Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Sierra Madre Tattler Hit With A Malware Attack

Click to enlarge
I had been wondering how the forces of evil would come after The Tattler now that another election is drawing near. There have been so many bizarre strategies used against us in the past, you just knew something was going to happen. The most recent instance being in the spring of 2012 and involving a failed character actor          who called himself Lady Elizabeth Wistar. The addition of a now imprisoned Internet extortionist by the name of Cyrus Andrew Sullivan to that mix only added an extra layer of intrigue to the situation. You can read all about that adventure by clicking here. It should leave you with the impression that there are some people around who do not appreciate our approach to reporting the local news.

The malware situation was definitely an entirely new and modern approach to Tattler suppression, though. And it really must have been something of a challenge. The platform I use is called Blogger, and it is a part of the vast Google empire. Planting malware on a Google property like Blogger had to have been difficult. Google has been up against such serious players as the Peoples Republic of China. They take security very seriously, and have spent many millions of dollars protecting themselves against people who long to insert bad digital juju into their systems. Systems that are worth many billions of dollars and are at the heart of one of the wealthiest corporations on the planet.

The way it was done is as follows. Until yesterday I had a digital clock on this site. It was a gadget I had picked out months ago from the grab bag of such things Blogger offers to site owners like me. Somehow that digital clock, which I now believe must have had a third party origin, was recently infected with a malware virus. Probably within the last two weeks.

It was no threat to you, there was no real way the virus could have been downloaded from my blog onto your computer. It didn't even infect my computer. But what it did do was set off alarms at various Internet Service Providers. The screenshot above was sent to me by a reader who had been completely blocked from accessing this blog by his ISP. Instead he got a message telling him to stay away. The Tattler was being quarantined.

And it did work. Traffic on this blog had been cut by about 40% over the last two weeks as more and more people were either blocked from accessing The Tattler, or just scared off by the warnings. Which I assume was the purpose. After all, what possible good is a blog if it has no audience? Without readers this would be a pretty absurd exercise. We'd just be talking to ourselves.

After receiving that screenshot from my concerned friend yesterday, I contacted Blogger/Google and let them know what was going on. It took them about 2 minutes to locate the problem and cure it, though they continue to try and figure out the source. They apparently don't like malware very much, and in their eyes this was a problem. Hopefully whoever created it left some digital fingerprints.

We are now back in business, and plan to stay that way at least through the upcoming City Council election next April. After that I am going to rethink this project. I might take this blog regional, or I could go find something else to do. I don't know. Five years is a long time.

So now City Hall wants to hire a Prop 218 consultant?

We might have gotten to the point where residents need to start questioning the sanity of the people working at City Hall. They just keep hemorrhaging money in ridiculously large amounts.

As you may recall, the last time there was Prop 218 vote on a rather large water rate hike, hundreds of resident produced ballots were collected at City Hall and counted by the City Clerk and some volunteers. The cost was minimal and, while the result wasn't quite what a lot of people were looking for, at least the City didn't spend a fortune to get it.

But apparently this time the City wants to spend that fortune, and in the process completely remove the residents from any participation. This from the City of Sierra Madre website (link):

The process that is currently required by law, is less expensive than what is required under SB 553. If the current process is used, the estimated direct costs are $8,000 for printing, mailing house, and postage. If the process prescribed by SB 533 is used the estimated direct costs for printing, mailing house, and postage are $16,000. At the high end, staff costs are estimated at $16,000, based on the amount of time incurred during the last Proposition 218 process. It is also possible to retain the services of an outside consultant to conduct the entire process, at an estimated cost of $20,000 to $35,000.

The obvious objections to the ridiculous amounts of money being so casually discussed here aside, how can the services of staff cost an additional $16,000? Don't we already pay their salaries? Why does it cost an additional $16 grand to hand them some envelopes, glue pots, stamps and xeroxed sheets of paper and set them to mailing out the people's business?

There is an entirely different form of reality existing inside that building.

Now here is a rather bold solution to staffing issues

This from InlandPolitics.com (link):

San Bernardino: Mayor moves to eliminate police, fire departments The San Bernardino City Council Agenda now has an interesting item listed for Monday, October 21, 2013.

Items 7A reads as follows: Direct the City Manager to begin the process of soliciting proposals for contracting fire and police services to outside agencies, including, but not limited to, Cal Fire and San Bernardino County.

The move comes after Fifth Ward Councilman Chas Kelley’s resignation on Thursday. Kelley resigned after pleading guilty to a single felony perjury charge, related to his campaign finance reports.

Kelley’s departure now shifts the balance on the seven-member Common Council.

City insiders must feel they now have  3-3 tie, to contract out, with Mayor Patrick Morris as the tiebreaker.  

Difficult times demand bold decisions.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

123 comments:

  1. There is absolutely no reason to contract out the 218 process. The City has gone through this before and know the pitfalls and the positives. Send out the letter including a well worded postcard that citizens can send in if they want to protest. How hard is that? I would hope though that they put the parcel number on the postcard so we don't have to go through what we did last time in having many protests thrown out because of the giant misunderstanding about who could sign the protest. Or, if they insist, a simple ballot to be placed inside an envelope - citizen sends it in on their dime, not the city's.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Clear as can be, 6:54. Let's see how staff and some council members fog it up.

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    2. They better put the amount of the rate increase in that letter even if it's not required by law.

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    3. What if they change their minds?

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  2. What's so hard? Exchange one set of police officers for another. Save $1.5 million annually. Bonus: someone else at the county gets to negotiate with the union, defend the lawsuits and fund the pension.

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  3. Funny how the City Manager presents the Prop 218 costs. She makes it sound like hiring a consultant would actually save the city money. She must think people are really dumb.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have posted this before, and no doubt will have opportunity to post it again - the staff's attitude would get them fired immediately in my business. "I have too much work to do" is not a legitimate complaint.

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    2. To my boss that would sound like a confession of incompetence.

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    3. "It's too hard!"

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    4. Fast, good and cheap. Pick 2 of 3.

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    5. Maybe they should hire a consultant who would hire consultants for them.

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    6. That's it. We need a consultant to make sure we're being cost effective when we hire consultants.

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    7. I can't wait to hear the city mangler explain why we need to spend $35,000 to have someone count mail-in ballots for her.

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    8. Paper cuts are a leading cause of workman's comp claims.

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  4. Two comments;

    First, yes it is simple to request each voting resident follow the steps of 6:54 AM but that is a serious disconnect in the voting process. It's the city that is requesting the rate increase, so let them do the heavy lifting instead of the tax payers? How would the city like it if the rate increase was only allowed by a majority of YES votes instead of NO votes to stop the increase?

    Second, I feel the savings will be much greater than $1.5 million tax dollars that posted by 6:54 AM but it's a good start non the less.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the 218 process is flawed in that it states you can PROTEST the rate raise by sending in a letter, who would send one in if they were in favor? But, on the other hand, why would the City spend hundreds of dollars to pay for a return postage? The Citizen needs to take some responsibility. Not sure where the $1.5 million tax dollars came from that 7:40 speaks of.

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  5. They will send that Prop 218 ballot out in a brochure that will literally scream "Let us raise your water rates!" Why else would the printing costs the City Mangler is talking about be so damn high??

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  6. Malware. Another dumb dirt idea blows up in their faces.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seriously? This is what you think happened?

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    2. Who knows? It does make for a good story. Maybe we could make a novel out of it. "This Is Rage: A Novel of the San Gabriel Valley and Other Madness." Certainly has a provocative ring to it.

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  7. Here's an excellent idea. No more consultants - or one a year at most for the state mandated consultant upkeep. Instead, when the staff (who has no capacity to work more than it is working now - no, really) cannot do the job, ask the very bright and talented residents to take over. We have skilled people in every occupation, and especially retired people. Decrease expense, increase volunteers - win/win.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ever notice how the city never hires Sierra Madre residents? They always prefer to go outside of town.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I notice that generally volunteerism is discouraged - except for very specific tasks that employees don't want to do.

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    2. They might let you maintain the bow outs or dig up the dead grass, but only if you are finger printed first.

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    3. The decisions are made on a "you don't need to know" basis.

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    4. and you don't need to know.

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    5. Now now, resident. You move along now. Go enjoy your services.

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  9. ARE THE SIERRA MADRE PROPERTY OWNERS AWARE THAT

    ELAINE AGULIAR, city manager

    RED, the city attorney

    the 4 YO YOS, the city council members

    have in excess of $30 MILLION DOLLARS TO SPEND OF OUR MONEY EACH YEAR!

    and they still can not make ends meet!

    Where in the _ELL is our $30 MILLION DOLLARS GOING & FOR WHAT?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Make sure you attend tonight's meeting and say you want a mail in ballot.
    Online blogging won't work tonight, everyone needs to be there and be heard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bring your laptop. City Hall has Wifi.

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    2. Does anyone know if Mayor Walsh will be requesting extra security again?

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    3. The Red Queen will have her Royal Guards in case there is an attack on the castle.

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    4. The Mad Hatter will be enforcing the 3 minute rule.

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    5. Ah yes ... The hard boiled egg rule...humpty dumpty loves it.

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    6. Bring your 3 minute timer.

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    7. Huh. You know, I never thought of that. It takes three minutes to cook a hard boiled egg. The same amount of time people are allowed at public comment. Is there a connection?

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    8. I am the egg man...

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  11. If you want to see the perfect notice/ballot click on the link to the San Diego water rate notice in the Tattler October 1st, 2013.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here is a link to the San Diego Prop 218 ballot
      http://www.sandiego.gov/water/pdf/110124publichearingnotice.pdf

      Delete
  12. OK, now that the malware has been removed from this blog, traffic has returned. Not all the way back mind you, but we're seeing a definite improvement. The days on Blogger end at midnight GMT, which means 5PM here in the Golden West. That is the start of a new day for counting hits on the Tattler. Here are the numbers from the last 4 days:
    Saturday - 1,210 hits
    Sunday - 1,304
    Monday - 1,467 (malware was removed at around 11am)
    Today - 1,944
    A definite change for the better.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Are potheads homophobic? -- Support for Weed Legalization Outpacing Support for Gay Marriage
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/10/marijuana-weed-gay-marriage-poll-compared-graph.html

    ReplyDelete
  14. So Josh's inspiration is a philosophical rumination on baseball from Peter Rose. Wow, I feel inspired now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pete Rose was banned from baseball for gambling.

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  15. Elaine has nothing to report.

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  16. well, the UUT 3 were so polite and receptive to Cacciotti and his presentation. I wonder if they know he's now questioning the water rate increases in So. Pas now that he's running for reelection?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They were hoping he would just leave before the topic came up.

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  17. Anyone know what the lapel pin Koerber is wearing is about?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yes. It's a pin for CERT.

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  19. HMMMMM.... Not a lot of teen volunteers. maybe he heard about the fingerprinting Nancy wants to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe they're afraid of Josh.

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  20. so how cool is that? A person gets appointed to a commission just because no one else could be bothered to apply. whu do they have to have someone? why not just leave it empty?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the process. Enjoy your services.

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  21. Again, Nancy is not particularly interested in something. what is she interested in?

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  22. so not only did the kid not use the. Or react form he's a reject from before.

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  23. Now we are getting to the good stuff. Prop 218.

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  24. So the city is forced by law to send out Prop 218 ballots. There is no choice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you don't send in a ballot, you are agreeing your water rates have to go up.

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  25. Oh look, Nancy is pushing for the ballot counting consultant. Surprise surprise.

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  26. Fill out your damn ballots, people!

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  27. good point Barbara Lee! The city made exception to an application that was not filed correctly, and we are now supposed to expect the city to do the Prop 218 vote correctly. Yep.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I like Caroline Brown's suggestion that a statement that if you toss the "ballot" you are voting " yes" on the water increase.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will tell "yes" people that they have to mail in their ballots or face arrest.

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  29. Johnny Process is against the Prop 218 consultant! Damn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's trying to stay lighter on his feet, and please the peops, now and then.

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  30. Joshie wants the water rate hike. Uncle Bart wants to sell some bonds.

    ReplyDelete
  31. so much discussion about making sure that those who vote are actually legally allowed to vote. too bad this idea does not apply to. Our regular voting process where one does not need any identification to. Cast votes for public offices.

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  32. I am going to have to rent a xerox machine.

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  33. So what happens if someone goes "dumpster diving" to find all those "recycled" ballots and mail them in as "no" votes.

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    Replies
    1. The problem is that most people will have no idea what these ballots are, assume it is just more city BS, and toss them. Most wouldn't want the water rate increase, but they won't make the connection.

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    2. So what if one is ok with a rate increase, but not a high as the council recommends. how does one vote then?

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  34. They are all so happy the 218 process is about to start.
    I am going to call 15 people a day before the ballots are mailed and tell them if they don't want their water bills to go sky high to mail the ballot in as soon as they get it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The city is mailing the Prop 218 ballots for us. We need to make sure people fill them out.

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  35. UUT time. Vote no. The do-over vote in an insult to the voters.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Capoccia is a brave man. He just talked about two of the sacred cows - the police and the library. Just put 'em on the table for information.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I am all in favor of privatizing the Library. It would be a good opportunity for those who support the Library to step up and be heroes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True - and answer the deep seated need for a few of them to express their martyrdom.

      Delete
  38. Parcel tax? Johnny boy wants a parcel tax?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It could be he doesn't know what he is talking about.

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    2. Elaine and Josh set him straight. That's embarrassing.
      He didn't mean it anyway. Just flapping his gums.

      Delete
  39. Poor MPT*. He's having a really hard time understanding how much is in the reserves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Johnny has a perpetually perplexed look.

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    2. I hate to say it, but I don't follow it either.

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  40. Barbara Leigh is absolutely right. The UUT was for very specific purposes, and that wasn't to have a bloated city staff for a small town.

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  41. Take $2 million out of the budget.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Cut two million dollars if the UUT sunsets. Yes!
    Contract out police, paramedic and library.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Josh is saying Pasadena has better property values than Altadena because Pasadena offers services. Idiotic comparison.

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  44. Moran is the cheerleader for the Bankrupt Sierra Madre Team.

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  45. Capoccia just said Joshie's conversation is useless. Good point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But he said it diplomatically.

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  46. Yes! Thank you Councilman Koerber for asking for the citizens to decide!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've decided. Sunset the damn UUT.

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    2. That was the intention when people voted to prolong it in the first place. Zimmerman fought hard to get the residents that sunset clause.

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  47. Unfortunately that very short police response time is after the burglars have left.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard it discussed that the sheriffs would take over the PD building, as a satellite office for the SG Valley. They'd be just as close.

      Delete
  48. "If we went down to 6% we would have to seriously consider contracting out."
    Really? Ya think? Did this guy just wake up?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MPT* wants you to think it is a bad thing.

      Delete
  49. so how much more money is the city receiving in increased property tax revenue?

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  50. Sierra Madre is in the middle of a crime wave. Public safety? What public safety?

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  51. MPT wants to take this off the table as an election issue. He knows it's not a winning issue to raise the UUT. Kick that can down the road!

    ReplyDelete
  52. Heaven forbid we should scare staff. Or the residents. Let's keep everyone wrapped in a cocoon of false comfort.

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  53. Instead of being proactive and getting solutions lined up, Harabedian wants to plan on spending every dime of the reserves.

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  54. ... and says nothing.

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  55. Walsh and Moran are being obedient.

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  56. "It's a lot of work." - Nancy Walsh

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  57. These are the kind of people who hear a storm is coming and decide to have a picnic.

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  58. Thank goodness, it looks like they are ambling their way to adult behavior.

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  59. Time to wake up and smell the coffee

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  60. Hooray! Koerber asks for the increased property tax numbers. should be a nice number

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  61. Josh is so stupid. we can know when the last sale of a property was and what the increase is. all home sales, even on Redfin, say when the last time the property sold and for how much. It is very doable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not for our staff. It would be an enormous burden to go to the site and copy down the figures.

      Delete
  62. Replies
    1. Ah, 9:22 snapped. It can happen to the best of us.

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    2. This is 9:22….I apologize for snapping like that. It's just that every time I hear Mayor Nancy and JM open their mouths…I go crazy….. It makes water boarding seem like a day at the pool.

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  63. Nancy and Josh are hammering home the point that you are at the mercy of the sheriff once you contract to them. As opposed to what, you numbskulls? As opposed to our constant law suits that our department engages in?

    ReplyDelete
  64. Walsh and her three minute man do not take money seriously.

    ReplyDelete

The Tattler is a moderated blog. Annoying delays when posting comments can happen. Thank you for your patience and understanding.