Thursday, September 25, 2014

Brown Act Boys Club: Fighting To Keep Things The Same?

Two gents in comfortable shades of brown.
Mod: As we saw Tuesday evening, the all male Tax Me Triplets faction of the City Council is getting ready to put a new UTT Measure on the ballot. It will be the third time our city's local government agency has attempted to do this since 2012. Which is an awful lot of work on their part, and proof that Einstein was right. Insanity truly is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

As potentially embarrassing as this might be to these fellows (and I use the word potentially because there is the possibility that they are not actually capable of feeling embarrassment), it is apparently preferable to them than actually following the wishes of the taxpayers. Which, as we know, is reducing taxes through diminishing the size and cost of our city's government. Why they're like this, well, we're not certain. Though it could be that the condition is genetic. You know, like a cowlick. Or ears that stick out in a funny way, catching the wind and causing the head to spin. Or even the affliction known as flat feet. Which some may find amusing, but good luck finding shoes that fit.

Unfortunately, the guys we have taken to calling the Brown Act Boys Club (so named because they are fellows who some believe have been taking private dancing lessons together), apparently answer to interests other than the taxpayers. Why else would they be going to such lengths to not bring spending into line with the voter designated amounts of folding money a 6% UUT would raise? That would certainly be something easier to accomplish than many of the strenuous and reactionary things they are attempting now.

Those would be the questions of the day for me. Fortunately there are some answers.

Rachelle Arizmendi and Denise Delmar have a plan that, should it be adopted, would achieve the kinds of things the residents of this city have voted for twice. This plan takes into account the reduced amounts of revenue the city will be taking in, and does so with the least amounts of disruption to the services City Hall has traditionally provided. Such as taking in revenue in order to be able to pay city staff for taking in that revenue. If that makes any sense.

Unfortunately, and I do mention this with sincere regret, there are some who seem to be confused by this plan. Nancy Walsh, speaking from the public comment podium Tuesday evening (and, most ironically, without the three minute timer being turned on), went so far as to declare that she was the victim of a vast conspiracy to confuse her.

I for one am not certain it would take a conspiracy to do that. This could also be a genetic condition. You know, rather than the work of any fashionable cabal dressed in nicely coordinated shades of brown?

So, in order to bring some badly needed clarity to all of this, we have put together a brief review of Denise and Rachelle's ideas. Done so in the hope that the Nancy Walsh's of this world (or even those dotty enough to have been misled into believing that the Library is going to close), might understand.

I sure hope this works. I'd hate to think these people are still just wandering around out there.

1) City Hall doors will open at 7:30 AM, Monday through Thursday. What you do once you get in there is entirely up to you.

2) The employee group that taxpayers pay for 100% of their health and welfare costs will now have a cap on their benefits. The era of the $37,800 health care plan (the most costly of its kind in the entire State of California) now comes screeching to a halt. Hopefully the laughter from our neighboring cities will soon subside as well.

3) Based on this proposed 5 Year Compensation Plan, all Health &Welfare costs are subject to further reductions. This is what happens when a city government is in touch with the marketplace. Often called "shopping for the best possible price," or "bargain hunting," it makes adjustments for things like actual cost. How's that for a wild idea?

4) City Hall, in a rare moment of candor, has now confessed in an actual Staff Report that Health & Welfare benefits have been 22% higher than market value for quite some time now. A condition that existed during their last two attempts to raise the UUT. You know, at the same time they were claiming that the City was broke, and everything had already been "cut to the bone?" Everything wasn't cut to the bone. They just made that stuff up.

5) Within 15% of "Market Rate" has been designated as the limit of a salary range, but it must also meet the criteria of being realistically based upon our population and budget. A manager who oversees four people in Sierra Madre cannot expect to be paid anywheres near as much as a manager who oversees 150 people in far more populous places such as Pasadena. Let's get real here. Nobody is getting any raises without actually earning them.

6) Four Director positions have been eliminated. We mention this in passing because otherwise you probably wouldn't have even noticed.

7) Information Technology will move out of Library. Anyone who sees this is as proof that the Library is closing will be offered a free mental health evaluation at the Kensington.

8) The Police and Fire Departments will now become a shared service known as Public Safety. This does not mean that the SMPD will be patrolling the streets of Sierra Madre in a firetrucks, as fun as that might sound. It does mean that certain redundancies will be eliminated, and at a savings to the taxpayer.

9) Human Resources, Community Services, Fiscal Services and Library Services will
report to the Assistant City Manager. The era of one person dominance at City Hall is now thankfully coming to an end.

10) Development Services will now become known as Planning & Community Preservation. Things such as the General Plan will now be consulted when decisions are being made to build something. Projects of mysterious origin ("POMOs") such as "Camillo Road" style LULUs, will cease.

11) Public Safety, Public Works and Planning & Community Preservation will report to the City Manager. But hopefully not that one. At least not for too much longer.

12) With this separation of powers a Succession Plan will also be put into place. The era of a "one irreplaceable person" comes to an end. City Staff will find it much harder to avoid the wishes of the taxpayers as government becomes more transparent, accessible and diffuse.

13) A Customer Service Manual will be required training for all employees. An adherence to standards acceptable to the community will become mandatory. Updating will be constant.

14) A Community Communication Enhancement Plan will be implemented. City Hall will actually attempt to compete with The Tattler. We welcome that competition.

15) Community Services will move to City Hall. One stop shopping for residents will become the rule. We'll then be able to see if anyone is buying.

16) Human Resources will set employee development expectations. Employees will be expected to continually develop new understanding and skills throughout their careers here. Just like in the real world.

17) The fiscal impact is mimimal and sustainable for two years. The main expense would be the temporary help needed for two years to complete the General Plan and Building Moratorium ordinances. Attempts to slow the completion of these two important initiatives down in order to enable things like the Mater Dolorosa development would naturally be squelched.

One more very important thing. The genius of all this is that once everything is in place, the financial and workplace flexibility needed to enact any changes made necessary by the sunsetting of the UUT will be there. Finally bringing municipal government here into line with the expectations of residents who have twice asked for a more efficiently run city, and at a price a village of less than 11,000 people can actually afford to pay.

We'll be free at last.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

63 comments:

  1. Did council agree to any of this Tuesday night? Do they plan to have this on the agenda again? The ladies have this right. No more taxes, learn to live within your means as we have to do. Again, we all need to support the ladies. Make time to get to the next council meeting. Make yourself heard on behalf of these brave ladies.

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    1. the fact that it may or may not be a topic of conversation in City Hall - it's shameless and in the real business world if you were told by your boss to do something twice, you fought and lied to get you way and questioned your boss a 3rd time?

      you'd get fired and that what has to happen if this continues and it starts with not relecting Harabedian, Goss or the other blah blah blah dude on the Council

      these three guys talk and talk and talk - making their points over and over and it's pretty simple

      work with what you got or quit

      pension plan needs to be gutted
      annex library into Pasadena
      get a real proposal from County Sheriff and keep a small small police force
      hire a consultant to fix our benefit packages with the directive being to give us a report on how we can save

      please guys, you talk way too much and way too arrogantly

      that's what we had with Councils in the past and all of you are endorsed by those that got us in the mess and thats all I need to know

      if that crew respects you, I don't and try to tune you out

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    2. All very true. Government in Sierra Madre needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. At best it is useless, at worst corrupt.

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    3. I don't think it's corrupt at all, what do we expect when we elect those that we elect - utility company employees, building lobbyist, commercial lending banker, mortgage salesman and the revolving door of "lawyers" who want to network and use us a a springboard - especially when they use us and flip us the middle finger while doing it

      Goss wants to play politician, he teaches Pol Science and finally gets practical real knowledge and he is endorsed by Buchanan and friends so they vote alike - contrary to what the public wants and made our city law

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    4. when the city bills local events for phantom bogus "staff" hours, something is amiss

      city billed the Mt Wilson Trail race for 200 staff hours for pre-event planning - total BS and can't be itemized or qualified by the City Manager - apparently made it up and can't defend it and the event paid it so that makes me question it's leadership and why I want to support it - cause it's a tradition?

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  2. does their plan also contain a move to a defined contribution retirement plan? this will save the city and its residents lots of money in the future.

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    1. A defined contribution reitrement plan is crucial. It prevents a City Council from trying to "keep the peace" with the unions by buying them off with unrealistic retirement benefits in which the adverse consequences to the budget don't manifest themselves until long after the City Council that voted for it is out of office. Unions love it because Cities don't have to budget for it in each fiscal year. Its simply a promise to pay and a promise to easily given I might add. That's why so many cities and states have financial problems. We must move to a defined contribution plan as 6:02 says so that the City Council is forced to budget for their promises each year. That is the single most important thing we can do to maintain the fiscal discipline in this city.

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    2. Delmar and Arizmendi are pretty sharp with that kind of stuff. Arizmendi has run a huge business operation and the private sector uses defined contribution retirement plans rather than what the unions want which is the defined benefit plan. Does anyone know what Sierra Madre has now?

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    3. Regarding the taping of public commentSeptember 25, 2014 at 6:58 AM

      if you don't want them on the cutting room floor. record them and upload them to youtube. it's safe. it works.

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  3. What do they call it? Three time loser? Three on a match? They put that damn UUT on the ballot one more time and will personally try and have them declared insane. Off to the bug house with you idiots!

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    1. brain dead grandstanding I'm smarter than you dudes

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  4. Seems like these people all come from the same TAXEM BRAIN POOL.

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  5. I can't believe the community is not up in arms the way Arizmendi and Delmar were treated. In the past I have noted better treatment when the ladies are on the rack stack and tax team. As it was said yesterday, little John looked like he was going to blow a gasket and big John was leaning so far forward he could have fallen of the table. The show that city hall puts on would be a lot funnier if it wasn't costing us so much.

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  6. 8:29, they only treat the smarts ones that way. You notice how nice they treat Ms. Nancy, she's no threat.

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    1. Look at how they treated MaryAnn and Nancy Shollenburger.

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    2. Walsh is almost comical but she's serious

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    3. The term "spittle flying fits of rage" does come to mind.

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    4. Have you noticed how the seating is arranged at the city council dais? Men in the middle seats and women pushed out to the sides. Do we have a mayor, or a pasha?

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    5. Mod, I recommend you send an email link to the three mousekateers so they can finally understand the plan and what they were arguing against last Tuesday. For the life of me, I don't see how they could have read that report and argued the way they did. The bottom line is: They want to stall the approval of the General Plan Update until Mater Delarosa gets their plans into the city, and asks for a zoning change.

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    6. they understand it perfectly

      we voted it down twice and they don't like it - throwing the male hissy fit and blustering nonsense

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  7. Seems like the tax-em group have swayed some of the Arizmendi and Delmar supporters to their side. Stay tuned,you shall see. Seems that some don't want to be on a loosing team.

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    1. when SoCal Edison has employees (lawyers) that do nothing but lobby for them at the local level, they just view it as a marketing cost - they do this all over not just SM

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  8. Nancy W defines all human logic. The woman is crazy and has a vendetta against Denise.

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

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    2. Anytime you're tempted to quote Joe Mosca, you might want to rethink it.

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  9. why do we keep electing hacks who do what they want and ignore what we want?

    tell everybody you know, if any future candidate is endorsed by John Buchanan, Nancy Walsh, Rob Stockley that that candidate has a agenda of increasing density in the city

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  10. we all know that had there been an alternative, Goss and Harabedian would have voted No on the water ordinance - even that vote was about public appearances

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  11. Unions love the public sector because they can't be pushed back like corporations can do to them

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    1. Ambitious politicians roll over to government unions because in California they control the only viable political party there is. Harabedian wants to take Holden's Assembly seat after he moves on, so naturally he is going to do everything he can to advance union interests in Sierra Madre. He is building his resume' on our dime.

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    2. Harabedian didn't play the game very smart - he's done after SM

      google him and search long enough and the buffoon move of photoshopping out police patches will show up and he can't defend that

      what? a top tier lawyer politician that doesn't know the basic campaign law?

      or does and doesn't care?

      when you alienate 55% of your customer base in a couple of years, he's unelectable cause another candidate will blast him, I know I would

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  13. The first person to start the ball rolling is the City Manager. I recall several years ago the need for the City to address an eye sore and safety hazard on Foothill Ave. I made a trip to City Hall primarily to speak to our Manager about the problem. At the front counter I was made to cool my heels, then without seeing the City Mgr was shuffeled off to the Police Bldg for a visit with one Lisa Volpe of Code Enforcement. Lisa Volpe was not available and my name was taken by the Police with the understading that I would be called. Two weeks went by and no call. Nothing came of the safety hzard until the home came up for sale when the real estate company with the listing had to clean up the mess. (over 500 gallons of paint were storred in the garage)

    This is a long way around to add one thing to the Rachael / Denise List. Under no circumstances should the City Manager br allowed to refuse to see a resident of Sierra Madre. As a matter of protocol the City Manager Desk should be situated right there in fromt of the lobby with the hours posted when he / she will be available to speak to the residents.

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    1. After our house was robbed we had to go down in person to the police station three times to get the insurance report filled out. We finally ended up doing it ourselves. Then it took two additional visits to get someone to actually sign it. We repeatedly called someone named Detective Grey and never got called back. Never a single word about any investigation, either. It was all a complete waste of time.

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    2. should have rode your skateboard there, they'd busted you for sure

      SM doesn't have Detectives - I laughed when I found out the guy that wrote me a parking ticket had Detective on his business card

      quicker we reduce the size of the SMPD and subcontract out additional patrols to the County - the better

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  14. What they are paying the city manager she should not be wasting time at the front desk unless it's something only she can handle. Don't waste her time on complaints of my neighbor is watering too much.

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    1. If we keep her distracted she can't do quite as much damage.

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  15. How is this even possible???
    "City Hall, in a rare moment of candor, has now confessed in an actual Staff Report that Health & Welfare benefits have been 22% higher than market value for quite some time now."
    Why have all the councils rolled over for this?

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    1. They believed everything the city manager told them.

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    2. trade offs - look the other way and focus on development

      poor management at the Council level, for such geniuses had some pretty low observation and business skills

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  16. What a brilliant plan Arizmendi and Delmar have come up with. Congratulations to them both for so successfully using their acumen and hard won experience in crafting real solutions to problems.
    Shame on anyone else on the council who does not support this obvious achievement of necessary and positive goals.

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  17. in the picture, the man on the right works for SoCal Edision and served two terms on the Council and always voted for development or sought out compromises that ultimately benefited development, hence benefitting his employer and he also still works tirelessly to undermine Measure V - he also supported SCAG, who wants to double our population density and he supported building massive condo developments which by the way...benefits SoCal Edision

    he also endorsed the guy on the right in both elections Goss ran in - came in last one election and the next came in first

    cause we only had two real choices and the two ladies on the Council are getting lampooned by the SM good old boy network which apparently has Nancy Walsh as the spokesperson

    sure guys, let us vote again and this time it wont even be close because this time it will be personal cause you are wasting city money (our money) to keep telling us we dont' know what we are doing and that you know more?

    that sum's up the guy on the left and our current lawyer Mayor

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    1. The guy on the left employed the Calderon political crime family's accountant to keep track of his campaign finances. Then again, so did our mayor.

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    2. Her name is Yolanda Miranda. Google her up.

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    3. we are a case study for Goss for his poly science lectures at Long Beach City College

      lucky us

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    4. I'm sure Goss delivers a fair and balanced lecture on this issue. With himself as the hero, of course.

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  18. This is crazy-making. The council has been offered a way out of the mess our city government has become, and 3 of them don't recognize it?

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    1. Maybe they just don't have the intellectual capacity required for following the ideas.

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    2. they are dudes, what you expect

      no female is going to have an idea for the city that will openly support or nitpick

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    3. It would be seen as a defeat for Sierra Madre's municipal employee unions. Which in turn would mean the end of Johnny's fantasy political career. Funny that people elected to Sierra Madre's own City Council care more about the welfare of some out of town clerical hires than they do their own people.

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  19. We should just merge with Arcadia. We would have all the water we need at a lower tax rate.

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  20. The two young ladies have done a remarkable job. We are very happy to have voted for them, they are serving the people well. The three gentlemen are obviously thinking about something else... they are just a mirror of the pathetic representation we've had in town for many years. In our home,we are liberal democrats. Strong unions have their place and offer workers good income to support their families. We are fiscally conservative. We pay our bills and stay within our budget, when we have to cut back and do without, we do. We don't borrow money or come up with crazy schemes. Sometimes you need to just tighten your belt.
    In the case of Sierra Madre, it's been a free for all. I don't care what party you support, I'll vote for you if you are reasonable and have common sense...hell, we voted for Koerber! Her did a great job in the short time her served. Too bad we had a couple of nincompoops on the same council.
    Now these three guys want to go back to another UUT ballot initiative. They need to rethink that. They need to wake up and smell the coffee or tea! Stupid is as stupid does...we've had enough dumbasses running things and now we have a couple of very bright Councilmembers, and the three guys should watch what they do! Rachael and Denise, you have this household's full support. To the other three, we've had enough clowns on the CC, time to do your job for the citizens of this town.

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    1. I agree with 2:25. Well said. It's all about who is working in the residents' best interests, regardless of their political background.

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    2. Speaking of big bucks, when are we going to get an update on how the water department is doing with the two big *ss rate increases they go so far in 2014? They should be (wait for it) awash in dough!

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    3. Too hard and complicated. Let's just raise taxes.

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    4. Let's have the city manager prepare a matrix for us. Oh, and a summary.

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  21. When you attend a meeting and have decided on the answer you plan to follow or vote on before taking your seat, you allow the filter of your own fear shield you from any logical imput from a fellow team member (council member/commissioner) or the public as in the case of public meeting participation allowed by law.

    This can be seen in the body language (impossible to hide) as the "already decided" pretend to listen, when all the wile trying to remember what they plan to say and waiting until it is their turn to speak. No new informaiton can be obsorbed intellectually or emotionally during this state.

    Capoccia was the classic example of this at the last meeting.

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  22. Wating for Elaine--Waiting for Godot--at the metal sign stand at each side of the Horseshoe (her innovation). She is a classic micromanager. This only exaggerates her incompetence. We got rid of Jim MacRae years ago for basically the same poor performance.

    This "wait here" sign is hostle and meant to confuse the public. The contained personal this building is suppose to house serve the comunity is cloistered and this is a "stay at arms length mentality" forsted by Elaine.

    I once was at a community inservice meeting and I asked the then "Community Services Director" now possibly the Assistant City Manager (also our community laison whenever theres is a media inquiry--SM Fire/Flood, etc) a simple is the sky blue type of question. We were overhead by Elaine who turned around and did the answering for her underling. Very sad to see the immediate vote of no confidence in this department head to answer a simple blue not green question put to her.

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  23. I always loved it when Koerber would say," I asked the city attorney the question" whenever Elaine would jump in and answer for her.

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  24. This can't be, a lowly priest is taken down and the politically connected heavy weight of Sierra Madre is given a slap on the wrist for his crimes? http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/us-priest-held-on-sex-tourism-charges

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    1. Maybe the priest wasn't civil.

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  25. Records Show Unions Massively Fund CA Dem Party
    http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2014/09/records-show-unions-massively-fund-ca-dem-party/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=records-show-unions-massively-fund-ca-dem-party

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