Monday, July 12, 2010

I've Finally Figured Out Who Susan Henderson Reminds Me Of: W.C. Fields

"Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill." - W.C. Fields

"Oh yes, Susan Henderson has me pegged. Despite the thousands of dollars I shovel to Sierra Madre every year in taxes for the 'priviledge' of living here, I am an ingrate and a freeloader. Remind me to walk my dog by some Mountain Views News paper racks soon." - Case

For the couple of years I've been writing this blog I have often struggled to come to grips with the out-sized persona of a prominent local nuisance usually known as Susan Henderson. Or Harriet Poole depending on which incarnation of her life's earthly essence you're pondering. Susan's fraudulent claims to vast local importance, her absurdly inflated self-regard, and general hauteur, all coupled with an inability to see anything in any way except that which best suits her own personal agendas, is the stuff of local legend. And how else does one describe all that than to conjure up the wheezing ghost of W.C. Fields?

Though, of course, for W.C. Fields these attributes were only a small part of what were many entertaining stage personas. While with Susan it seems to be the work of a lifetime of uncritical devotion.

So what is the source of Susan's presumptuous grandiosity? Apparently it is a small local weekly throwaway news rag she publishes called The Mountain Views News. Perhaps when you're downtown you will have seen it sailing by on a windy day. Or, when using the facilities at Memorial Park, you'll notice it on the floor where the day laborers make use of such things when the usual remedies have run out. A collection of biased opinions, hopelessly indignant op-eds, news slanted to further the interests of benefactors both governmental and personal, all the while vilifying anyone who does not fit into her idiosyncratic conception of what represents proper society in town.

Which, to this jaundiced eye, are predominantly smalltown well-leisured club people who somehow have come to believe, like Susan, that their affairs are at the heart of all activity in town. The proof of this entitlement being that their pictures and affairs can often be observed in the Mountain Views News.

And for those who do not pass muster with this reigning Mahatma of Mayberry Magnificence? The kind of disdain you might expect from a Queen Victoria, or Prince Albert should he ever escape his can. Attitude being, as Mr. Fields pointed out, everything.

Yesterday a fine example of Susan's signature serial haughtiness erupted in her paper like the recurrent rosacea on a drunk's nose. The subject of this self-privileged ire was those few brave and tireless volunteers who are contesting this City's suspect claims that it requires a whopping 40% rate increase to sustain basic water service here in Sierra Madre. People who took on the very difficult task of gathering the 1,900 rate payer signatures it will take to get the good people of this City the review they'll need to remedy this rushed and poorly conceived scheme. One that apparently has more to do with raising the matching funds necessary to win a rather large EPA grant than it does any as yet unspecified pipe repairs.

Here is a passage from Susan's unfortunate rant:

Once again certain residents of Sierra Madre have gathered together to stage yet another protest about something. This time its' (sic) about the proposed water rate hikes. Don't get me wrong, I believe in the right to free speech. However, I don't believe that anyone should use that right to deceive and mislead. And recently, in an effort to garner 50% plus 1 of the water rate payer signatures against the rate hike, deception has become the name of the game ... And therein lies the real problem. This is not a game. Everyone that I have ever met in this town has always said they want to maintain the "village character," "small town charm" and "independence" that Sierra Madre is priviledged (sic) to have. Everyone wants it, but there are some who don't want to pay for it.

When you consider the amount of property taxes it takes to own a home in Sierra Madre, along with the fact that we're already paying some of the highest water and UUT rates in the entire Los Angeles County area, to suggest that the homeowners of Sierra Madre are freeloaders is ridiculous. And maybe if Susan actually owned a home here she would know that. That this kind of carelessly issued and mean spirited abuse is being used to justify raising water rates in a town where so many residents and businesses have already been hit hard by the worst economic collapse in 80 years defies reason. But again, how would she know?

As long time witnesses to Susan's colicky outbursts can attest, when things look dicey for those whose interests she represents (in this case City Hall which, for the record, pays her considerable amounts of money to publish legal advertising), she just gets medieval. No reasoned discourse on the issues, no carefully considered arguments, no examples of her claims. Nothing like that. Just name calling and ad hominem attacks, all larded with the somewhat pompous assumption that most believe as she does, and that her opinions actually account for something. After all, in her mind these "certain residents" are hardly worth even that little effort from so esteemed a personage as herself.

But for Susan to claim that others are being less than aboveboard when just that sort of behavior once cost her one of the highest ranking political positions in the State of California is, well, a very delicious irony.

Here, in its entirety, is a front page article that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and its sister paper The Examiner on May 25, 1995. It details Susan's dramatic and devastating fall from the #2 ranking job in the Democratic Party of California. Her denouement was so complete and final that she was never to occupy so high a position again.

Demo leader resigns under fire. Questions over state party officials resume, credit card expenditures -- H. Susan Henderson, onetime Republican turned executive director of the California Democratic Party, has resigned her $78,000-per-year post amid controversy over alleged resume-pumping and questionable expenditures on a party credit card.

State party chair Bill Press announced Henderson's departure Wednesday, that same day The Examiner reported that she had registered to vote as a Republican barely two years before taking the $78,000-per-year Democratic Party post.

The Examiner also reported that the University of California had no record of awarding Henderson a law degree and an MBA, as she claimed on her resume, and that a Sunnyvale business executive said Henderson had failed to repay a $2,000 loan.

A confidential news source said that California Democrats, who face the crucial 1996 election with a deficit of $1 million, would pay Henderson $25,000 in exchange for her resignation.

In a press release, Press said he had ordered an audit of the state party's books, after receiving an anonymous letter contending that Henderson had improperly run up some $3,000 in spending on a party credit card for items including lingerie and a trip to Disneyland.

Press said the audit found no wrongdoing, but said the matter had become so emotionally draining for Henderson that she decided to resign. He said she would work as a consultant for the party for an unspecified period.

Henderson did not return phone calls. Press declined to respond to questions about whether he had known about Henderson's life as a Republican when he hired her or what steps he had taken to verify her resume. He also refused to comment on the reported $25,000 payment.

Republican glee

If Press was mum, state Republicans were chatty about what they saw as financial disarray at the top of the Democratic organization.

"My take would be that Bill Clinton and Bill Press attended the same school of financial mismanagement," quipped Victoria Herrington, spokeswoman for the state GOP. Referring to Henderson, she said, "This is one case where we Republicans don't mind a defection."

San Francisco Supervisor Angela Alioto, a vice chair of the Democratic Party, said she was shocked to learn that Henderson had so recently been a member of the GOP.

"She never mentioned that - she has posed as a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat," Alioto said. "To me, it's much more shocking to find out that she was a Republican than to find out about the disputed resume."

Henderson, a former Oakland business executive, was hired by Press in 1993 as a deputy executive director for Southern California, then was promoted to the top job last year.

She presented an impressive resume: regional coordinator for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, East Bay field director for Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer's successful 1992 campaign, former president of the East Bay Area Club of Negro Business and Professional Women.

Changing registration

But other parts of the resume don't appear to check out.

Henderson states that she holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Ohio State University, but a spokeswoman said Ohio State had never granted a degree to Harriet Susan Henderson or Harriett Poole, Henderson's maiden name.

Henderson's resume also says that she holds an "M.B.A./J.D." from the University of California, without specifying a campus.

Spokesmen at UC-Berkeley, UCLA, and UC-Davis, the three UC campuses that have both law and business schools, said no such degrees had been issued to H. Susan Henderson or Harriet Poole.

Alameda County voter records show that in 1989, Henderson registered as a Republican at an Oakland residence, then registered again as a Republican in 1991 when she moved to another Oakland address.

In March 1992, when the Boxer campaign was getting under way, Henderson changed her registration to Democrat, the records show.

As party executive director, Henderson sat in on top-level strategy meetings and sensitive discussions about the Democrats' plans for winning California for President Clinton in 1996.

In his written statement, Press complained that the anonymous letter about Henderson was "disgusting character assassination," but gave no details about why he had concluded that she had spent party funds properly.

Party credit-card records show that in a three-month period in 1995 she ran up $12,000 in charges, including $74 at a Victoria's Secret lingerie shop in Washington, D.C., $220 at a golf course in Palm Springs, $137 at a Los Angeles beauty-supply outlet and $26 at a laundry.

If, as Susan Henderson says, "deception (is) the name of the game," it is one that left her a loser. Unfortunately, it also resulted in her eventually landing here.


  1. Did you see the Channel 4 News this a.m.? The water main break is now characterized as a "sinkhole" as reported by Kathy Vara, and repairs are expected to take all week.

  2. John, I haven't seen the paper yet this weekend. I can now only hope Susan edited out my praise for you. I guess I spoke too soon. I apologize to Susan for submitting that compliment. $5 bets you don't print this.

  3. You've been chumped, Rich. For insulting my readership with your unfair criticism of them. Besides, your so-called praise was backhanded and patronizing. Needless to say, you've made my day.

  4. Rich is an odd duck. He never seems to notice Susan's nasty attacks, yet is quick to take offense when anyone discusses them elsewhere. It's like he belongs to a cult or something.

  5. This is a possibility

  6. You might be on to something, Golden Dawn. Though the name "Hale-Poole" might be more appropriate.

  7. Golden-down: do not be handing out the keys to the bus to crazy is full already.

  8. wow wow wow

    Henderson doesn't believe anybody should use "free speech" to lie and mislead.

    isn't that is what she did when she claimed to have degrees from various institiutions and embellished her resume?

    plus, didn't she lie in court and ignore a court ruling, not free speech demonstrates a pretty warped mind - plus she flat out lied to her business parnter - a liar plain and simple

    and didn't she use "free speech" to insult her Hispanic housekeeper?

    Henderson is a clown.

    One of those evil backstabbing, decietful, lying clowns.

  9. Oh yes, Susan Henderson has me pegged. Despite the thousands of dollars I shovel to Sierra Madre every year in taxes for the "priveledge" of livng here, I am an ingrate and a freeloader.

    Remind me to walk my dog by some Mountain Views News paper racks soon.

  10. hey Rich, does any of Susan's paychecks bounce?

    oh wait, do u even get paid to write in her paper?

    my kid makes more per hour babysitting than the writers do at the Observer

    I did my public service, I brought home 7 of Henderson's papers and dropped them in the recycle.

    I suggest that you all do the same, it makes you feel better.

    In fact, I may head downtown or to the library later and pick up a few for the reycle bin.

  11. Her Cruelity will catch up with her one dayJuly 12, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    Sir Eric: Your comparison of Henderson to the talented, funny, classic W.C.Fields is quite astute. He was a genius and at best he could be a gentleman when he wanted. Susan could be a lady and snake up to whomever she wanted, i.e. the Dunns and poor Mrs. and the late Dr. Neeby. She still is a lady, the one who owes money to many people and takes advantage of people. She is the star of MEAN GIRLS of Sierra Madre. The star bully running with a pack of lies and liars.

    She also reminds of the the many comments made during the silent movies about so many antagonists: "He's a four flusher!"

    She also belongs to that school of liars who tells people anything, because they will only listen to one side and are too lazy to look at the other side.

    She knows how to twist the truth to fit her own perception and that is all that matters.

    Susan loves the destruction she writes and does not care about anyone, not anyone including Joe, John, nor even you Rich. You are all just her little insignificant nothings. Don't believe it?.
    Sir Eric was right. Check out the movies.
    MEAN GIRLS. The epitome.

  12. Let's forget about the past deeds of Henderson. Just Talk about her deceptions this past election. She had to print corrections on the front page 3 times, but still left the public thinking that she was truthful in the rest of the articles where the "misquotes" appeared. She lied outright and wrote half-truths without batting an eye, and the public went for it.

    I'd like to know what deceptions the protest gatherers have done to get signatures. I hear they were very careful of what they said to the citizens.

  13. Has there ever been a tax, fee, or rate hike that Susan has been against? Of course not. She's city hall's mouthpiece. Shame on them for unleashing this person on us.

  14. It's tragic, the people who think so much of her, and defend her, will one day find themselves as potential fodder for whatever is convenient for her.
    Sharks who smells blood in the water will turn on ther own.

  15. Walker, Walker, WalkerJuly 12, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    I am one of those many fortunate volunteers who have walked door to door and met the most WONDERFUL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD HERE IN SIEER MADER! 98% of people who were home have signed and are FURIOUS at the rate increase. They are apphalled that the city would be so arragont as to raise our water during such difficult economic times.

    Is the city aware of how many people are on fixed incomes? How many teachers have been laid off or on furloughs?

    Susan was completely out of touch and lacked total reality by telling one of her huge lies and reporting it as FACT. She never interviewed any one of us who has been volunteering for 2 weeks and LISTENING to the community.

    The people do not need an increase and very, very few people can afford this much increase on their water bill.

    Perhaps Susan could engage in ethical reporting and join the volunteer and listen to the people when researching an article.

    I have had postitve reactions and fabulous conversations with intelligent people. And, many people from Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia and throughout California are apphalled that this city would ask for so much money.

    The bottom line is all of us will pay. Restaurants, Hair Salons, Nail Salons, All of us. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    If Susan knew about all the volunteers,why didn't she join us to learn about the citizens of her community? After all, isn't that what the real issue of Prop 218 is really about!

    Thank you to all the wonderful people who have so positively and enthusiastically supported the NO PROTEST!!

    Your reasoning is skewed to BE TAXED!!! You have no logic and do not represent the people who work for a decent and honest living in this town.
    You need to walk the walk before you speak out.

    What is your honest and decent vote, Susan?

  16. Don't sell Henderson short, she is a master at innunendo. A real newspaper wouldn't last 6 months doing what she is doing to this community. Her deceptions will some day lead to her downfall just as it did years ago.

  17. The MVN is just a garden variety local
    rag in the pockets of the money people.
    The only difference is its publisher
    has a big stupid mouth.

  18. still read the papers, but not that oneJuly 12, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    Henderson is a grifter who lives on other people's work and money. I'll bet that she doesn't even pay her own water bill.

  19. How many of the people whose pictures appear often in that paper do you think "loaned" it money?

  20. Susan's real home?July 12, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    Agree 11:08

    Most people are OUTRAGED and Susan does not want to know the truth.

    Isn't she supposed to pay Katina Dunn and/or go to JAIL where she belongs?

  21. Ms. Henderson lost the ability to tell the truth a long time ago. By now she probably has lost the capacity to even know the truth.

  22. I think she has become what she always thought she wanted to be. A society lady. Which apparently in her mind means getting into long protracted feuds and pitching fits in her paper.

  23. The "owner" of the Looney Views News has successfully conned many people.
    Kind of like Joe Mosca has.
    Good cons offer people something they want, such as:
    You want to be a good open-minded person, respecting everyone, fighting for everyone who has been treated unfairly.
    The marks do not realize they are being played.

  24. 2:17, once I heard the fake claim about Boalt Hall, one of the very best law schools in the country, I thought she's hungry to prove that she's smart.

  25. She probably makes claims like that for the same reason people used to claim to be a direct descendent of Napoleon or the Romanov Princess Anastasia. Gave them a kind of power by association they knew they lacked. Of course, sometimes it also brought out the butterfly nets. Which I suspect was an unintended consequence.

  26. The organizations that Ms. Henderson has infiltrated deserve better. Don't throw them all out the window because they failed to recognize a liar had joined them. They still do good work. In time, the lies and irregular finances will be clear to all.

  27. There's no doubt that she is clever.
    Educated, no, clever, yes.
    Ask the people she owes money to.

  28. What are the degrees of career separation from being the #2 Democrat in the State of California to Bart Doyle's Sierra Madre flack and messenger girl? About 350?

  29. Isn't it illegal to claim a law degree?
    Or is that just after the bar?

  30. I don't think the separation between Ms. Henderson and Mr. Doyle is a great as it might appear at first glance. After all he is a Republican and she a former Republican who only switched to further her career aspirations.

    Do you think she's angling for the the Dark Lord's support when she makes her break out run for City Council in the near future?

    She's got the four of the five City Council members, the Rotary, the Kiwanis, the Chamber of Commerce, the local realtors, the Civic Club, the Women's Club and Richard Johnson. I'd say she's a natural.

  31. Susan Henderson running for city council -

  32. Yeah, yeah, she already rides in the 5th of July Parade!

  33. The water tax is front and center now, but don't lose sight of the General Plan.
    Item #5 on the agenda tomorrow night, the plan to make sure there is not open and equal participation on the plan.
    Make a bunch of committees, Brown act 'em, make each statement dependent on staff's approval, and stifle community input.
    Bad idea.
    When we worked on the first one, we didn't even have a lawyer at the gatherings.

  34. Without the water hike the BIA weed shrivels and dies.

  35. Sure she'll win!July 12, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    Agree 3:42

    Yup, she's a natural like a MAMA GRIZZLY.

    wink, wink.

    Got the backin of all those non-elites and people who jest beelieve her. doncha theenk?

    A pitbull with lipstick.

    Ye can be sure she'll get the votes froom the same good believers who belive her blindly.

  36. Found the following on the website.

    "Susan Henderson is scheduled to begin classes in video production, camera operation, floor management, lighting, editing and directing as soon as her schedule permits after which she shall begin work on producing our first cablecast. Responsibilities of this component are: Development and production of a weekly cablecast ("At Your Doorstep") at the facilities of PCAC. The first cablecast is projected for late august. We will keep you posted.

    "At Your Doorstep" Cable Show Host: Susan Henderson. (Former Executive Director of the California Democratic Party under, then chairman, Bill Press). Susan also publishes the Mountain View Times a weekly publication serving Sierra Madre and Pasadena. Susan is a Berkeley grad who brings an extraordinary background in politics to this component. The show shall highlight local, statewide, national and international issues that are essential to the overall edification of our audience.The show shall be in magazine format and shall include, as well, studio guests expert in the issues planned for the individual shows. The cablecast shall also have viewer call in capabilities to enhance interactivity between the viewers and the show’s host and guests. The Show shall also be streamed to the PCAC website."

    Should somebody tell the Pasadena Dems that susan is not a Berkeley grad?

  37. We tried telling the Footsie Dems all about this. They were offended. Apparently things like character and honesty don't mean as much to them as a nice pat on the noggin.

  38. %:22. Take a look at the Tattler article from Monday, February 2, 2009.

    It's an email exchange between Susan and some of the Pasadena Dems including its President.

  39. Ahhh. Memories.

  40. Yes, but it really has been quite a lesson in the foibles and follies of mankind.

  41. Can any one call up the agenda for tonight's CC meeting from the City website link? Thank you.

  42. Ops...I meant tomorrow night!!

  43. The closed session has to do with the redevelopment agency. Who knows, maybe they found a million dollars there, too.

    Item 1 is where they spend a lot of money. One item is for $461,749. Mostly payroll. Item 2 is all about those darn assessment districts. Item 3 is the water ordinance. 4 has to do with the arts commission. So called. 5 is the Gen'l Plan update. Watch Joe look edgy. 6 is a discussion about the strategic retreat. 7 is all about what the bobbleheads saw at the biiig SCAG meeting they went to. 8 is all about the Sierra Madre Blvd water show.

  44. 5:04 is right, number 5 on the agenda is almost as important as the water rate issue. They turned an agreement for sub-committees into "Technical Advisory Committees/Areas of Expertise" Our first general plan was put together by the community for the community. Sure, there were people from the community that gave lots of technical advise, but to handcuff them with the Brown Act and Lawyers is a bit over the top. We know what you're doing, Joe. Watch out.

  45. WOO HOO

    i just came from downtown with 8 copies of Henderson's rag and tossed in the recycle.

  46. The Ralph M. Brown Act, (1953) is intended to allow the public full access to the decision making proceedings of elected officials or their appointees ( to committees, commissions, etc.) In 1994-96, during the time of the last General Plan Steering Committee, the Brown Act was in affect. I am guessing that Sierra Madre citizens were not as aware of this law then as we are now as the stakes are much, much higher.

    The "subcommittees" would be subjected to the Brown Act if they were large enough and a quorum of this appointed body was scheduled to meet to make decisions that should be made in front of the public. If one or two people meeting with one member or two members of another elected or appointed body (GP Steering Committee, Planning Commission, City Council) there would be no quorum and a Brown Act notification is not necessary.

    Isn't this the way it works?

  47. Scarlet T.

    What do you know about Sierra Madre Bonds?

    Keep in touch,

    The Okie from Hugo

  48. Bonds could very well be the shenanigans in Johnny B's woodpile. After all, $18 million can't all be for new pipes, right?

  49. At he City council meeting July 13 the residents should be aware of the resolution that will be voted on regarding the pipe repair put together in the emergency meeting july 9th.

    This resolution regarding repairs on Sierra Madre Blvd. will give the city manager absolute power and the right not only to repair the break at 475 sierra Madre Blvd but each subsequent break. this resolution should only address this immediate break. By putting this up as an emergency (which it is not per the definition in the Open Meeting Law) will access the 2.5 million in the water reserves and not limit the city or Elaine Aguilar (city manager) to the $35,000 and they will then say they need to do all the piping on Sierra Madre Blvd then there will be a break on Baldwin and then they will connect to the MWD line on Grandview. This resolution should only address the immediate break with the same size piping and needs to be protested.

  50. Serial meeting are BS. Set up a private "City Club" that requires that all staff attends meetings and invite all CC and Commission members. No Brown Act violations can occur under these circumstances. Attendees are leaders from local civic orgs and churches (Kiwanis, Rotary, etc.) Antonivich speeches are tablets from The Mount.

  51. Test post activated.

  52. Thelma has left the barnJuly 12, 2010 at 9:03 PM


    You have the right to see the bond contracts,
    your city council would have had to sign them.

    Did you ask the city?

  53. Test Posty Man, it has been a few days of postiesJuly 12, 2010 at 9:09 PM

    Yes but what about the small dissertation, I wrote earlier and signed "I think you are winning?" Or the one named "Boule" before that ?

  54. Thelma,
    Thanks, I'll check it out.


  55. From the phone boothJuly 12, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    Many sleep to go before I mile
    Sleep go to before many mile I
    Go 1 mile before to many sleep
    Oh Shit! Just go to sleep.

  56. Test Post TesterJuly 12, 2010 at 9:48 PM

    9:09 - I have no idea. I've had a couple of emails today from people who said they posted but they never showed up here. I approved just about everything today, so I don't know what to say. Blogger is a free service, but it is flawed. Can you repost them maybe?

  57. A LATE NITE TUESDAY JULY 13July 12, 2010 at 11:01 PM

    People need to stay for the ENTIRE MEETING TOMORROW NIGHT.