|Who gets elected when you don't know?|
Two Incredible Videos from our friends at the No 710 Action Committee:
1) 710 Coalition is Metro funded front group (click here)
2) Measure R funds and where are they going? (click here)
(Mod: These are truly remarkable videos, and they give you an idea of just how sophisticated the folks fighting the 710 Tunnel have become. The first reports on a totally bogus organization that claims to be a group of concerned resident volunteers who want the 710 Tunnel built, yet upon further review turns out to be a highly paid lobbyist and some of the usual Metro hacks. The second shows how Measure R moneys, which as you know come out of our hide, are being used to pressure City Councils and the citizenry in general to support the 710 Tunnel. Illegal? Most likely. But what government agency in this vastly corrupt county will stop it?)
San Diego ex-mayor used charity funds to cover gambling debts (L.A. Times click here): She married a fabulously wealthy man decades her elder, and became the first female mayor of San Diego. But when Maureen O'Connor left public life, she spent countless hours seated in front of video-poker machines. Over a nine-year period, she wagered an estimated $1 billion, including millions from a charity set up by her late husband, who founded Jack in the Box. That was the portrait that emerged in court Thursday as the frail former mayor tearfully acknowledged she skimmed more than $2 million from a charity founded by her late husband, Robert O. Peterson.
O'Connor, 66, admitted in a plea deal that she had a gambling addiction and is nearly destitute. Her lawyer, prominent defense attorney Eugene Iredale, suggested that a brain tumor may have impaired her reasoning; he gave reporters copies of her brain scan from a 2011 surgery. O'Connor's rapidly declining medical condition "renders it highly improbable — if not impossible — that she could be brought to trial," according to court documents filed by federal prosecutors.
"This is a sad day for the city of San Diego," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Phillip Halpern. "Maureen O'Connor was born and raised in this town. She rose from humble origins ... She dedicated much of her life, personal and professional, to improving this city."
The $1-billion gambling binge stretched from 2000 to 2009, according to court documents. In 2008 and 2009, when the fortune she had inherited was not enough, she began taking from the R.P. Foundation to cover her losses. Despite being ahead more than $1 billion at one point, O'Connor "suffered even larger gambling losses," according to prosecutors. Her net loss, Iredale said, was about $13 million.
(Mod: Think about that the next time you order a Jumbo Jack with cheese.)
Alameda City Attorney Teresa Highsmith's Departure? (Alameda Patch click here): News broke in the Alameda blogsosphere and twitterosphere earlier this week that Teresa Highsmith, Alameda's city attorney, had signed on as interim city attorney in Barstow, California.
Which, for me at least, leads immediately to this question: where is Barstow? So here: Barstow is a town of about 20,000, located 55 miles north of San Bernadino. (Wikipedia notes this: "In a 2006 state-funded economic survey, Barstow ranks among the 10 poorest cities in California. One-third of residents receive public assistance and 4 out of 10 receive welfare and Social Security funds.")
In any case, on Wednesday SFGate blogger John Knox White posted video of Highsmith accepting the role of interim city attorney in Barstow. Michele Ellson of The Island followed with a report that included this detail: "Mayor Marie Gilmore, and City Councilwomen Lena Tam and Beverly Johnson said Wednesday that Highsmith hasn't resigned or retired from her Alameda post, and that she didn't inform them directly about the Barstow job."
The Alameda Journal's Peter Hegarty followed with a report yesterday, confirming that Alameda city officials did not seem to know of Highsmith's position in Barstow until seeing video from the Barstow council meeting.
Then yesterday afternoon down south somewhere, presumably near Barstow, the Desert Dispatch posted this story: "Interim City Attorney Focus of Attention in Alameda." Which included this:
"City Council [Barstow's] appointed an interim city attorney Monday unaware of her involvement with an investigation of a councilmember in Alameda that racked up more than $100,000 in legal fees, some of which went to her current law firm."
The legal fees referred to were for the controversial and divisive investigation of Councilmember Lena Tam. The charges were eventually found to be insufficient to warrant continued investigation. Tam was re-elected to her council post in November and sworn in for her second term on Tuesday. Also from the Desert Dispatch:
"Highsmith is now also working for Colantuono & Levin, the same firm that she asked the City of Alameda to hire for the investigation of Tam."
(Mod: The Teresa Highsmith news stories just keep rolling in. I would like to thank those who have been sending them my way. My PRA request to the City of Alameda for additional information on the Highsmith Affair will be filed on Tuesday. Stay tuned. Sierra Madre needs to know who exactly it is that the Three Stooges rehired as our City Attorney last Tuesday.)
D.A. and alternate public defender open probes into Pasadena cops (Pasadena Star News click here): The Los Angeles County District Attorney and Alternate Public Defender's offices Thursday announced separate probes into allegations of misconduct by Pasadena homicide detectives. The announcement comes a week after Judge Larry Fidler declared a mistrial in a murder case, and admonished Detective William Broghamer and Officer Kevin Okamoto for their "egregious" conduct during an 2007 homicide investigation.
A defense attorney for one of the defendants in that case said the county's twin investigations will likely expose deep rooted corruption. "They shouldn't have a homicide department," Attorney Andrew Stein said Thursday. "The department needs to be cleaned out from the top-down. I don't understand how anyone could allow this culture to exist."
Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, who last week declined to criticize the police department, backpedaled Thursday and expressed support for the investigations. "I think the actions on the part of the authorities is appropriate in light of the judge's findings in this one case," Bogaard said.
Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said he welcomes "all reviews to determine whether there are missteps or misdeeds by officers." And while much of the criticism of his department has been aimed at the homicide unit, Sanchez said he plans an internal investigation into the department that goes beyond one rogue unit.
"I would be myopic, if I looked at only one department I need to look at the entire department to see whether this issue is widespread or isolated," Sanchez said.
(Mod: I was talking with someone yesterday who is closely watching the investigations into the PD problems in Pasadena, and it was his assessment that the Pasadena Police Department is one of the most corrupt in Southern California. That, along with racial animosity, drives many of the excesses that have occurred there. The big question in his mind is why Bogaard, who has apparently known about these problems for years, said nothing until a Judge's decision made his continued silence impossible.)
L.A. tax measure could help pay for raises for city employees (L.A. Times click here): At a time when taxpayers are being asked to dig deeper to resolve Los Angeles' chronic budget crisis, city employees are receiving raises that will cost tens of millions of dollars within a few years, according to records obtained by The Times.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, an assortment of City Council members and Police Chief Charlie Beck are urging voters to approve a sales tax hike on the March 5 ballot that would boost the city rate to 9.5%, one of the highest in the state.
At the same time, thousands of police officers, firefighters and civilian employees are in the midst of receiving a two-year series of raises that were backed by the mayor and council. When all the increases are in place for a full year — the fiscal year that starts July 2014 — they will add $167 million annually to the general fund budget, which pays for public safety and other basic services.
The added cost of the pay increases will equal three-fourths of the new revenue the city expects to collect if the sales tax measure passes.
Opponents of the tax increase, Proposition A, argue that city leaders gave away too much to employee unions amid the economic downturn. Voting for the measure "only encourages more bad behavior," said Jack Humphreville, a neighborhood volunteer who wrote the ballot argument against Proposition A. "They're basically trying to bail themselves out of a problem that they made for themselves," he said.
(Mod: Anybody here think Josh Moran's UUT special people re-do vote in 2014 won't be for some of the same reasons? If Measure U Part 2 is passed and our utility rates go to 12% - highest in California - it is my belief that we too will see large spending increases. "Get the balance right" meaning "give us all we want, we want to go shopping.")
See you tomorrow.