The arrest and imprisonment of Bob Matheson in Canada for transporting large quantities of child pornography on his computer created quite a stir in this town in late 2011, with the exact nature of his conviction there raising serious concerns for Sierra Madre as well.
Here is an example of the kinds of reporting taking place in the local media at the time. This from the Pasadena Star News (link):
Feds search Sierra Madre home for child pornography
By Brian Charles, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/20/2011 07:11:09 PM PST
Updated: 12/21/2011 04:26:38 PM PST
SIERRA MADRE - Federal agents raided the Sierra Madre home of confessed child pornography smuggler Robert Matheson late Monday night, looking for computers, hard drives and documents that may contain additional pornographic images or videos of underage boys, according to a federal affidavit obtained by this newspaper Tuesday.
Matheson, an active member of Sierra Madre civic life in recent years, was arrested in Halifax, Canada in October and charged with possessing and smuggling 2,820 pornographic images and 285 videos, many of which showed underage boys engaged in sex acts.
Canadian investigators also found several instant messages in which Matheson said he wished "to find a young man who could pass as his son or grandson and his belief that it would be an honor and privilege to guide and teach young boys through puberty," the affidavit said.
Matheson pleaded guilty to both charges on Dec. 13 and was sentenced to 120 days.
Immigrations and Customs Agents obtained a warrant and executed the search of Matheson's 2030 Liliano Drive home after noticing a "flurry" of activity at the residence following his guilty plea, according to the affidavit. The most recent of this activity occurring on Thursday, the day the story of Matheson's arrest was published on this newspaper's website, according to the affidavit.
Federal agents declined to answer specific questions about the Matheson investigation. "Because that probe is ongoing, we are not at liberty to release any further details at this time," ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said. "I know there's significant media interest in this matter and I hope to be able to provide further information at a later date."
We raised this matter yesterday as part of a discussion on the issue of City Hall email retention. It is an agendized item for tonight's City Council meeting, and to me this PRA request and its results serve as good examples of why email retention needs to be incorporated into the City's policies for electronic communications. Many in town are of the opinion that not enough was done in regards to Mr. Matheson's legal status here upon his return from imprisonment in Canada, and this PRA was an attempt to find out what had actually happened at City Hall.
Unfortunately what we received shed no real additional light on the matter.
The assumption here yesterday was that any e-mails other than that of Councilmember Koerber were not supplied to us because certain other Councilmembers (past and present) might not have wanted their observations at that time discussed here. Something that prompted this reader comment posted yesterday:
Regarding Agenda Item 8: From the MercuryNews.com:
"SAN JOSE -- A Santa Clara County judge has ruled that San Jose must provide city officials' private text messages, emails or other electronic communications about city affairs in response to an activist's request, a potentially far-reaching decision that could settle a growing dispute over what open-government advocates say has become a glaring loophole in the state's public records law."
The mod should resubmit his PRA request and remind the city manager that the council's personal email accounts are included in the scope of the PRA request.
The cited Mercury News article, "Judge orders San Jose to disclose officials' messages on private devices," can be read in its entirety by clicking here.
Now there are two possible ways you can go with this. As I said earlier, it is possible emails requested in the PRA were illegally held back to spare certain Councilmembers (past and present) the embarrassment of having their views discussed here. I can understand that concern. The other option is that no emails exist because none of the Councilmembers in office at the time were concerned enough to send any. Considering the nature of the controversy and the level of public concern back then, that seemed highly unlikely to me when I wrote about it yesterday.
Taking the advice of the author of the comment above, I emailed City Manager Elaine Aguilar about this issue yesterday. I expressed my concern that emails related to this matter had possibly been illegally held back, and that I would resend my PRA in order to get that matter taken care of. Here is her response:
Hello John –
Happy Monday to you too. I was just about to head home, when I checked my email one last time, before heading out! Glad I did.
I’ve read the email exchange below – thank you for forwarding the question – I appreciate the opportunity to respond.
Please let “Anonymous” know that it is Sierra Madre’s standard procedure to include “personal email accounts and other electronic communications” in public records requests such as the one you submitted. You are welcomed to submit another Public Records Request (and please let me know if you want me to re-submit your request to the City Council), but personal email accounts were included in the scope of your original PRA request.
Please let me know if this adequately responds to your email – and if there is any further assistance I can provide.
Here is one of them. Can it be that nobody at City Hall actually cared?
Somebody needs to go to anger management class
The article below was the number 1 most read for most of the day yesterday on the Pasadena Star News website (link):
Man badly beaten in dispute over parking space in Sierra Madre
By Brian Day, Staff Writer
Posted: 05/12/2013 04:22:06 PM PDT
Updated: 05/12/2013 06:29:49 PM PDT
SIERRA MADRE -- A man pummeled another man late Saturday in a dispute over a parking space, police said.
The incident, which police are investigating as an assault with a deadly weapon due to significant injuries suffered by the victim, took place about 11:40 p.m. in an apartment complex parking lot in the 400 block of West Sierra Madre Boulevard, Sierra Madre police Sgt. Rueben Enriquez said.
The victim, a man in his early 50s, became involved in an argument over a parking space with another man, initially described only as being in his late-20s or early-30s, the sergeant said.
The younger man attacked, striking the older man in the face multiple times, Enriquez said.
Though the older man suffered significant injuries to his face, including several lost teeth, he declined to be hospitalized, he added.
The victim and suspect did not know one another prior to Saturday night's incident, the sergeant said.
Enriquez said the attacker had fled the scene prior to officers' arrival, and the investigation was ongoing.