Monday, December 27, 2010

(Tattler Best of 2010 - #6) The Unfortunate Case of H. Susan Henderson

"It was like the plot of a B rated movie." - H. Susan Henderson

This is the story of a rather unfortunate case. Someone who at one time occupied the 2nd highest ranking position in the California State Democratic Party, yet fell to an ignominy so final and devastating that she would never return to anything approaching her former glory. Hers was a position of trust that brought with it considerable prestige and influence. A job that involved helping to plan such heady things as the 1996 re-election campaign of President Bill Clinton, as well as those of Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein.

She had the ear of the powerful and elite, yet when disgrace came her way, she found herself alone. Her sins were both damning and revealing, and when she was cast out none of her well-connected acquaintances even lifted a finger to help. This apparently was a woman who had made few real friends.

So what caused the demise of H. Susan Henderson's once meteoric political career? Here is how a May of 1995 San Francisco Examiner report (click here) described what happened:

Demo Leader Resigns Under Fire: 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, the 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 article then described one of the more damning allegations that had been made against Ms. Henderson. The Examiner verified that she had indeed engaged in the rather ignominious practice of "resume pumping." Which basically means fibbing about your education and work credentials to get a job.

Henderson states that she holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Ohio State University, but a spokesman said Ohio State had never granted a degree to Harriet Susan Henderson or Harriet 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 campuses that have both law and business schools, said no such degrees had been issued to H. Susan Henderson or Harriet Poole.

Of course, it was the next juicy little item that attracted the greatest amount of attention.

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.

Almost more than we need to know.

After having been unceremoniously thrown out of her high Democratic Party office for the offenses described above, H. Susan Henderson apparently wandered forgotten though the political wilderness of California. And while we have no records of her activities during the decade that followed, we are vividly aware of one very melancholy fact. She eventually ended up here in Sierra Madre.

At the very depths of the political barrel are those operatives who eke out a marginal living serving the needs of whatever interests are willing to pay their way. Persons with no real loyalties or ideals, these bottom feeders trick their services out to whoever it is that will punch their meal ticket that month. And today, as the publisher of a fiscally dubious weekly called the Mountain Views News, that kind of activity appears to be what occupies the time and energy of H. Susan Henderson.

Apparently engaged by local real estate hustlers intent on breaking down a long standing resistance to unwanted high-density development in Sierra Madre, California, Ms. Henderson serves up a nearly weekly diet of distortion and innuendo against those who would stand in the way of the interests she currently represents.

A case in point can be found in the August 7, 2010 edition of Henderson's paper. Sierra Madre City Clerk Nancy Shollenberger, a long time supporter of the preservationist cause so hated by Ms. Henderson and her interested enablers, was subjected to a front page excoriation over what was termed "excessive compensation." Here is a passage from her article that actually invokes the Bell Scandal to make its overheated and politically motivated point:

The Sierra Madre City Manager's salary was not the concern for those who had viewed the salaries on the Sierra Madre website. What seemed to concern some residents (Ed: none are named) was that all elected officials except one receive a stipend of $3,000 per year. The exception is Sierra Madre City Clerk, Nancy Shollenberger, who receives annual compensation of $10,800 ...

Now the ludicrousness of this comparison should be obvious to all. As we know, certain officials in the City of Bell were being paid ridiculously high salaries. As an example, the City Manager there received an annual salary of $800,000. To claim that Sierra Madre's City Clerk, by making under $11,000 dollars a year after 25 years of uninterrupted service to the community, is somehow connected to this scandal is just about as absurdly dishonest as it gets. You almost have to wonder if Ms. Henderson hadn't been hit on the head with a golf ball during one of her numerous visits to the links.

Another example of Ms. Henderson's manic devotion to the development cause is her attacks on the mostly retired and fixed income residents of Sierra Madre who recently organized opposition to a nearly 40% water rate hike. Sprung on the City's residents right after the April election (after it could have had any influence on the vote), this hike would have gone into effect almost immediately, irregardless of the fact that the country is currently in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Few doubted that the massive water infrastructure program ($18 million dollars!) mandating this large increase was - and remains - development driven.

Henderson's attack piece, which appears on the Op-Ed page of the same edition we discussed above, spares no effort in vilifying the hard working and caring volunteers who successfully backed down a City Council hellbent on unfairly taking their money. Bear witness here to some of Ms. Henderson's disturbing and harsh language:

"Using the tried and tested dirty tactics method of instilling fear by suggesting that people would be paying unconscionable water rates for water, signatures were collected very often, unscrupulously."

"We were suddenly covered by a dark cloud that we didn't see coming and by the time we recognized it, many were shocked and disappointed. It was like the plot of a B rated (sic) movie."

"However, if we aren't careful, at the very next opportunity, there will be another such disingenuous, dishonest and deceptive attempt to gain the public's support."

You'd think Henderson was describing nazi skinheads rather than retired fixed income Sierra Madreans engaging in the very American and Democratic process of redressing a grievance with their local government.

The sad irony here is that many of the residents who protested the water rate hike, some of whom have lived in town for over 60 years, are being subjected to these ugly and patently dishonest attacks in a paper that is essentially supported by their tax dollars.

Does H. Susan Henderson Speak for Mayor Joe Mosca and City Manager Elaine Aguilar?

Because Henderson's "Mountain Views News" is dependent for its survival on the tax money it receives for running Sierra Madre's legal advertising, the City should be able to exert some influence over its crude excesses. The kind of language that is used by this paper to vilify the residents these officials claim to be working for is unheard of in the United States. Look anywhere in this country and you will not see the kinds of nasty printed attacks on taxpayers we see in Henderson's paper. Yet City Hall has chosen to not only remain silent, but in many ways offer support for her efforts. Besides paying for her services, H. Susan Henderson apparently has unlimited access to City Hall, along with the City Manager and staff.

I believe we now must assume that when H. Susan Henderson publishes her attacks on the residents of Sierra Madre, she is doing so with the interests of Mayor Joe Mosca and City Manager Elaine Aguilar in mind. We apparently live in a City where government is at war with its own citizens. People who are being repeatedly terrorized by City Hall's chosen adjudicated newspaper, the one they give our money to.

And to me that looks very much like official sanction.

(Ed: This article was originally posted on 8/10/2010)


  1. Henderson's vitroilic attack on the citizens of Sierra Madre who chose to exercise their democratic rights of protest is hard to understand. And, her continuing attack on Nancy Shollenberger is close to manic. While not even running for office in April Nancy was attacked in the MVN.

    I think it's quite a leap to say that City Hall is behind these attacks, but it's anybody's guess what her motive is behind these smears on concerned citizens.

  2. Disgusted by the attack on Nancy ShollengergerAugust 10, 2010 at 7:16 AM

    The difference between Nancy Shollenberger's elected position as City Clerk and the elected Councilmember positions is that she actually does work. Her appearance at City Council meetings is only the tip of the iceberg. For every hour at Council meetings there is another three hours of preparation, minute transcription, and myriad duties relating to issues such as the recent water rate protest. The office of City Clerk is essentially a full time position. The only staff are volunteers who served without compensation. Nancy's greatest contribution to the community and its residents is the independence she brings to the office. In some communities the City Clerk REPORTS to the City Council and is paid a salary comparable to the directors and department heads - and is given a staff of deputies and clerks who are also paid.

    This issue, the City Clerk's compensation, is some sort of red herring to draw attention from other compelling issues coming before the City Council and Planning Commission. Dig Tattlers! Don't fall for this ploy!!

  3. Post script to 7:16August 10, 2010 at 7:20 AM

    That's not to say that MaryAnn MacGillivray doesn't work hard for all of us! We're very lucky to have such dedicated public office holders such as Nancy Shollenberger and MaryAnn MacGillivray.

  4. Interesting how little sayings you here over time pop up and are so true. "Follow the money"... we all know that Dr. Paul Neiby help support her paper and I confess to having bought into her papers $ needs twice. What hasn't come up is some of our citizens have been hit up for loans, if your reading this, good luck in ever seeing that money paid back, your all kind souls that may be getting taken in, but so was I. It is amazing to me that our town has been insulted so much and no one is speaking out in concern. How many of us have been called homophobic, mean little old Jewish lady, crackers, the list goes on. We are talking publications that are trying to divide the town and are down right mean and hurtful. Thank you Tattler for alerting us believers so that we wont be victims any more. What's that saying, "United we stand, divided we "

  5. I too have heard the rumors that Henderson pressures retired people into giving her "loans." The figures I've heard start at $1,000. Anybody else heard about this?

  6. A thousand for sure, I think she will take ten bucks, pending on the message.

  7. I never thought of it that way. How many towns have an adjudicated newspaper that attacks its own residents on a regular basis? There can't be many. Most people wouldn't stand for it.

  8. 7:20 am.

    I'm really sorry you were taken in by this criminal, Harriet Susan Henderson.
    She has ripped off, lied and betrayed many good people in this town. Especially seniors. She preys on seniors. Many have given her large amounts of money.

    Susan is a despicable human being. She is the worst of the worst type of grifter. However, do not underestimate her cleverness. She is a master con artist. We must expose her.
    Thank you, John Crawford for writing this today.

    7:20 am... many of us were taken in by this woman and used and abused.
    Again, I'm sorry you were one of us.
    Thankfully, many of us woke up, we can only pray that others will do so.
    Thank you for posting on the Tattler.

  9. Very good point....7:35 Tattler.

    Wake up, Sierra Madre, demand this woman's adjudication be taken away. NOW!

  10. Henderson has never opposed a single tax or rate hike. She is City Hall's attack dog.

  11. Henderson is just the front runner for some well funded people and business. It's all designed to put there people in place and to do that they are dividing and distracting the community. When their done we will be living in a high density town with no charm or character, of course they will need to invite some out of town consultants to help them. There is still hope if we are united in the truth of preserving what we have in Sierra Madre.

  12. This article will help people open their eyes.

  13. On youtube, search for Fay Angus. One of the vids is Fay reading the court documents that pronounced Henderson guilty.

  14. We all can easily surmise that Henderson is making up her claims or when she attributes her storyline to "residents", which she is mostly talking about herself, a few realtors and Mosca/Buchananan.

    She never names a "resident" or has the cojones to list the "liars" as she calls them that oppose what she wants.

    Henderson is a coward and a bona fide liar when she makes up stories and resident feedback to fill her editorials and is afraid to be specfic and when she attempts to slant her story, she is in fact doing what she accuses those feeding her paranoia, the fact that she is lying and being completely dishonest to justify her mental rants.

    What Henderson accuses others of using to push a viewpoint, "...fear, misinformation, lies, deceit, freeloaders, bigotry...hate...spiteful...dirty, unscrupulous...dishonest, etc etc etc", she is actually reflecting upon herself as a person and tactics used by her own paper.

    The facts are that Henderson was fired for stealing and lying, but that is what she calls those who oppose her.

    The fact is, Henderson doesn't use facts in her "editorials"
    , she attacks with pure hate and spins misinformation to disparage those who volunteer in the city or those who attempt to use our rights to oppose a tax hike and Henderson actually has factual errors in her math to...dare I say..."lie" about her agenda.

    If we turn Henderson's words back on her, we actually see the truth, which when Henderson lies, she is sending a clear signal about the tax hike, that it was a complete lie pushed by a handful of people to benefit the developers and at the same time, benefit Buchananan's employer.

    ...However, if we aren't careful, at the very next opportunity, there will be another such disingenuous, dishonest and deceptive attempt to gain the public's support by the city and Mosca and Buchanan..for the water tax hike....with an "educational" marketing push

  15. Many people have been fooled by Henderson, and some of them read the Tattler. So what's the deal? How does she seduce so many to think she's smart and has integrity?

  16. Henderson showed up at the General Plan Steering Committee. The meeting was well attendend by the public. She chose not to print that the meeting was run efficiently and the community was actively involved. She chose not to write the people were writing the General Plan. To report on this meeting would not have served the City's agenda.

  17. It's funny is a sad and pathetic way.

    Henderson is on record for stealing almost $ 70 grand from an employer and being fired for making up a resume.

    Yet, she calls others, "liars and deceptive"

    Boy that woman is really whacked out.

    I can't throw away her papers fast enough.

  18. Wow 9:24, best comment of the month. Thanks for posting.

  19. Looks like Mosca is going to run his "water rate outreach" effort the same way he ran his re-election campaign. He'll speak in chirpy empty bromides about how much he loves the community, while his surrogates will launch smear attacks. Creepiest dude ever.

  20. In most other cities, the City Clerk's position is more or less ceremonial. In those cities, the work Nancy performs -- like taking minutes, overseeing elections, preparing resolutions etc.... is performed by staff including highly paid deputy clerks. Accordingly, Shollenberger is actually a real bargain.

    But you know that already Susan, don't you?

  21. Based on her continious pattern of lying in her editorials, does anybody believe Henderson when a few months ago she railed about some Jewish grandmother who verbally assaulted her downtown because of something the Jewish grandmother thought Henderson was lying about in one of her editorials?

    Henderson, who accuses others in Sierra Madre of being racist and bigoted somehow found the journalistic integrity to toss into her fabricated story that the Grandmother happened to be Jewish, which only points out how Henderson embellishes her editorials with fiction.

  22. so much for Henderson's rally cry during the election for "civility"

    it's "civil" as long as she sees it as "civil"

    the woman is a serial killer of journalism ethics and civic integrity

  23. Susan must be dirt dumb. How cam she compare the $11,000 Nancy gets to the money those people in Bell were getting? Insane.

  24. The city manager is irrelevant in this matter.
    The manager will do what the council says to do.
    Compare the attitude of this council majority to the last one.
    The city manager was involved in the discussions of the Looney Views News refusal to document subscription numbers and other accreditation requirements, because that was what the council majority was interested in.
    Now it's different, and the new council majority has their very own propaganda pamphlet to smear others.
    Worked for them in the election.

  25. We live in a town where the city sponsored paper smears those the city council doesn't like.

    Is this Nazi Germany?

  26. Is it any wonder that Henderson does not allow any letters to the editor or editorials by other writers which who she disagrees with?

    Even Rich Johnson said that Henderson edits his own articles to any references to the Tattler.

    Back in the real day of the Mt Wilson Observer, Katina would never shy away from allowing opposing viewpoints or even letters to the editor which took her to task for what she had written.

    Katina was a real writer. We miss her.

    Henderson spews vomited editorials filled with hate, misinformation, deceit, distorted facts, fuzzy math and spiteful commentary.

    Henderson is jealous of Nancy because Nancy makes triple annually from what Henderson must make with her rag.

    9:49, Henderson isn't jusy dirt dumb, she's exhibiting the signs of a social sociopath and she's got the full support of City Staff, Mosca and Buchanaan.

  27. Watts signed the letter encouraging residents to protest the rate hike and Zimmerman addressed the Council stating that he was unequivocally opposed to it.

    How long before Susan swiftboats those two?

  28. Lately, every article Susan writes contains some comment about Kurt and Don's voting record. What's that about?

  29. I'm sympathetic to the City Manager.

    I'm starting to think she's underpaid to have to put up the the childish managerial skills of Mosca.

    However, the more a development project is pushed and she works with projects that help her land the next city gig, the better off she is professionally.

    The city manager, in Sierra Madre, needs to be a person in the last 10 twighlight years of his or her city manager career, not a younger person looking to make a mark and move up and own, often at the expense of Sierra Madre.

    Look where that's gotten us the last dozen years.

  30. I'm not sure "Swiftboat" applies to Susan. It's more like a Rowboat of Rage.

    With one oar.

  31. Grateful for their serviceAugust 10, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    It's a little late to swiftboat Don Watts or Kurt Zimmerman. They both worked hard and served with distinction. Let's let them rest from the fray.

  32. It is hilarious that Henderson thinks the water protest was a "stealth" campiagn. There were people out all over town knocking on doors, holding signs at Kersting Court and leaving literature at doors. Perhaps if Henderson actually came out of her house once in a while and did some actual reporting instead of just regurgitating City Hall press releases in her paper she would have known what everybody else knew. The rate hike is hated in this town, and nobody wants it. Henderson is utterly clueless about the affairs of Sierra Madre.

  33. What is it about demonizing development opponents in this town? Seems to be quite a tradition. And how many buildings has that gotten built? like maybe ............ zero?

  34. Susan is part of the fun and games of the City Hall nutwings. She is filled with hate and venom and has not one ounce of humanity in her.

  35. Back to the agendaAugust 10, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    Has anyone taken a look at Item 5 on tonight's agenda? There are four applicants vying for the spot on the Library Board of Trustees. One of them is B.D. Howes...remember him? Back in 2009, the Tattler reported that Howes was a former President of the Sierra Madre Rotary Club. More importantly, he was the domain owner of and The CUMQUAT! Something tells me that he is a shoo-in for the spot on the Library Board. Let's hope I am wrong!

  36. Ol' BD owns the those sites indeed. The question being why would the Prez of the Rotary Club own some old dirt smear sites? Oh wait, maybe that isn't as far fetched as it first sounds.

  37. Looks like the old Cumquat alumni is doing quite well in town. John Buchanan will be mayor next year, Terry Miller is now editor at the Weekly Reader, and BD "And" Howe will get to read My Pet Goat at the library to the kiddies. So much to be proud of!

  38. Henderson knew all about the water protest movement in town, she is just always looking to spread slime in her newspaper, and this was a good excuse. What better way to segue into her continuing attack on those who dare oppose the Mosca/Buchanan regime.

  39. Considering the political winds didn't blow in Ms. Henderson's favor for most of the time she printed legal notices for the city I would argue that slam doesn't particularly fit.

    By the way, when is the Tattler going to open up a suggestion window next to the complaint department? Why not start offering up suggestions as to how the city should be run. What a concept.

  40. If someone tells you how the city should be run 1:25, will you promise to take the bananas out of your ears first?

  41. I don't necessarily agree that Susan attacks people because Mosca tells her to. As a matter of fact, I suspect that she is actually quite an embarrassment to him. How is he going to quiet down the town with Susan barking that crazy stuff she does all the time?

  42. The "regime" will try to promote all their bad big development policies, and appoint all the worst of the worst people in town to positions of authority/importance.
    Citizens of Sierra Madre, you must prepare to defend and take back your town.

    Go to council meetings, read the Tattler, get involved with the slow growth and/or anti corruption groups here in town.
    We're easy to find, contrary to anything Henderson implies.
    Just attend any council meeting and ask any well known public comment speaker who speaks on behalf of slow growth and honesty from City Hall. Our director of Volunteers and his wife, De and Pat Alcorn are always in attendence.
    Or send John Crawford an email. He'll let you know who you can contact.

  43. Got a water postcard today. Very small type. People are going to need a magnifying glass to read it. I noticed that the City wants to conduct something called a "walk and talk." I wasn't aware that they had people who can do that.

  44. Cloven hooves, slithering tongues, clipboards of water minions,August 10, 2010 at 7:36 PM

    There are Walk and Talk programs on the net, there are more Walk the talk sustainability sites, They must think you are addicted to water. As a recovering alcoholic, with twenty years this year, this is what we say about a person in AA that knows what to say, but does not follow through with action, We said well he talks the talk but does not walk the walk, that means while you are saying you want to be sober, you aren't putting it in action. Or using it to relapse to get sympathy, blah blah

    It is a sustainable code reaction word, comrades, straight from the UN, it looks like. There is a site where there is a water captain, who is the boss of the little water walkers. I'll let you search.

    I am sure everybody will react differently to the call of the chripy water walker at the end of driveway or at the gate to your fence, or wait no fence, at your door ringing your bell. I will not be water walked and talked quietly in the night, or whatever time it is.

    In fact, right now if you took that picture in the masthead of the tattler and added twenty walk and talkers,in front of the current group with about a 10 ft advantage, the folks would not be running away, they would be chasing, those pesky, control freak, lying sychopantic, agents of the evil palace right out of Sierra Madre.

  45. omg the gp committee has been increased to 9

  46. Susan Henderson, the Queen of "upchuck" yellow journalism.

  47. The difference between Nancy Shollenberger and the others is that Nancy actually performs a service for the City and is paid for it.


  49. Falsafication of a resume (Susan Henderson) is a certain cause to be fired, or a speedy resignation from a job or a contract. For the City Mgr and City Council to allow this and take no action makes them accessories to a most serious offense against the residents and citizens of Sierra Madre. Due dilligence is called for.

    It should be the responsibility of Ms Henderson to provide proof of resume claims and appropriate documentation for them. It is not up to the City to chase down her credentials.

    This falsification needs to be vetted (by the City Mgr. and City Council) immediately, and appropriate action taken. The City should immediately cease using the Mountain Views News.
    A Certified Letter should be sent with complience dates given and termination if not provided. Our City Government will sink to its weakest link and apparently the Mountain Views News is it.


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