Friday, November 30, 2012

The Issue That Won't Go Away: Did the City of Sierra Madre Give Bob Matheson a Free Pass?

Unanswered questions remain
The City of Sierra Madre has long maintained that it could not register Bob Matheson as a sex offender because current state law did not give it the authority to do so. And this argument has convinced some people here that the reason Matheson remains legally unencumbered in our town is just that, despite his conviction in Canada for transporting hundreds of pornographic photos and sex videos of juvenile boys.

This perspective is reflected in a comment posted on this site Wednesday. The topic was Chief Giannone and Tuesday evening's City Council swearing-in ceremony, and whether the event had been shown proper veneration on this site. Here is what one commenter had to say:

Sierra Madre residents seem to feel (and have for years) that what they went (sic) should replace state law. While the residents feel that way, the law still is the law. The Police Chief has to follow and enforce the laws as written. Think what the city would be like if each resident got the rules enforced as they wish, which a lot would like. Sierra Madre is a eunique (sic) city but must still live with existing laws or get them changed. The Police Chief and his department line (sic) by those laws, much to the dislike of many residents.

Again state law is cited. However accurate that might be, and as you will see below not everyone agrees with the poster's assessment, we are talking about a crime that also had international implications as well. Usually under circumstances such as those in this case, Federal law would have been consulted. And whatever state law may have to say, the Department of Justice in Washington DC would have to be given some precedence.

Last February we discussed this topic and concluded that the City of Sierra Madre had clearly failed in its responsibilities to the people of Sierra Madre. Whether or not this was done deliberately is unknown to us right now, though we do have some to date unanswered (or even officially acknowledged) questions on the matter. And given that this issue is obviously still very much alive in this town, I thought I would repost our February piece for people to review today. The questions it raises remain as relevant now as they were 10 months ago.

Here is that article:

The Matheson Return: Did the City Make the Right Call?

(Recently) we posted an article entitled "Has Sierra Madre Prepared for the Return of Bob Matheson?" It turns out that the answer to that question is yes, it did prepare something. At least for itself. However, given the fact that Bob Matheson had been arrested and imprisoned in Canada for possession of a laptop containing 2,820 pictures of naked young boys, along with 285 videos of boys having sex with adult men, the City's conclusions might not be as restrictive or punitive as many in this community would have hoped.

Apparently what the City of Sierra Madre did was build for itself the case that it had to do nothing. And that Bob Matheson could return to his home and resume life here in whatever way he might wish. A conclusion that, given the characteristic passivity of this City's government in the face of challenges of this magnitude, is not as surprising as it should have been.

The Sierra Madre Weekly reported it this way:

The Police Department has confirmed at this time Mr. Matheson is under no obligation to register as a sex offender under California law.

The Sierra Madre Patch had heard a similar rhythm coming from the Sierra Madre Police Department:

Matheson voluntarily came to the to the police station and met with interim Police Chief Larry Giannone. Giannone said, "Mr. Matheson voluntarily came to the police station to advise us that he was back at his residence and simply stated, "There are two sides to every story." The Police Department has confirmed at this time Mr. Matheson is under no obligation to register as a sex offender based on California law.

A similar interpretation was also offered in the Sierra Madre News.net, though their reporting was pretty much limited to posting the SMPD's press release.

But is this actually true? Is the SMPD's press release an accurate statement that should be accepted at face value? Given the City's past questionable interpretations of the law it might not be a bad idea to at least question the wisdom of their decision. You never know what answers you might come up with.

In today's Pasadena Star News such questions are asked. The article is entitled "Sierra Madre police: Man convicted of child porn charges in Canada won't be registered as sex offender" (click here). Here is what they have to say:

Sierra Madre Interim Police Chief Larry Giannone said the Los Angeles District Attorney's office told his department that California's sex-registration requirement doesn't apply to Matheson because his conviction occurred outside the United States.

But a former Orange County district attorney who specialized in sex crimes has questioned that interpretation of the law. Matheson was arrested in October after being questioned by authorities at a Canadian airport. According to prosecutors, Matheson gave vague answers to questions about his travel plans.

Matheson, a prominent Sierra Madre resident who was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and assisted with former Mayor Joe Mosca's 2010 campaign, could not be reached for comment.

This does raise some disturbing issues. What if the City's interpretation of the law in this case is faulty? The PSN did attempt to discuss this with the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, but they declined to take the call. And then there is this troubling matter. What if Matheson, because of his social prominence and long-standing relationships within Sierra Madre's elite political circles, is getting the benefit of the doubt here? What if it was someone of lesser social and political stature who was in Matheson's position? Would the City's reception have been as non-judgemental?

Michael Fell, a former Orange County deputy district attorney who specialized in sex crimes, said he didn't believe the California Penal Code makes an exception for convictions outside of the country.

He pointed to Senate Bill 622, which was signed into law in September and requires the State Department of Justice to review out-of-state offenders' criminal record to determine if they should be registered as a sex offender.

The bill expanded the list of those required to register as a sex offender to anyone convicted of such a crime "in any other court, including any state, federal or military court."

Fell said as he understands it, sex-crime convictions in another state or country would require sex-offender registration as long as the law in the other state or country is substantially similar to California law.

"As long as it has the elements," Fell said, "maybe it's not a gray area."

So is Canadian law, which as a Commonwealth country is closely tied to the laws of Great Britain (he was prosecuted there by a Crown Attorney), so inferior to the laws of California in this matter that Matheson needed to be shielded from its effects here in Sierra Madre?

If someone were to show that the City made a wrong call here, and that by failing to register Matheson as a sex offender illegally endangered the safety and welfare of some of our most vulnerable residents, Sierra Madre could be at some considerable legal risk.

So Here's the Smoking Gun

Terry Miller, who runs the Beacon Media family of papers (which includes the Sierra Madre Weekly) and has done some extremely valuable reporting on the Matheson affair, wrote in yesterday with the following:

I thought you would like to see what I just received from ICE:

"In response to your inquiry regarding the status of ICE Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) probe involving Sierra Madre resident Robert Matheson, there is no new information I can provide about the case. HSI agents executed a warrant at Mr. Matheson's Sierra Madre residence late last year seeking evidence related to this investigation. The case remains pending at this time. The ultimate determination about whether federal charges will be brought in a case is made by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Also, I understand the Sierra Madre Police Department has issued a news release regarding whether Mr. Matheson will be required to register as a sex offender in the United States following his conviction in Canada. To be clear, HSI is not involved in that process. Here is a link to a document on the Department of Justice website outlining the registration guidelines for sex offenders. On page 16, there is specific information regarding the implications of foreign convictions.

This is what is found on page 16 of the Justice Department guidelines (click here). It is devastating to the City's claims regarding Matheson's status here as a sex offender.

Section 111(5)(B) of SORNA instructs that registration need not be required on the basis of a foreign conviction if the conviction "was not obtained with sufficient safeguards for fundamental fairness and due process for the accused under guidelines or regulations established by the Attorney General." The following standards are adopted pursuant to section 111(5)(B):

Sex offense convictions under the laws of Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand are deemed to have been obtained with sufficient safeguards for fundamental fairness and due process, and registration must be required for such convictions on the same footing as domestic convictions.

Obviously Terry's contact at ICE feels that the City of Sierra Madre screwed up badly by not registering Matheson as a sex offender. And the evidence provided by ICE seems irrefutable.

So here are our final questions of the day. Did the City's failure to do the right thing here stem from laziness or rank incompetence? Was Matheson given a free pass due to his membership in the City's social and political elite?

Or, perhaps even worse, did certain parties in town fear what Bob Matheson might reveal about them should he be registered as a sex offender, and influenced the City's position on this matter? Was there a threat implicit in Bob's "two sides to every story" comment?

Whatever the case, it seems obvious to me that this City's government has failed us badly once again.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com ......... Photo credit: Bill Coburn

83 comments:

  1. "...given the benefit of the doubt..." such as 'we doubt that you were in the Nova Scotia goal for 120 days' or 'we doubt that you were arrested at Stanfield International Airport in Halifax with 2000 plus images of naked boys and acts of sexual abuse between minors and adult males.' What kind of doubt could this possibly be?

    "TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY" What, pray tell, is the opposite side to the story in the facts as stated above: arrest at airport, 120 days in the gaol, images of sexual perversion against young male childrend and teens found on confiscated lap top computer?

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    Replies
    1. Excellent questions, CB.

      How about some answers, Sierra Madre?

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    2. And with the local elementary school open to the public, no questions asked and plenty of open gates.......WHY?

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    3. Parents who have young teenage boys attending the middle school on Canon should be especially aware.
      I would hope we have a police officer watching that area all the time during school and after school hours. They watch everyone for tickets.
      Young teenagers walk to and from that school. The police should be observing Matheson constantly.
      If a complaint against Matheson is filed.....or he is caught and a parent reports him.....the Sierra Madre Police should be held 100% responsible.
      Shameful, Sierra Madre, shameful that our shameless "mayor" pictured above with his pal, Matheson in front of the men's room at Lucky Baldwins speaks volumns.

      Why did Matheson's friends Mosca and Bosse leave town in a "cloud"?

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    4. Yeah, 8:01, at first I thought the Mosca split was totally unconnected to Bob's perversion, but now I'm not so sure. Mosca never met a lie he wouldn't tell, so don't know how we'll ever know the truth.

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    5. He said he'd be back in 2 years. That is about a year from now. After they've seen the great cities of Europe, will they really want to return to Sierra Madre? I person ally have my doubts.

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  2. One phone call to the D.A.'s office? Is there a from them statement on this? Some paperwork issued? Or was it just a "nah?"

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  3. Yes there are two sides - on one side, Robert W. Matheson is a sick, evil man. On the other side, Robert W. Matheson is an evil, sick man.
    And he is free to be anywhere he wants in our town, close to our children and camera ready.

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  4. Look at the picture. There he is pretending he's just a good guy, hanging out with beer drinking fellows and laughing with a light heart. All the while, he was supporting victimizing children in ways that would scar them forever.

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  5. Obviously this one was posted without the permission of the Rainbows and Unicorns.

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  6. Since Matheson is scot free, and no doubt armed with equipment that will take videos of kids, people better keep a sharp eye open when they take their kids to any gatherings where there are more than a few people.

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    Replies
    1. Matheson has posted on sites that have since disappeared his lifelong devotion to photography.

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  7. I. INTRODUCTION
    The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA” or “the Act”), which is
    title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-248), provides a
    new comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification in
    the United States. (from your 'click here' for the Justice Department guidelines)

    ...maybe this information needs to be forwarded to the Adam Walsh Foundation. Mr. Walsh certainly can give us some ideas on how to pursue this further with our local authorities.

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    Replies
    1. This is good information.Since our Police Force is only qualified as traffic monitors,the Public has somewhere else to go for assistance!

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  8. Corruption breeds more corruption..Mathenson fits in well.He is safe and protected.It also speaks volumes about our community!

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    Replies
    1. Sierra Madre has several dirty little secrets, in fact, one of them
      sits on the city council...in the Mayor's chair!
      Another one walks our town, free. A convict. A pervert.
      Another one was elected by our foolish voters, twice and got more votes than the other candidates, then abruptly left town before his term was over.
      What do these three shameful people all have in common....they were all friends, very good friends. Matheson had Joe Mosca's campaign party at his evil home. Bob, Josh and Joe were all in attendance.

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    2. Don't you think it is a little coincidental Mosca and Bosca split town in a hurry right around the Matheson arrest?

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  9. In some communities children are treasured and protected. Can we say the same about Sierra Madre?

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    Replies
    1. They are valued in word. In deed? Not so much.

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    2. There certainly is a lot of lip service. For the SMPD that level of commitment was apparently one phone call to the DA's office.

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  10. The officers don't live here.
    Their kids and grandkids are not in jeopardy.

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    Replies
    1. It had to have been politics, plain and simple.

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  11. Not to beat a dead horse, but does anyone here think that the LA Sheriff's Department would have come to the same conclusion as the SMPD did? Would they have made a call to the DA, or would they have already known what to do?

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for posting this, I thought the same thing.

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    2. To have a police department that doesn't know how to register a sex offender, or doesn't see the need for it in a family community like this, is insane. There is no other word to describe this. This needs to be agendized by someone on the City Council.

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    3. In your dreams!If he didn't have friends here in Sierra Madre,he would be long gone.

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  12. With tech advances, all Matheson needs is a phone and a clear view. He can get raw film of kids, put it in a computer and use his "skills" to transform it into something else. We know these guys are beyond help, at least as far as we've been able to figure out so far. The only thing for it is to keep him off the internet for good, and have him followed when he's out in public.

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  13. In that picture, Bob looks portly and friendly. He also looks shorter than Moran. He's not.
    And that is not what he looks like anymore.
    Keep a look out for a tall thinnish man, looking fit, with or without a beard.
    He looks military now. No more good old beer belly.

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  14. So now Sierra Madre has become a protective sanctuary,retreat or whatever for the likes of the Bob Matteson,s of this world.Anymore good news!yikes!!!

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    Replies
    1. Frightening. Sierra Madre is Matheson's safe haven.

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    2. And these perverts support each other.
      Don't think that his case in Canada wasn't followed by NAMBY creeps and other crazies. They know who he is and where he gets to live with impunity.

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    3. Hadn't thought of that, now that is uber frightening...

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  15. It makes me seriously wonder about our Police Chief, and police department, and with the casual way this matter was treated.
    Perhaps the need to transfer our policing to the Sheriff'd Department is not only wanted for the financial reasons, but to take the power away from an obviously corrupt city and police department, where actual law enforcement can be provided beyond issuing traffic tickets.
    Perhaps when Joey Mosca shows up, he can give us his innocent little boy look, and straighten us out.
    Instead of Moran fighting the great chicken war, he could actually light a fire under the SMPD to do something responsible for a change.From the photo, it makes you wonder about Moran as well, or maybe he condones this stuff?
    Hearing about the shear volume of perverted material, this must have taken years to accumulate, with help from others in the community that are like minded.
    His free pass stinks like a week old fish.

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  16. This is so shameful! SMPD is a disgrace! This really needs to be rectified, how do we get the pervert registered? Letters to the DA? Phone calls? The SMPD wants more money? Pfffffft, really?

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  17. like Ive advised before, there is plenty of supporting information to file suit against the city for incompetence, negligence and child endangerment. Sue the city of Sierra Madre. Then maybe you'll have your answer.

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  18. sue the city and PD.then they will respond.

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  19. I also wonder why we are forced to pay top dollar for a PD whose only function is to issue traffic citations.We deserve better.Of course,if our city leaders feel intimidated by presence of an effective Law Enforcement Agency,that raises some interesting questions as to why.

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  20. That is the problem. When everything is OK, the SMPD is fine. But when something like this comes along, or the EVG scam, they're helpless. And that is when we need a PD the most.

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  21. If the word is out in the perversion world that you can live in Sierra Madre with impunity, well we have a lot more to worry about than just Matheson. Multiply this many times over. If you have new residents in your neighborhood that do not mix and mingle the way you would expect, start you close watch now.

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    Replies
    1. Turns out some of the newest members of our neighborhood believe they need to be armed. Does that qualify? They scare the bejesus out of me...

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    2. Matheson mixed and mingled plenty, with the established pro-development folks.

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    3. 12:03 Where were you born? If not the United States of America, go back to where you came from. If you prefer a Socialist nightmare such as England or Russia, I'll help you pack.

      The Second Amendment to the Constitution gives every American the right to keep and bare arms. If you're afraid of law abiding citizens, then you probably also need a wet nurse to protect you from your shadow.

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  22. They need to enclose those schools. The world is not like it is on leave it to beaver.

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  23. I don't disagree with the suggestion that Bob Matheson should be registered with the city. What I find contemptible is that you would print a photo of Josh Moran and Bob Matheson. Obvious to me, because of the Tattler's feelings toward Mr. Moran, you are attempting to make him look bad. Are you suggesting that Mr. Moran knew about Matheson's secret back when this photo was taken? If not, then printing the photo is exploitative, yellow journalism. Be better than that.

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    1. Hmm. One of the main points of this article is that Matheson was well connected with influential members of the community. With speculation that this could be how he beat being registered. You don't see any validity in that?

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    2. Josh is big on chickens, but doesn't seem too concerned about chicken hawks.

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    3. Attempting to make the Mayor look bad? You mean the Mayor who is obviously smashed with a beer in his hand and with a child pornography devotee, who supported him politically, looking on at the festivities fondly?
      How dare the Tattler use that accurate and un-photoshopped picture, indeed.

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    4. I think it is fair to judge Mr. Moran by his associations, friendships and relationships....it is an indication of his decision making abilities (or lack thereof)

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    5. Agreed 12:17 that most of the people ol' Bob hung around with probably did not know just how sick he was. But how can you explain the total lack of action by the council, by the police, by city hall, to get this guy his just deserts?

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    6. Anyone who has lived in Sierra Madre for any length of time has heard about the Mayor's recreational activities. Anyone. It's a small town.

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    7. The people who represent this city need to make a statement distancing themselves from the behavior of that scumbag, or they are aligning themselves to it by default. It is that simple.

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    8. no that's not the impication of the photo - its that the party dude with a beer denied to the Pasadena Star News that he ever met Matheson or knew who he was. He was seen not only with this photo as evidence but seen having conversations with Matheson.

      So instead of saying he had met him he just did the dweebish thing and lied about it - not saying he condones or knew anything but regardless of how inept we all think Josh is, he's just a money grubber and a unethical Councilman not a pedophile protector.

      He bristles at citziens, insults other Councilmembers and said he would appoint his friends and supporters to positions and had Matheson not been caught, Moran would have gladly appointed him to a commission or two, just because Matheson was a supporter.

      Moran doesn't care about qualifications - just his pocketbook.

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    9. 12:47
      Yes, it is very well known that Josh is a kinky dog. Very well known.

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    10. 12:47
      You are right, it is very well known that Josh is a

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    11. As the saying goes."Birds of a feather flock together"...

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  24. The Matheson question should be asked at every public comment time.

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    Replies
    1. Will you be the first to go up and ask? I didn't think so.

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  25. Josh knew nothing before Matheson's arrest? OK. But wouldn't it behoove him to do sow thing AFTER he knew about it? Rather than just let him go on his merry way? Josh did nothing. That I find contemptible.

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  26. I have a question. Why did the SMPD call the DA themselves? Why wasn't the City Attorney invoved?

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    Replies
    1. There is one who lives right here, but he and his vile wife are too busy harassing a local family they don't like instead of looking out for the common good.

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  27. Otis Campbell with a beer, obviously buzzed similar to him as Mayor in the 4th of July beer garden claims to have never met or seen Mr. Matheson.

    same Mayor and former realtor who once issued rants on the defuct downtown dirt website and screached for boycotts of Sierra Madre businesses

    not the photo isnt about Moran - other than like the time he lied about the UUT - he's just following his mantra of being self serving and deceitful about why he is on the Council

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  28. of course Moran was quick to point out the admendment rights of a blogger who made homophobic rants and bigoted insults towards citizens and "protected" speech and was friends with the blogger

    but on the other hand, Moran was quick to deride and disregard the admendment rights of advertisers who were in a paper that Moran believed had no 1st admendment rights and could not have an pro-Measure V stance...because it affected Morans income.

    He's so freakin transparent and lives up to his image

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  29. This type of cover up that was allowed to happen at the hands of the Federal Government, both Canadian and U.S. has now been joined by Texas.

    Texas The Boy Scouts of America will not immediately have to turn over 27 years of so-called "perversion files" the group keeps on sexual abuse complaints against adults involved in the organization, a Texas appeal court has ruled.

    You have one, that you know of Sierra Madre but how many in Texas and beyond?

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  30. 1:26

    Its probably because the city attorney deals with civil issues and Matheson represents a criminal matter.

    Do the rest of you who think its okay to draw the inference that since Moran and Matheson were in the same photo that somehow Moran knew about Matheson's criminal activities.

    I knew Bob Matheson and there are probably pictures out there with him and I in the same frame. And I know of very classy, venerated people in our city who socialized with him. So, if I find pictures of Matheson and any of them or you, would it be okay to distribute the photos? Maybe I will start posting them up on facebook. Any of you have a problem with that? You should

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    1. Josh did the same thing when he knew as when he didn't know. Absolutely nothing. The buck stops with the Mayor. The way life is in this world.

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  31. I don't know, 3:04. The difference between you and the Mayor is that you admitted you knew who Matheson is. Josh denied it, more than once.

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    1. I didn't know Matheson, and wouldn't recognize him on the street, but I have been to scores of Sierra Madre functions and there may be a picture or two out there of me with Matheson in the background, and I consider myself a respected person in the community (on your side I should say). I won't deny that there are several pictures out there of me with a wine glass in my hand.

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    2. Intersting, but it does raise a question. What does this have to do with the city's inability to register this guy as a sex offender?

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    3. It does have something to do with carping on Moran and the picture.

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    4. Sigh. The official response is in. No action on Matheson, pity party for the Mayor who did nothing.

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    5. Pity party for the mayor who did nothing and who continues to do nothing.

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    6. I don't like Matheson not being required to register. That being said, the city has a fiduciary responsibility to us to default on the side of caution. As we have seen in the discussions and posts on this blog, there is question as to the legality of registering Matheson. If the city forced him to register and there was any question to the legality you can be assured some lawyer will rise to the occasion and sue the city. I'm sure when the issue first came up, legal opinions were solicited. So be angry at the situation but try to understand why the city did what it did.

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  32. Is this how police unions make good on city police departments contracts pay raises?

    When the Dammeier-led city police union posted billboards outside of Monrovia in 2008 warning that citizens were entering a “high crime zone,” business and city sales taxes dropped.

    The scorched earth is still smoldering in Monrovia.

    “It was dirty pool,” remembered Mayor Mary Ann Lutz, “untruthful and inflammatory.”

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  33. I constantly see three or four middle aged men walking by the school on Highland around 8-8:30in the AM, they look pretty creepy to me, can we get a tail on these men, I'm afraid for our children.

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    1. Most middle aged men walking by schools in the morning appear creepy. Why can't they walk somewhere else! We must protect the community. Why can't the police follow them? Mybe get their names and addresses?

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    2. Hahahahaha..."can we get a tail on these men"..."why can't they walk somewhere else"...funniest s*** I've heard all week in a very funny week.

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    3. You have got to be kidding. Really. Many, many people walk about in this town, at all times of the day and night. And many of them walk past the schools. Are they all "creepy"? Just because you see them doesn't make them "creepy". Get over it.

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    4. It is kinda creepy that you can't tell the difference.

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    5. I have a pretty good idea who these guys are. And they are above reproach. But maybe we can find a picture of some of them with Matheson. Then we can have them thrown into jail. No need for trial. P.S. I would like to see a photo of Anonymous 7:24. Probably throw that person in as well. Can be too careful.

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