Caltrans spent millions on unjustified house repairs, audit says (click here) - Caltrans spent $22.5 million since 2008 to maintain homes it owns in and near Pasadena, but couldn't show the work was necessary or cost-effective, the report finds.
California transportation officials have spent millions of dollars making overpriced, unjustified repairs to houses the state owns in and around Pasadena, according to an audit released Thursday.
Caltrans bought the houses decades ago to bulldoze for the long-planned, never built extension of the 710 Freeway. The agency has spent $22.5 million since 2008 to maintain the homes, but transportation officials are "unable to demonstrate that the repairs were necessary, reasonable or cost-effective," according to a report by the California State Auditor, which was sparked by a Times investigation.
The state is also losing $22 million per year because tenants, including 15 state employees, are paying far below market rates for rent. Other homes, some of which have been recognized as historical landmarks, have been boarded up and empty for years.
(Mod: And these are the guys we are required to entrust to design, plan for, environmentally evaluate and actually build the 710 Tunnel? They can't even function as a landlord.)
Sierra Madre City Manager's Report, 8-17-2012 (click here) - (Mod: I am not sure how many people know about this one. If you are looking to find out how the City Council meeting agendas are evolving for future meetings, this is the place to go. This report can now be found regularly on the City of Sierra Madre website.)
Bill to limit gifts to California lawmakers dies a quiet death (click here) - Legislation to restrict free tickets and other gifts to lawmakers died quietly Thursday without a public vote in an election year.
The measure targeted freebies ranging from golf outings to spa treatments given by individuals or groups that hire lobbyists.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee shelved Senate Bill 1426, so it will not reach the Assembly floor and no committee member will be on record opposing it.
SB 1426 targeted golf, skiing, hunting or fishing trips, as well as gift cards and tickets to theme parks, racetracks, and professional sporting events. The measure also would have barred tickets costing more than $25 to concert, theater, or collegiate or amateur sporting events.
(Mod: A exciting new wrinkle has emerged here in the one party state. Anonymous Assembly voting.)
710 alternatives raise concerns in local communities (click here) - Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck said the new routes have caused fear in areas that could be affected by the "new" route alternatives, like those through the San Rafael neighborhood.
"A number of these are unfortunate because they don't make sense and it puts the residents in a very difficult position ... that potentially could put them at risk when refinancing or trying to sell their property," Beck said.
Freeway advocate Nat Read of Pasadena said he was sympathetic to residents afraid their house may soon get bulldozed.
"If a line is drawn on the map and it comes through my house or my neighborhood ... I'm going to come out and protest," read said. "I think that is the inevitable result of being forced to offer a number of arbitrary alternatives."
Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, raised additional concerns that with residents in cities across Metro's "710 study area" opposing and supporting different routes, the proposals have caused a divide in the San Gabriel Valley community. "I don't like pitting one neighborhood against another neighborhood," Portantino said.
And, Portantino added, he's not sure whether Metro is actually considering the new alternatives at all. "I think the folks in downtown L.A. are going to try to put on a show to justify a predetermined conclusion," Portantino said. "Fundamentally, this is a flawed process."
(Mod: Nat Read, by the way, is a consultant paid to advocate and organize support for the building of the 710 Tunnel. For him to come out and question the "divide and conquer" strategy Metro is working right now is hilarious. Who knows, maybe he even wrote it. And it looks like Portantino is getting it. Metro must be hearing footsteps by now. Their whole rotten scam is falling into pieces.)
San Gabriel Valley COG distances itself from director charged with four felony counts (click here) - The principal concern with the COG is its administrative structure. Conway acts as both the executive director of the COG and president of Arroyo Associates, which has contracts with the COG. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office alleges Arroyo Associates 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 Offices alleges Conway's company received an additional $143,000 in one fiscal period.
Long-time critic and open government activist Gil Aguirre of San Dimas said in a letter sent Thursday to the 30 member cities of the COG that information he obtained through public records requests indicates Arroyo & Associates was paid $66,000 in the month of June by COG.
South El Monte Councilman and COG vice president Joe Gonzales could not confirm that figure and said he thought it was closer to $35,000 a month. COG attorney Dick Jones confirmed that Aguirre was given documents as a result of public record requests.
(Mod: We will publish tomorrow, and in its entirety, Gil Aguirre's letter to the 30 remaining member cities of "The COG." It is a devastating document.)
Steven Jobs' stolen iPad unwittingly used by 'Kenny the Clown' after burglary (click here) - What would you do if you had Steve Jobs' iPad? Kenny the Clown, who had the late Apple co-founder's tablet all to himself for a few days this month, didn't play any games, surf the net or check for any top-secret corporate documents.
Instead, he loaded iTunes to play the "Pink Panther" theme song and Michael Jackson, using the magical device to entertain Bay Area kids and tourists during his clown routine.
He had no idea the device came from the fabled Jobs residence until after his friend who gave him the gadget was charged with breaking into the CEO's Palo Alto home. By then, the cops had already shown up at his door and taken it away.
"It would be like getting a football from Joe Montana that was stolen out of his house," said the 47-year-old professional clown, whose real name is Kenneth Kahn. "It's bizarre, it's really bizarre."
(Mod: It can't be easy being a clown in California these days. The distinctions between them and those in charge of the place having become somewhat blurred.)
The Tattler's Vacation (click here) - Today was supposed to be the last day we'd be working on the blog until early September. The rationale being that this would be a good time to recharge batteries and get ready for what should be a very interesting fall. That is no longer the case as we have at least two days more worth of stuff we need to cover. So maybe Wednesday. And then again, maybe not. I am apparently leisure challenged, and do not vacation well.
But wait, there's more. This is the week The Tattler will cross the One Million Hits mark. Which is a lot for a public affairs blog that largely covers the doings of a town of less than 11,000 people. You can only wonder what the next million is going to bring.