Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Tattler Sunday News - The Money Bag Burglar Edition

A robber and his properly labeled bag of loot.
Mod: It's Sunday and time to review some of the big stories that came our way over the last week. Every week has big stories, of course. And where would we ever be without them?

National Guard Troops Patrol California City, Conduct New Jersey "Homeland Response Drill" (Zero Hedge link): Late last week, when we covered the various signs that "something big" may be coming, we discussed the one "exercise that people have really been buzzing about" - operation "Jade Helm", an “unconventional warfare exercise” during which the states Texas and Utah will be designated as hostile territory.

As previously profiled, "Jade Helm is a challenging eight-week joint military and Interagency (IA) Unconventional Warfare (UW) exercise conducted throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado,” according to an unclassified military document announcing the training drill, which runs from July 15 through September 15.

Multiple branches of the US military, including Green Berets, Navy Seals, and the 82nd Airborne Division, will participate in the 8-week long exercise, which may result in “increased aircraft in the area at night.”

Troops will be tasked with honing advanced skills in “large areas of undeveloped land with low population densities,” and will work alongside “civilians to gain their trust and an understanding of the issues.”

The exercise, in which some participants will be “wearing civilian clothes and driving civilian vehicles,” lists Texas and Utah as “hostile" territory.

(Mod: You do have to wonder what they're getting ready for, though the Texas thing is believable.)

Huge California Water Supplier Slashes Summer Deliveries (ABC News link): Cities and water districts serving 19 million people in Southern California face smaller water deliveries this summer under a plan approved by the region's water wholesaler in response to ongoing dry conditions.

The Metropolitan Water District, which sells imported water to more than two dozen local agencies, voted Tuesday to slash regional deliveries by 15 percent as California grapples with a fourth year of drought.

The cutbacks, which take effect in July, were expected to spur communities to step up their conservation efforts to avoid paying for high-priced water beyond the allotted amount.

The effect of the cuts would vary between local water districts depending on their supplies and how much water they have saved so far.

Metropolitan officials have said limiting water deliveries was necessary to stretch dwindling storage supplies as summer approaches and could help cities meet Gov. Jerry Brown's order to reduce urban water use by 25 percent compared with 2013 levels — a first in state history.

California is in the grips of a multiyear drought that has dried up wells and forced farmers to leave land idle. Earlier this month, state surveyors found the lowest snow level in the Sierra Nevada snowpack in more than a half century of record keeping.

(Mod: When do we get to the point where water is shut off completely for several hours a day? If you're looking to do this in the true Third World style you'll need to have times when there is no water to be pumped.)

Man Gets Prison Sentence For Collecting Rainwater On His Own Property (Washington Times link): His story quickly went viral after a rural Oregon man was slapped with fines for collecting rain water on his own property. But now, as of last Wednesday, Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and more than $1,500 in fines, all because he had three reservoirs on his own property, that he used to collect and use rainwater.

Harrington says he plans to appeal the conviction in the Jackson County Circuit Court. That conviction revolved around nine misdemeanor charges that come from a 1925 law. That archaic ordinance bans what state water managers called “illegal reservoirs.”

“The government is bullying,” Harrington said in an CNS News, last Thursday.

“They’ve just gotten to be big bullies and if you just lay over and die and give up, that just makes them bigger bullies. So, we as Americans, we need to stand on our constitutional rights, on our rights as citizens and hang tough. This is a good country, we’ll prevail,” he added.

It all started back in 2002, when Harrington was attacked for having three “reservoirs” – ponds – on his large 170 acres of land.

But the state claims that collecting water requires a permit from the state. One of these “reservoirs” – ponds – had been on his land for 37 years. He applied for the permit, which he saw as ridiculous. But the state first approved him in 2003, then denied him – reversing the previous decision.

(Mod: You can only wonder what went into that decision. But here is a question. Has anyone ever attempted to drill their own water well in Sierra Madre?)

Drought-Stricken California’s Wealthy Pay Up to Keep Lawns Lush (Bloomberg.com link): Mandatory water rationing struck California’s celebrity-filled enclave of Montecito last year and, within weeks, residents created a market based on avoidance.

Gardens stayed lush and lawns verdant as citizens paid tanker trucks to deliver thousands of gallons to homes in the seaside suburb of Santa Barbara. They drilled in back yards, driving the county’s tally of new wells to a record. Some simply paid fines for exceeding allocations, padding the water district’s budget by more than $2 million.

“People feel strongly about their landscaping and want to keep their homes beautiful,” said Patrick Nesbitt, who drilled a well to hydrate parts of his 70-acre estate but let his polo field go dry. “Why should anybody object?”

As drought drags into a fourth year, Californians statewide will confront similar choices thanks to unprecedented consumption cuts mandated by Governor Jerry Brown. Rationing in the Montecito water district, where the typical house sells for more than $2 million and where Oprah Winfrey, Google Inc. Chairman Eric Schmidt and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. vice chairman Charlie Munger live, shows how the ability to stop one’s property from baking brown depends on a steady flow of green.

The state’s Water Resources Control Board last week outlined its plan for mandatory cuts, which range from 10 percent to 35 percent. Communities with above-average consumption, which are often wealthier, must conserve most.

(Mod: At last. A way to pay off the Sierra Madre Water Department's vast water bond debt.)

Pasadena cancels its Earth Day festival (San Gabriel Valley Tribune link): A yearly, city-sponsored Earth Day festival enjoyed by thousands for the past 12 years has been canceled because of a lack of leadership in the Department of Public Works, city officials and former participants said Friday.

Instead of the annual Pasadena Earth and Arts Festival at Memorial Park, the city will host a much smaller, scaled-down “Earth Day Celebration” workshop on Saturday at Villa-Parke Community Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. That event will teach people about “recycling, composting, container gardening” and other hands-on skills, but it is not the full-on festival held in years past.

Day One, a community organization that participated in the festival last year, said they learned from a third party the city did not have enough staff nor time to plan this year’s event.

“They couldn’t do it, even though they had set aside a budget for it,” said Vesley Reutimann, environmental prevention director for Day One, a nonprofit in the city working on youth empowerment, public health and environmental issues.

One reason for the cancellation mentioned by nonprofit groups is the firing of Public Works Director Siobhan Foster in January, the result of an alleged embezzlement of $6.4 million from the city’s fund generated by a surcharge on residents’ electricity bills. Assistant City Manager Julie Gutierrez became interim head of Public Works as well as the Finance Department.

(Mod: You'd think that a city with a nearly quarter of a billion dollar payroll would be able to find someone to run an Earth Day commemoration.)

Calpers raises pension contribution rates in California by 6 percent (Reuters link): The largest U.S. public pension fund announced on Tuesday that the state of California and its schools will increase their contributions to employee pension funds by 6 percent starting July 1.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System, or Calpers, said the increases were driven by payroll growth, salary increases and retirees living longer.

The state of California must increase its contribution by $487 million to $4.7 billion. Schools must increase their contributions by $111 million to $1.3 billion.

The governor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"As the fund matures, and the retired population grows, it's important that the rates reflect the changing demographics of our members," Richard Costigan, chair of the finance and administration committee, said in a statement.

The growing cost of public pensions is a key issue for state and local governments across the nation as guaranteed payments to retired employees have often forced cuts in spending on public services.

In California, where the city of San Bernardino is in municipal bankruptcy and the city of Stockton recently emerged from Chapter 9 protection, the issue of pension contributions has been particularly contentious. Both cities proposed to keep contributions to Calpers untouched while cutting debts to bondholders.

(Mod: So is it enjoy your services, or enjoy servicing government employee retirement fund debt?)

Cops: Robber Carried Bag With Dollar Sign (The Smoking Gun link): When David Eli Lingafelter was arrested Wednesday for the robbery of a Subway restaurant in Olympia, Washington, he was carrying a white canvas bag with a large, handwritten dollar sign on it, police report.

The bag--not unlike those seen in the hands of crooks in comics and cartoons--was tied to the front of Lingafelter’s pants when police nabbed the 20-year-old shortly after the sandwich shop heist.

Police allege that Lingafelter entered the Subway wearing a white hat and a red bandana over his face, adding that he “reached into his pocket as if he had a weapon.” After directing a female employee to open the cash register and place her hands on her head, Lingafelter swiped $100 and the worker’s cell phone.

While committing the robbery, Lingafelter warned the Subway employee not to “do anything funny,” police reported.

Lingafelter was later apprehended hiding behind a dumpster at a nearby shopping center. A police search of the suspect turned up a knife, $100 in cash, and a phone matching the description of the one stolen from the Subway worker.

Additionally, investigators noted, Lingafelter “also had a white canvas bag tied to the front of his pants that had a dollar sign printed on it.”

(Mod: I posted a picture of that guy at the top of today's post. Maybe he thought there was a rule somewhere that says you had to identify the loot you get through robbery by putting it into a white bag with a dollar sign on it? I'm not sure that $100 would make much of a dent in so large a money bag, though.)

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47 comments:

  1. The troops are being sent into the SouthWestern United States to enforce civility code infringements.

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    1. Texans are always threatening to secede. Let 'em. Hopefully, Mississippi and Alabama and a few others will join them. We'll miss their airspace.

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    2. So is that a Northern army?

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    3. The good news for the South, is that I would liken Obama to McClellan so that Texas and Utah have nothing to worry about.

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  2. Read the Bloomberg.com link on the water gluttons in Monticito/Santa Barbara. Will set your hair on fire.

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    1. Water restrictions are for the middle class. The moneyed interests get to do as they wish. Especially if you are a corporation that owns a few million acres of farmland.

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  3. Pasadena, one of the world's most politically correct cities, isn't having an Earth Day celebration this year? Truly the world is coming to an end.

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  4. It is shocking.......

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    1. They're blaming it on the embezzlement scandal. But not the City Council. Since all responsibilities fall on the help the city council is never wrong. Kind of like the Queen of England.

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    2. Why does the blow from the embezzlement scandal or any loss in revenue always have to fall on the taxpayers by reducing services. You don't hear a word about it impacting on the salaries or employment of city workers who, by the way, were the source of the embezzlement.

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    3. When the embezzlement scandal hit Pasadena the priority was to cover the butts of the City Council. The message being it was not their responsibility, which is hilarious. And since they control city budgets did whatever it takes to bury the matter. Paid for by the taxpayers, naturally.

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  5. Wishing former Sierra Madre City Council member CHRIS KOEBER HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

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    1. Thanks, Diane & John!

      Raining in the Great State of Tennessee, wish we could send you some of it!

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    2. The fire season is underway here early this year. The skies have a deep orange tinge in places. Chino Hills seems to be getting hit pretty good.

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    3. We smelled it this morning. Heard the fire was in Riverside.

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  6. Calpers probably wouldn't need additional contributions had it not experienced tremendous losses as a result of the 2008 financial crisis caused by Wall St greed. Not a single player in that debacle went to prison; few if any lost their huge salaries and bonuses.

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    1. All guaranteed by the taxpayers. Few of whom ever get to experience such financial generosity themselves.

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    2. People in the private sector do get such financial generosity: upfront in the form of higher salaries. Public sector employees get lower salaries, with less than the difference put away for the future.

      The market for labor dictates the terms.

      So, 9:18, do you not believe in the wisdom of the market? Or do you not believe in honoring contracts?

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    3. The average employee compensation in Pasadena is $128,000 with benefits. Either you are lacking in the facts or are now watching your nose grow.

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    4. How about a citation to that wildly inflated figure?

      But if that's what the miracle of the labor market dictates, who are we to question the wisdom of the marketplace? After all questioning the wisdom of the market is heretical to Capitalism 101.

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    5. 9.30 The "market" dictates nothing in the Public sector. That is the whole point.
      Once hired it is virtually impossible to fire an employee for cause. No such thing as "at will" employment. Performance reviews are pointless. Salary increases inevitable, O.T. generous. Entry standards are low .You need look no further than our own City Staff. We had a Finance Director who could not use Excel ,we have an unqualified Director of Public Works and his deputy is even worse, Police who shot an unarmed man in the back and walked away Scot-free .No accountability and certainly no wisdom of the markets.

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    6. Yesterday's post, 9:30. There is your citation. Are you one of those guys who blabs about things you didn't read?

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    7. 9:30 is just another corruption apologist.

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    8. 9:30 is obviously stoned, stupid, or both for writing something so wrong.

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    9. The public sector is so divorced from reality that it's staggering. The residents and taxpayers pay the price when 70% or more of any given city's budget goes towards employee costs. Doesn't leave much for everything else does it? Whenever there is a disruption in the revenue stream whether its from a sunsetting utility tax or even a city employee's embezzlement, guess where the cuts take place? I'll give you a hint, never to the largest line item in the budget. But by not demanding change, we are the idiots that allow this to happen as we meekly keep paying our ever-increasing taxes. Until we demand meaningful change from our elected representatives, the public employee scam will continue unabated. We will soon have to retire at 80 to pay for all this so that our public employees can retire at 40 with lifetime pensions. That's the direction we are heading. Our public servants have become our masters. What a deal.

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    10. 12.11 nailed it. 70%+ of our taxes go for City Employee fat salaries& benefits. The remaining less than 30% is for servicing the actual needs of maintaining the City. And yes it is the taxpayers fault. If we don't vote & lobby to force a radical change,it will be forced upon us. I am not holding my breath for an uprising so City of Sierra Madre bankruptcy is inevitable. It is just a question of when. If there is a third option ,please tell us all so we can work for that instead.

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    11. If you don't vote and help elect the right people, your local government will rob you blind.

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  7. MWD is where we are currently getting our water. They supply LA and San Diego. They get their water from the Colorado River and from the Delta watershed. They have legal rights to the Delta for double the acre feet that they are able to draw (if they draw the full allotment, salt intrudes and ruins the water). On the Colorado they have rights to something like half a million acre feet plus 650 thousand if no one else uses it... but now they can no longer use the 650k overage there.

    MWD is about half a million acre feet short because of constraints on its supply, and because it provided this water and grew a population that maxed out its supply in water-rich years. Farmer's are legally ahead of them in rights, and the structure of early contracts makes it difficult to sell those rights to MWD.

    Both major water sources MWD accesses are at peak withdrawals with the majority of withdrawals going to farm use.

    Sierra Madre has rights to two streams (one now unuseable), and the Raymond Aquifer. Sierra Madre has additional rights based on how much water it provides downstream. We gain additional rights to Raymond based on how much water goes in from our spreading grounds. Water that goes into storm drains and sewers goes into those spreading grounds or down into the San Gabriel basin. When it goes into the San Gabriel basin, we receive rights from the MWD to get water based on a formula that includes their subdistrict the SGVMWD.

    The Raymond basin is heavily adjudicated as well, with the rights shared by Arcadia, Pasadena, and us. Our legal allowlance for pumping during dry years, if the wells are working, is half of what we generally use during the year.

    We face similar issues as MWD. Our legal access to water is not as robust as what our water use has become.

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    1. That is not what Tom Love told us.

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    2. And meanwhile Govt flushes enormous amounts of water to 'perhaps' protect a few fish. I thought we had Government "of the people ,for the people,by the people, No mention of a few fish.
      Pertinent column in local newspapers today by Doug McIntyre indicates the farcical govt controls:
      http://www.dailybreeze.com/general-news/20150418/this-fish-tale-is-the-story-of-common-sense-getting-away

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    3. Wow, not knowing your source, 10:14, is somehow indecent. That's a strange use of the word decency. Have some decaf next time.

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    4. Lay off on the herbal lobotomy, dude. There is something there called a link. If you click on the blue letters you will be taken to it.

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    5. The water prevents salt intrusion from the bay, which would contaminate the entire river. It also would kill the fish. Withdrawing water such that you bring salt into the interior of the state is unsustainable. Killing off fisheries is also an indication that you are doing something unsustainable. The answer to our water woes aren't killing fish, it's reducing the use of the water.

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    6. 11:15 - this might help you through your confusion. The source is Transparent California. Notice the $214 mill the taxpayers of pasadena fork over for the whiny workers of Pasadena. Pasadena taxpayers pay the 10th highest per resident employee costs in California. You need to go and sand down your nose.
      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204292489971964&set=p.10204292489971964&type=1&theater

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    7. That guy won't read it.

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    8. Tom Love is really eating crow right now. Everything he said at that City Councl meeting about the moratoriums has been wrong. As the drought has gotten worse, we're lucky the City Council didn't listen to Tom.

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    9. Love is a remnant of the Doyle-Buchanan era. We need to get him off the water board.

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    10. More junk science and eco nonsense about fisheries. The choice is not water for fish or water for humans. There is plenty of aquatic life in brackish water .It is just different to fresh water or seawater.
      The choice is not brackish water for the entire river system or fresh water. It is building more reservoirs. The environmental extremists use a lot of reservoir water for 'flushing' rivers ,so why the reluctance to build more capacity? There is surely a greater need for it than nonsense like Bullet trains to nowhere. Ask the people who live there?

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  8. All the freakin morons that were against the MWD hook up should have their usage cut an additional 35%, without that hook up we'd really be in serious poop, thanx Tattlers for all your foresight........geesh!!

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    1. It just delayed the inevitable.

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    2. 1:21
      Not true!
      If Arcadia played by the agreement we would Not need the MWD hook ups.
      We, Sierra Madre are getting screwed every which way there is with the water issues.
      What we need is to fire the City's head of public works / water and the City Manager.
      That is why we are in the situation we are in. The City Attorney needs to go too! We need representation for our water rights!

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    3. Other than draw a fat salary and sit back in his Executive chair ,what has the Direrctor of Public Works done for us lately. Much of what he claims to do is just plagiarizing Ordinances from other Cities . This is the same man who claims we have no discolored water . And we still pay him !

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    4. 2:21....to not have a viable alternative source of water that can be accessed at a moments notice is irresponsible, short sighted and just basically, stupid.

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    5. So what is your viable alternative to the SGVMWD?

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  9. I'm pretty sure I'm getting extra water in my drinks from the Buc.

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