Friday, October 26, 2012

Members of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments Misbehave at Brown Act School

As you might recall from an article we posted on The Tattler a few months back, when the Governing Board of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (aka "The COG") settled its lawsuit over multiple Brown Act Violations,  a considerable amount of money was handed over to Gil Aguirre for legal expenses he incurred while bringing these miscreants back to within the paths of the righteous. After all, it was done for their own good.

But as a part of this settlement it was also agreed by all of the parties involved that the members of The COG's Governing Board would also undergo a session of Brown Act training with a paid expert in this law. Here is how all of this was described at the time (click here):

Now if there was ever a need for a Brown Act review session by a legislative body, the SGVCOG Board might qualify as the poster child for such training. Litigation was filed last year against the agency alleging what can only be described as a litany of past and ongoing violations. Lapses such as: holding unauthorized secret meetings, preventing members of the public from speaking during meetings, failing to post agendas for meetings, and discussing items of business which were not on the agendas. I'm sure you get the idea.

So how did our Coggly Scholars fare at Brown Act School? Not very well I am afraid. On October 18th video cameras were on hand to record this rather historic event, and some of the shocking footage that was taped that evening is now available. Click here to view their shameful shenanigans in all of their infamy.

Rather than taking in the wisdom of their Brown Act instructor (which they obviously are in bad need of), some of these San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments executive members instead saw fit to spend their class time texting and e-mailing with their friends. Just like the bad boys and girls might do at a high school.

The striking irony here is that they were texting and e-mailing during the time when it was being explained to them that texting and e-mailing while serving in an official capacity at a public meeting such as that one could very well be seen as a violation of the Brown Act!

There is a bright side to all of this, however. Everything they texted or e-mailed during Brown Act class belongs to the public. None of it can remain hidden should someone wish to file a Public Records Act request. Which is exactly what we intend to do. When we get our copies of these miscreant e-mails and texts we will post them here on The Tattler.

Because if there is one thing we believe in at The Tattler, it is that the works of our public officials need to be fully transparent and on view for all to see. Even if they were the result of playing hooky.

The Patch Reports on the City Council's COG Deliberations

Last Tuesday evening there was a City Council meeting, and among the pertinent topics under consideration was whether or not we should remain in The COG. And there were some very good reasons for the City of Sierra Madre to get out. Not only has its Governing Board proven to be serial violators of California's signature transparency law, the Brown Act, but also its most notable figure, SGVCOG Senior Director Nicholas "Nick" Conway, was hauled off by the District Attorney on various felony conflict of interest charges involving vast quantities of the public's hard earned tax dollars.

There is also the matter of The COG footing the bill for Nick's legal expenses, which could run as high as a million big ones. Plus should Nick sue over various perceived slights by The COG during his times of legal travail, he could walk away with millions more in our money. Plus there is also the matter of misspent tax money being clawed back by certain aggrieved public agencies. Something that could put Sierra Madre at risk for having to pay vast fortunes in public moneys that we just don't have these days.

All of which contributes mightily to my mystification over our City Council voting 5 - 0 to remain a part of this disgraced organization. Given The COG's recent legal disasters, it does not set a very good example for the children. That there were no consequences here for such ethically bereft behavior is certainly not the right signal to send to our youngsters.

However, I guess I will just have to deal with my pain as I always do, which is to drink a lot of coffee and write about it on my blog. 

Over at the now rudderless Sierra Madre Patch a new reporter has shown up on the scene. Her name is Connie K. Ho, and she is turning in some fairly workmanlike articles. They are both well written and informative. Of course, they also have that cloying "tell us your thoughts in the comments!" non-committal feel to them, but I suspect that is due to certain Aol/Patch corporate style requirements and is not Connie's fault.

This week Connie turned in an interesting news piece entitled "City Council Votes to Continue Membership in San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments." And contained within this article is the following rather priceless observation from Sierra Madre Mayor Pro-Tem Nancy Walsh:

“The year has been incredibly difficult, really tense,” said Nancy Walsh, Mayor Pro-Term who serves as an alternate liaison to SGVCOG, on the challenges following the allegations on Conway and the reorganization of the group. “Now there’s an amazing energy. If we can get through whatever legal battle, [the SGVCOG] will definitely be stronger… this little city cannot get along without it.”

I guess if by "amazing energy" you mean giving Nick Conway a quarter of a million dollar golden parachute funded in part by our tax money, then yes, The COG has indeed been quite peppy. The COG has also shown astonishing vigor in covering Nick's legal expenses, which includes a fine attorney that commands upwards of $1,000 an hour. And should Nick sue The COG and prevail, I am sure this organization of energetic men and women will virtually sprint to Sierra Madre for some cash to help defray their expenses.

This was not a particularly glorious moment for our City Council. I need some more coffee.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

79 comments:

  1. Regarding the questionable decision by the CC regarding the "COG",the only thing that comes to mind is,"Birds of a Feather Stick Together".It's sort of a Solidarity thing!

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  2. bad clinkie on the bad coggiesOctober 26, 2012 at 7:08 AM

    Anybody else seeing the click here link as encrypted or rather letters and squares?

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    1. I reset it. Refresh your page and let me know if it looks better.

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  3. That COG is not a comely bunch. I've seen classier looking people at a Greyhound Bus terminal.

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  4. These people need to be treated like school children, and have a place for them to leave their electronics by the door.
    Wouldn't hurt our city staff to do the same.

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    1. Hey! Does this mean that when Madame City Attorney is tapping away on her smart phone we can ask to see whatever it is under the freedom of info act?

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    2. No no no. Attorney client privilege, no doubt, or unfair prejudicial poobah.
      And Elaine is by far the worst offender.
      Of course not counting the staff members sitting in the chambers and surfing.

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    3. Yes, you can ask her. If she asserts the privilege, then force her to prove it was privileged. Everything an atty writes -- even to a client -- is not privileged.

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    4. Anything communicated during a City Council meeting belongs to us. Just because it was said on an electronic gadget doesn't make it a big secret.

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  5. Mod I know you were away on business so you didn't see the way the COG show rolled out.
    Moran made the point that we were already liable for everything - dropping out now wouldn't protect us from that, and Koerber agreed with that.
    There was all the 'new day' stuff, pushed hard by Harabedian as well as Walsh, and the man begging us to stay with them.
    There was reasoned agreement about having a larger impact as a group rather than one very small city.
    And the Interim Director (the guy who was begging) agreed that COG should lobby Sacramento to change the RHNA system altogether.
    I wish we had dropped out as a matter of principle, but we didn't.

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    1. Someone should have voted no. The unanimous vote was a very bad look. They're dirtbags and serve no purpose except to steal our money. I don't care what Moran said, or will ever say for the rest of his life. Just look at the video.

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    2. MaryAnn would have voted no. You can count on that.

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    3. She represented those of us who appreciated the charm and uniqueness of our community.Others unfortunately look upon our community as a target for exploitation and profit.Sierra Madre is the last unspoilt community remaining in the once beautiful San Gabriel valley.

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    4. The Troglodytes are in charge...pillage and plunder!!!

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    5. Indeed, the troglodytes are in charge.

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    6. Maybe the two reasoning adults on the council wanted to demonstrate the spirit of compromise for the sake of moving city business along in a positive direction. It was foregone that Walsh, Moran and Harbedin wanted to stay in the COG, just as it was foregone that the same trio wanted to have a Green Commission. Just guessing here, but maybe there was a hope that if all could come to agreement on the COG, some flexibility would be exercised on the Green Commission. It wasn't. It will not be.

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  6. Fantastic video of the idiots on the devices. Fantastic. Kudos to whoever filmed that.

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  7. Joeseph Gonzales is a good man, both his parents are/were politicians, and were close friends of my now deceased parents. Macias was trained at the School of the Americas, she is a sweetheart. They already know the Brown Act. Both of them are extremely ethical. That instructor doesn't sound like the sharpest pencil in the box though.

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    1. Good, then there will be no problem when their texts and emails are released.

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    2. Did you forget to add that those individuals are also Nick Conways biggest supporters?
      They are, in fact, the people who needed to resign in order to really clean up COG.

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    3. 7:48, loyalty is admirable, but denial not so much. The people you are defending, the people you claim know the Brown Act, are caught, on camera, violating it.

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    4. So they knew the Brown Act and still broke it?

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    5. Isn't that a class? and not an official meeting? Aren't they discussing possible problems arising, but are not part of the official Brown Act?

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    6. It was on the COG meeting agenda.

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    7. Exceptions (Meetings not subject to the Brown Act)
      Conferences and retreats, other public meetings, meetings of other legislative bodies, social or ceremonial events are exempt from the Brown Act provided that legislative members follow certain rules such as limiting the discussion to the agenda in the conference; or that legislative members do not discuss amongst themselves business of their legislative body. Regulations for these exceptions to meetings are contained in § 54952.2(c). Also excluded from the application of the Brown Act are individual contacts or conversations between a member of a legislative body and any other person (§ 54952.2(c)(1). Any other person is defined as a non-staff or non-board member.

      Closed Sessions
      The Brown Act allows closed sessions under the scope of a regular meeting. It stipulates that they shall comply with agenda posting and be held within the jurisdiction of the legislative body (§ 54954), which shall include a description of the items to be discussed (§ 54954.2). In addition, prior to holding any closed session, the legislative body shall disclose, in an open meeting, the itemor items to be discussed in the closed session (§ 54957.7). Items that can be discussed by the legislative body are according to § 54954.5:

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    8. Got your tap sheos on, eh Dee Dee?

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    9. The "training" on the Brown Act was conducted as part of the regular SGVCOG Governing Board meeting. It was properly placed on the agenda and subject to the mandates of the Act.

      As for the comments about closed sessions, it is important to note that the Act lists the items which are authorized for closed session discussion and an agency, such as the COG, can not simply go into closed session because they want to, or to discuss something in secret because it is sensitive or embarrassing.

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  8. Can anyone recall instances during recent City Council meetings when those at the dais were texting while the meeting was going on?

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    Replies
    1. It is common practice for staff.

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  9. Thank you Tattler for getting those communications!That should teach the miscreants about the Brown Act.They obviously are not reachable with the spoken word.Good lesson.

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  10. No one in SM is paying attention to this stuff. The only way to get the public to pay attention, would be to go door to door and tell the people they must put a hundred dollar bill in the jar to help pay for the COG fiasco.
    If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody hears or see's it, it didn't happen...

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    1. Not true. A lot of people pay attention to this stuff. Some are outraged, others are entertained. Remember, only 30% or so of the people vote. But inside that 30% there is a lot of political intensity.

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  11. They should have at least held out for a free year.

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  12. This bunch knows exactly what their obligations are under the law, they just don't care. If they get caught, they simply use our tax dollars to pay their way out of the problem.

    The video shows the absolute arrogance and total disregard these folks have for the very public they are charged with serving.

    Hopefully we will remember that come election day.

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  13. Everyone shold do public records request of what they were typing and saying in the meeting. These people that were videotaped are the very same chief enablers or Nick Conway. Starting with Dave Spence, Conway's drinking buddy (oh yes we know about the bar in the foothill community) who gave Conway 75 grand in taxpayer money as a gift. Angel Carillo, Conway enabler who spends his time trying to get consulting contracts with COG cities and sidekick Joe Gonzales.

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    1. Conway engineered the 75 thousand dollar payolla with Dave Spence without the COG legal counsel being present. When he objected, Conway and Spence fired him. This was an illegal payout. Now Conway is working on getting the 75 grand back from Kemper Insurance. It sounds like insurance fraud to me. This place is corrupt.

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  14. That video clip is too funny. I like the guy from La Canada, picking his teeth while texting. Oh well, he had just wolfed down his tax payer provided buffet.

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    1. I am amazed that anyone thought it was a good idea to offer the cog attendees a meal on the public dime.

      Yes, the cog needs to bring about an end to the RHNA process, and immediately stop wasting money on feeding the people who come to the meetings.

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    2. It makes them passive and quiet.

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  15. After watching the video, all I can say is wow! This is the group of politicians that are representing our interests in the San Gabriel Valley - God help us all.

    Norma Macias is a sweetheart, really? Have you driven through El Monte lately? Or read how El Monte is mired in a financial mess? Or how Norma has devoted her time to fixing the woes of El Monte by putting forth a measure to TAX every drop of soda sold in the City? Sweetheart, maybe. Effective leader, well not so much.

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    1. I want my Big Gulp!

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    2. I saved the city of El Monte 283 million dollars, I just sold 6 properties in El Monte, I even donated to Crawfords campaign, and the water rate increase fight get together, and I don't care about the soda tax. Joesph Gonzales and Norma Macias are both ethical, and shucky darn I don't know any politician that is an effective leader do you?

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    3. Didn't El Monte fire all of their lifeguards for making a music video?

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    4. DD, you are probably right. I just looked up the definition of "ethical" and it reads "being in accordance with the accepted principles that govern the conduct of a profession."

      I think it is fair to say that Gonzalez and Macias conduct themselves in a manner that is widely accepted within their profession - the video illustrates how their profession conducts themselves.

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  16. You want to read what the COG is all about? Want to know why Angel Carillo, the recent President of the COG likes it so much? You need to read this article and THE STAFF REPORT. Where is the FBI?

    http://diamondbar-walnut.patch.com/articles/walnut-won-t-renew-cog-membership#pdf-10640649

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    1. The FBI is busy investigating the LA City Council. So much political crime, so few FBI agents.

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    2. The interim director of the SGVCOG told the Sierra Madre city council that Walnut had not severed ties, last Tuesday night, and that he was going to appear before the Walnut CC the next night.
      Guess it didn't go his way.

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  17. You are preaching to the choir. All COGs should be disbanded from the FEDCOG to CALCOG, and all the trickle way down to the measley SGVCOG, but it won't be. Too easy to steal money from to divert to black projects. I don't care for Carrillo or Spence myself. I get the impression they are crooked as dogs tails. I followed Mr. King and support all efforts to dissolve the COGS. I am addressing the video and two of the subjects of the video, I know personally, and I stand by my statement.

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    1. DD, I can add to your defense of Macias. She's known as the honest person among thieves, as some one who is trying to bring integrity back to a badly abused system in El Monte. Obviously she screwed up with texting - and I'm sure she'll have to pay for it, being a part of the scandal of arrogant stupidity and all - but I'm equally sure that her texts will be harmless.
      Sure hope so, anyway.

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  18. What would an organization like COG have to do for Sierra Madre to quit it? How much worse than what they have already done?

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    1. Multiple people indicted on multiple felonies?

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    2. Surely you jest.Corruption attracts our sitting "elites."They feel right at home...

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    3. That is a very hard question. Kill anyone who shows up at the meetings who wasn't elected somewhere?

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  19. Great!!! Talk about being caught in the act!!!

    For years, the LA City Council has persistently violated the Brown Act's requirement that all deliberations be held in public. The council votes unanimously over 99% of the time. This requires non-public decisions in advance of the public meeting. Often there is zero discussion and yet a unanimous Yes Vote. There is no way an entire council always votes unanimously except by prior agreement.

    All councilmembers have to give a Yes Vote because the LA City Council has its voting machine set to automatically vote "YES" -- even for councilmembers who have left council chamber and clearly are not at their desks, the machine automatically votes YES for the members whoa re not present. All one has to do is watch Channel 35 and you can see that empty chairs are voting. Thus, it is clear that the LA City Council is not DELIBERATING in public.

    In violation of Penal Code 86, each councilmember has sold his vote to each other councilmember so that they will support whatever a councilmember wants for his/her district. An advance decision to trade votes not only violates the penal code, but violates The Brown Act because the vote-trading was held in private, where the real decision how to vote was made, and was not in public.

    Garcetti was so proud of his criminal conspiracy of thousands of votes in violation of penal code while he was council president, he actually bragged about it during the last session in December 2011.

    How do we get these Aguirre and his cameraman to come to LA?

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    1. Thank you,this explains a lot!This is nothing more than a criminal conspiracy!

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  20. You don't need Aguirre, you can go to the Council meetings and bring your own video camera or videographer. Everyone needs to become more engaged in the process and monitoring the activities of our elected officials.

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  21. So I have a question for everyone; why is a member of the public having to take the time, energy and expense of having the SGVCOG meetings video recorded? Why is the COG not video taping every meeting they conduct? I am hard pressed to think of a local agency which does not video their meetings.

    No doubt they will claim they don't have the financial resources, yet they can pay for endless buffets?

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    1. Good questions. Here's more. Why were hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal and state taxpayer dollars flushed down a rathole called COG when the guy running the place was stealing it at will? Why did a room full of elected officials sit around like lobotomy patients while this guy robbed the government in plain daylight? Why did the Feds and state morons not even look into the place they were sending all of that tax money to?

      Why are we still in this garbage hole called COG?

      COG is just an example. Government in Southern California makes Chicago look like nursery school.

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  22. Lets have a moment of silence for all of the cell phones and computers, lost and destroyed today. Eaten by dogs, thrown into rivers, stolen etc.

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    1. You mean to say they weren't recycled at an appropriate COG center, sponsored by Edison?

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  23. Two questions: were the folks in the second row cog members? There is a guy there in the middle, green shirt, looking at his electric device!

    And

    Why didn't the COG attorney giving the presentation tell these boobs to put away their devices and listen up. Any high school teacher or college prof worth their salt would have put an end to that insulting nonsense in a heartbeat.

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    1. Well the guy in the green shirt is a reporter from the Tribune. Don't get me started about the "reporting" from the Trib.

      As for the COG attorney giving the presentation, no way she is going to risk pissing off this group and having them cut off the flow of legal fees to her firm.

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    2. COG attorneys who try to get that rabble to follow the law are fired. They prefer their attorneys to function as consiglieres.

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    3. Even if they were to record their own meetings, they would NOT show the shenanigans that go on amongst them. Their cameras would only be focused on the main speaker ... just like City Council (Los Angeles, Monrovia, etc).

      so, in order to REALLY capture what is going on behind the scenes YOU, the member of the public, have to bring in your own recording tools. This way you can focus on the unknown and not televised situations, like the tooth-picking gentleman from La Canada Flintridge. That's for sure something the COG (or any other "official" body") would not want the public to see.

      Recording the meetings with an i-Phone or small handy cam is really easy and you can just focus on the items you like. Then go home, log in to YouTube and voila: Instand replay of what happened at the meeting ... over and over and over again.

      Simply said: Just have fun with it! They (the "In-COG-nizant members)
      have to live with it, since it was recorded at a public meeting and they are figures of the public ...

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  24. Probably the most surprising thing about this council is just how little John Harabedian knows. He is only a step or two up from any other kid off the street, a nearly complete naif. It is nice that John managed to pass his classes during his decade at the universities and all, but he knows nothing about the gritty and dirty world of local government in the San Gabriel Valley. How else do you explain his easy capitulation to those old strange dudes at COG?

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    1. Harabedian has turned out to be a big disappointment. Heck we could have kept Walsh as the City delegate and got this kind of representation.

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    2. Maybe he's Steve.

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    3. As has been pointed out before, Harabedian is on the climb up & outta here. COG kissing is precisely what is required.

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    4. Green practices, too. Condos are green, you know. And if you don't want to build them it is because you're racist.

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  25. fan of crawford manOctober 26, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    Off topic, but did any of you see the 43 trillion dollar suit filed by Spire Law Group, in is in the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and Transworld has a great story with a red substory to the right of the main story you have to click on about a one billion dollar suit filed against Kamala Harris that was recently allowed to stand or not be dismissed, apparently she destroyed some files that thwarted litigation against B of A by homeowners in CA over the foreclousure mess.

    Here is an excerpt on the CA case:
    On August 3, 2012, a Federal District Judge in San Francisco refused to dismiss a $1 billion lawsuit against California, and several of its Attorney Generals and Deputies: Kamala Harris, James Toma, Blithe Leece, Benjamin Diehl and disgraced “investigator” Thomas Layton. The case bears index number CV 12-00987 CRB. The case remains pending by homeowners against these corrupt officials, including California’s own Attorney General Harris."

    From Wall Street J an excerpt:
    In connection with the federal lawsuit now impending in the United States District Court in Brooklyn, New York (Case No. 12-cv-04269-JBW-RML) - involving, among other things, a request that the District Court enjoin all mortgage foreclosures by the Banksters nationwide, unless and until the entire $43 trillion is repaid to a court-appointed receiver - Plaintiffs now establish the location of the $43 trillion ($43,000,000,000,000.00) of laundered money in a racketeering enterprise participated in by the following individuals (without limitation): Attorney General Holder acting in his individual capacity, Assistant Attorney General Tony West, the brother in law of Defendant California Attorney General Kamala Harris (both acting in their individual capacities), Jon Corzine (former New Jersey Governor), Robert Rubin (former Treasury Secretary and Bankster), Timothy Geitner, Treasury Secretary (acting in his individual capacity), Vikram Pandit (recently resigned and disgraced Chairman of the Board of Citigroup), Valerie Jarrett (a Senior White House Advisor), Anita Dunn (a former "communications director" for the Obama Administration), Robert Bauer (husband of Anita Dunn and Chief Legal Counsel for the Obama Re-election Campaign), as well as the "Banksters" themselves, and their affiliates and conduits. The lawsuit alleges serial violations of the United States Patriot Act, the Policy of Embargo Against Iran and Countries Hostile to the Foreign Policy of the...

    It has teeth..Somehow drug cartel money got into our housing situation big time, gives one hope RICO is being used a lot.

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    1. If Alan Greenspans name is not involved in this then this whole premise is bogus and total b.s.

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    2. Fan of Fan of Crawford ManOctober 26, 2012 at 8:33 PM

      AWESOME POST, your post is right on topic and right on the $$$$$.
      It's always about the money, even when they say it isn't, it is.

      Delete
  26. fan of crawford manOctober 26, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    Sorry if this is repeat, search Spire Law Group LLP, all the stories will pop up.

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    1. fan of crawford man....you are a master detective!
      Thanks for posting this. Very interesting information.

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  27. Re $1,000 per hour attorney fees: Relax - it's only $16.67 per minute!

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    1. I suspect the attorney in question can get Satan acquitted.

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  28. Re $43 trillion - Why not just demand "all the money in the world" plus interest on that sum? Or would that not be enough?

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  29. With the video tape of some of the October 18, 2012 "Brown Act" SGVCOG training coming to view, they either appeared to be bored or insulted.

    One of them is a Gene Murabito, he can been seen briefly left of center with a bald head, glasses looking bored or insulted tapping a pen on the table top.

    One can only come away with a poor showing of these bad boys and girls being put into detention hall for being caught breaking the Brown Act Law of the State of California.

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