Ban lifted on 9-year-old Scottish blogger who posted photos of nasty school lunches (Pasadena Star News)
LONDON -- Britain's youngest food critic is back in business.
A Scottish local authority on Friday retreated in the face of an online outcry and lifted a ban on 9-year-old blogger Martha Payne, who had been ordered to stop taking photographs of the lunches served up at her school cafeteria.
Her images of uninspiring school meals -- one consisted of two croquettes, a plain cheeseburger, three slices of cucumber and a lollipop -- drew international attention. The blog, set up about six weeks ago as a writing project and to help raise money for a schools-meals charity, has drawn more than 2 million hits.
Martha, who lives in the coastal town of Lochgilphead, about 130 miles west of Edinburgh, gave each meal a "food-o-meter" rating, and offered an assessment of its contents. "I'd really like to know where the chicken comes from," she wrote in one entry about having chicken fajitas for lunch, "so I am going to write to the lady in charge and ask. I know it comes from a hen but I'd like to know where the hen lived."
Local officials were not amused, and ordered the girl to stop taking pictures. In a statement, Argyll and Bute Council said Payne's photos were misleading and has caused distress to cafeteria staff. The council was particularly irked by a report about the blog in Scotland's Daily Record newspaper headlined "Fire the Dinner Ladies."
(Mod: You can read the rest of this Star News report by clicking here. To check out Ms. Payne's "Never Seconds" blog, click here. Her post from June 14 has 2,338 comments.)
Administrators in PCC probe were allegedly running secret business (Pasadena Sun)
(Mod: You may recall that now former Sierra Madre CRA Dissolution Board member Richard van Pelt recently had his home and Pasadena City College offices raided by the very busy Public Integrity Division of the District Attorney's office. Here is a follow-up to that story.)
Two Pasadena City College administrators facing a bribery probe were operating a company together without the school's knowledge and may have been doing business with firms they hired to perform work on campus, according to school officials.
Richard van Pelt and Al Hutchings, the school's top financial executive and facilities supervisor, have been on leave since investigators with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Public Integrity Division seized documents and computers from their homes and offices June 7.
Can Pelt and Hutchings have jointly operated a company called Sustainagistics LLC since Jan. 29, 2010, according to the California Secretary of State. Records describe Sustainagistics as an import logistics firm based out of van Pelt's Altadena home.
College President Mark Rocha said van Pelt and Hutchings did not disclose the existence of Sustainagistics to college officials, an apparent violation of conflict-of-interest rules that caught the attention of investigators.
Van Pelt signed orders for more than $8.5 million worth of Facilities Dept. contracts in 2011 - including purchase orders, service agreements and bond-funded construction work - according to college board of trustees meeting agendas and minutes.
(BTW: Van Pelt also oversaw the spending of Measure P money. Just so you know. The rest of this sustainable report can be read by clicking here.)
U2 guitarist may get a second chance at Malibu mansions (Los Angeles Times)
(Mod: A year or two back we reported on how the attempt of U2 guitarist "The Edge" to build a string of Malibu McMansions was shot down by the California Coastal Commission. Apparently what the blunt Edge did next was what any well-heeled developer would do, hire lobbyists and work our corrupt pay-to-play state legislature in Sacramento. One of the arguments? The Edge's McMansions are - of course - "green.")
SACRAMENTO - The California Coastal Commission rejected a controversial proposal last year by U2 guitarist the Edge to build five mansions on a scenic bluff above Malibu, saying that it would scar a rugged ridgeline and harm sensitive habitat.
Now, some of the same powerful lobbyists and lawyers behind the musician's quashed development are working the halls of the Capitol to push a bill that could give the rock star another chance at his dream compound.
Environmentalists and state agencies say that if the legislation becomes law, it will undermine the commission's position on his project and also extend to the character and development of the entire California coast and to state public lands.
Sarah Christie, legislative director for the Coastal Commission, said the result would be a chilling effect on public agencies' abilities to carry out their missions, giving any developers who game the system more clout and potentially leading to "more fragmented, inappropriate development" along the coast. Environmentalists cast the bill as a power grab by developers and special interests, including the Edge.
(The rich irony here being The Edge and the rest of his purportedly progressive U2 bandmates have made hundreds of millions of dollars each singing loud and long about their concern for things such as the environment. You can read the rest of this article by clicking here.)
Critical public comments unwelcome at CARB? (Fox and Hounds)
(As a Tattler reader you are certainly aware that the California Air Resources Board - or CARB for the acronymic - functions pretty much as the steel-fisted uber-enforcer for such draconian and economically ruinous Sacramento legislation as AB32. Just don't ever try and tell them that to their faces. They will take you out.)
I recently had the opportunity to attend a California Air Resources Board hearing on the agency's plans to spend revenue from a proposed cap and trade auction. This auction will cost Californians billions of dollars, but when citizens showed up at CARB to express their opposition, CARB Chairman Mary Nichols abruptly shut down public comments, announcing she was "disappointed" after she "invited" audience members to the hearing, they would have the audacity to criticize her plans.
Her announcement was met with dismay by the audience, many members of which had driven long distances for the chance to share their opinion. Citizen energy consumers and concerned small business owners are disappointed that CARB goes through the motions of holding hearings and soliciting citizen input without truly considering the input of people who worry about lost jobs and higher prices for food and other essential goods and services.
At the cap and trade hearing, representatives of organizations supportive of CARB's proposal were allowed to go to the front of the line because according to Chairman Nichols, they needed to leave early. In fact, the first half hour of public comment was exclusively from people supporting the proposal who "needed to leave early." Public comment was only shut down when critical comments began to be expressed later.
(The rest of the article can be accessed here. To view a video of Ms. Nichols shutting down public comment, click here.)
Steven Greenhut: From Fullerton to San Jose, voters did the right thing (OC Register)
(Mod: You might have read recently that 3 members of the Fullerton City Council were overwhelmingly recalled by the voters there for being asses. And now celebrated columnist Steven Greenhut gives some credit where credit is due. The force behind the recall? A blog.)
It was time for a change, and the pension-abuse issue, bolstered by these leaders' duck-and-cover routine after the Thomas killing, was enough to spark the recall. They were bounced by nearly 2-1 margins, so it wasn't a fluke. And the ground had been plowed by Bushala and his merry band of local-minded libertarians, thanks to their Friends for Fullerton's Future blog. Granted, the three soon-to-be-ex-council members provided plenty of side-splitting fodder.
But the blog set the stage, used publicly available video to expose and mock what the city's leaders did every week in council chambers. The bloggers - none of them professional writers - used humor to highlight the not-so-funny way the council mismanaged the city.
(The rest of the column can be viewed by clicking here.)
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.