Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Brown Act Dinner With Colantuono & Levin?

(Mod: 10 AM update on this. Joe Mosca did attend the League of California Cities meetings in 2011. There is no FPPC filing of him having attended the C&L dinner.)

There is no limit of things that you can find out if you poke around the internet a little. And, as we all know, the source of all knowledge is now Google, with everything right there at your fingertips. Throw in a MacBook and you have access to more information than the greatest philosophers studying in history's most renowned libraries. The key being what exactly it is you do with all that.

We here at The Tattler know what to do with such opportunity, and that is to focus with a laser-like intensity, and for years, upon the political and governmental affairs of a city with a population of less than 11,000 people. Some might not see a logical explanation for it, but whatever the reason it is fun. It is also existentially rewarding as well. After all, something has got to be important. Plus we do like the people we do it for.

So here is today's shocking internet discovery. If you were to go to the California Fair Political Practices Commission site, and poke around a little (click here), you could come across Form 700 "Statement Of Economic Interest" filings for then Mayor John Buchanan, Mayor Pro Tem Josh Moran and Councilmember Nancy Walsh. These are the forms that elected officials must fill out should they receive what the form identifies as income and/or gifts. I have posted the first and fifth pages of Mayor Buchanan's relevant Form 700 filing. Click on them and they will enlarge for your reading convenience.
As a Tattler reader I am certain you are aware, in September of 2011 we still had a 5 person City Council. Our fifth City Council member at that time was MaryAnn MacGillivray. There is no filing for her on the occasion we're about to describe here. Apparently, and hardly for the first time, she was not invited to their reindeer games.

What these forms reveal is that during last year's League of California Cities get together in San Francisco, the City of Sierra Madre's chosen law firm, Colantuono & Levin, took John Buchanan, Josh Moran and Nancy Walsh out to dinner. Which gives at least the appearance of being a Brown Act violation. All three of these elected officials are not supposed to be meeting in a private setting, because they theorteically could be involved in some sort of collusion.

The irony here being that the firm supplying our City Attorney, someone who is supposed to be ever vigilant in this matter, was the cause of this quite possible violation of a rather famous California law.

There is the appearance of a gray area here, however. There always are gray areas in life, and we should never ignore them. On their forms John Buchanan and Josh Moran identify the date of this unfortunate chow down as September 22, 2011. Nancy Walsh identifies her dinner with destiny as having taken place on September 21, 2011. My immediate suspicion is that Nancy got the date wrong as the stated value of the "gift" is the same as Josh Moran. That being $94.10. You know how Nancy is with details. Also note that it appears Joe Mosca has yet to file his portion with the FPPC.

However, let's say the forms are correct and that these two dinners did take place on two separate evenings. Under the Brown Act that will not get you an out. Here is the relevant passage from a pamphlet (click here) on the Brown Act supplied by Bill Lockyer, who, at the time of its writing, was the Attorney General of the State of California.

Meeting Defined: Any gathering of a quorum of a Legislative body to discuss or transact business under the body's jurisdiction; serial meetings are prohibited.

Serial meetings being two or more get-togethers held in a kind of sequence with the same purpose of conveying a piece of governmental business to related elected officials. That would have to include two dinners held with the same City Attorney at the same conference. At least in my opinion.

And what else would you discuss with a City Attorney other than business? Hair care?

What we need now is for the City of Sierra Madre to conduct an investigation into this matter. Normally this would have to be done by our Colantuono & Levin City Attorney, but seeing how they might be intimately involved in the violation itself, they're probably going to have to sit this one out. The City will need to go outside for advice.

There is also the matter of the upcoming RFP for legal bids, which is on the City Council schedule for this September 11. Mayor Josh Moran and Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Walsh should be asked by a resident during Public Comment to recuse themselves from this particular discussion. After all, they were at that dinner with Colantuono & Levin. I will be more than glad to do the honors, but others should want to join in as well. This is an important matter.

That concludes today's report. I'll be happy to answer any questions.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

87 comments:

  1. Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark!

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  2. OH, we do like to find out the facts. 6:22, your right , that's going to leave a mark.

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  3. The first thing that comes to mind is that we desperately need a new law firm. Obviously the one we have now is unfamiliar with the law.

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    1. Yet, very familiar with getting around the law.

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    2. That's why they're paid the big bucks. Certain kinds of elected officials value that kind of thing.

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  4. You would like to think "to the letter of the law" applies equally. A lot of us here in SM feel like it's the big money that's putting our city at risk in many ways. I wonder what papers are going to cover this little bit of news!

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  5. Enough with the eating while conducting the public's business! Damn, dinners with city lawyers while at useless and expensive conventions, buffets with SGVCOGites while at brain dead gatherings! This has got to stop.

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    1. Maybe the City should institute a gag rule.

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    2. The food makes the dullness of municipal government more tolerable.

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    3. Maybe that explains Josh's recurrent Buc patronage.

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  6. $94.10.
    $94.10?
    Did it not occur to our representatives that they were being treated with money that originally came from our pockets? At least partially. We pay the people who paid their dinner bills.

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    1. I'm sure C&L charged it back. Why wouldn't they?

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  7. I can feed 5 people on that money if we go out, double that number if we stay home.

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  8. Good Lord, we can't even trust them to go away from home.

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  9. 7:06, you are so right. If this law firm is unfamiliar with the law or intentionally disregards the law it's time to get some new bids. It's always good to have 3 bids when it comes time to spend money. Dealing with health matters always brings in the Dr's recommendation of getting a second opinion. The city has laid people off, they at least need to get some new bids for legal services.

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    1. Has anybody really been laid off? I thought they were just shuffled around.

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    2. The City eliminated some positions but replaced them with lower paying positions and invited the effected employees to apply for the lower paying positions. Some of them just decided to move on.

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  10. Josh the red-nosed reindeer. Nancy the brain-dead reindeer. Buckminster the logorrheaic reindeer.

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    1. You need to add Mosca the brown-nosed reindeer.

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  11. Tattler, in September we still had 5 Council Members, I think.

    Seems like Mosca didn't file his Form 700 that's required when you leave office.

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    1. You're right! Mosca didn't announce his bug out until October 11. I should read my own blog.

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    2. Was he there? Did he go?

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    3. Was Joe at that convention? Or was he househunting in England?

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    4. There is a lot more to the shocking Mosca than we know.
      I think he may be a fugitive?

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    5. Lay off Joe. He was a good liar.

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    6. I believe Mosca did indeed attend the league convention in San Francisco. Where's his Form 700 and can he be held in some kind of contempt for neglecting to file it?

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  12. What do you suppose they discussed at this dinner? Perhaps how they would work around Measure V? How they would raise our UUT taxes?

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    1. I think, being the clever folk they are, that Colantuono and Levin discussed sports. Or the latest fiction best sellers. Or those wacky Sierra Madre residents and their ridiculous conspiracy theories. Lawyers need to vent you know.

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  13. Many Tat readers are or were members of city commissions and committees and have sat through Colantuono's gastly long and overblown verbiaged lecture on ethics and violations thereof. Would be more than fitting that this bunch gets busted for violations of the Brown Act!

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  14. Also, would you suppose it would be pretty hard to run up the exact same bill for dinner two different nights in a row?

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  15. Big Deal. You people are just jealous that you aren't getting a "free" $94 meal. It business the American way. Where are they suppose to go McDonalds? Maybe you should run for council. These are just part of the benefits one gets when serving our city.

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    1. You mean if you get elected you don't have to follow state laws? Cool! I'm running and when I win I'm buying a Ferrari.

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    2. 9:09

      What would you dirts have done if Kurt Zimmerman, Don Watts and MaryAnn MacGillivray would have all had a meeting with the city attorneys or anyone else for that matter? Even at McDonalds? I can just see and hear that idiot Glenn Lambdin at the public comment podium demanding "justice"....LOL I hope all "you people" get caught once and for all. You are corrupt and not good citizens of Sierra Madre!

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    3. Maryann, Kurt and Don did not take part in the invite to the C&L confabs including the yearly party thrown by the law firm in San Diego either. They were very careful to keep at arms length from the "off the record" events. Also, they did not except complimentary tickets to local events.

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    4. Oh, I'm sure no one on Council accepted event tickets. I haven't seen a thing on the Form 700 reports.

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    5. A $94 meal for a politician is obscene.
      The choice is not some overpriced restaurant or a malnutritious McDonalds - there are many alternatives. Here in California we are lucky to have lots of Mexican restaurants, locally owned and reasonably priced. Anyone who thinks it was appropriate for C & L to "gift" Moran, Walsh or Buchanan a hundred dollar dinner is not tracking.

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    6. Glen Lambdin is an egomaniac

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  16. Wouldn't it be more efficient to hire David Demerjian directly as our City Attorney. Everything is going to have to be brought to him eventually anyway.

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  17. $94 is clearly excessive, but not outright extravagant. If you are going to steal, why just take the petty cash? 94 is about the IQ of the C and L Gang.

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  18. this is the same law firm that encouraged and allowed John Buchanan and Joe Mosca (both lawyers but basically PR reps) to deal in the gray area of the state constitution and knowingly guided the Council with complete misinformation to the public regarding the UUT and openly violated the state constitution.

    the city lawyer cringed when Zimmerman was on the Council because he knew the law and was an actual practicing attorney and could see right through the BS the C&L dumped on the city

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  19. It is SO time for termination of the city's contract with this dubiosly "legal" firm. Sierra Madre, the residents thereof, need a city attorney wholly unconnected with the big development schemes in the state of California...

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    1. Mr. Kurt Zimmerman needs to be our new city attorney!

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  20. come on now

    what's wrong with a little corruption among friends?

    just love Buchanan's legacy - one of doing much of nothing, pushing development to benefit his employer, violating the state constitution, lying about an emergency and trying to sneak in a new 7 million dollar library at taxpayer expense (that we don't need), droning on at Council meetings and leading the city into financial ruin

    no wonder SoCal Edison gave Buchanan unlimited free time off

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    1. Does anyone remember when john Buchanan demanded that the cameras inside the council chambers be turned off when Beth Buck and company were attacking Joe Scalzo while he was making his public comment at the podium?

      Buchanan stood up from behind the dais, yelling at the camera tech to turn off the cameras, so the tv audience couldn't be witnesses to the potential crime that was about to take place. As I recall, Mr. Scalzo was being physically threatened. Instead of demanding that the police contain Beth Buck and her uncivil gang, Buchanan decided the prudent thing to do was turn off the cameras so the melee could go on.

      It was the best illustration of John Buchanan's corruption and collusion with the criminal element in Sierra Madre.

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    2. My favorite moment in the Scalzo dust-up was when Joe Scalzo turned to the police officer and said "You want a piece of me?"

      I don't think Scalzo was 'attacked.' 12:24. He was into his speech, went overtime, and refused to stop. Buchanan did just what you said - but push came to shove over the time limit, nothing to do with that sad old Beth Buck.

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    3. Buchanan totally lost it that night, and how fitting that it was over something so trivial.

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    4. 1:23 pm

      Scalzo did not go past the time limit and he DID NOT say "You want a piece of me" to a police officer. That comment was addressed to Beth Buck's friends. He was being verbally attacked by Beth Buck and her friends who kept trying to interrupt him and throw him off.

      Nice try at revising history though, 1:23 pm

      Too bad so many people in town have good memories, and some even have video copies of Council meetings going back many years. I have an entire closet devoted to just such a library.

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    5. Buck and Buchanan, idiots of a feather, fly together!

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    6. Scalzo went past the time limit. Check your library.

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    7. 3:24~~~ It was Buchanan that went past his time limit. We should have voted that pompous blowhard out. Had to suffer until he termed out... same thing we did with Dubya. Both did a nice job of screwing things up, real good!

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  21. Date: July 16, 2012

    To: Angie Avery, City Manager

    Subject: Request for an Independent Investigation on Possible Violations of the Ralph M. Brown Act by Mayor Troy Edgar, Council Member Gerri Graham-Mejia, and City Attorney Sandra Levin

    Reference: City of Los Alamitos – Agenda for Regular Council Meeting on Monday, July 16, 2012 – 6:00 P.M.; Agenda Item 10A

    Dear City Manager;

    I am formally requesting that an independent investigation is conducted on possible violations of the Ralph M. Brown Act by Mayor Troy Edgar, Council Member Gerri Graham-Mejia, and City Attorney Sandra Levin.
    1. On 7/15/2012, I had a discussion Council Member Graham-Mejia regarding Agenda Item 10A, which is included in the referenced City of Los Alamitos Council Meeting Agenda for Monday, July 16, 2012.
    2.During our discussion on the Item 10A, Council Member Graham-Mejia disclosed to me that she was given permission and/or authority to reach out to me and discuss my viewpoints on the subject matter of Item 10A.
    3.When I questioned her further about the purpose and nature of her discussing Item 10A, it became obvious that Council Member Graham-Mejia was acting as an emissary under the direction and authority of the City Council. This causes me to believe that one, and perhaps several, violations of the Ralph M. Brown Act have occurred.

    Possible Brown Act Violations:
    1.Violation #1 (Serial Meeting – “daisy-chain”) – Mayor Edgar and Council Member Graham-Mejia discussed the essential content of Item 10A; and then Graham-Mejia discussed Item 10A with Council Member Kusumoto.
    2.Violation #2 (Improperly Noticed Meeting) – The Council body (sans Council Member Kusumoto) had a meeting to discuss and appoint Council Member Graham-Mejia as the Council’s emissary to contact Council Member Kusumoto and discuss Item 10A.
    3.Violation #3 (Serial Meeting – “hub-and-spoke”) – If no formal Council Meeting occurred, then the individual Council Members must have discussed their opinions, either individually with Council Member Graham-Mejia, or with another central person such as Sandra Levin, City Attorney, in a “hub-and-spoke” manner regarding Item 10A and then authorized Graham-Mejia to contact Council Member Kusumoto and discuss Item 10A.
    4.Violation #4 (Serial Meeting – “daisy-chain”) – The Council Majority consisting of Mayor Edgar, Mayor Pro Tem Poe and Council Member Stephens, conducted a serial meeting to discuss the content of Item 10A and then appointed Mayor Edgar to discuss their decision with Council Member Graham-Mejia and then authorize Graham-Mejia to contact Council Member Kusumoto and discuss Item 10A.

    Since it cannot be readily determined that one or more Brown Act violations occurred without a thorough and in-depth investigation, I request and expect that an independent expert is hired by the City to examine the facts and data and then make a recommendation to the appropriate authorities regarding any violations of the Brown Act.

    Please let me know if you have any question on this matter.

    Warren Kusumoto

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    1. This is great. Thank you. Daisy chain! At the very best that is what we have here with this one.

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    2. Los Al in the house! Give our best to Sandi.

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  22. Nancy Walsh on several occasions has said "as I was saying to John (Harabedian) and Josh, . . . ."

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    1. Nancy Walsh is a loose cannon.

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    2. I think you mean a loose b b gun.

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    3. Loose water pistol.

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    4. whatever she is her aim must be pretty good. After all, didn't she state that "she can take you out"?

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    5. Fires blanks...to match whats in her head.

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  23. I'm new to this but just how long has Sierra Madre employed this dubious firm to handle the City's legal affairs?

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    1. Since Bart Doyle ousted Charlie Martin to put in C&L, a pro development law firm.

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    2. I believe that Colantuono and Levin were brought in around early 2004, during Bart Doyle's last few months in office. Just before our existing City Attorney, Mr. Martin was to win the case brought against the City by Gregg Galletly and company over the One Carter development. After C&L came in, the City settled and gave Galletly everything he wanted.

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    3. What year was that?IN short,if this has been the quality of their service for any length of time;I shutter to think what damage they have done to this community.

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    4. 12:30 PM

      Yes! It was very early 2004. First, it was Michael Colantuono for several years, until he was outed by a salty newspaper publisher. Then they ushered in Sandra Levin in order to make people think there had been a change in legal representation. But, it has been the same law firm for the last 8 1/2 years.

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    5. 3:02, interesting, but also include Colantuono was here through One Carter, and resident feeling was so strongly against him for fighting for the developer and against the residents that he switched the job over to Levin. Then Levin was here through the water rate hike Prop 218 fiasco, and resident feeling was so strongly against her for fighting against the residents that the job was switched over to Highsmith.
      Colantuono and Levin are very good at changing the target.

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    6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    7. 3:02 nobody "outed" Colantuono, He's been an activist for a long time:
      http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1985/3/9/ex-council-chair-heads-gay-lobby-pa/

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  24. Who's looking into brown act violations during planning commissions hearing on the alf

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  25. No wonder Nick Conway awarded Bart Doyle the COG coveted Jack Phillip's award. How utterly sustainable.

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    1. Let's just ask Josh & "mayor pro-tem" low wattage Walsh to resign due to ignorance which is less damning than lack of integrity & knowingly commit a violation of the Brown Act. C&L are obviously guilty of all the above, as well, as "caught in the act" Sandy Levin. Sandy left us to start all her shenanigans in city of Los Al. Not to mention dart boil, the "mole" in this rat pack of criminals. Time to get the sheriffs & a new city attorney. This is looking more like a very serious "tip of the iceberg" ethical disaster of long reaching effects. What else are we going to unravel & more of these dirty deeds. "BRING IT!!! BRING IT!!! Justice has to be blind to let this corruption be so abundant..Flabbergasted!!!!

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  26. And those in elected office wonder why they are held in such disdain by the public....secret meetings and expensive dinners, all funded with our tax dollars.

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    1. How can anyone on our council or in our city staff justify spending money on the League of California Cities convention?
      This information has come at a very good time. I trust the city staff and the city council will draw the correct conclusions and cancel any plans for such foolishness.
      Unless they want to pay for it themselves.

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  27. Thanks to the Tattler research teams for finding this important information.
    I know you all are undercover, and cannot be named, but I would like to thank all of you.
    This is paying off. We are getting the truth out!

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    1. Being a researcher is so much easier now that there is a place where people will see it.

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    2. Well, as brilliant of a writer as Mr. Crawford is, this blog would not be as widely read if not for the good citizen reporters, like you people. Most of you live here in Sierra Madre, but we are getting more and more from all over So. California, like the posters from Los Alamitos today and of course the Avacado blog, Laurie's blog, and Tom King. We also have a a few good friends out of State who have vast knowlege of these issues and have been sharing information for years.

      Again, thank you citizen journalists. I don't know all your names, and of course would not post them if I did, as you people are committed to being annoymous, for many reasons. You don't need big recongition and awards. Just remember this, those of us, who read the Tattler everyday are very grateful to all of you.

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  28. Regarding 9:09 am: Are you kidding? "Benefits one gets when serving our city" What happened to following election commitments? What happened to saving the city money and not having parties telling yourselves what a great job you are doing. What is accomplished at these meetings? Can someone tell me if even a single council member can identify; lets say, a single city code? I get it. Once elected it is difficult to follow a state law; after all your famous now! you are a politician.

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    1. I'll bet Mr. Koerber can cite you a few city codes, Mr. Capoccia can as well. Mr. Harabedian is getting caught up, within the next 6 months, this smart young man will also be able to cite you city code.
      Josh Moran...no way, unless darth boil spells it out for him.
      Nancy Walsh, one thing that is very well known by Tattler readers and/or council watchers, is that this poor woman needs to resign. She is beyond incompetent. If she were a nice woman I would feel sorry for her, but it is also very well known that she is a very mean spirited old woman.

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  29. John Crawford?
    Won't Josh and Nancy have to recuse themselves from voting on the replacement or keeping the city attorney issue?

    I would think they should after violating the Brown Act?

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  30. Today is August 1xt! Financials for all the candidates in the most recent election were due yesterday. I sure hope someone's perusing them!

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    1. That will be interesting.

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  31. I hope there's a smoking gun. It's not a Brown Act violation unless you can prove they discussed the same matters at these dinners.

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    1. Just the appearance of having met in an illegal situation is a problem. Elected officials in California are strongly advised against it.

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  32. Anyone notice that on his FPPC form Josh spelled Colantuono wrong?

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  33. The firm is now known as Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley.

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