Monday, October 31, 2016

Tony Brandenburg - Halloween: The Night He Came Home (to Sierra Madre)

Mod: Tony Brandenburg has probably written the finest piece ever about the haunted town of Sierra Madre and its substantial contributions to Halloween cinema. Enjoy!


Sierra Madre has been a locale used for some very ... interesting films. From Invasion of the Body Snatchers, to Halloween, to The Worm Eaters. Sierra Madre, bask in your cinematic glory!

Kersting Court is widely recognized by many horror and sci-fi film fans as the center of pod exporting in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). This is one of the truly great science fiction/horror thrillers of all time. However, there are other significant horror/suspense genre films that were also filmed - at least in part, right here in Sierra Madre. So can it be that Sierra Madre is actually ... terror town?

In October, 2010,  Mat Harmon spotlighted Pioneer Cemetery on a now defunct Sierra Madre blog with a wonderful piece which focused on Alfred Hitchcock’s swan-song, the comedy thriller Family Plot (1976). Hitchcock, known as The Master of the Suspense film, was most famous for his weekly television series, as well as a number of films. Rope (1948), Vertigo (1958), Rear Window (1954), and North By Northwest (1959) are universally recognized as celluloid masterpieces. For most horror fans though, his most important work was Psycho (1960).

Hitchcock’s cinematic admirers would come to their own prominence in the 1970s, and his taut suspense would reemerge in the form of a new generation of film makers - among them Brian De Palma, Tobe Hooper, and John Carpenter. De Palma’s admiration of Hitchcock’s form is somewhat easier to notice in his later work than in his seventies output (Phantom of the Paradise, Carrie) and Hooper’s debut, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1975) would be a hard stretch to align to Hitchcock. Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 looks nothing like a Hitchcock inspired film maker at all. All of that changed with his second film, Halloween (1978) .

Carpenter would utilize many of Hitchcock’s most notable techniques in the hugely influential Halloween. The tense frightening music is undeniably engaged as an instrument of tension. (For soundtracks alone, Halloween stands shoulder to shoulder with the soundtracks of Psycho, The Exorcist, and Suspiria). But Carpenter utilized other Hitchcockian techniques, most obviously the protagonist’s viewpoint - compare Norman Bates spying through the wall peephole to the first person point of view of the mask worn by “The Shape” (as the Michael Myers creation would be known).

There were other interesting nods as well; Psycho’s Janet Leigh was the mother of Halloween’s Jamie Lee Curtis, and psychiatrist Sam Loomis (played by actor Donald Pleasance) was the name of a character in Psycho. The use of already familiar locales, such as Sierra Madre's Pioneer Cemetery, was probably more than just coincidental.

Ultimately, Carpenter would reinvent Psycho for a younger generation of horror movie fans, and thus helped popularize a sub-genre of horror/suspense known as the modern slasher film.

Modern slashers are rooted in earlier suspense sub-genres. Slasher films owe a debt to both Splatter/Gore - most notably Herschell Gordon Lewis's Blood Feast (1963), Two Thousand Maniacs (1964) and The Gore Gore Girls (1972) - and to Italian Giallo (most notably the Bavas, Argento, and Fulci). Both of these styles utilized motifs that would become staple in the slasher films that followed.

The first modern slasher was Black Christmas (1974). However, it would be Carpenter’s Halloween and Friday the 13th (1980) that would popularize and define the sub-genre, and which would lay the foundation for the formula which followed.

Carpenter would utilize Sierra Madre a great deal for locations in the 1980’s, but his initial foray to The Foothill Village was with Halloween, an independent film that has gone on to become one of the most successful of all the slasher franchises. Filmed on a budget of $325,000, Halloween would eventually gross more than $60,000,000 in box office receipts worldwide, making it one of the most profitable independent movies of all time. The film would be remade in 2007 by former White Zombie singer Rob Zombie.


In December, 2006, Carpenter’s Halloween was chosen for inclusion in the United States National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, which stated:

John Carpenter’s first commercially successful film not only became his most famous work, but it also ushered in the dawn of the slasher film. However, “Halloween,” unlike many later films of that genre, creates a chilling tension with minimal blood and gore. The setting is Halloween night, and homicidal maniac Michael Myers has escaped from his mental institution and is hunting teenagers in his hometown of Haddonfield, Ill. Although the numerous imitations and elements of the genre are now considered a cliché, Carpenter’s style of point-of-view shots, tense editing and haunting piano score make “Halloween” uniquely artistic, frightening and a horror film keystone. (Library of Congress, 12/2006)

That is correct, Sierra Madre. A slasher film on the registry of the Library of Congress was partially filmed right here. I dunno ... maybe one day we can look forward to seeing one of those cute docent-led walking tours, led by a real pod person, parading a group of tourists in hockey masks up Baldwin Avenue. Why the Chamber of Commerce doesn't see this film as an important local business asset is beyond me.

Sierra Madre’s Pioneer Cemetery (553 E Sierra Madre Blvd.) was the local film shoot locale for Halloween. It was the pivitol scene where Loomis honors the history of Michael Myers. While rewatching the film recently, I was impressed that most of the scene from Halloween was easy to locate, shot for shot.

This same location would later be used by both auteur David Lynch for the funeral of Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks, and for a comedy slasher, Uncle Sam: Wants You Dead (1997). I wonder if we can look forward to seeing our beloved Sam waltzing down Sierra Madre Boulevard as the Grand Marshall in an upcoming 4th of July Parade.


Carpenter returned to Sierra Madre for locales used in The Fog (1979). The film utilized shots from both the inside and outside of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension (25 East Laurel).

Because of Carpenter’s commitment to The Fog, he did not choose to direct Halloween II. However, Carpenter co-wrote the script, and co-produced the film. Sierra Madre was again used for location. The opening sequence of Halloween II was shot in Kersting Court, no doubt as a nod to the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It boggles the mind, though. Michael Myers walking by the pub. Imagine, the night “he” returned to Sierra Madre.

Halloween II earned a domestic gross of over $25,500,000, but received mixed reviews as the sequel had employed much of the predecessor’s formula, using techniques which had already begun to appear cliche. Ultimately, it showed signs of being as derivative as the many imitators in the slasher film sub-genre which had already begun to manifest. Halloween II, though relying more on gore and on screen violence, and less on the style and subtlety that Carpenter’s direction had utilized - was still an immensely popular film. It, too, would be remade by Rob Zombie.

The success of the sequel resulted in the third film of the series, though this film would look and sound nothing like its predecessors. Halloween III: Season of the Witch was a markedly different film, utilizing what Carpenter had envisioned as a Halloween - themed story, and one that had no connection whatsoever to the Michael Myers story line. It would be the only Halloween movie to do so. This film would bear little of Carpenter’s influence - it was directed by Tommy Lee Wallace - except for the music, and one of the locales: Sierra Madre.

That’s right, the “Three more days ‘til Halloween” jingle with the dancing pumpkin heads blasted from a TV set is in the window of a shop at 17 Kersting,  currently the home of Mother Moo Creamery. As well as some footage shot inside another shop located somewhere on Baldwin. There was also a scene from inside the very famous Buccaneer Lounge, located at 70 West Sierra Madre Boulevard.

Sierra Madre is listed as a location for many horror and suspense themed movies, including Tim Burton’s biopic of Plan 9 from Outer Space director Ed Wood (1994), and Poison Ivy (1992). It also was used for a couple of episodes of V, the TV Series.

The Foothill Village is also listed as a film location for Nightmare on Elm Street VI: Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991). My favorite discovery, hands down, was learning that Sierra Madre was listed by IBDM as the single locale for the z-grade comedy horror picture The Worm Eaters (1977). A film directed by the late Herb Robins, alumni of such Dennis Steckler films as The Thrill Killers. This was Steckler’s send-up of - what else? - Hitchcock’s Psycho.


Happy Halloween, Sierra Madre! You're a living part of it.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Sunday, October 30, 2016

From Preserve Sierra Madre: 1907 Henry A. Darling House Destroyed

Mod: This all went out yesterday to the concerned residents on the Preserve Sierra Madre e-mail list. It is an exceptionally hard hitting report, one that reflects the deep sense of disappointment in this community.

Dear Supporters: Many of you will recall the herculean effort to save the 1907 Craftsman home located at 126 E. Mira Monte known as the "Henry A. Darling House." At that time, the new buyers for the home were proposing its demolition and there was a huge outcry in the city as people rallied around its preservation. In fact, concern for this home prompted the City Council's enactment of an Emergency Demolition Moratorium and later the permanent Demolition Ordinance that provided protections for homes built before 1940.

Because the first Buyer couldn't do what they wanted to this home, it was sold to a second Buyer who we all understood wanted to preserve the home. You will see from the pictures below that didn't happen. In fact, they tore the home down to its studs and demolished it to such a degree that the City had to issue a "Stop Work" order.

Now it transpires that this second Buyer, after completely disregarding the City's building and demolition rules regarding this historic property, is going to appear before the City's Planning Commission on Thursday, November 3rd at 6:30 pm to evidently ask for forgiveness and apply for an after-the-fact permit to continue their destruction.


B
ased on the above pictures, it appears to us that this project has gone beyond a mere "restoration" and has now become a demolition. When the property was sold to the first buyer back in 2015 (and before it was resold), here is how the Realtor described it:

The Henry A. Darling House. This home exudes a kind of permanence and sense of place that can only be earned. On nearly half an acre this historic 3Bed/2Bath Craftsman style residence is located on one of Sierra Madre's most desirable streets. A full-width front porch, wood siding, and clipped gable roof announce the character of this Arts & Crafts period home. Original features continue on the interior with an impressive river rock fireplace, oak floors, built-ins, and wood wainscoting with plate rail. Beautiful wood windows look out onto lush greenery from every room, enhancing the relaxed Southern California feel of this home. Extensive intact period features make this home the perfect restoration project. The rear garden is planted with specimen plants and mature foliage creating a private and unique outdoor environment.

Here at Preserve Sierra Madre, we are saddened and shocked about what has happened to this once beautiful home. We are also angry at why the hard-fought rules and regulations that were put in place to protect and preserve our "village in the foothills," were so egregiously disregarded. It seems to us that a mere "slap on the wrist" is not an appropriate penalty for this travesty.

Our Planning CommissionCity Council and City Staff need to be united in sending a message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated in the City of Sierra Madre. Keep in mind this now has a significance beyond just the destruction of this house. All eyes will now be on our Planning Commission on Thursday, November 3rd at 7:00 pm.

The question to be answered is whether any owner, contractor or developer ever needs to ask permission again and follow the rules found in the our General Plan and Municipal Code.

Meanwhile, the damage has been done and the Henry A. Darling House has been destroyed - very, very sad.

Thank you for your support.

Steering Committee
Preserve Sierra Madre

Tattler Bonus Coverage: Demolition as defined by the City of Sierra Madre
Mod: Anyone feeling especially adventurous this morning can look up how City Hall views the capricious demolition of homes of a certain vintage by clicking here. We'll get into this a little more thoroughly in the days directly preceding this Thursday's Planning Commission meeting.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 29, 2016

What Happened to the Henry A. Darling House?

One of the big events of 2015 was the rescue of Sierra Madre's historic Henry A. Darling house. We posted a number of articles about this venerable (1907Craftsman home at 126 E. Mira Monte, including this one and this one. They should give you a good idea of just how concerning all of this was for many a year or so back.

Fast forward to today. What follows are current photos of this historic Mira Monte house, the one that the current owners famously proclaimed they were going to preserve. What they did instead was all done without a demo permit, a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) allowing more than 25% to be demo-ed, or a historical review.

The city has since placed a belated "stop work order" on the project. Because of this action these erstwhile preservationist owners are now asking for a CUP to make legal an already committed misdeed. The owners having since proclaimed that once work started, this demo became necessary.

Apparently for them the city regulations governing their obviously bad decision making were not as necessary.

The Planning Commission will hear this latest "after the fact" CUP request this coming Thursday. Anyone starting to detect a pattern here? Here is how an early morning commenter describes it:

I am not surprised. They took a page out of the Salisian playbook. Do whatever you want, without permits, say sorry later, plead ignorance, and the City lets you go. No penalty, just issue permits after the fact. The abandoned house on South Lima is going to be the next example. The owner has claimed at various times that his daughter lives there, (she doesn't), he has a water pipe that needs repair, (who knows), or he is adding 1,000 square feet, etc. Meanwhile two years have passed with no activity, virtually all landscape is dead. He only cuts the weeds down once a year. I am sure these two are not the only homeowners taking advantage of the Salisian situation.

Here are the pictures of what once was the Henry A. Darling house.


A link to the Planning Commission staff report for this agenda item can be found here. The meeting will take place on November 3rd.

Expect some fireworks.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Friday, October 28, 2016

The new Trump hotel in D.C. is filled top-to-bottom with goods made in China

Mod: Making China great again? It would appear that Mr. Make America Great Again prefers to buy luxury items for his gauche hotels in China rather than the US of A. Despite all he's said on the topic. This from Daily Kos (link). Check it out.


Reporters from around the world were tricked into covering Donald Trump’s new hotel opening in Washington, D.C., today. They were told it would be a press conference and Donald Trump would be answering questions, instead they were physically prevented from touring the hotel with Trump, and only photographers were allowed.

But, the folks from American Bridge did get a look around and what they found was a hotel filled with goods made overseas, mostly in China. Just some of the items they found:


Is this how you make America great again, Donald Trump? He said he would force Apple Computers to manufacture in the U.S. but he can’t even buy bathrobes made in the good ol’ USA

Good luck with that!

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Pasadena Star News: Vote No On Measure M, L.A. County’s Permanent Transit Tax

 
Mod: Measure M will require a 2/3's majority to pass. It is a high hurdle. This editorial is probably not going to help.

Vote No On Measure M, L.A. County’s Permanent Transit Tax (Pasadena Star News link): - If there is one unifying experience in Los Angeles County, it is being stuck in traffic. By now, you probably have seen your share of commercials promoting Measure M, the half-cent sales proposal, as the reprieve we’ve all been waiting for.

Promising to reduce traffic by 15 percent, the measure is the third in the last eight years to be pitched to L.A. County residents as a much-needed investment in infrastructure and mobility.

While there’s no disputing the need for infrastructure investments, the recent history of transit proposals gives this editorial board pause.

In 2008, voters approved Measure R, a half-percent sales tax that promised traffic relief and 21,000 new jobs. It provided a 30-year sunset, assuring voters the tax was temporary and politicians would be held accountable for their promises.

Just four years later, the proponents returned with Measure J, asking voters to extend Measure R by 30 years. Voters rejected the bait-and-switch, and as things stand, Measure R is still set to expire in 2039 as originally promised.

Now, voters are asked to approve another tax hike via Measure M, which calls for not only an additional half-percent sales tax but an extension of Measure R. If approved, both taxes would become permanent and could only be undone by ballot initiative, an unlikely prospect.

That is why it’s important to back a tax proposal of this sort only if one can confidently say Measure M is the best we can do.

To the credit of proponents, there’s much to like about Measure M.

The measure, which would raise more than $860 million a year, is the product of meaningful outreach and cooperation throughout Los Angeles County. In meeting with many of the chief proponents, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Metro chief Phil Washington, we have been impressed by the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of their plan.

However, we are reluctant to support the measure for very practical reasons.

For one, the measure calls for a new permanent tax, and makes permanent a tax previously sold to the public as temporary. Voters deserve to know taxes sold as temporary will remain temporary.

Despite the many promises, this measure will not reduce traffic by 15 percent. The basis of the claim originates from a Metro-commissioned study that indicated traffic in 2057 may be 15 percent lower than it would be if Measure M isn’t passed. Practically speaking, for decades, the chief beneficiaries of the measure will be those employed to work on Metro projects, rather than average people who thought they had voted for traffic relief.

A vote against Measure M doesn’t mean the rejection of any credible, carefully targeted proposal that would bring tangible benefits to the public.

In a time of changing technologies and shifting preferences on transportation, we would like to see a sunset date in place. But we also believe taxpayers should have the certainty that the projects being promised today will not only someday be completed but be the best possible use of taxpayer dollars.

At this time, we cannot support Measure M. We recommend a “no” vote.

California poll: Trump’s numbers dropping into ‘uncharted territory’ (The Mercury News link): Donald Trump is careening toward a historically poor showing in California, a prospect that has left several GOP congressmen fearful for their seats and Democrats hopeful they can regain a supermajority in the Legislature.

According to a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California, in just one month Democrat Hillary Clinton’s lead over Trump has soared from 16 to 26 points as the brash billionaire’s campaign has imploded amid allegations that he’s a serial groper. He now has the support of only 28 percent of likely California voters, the poll found.

Less than two weeks before Election Day, the biggest question in California is whether Trump’s dismal showing drags down several Republican congressmen if unenthusiastic GOP voters decided not to cast votes. Just several weeks ago, the congressmen appeared to be defending safe seats.

Only 46 percent of Republicans are more excited than usual to cast ballots in the presidential election. That’s down from 70 percent four years ago and 11 points less than the 57 percent of Democrats who told PPIC survey takers that they were more excited than usual to vote.

A staggering 50 percent of Republicans say they now have an unfavorable view of their party, and 60 percent were unsatisfied with their choices for president, the poll found.

Mod: The GOP's California death spiral continues.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Libertarian VP Candidate: Whatever You Do, Don't Vote For Trump

Mod: Has the Libertarian candidate for Vice President this year now said that the threat of a Donald Trump presidency is so great that you should not vote ... Libertarian? Interesting little piece from Talking Point Memo that you can access in its entirety here.

Libertarian VP Candidate: Whatever You Do, Don't Vote For TrumpAccepting that his presidential bid will fail, Libertarian vice presidential candidate Bill Weld on Tuesday obliquely urged voters to vote for Hillary Clinton.

In a Tuesday statement addressed to "those in the electorate who remain torn between two so-called major party candidates," the former Massachusetts governor told Republicans not to vote for the GOP nominee out of “fear for our country.”

“After careful observation and reflection, I have come to believe that Donald Trump, if elected President of the United States, would not be able to stand up to this pressure and this criticism without becoming unhinged and unable to perform competently the duties of his office,” he said at a Boston press conference.

Weld ticks off a long list of what he sees as Trump’s flaws, including his childish response to criticism, divisive rhetoric about immigrants and minorities, instability, and lack of familiarity with policy.

While Weld said he will see his bid with Gary Johnson through to Election Day, he acknowledged that the Libertarian Party ticket, which has languished far behind in the polls, will not break “the two party monopoly” this year. He announced in early October that he would spend the rest of the campaign cycle speaking out against Trump.

Some observers interpreted the last paragraph of his statement as a winking request for voters not to cast ballots for his own running mate.

“Every citizen must be aware of the power and responsibility of each individual vote,” Weld writes. “This is not the time to cast a jocular or feel-good vote for a man whom you may have briefly found entertaining.”

Though Weld goes on to mention Trump by name, his comments could also describe Johnson, who captured headlines with his bumbling responses to foreign policy questions and odd interview antics.

Spoon fed idiots
HuffPo: Donald Trump Is Opening The Dumbest Cocktail Bar In America (Huffington Post): As the rest of his campaign desperately tries to keep Utah’s electoral votes from falling into the wrong hands, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. You might remember this as the venue for Trump’s last hotel promotion-slash-birtherism event ― the one that got full coverage on cable news and featured a collapsing stage evidently rush-delivered from the metaphor store.

The cable news cameras stayed away this time, but as Trump is ostensibly still running for president and Election Day is less than two weeks away, a few reporters were obligated to attend this latest example of Trump’s mixed-up priorities. One of them was The Daily Beast’s Olivia Nuzzi, who is at her sly and savage best as she sets the scene for this ribbon-cutting.

There’s a lot to absorb, but I can’t stop thinking about this hotel’s cocktail bar, which seems to violate a number of conventions, perhaps even some of the Geneva ones. Per Nuzzi:

"The bar at the new Trump International Hotel in Washington, Benjamin’s Bar and Lounge, is a sprawling space with high ceilings, few customers and too-sweet cocktails that go for $20 to $100, the most expensive being the bar’s namesake, a concoction of rye, potato and winter wheat vodka, shaken and served with raw oysters and caviar. There is also, inexplicably, a section of the menu called BY THE CRYSTAL SPOON that offers literal spoonfuls of wine for anywhere from $15 to $140."

Mod: The rest of the article about this monument to nitwit gaucherie can be read here.

Hillary Clinton Leads Donald Trump by 14 Points Nationally in New Poll (Time Magazine link): Hillary Clinton has widened her lead over Donald Trump, polling 14 percentage points ahead nationally, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, which comes 12 days before the presidential election.

Conducted after the final presidential debate, the poll finds the Democratic nominee leads Trump among likely voters 51% to 37%, a significant lead over the Republican candidate.

According to the poll, Clinton has support of 90% of likely Democratic voters, as well as support from 15% of moderate Republicans. Of the Republicans surveyed, 79% said they would vote for Trump.

The poll finds that Clinton has consolidated the support of her party, while even managing to draw Republican voters.

Mod: Somehow the GOP managed to nominate the only candidate they had that the Democrats could defeat this year. Hardly surprising, though. The Republican Party is pretty much braindead at this point. 

Measure M proponents, worried tax won’t pass, are planning a final push to win voters (Pasadena Star New link): Los Angeles city, county and state leaders stressed that without a late push, Metro’s Measure M on the November ballot may not pass, dooming funding for 40 projects including completion of the 71 Freeway, the 57/60 interchange and extension of the Gold Line to Claremont.

Polling for the measure, which would add a half-cent to the sales tax in Los Angeles County and raise about $120 billion over 40 years, is showing about 67 percent to 69 percent support across the county, confirmed Yes on M campaign spokesman Yusef Robb.

The last transportation tax, Measure R, won by 68 percent in 2008, but four years ago an extension failed by 15,000 votes. Traditionally, such measures that require 66.67 percent to pass — a two-thirds super majority — tend to be cliffhangers on election night, and this one looks to be no different.

“A two-thirds majority is a difficult majority to achieve,” Robb said.

Members of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) who spoke at a San Gabriel Valley transportation conference Wednesday, said the polling could drop below two-thirds due to the polls’ margin of error. They said there is no Plan B should Measure M come up short.

“It is clear an overwhelming majority of people want this. Whether we get over the two-thirds will all depend on who turns out to vote,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a member of the Metro board.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

All the LA County Tax Propositions Properly Dissed

Mod: Pretty good column from Susan Shelley of the Los Angeles Daily News. If you Google any of the LA County tax measures you won't find a lot in the way of opposition. So it is refreshing to find a source that sorts them all out, and in one convenient setting.

L.A. ballot measures act like pickpockets: Susan Shelley (Los Angeles Daily News link): On Nov. 8, voters in Los Angeles will be asked to vote on seven measures that look innocent but take money right out of your pocket. It’s like being governed by the original Broadway cast of “Oliver.”

The show featured a gang of singing pickpockets, if you’ve never seen it.

L.A. County Measure A is a hike in property taxes to replace the funding from two expiring temporary taxes for parks. Because a temporary tax is a mythical creature, Measure A would levy a property tax of 1.5 cents per square foot of every building every year. The tax would hit businesses and apartment building owners especially hard, leading to higher prices and higher rents, and it’s permanent.

Measure M is a permanent one-half percent sales tax increase for what the county calls a “traffic improvement plan.” It would be the fourth one-half percent sales tax increase since 1980 for transportation. The third one, Measure R, was temporary, but Measure M would make it permanent.

Metro has a detailed plan on its website that shows all the projects Measure M will fund, but many of them count on the highly uncertain availability of billions of dollars in state or federal money. Some sound like outright fantasy. Valley voters are promised a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass, someday. It will do wonders to speed up the commute from Shangri-La to Brigadoon.

Now the bad news about Measure M: there are no guarantees that any of the promised projects will happen. Anything can be changed with a two-thirds vote of the Metro board of directors. And in the meantime, proposed mega-developments of housing or retail that are within one-half mile of a “planned” major transit stop qualify for streamlined approvals with no studies of the projects’ impact on traffic speed or parking, even if the nearby transit is only a watercolor illustration.

The Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees would like voters to authorize another $3.3 billion of borrowed money for more buildings, following the $6 billion the district blew through in the last 15 or so years. The money would be repaid, plus interest, by adding another charge to property tax bills for decades. Although Measure CC has “Affordable Education” and “Job Training” in its name, this is bond money that legally can only be used for land and buildings. It can’t be spent on education, or scholarships, or programs. Incidentally, in 2011, the State Controller reported on massive waste, fraud and mismanagement in the LACCD’s bond program. They promise this time they’ll really fix the bathrooms.

The City of Los Angeles is asking voters to approve Measure HHH, authorizing $1.2 billion of borrowed money to build housing for the homeless. Like the college bond, the money can only be used for land and buildings. Not one penny can legally be spent for services like mental health treatment, addiction counseling, shelters, social workers, law enforcement, or help for victims of domestic violence. The city can buy land, even forcing the sale with eminent domain, and pay developers to build high-density housing. Meanwhile, property tax bills will have an extra charge for decades to pay back the $1.2 billion plus interest.

Three more city measures could be just as costly.

Measure JJJ would require developers building some private residential developments to pay construction workers the “prevailing wage,” a significantly higher hourly rate based on union contracts for public projects. It would also require developers to designate some units in these projects as “affordable housing” at below-market rates. It’s a formula for higher rents: Raising the cost of building housing and making some units more expensive so others can be subsidized.

Measure SSS would increase the cost of public employee pensions, already chewing up about 20 percent of the city’s general fund, by enrolling new airport police officers into the more costly Fire and Police Pensions System.

Measure RRR, a charter amendment supposedly reforming the L.A. Department of Water and Power, actually does nothing to reform the DWP. But it makes it politically easier for the City Council and the mayor to raise water and power rates, hiding the increases in a four-year “strategic plan” that would be approved in advance so rate hikes would take effect later, without another vote. Meanwhile, 8 percent of the gross revenue from electricity sales is transferred to the city treasury every year to cover general expenses.

Our elected officials are addicted to spending. They just can’t say no.

Fortunately, you can.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New York Daily News: Donald Trump hosted wild parties with sex, cocaine and underage models

 
Mod: Can you imagine if it was the Democratic nominee being accused of these sorts of crazy things? Here is an interesting juxtaposition of two articles that would, in world making a little more sense, appear to clash.

Donald Trump hosted wild parties with sex, cocaine and underage models (New York Daily News): Donald Trump allegedly used to host cocaine-filled and sex-crazed parties at one of his luxurious Manhattan hotels — and invited models as young as 15 to attend them, a bombshell report published Monday claims. Two men who used to attend the parties told the Daily Beast that Trump would regularly throw the bashes in lavish suites at the Plaza Hotel, which he owned between 1988 and 1995.

One of the men, a New York fashion photographer who asked to remain anonymous, said the billionaire businessman would take over entire corner suites at the Plaza for days at a time. He would then invite young models so that they could meet his affluent, older friends who could give them major career boosts, the photographer said.

"There were always dramas because the men threw money and drugs at them to keep them enticed," the photographer said. "It's based on power and dominating girls who can't push back and can be discarded. There's always someone to pick them back up. Nobody wants to call home and say 'Help me.'"

Trump, who was married to his second wife, Marla Maples, at the time, allowed attendants to do whatever drugs they wanted, the photographer said. As people partied hard on coke and top-shelf liquor, the mogul would stroll from room to room and hook up with girls.

"He'd wander off with a couple girls. I saw him. He was getting laid like crazy," the photographer said. "Trump was at the heart of it. He loved the attention and in private, he was a total f-----g beast."

Mod: The rest of this expose' can be accessed here.

44% of White Evangelicals Claim ‘Trump Has Strong Moral Character’ (Patheos.com): Many white evangelicals believe Trump demonstrates strong moral character. A new poll shows 44% of white evangelicals believe Trump demonstrates “strong moral character,” while only 18% of those with no religion agree.

A recent ABC/WaPo poll confirms what many have long suspected concerning the moral judgement of evangelicals, or lack thereof. When asked “Do you think Trump has strong moral character?” 44% of white evangelicals said yes, while only 18% of those without religion agreed.


Mod: You can read it all here.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Donut Hole in the City of Sierra Madre's Argument Supporting Measure M

Mod: I haven't been bagging on Sierra Madre City Hall very much lately. There is just so much else going on in the world right now. But when it is something as unfortunate as what follows below, well, it has to at least be noted. Here is how this week's City Council meeting staff report on the Measure M question inadvertently reveals what this unhappiness is all about (link).


Remember, the City of Sierra Madre has already spent a lot of money in the effort to defeat the 710 Tunnel. $50,000 is the number that comes to mind, though it could be more. Which in my opinion was a very good thing to do. It was money wisely spent.

However, here is the problem as I see it. While Los Angeles County authorities such as Metro and CalTRANS, along with such regional deplorables as SCAG, have worked very hard to assure people that Measure M funds will never be used in any way to help plan - or God forbid build - the 710 Tunnel, there is nothing at all about any restrictions on the already existing funds that this new sales tax revenue will likely free up. We're talking about Prop R and other similar money pots.

By using new Prop M moneys to pay for some of the things these other funds have been covering until now, couldn't that quite possibly free up some ready cash elsewhere to help push forward the 710 TunnelOf course it could. It would merely be a matter of shifting around some of those already existing revenues. And what control would you have over that?

Unlike with Measure M, there are no such restrictions in place for already existing fund sources such as Props R. Measure M will raise an additional $121 billion dollars. Wouldn't that free up a lot of cash from any previous propositions and tax money streams, money that could then easily be used in other ways?

And there is absolutely nothing anywhere that says any freed up funds from those other propositions and tax resources will never be used to help pay for the 710 Tunnel.

Better to just Vote NO. Why take the chance?

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Sunday, October 23, 2016

NY Daily News: Porn Star Jessica Drake Claims Donald Trump Offered Her $10G, Use Of His Private Jet For Sex

Mod: Of course, if Randy Don is elected president he could turn Air Force One into his very own personal porn star delivery service. Wouldn't that help make America great again?

Porn star Jessica Drake claims Donald Trump offered her $10G, use of his private jet for sex (New York Daily News) - An award-winning porn star accused a creepy Donald Trump of offering $10,000 and the use of his private jet if she agreed to spend the night with him.

Jessica Drake said the GOP presidential hopeful’s unwanted sexual come-ons occurred 10 years ago during a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Calif. When she rebuffed Trump’s sexual overtures, Drake told a news conference Saturday, he asked her two questions: “What do you want? How much?”

Drake said her spurned suitor continued to pursue her despite her rejection.

“I received another call from Donald or a male calling on his behalf offering me $10,000,” she said. “I declined once again, and once more gave as an excuse that I had to return to Los Angeles for work.

“I was then told Mr. Trump would allow me the use of his private jet to take me home if I accepted his invitation.”

Her allegation follows the claims of 11 other women who accused Trump of groping them. The boorish billionaire vowed Saturday to sue them all once the presidential race is done.

The most recent woman to charge Trump was wellness expert Karena Virginia, who accused him of brazenly touching her breast outside the U.S. Open in 1998.

“Don’t you know who I am?” he asked while slipping away.

Drake said Trump started hitting on her as soon as they met — although he was married at the time to third wife Melania.

“His words and actions are a huge testament to his character — that of uncontrollable misogyny, entitlement and being a sexual assault apologist,” said Drake.


Mod: Link to the New York Daily News article here.

Eric Trump tricked into taking photo with woman wearing shirt that says ‘AGAINST Trump’ in Spanish (New York Daily News link): Looks like Eric Trump has a muy mal understanding of Spanish.

The Donald’s middle son was played for a fool at a North Carolina rally when he posed for a photo with a young woman wearing a “Latinas Contra Trump” shirt.

“No one at the rally realized my shirt said AGAINST TRUMP,” a giddy Annie Cardelle, 23, tweeted along with the photo.

“Congrats, y'all played yourselves.”

Uday is not the smartest of the Trump children.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 22, 2016

So What The Deuce Is Going On In Arcadia?

Richard McDonald
Mod: As much as I hate to tear myself away from our non compos mentis presidential election, duty calls. What follows is an article printed in the current edition of The Foothill Advocate, a small weekly news publication hot out of Pasadena. I must confess to not knowing too much about the topic. At least not yet. However, I can tell you this. The same state laws that enabled the ethnically dictated political gerrymandering of the Pasadena Unified School District are in play here. Ironically, and as you probably recall, an effort that left PUSD's Board of Ed with no increase in minority representation. Folks still didn't vote. Another bone of contention is the presence of Richard McDonald, the same wily attorney that represents those locally controversial CETT McMansionites at One Carter in Sierra Madre. He is apparently intimately involved in this dust up as well. Something that suggests the usual development suspects might be a driving force behind what is described below. And yes, it's probably about the money. 

Asian group claims Arcadia denies civil rights (The Foothill Advocate link): An Asian-American civil rights organization has demanded that the City of Arcadia retire its at-large electoral system in favor of City Council elections by district.

A letter to Mayor Tom Beck from an attorney representing the Chinese American Equalization Association outlined several reasons for the demand including the under-representation of Asians on the City Council. The demand is similar to one submitted in August to Monrovia officials by The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF).

“In fact, U.S. Census and State population data shows that Asian-Americans constitute 60 percent of the City of Arcadia’s population, and 50 percent of its registered voters,” the HQH letter, written by Pasadena attorney Richard McDonald says. “However, it appears that only one of the current members of the City Council is Asian-American.”

Additionally HQH wants the city to write an ordinance and ask voters to approve City Council districts.

McDonald’s letter asks Arcadia officials to respond by Nov. 15, or face further legal action.

City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto said Arcadia has attorneys reviewing the letter. He said the City Council will take up the matter in a closed session. He also said that there’s no telling how long the process could take.

Lazzarretto referenced the demand filed by Hispanic rights group MALDEF in Monrovia, saying that he’s been aware of nearby cities fielding similar demands.

HQH President Ted Tian also said he was familiar with the MALDEF demands. In fact, he was inspired by those efforts.

“I heard something like this was happening in Monrovia,” he said. “And I thought ‘We should do that.’”

But HQH’s demand is unique in that an Asian-American group is behind it. In March 2015, the City of Fullerton received a similar demand letter from Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles and the ACLU of Southern California. Just four months later, Fullerton decided to settle the lawsuit and let voters decide on whether to adopt districts this November.

Although HQH won’t be the first Asian-American organization to make such a demand, Tian still hopes to make history.

“We believe that if we do this, other places will follow,” he said.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sad! Al Smith Charity Dinner Crowd Rains Boos on Donald Trump

Mod: Apparently there was not a whole lot of forgiveness for the boorish behavior of Donald Trump last night. Nobody appears to have been very amused. Trump actually did manage to get himself "booed by a room full of Priests." (link)

Al Smith Charity Dinner Crowd Rains Boos on Donald Trump (Daily Beast link): Thursday’s Al Smith Memorial Dinner offered America the opportunity to take a desperate breath from the trash swamp America’s been drowning in for the last year and a half. It delivered, but then again, 45 minutes of footage of a stranger yelling would have been more enjoyable than most of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Al Smith, the white tie event’s namesake, was the first Catholic to run for president, and the multi-thousand dollar per plate ticket price supports Catholic charity work. For reasons that might seem opaque to the casual observer, this particular charity event features almost every four years the two major party presidential candidates delivering jokes from behind a podium. It’s the world’s fanciest open mic.

What’s the difference between an open mic comic and Donald Trump? One spends hours every week spitting idiotic lines in front of an audience of hopeless losers in hopes that they’ll gain fame, and the other is a comedian.

The Republican nominee for president hit some high notes, like the plagiarism joke about wife Melania’s Republican National Convention speech, which was cribbed in part from a speech Michelle Obama had given. But then he gestured to his wife, ordering her to stand up while the crowd cheered, a bizarre break in momentum.

He further lost the crowd with a joke about Hillary Clinton hating Catholics that was met with boos. Then came another one about Donna Brazile sharing all of the jokes from the dinner in advance. More boos. Then one about Hillary Clinton destroying Haitian villages, which was borderline inscrutable and met with silence. If Trump is half as effective at bombing ISIS as he is at bombing stand-up routines, he’s ready to be commander-in-chief.

Donald Trump Heckled by New York Elite at Charity Dinner (New York Times link): Donald J. Trump began this quadrennial exercise in campaign humility and self-deprecation on Thursday by comparing himself to the son of God — just another “carpenter working for his father” in his youth.

By the end, facing cascading and uncomfortable jeers from a crowd full of white ties and gowns, he had called Hillary Clinton Catholic-hating, “so corrupt” and potentially jail-bound in a prospective Trump administration.

“I don’t know who they’re angry at, Hillary, you or I,” Mr. Trump said sheepishly from the dais, turning to his opponent amid the heckling.

It seemed clear to everyone else. Mr. Trump was being booed at a charity dinner.

So it went at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in Manhattan, a presidential campaign ritual of levity and feigned warmth — upended, like so much else in this election season, by the gale-force bid of Mr. Trump.

Breaking with decades of tradition at the gathering once he took the microphone, Mr. Trump set off on a blistering, grievance-filled performance that translated poorly to the staid setting, stunning many of the well-heeled guests who had filed into the Waldorf Astoria hotel for an uncommon spectacle: an attempted détente in a campaign so caustic that the candidates, less than 24 hours earlier, declined to shake hands on a debate stage.

Trump sides with Putin over U.S. intelligence (Politico link): Donald Trump angrily insisted on Wednesday night that he is not Vladimir Putin’s “puppet.”

But at a minimum, in recent months he has often sounded like the Russian president’s lawyer—defending Putin against a variety of specific charges, from political killings to the 2014 downing of a passenger jet over Ukraine, despite the weight of intelligence, legal findings and expert opinion.

Wednesday, for instance, Trump dismissed Hillary Clinton’s assertion that Russia was behind the recent hacking of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails. “She has no idea whether it’s Russia or China or anybody else,” Trump retorted. “Our country has no idea.”

As Clinton tried to explain that the Russian role is the finding of 17 military and civilian intelligence agencies, Trump cut her off: “I doubt it.”

On Oct. 7, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a joint statement saying that the U.S. intelligence community “is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.” That finding has also been relayed directly to Trump in the classified national security briefings he receives as a major party nominee.

Amid 'rigged' election charges, Russia wants to monitor U.S. vote (USA Today link): In an apparent move to embarrass the United States over Donald Trump's claims of a "rigged" presidential election, Russia sought to send monitors to U.S. polling stations for the Nov. 8 vote, Russian media revealed Thursday.

The bid was sharply rebuffed by the State Department, and one state election official threatened criminal action if Russian monitors showed up, according to state-controlled Izvestia daily and broadcaster RT.

State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner called the Russian effort a "PR stunt" and denied that the United States blocked Russian diplomats from observing the election.

A spokeswoman for Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, who received a request to allow Russian monitors, called it a "propaganda ploy."

"We've allowed observers from overseas in the past from other countries, never from Russia," Meg Casper said. She added that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security also "told us not to do this."

Trump, who is behind in most polls, has complained for weeks about potential election fraud. In Wednesday night's debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton, the Republican nominee refused to say whether he would abide by the results on Election Day.

With Empty Rooms and Bookings Plummeting, Trump Hotels Are Taking a Beating (NBC News link): Donald Trump may already be calling for a recount of votes in what he claims will be a rigged election — but he may also want to recount the empty rooms at his hotels.

The Republican presidential nominee's actions out on the campaign trail don't seem to be doing much for occupancy rates at his chain of five-star Trump-branded hotels.

Bookings at the newly opened Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue also seem to be bearing the brunt of this contentious election cycle.

When it had its soft opening in September, rack rates for the basic 410-square "deluxe" rooms started at over $575 a night.

Checking the hotel's online booking site, that same room type is now available for an unrestricted rate of $505, with a discount to $404 for AAA members, for at least the next two weekends and for the weekend after the presidential election.

By comparison, when searching Expedia for a five-star hotel in Washington, D.C., next weekend, a room at the St. Regis Washington, D.C. is available for $655 a night, while the Hay-Adams and others show as sold out.

The Trump family plans an official ribbon-cutting and press conference for the D.C. hotel on October 26, but for now, it's the falling room rates that are getting noticed.

Despite its prime location and promotional mentions by Donald Trump himself, "empty rooms have forced hotel to reduce rates during the peak season," noted New York Magazine.

Red State Stupidity Confirmed: 9 Of The 10 Least Educated States Voted Republican (PoliticusUSA link): According to data compiled in a new study, 9 of the 10 least educated states in America also voted Republican in the last presidential election.

24/7 Wall St used educational attainment data from the U.S. Census Bureau to rank all 50 states in terms of higher education level. The results were not surprising to those who pay attention to our national discourse.

All ten of the most educated states in the United States voted for President Obama in 2012. The ten most educated states were Minnesota, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Colorado, Massachusetts. Only one of the ten least educated states (Nevada) voted for President Obama in 2012.

The ten least educated states were:

10). Idaho

9). Indiana

8). Oklahoma

7). Alabama

6). Nevada

5). Louisiana

4). Kentucky

3). Arkansas

2). Mississippi

1). West Virginia

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Paddy Power Is Already Paying Presidential Election Bettors Their Winnings

Mod: If you placed your presidential election bets this year with Ireland's Paddy Power, and you picked Hillary Clinton to take the prize, then your check is already in the mail. It's three weeks or so before election day, and they've already declared the winner. 

One of the biggest political betting markets is already assuming Hillary Clinton is going to win (Business Insider UK link): Paddy Power, an Irish betting market with a large presence in the UK, has already declared a winner of the US presidential election.

The market said Tuesday that it is paying out more than $1 million worth of bets on the Democratic nominee because it looks as though Clinton has sealed a win over Republican nominee Donald Trump.

"With national polls showing a healthy lead for the Democratic candidate and Donald Trump's campaign running into scandal after scandal, Paddy Power believes it's a done deal and that Hillary is a nailed-on certainty to occupy the Oval Office," Paddy Power said in a statement.

The move by the betting market comes as Clinton's odds have edged up in most models, including hitting 85% on the data site FiveThirtyEight's polls-plus model and 91% on The New York Times' Upshot model. She has also expanded her lead in national polls to an average of 6.9 points, according to RealClearPolitics.

Who in the world is Evan McMullen?
Mod: Don't look now, but there is a third party independent candidate for President who might actually get a few Electoral College votes. According to the polls McMullen has now become the leading presidential contender in the state of Utah.

 
Evan McMullin takes the lead in latest Utah presidential poll (Salt Lake City Tribune link): Evan McMullin, the Provo-born independent, has seized his first lead in Utah's fluid presidential race. The Emerson College poll, released Wednesday, found McMullin with 31 percent, followed by Republican Donald Trump at 27 percent and Democrat Hillary Clinton at 24 percent.

The last 20 polls conducted in Utah had Trump either ahead or in a tie. In this survey, McMullin's advantage is at the edge of the 3.9 percent margin of error.

"We are very excited. We are humbled by the support," McMullin said about the poll moments after accepting the endorsements of some Republican state lawmakers. "We believe this momentum will spill over into neighboring states both in advance of the election and beyond. We are building a new conservative movement and we believe it begins here.

McMullin has surged in the days since the "Access Hollywood" video emerged showing Trump caught on a hot mic bragging about groping women. Since then, Trump's numbers have fallen, McMullin has surged and Clinton has remained steady. CNN, Fox News and NBC all have now declared Utah a toss-up.

Donald Trump has stumbled while trying to capitalize on WikiLeaks (Los Angeles Times link): Hillary Clinton challenged Donald Trump in their final presidential debate to condemn Russian email hacking that she alleges is aimed at influencing the election. He declined.

Trump flatly rejected the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian government was responsible for infiltrating Democratic Party emails, a major headache for Clinton in the campaign’s closing weeks.

Hillary, you have no idea” whether Russia is responsible for the hacking, Trump said, adding that the U.S. also has no idea about it. “I doubt it,” he said.

On Oct. 7, the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement saying the U.S. intelligence community was confident that the Russian government was responsible for the hacking.

“These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process,” the statement said. Moreover, they said, the hacking was authorized by Russia’s top officials.

Mod: Nobody should be too surprised at the possibly seditious actions of Donald Trump. After all, he is Putin's Puppet, and only doing as ordered.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Peace In Our Time? Donald Trump Brings President Obama and Bill O'Reilly Together for the First Time Ever

Mod: Can it be that there is a Nobel Peace Prize in Donald's future? 

Barack Obama and Bill O’Reilly Tell Donald Trump to Stop Whining (New York Magazine): There is broad, bipartisan consensus that Donald Trump’s sense of entitlement is in need of reform. The Republican nominee has spent the past two weeks trying to energize his base … by informing them that their votes probably won’t matter, since a cabal of international bankers — working in coordination with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, a bunch of ugly, lying women, and “certain communities” in Philadelphia — will probably just rig the election, anyway.

Which is to say: The standard-bearer of the “party of personal responsibility” has spent most of this month blaming everyone but himself for his plummeting poll numbers.

Now, (virtually) everyone from Barack Obama to Bill O’Reilly thinks it’s time for Trump to end his tour of the whine country.

“You start whining before the game is even over?” Obama asked an imaginary Trump, incredulously, during a presser in the White House Rose Garden with Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi. “If, whenever things are going bad for you and you lose, you start blaming somebody else? You don’t have what it takes to do this job.”

Obama went on to note the paucity of evidence for large-scale voter fraud in the United States — and how difficult such a scheme would be to pull off, given how decentralized the American voting system is.

On Monday night, Bill O’Reilly offered a more terse version of the same message, telling Stephen Colbert, that his recommendation to Trump was, “Stop whining … Nobody cares about the ‘rigged’ stuff.”

Mod: The rest of this inspiring account can be read here.

Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez chose not to stay in a Trump hotel, but he didn't want it to be news (Los Angeles Times link): From behind the Dodgers bench, Adrian Gonzalez glanced at his teammates who were taking their first rounds of batting practice during an afternoon workout. He looked down and sighed.

Gonzalez was suddenly part of the national conversation about the upcoming presidential election, courtesy of actions he had quietly taken five months earlier.

The Mexican American first baseman had refused to stay with his team at a Chicago property owned by Republican nominee Donald Trump.

The story became known Sunday night, and some people on social media were celebrating him as a hero as he and the other Dodgers were preparing for their Tuesday showdown against the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series 

Except … “I don’t want this to be a story,” the first baseman said. “I did it for myself,” he explained.

Gonzalez doesn’t want to be another Colin Kaepernick, who is kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

Gonzalez said that his views on social issues were a private matter. He might do something in protest, as he did when he asked the Dodgers to not provide Trump with business on his behalf, but he thinks that isn’t for anyone else to know.

“I wasn’t doing it for publicity, I wasn’t doing it for people to look at me or talk about me,” he said. “That’s not who I am. I just have my own values and morals that I want to live by.”

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Mod: Just one more reason to love the Dodgers.

Clinton holds clear advantage in new battleground polls (Washington Post link): Based on the results from the 15 state surveys, along with assumptions of the likely outcomes in other states that have consistently voted for one party or the other, Clinton, the Democratic nominee, holds leads of four percentage points or more among likely voters in states that add up to 304 electoral votes.

Trump, the GOP nominee, has the advantage in states with an estimated electoral vote total of 138. Arizona, Florida, Ohio and Texas, which account for 96 electoral votes, remain as toss-ups. All results in the 15 state surveys are based on ballot tests that include Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

The results underscore the importance for Trump of Wednesday’s final presidential debate, in Las Vegas. National polls have moved in Clinton’s direction since the exchanges began in late September. Her current average margin is seven points in polling averages from the Huffington Post Pollster and RealClearPolitics.

The effect of the shift toward Clinton in national polls is evident in the new 15-state study. In late August, The Post, using SurveyMonkey’s online methodology, conducted individual polls in all 50 states among registered voters. At that time, Clinton led in states that added up to 244 electoral votes, while Trump led in states accounting for 126. Toss-up states equaled 168 electoral votes.

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