Thursday, July 26, 2012

The COG Begins to Collapse

"The COG formula for a greener planet. You walk or bike. We steal." - comment left at 7:23 this morning

Slowly the member cities of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments ("COG") are beginning to take a hard look at their reasons for belonging to this vastly troubled organization. And, what would have seemed unthinkable a year ago, some are giving serious consideration to getting out entirely.

The latest member city to take action is San Dimas. This from the SGV Tribune.com (click here):

San Dimas considers pulling out of COG, but withholds $15,000 in dues instead - The City Council nearly withdrew from the scandal-plagued San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments on Tuesday, but instead voted to withhold its dues from the organization until the matter could be studied further.

On Tuesday, the council seemed nearly ready to withdraw from the COG, with Mayor Curt Morris saying it "is built on a conflict of interest." Morris said the COG's administration has not followed through on its promises to make the organization more transparent. "I think the only answer we can do to get their attention is to withdraw," Morris said.

In the end San Dimas's COG representative and Nick Conway grasshopper Denis Bertone bought some time by convincing his fellow Councilmembers to initiate a study before pulling out, but you can see where this is going. Three of the five members of the San Dimas City Council are now down on record as supporting getting out of the SGVCOG, so this could only be a matter of time.

The City of Walnut has already dumped this organization, with Claremont and El Monte scheduled to give this matter a hard look in the not too distant future. And here in Sierra Madre Councilmember John Harabedian agendized an examination of our continued relationship with the SGVCOG at Tuesday evening's City Council meeting. Hopefully this matter will come up for discussion soon. It should be a pretty interesting conversation.

Meanwhile, the source of all of this excitement, Nick Conway, stood before both a Judge and peers and declared his innocence on Monday. And after the arraignment Conway's attorney shared a very interesting perspective on the direction Nick's defense may take during this trial. Apparently it involves both a bus and some local elected government officials. Again, the SGV Tribune.com (click here):

SGVCOG's Conway pleads not guilty to conflict of interest charges - Nick Conway, executive director of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, pleaded not guilty Monday to four felony charges of conflict of interest relating to his work with the regional government agency.

Conway has been the subject of an investigation by the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office for several months, said Dave Demerjian, head of the division that investigates public corruption. The investigation came after the District Attorney received at least two complaints about Conway.

The D.A. alleges Conway's personal business, Arroyo Associates, Inc. - which is contracted by the COG to serve as its staff - gained financially from contracts and grants obtained for the COG, amounting to a conflict of interest. By obtaining and managing the extra state and county grants, the DA's office alleges Conway's company received an additional $143,000 in one fiscal period.

Here's the really fun part:

Conway's attorney, Ken White of Brown, White and Newhouse of Los Angeles, refuted the allegations. "The bottom line is, there is not a single thing he is being charged with that is not part of the public record or has not been approved by the (SGVCOG) board," White said.

Can it be that Nick Conway is planning on throwing his good friends on the COG's Governing Board under the bus in order to save his own skin from a trip to prison? Stay tuned. I promise you that The Tattler will be watching this move closely.

Despite all of that, the COG continues to conduct business in its usual idiotic fashion. This from yesterday's Pasadena Star News (click here):

San Gabriel Valley officials vote to support Measure R extension - For the first time in four years, the county's 40 billion sales tax measure for new transit projects is getting some love from San Gabriel Valley officials.

After opposing the ballot measure in 2008, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments voted 19 - 4 last week to endorse a new Measure R, which extends the life of the existing half-cent transit sales tax for another 30 years and promises to jump-start 12 rail and subway projects by borrowing against future Measure R tax revenues.

There is a problem here, however. I mean a problem beyond the request that you vote to keep the Measure R sales tax increase in place until the year 2069. Which is way beyond the freshness dating of most of us. A gift for the grandkids, I suppose.

The SGVCOG's blessing came after months of heated debate and some foothill members say, at the expense of the Gold Line Foothill's next phase to Claremont, which was left out of the new Measure R's expenditure plan. By not including any funding, the second half of the (Gold) line through Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona and Claremont possibly Montclair in San Bernardino County is in jeopardy.

Which is kind of astonishing if you think about it. The Gold Line will apparently end nearly forever where it does now, with the money from an ongoing Measure R being used instead to build public transportation on the westside of Los Angeles County. And a supposed San Gabriel Valley regional government organization, which we pay $8,000 or so a year to represent our interests, voted to go along with a sales tax extension that would do just that.

Please. Get us out.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

86 comments:

  1. Working on the chain gang, I mean Gold Line, is going on now and you can see a whole mess of businesses closed down across the street from the 24 hr fitness at First and Santa Clara in Arcadia. This corner is a mess at the best of times with the signal light and the angled railway crossing. A multiple level parking structure (?) there for the terminal is not included in the pretty picture poster they put up last year, which is the same poster used over in Monrovia. Still, all this is a long way away from Sierra Madre, lucky for us.

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  2. The cities should take a hard look at where their money has been going and what being a member of the COG means. There's never been accountability and other than ACE which runs separate anyway, what has the COG got bragging to? There's only a few who have gotten anything out of your member dues. Conway and COG attorneys and stay tuned because you ain't seen nothing yet. Don't let your cites get stuck with the tab of Conways greed.

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  3. Can someone tell us exactly how much each city is paying to belong to this organization?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sierra Madre pays a little over $8,000 a year. Larger cities pay more.

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    2. I would be against us being in this COG, even if our annual fee was only $8.00.
      Get us out!

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    3. Add that $8,000 to $2,000 (or more) for the ridiculous League of Cities shindig, and you have $10,000. I know there are people in our city government who don't see $10,000 because it's just too small for them, and they are so cavalier about our money, but $10,000 saved is $10,000 earned.

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    4. Shhh! Mayor Easy says that is inappropriate!

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  4. I don't get it. The obvious is staring us in black and white, and the pro development faction are so stubborn they refuse to see corruption on its face.
    Perhaps they don't want to give up this little cash cow?
    Do you suppose it has anything to do with corrupt practices?
    In the end the Doyles, Buchanans, Moscas, to name a few, will claim innocence and they really didn't know anything about it.

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    Replies
    1. There has been little of the kind of law enforcement we've seen in the Conway case. Hopefully it is a wake up call. It is possible that there are some who had come to believe they were immune to the law.

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  5. The COG has always been a rubber stamp organization. It needs the legitimacy of locally elected officials to make it seem like we endorced it.
    In reality, it is simply to provide a political cover for big development projects.
    Go to a meeting, and you will see the phoney baloney we are paying for.

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    1. Thank you for that comment, 7:03, what part of unsustainable do any of our elected officials do not understand?
      All you big development types tried, you failed.
      Get us out!

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  6. The COG formula for a greener planet. You walk or bike. We steal.

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  7. Folks in Glendora are on to this too. Check out the blog site Glendora Forum. I got there through a web search of City Managers Steering Committee when looking up SGVCOG agendas. The SGVCOG web site went into "tame" mode and features battery recycling. What a phony bunch.

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  8. Dennis Bertone San Dimas City Council member opposed leaving the SGVCOG. He is their rep and is the vice chair of the resources committee. You can bet lots of these CC reps. Are seeing without seeing and don't want it disclosed as to how inept they have been at watching this corruption right under their noses. What was the language Nancy used to report her attendance at the meetings?

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    1. I didn't hear Nancy's report, but if she said anything (provided she can remember it) it's what Dart Boil told her to report!

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    2. Walsh was a hoot. Her COG reports were like all her reports: "I went".
      Then one night, she went deeper and reported that she had pages of notes the COG had distributed, so "There are notes".
      And of course there's the marvelous use of Conway's corruption as a "small distraction".

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    3. So, where are the "notes" that Nancy said she had, and why didn't she analyze them (as MaryAnn would have done) and present her findings to the public?

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    4. Because Dancin' Nancy doesn't do analysis? After all she believes we elected her to make decisions for us. She's required to do nothing else but eat and of course waste about a thousand dollars attending the League meeting in San Diego (I hear they put on quite a spread). Hey Nancy! Those spreads are beginng to show big time on your back 40! Better stick to salads for awhile, old gal.

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    5. She should donate the money the city spends on her dinners to help seniors continue to afford the round a bout so they can eat cheaply at the Senior Lunches. What a sham she has turned out to be.

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  9. If Nick throws those COG liaisons who enabled his shady dealings with their votes under the bus, will either Joe Mosca or Nancy Walsh be liable?

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    1. Neither Joe nor Nancy were on the Board, were they? Just happy faces in the crowd.

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    2. I guess who was responsible for what will be coming out in the wash. Should be interesting!

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  10. Looks like the COGentsia have found a way to keep their hand in the game, moneywise that is....CurbedLA is saying Duarte councilmember John Fasana brokered the COGs support for Measure R2 through an amendment that will sweep money from freeway funds to transit projects...."if Measure R2 passes, the San Gabriel Valley will now get $823 million that can be used for any project"....COG is hoping to see $200M of that!

    http://la.curbed.com/archives/2012/07/new_metro_plan_could_put_gold_line_to_claremont_back_in_play.php

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  11. The Board made him do it.

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  12. If you ever get to see a COG agenda, you will see the fluff of paperwork is over a hundred pages long, written by Nick, and available at the door or emailed to the delegates 24 hours before the meeting. None of them read it.

    Then Nick says : "we have been asked to take on this grant due to the best management practices of the COG." They nod their heads and gorge themselves on the buffet. Then they sign their stipend requests. For some, like Bertone, Fasana and Lutz, there are additional amounts on thier checks for committee asssignments.


    They all find it very "sustainable".

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    Replies
    1. Then Nick takes his cut. Very nicely done. No one read the fine print. Then Nick justifies it saying: "The Board approved this."

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    2. I think we'll hear testimony along the lines of, "The Board directed me to do this."

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    3. Obviously Nick is the victim here.

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    4. The Board directed me to line my pockets after I sold them on it with a turkey sandwich and fifty bucks. Incredible. The COG legal fees and CALTRANS audit have cost the COG members HALF A MILLION DOLLARS and they are paying him 750K and he wants current legal fees paid.

      HOW STUPID ARE THESE PEOPLE OR ARE THEY JUST ARROGANTLY CORRUPT?

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    5. They are VERY powerful and backed by some very BIG developers and the turkey sandwiches pale compared to the campaign contributions. The whole system is corrupt.

      Sustainable
      Green
      Compass Blueprint
      RHNA

      ALL EQUAL CORRUPTION AND INSIDE DEALS

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    6. Having seen some of these people, I say stupid and arrogantly corrupt.

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  13. Since Nancy is retired and thinks it is ok to increase the bus expense, perhaps she can drive around and deliver food to the seniors, or better yet, she can pick them up herself and take them to lunch. Maybe she can form a committee of volunteers and volunteer to pay for the gas herself.

    Since she has so little to say, maybe she can do something.

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    Replies
    1. I'm a senior and I sure wouldn't want to go to lunch with dumb old Nancy Walsh! BORING.

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    2. To say that being a senior means you're supposed to like Nancy Walsh is ageism.

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  14. The whole COG scam throughout California is immense, glad it's finally being outed on a very popular and respected blog. Cover for developer profit, period. Mechanism for suing cities if they don't allow development, like Mammoth Lakes.

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-03/mammoth-lakes-california-files-for-bankruptcy

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  15. Watching the San Dimas Council meeting gives a little insight into how Conway was allowed to enrich himself at the expense of the public. Bertone wasn't really troubled by the Council's decision to drop out of the COG, however he was panicked that it would result in him being removed from the Board of the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy....a plum assignment given to him by the COG.

    Instead of focusing on what is best for the public they represent, many of these officials have been, and still are, content to allow things to remain unchanged so that they can keep the plum assignments or pet projects they are involved in.

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  16. Funny how all you anti-growth anti-development people want to crucify those who are for it but then make their plans for their vacations on beautiful beach front resorts, upscale mountain ski resorts, BnB's, eat at the latest new restaurants, shop at boutique shopping centers, use the new freeways to take fuel consuming jets to spend money. If you hate growth and development so much maybe you all should move to a third world country or to some remote region where there is no growth because there is no demand. You can sell your natural resource consuming car and ride a horse.

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    Replies
    1. Steve, you fool!
      We don't have to "move" to a third world country. We will soon be one if people like you have your way!
      It's very sad, Democracy usually fails after a couple of hundred years when the people become to lazy and greedy and vote themselves into poverty. Unsustainable. Again, you are a fool, sir.

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    2. Steve, take your urban sprawl to Lancaster and take Antonovitch with you. You can build all the sustainable housing and develop a new and exciting Moreno Valley.

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    3. Which kind of development do you find most conducive for the good life, Steve? COG or SCAG? To me nothing says happiness like government funded housing.

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    4. And Antonovich is angling to be King for Life, sorta like they do in North Korea. Those ancient dynasties are part of the Chinese culture that's established itself here, including in his family and that of Lee Baca. All that money flowing in from Taiwan needs a fox watching the henhouse.

      http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/07/la_county_supervisor_mike_antonovich_extend_term_limits.php

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    5. Merino Valley and Lancaster are in opposite directions and opposite demographics.

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    6. or maybe everyone sells their cars and rides pink unicorns!

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  17. Thanks, Steve, for that obviously polarized response. So what's for lunch?

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  18. Oh no not BIG DEVELOPERS! they might build something that might improve our lives or create jobs or services and heaven forbid they might make money doing it! Oh no evil evil evil developers

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    Replies
    1. Some are good. Some are bad. We've seen both.
      To trust them is foolish.

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  19. Steve L - I think what you see here is a group of people who want reasonable development, not out of control development. Think San Bernardino County.

    Further, most of the people who post on this blog were IN FAVOR of a new development in our downtown core that made sense. In fact, they spoke out publicly in support of the project. That doesn't sound very "anti-development" to me.

    Lastly, what I see happening is that cities are pushing back against mandates to over develop coming down from Sacramento and the local alphabet soup agencies, such as SCAG and SGVCOG. This takes local control away from the cities and the taxpayers.

    There is an active group of Sierra Madre citizens who are engaged and prepared to fight in a big way for local control of the way we develop our city. In fact, that is something you can count on.

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    1. Not only are the folks on this blog predominately in favor of the Alfington after it goes to Measure V vote, they were also predispositioned toward the Sierra Madre Hotel (Pinney House), and the 5 unit condo on the corner of Sierra Madre Blvd and Sierra Madre Ct. Those were all this year. Was Dr. Sami's this year or last? And several spoke out in favor of the new martial arts studio. None of that depicts an anti development community. You're not understanding what Sierra Madreans are all about but then you've stated before that you are not a resident.

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    2. Communities need to control their own destiny. Sacramento mandates backed up with hostile threats and intimidation is not how America is supposed to be. Lobbyists can give all the money they want to politicians. That does not mean that we should be put on a plate and served to them in exchange.

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  20. "all you anti-growth anti-development people"
    Reductionist much? Not sure if SteveL is one of the regular Steves, but I've come to expect more.

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  21. SteveL is a part time resident of SM and is both and all Steve's. A man of wisdom, a man of fairness and wit. A great man!

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    Replies
    1. Modest, too.

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    2. Does that mean he pays part time taxes?

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    3. Part time resident of Beantown or Starbucks?

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    4. I think that is him.

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  22. I pay NO TAXES! I rent! and own outside.

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    Replies
    1. No taxes ... How much do your parents charge you for your room? And how do you make the money and not pay taxes? Not that I really want to know, these are just the logical questions.

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    2. That figures. Thoughtless statements come more easily when you have no skin in the game.

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    3. Renters pay taxes but get no tax credits. They pay through their rent. Is this the Steve who formerly served on the Tree Commission, candidate for City Council, who was sidelined by the change in development approach in the hillside megamansion mess above Kineloa, who is a advid participant in the Zumba classes in Monrovia (shake, shake, shake your booty!)?

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    4. could be the one and only! dont know about any Zumba classes though.

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    5. Ive never made it public my involvement of the Kineloa Estates 23 lot project. Only a selected few know.

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    6. The secrets of a respected man are always safe.

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    7. The Kinneloa Project was eventually purchased by the owners of the once owned Arcadia Athletic Club from Diamond Brothers a Tawainese developer in early 2000's. Few lots left. Better hurry.

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    8. Does this mean that we have to be nicer to SteveL, Steve L, and all Steves in general? Okay, I'll give him a pass as long as he is follows the Tattler rules. At least for a week or two. Now don't you false Steves go gettin' any ideas. Steve's personal style is a dead give away. We'll know.

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  23. i think this Steve guy is either psychotic or one of the DIRTS which would automatically make him psychotic

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  24. Ah, Antonovich....

    Nick's biggest supporter is MICHAEL CANO, who is Antonovich's Transportation Deputy. There is no one more involved in supporting Nick Conway in the entire COG organization.

    I understand that he worked for Nick and now sends things Conway's direction. Famous for his pre written motions that are conveniently pre approved by COG members after a little arm twisting.

    "I know you want the Gold Line, and this is something the Supervisor is really in support of......"

    Cano does the leg work while Antonovich fills out his Christmas Cards at public meetings. Whenever he loses track of himself, Cano goes up and whispers in his ear. Great help to Nick and the Supervisor, that Michael Cano.

    Rumor is that Mike, Nick and Dave do a litle toddy or two at a bar in La Crescenta.

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  25. Periodically you see some light shed on the automobile perks and free toll road passes given to our government officials. I have never seen a similar analysis of all the public transportation perks given out to commuters on Metrolink, light rail MTA, disabled, handicap, the South Air Quality Management Distrit and Government Organizations such as Dept of Water & Power, and probably a host of of others as well.. I think people would be shocked to find out what percentage of riders are being subsidized. It probably also skews the ridership stats as well. I suspect there is major distortion involved. If being given a "free ride" I wonder if it gets counted as income for the IRS?

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    Replies
    1. Every job and position comes with its benefits and perks. That why we want ambition in this country to reach the top to attain the benefits. One who has no ambition and does the least gets the least. Im sure that some of the posters here were upper management who had expense accounts, travel allowances, gas and insurance paid, etc etc. I did and it was reported as income. But all of our salaries are calculated in built in to the cost and price of the product. In which you the consumer pays for. So with that upper management should not be allowed to have dinner at Wood Ranch with some business buddies? Thats ridiculous. Common sense spending is more in order. To many jealous people who want what others have.

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    2. Nice try.

      Free buffets have to be reported according to the Fair Political Practices Commission.

      I doubt anyone is jealous of a executive director under indctment for four felonies, or an organization with member cities bailing out and facing future litigation.

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    3. Wait until all the various grant sources decide they want their money back.

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  26. How about the COG perks of a paid assistant to Lutz. Fasana, and God knows who else? How sustainable do they need to be? Some of these people spend all day going to SCAG/COG meetings with stipends. Each with a nice buffet, a very NICE buffet like Wood Ranch Bar BQ or similar. Burp.

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  27. Ah, Wood Ranch, another one of those one of a kind phoney chain restaurant deals that wants to make you think they grew out of a mom and pop start up. Too much sugar in the BBQ sauce.

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    Replies
    1. Makes 'em nice and sleepy.

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    2. Dollars to donuts Nicky gets a cut of the tab. He's out for every penny.

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    3. You want fries with that kickback?

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    4. who cares if Wood Ranch was "created" I believe it might have been started by a couple brothers in Simi Valley or West Lake Village area. But who cares what the roots are its fricken good. Along with their Heffienwizeins.

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    5. So bro and bro knock-off BBQ. Your waistline must be a wasteland. Remind me to be off the road after your sloshed down meal! Oh sorry, that is harsh. However, just came back from the pulled pork heartland and I need to get to the gym. Just a bit of projection on my part, my bad.

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  28. It's well known that the Cano/Conway union is pretty tight. While Antonovich sits in his office signing Christmas cards and planning another oversees (taxpayer paid) family vacation, Cano's busy doing what he does best for buddy Nicky - strong-arming people in the name of 'the concerned Supervisor'. Hopefully some of the DA's collection of evidence will shed light on the Cano/Conway backroom deals. And Antonovich.. he's a man well beyond his use by date - trash day is Thursday - set him out at the curb.

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  29. COG is a bunch of hooey. Maybe it didn't start out that way, but it sure has evolved into it. Maybe it has even incidentally done some good, but I doubt it.
    I work for a living. I pay my own bills, and can't believe these people don't have the ability to feed their own selves.

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  30. Dominoes
    "Orange County CEO Tom Mauk is out of a job. His job performance came under scrutiny after former county executive Carlos Bustamante was charged with sexual assault charges."

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  31. Don't hold your breath about Antonovich. He's already survived a State investigation and threatened takeover of the County's foster care system, which is a cash cow:

    Apparently unsatisfied with the number of children being removed from their homes, the Los Angeles County Board of Commissioners called Digre on the carpet in 1998 demanding that more be taken. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich led the charge by raising a motion, which was unanimously approved. This motion stated that the county should come down hard on parents who abuse substances by taking away their children.

    http://www.ipt-forensics.com/journal/volume10/j10_10_2.htm

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  32. Poor Nick Conway. He's positioning himself once again as the victim. He only brought the board the idea of the grants. It's not like he recommended them. Oh, wait he did. Well, he didn't realize he was getting an extra slice of the pie from administering them. Oh, wait.. yes he did. Well, he wasn't warned before about potential conflicts. Uh... well maybe so. Well it's not like he wasn't prepared for this. He at least made sure the COG had insurance he could file a claim against to pay his legal fees.. just in case he got caught.

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    1. A clever thief.

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    2. Yes , you get what you pay for (taxpayer).

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