Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association Lowers The Boom On The Sierra Madre Patch

We gave Sierra Madre Patch honcho John Stephens every opportunity to rescind his grossly inaccurate article about Sierra Madre and the Prop 218 process yesterday. We called John up and told him that the Howard Jarvis people were very upset about the bizarrely inaccurate misrepresentations said about them on The Patch yesterday. I mean, we handed him the opportunity to undo all the damage on a silver platter. I was even prepared to be gracious about it all. Or at least that was the advice I was being given.

But did Stephens issue any corrections? Make some adjustments? Admit to some sort of unfortunate misunderstanding? Nope. He just stubbornly let the big ugly mess fester right out there in plain site. All of which goes to show that some people just defy salvation, even when you actually try and give it to them.

Which is fine with me. Because now I get to tell the story in a style I'm more comfortable with.

If you haven't seen The Sierra Madre Patch article in question yet (and based on the web traffic they're attracting you probably haven't), the following statements were posted there yesterday. The article's author, Justin Chapman, made these absurdly inaccurate and quite possibly dishonest claims:

HJTA Says City (of Sierra Madre) Complied with Prop 218 Process Regarding Water Rate Increase - The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer (sic) Association, after reviewing information about the water rate increase vote, said the city completed the process properly and decided not to get involved.

The article goes on to give a long and mostly nonsensical mishmash of a history on what occurred during the water rate protest procedure. Then Chapman had this to say:

While some Sierra Madre residents are still displeased with the handling of the Prop 218 process, it appears the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer (sic) Association, a notably reputable source in such matters, is satisfied.

Kurt Zimmerman put in a call to Timothy Bittle, who is the Director of Legal Affairs at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association in Sacramento, and asked him if this "notably reputable source" actually said such things about the Prop 218 mess in Sierra Madre. And after hearing what was said about the Jarvis organization on the SM Patch site, Bittle was not in the least pleased. Angry is probably a better word for it.

Here is a brief transcript of what Tim Bittle had to say on that call:

The only person in this office authorized to speak on behalf of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association on such a matter is myself. I did not make that statement.

When Kurt further pressed Mr. Bittle on where the Jarvis Association did stand on this matter, this is what he said:

The investigation has not been concluded and contrary to the article on the Sierra Madre Patch there has been no determination as to whether we will file suit against the City of Sierra Madre.

Now correct me if I am wrong, but this does not sound like Mr. Bittle - or anyone at the Jarvis organization - has concluded that they are happy with how the City of Sierra Madre conducted its Prop 218 process. Quite the contrary, actually.

Later that afternoon Jarvis Director of Legal Affairs Timothy A. Bittle sent the following e-mail to Kurt Zimmerman. It is a revelation and extraordinarily good news for those who are nauseated by the falsehoods and deception that have typified the G4 City Hall's handling of the water rate situation.

I apologize for the Patch article. The reporter who wrote that article did not get the whole story ... As you know, HJTA filed an amicus brief in the Foster Farms case. Because you intend to sue Sierra Madre on similar theories, we remain interested in your case for possible amicus involvement.

So it appears that the Patchies were not only absurdly wrong in what they had to say about the Jarvis people being pleased with how the City of Sierra Madre ran its Proposition 218 process, it turns out that the HJTA folks are actually giving some thought to jumping in on our side of the struggle and helping us out in our fight to get our rights back!

Which is a tremendous victory for our cause. And yet one more sign that we are going to win this thing.

How great was Fay Angus's talk last night?

When the Patch article hit yesterday we all knew we needed to take some quick action. We've all experienced the effects of politically motivated fabrications in the past, and we've always had to act fast before the word got out and became accepted wisdom here in town. Fortunately the canards (intentional or not) were on the SM Patch, and relatively few people were reading them throughout the day.

Kurt Zimmerman got in touch with one of the top two legal guys (Bittle) at the Jarvis organization and we got the real story on where they stand on the matter. And that story turned out to be decidedly different from what The Patch was saying. We then knew that we'd caught them in the act.

But how to get the message out? A new Tattler article would help, but what else could be done? And what if this story was alluded to by Joe Mosca or John Buchanan at the City Council meeting? Could this Patch article actually be a fabrication specially rigged for their use against the water rate protest? How could we counter them?

And into all of that stepped the always gracious and stunningly articulate Fay Angus. She took the two statements we had received from Timothy Bittle and read them at public comment last night in a way that is all hers. She razzed the Sierra Madre Patch for its obvious lack of ethical reporting standards while letting the G4 water bandits know that things had just gotten decidedly worse for them.

Yesterday we won something truly important. And in the process walked away with what might very well be a powerful new ally for us.

We are going to win this thing. Sierra Madre is coming back.


  1. Well, the CC-1 is very good at political dirty tricks and evasion of reality. This is one of those strategies. Rather than just sit up there like talking heads trying to create a non-existent reality, they invented a straw man (this Patch dude) to issue a false "truth" so they can repeat the lie as if it were true and never be caught out for starting it in the first place. Clever, but not very original.

    And keep the faith, and fight the good fight, but after years of struggle with Sierra Madre, I have very few illusions that this will be the last. These people have a way of coming back and back and back. Some of us thought that after the Friends of Sierra Madre kicked the *55 of the Council in the California Supreme Court and publicly humiliated them, and then forced them to pay $300,000 for their attorney (in addition to the $200,000 the City paid its blue chip lawyers) that they might have learned something. Institutional memories can be very short. So have it them again and then eat Wheaties and take your vitamins. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to give them a refresher course in the rights of the public.

  2. God Bless you people! God Bless you. I am in tears. I am so grateful for what you are doing for us. I have never written on a blog before. I didn't like them. I do now. Keep telling the truth about these awful people. We all need to wake up.

  3. Here I thought Patch would be at least a neutral voice in the wilderness. Apparently not.

  4. Patch is pathetic. Uninformed and eager to do whatever he's told.

  5. Is it true Stephens lives in Pasadena?

  6. Justin Chapman is the author of the article on Patch, not John Stephens (although Stephens is the editor of Patch). Chapman is a reporter for the Pasadena Weekly. Musta been the $50 he got for submitting the piece.

    Stephens should denounce him immediately and publicly for lying. I remember last year Stephens' heinous denouncement of MaryAnn MacGillivray and John Crawford.

    Okay, Stephens. You've been deleted from my Favorites list. Too bad, too. I had become fond of your site.

  7. I think we should give Patch another chance to correct the article. If patchy does, then fine.

  8. This is great news, Crawford and Tattlers.

    Fay Angus ALWAYS comes through for the folks of Sierra Madre, ALWAYS.

    Thanks, Fay. You are truly a treasure of Sierra Madre and warrior for the truth!

    Thanks, Stacatto, for your input here.
    You could write a book about the "crimes" of the city council shenanigan years!

    I've never read the Patch website, and never will.
    I think this outrage is enough for Crawford to take this website off our website reading list.

  9. New around here. Who is Kurt Zimmerman?

  10. Thanks Kurt Zimmerman for investigating this and getting the truth for us!

    You are an honorable gentleman.

  11. Don't you have a picture with Joe Mosca wearing a patch?

  12. Sorry 7:31, but Patch was given all afternoon yesterday to fix the mess. The only reason they're claiming to want to do it now is because the Tattler got on his case. Otherwise nothing would have happened.

  13. so the patch has sunk to the journalism...albeit zero standards of the mt view news and susan henderson

    make up quotes, make up sources, make up the slant to fit whatever is on the feeble mind that day

    i can excuse a smidgen of the patch's ethical meanderings because the editor is bascially a kid with no real background, these days if you have a laptop and a internet connection, you can call yourself a journalist without every attending a university journalism school or establishing a real record of accomplishment

    but henderson on the other hand, the revels in murky stories, misinformation and her record of accomplishment is fictious

    except for the part where henderson is verfied by the demo party as the former # 2 honcho who got fired for quasi emblezzlement

  14. Talk about unintended consequences...

  15. you can't give a writer "another chance" to fix an article when the article was fraudulent from the first keystroke

    he's put himself in the same regard as susan henderson

    zero regard

  16. I hear they're passing out a new t-shirt this morning at Aol corporate offices in New York.

    "I spent $50 million on Patch and all I got was a John Stephens."

  17. There's a very informative article in the New Yorker about AOL and patch, the hyper-local news sites that AOL's CEO is using in an effort to save the corporation. So is patch journalism, with information that is not comfortable, or boosterism, with information and ads that are comfortable?
    In this case, it's boosterism gone wild, masquerading as journalism, but with propaganda purposes, in an effort to make the gang of 4 comfortable. Or just an innocent mistake?

  18. There seems to be an unhealthy fascination with AOL-Patch in the media. Lots of journos know that the $50 million they spent to set these things up was fool's money. It's like people slowing down to look at a car wreck. You know its going to be awful, but everyone slows down anyway.

  19. AOL is going to run into some very serious legal consequences if they publish libel.

  20. Everybody wants to be forgiven after they've been caught. Something
    that puts you at the mercy of the people you've wronged.

  21. plain local, not hyperJanuary 26, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    Tattler will you keep Apology Watch on the Patch?
    I don't go on the site. It's a drag to see my hometown marketed.

  22. If he (the Patch) is sorry, it is becasue he is sorry he got caught.

  23. Not "if" AOL Patch publishes libel, 8:51. They DID publish libel.

    As far as I can tell, the Howard Jarvis organization could sue Sierra Madre Patch, and win.

  24. We might have a real throw down in the works here.

    Will Stevens 'stand by his reporter's story'?

  25. Ms. Angus is the finest stateswoman in our town.
    Highly intelligent, gracious and a damn fine speaker.

  26. You are correct 9:06, and I apologize and rescind my post.

  27. Chapman is the author of/contributes to stories at the Altadena.patch as well as a writer for the Pasadena Weekly. I'm now prepared to discount any story associated with his name. What a shame. He's reported on the Hahamangna sediment removal plan and numerous Pasadena issues. Tainted is as tainted does.

  28. As yesterday's library researcher pointed out there is unequivocal evidence that the Sierra Madre City Council is bound by term limits. Why does the city's website continue to maintain there are no term limits? Sounds like misinformation is rampant in the village.

    Elaine, get the facts straight. Get thee to the Library! Dost thou need a Council vote to update the website?

  29. It's all your fault that I'm sorry.

  30. Hi all: This is Patrick Lee, the Regional Editor of Patch. I am John Stephens' editor. We've looked into the claims in this story, as well as some made by commenters on our original story. We stand by Justin Chapman's reporting and our story.

  31. So let me get this straight... Patch puts up a post claiming Sierra Madre is on firm ground with its water rate hike conveniently bolstering Mosca's claim that the City fulfilled the Prop 218 requirements as interpreted by Sandy Levin (who shall be forever known as the Gray Lady) who already lost a challenge in court from Livingston and it turns out the person allegedly interviewed never talked with Patch at all. I'm thinking there's collusion among some folks to slander Zimmerman, Crawford, Herrmann and Delmer. This is some serious mud slinging. Who's calling in markers and furnishing erroneous background to the press?

  32. So 9:32, you're saying that our Patch's editor, who lives in Pasadena, brought in somebody from Alta Dena to write about something going on in Sierra Madre?

    Boggles the mind.

  33. Thanks Patrick. You will be posting an article today explaining exactly why you have decided to defend the utterly indefensible?

  34. Well Moderator, why wouldn't Patrick stand by the story? He's getting some hits from folks who wouldn't usually be in the neighborhood. Ratings, John! He can always retract later. In the case of AOL, words aren't always cheap but traffic is critical.

  35. Don't forget MaryAnn MacGillivray never received an apology from John Stephens for his now infamous hit piece based on SMVFD lies promulgated by Battalion Chief Michael Bamberger, under dispensation from the Church. Don't be tricked by the Patch, Patrick Lee, John Stephens or Justin Chapman.

  36. On another note, be sure to attend tonight's Green Committee Advisory Committee as it "reviews and discusses updates on upcoming events regarding the General Plan Update process."

    As anyone even seen a Green Committee Advisory Committee member at a General Plan Update Committee meeting?

    Never fear! Buchanan guides them to their "advisory" findings.

  37. I do hope Patrick remembers Richard Nixon's warning about the cover-up being worse than the crime.

    Well, maybe not.

  38. All these Patch guys are pileing on, but wait till the feathers hit the fan, and none of them will be seen again.
    They think the community is the small group that has gained control of the city council, and thats the team they should be backing....for now.

  39. I live in Sierra Madre on Sturtevant Drive. :)

  40. It's true or it ain't.
    Bittle said it or he didn't.
    Why isn't the reporter Chapman posting his own defense, or his immediate editor Stevens, instead of a regional editor who's undoubtedly a Johnny come lately to this oops of an article?
    Hey, maybe a national editor will post the retraction!

  41. No Patch article up yet defending their claim that the Jarvis people are satisfied with the Prop 218 process in Sierra Madre while when you talk to the Jarvis people say they are most definitely not. Fans of creative writing eagerly await Patch's response!

  42. One of the original TatsJanuary 26, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    Think of the Patch as the daily version of the MVN except you can't wrap fish in it.

  43. Well, it's either that, or the Jarvis Association spokesperson (who WAS it?) didn't give John Stephens correct information on the org's position.

    I mean, these are the folks that got Prop 13 into place in 1978 as well as worked simultaneously with the State legislature to put in the loophole that allows unregulated group homes in R-1, administered by LA County Supes. Steer money to Sacramento, create a huge unfunded mandate for local cities that violates their zoning. This sets up a huge industry for profit that flies under the radar and violates Health Dept. regs (only "programmatic review" by supes) and violates ADA because there's no code approval for these things. In all other zoning, Group Homes must operate fully licensed and the facilities have to comply with health care and public regs and be submitted for plan check and review. So this is a giant moneymaking scheme at the expense of residents and taxpayers, who foot the big bills for the "residents" of these group homes that are assigned by the County. All these moneymaking rehab programs are being shuffled off into communities which relieves the State of this responsibility on the cheap.

  44. Just my two cents....

    The Patch reporter spoke to a legal assistant at HJTA who provided him with information that was incomplete.

    The legal director of the HJTA subsequently confirmed that it was still investigating Sierra Madre's compliance with the 218 process. Indeed, the legal director went further stating that the HJTA is "interested in [the rate protesters'] case for possible amicus involvement."

    Under these circumstances, Patch should publish a correction or clarification instead of standing by a story containing information that it now knows is false.

  45. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même choseJanuary 26, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    This patchian attitude of not caring what the facts are because
    I'm right, I'm right, I'm right,
    is the way the local patch editor introduced himself in the city council.
    Slandered some of our finest citizens by defending false information then, and is doing it now.

  46. Sounds like Ms. Perez just got thrown under the bus. Generally assistants are not qualified to give legal reasonings for general counsel--she may have just learned a valuable life lesson.

  47. What kind of a reporter would base their story on what they heard from somebody's assistant? Do they also talk with security guards? No wonder the Patch story was so wrong!

  48. Patch/AOL...ha!
    I'll take the real locals anyday...why send your advertising dollars to NY!!!!???

  49. Perhaps Patch can't confirm Ms. Perez' statements because she is no longer with HJTA.

    So Patrick Lee, where were you when John Stephens printed false accusations against MaryAnn MacGillivray during last year City Council campaign?

    Stephens, we know you're reading the Tattler. Be a professional and once and for all admit you were wrong about MacGillivray, and set the record straight on the HJTA story.

    Patch, you're acquiring very bad karma in Sierra Madre.

  50. The Patch brain trust seems to have adopted a strategy that involves sticking their little heads under the bed and staying there until all those meanies go away.

    Very sad.

  51. Crawford, I wish you would change the picture on this thread.
    Such a cute little dog should not be linked with PATCH WEBSITE.

  52. Tattler Friend of Sierra Madre Water Rate Increase ProtestJanuary 26, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    Any morning that starts off with a post by the emminent Dr. Staccato is always a fine morning in my book! Thank you for the reminder of what a small group of folks (the Friends of Sierra Madre Canyon) can accomplish when they are organized and well represented.

    Some of those same folks are Tattlers and my bet is that some of those same people are supporting Zimmerman, Crawford, Herrmann and Delmer in the water rate protest.

    I am heartened by your reminder! See you at Saturday's event.

  53. 12:32, I agree.
    That dog is obviously a symbol of bravery and real strength.
    Crawford, this is not the first time you've used pix of animals that don't really fit.

  54. As 12:02 said, Ms. Perez learned a valuable life lesson, and journalists need to learn them too. You must be careful about what you write and be sure of your sources, or don't write it. There are consequences for sloppy reporting.

  55. The purpose of Patch's article was to declare
    that the Jarvis organization had given their approval to Sierra Madre;s Prop 218 process. Something that turned ou' to be utterly untrue. The rest of the article was nothing more than cooked up nonsense designed to give creedence to a bunch of crap.

  56. This would make a nice test case in a journalism class, as in where the error first occurred - pressure to publish, or pressure to publish a slant, or incompetence - and then follow as one error led to the next and the next, and culminated in some real change at the guilty party headquarters.

  57. This is off topic, but Sir Eric, I hope you're going to get back to the demolition of the old Christian Science Church on Highland.

    That really should not happen.

    The public was told again and again that the site was only being identified as a possible site to satisfy SCAG, not that building 'should get started'.

  58. I think the question to ask the buddung journos is what exactly is the difference between news and content.

  59. That's the pattern 1:38. The public is told one thing with lots of "Don't worry your little brains about it", the groundwork is laid, and bam here comes the real motive all along. At least that's how it has worked in Sierra Madre since the developers have been interested in this town.

  60. The success of the Patch web sites is dependent on local advertising.

    Any editor of a Patch site has to be very, very careful about alienating the people who are willing to pay them for advertising.

    What's Sierra Madre's biggest industry? Real Estate.

    What do realtors want? Good bond ratings and pretty infrastructure.

  61. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't see any advertising on the Patch site. Which is odd because parent orgainzation AOL has sunk $50 million into the nationwide 500 site Patch project. How exactly do they plan on getting all that money back plus a litle profit with the kind of product being turned out? If our local Patch is any indication they're doomed!

  62. tomorrow night
    Green Advisory Committee Meeting, 1-27-2011
    it is nice to know there are people who care

  63. Dear Tattler Readers and Aficianados:

    I honestly believe you are looking into the wrong camera!

  64. Didn't like the Tea Party reference, eh?
    I wonder why!

  65. Throw down of the GauntletJanuary 26, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    Patrick Lee is Ripleycal on Twitter:
    From his twitter account:
    @EchoParkPatch @HighlandPatch @LaCanadaPatch @MontrosePatch @MonroviaPatch @SanMarinoPatch @SierraMPatch @SPasadenaPatch
    Monday, January 24, 2011 11:32:41 AM via web
    on his followers the first is "The Pasadenan"
    I wonder if Patrick Lee is related to Dean Lee of MVN and /or Kate Lee of Starbucks, featured on the front page of Jan 22, 2011 MVN? Or if since there is a Patrick Dean Lee, there is a chance they could be one and the same. I went to the website and perused the "about us" and perhaps a complaint to the mother would in in order. I feel free to embellish in the spirit of the same journalistic unintegrity the Sierra Madre Patch is standing behind. What say you Patrick Lee aka Ripleycal?

  66. Why hasn't Stephens issued a correction?

  67. I guess Kurt Zimmerman's word wasn't good enough for Stephens.

  68. John Stephens never admits to mistakes. Probably because
    there just isn't time enough in the day to discuss them all.

  69. 2:07....what do Realtors want?....6% commissions and all cash purchase agreements!


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