Thursday, August 4, 2011

Patrick Lee Attempts To Defend Patch (but kinda fails)

Patrick Lee is the Regional Editor for Patch in Los Angeles. He has about 12 cities to watch over, and that has got to be quite a challenge for him. AOL has many rather strict rules for those managing its Patch empire, and they are expected to be followed closely. There is very little room for free thinking on Planet Patch, and if any editor strays too far from the chosen path, and they're in his Los Angeles County bailiwick, they will be hearing from Patrick. With $160 million in AOL money invested this year alone in Patch (click here), there is just too much at stake to do otherwise.

One way that Patrick makes his public presence known on the Sierra Madre Patch site is as its occasional comment cop. He can often found there lecturing to those posting on decorum issues. But the one thing that really seems to pique Pat's snit is pseudo-anonymous, or just plain old anonymous, posting. The reason being that if people don't use their own names and real e-mail addresses, how can AOL collect their data? Data collecting is very important to AOL. Properly bundled and presented to corporations who use that kind of information, it can bring in quite a bit of money. And outside of billing the helplessly lo-tech for their antiquated dial-up Internet services, AOL doesn't have very many profit centers right now. Certainly Patch isn't one of them.

Another thing about Patch. Nothing you will ever see there is spontaneous. Everything is done with a set content style in mind. Predetermined presentations that have been carefully researched and market tested by AOL's home office in New York. The kinds of stories to be run, the things discussed, the ever-present lifestyle topics, these are common to all 800 sites. Visit other Patches and you will see what I mean. And all are meticulously monitored by AOL's regional editors.

Patch is what AOL and its market researchers believes you, the potential consumer of their on-line products, to be. Compulsive and self-obsessed consumers who spend most of their days agonizing over things like toenail colors. It is a condescending and inaccurate picture of people living in towns like ours.

But despite all of that, yesterday a rather interesting conversation broke out on our local Patch. It had to do with the water rate hike, and whether or not Patch's coverage of our topic of the week was biased in favor of the City. The conversation kicked off with the following comment from a rather poorly informed gent named Ryan.

It is a good thing that this frivolous lawsuit is over. It is interesting that Crawford claims victory, but none of the objectives stated in the lawsuit were achieved. It is scary that he has no clue as to the decrepit state of the water mains in town. All of them need to be replaced. Water is one of the necessary services provided by the city. We cannot let the system go beyond repair.

Sad to think that there are people in this town who still believe the water rate hike was about fixing old pipes. You'd assume that everyone in town would have understood by now that the city fibbed when it first put that story out, and the money was actually for the servicing of bonds. But considering the heavy push this misinformation got during the Spring of 2010 from the likes of then Mayor Joe Mosca, it is probably inevitable that there would still be some who live in such primeval darkness.

So who should then jump in to defend our honor? None other than our good friend Kim Goddard. Here is what she had to say:

Gee Ryan, you are naive if you don't think Mr. Crawford did not have the backing of over 1,600 people. You are naive if you think the majority of that money is going to repair pipes, and you are naive if you think that the city complied with Prop 218. There is nothing in that article that claims victory ... The main and most important difference between the Tattler and the others is he does not have to write to satisfy or not offend advertisers. I notice that when I read Patch or the Weakly all the stories are the same. Press releases spun by the city. The city lied to you, it is still lying to you.

And true to form, up popped that ever vigilant Patch comment cop, Patrick Lee. Which is what usually happens when someone brings up something that calls into question the journalistic integrity of Patch.

Hi Kim: Thanks for your comments. We appreciate Mr. Crawford's passion, but the fact is that Patch reports the news without bias or agenda, unlike Mr. Crawford, who has a clear agenda. We also don't post stories that please advertisers; we post news that community members such as yourself tell us are useful to them. If you don't find Patch useful, then it's our job to find out why. And we're always open to hearing from people who visit our site, such as yourself.

While his chirpy writing style is a bit off putting, Patrick does have a point. I do have a clear agenda, and I practice it as often as I can. It would be ridiculous of me to deny it. But for Patrick Lee to then actually claim that Patch, in contrast to my unworthy self, has no bias or agenda of its own? Good Lord Almighty. I'm sorry, but that just cannot be allowed to stand.

I e-mailed Patrick hoping that he would come to see the absurdity of his claim to purity of thought, and come back down to the planet floor with the rest of us. This is what I said:

Here is what Patch missed, and I have always wondered why. In late 2010 the City Council claimed we needed a water rate increase due to water infrastructure decay. Later it was discovered by concerned residents that the actual reason for the water rate hike was based on water bond debt, and not infrastructure repair. The city's story then changed.

What Patch never reported, along with every other news source except the one I run, is that the city's story had clearly been altered, and without acknowledgement. This despite the fact that Patch had reported both versions of the story, and made the switch with no questions asked. Exactly as they were put out by City Hall. Yet you never noted even once that the story had changed. The big question being why. Do you care to explain that?

Apparently Patrick didn't want to discuss this issue. Probably because to do so would be to admit that Patch did have an agenda, that being to reflect whatever version of reality the City was putting out at the time. In other words, Patch's bias is to toe the line of the status quo. Even when that line radically careens from one side of the issue to another.

Here are two examples of how Patch reported both versions of the city's take on the water rate increase question. The first comes from an article posted on Patch by John Stephens. The date is October 7, 2010, the title, "City Announces Special Water Meeting."

"(The City Manager stated that) payments routinely made on outstanding bond debt and associated interest are part of the city's ongoing water costs, but that the proposed rate hike is needed primarily to fund improvements to water infrastructure."

The City Manger, Elaine Aguilar, was not being truthful when she made the statement, but it was the official line of City Hall at that point in time. And Patch dutifully reported what she said, word for word.

We then zoom forward to January 12, 2011. In another John Stephens article, this time entitled "Sierra Madre Approves Controversial Water Rate Hike," we step through an Orwellian warp and discover that water infrastructure repairs not only had nothing to do with it, they were not even to be mentioned. The real reason was water bonds.

The primary reason for the water rate hike, according to staff reports and council discussion, is to satisfy a water bond covenant that calls for the water fund reserve to maintain an amount no less than 120 percent of operating expenses. The new ordinance will satisfy this covenant, with which the city is currently out of compliance, within four years.

The big story on the water rate increase is that the City completely changed its story halfway through the process. And that was because concerned residents has uncovered the real reason for the hike. Unfortunately, the City only copped to the bond thing after the legally required Proposition 218 notices had already gone out to the residents. That notice being in agreement with the first Patch statement cited above, the one that said it was about rusty pipes.

So does Patch have an agenda and bias in its reporting of the news? Of course it does. Nowhere did they in anyway report that the City had run a bait and switch operation in order to get more of the ratepayer's money. Not even once. Why? Because they didn't want to bring any attention to that issue. It might have embarrassed City Hall.

Patch's agenda is the one that AOL dictates. That being not to get into a fight with City Hall. Even to the point of having to suppress important news. Controversy might make for exciting reading, but it just isn't good for business.

And Patrick Lee apparently not only enforces that policy on all of the Patches under his wing, he defends it as well.


  1. Hard hitting news and investigative reporting is not simply printing/posting press releases. Patrick Lee is whipping the page views. If he can engage the posters (both of them) and allude to John Crawford posting under alias maybe he can generate interest.

    Thanks, Kim. We enjoy your lively banter, research, and loyalty to The Tattler.

  2. The sad part about the post by Ryan on the Patch is that he is not the only citizen who is still so misinformed. It seems only the Tattler readers know what is really going on at City Hall. My friends and neighbors blithly read the Mt. View, Weakly and Patch as if they are accurately reporting the "news".

  3. Patch, by not accurately reporting on this story, has failed this city. City Hall switching its justification for a rate hike halfway through the process is a huge story. Not including it in their reporting had to have been done deliberately.

  4. Stick To The FactsAugust 4, 2011 at 6:38 AM

    Mr. Lee said the following, Hi Kim: Thanks for your comments. We appreciate Mr. Crawford's passion, but the fact is that Patch reports the news without bias or agenda, unlike Mr. Crawford, who has a clear agenda...... Funny how Mr. Lee cant see the truth. The truth is the Patch is not reporting for the TAX payers, he is reporting to make our local government look good, regardless of the truth. Keep up the good honest work Mr. Tattler.

  5. Is it just me, or does Patrick Lee have a Kim Jong Il thing going on?

  6. My Toenails Are Fickle FuchsiaAugust 4, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    Just a possibility: The writers, editors, supervisors, etc., of Patch are just slackers without the intelligence and ethics required for journalism.

    If that is Mr. Kim pictured at the head of today's post, my surmise is that these guys might not have the cognitive energy to actively cultivate a bias. They may be just copying down what they are told.

  7. John Crawford's Sierra Madre Tattler Blog:


  8. 7:47, That's apparently Patrick Lee, not to be confused with Kim Jong Il, or Kim Clymer-Kelley.

    Or to explain it from the Patch perspective.

    "We stand by our story that Patrick Lee is/is not Kim Jong Il and Kim Clymer-Kelley. We have no biases, opinions, or ideas. Thank you for your comment."

  9. Is there anyone anywhere who doesn't know that AOL's purpose is money? That's an agenda ya know. Make buckets of money.

  10. AOL spent $160 million for patch sites? This year alone? Holy God! Are they insane?

  11. Does Patrick Lee live in Sierra Madre?

  12. Art Guy - it has to be the haircut. They both have that "tail plugged into a wall socket" coif.

  13. Pasadena, 8:16. I don't think Sierra Madre would be metro enough for him.

  14. 8:16, as long as AOL keeps stealing from it's customers, it'll have funds to back-up the hyper blog efforts.

  15. It clearly looks to me as if Patrick is still trying to start his campfire with wet kindling.
    I guess we are living in the world of: "we're wrong even if we are right because it isn't right to be right", political correctness.
    If I was a school teacher, it resembles the now discredited "no child left" behind uber curriculum.

  16. Don't read the Patch.
    Don't plan to read it.

  17. I see Kim Jong is now sporting a brush on his chin

  18. So is Patrick Lee responsible for the shoddy management that allowed plagiarism to occur on the local AOL site?

  19. I avoid sites that "capture" data, because I get enough emails as it is.
    But I disagree 7:47 that all AOL hires are slackers. Some of the people who work there are young writers trying to use their craft, and I wish them better jobs with honest organizations in the future.

  20. Sierra Madre Tattler-still not owned by the dirt mediaAugust 4, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    Crawford, you should be honored that Patch (as in pirate patch?) gets to pirate your legitimate news, even if they distort it.
    It's the only thing they have to write about?
    They must all be Tattler readers,any readers he does have will be reading this blog....perhaps some of the truth will filter through to them.

  21. A few synonyms for Patch:

    blot, spot, chip, flake, smear, fleck, stain, slur, maculation, smudge, scrap, smirch.

    Wonderfully connotative!

  22. I've been mulling Ms. Kim Clymer-Kelly's post yesterday. She does have a valid point and presents her case well. Then I began to wonder...

    1. She no longer appears as a member of the Green Committee on the City Website
    2. She worked hard on the Arcadia Woodlands issue - but fails to mention the more than a 100 acres denuded and scraped clean by the developers at the top of Baldwin - which was approved by supporters of the very group of candidates she allowed to place signs in her yard.

    So without spending a lot more time on this issue I'm willing to let Ms. Clymer-Kelly retire to the shadows but I'm not willing to agree with her and her friends that she is as green and passionate as she would have us believe.

  23. Last fall, I sent one of my reporters to interview a local author who was speaking at the library. My reporter showed up before the presentation, as arranged, to conduct the interview.

    The Patch reporter came into the room sometime later, saw what was going on, and attempted to seize control of the interview and snowball my reporter. All it did was piss off everyone involved (the author has been a friend of mine for quite a few years).

    I wrote to the Altadena Patch local editor to complain about his reporter's behavior, and got a response from Patrick Lee -- which says to me that when there's a problem, the local editor has to kick it upstairs to Dad. I'm not sure if what I got back was an apology.

    Last month, one of the town councilman (who is also a Patch writer) was wanting to put together a seminar about social media for seniors and asked me to be involved. I gave him a list of some local resources and organizations that would be good to involve with this, and he sent me his correspondence with Patch, i.e. Patrick Lee. Lee planned to turn this into a Patch promotional event, with banners, swag, and a lead speaker who would teach you how to navigate Patch. On those bases, I said I would not be involved. But they got something out of it, as the town councilman wrote a feature story for Patch on one of the organizations I shared with him.

    The Altadena Patch has a town councilman as a paid writer; has a Patch blog written by another councilman; and the local editor offered a Patch blog to the town council. Now, my thought was that a news organization was supposed to keep its distance from government and act as an independent watchdog, not work overtime to get in bed with them. But maybe that's the Huffington way.

  24. The name "Patch" was intended to evoke a "garden patch" or "our patch of the world" and there you see the problem with the whole thing - an artificial construct, a manufactured whimsy, and as has been pointed out, devoid of any spontaneity. It was dead from the get go because it was not born out of creativity.
    And the poor writers are desperate to get their content crops in, and woefully unprepared in the ethics training a journalist needs, so they'll carry on the way they did with the Sage of Altadena's reporter, to say nothing of the reprehensible collusion with local government.

  25. Great post Sage. Town Councilmen writing about their own work as the peoples representatives in Patch. Talk about no integrity.

  26. Roget II on "Patch"August 4, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    Blemish, disfigure, deface, scab, scar, deform, warp, twist, kink, distort--well at least there is that much journalistic intergrity at AOL--their title says what they do.

  27. Ryan sounds like Mosca or Buchanan.

    Still lying about the water mains.

    Fact is, it was all BS - it was about bonds, a 7 million dollar library, a $50k counter top, egos of Buchanan/Mosca and never about water mains.

    Funny how we haven't had the massive explosions and collapse of our water mains as claimed immenient by Mosca, Buchanan and Moran.

    Once they were caught in their lies, coverup, distortion and misinformation, not to mention ignoring the State constitution, Mosca, Buchanan, Walsh and Moran will always be known as frauds to most in Sierra Madre.

  28. Kim's Apology-AttackAugust 4, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    It is disingenuous to say:

    "Whatever it is that I did to offend or hurt you I am sorry. If it is just the fact that I had a Mosca sign in my yard . . . ."

    If you are sorry you supported Mosca say so. If you are proud to have supported him, why would you apologize?

    We had Crawford, Alcorn, and Watts signs in our yard because we supported their candidacy, not because we wanted to be popular. And despite the fact that they were not elected, we are still proud to have supported them.

    The political debate gets clouded by these false emotional dilemmas. It's not that hard to be a good neighbor, but it starts with telling the truth.

  29. Passive aggression is given a short shrift on this board.

  30. Oh, 10:27, so nice to see you here, I'm so sorry you have no place else to go!

  31. patch...just look around saysAugust 4, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    If the Patch wants to become relevant and generate a loyal following of readers, all it has to do is "look around". The LA Times drills hard into local government malfeasance, sometimes unethical, sometimes illegal and lets the chips fall where they may. The Tattler provides a forum for blogers with an editorial that identifies and challenges a situation that says "all is not right in Sierra Madre", and the "comments" take it from there.

    The Patch reads like an official information disclosure, not attempting to make what should become an issue, "an issue". Until they make a difference on issues like the Santa Anita Dam fiasco, or the destruction of our hillsides by Citiy Government & developers, or the stupid CRA funding of what will become future tenemant apartments in Monrovia and Pasadena, people will not pay much attention to the docile and "milk toast" articles. They just don't make a difference.

  32. Patch is what is known as a content farm. It gives the appearance of being a news site, but offers only the most superficial take on what is going on. Whatever it takes to get traffic, they'll say it. My guess is that the attention level is so scattered at Patch that they might not even know that the city changed it's story halfway through the water rate increase. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if they wear sandals because they never learned how to tie their shoes.

  33. That picture of Patrick Lee. It reminded me of photos of John Leung. I checked the pictures side by side. They could be family.

  34. That's a pretty good dime, 11:21, and it seems highly likely that Sierra Madre AOL did not know what had happened when the city said one thing and then hey presto something very different.
    When you worship Search Engine Optomization, it's easy to get distracted.

  35. Patrick Lee is the editor who defended the plagerist Justin Chapman. Didn't he lift sections of his whatever post from another Patch writer? Didn't Lee investigate and find no plagerism took place even though the Tattler proved it by finding the posts that had been taken down? Patrick Lee has no moral compass.

  36. At Patch the virtue of a writer is judged by their ability to work for little or no money. Even plagiarized material is content.

  37. The idiot Miller continues to flog a settled case in today's Weakly. He can't stand that Crawford and the Tattler are winning the hearts and minds of Sierra Madre and he sits in his own poo muzzled by Von Raess after he insulted Santa Anita, John Shear, and John Crawford.

    Eat dirt Miller. You are getting what you deserve!

  38. I like Kim Clymer-Kelly and she is a neighbor of mine in tbe Canyon--I even helped her with some material for a class she was taking at CalPoly (so she knows who is writing this) BUT I don't read her column because I won't read that dishonest criminal's newspaper. The "I'm so sorry post" made me go back to the body of the blog and look for the reference. It was so slight that my reaction was she is trying too hard to be liked and that is totally unnecessary.
    Bye the way--she and a whole other bunch of very dedicated people are working on stopping GMO's (genertically modified) food from entering our state.... Hey, I'm a retired school teacher always trying to "catch 'em being good."

  39. (copy paste) Nuclear Poo BoyAugust 4, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    12:44 he he he, that Miller article should be titled Sierra Madre Weekly gets no relief. Seems like Miller is taking the nuclear poo boy approach to explaining the cities position in his piece.(Nuclear Poo Boy was a very anal cartoon made to explain to the children of Japan that the melting down reactors had constipation and could explode without relief, a majority of youtubers expressed their disgust). But in this thinly disguised seething,Crawford attack piece with tacky pictures (as the light shines in) (the pipe head man) Miller seems to gagging on a mouthful of ex-lax. The city probably told him it was chocolate. A big chocolate covered apple, the kind apple polishers really like.

  40. 12:44.....That's not very nice!

  41. Somebody has a passion for bashing Terry Miller....unless it's a troll trying to make the thread look bad.

  42. In his rather wordy Weekly article Terry had this to say:

    "We edited another malevolent comment in his which bore no relevance to the issue."

    What I had asked is that he give my best to all of his friends at Santa Anita Racetrack. I guess that evoked some bad memories for him.

  43. Back on the topic of patches, they remind me of "newspapers" in junior high. Not the interesting You were alive when Hannibal crossed the Alps, write about that time and place in the world kind, but the Ms. Martin's class answers the what is your favorite TV show poll kind.

  44. The AOL Sierra Madre Patch is entirely irrelevant to Sierra Madre, and so is the Multi-city Weekly.
    Both irrelevant.

  45. The Weekly is one small step up from littering.

  46. I disagree. But let me say that I don't expect either the Patch or the Weekly to carry any sort of real news. Their purpose, it seems to me, is to share a community calendar, news of local businesses, and events - with lots of photos. I like to read about the activities in Monrovia, Duarte, Arcadia, Temple City, and El Monte. If I want to be up to date on politics I go to the web and read the national news and news magazines on line.

    Do I agree with the reporting on Patch and the Weekly? Not all the time and sometimes none of the time. But how can you make an informed decision without knowing what the opposition is putting out there?

    The answer is 3:20 pm, if you don't think Patch and the Weekly are relevant to you and your life style, then don't read them.

  47. Good Day Tattlers, Thank you John it was my honor to defend your, our honor. But it isn't over yet. Apparently I make Ryan laugh, (looks like Ryan signed up just to comment on the water rate story). Who comes to mind that says frivolous, due diligence, has been comment censored, is using the word victory like the other parrots, claims you are a conspiracy theorist and a known atheist? Really of of us who read the Tattler are guilty by assocation. Because you did not like his/her/ he/she she/he's different opinion? I was going to make him laugh even more, but that darn comment thing, called me Tolstoy. So I settled with the legal definitions of a writ of mandate and complaint for declaratory relief. Just barely got in the fact that prop 218 called for a real public ballot vote not letters that changed wording, practically in the envelopes.

    I consider myself an extreme reality observer, We research our facts all day long. We need to make people like Ryan laugh, poor pitiful things. Bless their wretched little hearts

  48. Sounds like Ryan is an obsessed Tattler fan. That love versus hate divide gets mighty tight when emotions are so strongly involved.

  49. Mosca/Buchanan Violated Prop 218. PeriodAugust 4, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    Buchanan, Mosca, et al., think it's perfectly all right to lie to steal our money; how do you think they would respond if we reacted in kind and the wording on our water-bill payment checks contained some pretty dark "grey areas," like a fictitious name, a fictitious account number, or maybe just a little exaggeration on the account balance.

    And would the peanut-gallery-press help us perpetuate the fraud against the City the way they help the City perpetuate its fraud against us.

  50. The City Council is considering the creation of the Justin Chapman Journalism Prize. It will be given yearly to the local newsy who most successfully creates and disseminates a disinformation campaign that allows it to either raise taxes or promote high density development in a neighborhood where it is not wanted.

  51. Comparing someone to Kim Jong Il? That's what sounds like junior high.

  52. I agree 9:42. Very weird thread on this one - great comments, and comments that are really not quite up to junior high level.
    In that photo, Mr. Lee just looks like someone who's been drinking too much Red Bull in front of the computer for too long. Probably just who AOL looks for.

  53. yes mr lee and his cronies at the patch decided to 86 me as i was defending a couple of parents that were being bullied by some nice folks in sierra madre!!!!!


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