Thursday, July 25, 2013

The High Density Developer @ 215 N. Baldwin Has a Colorful and Intriguing Past

Note the date change ...
City Hall is going to try this one again. The matter was under discussion at the last Planning Commission meeting back on July 18, but some unhappy downtown office worker screwed up the paperwork and the matter had to be punted to the next PC confab on August 1st.

So how exactly did this City's Development Services gang gum this one up? Since the matter involved an actual zone change to a more densely packed multi-family style of housing, and therefore not merely a CUP, they were supposed to notice a larger radius around this proposed project. You know, just in case anyone in the area didn't dig the vibe and would want to kvetch about it. And who wouldn't?

I guess that is why they put erasers on pencils. Oh, and make white-out for repairs to improperly noticed Development Services signs.

The Staff Report has a concise Executive Summery for this momentous little project, and it is a fine place to start. Of course, if you want to read the whole thing in its original setting, click here and have at it. But since I am undoubtedly executive material, I am going to go with this brief synopsis:

The applicants, Parker and Barbara Williams, are proposing a General Plan Amendment to change the land use designation of the property at 215 N. Baldwin Avenue from RM (Residential Medium Density) to RH (Residential High Density) to match the existing R-3 zone. The applicants are also proposing construction of 2 (two) 900-square-foot one-story multi-family dwelling units and a 530-square-foot garage. The proposed construction would be added to the existing 2,145-square-foot-residence and 740-square-foot garage. Pursuant to Sierra Madre Municipal Code Section 17.76.030, all R-3 developments require approval of a Conditional Use Permit.

As an aside, if you are the kind of local politics minded person I am, you will recall that this "existing residence," though quite empty in 2010, was the happy home to a number of Josh Moran for City Council campaign signs.

Anyway, as kind fate would decree, it just so happens that a member of the legendary Tattler Research Team is familiar with some of the past affairs of Parker Williams, and was able to supply us with three rather fascinating documents. The first article comes to us from the Pasadena Star News (link), and it is dated June 16, 2007. Here is what this piece reveals for us:

Housing project to proceed: 2 developers pleaded guilty to bribe offer 

ALHAMBRA - The city plans to move ahead with a senior housing complex despite the fact two of its developers pleaded guilty to trying to bribe a councilman for his support on the project.

City officials say the proposed building stands on its own merits, and that the backgrounds of the developers, former Mayor John Parker Williams and his partner Frank Liu, are irrelevant.

The two pleaded guilty June 8 to attempting to bribe then-Councilman Dan Arguello with an envelope stuffed with $25,000 in cash to support the project. The Planning Commission voted 7-3 in May to approve the complex as attorneys were preparing to go to trial.

"The Planning Commission had specific instructions that the status of Parker Williams was not to be a factor," said Mayor Gary Yamauchi. "We're allowing the project because we felt the project was good for the city."

The 51-unit housing development is slated for the corner of Woodward Avenue and Monterey Road. Developers typically submit building plans to the city six to nine months after Planning Commission approval, said Director of Development Services Mike Martin. From there, it takes another three to four months for construction to begin.

Some in the community have expressed reservations about proceeding with a project that will possibly enrich convicted felons.

"How's the city going to look when a former councilman gets approval on a project while being investigated, and then he pleads guilty?" said Efren Moreno, a former councilman and Arguello ally. "Shame on Alhambra."

Council watcher and resident Mike Lawrence said he found it disturbing that the project went through with eight variances despite "the cloud that was hanging over it."

"The city needs to be much more open and transparent with all the development that goes on," he said. "This one was exposed but one wonders how many are coming to light."

Williams was arrested in September 2004 on charges that he offered a bribe to Arguello outside Charlie's Trio on Main Street. Arguello had contacted the District Attorney's Office and cooperated in a sting operation. Liu, believed by authorities to be the source of the money, was arrested the following March.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office released a couple of interesting press releases about this matter, and I thought we should post each in its entirety. The first is dated March 9, 2005 (link), and it reads this way:

Business Partner of Former Alhambra Council Member Charged in Bribery Case 

The business partner of a former Alhambra council member was arrested today on charges he was part of a conspiracy to bribe the city’s vice mayor in connection with a proposed senior housing construction project in the West San Gabriel Valley city, the District Attorney’s office announced.

Frank Liu, 71, (dob 10-2-1933), was arrested at his business in Los Angeles by investigators with the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation. Liu is a business partner with John Parker Williams, 67 (dob 7-20-1937), who was arrested in September following a month-long undercover investigation by the Bureau of Investigation.

Liu and Parker, who is also a former Alhambra school board member, are charged in case No. BA 270669 with one count each of conspiracy and one count each of bribery. If convicted, they could be sentenced to a maximum of four years each in state prison.

Alhambra Vice Mayor Daniel Arguello, alleged victim in the felony criminal complaint, cooperated with District Attorney’s investigators during the probe.

When investigators arrested Parker, they recovered $25,000 in cash that allegedly was to be used for a favorable council vote on the proposed project. The money was recovered following an Aug. 18 meeting between Parker and the alleged victim at an Alhambra restaurant.

Deputy District Attorney Anthony Colannino of the Public Integrity Division filed an amended complaint and will prosecute the case.

Liu is being held on $25,000 bail. And arraignment date has not been set.

Parker returns to court March 22 in Division 38, Foltz Criminal Justice Center, to set a date for the preliminary hearing.

The other love letter from the District Attorney's office to Parker Williams is dated June 8, 2007 (link). Here's the news it shared with us all back then:

Former Alhambra Council Member, Business Partner Plead Guilty in Bribery Case

A former Alhambra councilman and his business partner both pleaded guilty today to one felony count of trying to bribe a councilman three years ago in exchange for his support on a senior housing project, the District Attorney’s office announced.

John Parker Williams, the 69-year-old former councilman, and his business partner Frank Liu, 73, both pleaded guilty to Alhambra Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench, said Deputy District Attorney Sandi Roth with the Public Integrity Division. 

Judge Lench sentenced Williams to three years state prison, suspended, and placed him on three formal probation and ordered him to serve one year in the county jail. He also was fined $1,000. Williams was ordered to surrender for his jail sentence on July 9, Roth said.

Liu also was sentenced to three years state prison, suspended, and placed on three years formal probation. He was fined $10,000.

On Aug. 18, 2004, Williams met Alhambra’s Vice Mayor Daniel Arguello at a Main Street restaurant and asked for his help in getting $600,000 in city money for a senior housing project that Williams and Liu wanted to build. He also asked Arguello to help waive about $80,000 in permit fees for the proposed project. Williams then handed $25,000 in cash in a manila envelope to Arguello, who was cooperating with the D.A.’s Bureau of Investigation.

Small world, isn't it?

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

83 comments:

  1. Doing business with convicts is something Sierra Madre is becoming very good at. Matheson comes home to roost in a nice family neighborhood after serving time in the Halifax, Nova Scotia gaol and now Mr. Williams after his year in the county jail is a local owner/developer across the street from a elementary school and church. Sierra Madre was once known for its fair weather for consumption patients' recuperation, now this.

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  2. Once the city gets that homeless housing going on E Montecito that part of our downtown is going to get even more colorful.

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    1. You can be assured that our City will welcome every project other communities reject if the price is right!

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  3. The existing house on this property has a huge basement, not full height, so I wonder how that counts as square footage. Maybe they could excavate to get more headroom. I was in there once for a stretching therapy session from a referral when I was going to a local chiropractor. Creepy space actually, as I said, not enough headroom, but we were lying on mats.

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  4. 7:00 you need to check the history of Sierra Madre a little more , It has a great history of Chicago Mobsters living here

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  5. A developer convicted and imprisoned for attempting to bribe an elected official. Think of the possibilities!

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  6. Wonder why "convict" Williams used ex planning Commissioner for his architect?

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    Replies
    1. An ex-planning commissioner is always a perfect choice. He or she knows the ins and outs of all the city codes, the weaknesses to wiggle through, the strengths to adhere to. It's the perfect choice.

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  7. It's written in a book that, evil never goes away rather it just returns in a different form and manner.

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  8. Perhaps Parker should consider opening a service station on that site. You know, in case a city official needs to have their wheels greased.

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  9. Parker? If you still have that $25 grand we should go and get a cup of coffee. I have a water company you might want to buy.

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  10. Observed this am (on way to take trash out) lots of water running off property in canyon owned by guy in Peking, whose sister comes to check on it from time to time (she lives in Glendale/Burbank/?). How is the city going to get this guy to conserve and keep the rest of us from suffering because of this lack of responsibility.

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    1. Seems to me that right after posting on The Tattler you might want to consider calling City Hall - start with Elaine - to report illegal water use. Enough times and they'll cut off the water until the problem is fixed

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    2. The City is perfectly happy with the PUSD using 750,000 gallons for dust abatement at the Middle School. And we will see something similar at the Kensington soon. The City doesn't care about water. They just want the money from the fines.

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    3. They sure don't care about where we get the water. Just throw money at it and build more to get more money to build more to buy more water to build more.

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    4. And turning in neighbors begins.

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    5. Is PUSD paying for that water? They must spray the area - AQMD rules and regs, you know.

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    6. "Neighbors"? I don't consider someone who lives in China to be my neighbor. Could be a perfectly nice person but neighbor? No.

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    7. You may not like having a long distance "fellow owner of property close to where you live" and I wouldn't either, but the principle is still the same - watch the people around you and report to the authorities those you think are not following the law. I really question the zeal that could come with that - especially in a place that can have such a nasty disposition as Sierra Madre can have. Like nasty enough to hire that psycho Sullivan, or shield that pervert Matheson.

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    8. Water rat finks are tools of The Man and the worst form of vermin.

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  11. Attention Chris Koerber, John Capoccia, John Harabedian,Josh Moran, Nancy Walsh!

    Put a moratorium on all construction..... ALL CONSTRUCTION CITY WIDE, until our water levels go up to a sustainable level.

    DO IT NOW!!!!!!! Enough of this bs. You are either for the town or you all are being paid under the table by developers and realtors.

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    Replies
    1. Oh give it up, 8:10. While you are typing, finishing touches are being put on the East Sierra Madre Blvd. condos, the 2 new condos on Windsor and Montecito are ready for buyers, lawyers are salivating over the hillsides, the Kensington is rousing itself, Alverno is progressing, lot splits on Santa Anita - there's a development frenzy in full swing.

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    2. Well you are probably correct, 8:39. Still it's very sad to see complacent voters in this town, just letting it happen.
      Hello, Sierra Madre residents! There are more of us than them.
      We could stop this if we wanted to, or should I say if we even cared.
      I guess we just don't care.....so....WE LOSE.
      Keep electing paid off idiots to your city council, not paying any attention to the fact you are being robbed! You are you know. One day, you'll all wake up and ask yourself "what's happened to my property value" "what's happened to my money" "Oh no, how could this happen".
      This is what will happen. Congratulations low information voters.

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    3. paid off idiots?

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    4. Its the caps lock guy again.

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  12. Has Parker joined the Chamber yet? I understand Matheson's spot is open.

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  13. This property has been before the commission before over the years. There was a project that got turned down, a great big thing that included a bathroom in the basement that was clearly intended to be a rental unit, without calling it a rental unit. Can't remember specifics, but it was denied.

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  14. Josh! We saw the signs!

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  15. Sierra Madre is becoming quite a sanctuary for life's most troubled souls.

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    1. I'm afraid it's worse than that!

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  16. To be fair, Mr. Williams served the time for the crime, and we have no evidence now that he is trying to "sway" votes on the Planning Commission and/or the Council.

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    1. No, we don't. But he doesn't have the best of reputations now, does he. Would you hire him?

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    2. Listen,this is Sierra Madre.The fix is in!

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    3. "convicted felon" does have a ring to it.

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    4. But he's nice.

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  17. Interesting sales history on that property. According to Zillow, it was sold in 2004 for $850,000, and in 2009 for $142,000.

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    1. Wow. Somebody has friends.

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    2. The house had fallen into a bad state, including a rat infestation.

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    3. Depends on the size and number of the rats.

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    4. They should have gotten a cat.

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    5. Actually the property owners had died. The house was vacant while the kids fought amongst themselves as to who was able to inherit. Vacant for quite a long time. Lots of contention and litigation. At one time the entire house was going to be demolished and 4 units were to be bult but a deal couldn't be struck between the sellers and buyers. Sad story.

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    6. Yeah, but $142,000? C'mon.

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  18. Alhambra's shame is welcome to build here.

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    Replies
    1. Sierra Madre has a well developed sleaze factor.

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  19. Wouldn't the zone change be spot zoning? If this were to happen, the property owner would be receiving benefits that his neighbors are not receiving. I believe this is illegal. Does anyone have a knowledgeable answer...not an opinion?

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    1. Remeber, this is The Tattler. Opinions always welcome.

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    2. Opinions are nice, but the reader had a legal question. The answer may stop the zone change all together.

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    3. I read it the they are actually bringing the zone into compliance with the General Plan or something like that. There is some conflict in the documents, and it doesn't mean there is any spot zoning going on. Don't forget, a planning commissioner for 8 years is the one who had to vet all that kind of stuff.

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    4. When I have legal questions, I talk with an attorney. Learned long ago how much free advice is worth.

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    5. Is there an Attorney Tattler?

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  20. In parker's defense, but not the project'sJuly 25, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Parker and his wife are nice people and seem to have recovered nicely from a past indiscretion. They have donated garden space to St. Rita and are a blessing to the community.

    That said, this is the second time he has tried to develop the property outside of existing restrictions. The first effort involved raising the house and replacing it with three or four units, one of which he planned to live in. The last effort was shot down. I hope this effort is as well. We have enough multi family in town, regardless of what the bozos in Sacto think.

    ps: how stupid do you have to be to believe sierra madre will be a self sustaining transit hub town?

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    1. Of course he's nice. He is a former pol. Parker understands what most people in towns like Sierra Madre want. A pat on the fanny and reassurance that they are liked.

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    2. Every jerk who has screwed this town was nice.

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    3. Was the donated garden space worth $25,000 by any chance?

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    4. Ted Bundy was nice too!

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  21. Except Nasty Nancy, the pol I have ever seen has been nice people to their face.

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    1. She ran a civility campaign. Somehow her handlers kept her big mouth in check.

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    2. Very true, 11:18. I never saw her snarl or mock or raise her voice in an inappropriate display of uncontrolled bad temper. All that was saved for the council meetings.

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    3. Watch it. She will take you out.

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  22. WATER ENTERPRISE SOLUTION...

    1) Renegotiate the bod debt,
    2) Reduce City Services & Expenses,
    3) Use the newly unspent monies (item #3 above) to pay off water bond debt,
    4) Quit spending residents money on Re-Paving streets “with known” Bruce Inman water leakers underneath,
    5) Quite spending $1,500,000 for Radio Read Water Meters,
    6) Start replacing the old broken - leaky water pipes weekly!

    FIX THE WATER IN FRACTURE... REDUCE THE CITY SERVICES!!!!

    It is my opinion that the City of Sierra Madre Water Issues and Water Infrastructure will never be corrected until there is a division of the 2 / Corporations (the City General Fund / Water Enterprise)

    Where are the warrants, the evidence that the city is paying for the 38 city water meter(s) and sewer services? ... There are none....

    If the Water Enterprise gross sales are $8,000,000 x (10% UUT) .. That $800,000 EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS a YEAR / SHOW US WHERE THE MONEY WAS DEPOSITED IN THE WATER FUNDS CHECKING BOOK?

    Karen Snyder states...
    At the present rate of City Overspending <$400,000 per year> The “WATER ENTERPRISE WILL BE BANKRUPT” in 4 years

    QUESTION FOR KAREN...

    WHY IN THE HELL DID YOU FAIL TO PUT THE WATER UUT MONIES IN THE WATER ENTERPRISE FOR THE PAST 4 YEARS... that ($800,000 x 4 years + $3.2 MILLION DOLLARS)

    THATS A HELL OF ALOT OF OLD LEAKY WATER PIPES WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN REPLACED...

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    Replies
    1. As stated before, the UUT money that people voted on was for public safety as stated on the ballot. Karen could not put the money in the water department, that would have been illegal.

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  23. What does Elaine Aguliar & Jim McCray have in common?

    COMMINGULING OF MONIES

    $800,000 Year / Water (10% UUT Water Tax Monies)

    $800,000 Year / City has failed to pay for Water & Sewer Services....
    City Hall instructed the water department not to provide city hall with a water & sewer bill....

    O... I FORGOT TO TELL YOU... CITY HALL MUST THINK THAT CITY HALL & THE WATER DEPT ARE THE SAME COMPANY? THEREFOR CITY HALL THINKS THEY DO NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR WATER & SEWER SERVICES?
    ________________

    $1,600,000 per year

    times 4 years
    ____________

    $6,400,000 of Water Fund Monies / SHOW THE RESIDENTS PROOF OF DEPOSITS IN THE WATER ENTERPRISE CHECKING ACCOUNT?

    WHY WEREN'T THESE MONIES USED FOR REPLACEING BRUCE INMANS KNOWN LEAKY OLD WATER PIPES?

    With out having a 3rd party water and sewer bill, Elaine can argue what she does or doesn't owe?

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  24. WATER ENTERPRISE SOLUTION...

    FIX THE WATER IN FRACTURE... REDUCE THE CITY SERVICES!!!!



    WATER ENTERPRISE SOLUTION...

    FIX THE WATER IN FRACTURE... REDUCE THE CITY SERVICES!!!!


    WATER ENTERPRISE SOLUTION...

    FIX THE WATER IN FRACTURE... REDUCE THE CITY SERVICES!!!!

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  25. Unfortunately, all UUT monies are obligated to go to pay for public safety. Of course, we don't really know how much that is.

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    1. In this town... We never were provided with the definition of words "Public Safety"... there fore it must not apply?

      1. With out water,,,, We do not need any cops?

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  26. I don't know who the Cap Locks writer(s) is/are (f there are more than one), but please...if would help if you understood that it is difficult to read and there is an annoyance filter that comes up when you do this and the reader doesn't get the important message you are trying to send.

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  27. Does this provide a basis for a demand for an audit?

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    1. The cities books should have been audited a long time ago!

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    2. Remember when Kurt Zimmerman first suggested a forensic audit and John Buchanan looked like he'd just swallowed a live donkey? That to me looked like a confession.

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    3. All available on Neuroblast.

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    4. We must have an audit. Perhaps a ballot measure is in order.

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  28. Rolling stop sign trap alert! Corner of SM Blvd and Mt Trail. Full stop. Let the car "settle." Think the young woman I saw getting ticketed was coming down hill, especially need to some to full stop when you have gravity in the direction of your travel.

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  29. I can back up 2:19. MAJOR TICKET TRAP for the past week on SM Blvd.
    It is very strange, seems this same police officer always seems to be stopping young women!
    Be careful out there, residents, the SMPD is on a ticketing rampage again.
    Try to avoid driving on Sierra Madre Blvd.

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  30. if they don't stop let 'em get the ticket.

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    1. Crank. Social security check late?

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    2. I'm in agreement with 2:29, and I'm not cranky. Stop at the sign that says stop because it's a shared road.

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  31. I noticed the same thing around 12.30. Cute blonde with a short pony tail .Stopped by SMPD east bound on SM Blvd.Misogynists?

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  32. Just got my water target from the City.
    Suggest you check their math in calculating the average. Mine was way off. The calculation is simply the sum of 3 numbers divided by 3.Simple enough? Apparently not.Perhaps they saved us money by using a bootleg version of Excel?

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    Replies
    1. I averaged my new summer and winter amounts. Guess what? My total allotment dropped by 63 units for the year.

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