the circle.

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  54. 4:23, MaryAnn bashing is really a sign of a limited consciousness and a failure to grasp significant ideas.
    When she ran, a number of us told her she'd have to be prepared to be slandered and attacked, because that was the chief technique your camp uses - another sign of not having all that much to work with.
    MaryAnn is more than equal to the task, but you might want to focus on the actual candidates for this campaign.
    You already lost the last one.

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  55. 5:40 PM,
    Unfortunately your comment that you hope Nunez starves himself to death is what gives the Dirts the ammunition to turn this valued blog into a vehicle that may cause our candidates to lose.

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  56. Please god let john crawford win the electionApril 7, 2010 at 7:39 PM

    anonymous, 7:22 giving dirts ammo is not my intent, please remove my comment, Sir Eric, my apologies tatts.

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  57. Excellently put, 6:43. The Moscateer modus operandi is to wail about their victimhood, and then use that as their rationale to attack and attack and attack. Which is accommodated by the worthless pay to play weekly press.

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  58. A @ 4:36 could you read A @ 4:23 again?

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  59. Some confusion going on here: Where is 4:23 bashing MaryAnn? Where is 4:23 mistating the function of Measure V?

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  60. Trolling is getting nasty tonight. Putting this on moderation.

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  61. "Pesky" (unneccessary adjective) Bill Coburn has an obligation to be a part of many organizations the SGVEP being one of them due to his position with the Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce. The energy being spent mudslinging might be better spent on issues that will improve our community.

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  62. I heartily agree 12:46. Now how can we convince Mosca and Buchanan to stop all of the hypocritical crying about attacks that they themselves create?

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  63. I did notice John Buchanan covering his face for most of Moscas Meltdown, and for once, not a peep!

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  64. Henry Nunez: I have not contributed any money to any of the Arcadia candidates and always disclosed my profession as developer for the record but I have no projects before Arcadia. Sorry I can’t hold my stomach in to make any sort of difference just not fit right now. I can only laugh though at all the fatty and chubby jokes because they are true and some very funny, the hold your breath or have your mommy do it, touché.
    I am oppossed to our leaderships position of no change in Arcadia and that we don't have any problems. Handing off the Mayor's office amongst the same group of good old boys for the past 20+ years has not positioned Arcadia for a bright future with the ability to provide us with the services we will need in the future. Arcadia is the only city with no plans for our Gold Line station and any Transit Oriented Development is more dense, mix of uses and higher height limits. Our Council spent $720,000 on a general plan consultant and it is highly irresponsible to spend that type of money if you are going to throw the plan away. Why not present the expert consultants report to begin the public hearings for Arcadia’s citizenry to decide rather than have the Council create their own plan of choice, which is 25 years behind today’s standards per the consultant. Or better yet DISCLOSE the fact that the council is going to create the general plan rather than hide the fact. I pity the poor foolish council members if they ever tried that in sierra madre and wasted that much of your money especially if they are overweight.
    I don’t make any decisions but certainly want a more progressive< innovative city that provides our citizenry places for us to spend our money here in town for shopping, entertaining, dining, provide job growth opportunities etc. In my opinion Arcadia has no leadership with a clearly defined direction based on the needs of the future not the past. If I can wake some people up and wipe the sleep out of their eyes and see the current vision for Arcadia does not exist and motivate citizens to step forward and vote then that is what I will do for my city. And if the leadership wants to impose their own general plan they created at least just be Man enough to say that we threw away the $720k plan the expert and the citizens advisory committee made. Did you hear that? The citizens of Arcadia whom were asked to participate by the city….isn’t that who our leadership represents?
    Don’t you think it would be a good idea to explore alternatives to the racetrack if the horse racing industry was dying like it is? Or do you think good leadership would wait until something dramatic happens like shuts down before you even begin to think about it? Kind of like the Gold Line Station right now. By the way maybe you want our automobile dealership in your downtown because I don't want it in ours. If you ran your businesses or your families like Arcadia you or someone else in your family would be doing a hell of a lot more than what I am doing.
    By the way, list some of your physical attributes because I got some real good jokes as long as that’s par for the course right? Thank you for the space to post and good luck with your elections. Nice forum John.

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  65. I can only hope if he should pass from this earth the least we could do for him is allow a Two Story Crypt that overlooks the other deceased realtors and developers. Godspeed Henry!

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