Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fallen Coggie Nick Conway has a Defender, and His Name is Steve Tobia

Back around 2009 when nobody knew what The Tattler was and I think about 6 people were regularly reading it (all of whom I could name at the time), we posted a couple of articles about one of Sierra Madre's own, a gentleman named Steve Tobia. At one time a man to be reckoned with in these pleasant precincts, he has faded from the collective memory of most folks here in town. Yet another indication of the blessed healing powers of time.

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.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

74 comments:

  1. After all this time Tobia is still writing unintelligible sentences.
    Well, he's consistent.

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  2. He wants HEADLINES ?

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  3. "The" was a hideous thing - a glorification of the superficial, and a light on the most ostentatious waste in society. That mewling worship of excess was embarrassing.

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  4. Tattler, as you boldly ventured that Tobia and Henderson fell out over money, I'll follow your lead and boldly venture that Conway and Tobia are connected by money. Nick has some, Tobia wants it.

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  5. Tobia was always all about conspiracies and "questionable motives" of others. I remember when he penned a particular wild editorial in the Mountain Views claiming he'd filed a claim with Sacramento against Salvatore Tesoro and the Sierra Madre News about something or other. Anyone involved with the paper, including those who delivered it door to door, were in deep legal dutch according to Steve. Of course, nothing ever happened. It was all hot air.

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  6. Is Steve Tobia the occasional Tattler poster "Steve" ?

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    Replies
    1. I would think not.
      Steve is literate.

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    2. I miss Steve. He was fun.

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    3. Really? I found him to be a bore.

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    4. He was helpful in generating comments. Though I don't think that is what trolls are posting for, it's a nice unintended consequence.

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  7. Part of the Tobia puzzle that not too many people are aware of is that after his schism with Henderson he disappeared off the radar screen only to reappear in Las Vegas. There, staying with a friend, he was undergoing a bitterly contested divorce with his ex-wife in which private investigators were involved in an attempt to discover his assets. He disappears from the radar screen once again only to reappear in Pasadena to publish his tony rag for the upscale.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe they're part of the same divorced guy support group. Conway apparently having gone through something similar recently.

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    2. I understand it's because Tobia is gay?

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    3. Are you suggesting that Susan Henderson came between Tobia and his wife? And when that love died he divorced his wife out of pain and rage?

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    4. There is a lot of pain in the world.

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    5. 7:48, "his tony magazine for the upscale" - surely you mean his phony magazine for the lost?

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    6. Did he get divorced or is he hiding his assets?

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  8. Laughable attempt to paint Conway as the John Wayne of the COG.
    Remember, one of Conway's handmaidens burst forth with,
    "Nick IS the COG!"

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    Replies
    1. Quite unbelieveable.

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  9. Tobia claims 400,000 readers of the still-existant "The Magazine" (Pasadena Foothills Magazine, now) that pimps high-end stuff to the upper-end masses. Has a Facebook page and everything. Waiting on the tweets.

    Then the site says that 20,000 homes get the print edition (free? LAT insert like last time?) and 10,000 get in via e-mail. Those numbers sure don't add up to 400,000.

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    Replies
    1. what makes me pause is just how gullible advertisers are or unsophisticated in their media placement - both Tobia's and Henderson's circulation numbers are total BS

      Tobia is probably claiming that all 30,000 copies are read by mulitple people per household etc etc blah blah blah

      He's still running a scam and it's pretty well known that he runs discounts or cheap ads and he's basically funded by Rusnak.

      Tobia used to go to Council meetings and claim his paper was the largest employer in Sierra Madre with a staff of 4.

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  10. A City Manager once tried to expose Nick. Suddenly the manager found his personal life exposed in a local San Gabriel Valley newspaper. (I wonder if it was Tobia.) The City Manager lost his job in the town of a Nick supporter who just lost his bid for Democratic Assemblyman, who works at CALTRANS as an attorney. It is probably not coincidental that the CALTRANS audit was stalled in Sacramento.

    Nick is very connected to the Democratic Party, going back to his time in the Carter White House. Nick has his enablers, some of whom are very capable of character assssination. Nick has former law enforcement on his staff too, capable of digging dirt. Nick is a powerful political animal, capable of bringing paid staff to his enablers with COG money. Get elected to the Water Quality Board, Nick will get the COG to pay a staffer so you can keep working at your regular job, Get on the MTA Board representing the COG, you can get you a paid staff member so you can keep working at your job at Edison.

    That is why he lingers like a foul odor in an outhouse or more specifically, the seamy stinking underbelly of the San Gabriel Valley politics.

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  11. Rags like this are usually paid advertisements, disguised as news. The Times and the Tribune do it all the time. Pay 25 grand, and they will run a Tattler in the Times. Readers don't know the difference. The method is a way of tainting the jury pool.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe the Tattler could Xerox 200 sheets and put them in Loony Sue's News.

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  12. "terribly lacking in both detail and substance"... Yes! That's true of Tobia and THE Magazine as well. An apt description if ever there was one. He was also involved in a scheme to teach publishing as an "professor" at the Mt. Everest College in Monrovia before buying Beth Buck's Mountain Views. Still maintains his ties with Henderson - she was one of Pasadena's "most influential" women, as well as the columnist who writes the real estate prattle on the Mtn Views' back page every week. Did an article on Sierra Madre's City Hall staff a year or two back complete with photos and thumbnail sketches of a day in their life. Big mover and shaker in the hallowed halls of City Halls throughout the San Gabriel Valley. I read somewhere Big Nick had hired a "press agent" - it could well be Tobia, remaking Conway's image as victim of of politics.

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    Replies
    1. Nick hired a guy at the Tribune.

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    2. Nick Conway, hero of free enterprise. A guy who has leeched off the taxpayer for years. Yeah, some hero.

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    3. With guys like Tobia on his team Conway should start fitting himself out for prison stripes now.

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    4. Henderson is one of the most influential con artists to move into Sierra Madre - followed closely by Joe Mosca and John Buchanan,the corporate drones who moved into town and started positioning themselves for Council runs to benefit their employers

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  13. The (Paid) media is the message. Somebody just told us how the COG machine works. "I can see!" said the blind man.

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  14. I just went over to Tobias site and by the 2nd page it was clear you guys are right. The money in the real estate is what's driving that publication, and I bet he gets paid well too. Sorry to say I have read his work in the past and reading it now is just as disturbing, only read a few pages before I turned it off. That man is so anti Sierra Madre. So that I would never forget, I put an article by him up on my wall of shame, he said "Stop the NIMBY" and he proves today why he wrote that article.

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  15. Now you know why SCAG, The SGVCOG are big into sustainable low income housing. More development money to pay political campaigns. Messina, the President of the COG and her husband who preceeded her are success stories in Alhambra due to this.

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    Replies
    1. Some developers and a lot of local government are organized crime.

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    2. I propose we refer to THE SCAG, and THE SGVCOG, and THE Mountain Views News to mark THE Magazine/Tobia connections. In fact append "THE" to just about any San Gabriel Valley political entity especially THE San Gabriel Economic Council headed up by Cynthia Kurtz, former Pasadena City Manager as well as a regular in the pages of THE Magazine.

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  16. Anybody get a final tally on the Star News "Disband COG" poll? Last I saw it was around 600 in favor to 125 against.

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    Replies
    1. Nick only figured out to vote 125 times?

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    2. He's distracted.

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  17. Searching for The Magazine brings up more than Tobia's - in fact, he may have had to change the name to Foothills whatnot due to the name already being used.
    Either way, it's a bunch of junk - reminds me of unhappy servants peering through the windows at their masters.

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    Replies
    1. Wanna be's on their way to bankruptcy.

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  18. Somehow I heard inklings of this before on the Tattler. Isn't RICO a law about organized crime? God help us.

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  19. The high speed rail is another example. The companies that want to build it financed the expensive ballot initiative. Money talks in California. Or as it is said in Cudahay, "money makes the monkey dance."

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  20. Crawford, you are up against the most powerful people in the San Gabriel Valley with unlimited resources. Keep up the good work. Every pig has it's Sunday.

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    Replies
    1. What could be sadder than the empty threats of fools who have just figured out that they are being laughed at?

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    2. This really isn't about fighting the influences of powerful people, it is about combating the incompetence by our public officials and their disregard for the public. These officials operate more like a pack of bumbling stooges than power brokers.

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    3. Powerful people my tookus.

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  21. Steve and Susan

    Real Scholars those two

    Like no one knew susan was connected with spinning out of control?

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    Replies
    1. Definitely a "who's zoomin' who?" situation.

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  22. Great Post Today John:

    That Tobia piece was absurd.

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  23. Is it just me, or is it that Tobia can't write his way out of a paper bag?
    Persuasive, he is not. Clear, he is definitely not.

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  24. I could not for the life figure out how I was receiving THE magazine. I am certainly not in the group that it would appeal to. You wonder where they get their mailing list from. Was ever so relieved when I was dropped. What drek. And a waste of good resources.

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  25. Oh another day of the Tattler. A day filled with hate, jealousy, inaccuracies, accusations and conspiracies. I happen to like the The Magazine. Its insight and local spun information. I enjoyed recently the article on the most influential men in Pasadena many of who I have been acquainted with. Seems like the Tattler readers appeals to only those who hate and the conspirators. Anti-growth NIMBY's. People who staked their claim in Sierra Madre many years ago and don't want any change as it is their town and all others must go away. Tattler readers hate the elitist but yet their behavior is just that, elitist who believe they are above the rest.

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    Replies
    1. "I enjoyed recently the article on the most influential men in pasadena many of whom I have been acquainted with."

      Steve must sell them their pot.

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    2. 11:10, has it ever occurred to you that your own perspective colors your worldview so thoroughly that you see things that only exist inside your own head?
      Or are you just applying what you learned in Troll 101?

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    3. Looks like 11:10 does not have anything to say about the Tattler article itself, but has plenty of spleen to vent.

      Rather than "Steve", the nom de blog "Spleen" might be a better fit.

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    4. What do the most influential men of Pasadena call him?

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    5. Boot licker.

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    6. Booty Magic.

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  26. Sir John Crawford...


    I applaud thee for such eloquent thoughts on Tobia

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  27. PR duo wins $2M decision against Caltrans
    Sacramento Business Journal by Mark Larson, Staff Writer
    Date: Sunday, January 9, 2000, 9:00pm PST

    After more than two years in court and the bankruptcy of what was once Sacramento's largest public relations business, Steve and Maureen Tobia feel they have finally made their point.

    They won a court-ordered, $2.19 million judgment against the California Department of Transportation.

    Excerpt:

    http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/stories/2000/01/10/story1.html

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    Replies
    1. Grand. Tobia got $2m of our tax money. Then went and started THE MAGAZINE. What a victory.

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    2. At least the amount was easier to split in the divorce?
      Tobia got paid because it was our money and the government followed the law after the court made the decision - unlike Tobia's pal, or ex-pal, Henderson, who never paid the judgement against her.

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    3. That article exposes a lot of muck, and I can't tell what really happened - except a whole lot of fighting about money.
      This caught my eye:
      "The Federal Bureau of Investigation has looked at the case, but has taken no legal action. Tobia believes the FBI was given tampered files regarding the audit, and that the hearings before Judge Bettinelli revealed such wrongdoing.
      He said he may seek further legal action through federal courts."
      So, did he? Looks like Steve Tobia has seen conspiracies before....

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    4. This is a possible connection, and a possible Stephen Tobia, president of Pacific/West Communications Group, Incorporated, the story above references Stephen Tobia and Pacific/West Communications, when you search further there is a corporation wiki, but it lists these other companies as well: Pacific/West Investment & Development, Pacific/West Holdings,
      This Stephen is president of all, and there is a reference to a Robert Shaffer along with him at the investment and development arm.
      The Tattler asked for a possible connection, here is the wiki, but I have never read "the magazine".

      http://www.corporationwiki.com/California/Los-Angeles/pacific-west-communications-group-incorporated/41576352.aspx

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    5. They are out to get him. And Nick Conway.

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  28. Looks to me like the 2.19 mil was eaten up by legal fees.

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    Replies
    1. Did I did good? Cause I love to spoil the editor and my tatts...

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    2. It is him!!! I blew that picture of the article up and read it!!
      It is him. What do you want to bet there are Coggie contracts to Pacific/West? Some coggie dribble trickle down of development and or advertising money?? Bad audits my bottom..Bunch of feather mockers that flock together.

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  29. Did you see this one from 1996,? Los Angeles Economic Development Group? Oregon too?

    LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 30, 1996--Pacific/West Communications Group Inc. Tuesday announced the addition of eight new clients to its expanding practice areas of new media/technology, environmental affairs and public/political affairs.

    I tried to copy more but it is jinxed, got to read it.

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Pacific%2fWest+wins+eight+new+clients%3b+integrated+approach+brings+in...-a018239502

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  30. Marketing Firm Wrongly Billed Caltrans $644,000, Audit Says

    SACRAMENTO — A marketing firm billed the state for hundreds of thousands of dollars that covered such unauthorized items as employee raises, skiing, golf, football tickets, holiday parties and a $6,000 dinner for Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren, Caltrans auditors say.

    The company, Pacific West Communications Group, challenged most of the audit's findings. The company said the state changed the terms of its contracts without notice and failed to conduct audits in a timely way.

    Department of Transportation audits of Pacific West, which provided marketing, information, advertising and research services for rideshare and traffic management programs, identified $644,365 in unauthorized payments during 1994-95 on contracts totaling about $13.3 million.

    "Our position is that we believe that the audits are correct and complete. We believe that the audits have identified charges that have not been substantiated, and we are working to make sure that the firm reimburses the taxpayers," Caltrans spokesman Jim Drago said.

    The disputed payments originally totaled more than $927,000. However, the figures were later reduced by more than $300,000 after meetings between state auditors and Pacific West representatives, according to the auditors' reports. The auditors also said some expenditures did not comply with federal guidelines. Negotiations are underway between Pacific West and the state to settle the remaining payments.

    http://articles.latimes.com/1996-06-07/news/mn-12623_1_pacific-west

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  31. Conway has asked COG to use its own insurance to pay for legal costs. Star News posted a story a couple of hours ago. Sorry my iPad wont paste the link.

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  32. Nick will use this guy to run his PR war against the DA claiming he is being persecuted. Typical Conway. he always is the victim when he gets caught. Nick likes to point fingers at others to keep the target off of himself.

    The COG members are being lobbied now to cover Nick's legal fees. The COG attorney is always willing to make more money. If they do cover the fees, look for more bail outs from this defunct organization.

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  33. Steve Tobia has old ties to La Canada, home to Dave Spence, the ex COG President who put together a package to reimburse Conway for lost business during the first CALTRANS audit. Spence has been very outspoken attacking Conway's detractors at SCAG and League of City meetings. Spence business is real estate rentals. I wonder if the connection between Spence and Conway includes Steve?

    There is something there. Spence belongs to two COGS so he gets to play on two teams at SCAG. Little La Canada gets to vote twice on everything.

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  34. Spence can eat at two buffets.

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  35. Conway, Tobia, Buchanan, Doyle, Mosca, and every other leach supporting the COG money making scheme should all be prosecuted. This all runs up the latter to Antonovich. Therefore nothing will happen until all parties are finally implicated..

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