Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sierra Madre: The Coming Great Betrayal

Wonderful teeth.
Sierra Madre is under assault like it has never been before. We've been doing some research, talking to people who know a lot, and it just might be worse than even we had originally believed. And you know we're difficult to beat in that category.

Massive development, under the aegis of three supposedly disparate McMansion development projects, are magically coming together at just about the exact same time. Extending across the base of the foothills that are a signature vista of our community, these McMansion developments will extend all the way from Michellinda Boulevard to Santa Anita Boulevard. And we're talking about upwards of 6,000 square foot behemoths that will loom above the rest of us. Towering monuments to nouveau riche arriviste excess, all built with absolutely no regard whatsoever for the community that will be figuratively and literally beneath them. For them Sierra Madre will be a drive through on the way to something far more important.

The word is that some of these enclaves could possibly be gated communities. Like Anokia is to Arcadia, once built you will be permanently denied the right to enter a portion of your town. You will have been deemed unworthy of being in the presence of the great McMansion dwellers living within the borders of what had once been your community. You lack value. And should you attempt to enter those grounds without permission, the SMPD will be notified by the attending guards, you will be removed, and chances are remanded to the pokey in Pasadena. Consider it a Zero Tolerance for Townies policy.

In other words, you could very well become a second class citizen in your own town.

And just to bring the elephant out into the open, a lot of the money that is generating the move to a Stonehouse - Stonegate - Mater Dolorosa McMansion Axis is of far eastern origin. We're talking about overseas capital in the millions upon millions of dollars, complete with lawyers, public relations experts, specialty Realtors, marketers, developers and whatever other hired personnel is needed to take over a significant portion of a community and turn it into something that has never been seen here before. That being private and exclusive enclaves for the very rich, people who will definitely want to have very little to do with you.

Where does City Hall stand on all of this? By and large they love it. Having lost their Measure UUT initiative in the last election, they need to find new ways to generate cash so they can make up for the loss. As you know, our city government is the home of the $36,000 dollar health plan, the highest in California. For them the old gravy train has come to a halt, and they're looking for a new one to hop on. The development impact fees and increased property taxes produced by these multi-million dollar home enclaves would be just the ticket for them.

And what about your elected officials? I think it is safe to say that both Mayor John Harabedian and Mayor Pro Tem John Capoccia will not lift a finger to stop any of this. Both apparently love the idea, and outside of the usual vague lip service have yet to speak out in any way against any of these projects. Like City Hall, they are not that interested in what it is you might want. They don't even want to have the conversation. Big money is coming to town, and they can't sell us out fast enough.

The only people who can save this city and stop the madness are the residents. It is going to be a very big job. The last time something like this happened was when a small group of greedy individuals attempted to turn our downtown into something that would have destroyed the character of our community and left us with something few ever wanted to see there. The solution was called Measure V, and the vehicle was the ballot.

Are you ready to do that again? It might be the last opportunity you'll ever get.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

67 comments:

  1. Everyone in Sierra Madre needs to understand a few things which they probably already understand but I'll say it anyway. There is an enormous demographic change that has occured and is occuring in the San Gabriel Valley. Obviously, that demographic change is coming from China. Judging from the looks of Arcadia, there seems to also be an aesthetic difference in what types of homes should be built. You can google an article that appeared recently in the Outlook that mentioned concerns in San Marino about the trend for beautiful older homes being torn down in favor of very large homes that are not consistent with the surrounding neighborhood. That issue is even more pronounced in Arcadia where you often see smaller homes belonging to often older long-term residents being sandwiched between two McMansions. The issue for Siera Madre is that there are simply not enough homes in Arcadia, South Pasadana and San Marino and La Canada to support the increasing demand. The only reason these other communities have undergone these changes faster than Sierra Madre's school system is not considered to be as good particularly at the high school level.. Whenever you have this kind of massive demographic shift, there will be the same consequences that happened to the Native Americans when the Europeans came across the prairies on covered wagons. In the case of what's in store for Sierra Madre, you will see a cultural difference in what the homes should look like and you will start to see the same situation like in Monterey Park where the police find it difficult to respond to emergencies because the business names are not written in English. This will start with one or two businesses in Sierra Madre and then as the demographics change, it will accelerate. If you do a google search, you will find an article in the Star News about another affect. In this case, the Casa del Rey Restaurant in Sierra Madre had to close down their original location in Temple City (after they closed down their Aracadia location) because as the owner explained in the article "Not as many people eat Mexican food anymore". Let's leave judgments aside, and just explain the reality of a massive demographic shift.
    To know how fast this will all occur, you just have to look at the mathematics. If 9 out of 10 buyers for new homes in San Marino or South Pas are Asian buyers and 100 homes sell each year, we can determine how fast the shift will occur. I was told by a realtor that in Sierra Madre the percentage of buyers from that one demographic group is about 60 - 70%. Those are simply the facts. There are consequences to major demographic shifts. I will end by saying that I embrace with open arms people who come to this community from any country in the world but if you want to tear down homes that I like or put names on business in a language that I cannot read which tells me you don't want my business, that's where I have the problem. We want people from every country to come here but we need to have controls on developmet and strict building standards if we still want to be able to recognize Sierra Madre 20 years from now.

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    1. Great post, 7:00am.
      You nailed it.
      I blame the voters in Sierra Madre.
      John Crawford and many Sierra Madre Tattler posters have been giving us fair warning. The voters keep electing these people who are
      hell bent on destroying this community.

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    2. If one particular ethnic group is generally responsible for the changes that you see in say Arcadia or Monterey Park, it is understandable that people are opposed to that - not because of the color of someone's skin but because you don't want to see the the architecture of Arcadia or the business names being in a language that you can't read like in Monterey Park. I voted for Liz Arizmendi, not because she is the first Asian American on the Sierra Madre City Council as the Star News pointed out after she was elected. I voted for her because she shares my values and my beliefs and wants to preserve this town. That's what this is all about. Its has nothing to do with race.

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    3. Well, that seems to be YOUR problem, I have no problem with what you write about.

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    4. Who did you vote for? Liz wasn't in the race.
      Rachelle was.

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    5. 7:00am....Thank you Captain Obvious for your in depth analysis of, well, the obvious. As far as people not eating as much Mexican food, it's fattening, people are much more aware of what they eat. Way too many generalized statements, but hey, it's the Tattler, don't really expect much more than Enquirer level content.

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    6. I have always tried to emulate the New York Daily News and New York Post, the papers I read when I was growing up. I've written about this before. The truth is never all that subtle and can be communicated in plain and non-lawyerly language. Does something have to be completely opaque and hard to understand for you to think it has value? Maybe that is why you believe the city as much as you do. Besides, and as someone once said, there is truth and there is politics. I suspect you are practicing the latter.

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    7. Hey 10:13, google the article in the Star News about what happened to Casa del Rey. If you think they had two close down two locations because the food is fattening, then you are avoiding reality.

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  2. I heard that there is big problem in Alhambra right now as people see the cultural heritage of that community destroyed. In some cases, its already too late because vestiges of Alhambra's history have already been torn down and are gone forever. How long before the San Gabriel Mission is torn down?

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    1. There is a group that wants to change the San Gabriel City emblem so it reflects the current demographics.

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  3. I think 7:00 has made some interesting points. Before people cry racism, I think we have to realize that he/she is simply stating a reality. While change is inevitable, we can try to perserve our heritage, our older homes and funky places like Mary's Market that some may want to tear down too.

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  4. Some people like big, gaudy Mansions. Other people like smaller and more quaint and charming homes. That is not to say one person is right or wrong. The challenge is for a community to control its architectural standards if that is important to them. Obviously, it was not important to Arcadia. The City is also an impetus for these kind of changes because the more homes and the bigger the homes, the more revenues go into the coffers to fund their ever-increasing salaries and pensions. The public employee unions appetites are insatiable in that regard. If they keep at, and the taxpayers are stupid enough, maybe they can retire at 45 with a lifetime pension, cost of living increases and healthcare benefits. As long as they can get it, they probably figure, why not.

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    1. The worst elements are the politicians who are selling us out to big money developers and municipal employee unions. We are being screwed by the very people we elected. It is disgraceful.

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    2. Why can't we have design oversite ?

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    3. We must have design oversight and stringent building codes to protect against the Arcadiaization of Siera Madre.

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  5. Verna Chilton and Caroline Brown leafleted the foothill residents (1991?) and got 90+ people to the Planning Commission meeting when the hillside development ordinance was first contemplated. Those two women rallied the community and more was done than if they had stayed at home. Along with Ruth King, they collected 1500 signatures on a statement of support that they delivered to the Planning Commission to push forward protection of the hillsides. It was a later City Council (2005) that did not have the convictions to impliment it as strongly as they could have. It has been revised and now it needs to be supported by the community.

    Time for a new group to chop wood and carry water.

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts. I am sure that 7:00 a.m. is just stating the facts. As we stick to the facts and protect our town we will not be called racists, or the like. We will be called small town preservationists.

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    1. Racism is a two way street. I doubt that the foreign big money interests hold the current prevailing residential persuasion in Sierra Madre in the highest regard.

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    2. That's right 7:41. This is not about race. Its about changing the physical character of a town. I believe that people who move here from other countries should try to embrace the new place they have moved to and not change it to look like maybe the place they came from.

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    3. Billionaire foreign investors portraying themselves as victims will be quite a hilarious sight.

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    4. It wasn't that long ago when Arcadia did not have the McMansions. That's a fairly recent change. They are ugly too. Too much marble, too many pillars, too many statues.

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  7. This coming Thursday at the Planning Commission meeting on the agenda item to build X number of homes at Stone House, the chamber better be filled even if the group to Preserve Small Town Sierra Madre is not fully developed. That can come later. It is time.

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  8. Mayor Harabedian will save us. He has a process in mind.

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    1. plus, he's a lawyer

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    2. His suit isn't quite as shiny as Gene's.

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    3. Gene's suit is a hand-me-down from the Calderons.

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    4. That figures. He used their hand-me-down treasurer for his campaign.

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    5. don't count on mayor Johnny to do anything worthwhile. he's busy not appearing in photos with Judy Chu, but still managing to appear in the headline. check page 4 of this week's Sierra Madre Weekly.

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    6. Speaking of Mayor Johnny Process, does he still live with his parents? I never saw that he & the Mrs. bought a place in town. Renting doesn't impress upon me that he's really committed to Sierra Madre.

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  9. To understand why you need to be vigilant about building codes and community standards, look no further than South Pasadena. South Pasadena now has about 15 massage parlors int that city with a number of them being fronts for prostitution. Can you imagine 15 massage parlors in Sierra Madre? Think it can't happen - well think again. Other San Gabriel Valley cities are experiencing the same problems. That's how it can get away from you. Remember it just starts with one, then two and before you know it Beford Falls becomes Pottersville. (Movie buffs will recognize the "Its a Wonderful Life" comparison).

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  10. From Gene Goss's campaign website:

    "My family lived on Sierra Keys Drive for 14 years before we moved to Ramona Avenue. We were literally five houses below the big field owned by the Monastery. I wish I had a nickel for every time we went for hikes on that property. When my son was about 3, eight years ago, I would take him on walks in that field several mornings a week before I went to work. That field, that whole retreat, is deeply embedded in my heart. Our community needs to find a way to protect this precious resource while respecting the prerogatives of the property owners."

    What are these prerogatives of the property owners, and if they run counter to the needs of the community, do they still need to be protected? Professor Goss?

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    1. If the community needs your house to be a park, are we welcome to tear it down? If we enjoy using your backyard, are you required to provide it for us and keep it maintained in the way we like?

      The issue with the monastary is when they purchased the property, it did not come with rights to build in the area they are selling (as far as I know.) That's the only reason we should have the ability to tell them what to do.

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    2. The only way you prevent massage parlors and McMansions is with very tight rules. These other communities were too lax and now its too late. The best South Pas could do is declare a moratorium on massage parlors. They can't get rid of any businesses. The police though can raid those businesses that are a front for prostitution.

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  11. This is all about preserving the town we love. Whoever want to tear down homes and build McMansions is who we should be opposing. Race only becomes relevant if a particular ethnic group wants to change the physical characeristics of the town and only in identifying who, generally, seems to embrace the kind of change we see in Arcadia. There are obviously caucason developers who we will oppose as vigorously if they try to build McMansions too. It just seems like the Asian community right now has alot of cash and want to bulldoze the older homes in favor of McMansions.

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    1. This is about money and greed. Nothing more.

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    2. How are the residents of Monterey Park who can't read the name of a business to know its purpose able to patronize that business. I guess that business owner doesn't care. I notice a few more non-English signs on Huntington Drive now. It used to be just on Valley Blvd, then it was Main and now its Huntington. Its just a matter of time I guess.

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  12. I would like to report that I am much relieved to see these perfect teeth than the sad, hateful "smile" of the finally, past, former, finished Nancy Walsh!

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    1. I am not sure competence is what you want in a betrayer.

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    2. I thought Walsh's smile was remarkable - so practiced, so perfect, so photo ready.

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    3. It was a Potemkin smile. Behind it there was nothing much.

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    4. never trust a lawyer with too much free time on his or her hands

      and stop electing them

      unless Kurt Zimmerman moves back - he almost held the Mtn View News accountable for the legal notices but got stonewalled by the city manager and attorney

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  13. Nothing will change unless the City Manager and City Lawyer are replaced!
    Hired by a troll and beholden to the troll, minions and the select few.

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  14. The time has come for everyone to band together. What is built will affect everyone, even if it's not in your backyard.

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  15. "Like Anokia is to Arcadia, once built you will be permanently denied the right to enter a portion of your town.".....it's called private property where I live, as in No Trespassing. "You lack value. And should you attempt to enter those grounds without permission, the SMPD will be notified by the attending guards, you will be removed, and chances are remanded to the pokey in Pasadena. .......Wow! Again, it's called private property, is something lacking in your understanding of such an easy concept? "Having lost their Measure UUT initiative in the last election, they need to find new ways to generate cash so they can make up for the loss.".......and thank you and your minions for that, so this is partly your fault that this full frontal assault is happening, unintended consequences, hate when that happens. "Stonehouse - Stonegate - Mater Dolorosa McMansion Axis"......good tactic to wind up your base, Axis of Evil stuff, nice touch. "Big money is coming to town, and they can't sell us out fast enough."

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    1. So let me get this straight. You welcome the fencing off of entire Sierra Madre neighborhoods and guarding them with paid security personnel? Not very community oriented, are you.

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    2. You'll have to forgive 10:23. He's worried about losing the $225 dollars he'd make putting up the fence.

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    3. Such a great example of the doublethink that the Civility Party specializes in. There is only one way to preserve, and that is to feed city hall, development, and my private property rights trump everyone's else's.

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    4. Thanks for bringing it up, 10:23! How is that Measure UUT working out for you? Sprinting for the finish line? Checking the city website everyday to see if those unofficial totals have changed yet?

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    5. Why is it called the Civility Party when its members are always so mean?

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    6. Yest 10:23, its private property. I'm all for private property but what about the long-time resident who had his views destroyed and no sunlight coming in because his neighbors decided to build a McMansion next door? That's not being very neighborly is it?

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    7. 10:23 does not respect the rights of others. His is a jackboot philosophy.

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    8. 10:23 is exactly the kind of selfish mindset that we need to guard against. They like gated communities. They don't mind destroying the neighbor's view by building a McMansion next door.

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    9. 2:04. A good friend once told me that it's called the "Lucefierian Inversion".

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  16. "Unintended consequences" meaning that if we don't keep our city staff in the style they've become accustomed to, we have to overdevelop. That is not sound logic.

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  17. Oh 10:23, even if the UUT tax increase had passed, this development would have happened. the fact that the tax increase failed just gives the city another scare tactic to use.

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  18. As a long time Tattler reader, I get a kick out of being called a 'minion'.
    You cannot find a more diverse group of independent thinkers than those who support this blog.

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  19. I just learned that Neal the Pig lost out in the race to become Grand Marshal or Home Town Hero of the 4th of July Parade. Looks like he came in as a close 3rd place.

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    1. Neal the Pig received .9% of the vote last month in the City Council race. He finished fifth behind Noah the Green.

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    2. Who is the grand marshal?

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  20. the residents of sierra madre will once again have their opportunity to vote yes, which is required to appeal all uut taxes. November will be our day!

    no more uut taxes!

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    1. Bess of HardwickMay 10, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      12:04 you are not thinking strategically. I am a conservative with an aversion for over taxation, but Sierra Madre will always need some UUT tax. We do not have car dealerships, big box stores, or a market, beyond little Taylor's. The UUT in its current form is going to sunset to a reasonable level. Focus on holding the line rather than being dramatic. You waste volunteer resources (physical and monetary) and you will lose. Play to win.

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    2. Once upon a time, not all that long ago, there was NO uut tax. None.
      When the idea was first suggested, as a temporary measure of course, some old timers were warning everyone - if you vote it in, it will never go away.
      How did the city manage for so many decades without it.

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    3. Times do change. The change came when the City Manager (or was she still a City Administrator) brought in the employees union. Way before Elaine and before we had a paramedic program. The paramedic program was the straw when it was voted in and they sold the canyon fire station to pay for the program without thinking about what was going to happen when that money ran out.Bess of Hardwick is right, Lets stick with the 6% and hold the line at that.

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    4. It was Tammy Gates and the council that served at that time that brought in the union.

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  21. lawyers pffffffff...

    It was a shame Kurt Zimmerman, an actual practicing real life courtroom attorney moved - we could have used him another 4 years. Our city manager and attorney knew he knew more than them, questioned their fluff answers and tried to make them accountable for our tax dollars. Kurt, like most of us, was sick of what was and still is going on in the city by a self appointed enlightened few, mainly the real estate crowd of yahoos.

    Not so with other lawyers on the Council past and present. Me,I wonder about a lawyer who has so little of a practice that he or she can devote countless hours to the council meetings and local shindigs for photo ops, regardless of size and if the Councilmember has a real life and law practice. Two of our most recent lawyer Councilmen were actually utility company employees who sought out Council positions on behalf of their employers who gave the time off cause they were actually working

    Harabedian claims that he is a busy busy busy lawyer but he's all over the place playing pretend Council bigshot. I don't trust a lawyer who is playing the law degree card to become a political wannabee. I don't think I want to hire a lawyer who is a politican first and lawyer 2nd.

    We almost got stuck with another lawyer politician but he had so much free time from his law practice that he posted stupid pictures of himself and looked like a 38 yr old juvenile and not professional AND he almost got elected? Noah actually said that one of his life long ambitions was to get elected to a political office and he was playing his selfish Green game with SierraMadre.

    Lawyers are supposed to be busy, not the ones we keep electing, they are busy playing politics

    and Mr. Goss, from what I gather, is just playing out his lectures at Long Beach City College where he teaches political science, we are just a toy for his amusement

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