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.