Thursday, June 14, 2012

No Omerta: What's Really Going On At The COG

One of the bigger disappointments of Tuesday evening's City Council meeting was the report given about the recent goings-on at the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments by Councilmember Harabedian. For the last couple of years or so our previous liaison to The COG, Nancy Walsh, had steadfastly refused to share any interesting information about the occasionally bizarre happenings there, instead reporting on things like battery recycling programs and the yummy post-meeting buffets that are served to the elected officials who attend COG meetings.

Now the assumption was that Nancy just didn't grasp what was actually happening at these COG meetings, and the reason why she never gave reports at our City Council confabs about the shady goings-on there was because she didn't understand much of what she'd heard. I now realize that was unfair. Nancy was, to use the colorful Mario Puzo/Godfather term for this, "keeping omerta." Or, in layman's terms, "shudding ya mouth up about it."

Apparently "keeping omerta" is expected of their COG liaisons by the Buchanan/Moran Faction because, like Nancy Walsh and Joe Mosca before him, John Harabedian is now doing the exact same thing. I mean, to say to the residents that there is nothing to report regarding what has been going down at The COG the week after its Executive Director, Nick Conway, had both his home and his COG offices raided by armed officers of the Public Integrity Office of the Los Angeles District Attorney does take some considerable doing. But just like his predecessors, that is what Harabedian did. He "ticked a lock."

Now I happen to have a different opinion about how such things are supposed to be done. My take is that if our taxpayer dollars are going to an organization, which in the case of The COG they are, then the people have the right to be told by their elected representatives everything that is happening there. And to completely whitewash the fact that an investigation of COG Executive Director Nick Conway is being conducted by the District Attorney's office is certainly not in that spirit. It isn't what I would call transparency. The notion that elected officials might attempt to hide such news from the people whose money they spend (foolishly in the case of The COG), is somewhat alien to me.

Just to let you know, I get to hear a lot about what is actually going on at The COG. This blog is widely read by many of its members, some of whom actually enjoy the kind of "breaking omerta" coverage we give here. Some hate my guts because of it, but that's show business. I'm not that crazy about them, either. And I do occasionally receive e-mails from members sharing who want to share their knowledge of some of the bizarre internal goings-on there.

I thought today I would reprint a portion of one of those e-mails. I am not going to identify the source because the author fears legal retaliation. There are good reasons for that concern in my opinion, and because of that I will not reveal this person's identity. Here or elsewhere. We too can keep secrets.

This e-mail was written to me a week before the District Attorney obtained a legal search warrant from the Court and raided Conway's home and offices. In retrospect it was a great lead-in to something nobody knew was going to happen. I now wish I'd printed it upon receipt. Other things were going on at the time in Sierra Madre, and I passed on it. In hindsight the importance of this e-mail is now crystal clear.

I recently wrote to Angel Carillo, the current President of the San Gabriel Valley COG of allegations I read in your blog. Specifically the allegation that Nick Conway's company, Arroyo Associates, is being paid rent for the homeless coalition formed and set up by the COG. While I do not know if the allegations are true, they require immediate action to either exonerate or avoid possible conflicts of interest. Surprisingly, Carillo did not respond to me. When I asked him about it at a recent executive committee meeting he said, "Because I do not agree with you."

Nevertheless, the SGVCOG has a fiduciary responsibility to investigate this for it's member cities. This and other conflict of interest allegations need adjudication to retain confidence in government. The effort by Conway to get a lucrative PERS pension is a non-starter for my community. The amount of legal fees that are amassing because of Conway are staggering.

A week after this e-mail was received here the District Attorney launched his raids on Conway controlled properties. Obviously the author of this piece suspected something big might happen.

At the most recent SGVCOG meeting this blog came under some criticism from those who run the joint. Apparently there is concern that some of the things revealed by The Tattler over the last few months may have played a role in the District Attorney's decision to launch a conflict of interest investigation of that organization's lead figure.

Which, while being good news for this blog, certainly does not say much for the communicativeness of those elected officials who are supposed to be representing our interests there.

But hasn't that often been the case in Sierra Madre over the last several years? As our City government has gone from being a place where the peoples' business gets done to a private marketplace open to the desires of any outside interests with the money to buy in, it has taken citizen volunteers to break through official omerta and find out what the truth might actually be. It happened with the Downtown Specific Plan, it happened with the deceptive rationale for the water rate increase, and now it has happened with The COG.

It is nice that people can take this kind of interest in good government and make the effort to get to the truth of such matters. But isn't it also kind of sad that we have to do so?

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

59 comments:

  1. Really tho, did anyone ever expect Nancy to explain anything with charm, grace and exact meaning and truth. She represents a lack of education and a mix of bitterness and arrogance that she won the votes but not the popularity of the people and knows she is insignificant.

    She just cannot follow in the footsteps of MaryAnn. Must piss her off.

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  2. Kind of sad that the people have to be the ones to get the truth out of their local government? It's a full-time job, and it's maddening.

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  3. Thank you Tattler for keeping on the slick Nick story.
    This guy needs to get out of public service.

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  4. This may seem a petty point, but it bothers me that these municipal representatives have a buffet - why don't they demonstrate more concern for the way they spend tax dollars? Brown bag it, feed your own selves, show your constituents that you recognize the times call for tight belts.

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    1. Maybe it is the only way to get them there. No yummy food, no attendance. Not that it matters. Most of them sit there like they are made of wood and rubber stamp everything Conway tells them to.

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    2. They get paid to be there.

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    3. Food and money? What a stupid waste, damnit.

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    4. How else do you get them there except put out a trough?

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    5. They get paid fifty bucks each COG meetomg. They are given a hundred fifty pages of documents about sustainibility, green development and Conway's best management dribble. Few bother to read or understand it. Then their eyes glaze over from stuffing themselves. They sign their request for fifty bucks and anticipate Nick's catered buffet next month.

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    6. Those 150 pages of documents on sustainability and green development ... Are they printed on dead trees? Kind of reminds me of this kid you used to see in town years ago. Had "Meat Is Murder" stenciled on the back of her leather jacket.

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  5. What is the City hiding concerning development on Highland and East Montecito. The City is hiding something. They have stopped the project next to the Storage Facility, have a lawsuit against the Hildreths. It seems like forever for the Hildreth fiasco, not to mention the money the City has spent. It looks like the wood is starting to rot at the new project site with the possibility of another lawsuit from the Roses. The City must have some big plans on that street or why would they be spending on that money fighting our citizens. When is the City going to be selling the Church on Highland? Here comes the low income housing.

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  6. Brilliant, insightful, probing writing from the Tattler everyday. Everything takes it's own time to collapse under the weight of lies and deceit. Think Bell.

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  7. Word to Harabedian...you have too much riding on your new law degree to play footsie with those COG rascals. Better learn what they are up to and ask the mayor for another assignment. If it is really a do nothing place ask Nancy to trade with you.

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  8. I didn't vote for Harabedian, but once he won, with all that money spent on his campaign, I tried to be hopeful, at least about his intelligence. Why isn't he following the bouncing ball when he goes to that meeting, and then telling us? Surely he's brighter than some of our previous representatives, and he must know this is a scandal of pretty large proportions. Could it be, given the posing with cops on campaign materials, that the words "Public Integrity Office" are a little too close for comfort, and he'd just as soon not highlight them?

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    1. Let us not confuse a tony education with intelligence and common sense and a principled approach to life. I think Mr. Harabedian is in over his head and uses his blustery lawyer voice and concentrates on "process" instead of results to see his way through. He also has a strong desire to continue to climb the political ladder so he has to play ball with those who hold the strings of power and influence. Be wary of him.

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    2. Agreed. He is not a man of integrity and he has so much as admitted that himself over the last few months (illegal representation of local police support in his campaign flyers only one sample). He did say that people would not agree with what he does on council in one of the candidate forums - at least he was truthful about that.

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  9. Silence is an important ingredient for corruption.

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    1. It appears the preferred career choice for flim-flamers,rogues and hooligans is employment within the Public Sector!TERRIFIC...

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    2. I find this whole "process" tactic to be extremely annoying. It basically informs people that since something has been discussed previously, you can't talk about it now. It is bureaucratic and oppressive.

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  10. Funny that when you click to comments at the bottom you get the gross open mouth cartoon from yesterday's blog as a reminder of Josh's yackity, yack. Keep up the good work Crawford.

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  11. Food is an important component of most public service meetings. As an example, before every Sierra Madre City Council meeting the City Council is on the receiving end of a catered dinner. Reasoning is that the Council is a group of volunteers who come directly from work with no opportunity to grab a bite to eat. Reality is that Walsh (who could pass up a few pasta feeds), and Capoccia are both retired; Mayor Running Mouth and Koerber are pretty much in charge of their schedules as I'm sure Young Johnny Harabedian is. I recommend the Council voluntarily give up the taxpayer supplied feed bag or at least use some of that monthly stipend to reimburse the ailing budget.

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    1. Great idea 8:44. Or bring their own food for nourishment if they need it, as so many of us in the private sector do.

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  12. I hear City Council gets dinner if they have a closed session at 5 or 5:30.

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    1. Are these meals catered by a Sierra Madre restaurant?

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    2. There is no good reason for any money to be spent on food in city hall.
      If people want cookies at special events, they can bake 'em & bring 'em.

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  13. The City needs to set up a "Line Item Veto" Commission. Just go through the budget every month and line out any spends that shouldn't be made.

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  14. They should pony up the money that it costs for this dinner. The convenience is truly worth something. Maybe Bean Town donates sandwiches, chips, cookies, soft drinks. That is what I have seen at some functions. So label a jar "feed the kitty" and stop fleecing the tax payers if the food is not donated.

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  15. Imagine if you had a private company and you found out that your executive director was diverting sublease rent to his own pocket. He would be instantly fired and sued for recovery of the funds. At the SGVCOG, these are elected officials and their executive director is diverting rent money from the taxpayers. The president of the COG is a complete buffoon, or needs looking into himself. How can he think this is not going to come to a head? What is very frightening to me is that in this room of elected officials who are the ones who sit there without objecting to this? Heads need to roll.

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    1. Hopefully the DA will drag some of these clowns into court and the judge will make examples of them. I don't know which is worse, the crookedness of COG's Exec Director, or the passivity of the elected officials who just sit there and look the other way while the taxpayers are robbed.

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    2. Just like Sacramento. It is no wonder that California is the Greece of the United States.

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    3. Anybody read about the billionaire in Texas who was sentenced to 110 years in prison for financial fraud and bilking investors of millions of dollars? If only justice could direct its gaze down to the local municipality level, where the crooks are groomed for bigger things like this...violating the public trust is just the first step in their lives of white-collar crime, something Johnny Harabedian must know a lot about since his firm specializes in white-collar criminal defense.

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  16. Earlier poster...can you elaborate on the Rose lawsuit against the city?

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  17. The next SGVCOG meeting/buffet is being held at the Edison Training Center on Irwindale Boulevard on June 21. They moved the meeting up to five PM so that no member of the public will be there in time to make public comment.

    Let's charter a bus and demand the rent payments to Cownway be paid back to the taxpayers. Lets eat the buffet before they fill their plates. Lets ask the President of the COG why he failed to do anything. Lets take pictures of these people to put on wanted posters.

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    1. Now there's a field trip I'd be willing to attend. Too bad these meetings could not be posted in the Wistaria Vine so the public had the schedule of meeting times and location handy.

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  18. John, I am more than a bit concerned over the COG rumblings about the Blog. I looked into the Conway family, high union and thug related. Conway is a ape in a suit. He will attack and not just verbally either. Please Tatts, keep an eye out for our dear editor.

    Watch out for cars that come up behind you strong and fast, they will try to make you wreck. Don't get caught with a car behind you and one on the side, it is a double teaming tactic they tried on me, pull over to the side of the road, they'll know you see them, and won't want their license numbers taken, go around corners and change your driving pattern, to observe followers. You Tatts, drive by his home and make sure he is safe, write down any cars licenses that are parked and observing.

    Be Safe...

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  19. Yours truly, Henry HillJune 14, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Youse is so right this morning, Johnny C. Let me tell you afta bein in the witness protection for some years now it's high time we exposed deese bums. Nancy "Toes" Walsh, Nicky "The Snake" Conway, and Johnny "The Brain" Harabedian is just a tip of the iceboig. Dis hole thing stinks a scam being created by the building industry and who knows where it will lead. We can only hope somebodys gonna toin states evidence and spill da beans. As for me I'm startiin to grow a beard and wear a fake nose.

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    1. Grow a beard? Isn't that what Bob "Short Eyes" Matheson did?

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  20. yes, but they'll catch you by your unmistakable accent.

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  21. Certainly lots of evidence is in the hands of los federales already?

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    1. They got him cornered, like a rat.

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  22. Henry sounds good for a guy that died of AIDs on June 12. But he is right and to all the new coggie readers, think back on issues you were pressured or cowerced into agreeing to at COG, think about all the eating and nodding you did while Conway conquered your freewill with culinary enticements. You got info on Conway? Send it to the DA, get rid of his corrupted double entry bookkeeping. Be a true representative of the people that trust and try to believe in you, not a council of gooses getting stuffed with delicacies before being turned into pate. I wonder if you have ever watched your own meetings, stuffing your faces and nodding. Some of us have, the meetings are online.

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    1. Say there Man Up, can you save me a bit of research time and point me in the direction of the online meeting? I'm wondering on what Conway has on the Coggies that makes them so reluctant to question his reign of terror...

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    2. Nick threatens anyone who even looks at him wrong with a lawsuit, and then gets the taxpayer to pay his legal bills.

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    3. Hi 11:10 sorry to take so long, went to SCAG.gov and hit Scag TV, but had to download microsoft silverlight, they have vids and agendas there.

      Went to the SGVCOG site and it has become surprising ignorant.
      no vids, there is a June 14, meeting for HCED, the homeless coalition, but when you go to the upcoming events the date is cream colored and blank. The address may be at the alhambra office at the address below, buttt??? The web site is carefully crafted as to not reveal much, probably on purpose, I can find what HCED is, but then the search agenda takes you to a years old agenda listing. I went down to current agenda and hit the HCED list and it kicked me out of the page: this is the current agenda 4/19/2012: It won't let me copy and paste, and they don't have vids up like SCAG.gov

      The blogger says HTML cannot be accepted, must be 4,096 characters

      Hope this helps, they have a you tube channel under SGVCOG but the vids are over 2 years old.

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    4. You've gone above and beyond 12:23 pm. Nick is covering his butt; much will disappear from the ether, the files, and indeed SGVCOG history itself. We're seeing a pro at work. Thanks!

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    5. I have another window open with Sgvcog, if you use the search engine and use HCED, June 14,2012 you get more access sites there, versus HCED which gives you only the current agenda, but either way look at SGVCOG investment policies bullet, hit that and see what Charles Conway auditor in large has to say.

      OH Oh,OHH when I searched with San gabriel valley council of governments video streaming, it came up with a tattler story June 14, 2011, go there tatts, I made a good post under anonymous and the other tattler comments are chock full of juicy details,

      It is called "The President of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments Tells all"

      Is this synchronistic or what?

      Maybe we can get a group discount on fake beards and noses, I am reminded of the scene in the godfather movie, where everybody heads to the compound to hide out and they order a lot of extra mattresses.

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  23. Everybody needs to be on the alert when they come home late at night, especially in our town as many parts of Sierra Madre are really isolated. If you are on the last couple of streets before your home and you notice someone making all the same turns, drive on back to the center of town and then head for the PD.

    Years ago, a visiting couple from Europe was trailed after stopping for gas on the way to Palm Springs, then followed up the hill to Idlewild, where they made another unsuspecting stop to view a road side attraction. The result was not good and too grim to repeat here. When I travel alone I get gas and then back on the freeway, making another stop later to get food and use the potty. Look around and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

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  24. Forty comments before noon. I guess nobody reads the Tattler.

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    1. Plenty of people read the Tattler. Thing is, half of them won't admit it.

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  25. Somebody needs to hold young Johnny accountable to the public interest before he gets any older and set in his bad, bad ways. I would think his behavior could be mortifying for his mother and father, but perhaps they support the same agenda and are cheering him on from the sidelines. How, I wonder, do they ultimately stand to profit from their progeny's hot pursuit of political prominence??

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    1. um, Athens trash and green regulations? I smell money

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  26. Sierra Madre is not alone. I watched my Council Member, Denis Bertone, give his "report" on the SGVCOG activities at the last San Dimas Council meeting. He simply referred to a packet provided in the agenda packet, of course the packet was little more than a press release prepared by none other than Nick Conway! No mention was made of the search warrants served nor did Mr. Bertone think it important to mention to his constituents that HE made a motion for the County to move forward with the infamous rain tax that is being proposed. HE made the motion to move forward with an election which will cost MILLIONS in tax dollars and if approved will levy a tax on every single property in the county.

    The culture of this secret society must end! Conway is only part of the problem......the other more important problem is our elected officials allowing this total disregard for the public and their interests to continue.

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    1. THAT is the big mystery. Why is it elected officials keep this guy's secrets? It is kind of like those stories about people refusing to help someone who is being attacked on the street by thugs. They just walk on by like nothing is happening.

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    2. Hi Gilman,

      Mr. Bertone is the first name on the moving congratulations bullet on the SGVCOG site, to the SCAG Policy Committee, Maybe Dave D the district attorney will widen his scope of investigation to include Mr Berone.

      The others are Joe Gonzales, (I wonder if that is little Joesph of John and Ruth Gonzales So. El Monte) Gene Murabito, Sam Pedroza, Teresa Real Sebastian, Becky Shelvin and Tim Spohn

      You are right Gilman the payola, presents, perks, and political prostitutes gotta go.

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  27. If the SGVCOG is to continue, and I am not sure it should, then it is definitely time for a fresh set of eyes. Time for each and every City to remove it's current COG representative and appoint someone new to represent the people's interests. It definitely needs to start with COG officers such as Angel Carrillo/Azusa, Barbara Messina/Alhambra, Dave Spence/La Canada, Joe Gonzalez/South El Monte, Gino Sund/District 5, Sam Pedroza/Claremont, Denis Bertone/San Dimas, John Fasana/Duarte.....well you get the idea.

    Pick up the phone, write a letter, go to a meeting and speak....let our elected officials know that enough is enough!

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  28. Just listened to the La Puente COG representative reporting on the SGVCOG to the rest of the council......the COG is working hard to get their share of transportation dollars. That's it....no mention of search warrants, no mention of proposing to extend Measure R taxes FOREVER, no mention of levying a new property tax on each property owner (the nonsensical rain tax).

    Forget changing the representation on the SGVCOG, it is time to disband the organization for the good of the taxpaying public!

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    1. It really is dismaying to think that so many elected officials could be so spineless, unprincipled and weak.

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  29. Just show up at 5 PM next Thursday and speak your mind. Fill out a speakers card. If people don't take the time to speak during oral communications at the COG and let them know how you feel then things will never change.

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