Sunday, August 12, 2012

Your Tattler Dog Days of Summer News and Review

Mod: It is the dog days of summer, or so they are called, and apparently have been since nearly the dawn of recorded time. I wasn't sure why this is, so I went and checked out the appropriate entry on Wikipedia and came up with the following (click here):

"The Romans referred to the dog days as "dies caniculares" and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the "Dog Star" because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog) ... The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as sunrise, which is no longer true, owing to precession of the equinoxes. The Romans sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather."

As hot as it has been, I have heard no talk of animal sacrifice being agendized for Tuesday evening's City Council meeting. Which likely means we are in for a few more weeks of very hot weather. Of course, it is August, and it usually does get hot. And did long before the people of our time began to believe it is an omen of the coming end of the world. Or at least the participation of homo sapiens in it.

Anyway, here are some news stories carefully selected by The Tattler staff for your review. This first one should resonate with anyone living here in Ticket Town.

Steven Greenhut: 'Policing for profit' on the rise (Orange County Register - click here): We've all become accustomed to police increasing their ticket writing- to backfill their budgets - but asset forfeiture takes the profiteering to a new and disturbing level.

If one peruses court documents, one will find lawsuits with names such as "The People v. One 1999 Buick." In criminal proceedings, the government must prove wrongdoing beyond a reasonable doubt before gaining the power to incarcerate an accused person. But local governments realize that, under civil forfeiture laws, they can seize houses, cars and cash based on a low standard of evidence.

If, for instance, your neighbor borrowed your green Buick and was driving it when he sold some marijuana to an undercover agent, the law enforcement agency might seize the car. The owner might not have done anything wrong, but the car was, indeed, used in the commission of a crime.

Activists point to instances where the government has become more creative in pursing assets - homes, cars, bank accounts - based on minor violations of the ever-expanding criminal code. One organization points to the case where the government tried to seize the tractor of a farmer accused of running over an endangered rat. As the number of regulatory crimes grows, the cases in which the government can seizes assets grows along with it.

(Mod: Anyone have any idea how much property - if any - has been seized in this way here in Sierra Madre?)

Some local chambers of commerce struggle to stay open (Pasadena Star News - click here): Faced with declining revenues in a still struggling economy, some San Gabriel Valley Chambers of Commerce are doing all they can to avoid closing their doors.

The Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce has announced that it laid off its executive director of four years, Bill Coburn, and is becoming an "all-volunteer organization." Last year, it eliminated its administrative assistant position and moved into a smaller office.

The Sierra Madre Chamber has long relied on its single event, the annual Wistaria Festival, which has generated about 75 percent of its operations revenue, Chamber President Ed Chen said. In the last two years, however, rain dramatically reduced attendance at the celebration of the 117-year-old mammoth vine.

(Mod: Though this is not widely spoken of in town, the lack of rain at the last two Wistaria events was brought about by an angry great spirit that watches over and protects Sierra Madre. The Chamber's at times vociferous advocacy of stack and pack high-density development in town got to be a bit too much, and they needed to be put down. The skies opened.)

Fullerton may consider disbanding Police Department (Los Angeles Times - click here): A year after a mentally ill homeless man was beaten by police officers and later died, Fullerton leaders are expected to launch a study that would set the wheels in motion to disband the city's 104-year-old Police Department.

The City Council is slated Tuesday to decide whether to order a preliminary analysis on letting the Orange County Sheriff's Department patrol the city, one of the oldest in the county.

Fullerton has been buffeted by controversy and political upheaval since the death of Kelly Thomas last summer. Two officers have been charged in his death, the police chief has left, three officers quit the force in the face of termination proceedings and three of the five council members were recalled in a June election.

Fullerton Councilman Bruce Whitaker, a sharp critic of how the police handled the violent encounter with Thomas, said that although the department needs to be examined, the driving force behind potentially contracting out police services is the $37 million required to operate the 144-officer department.

"The intent here is to find out how much money could be saved and what level of service would be offered," Whitaker said. "We're spending a large amount per capita, and I suspect they can outline some savings."

(Mod: In the end any such decision, and by any city, should be based on economics. When Sierra Madre did a similar study a couple of years back, the estimate was we'd save $1 million per year. Something that many here might find preferable to a 12% UUT. The next UUT vote could very well become a referendum on the litigious SMPD.)

Dan Walters: Censorship rears its ugly head in California Senate (The Sacramento Bee - click here): Let's not mince words about what the State Senate's Democratic leaders did Wednesday. It was self-serving censorship, the sort of thing that one expects from tinpot dictators, not from those who fancy themselves to be progressive civil libetarians.

Someone acting for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg suddenly cut off cable television access to a legislative hearing to air facts and arguments about pending ballot measures.

The Senate Governance and Finance Committee called the hearing - as required by law - into three tax increases (Propositions 30, 38 and 39) and altering the state's budgetary procedures (Proposition 31).

As it opened the committee's chairwoman, Democrat Lois Wold, said she hoped that the testimony would help the voters make reasoned decisions about the highly controversial measures. But only the few people in the hearing room and those technologically savvy enough to tune into an Internet audio feed heard Wolk's words.

Just before the hearing was to be telecast on the California Channel, a public affairs channel carried on most cable systems, somebody from the Senate told Cal Channel to cut it off.

(Mod: First they curtailed the Brown Act, now they're cutting off public access to legislative hearings they don't want the public to witness. The one party state at work.)

Man allegedly calls 911 after he runs out of beer (Pasadena Star News - click here): When you're out of beer and need a ride to get some, who you gonna call? Not 911.

The Columbia Daily Herald reported city police arrested a 67-year-old man after he allegedly called emergency dispatchers at least nine times on Saturday. Most of the calls were hang-ups, but a dispatcher said that the caller did ask if someone could send him a ride so he could buy beer.

Police Officer Seneca Shield said he told Allen Troy Brooks that if he cooperated, he would just receive a citation. But authorities said Brooks denied making calls and claimed he didn't have a telephone. Brooks was arrested and charged with making 911 calls in a non-emegency situation.

I guess it all depends on what your idea of an emergency is. Particularly when the weather has been so dog gone hot. Enjoy the rest of your day off.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

53 comments:

  1. Yesterday the police reached a new low, even for them. They towed the car of a woman who was attending Lee's funeral. With all of the people attending the burial at Pioneer Cemetery it should have been obvious the driver was at the funeral. It had expired tags from what i was told.

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    1. You really have to wonder where they get their guidance from. Who tells them they need to act this way?

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    2. Too bad they can't crack down on robbers like they do people at a funeral.

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    3. I think that was a rotten thing to do - but did the officer know the car was there because of the funeral? Where was it parked? I have not heard of expired tags as a reason to tow, but parking in front of a hydrant, or some other places, is.

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    4. Someone needs to ask about this Tuesday night.

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    5. Maybe one should pay one's DMV registration and avoid problems?

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    6. Given the circumstances a warning would have been appropriate. It is too bad that the SMPD's South Central approach to policing only extends to people they are not afraid of.

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    7. Sierra Madre is an out door community...

      1. Maybe the person with the expired tags & possible No Insurance should have been walking!

      2. If she refused to pay her water bill, what should the cops do? Turn her water spickit off...Right?

      3. This isnt Obama Care?

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    8. The SMPD is equipped to turn people's water off and tow cars for tag violations. What they are not equipped for is dealing with actual crime. They never catch real crooks, only peaceable residents.

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  2. If that is what it takes, my neighbors have some dogs I would gladly volunteer to the Council.

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  3. The Kelly Thomas case was tragic. The police were dealing with a mentally ill man, and damnit, somebody should have had enough training to recognize it and act accordingly.

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  4. Do you realize how close we came o being just like Fullerton with that officer shooting the man in the back?
    If that man had died....

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    1. Yes! I bet that could have put the whole city into bankruptcy.

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    2. It evident by the continued city council actions, which keep draining our general fynd, the City of Sierra Madre has no Money either!

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    3. Come to think of it, why should the city have to pay for a police officer's misdeed? Make him pay or Negotiate to get the POA to indemnify.

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  5. Mod, you are downright mystical today. Stars that rage at humans, a great anti-over-development spirit. So what are the meteor showers coming tonight telling us?

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  6. I for one will no longer vote to support our police force in any way until they make a pledge to stop suing us.

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  7. Do any of the members of the City Council have the credentials to conduct animal sacrifice? Have any of them been initiated into the ways of the mysteries?

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    1. I think our Mayor has been into a mystery or two.

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    2. Josh is only certified for chickens. And as everyone knows, chicken sacrifice has no effect on heat waves. I hate to have to say this, but the last fully qualified animal sacrifice practitioner we had on the City Council was Joe Mosca.

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    3. I know for a fact that two of the Realtors at Prudential are skilled at reading entrails.

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    4. maybe what John Crawfords story is impling is that the city council & staff should be sacrificed "in place of the dog" for making poor decisions and continuning to spend money which the city fails to have?

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  8. The Chamber of Commerce should always have been a volunteer effort. Now that they've let go of the charismatic Coburn, they ought to just finish with hires altogether. Hold their meetings in revolving locations of members, let the business community decide what it wants.

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    1. Most of the town's activities should be done by volunteers.
      What do we need city hall to do?
      Run the water department, keep the streets together, provide public safety with the Fire and Police (or sheriff). What else?

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    2. There are a lot of very experienced retired people living in this town.

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  9. All in all, these have been very good years to be a sheriff, and looks like there's more to come.

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  10. Back up y'all, what is that fourth story saying?The public was denied access to a meeting?Anyone involved in doing that is up for a trip to the pokey or at the least to their banks to pay the fine.That is breaking the law.

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  11. I noticed that that Sierra Madre City Council will be discussing a succession policy at the next city council meeting.

    In Whittier, the City Council will be appointing a council member due to a vacancy (unless they do not have a majority). Whittier is a general law city and their city charter mandates an appointment be made within 90 days of the vacancy. If no decision is made to appoint, then there would be a special election. The now departed council member gave notice of resignation right before the deadline to place this on the ballot for a vote of the people in November. This means that if it does go to a special election, it wouldn't be until April and it would cost about $130,000.

    The Whittier City Council has received applications, but behind closed doors, they will decide which applicants they will interview in open session on 8/21 and if necessary, 8/28. One council member asked if the interviews would be televised like all of the city council meetings so that THE PEOPLE would be able to participate in the process if they couldn't physically be there. One of the other council members said that this has never been done in the past.

    Let's hope that the Sierra Madre City Council does not create a City Council succession policy that would:

    - Allow 4 members of a city council to decide who should be sitting in the 5th seat, rather than THE PEOPLE
    - Set aside in the budget a line item for special elections, to be funded over 5-10 years (special elections are rare)
    - Make all applications available to the public, with only sensitive information redacted

    For other commissions:
    - Applications made available to the public for review prior to appointments
    - Mandatory interviews of all applicants for Planning Commission held in open session and no appointments to be made until the following city council meeting in order to give the public a chance to weigh in with the council members

    Citing high cost of a special election, and a vacant seat on a city council is no excuse for taking away the vote of the people. This is where the trouble starts. Think, Vernon, Cudahy, Bell, Stockton, San Bernardino...

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    1. "Allow 4 members of a city council to decide who should be sitting in the 5th seat"
      Never! The city councils have lost their ability to make the big decision here in Sierra Madre without residents' approval.

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    2. @11:38 - The point being, the Sierra Madre City Council HAS NOT lost their ability to appoint. That is the reason for the succession policy. To decide not to allow the city council to appoint one of their buddies to the city council without a vote of the people.

      Show up to the council meeting this Tuesday and DEMAND A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE

      Walsh and Moran were ready to appoint one of their cronies to the council until it became clear that Sierra Madre activists would have nothing to do with that, and it was placed on the April ballot.

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    3. and think SGVCOG! Take a good look at who provides legal services and direction for the City of Whittier - Jones & Mayer.

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  12. Actually the California channel isn't funded by any state dollars so steinberg's explanation is untrue if the hearing still took place. The feed is in their archives and linked from the sgf's hearings page for anyone who is actually interested...

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    1. Whatever the funding, the fact that State Senate hearings on tax increase measures were pulled off the air is bad news. What were they afraid of?

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    2. While I agree with you that its bad news (and probably illegal), I do think the funding does matter. If the broadcasting is just some public do-gooders trying to increase awareness (which it appears to be) then its hard to argue there is some kind of conspiracy or even censorship (ie no mandate or legal requirement that it be disseminated in that manner). On the other hand, if that were a requirement, and thus something the state would have to own, this would clearly be breaking a serious rule.
      Either way, I think the article on the sacbee is deficient. I hope the author does a bit more fact checking and clarifies things..

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    3. I am not certain what you're saying here makes much sense. The big picture is public access was denied, and with media that has traditionally been the venue for just that. It is a terrible precedent. Steinberg is a thug.

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    4. I do agree with you that its thuggish and a terrible precedent. I am just confused about how we define public access. I doubt the room was closed off to the public, the meeting was streamed live online and the archive can be downloaded from the SGF's website (actually the california channel's archive I'd mentioned earlier appears to be 2 hours of silence.. ;-) but the SGF's version works ).

      I am also confused how its possible for someone to prohibit access to a member of what is essentially the press. It seems odd that would be allowed by anyone unless there is some precedent here. I still doubt we have the whole story, but if its true as described, im with you. Call the attorney general!

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    5. Sacramento Bee is reporting Steinberg has apologized and says he will never do it again.

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  13. The City is currently stealing the Hildreth's property. I hear their property was put into receivership... Does anyone know the truth about this. How can the City just take their house. The Hildreth's haven't even had their case go to trail, have they? Is the City of Sierra Madre part of a Nazis State? How can this happen in Sierra Madre, California, let alone America?

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  14. I repeat, it is appropriate to seat the next highest vote getting in the last election to fill the seat of the departing city council member. Very quick, very straight forward, no hanky panky.

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    1. Sorry, I don't agree with you. In this last election there was a special election to fill a vacancy. If this seat is vacated during the remainder of this term, then we'd be stuck with the undependable and immature Colin Braudrick. Once the election was over, he skipped out on his responsibility to the General Plan Committee and the Library Board of Trustees.

      In case of a vacancy for one of the other four seats, it would be nice to have MaryAnn MacGillivray fill the vacancy as the next highest vote getter, but this is not a good policy. Appointments, in general, have no basis in democracy. This isn't a social committee, this is an elected official that we would be stuck with for many years.

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    2. In order to serve on the City Council you need to run the gauntlet of going before the voters. There can be no "special council members."

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    3. You will need to go back over all the elections, not just the last one, to see the equity in this approach. Special elections are costly, time wasting and unnecessary when this last in line is appointed to "fill" in for the remaining term. Consider if you will, Joe Mosca's election runner up, Don Watts, or in the case of Bart Doyle, it was Lee Cline. Sure, you are not going to make the opposition happy, but this is one DEMOCRATIC way to move the election process forward.

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    4. There is a catch to all this that I don't think you have considered. What if a Councilmember is thinking about quitting. He knows that the next runnerup is of the same ideological persuasion as himself, so quitting is an easy option. But what if the next runner up is of a different outlook? Then that person will not quit so easily. That is, if he gives a damn. In this way the next runner up option allows the individual who wants to quit more say so than he deserves. The ideological mix of the City Council will not change. This is why the "election only" option is the most democratic, and best.

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    5. The appointment process got us none other than a self-appointed Joe Mosca for the PUSD Districting Task Force the first time around, and then when he vacated his seat, we got Bart Doyle from the Smoke Filled Back Room Trio. It's time to make all appointments in plain sight of WE THE PEOPLE.

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  15. I have volunteered enuf already. Somebody else's turn to chop wood and carry water.

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  16. There have got to be a lot of folks who are tired of making Sierra Madre their retirement project. Time for others to get involved.

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    1. I think skilled retired people should take over city jobs and be paid for doing them. Which i guess means they wouldn't be retired anymore.

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    2. Sierra Madre should be run by people from Sierra Madre. Not outside professionals who answer to outsiders.

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  17. It's too damn hot! Screw all of you!

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    1. You don't happen to have a brown dog, do you?

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    2. You and the horse you rode in on.

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  18. maybe what John Crawfords story is impling is that the city council & staff should be sacrificed "in place of the dog" for making poor decisions and continuning to spend money which the city fails to have?

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    1. You said this at 12:19.

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