Perhaps Steve's most prominent remaining contribution to the Sierra Madre zeitgeist is, believe it or not, The Looney Views News. Steve used to publish an idiosyncratic weekly here known as the Mountain Views. In its time this paper was the officially adjudicated newspaper in town, which means it was the single recipient of the vast monetary largess from City Hall that comes with the publication of our town's legal notices. When Steve decided to move on to a more profitable and, dare we say it, fashionable publishing realm, he sold the Mountain Views to Susan Henderson.
Susan at that time was under a Court order to change the name of her publication from its original masthead "Observer," the rights to which she lost when the Judge decided she had "misappropriated" it from her original business partner, Katina Dunn. Misappropriated being the legally polite word for stole it. Susan then purchased Tobia's paper, which is where the name Mountain Views News comes from. Susan was also blessed with Tobia's adjudication, which is how she came to publish Sierra Madre's legal notices. Something that remains a mystery to some of us as such a thing cannot ordinarily be transferred from one party to the next like the flu.
In its inaugural issues, Steve used to write cranky columns for the Mountain Views News, dealing mostly with the evil nature of those scoundrels who stood in the way of such development boondoggles as the Downtown Specific Plan. Most of whom were described in terms that left one with the distinct impression that he believed those opponents of high-density condo development in town might be near-demonic in nature. His column disappeared after a few issues, however, something that led me to believe that he and Susan must have had some sort of falling out. If I had to guess I'd boldly venture it had something to do with money.
Tobia left our quaint little town behind for the bold and brassy excitement of the San Gabriel Valley's fashion capital, Pasadena. The bright lights and big town ambiance of The Rose City made a deep impression on Steve, and he launched something there called "THE MAGAZINE." The notion being, I suppose, this publication would play so prominent a role in the lives of the people who really count around here that there just couldn't be any other.
In a post that drew all of 6 comments, this is how I described Steve's new publication here on The Tattler on January 11, 2009:
THE MAGAZINE is very much a child of its time, which by my reckoning was early 2006. You might recall that was the moment when the more foolhardy among us were refinancing their vastly overvalued homes with uncapped interest only subprime loans, then taking their couple hundred grand and buying the kinds of ostentatious products one finds prominently featured in THE MAGAZINE. And let's face it, nobody is more susceptible to naive consumerism than the temporarily rich. But now it is 2009, the house is in receivership, the golden doorknobs, platinum toilets and fussy porcelain statuary are up for bids on eBay, and the bank holding the paper on these parvenu palaces is whining to Uncle Sam for a chunk of our tax money to help them stave off bankruptcy.
I used to receive THE MAGAZINE in the post at one time, but somehow I have been dropped from their mailing list. Maybe they saw me walking around in the Wrangler jeans I buy at Wal*Mart, and for a very reasonable price. "Big box fashion" being a serious no-no for THE. Fabulous people just don't do that sort of thing.
However, the world it a-changed. From what I have heard this publication has suffered from the ravages of these lean economic times. People just aren't plunking down large coin these days for expensive Rusnak automobiles, accessories, or boutique designer clothing. And because of that the colorful full page advertising for high end products that used to grace Tobia's magazine simply vanished. Just one more unfortunate victim of the Great Recession.
Which now brings us up to date. In the upper left hand corner of this page is a radically reduced version of Steve Tobia's article on the Nick Conway debacle. Entitled "Local Political Assassination Warrants Investigation," and published in some obscure lifestyle subsection of last Sunday's Los Angeles Times, it darkly limns what Steve apparently believes is a vast conspiratorial cabal of politicians and quasi-governmental bureaucrats out to crush that doughty entrepreneurial "private sector consultant," Nick Conway. Government types apparently, in Steve's view, have a thing about virtuous rugged individualists who go it alone. You know, people like Nick. And Steve Tobia.
As I am certain you are aware, Nick Conway was recently arrested by the District Attorney's Public Integrity Office on four felony counts of conflict of interest. The DA has stated that Conway is suspected of using his office as the Executive Director of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments to funnel taxpayer cash into Arroyo Associates, a private company that he owns. A practice that is frowned upon in those few remaining government precincts where ethics still mean something.
If you click on the above inset it should enlarge for you and be much easier to read. And some of Tobia's writing on this topic is quite amusing. There is a dark patina of the conspiratorial about it, and you know how we like that sort of thing on this blog.
These politicians form the Board of Directors. Yes, politicians. Politicians who want and need to get elected. Politicians that seek publicity for re-election ... These Democrats and Republicans always have political agendas. It can be as simple as a political philosophy of wanting the COG to be run by government employees and not private sector consultants ... Agendas can be personal. Conflicting management styles, control and power of direction and planning. Political alliances outside of the region to support other political agendas.
So there you go, the insidious COG bureaucrats and mysterious unidentified outside entities versus that paragon of the independent "go it alone" entrepreneurial spirit that made America great, Nick "Four Counts" Conway.
There are a couple of flaws in Steve's argument, at least in my opinion. Nick was hardly an outsider at the SGVCOG. He was instead for many years its very large and in charge Executive Director. Steve never even mentions the term "Executive Director" in his screed. Plus that evil cabal of politicians Tobia refers to as the "Board of Directors" have actually been Nick's most vociferous supporters at The COG. Some of whom are actually attempting to arrange payments out of The COG's own insurance policies to help Nick out with his legal bills.
Steve Tobia's colorful assertions of vast conspiratorial plots in the Conway Caper aside, I do have a question. Why in the world does Tobia care about this guy? There are some vague allusions to Caltrans and how that organization separately impacted the lives of Nick and Steve, but most of what is referred to in the article is terribly lacking in both detail and substance. Why Steve believes Nick is the victim of a "Political Character Assassination" is never fully explained.
So here is today's question. What does Nick Conway really mean to Steve Tobia? The Tattler wants to know.