Thursday, August 31, 2017

Axios: The incredible shrinking president

Mod: A summary of  recent events courtesy of the news site Axios.

The incredible shrinking president (Axios link): As President Trump formally launched his tax-reform drive with a no-details, "vision-casting" speech in Springfield, Missouri, the self-inflicted wounds of the past 222 days are adding up. The "most powerful man in the world" is suddenly looking mighty powerless:

Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are going their own way on tax reform. Hill sources believe his original targets, including a 15% corporate rate, are dead.

SecDef Mattis didn't immediately embrace his full ban on transgender troops.

His Justice Department won't drop the Russia probe.

Courts won't allow his full Muslim ban.

Mexico won't pay for his wall.

Congress won't pay for his wall.

The Senate won't pass his promised health-care reform.

Gary Cohn and Sec State Tillerson won't tolerate his Charlottesville response.

North Korea won't heed his warnings.

China doesn't fear his trade threats.

CEOs won't sit on his councils.

Mexico and Canada won't bend to his will on NAFTA.


19 days in August: Trump's road not taken ... Now imagine where Trump would be today if he had instantly (and only) condemned the racist violence in Charlottesville, blown off the Arizona meltdown rally, and held off on the Arpaio pardon till the usual protocol could be followed.

The press would be writing about a new, late-summer Trump who had managed two crises like a normal president, and cleaned house of the most toxic "America First" true believers. His Texas trip would have gotten a high grade, with his trademark brio and well-received remarks.

Now snap back to reality: Instead, Trump has escalated his war with the judiciary, media and Republican establishment. At the same time, he has created a monster on the outside in the form of Steve Bannon and his merry band of Breitbart brawlers.

And he chose that path with crises sprouting all around:

An epic flood that will cost taxpayers billions in damages and consume Congress when it returns.

North Korea crossing new lines, rattling markets.

Racial tensions boiling.

Rising fear of a government shutdown at the end of September or December.

Increasing pessimism in a once-buoyant business community.

Daily clues emerging of an expansive, ominous Mueller investigation.

Mod: It is only a matter of time now until Washington vomits this toxic substance up.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Pew Poll: Most Americans feel Trump is unstable, prejudiced, dishonest and selfish

Mod: He might still be popular with people who have green teeth, or count soap among the serious threats to their individuality, but according to the latest Pew Poll a vast majority of the American people view Donald Trump as being an immensely flawed and potentially dangerous president.

Trump Is Unstable, Prejudiced, Dishonest And Selfish, Americans Say About President In Damning New Poll (Newsweek link): Americans do not hold President Donald Trump in high regard, with most suggesting he is dishonest, unstable, prejudiced and selfish, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center. And the criticisms of the country’s 45th president do not end there, with a strong majority of Americans similarly indicating that they largely disagree with both Trump’s policies and his conduct since entering the White House.

A massive 66 percent said they agree with Trump on none, almost none or just a few of the issues facing the country today. Only 15 percent said they agreed with Trump on all or nearly all of the issues. Even among Republicans, the figure was just 31 percent.

Republican support was also less than emphatic on Trump’s conduct in office. Thirty-four percent of Republicans said they liked the way Trump conducts himself as president, with 46 percent indicating that they have mixed feelings. Overall, just 16 percent of the 1,893 adults surveyed between August 15 and August 21 said that they liked Trump’s conduct in office.

For both those who approve and disapprove of Trump, his personality was viewed as a bigger factor than his policies. Of Trump approvers, 54 percent said they liked his approach or personality most, while only 14 percent said his policies or values were the decisive factors. The separate survey of 4,791 adults between August 8 and August 21 also found that 32 percent of Trump disapprovers were most concerned by Trump’s policies and/or conduct, compared with 25 percent who named his policies as what concerned them most.

Digging deeper into Trump’s personality, the findings are far from positive for the president. Sixty-five percent said that the word selfish described Trump either fairly well or very well, with 55 percent saying the same for the word prejudiced. The findings came during Trump’s reaction to violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when he blamed “both sides” for the unrest that led to the death of a counterprotestor.

The negative views do not end there. A huge 72 percent responded that they thought the term even-tempered described Trump either not at all well or not too well. Even for Republicans, the percentage who said the term described him very well or fairly well was less than half, at 45 percent. Since coming into office, Trump has repeatedly lashed out at individuals, from television pundits to members of his own Republican party, for even the perception of criticism.

With cataloging the numerous untruths the president has uttered becoming a near full-time job, 62 percent said that honest was not an apt word to describe Trump. A plurality, 49 percent compared with 48 percent, responded similarly about the word decisive.

Why Melania Trump’s shoes have caused such a huge debate (Belfast Telegraph link): Donald and Melania Trump have travelled to Texas to visit those affected by Hurricane Harvey – but it’s pictures of them embarking on their travels which has lots talking.

It’s not the US president who has caused the discussion however, but his wife – specifically, Melania’s shoes. The 47-year-old former fashion model went with a pair of stilettos, with a pretty sizeable heel. The Category 4 hurricane has caused major flooding, with many weather stations in Houston reporting over 40 inches (102cm) of rain – so naturally some questioned the First Lady’s choice of footwear.

Melania’s communications director also said it was “sad” that people had chosen to talk about her choice of shoes. “It’s sad that we have an active and ongoing natural disaster in Texas, and people are worried about her shoes,” Stephanie Grisham told Fox News.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Library Forum September the 13th

Mod: This should be about as good a meeting as this old town has seen in quite some time. Or at least since the Water Forum. Why exactly does the city want to sell the property the Library sits on? My guess is there is more here than meets the eye, and hopefully some skillful questioning will tease some of that out.

Be sure to get there plenty early. Seats will fill up fast.


Mod: There are lots of big questions to be asked of course, but to me the key to all of it is this one: Who exactly is it that wants to buy the Library property? And why? That would tell us a lot more about what is actually going on here than all of those other questions put together.

Remember, it is always about the money. Especially when you are being told it is not.

Too bad they're not holding it at the Library. I guess that is no longer an acceptable setting.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Monday, August 28, 2017

Senate Bill 623: Prop 218 Evading Water Rate Increases On The Way?

Click here to see people demonstrating for this tax increase.

Mod: The State Senate majority is advancing a Constitutional Amendment that will create a loophole in your right to vote on taxes. Senate Bill 623/SCA4 justifies tiered water rates as a way of encouraging water conservation. It would then allow localities such as Sierra Madre to raise water fees aka taxes on homeowners while denying them the right to a Prop 218 vote. This could be what Jose Reynosa was thinking about at the Water Forum when asked if fines will be repealed once the city has sufficient water reserves. He said they would have to revisit that one. An interesting and revealing moment that passed most by. Here is a recent article from the Pasadena Star News.

First-ever water tax proposed to tackle unsafe drinking water in California (Pasadena Star News link): For the first time Californians would pay a tax on drinking water, 95 cents per month, under legislation to fix hundreds of public water systems with unsafe tap water — a problem that’s most pervasive in rural areas with agricultural runoff.

Senate Bill 623, backed by a strange-bedfellows coalition of the agricultural lobby and environmental groups but opposed by water districts, would generate $2 billion over the next 15 years to clean up contaminated groundwater and improve faulty water systems and wells.

“My message is short and direct: We are not Flint, Michigan,” co-author Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said at a Wednesday rally outside the Capitol, where demonstrators held signs reading “Clean water is not a luxury” and “Water is a human right.”

Ironically, many Californians are more aware of the crisis in Flint — where state and local officials in 2015 told residents about lead contamination in the drinking water, after claiming it was safe to drink — than about the water problems in their home state, said the measure’s main author, Sen. Bill Monning, D-Monterey. He called this “a pivotal time in our state’s history to do the right thing.”

SB 623 has been moving through the Legislature for months, but was amended Monday to include the tax on water for both homes and businesses. It also imposes taxes on farms and dairies, roughly $30 million annually, to address some of the contamination caused by fertilizers and other chemicals. Because it includes new taxes, the proposal will need a two-thirds vote in each house to pass, which supporters concede will be a battle.

Still, Monning has been able to forge the unusual alliance of farmers and environmental groups, which rarely agree on public policy. He also has the support of at least one Republican lawmaker: Sen. Andy Vidak, a cherry farmer who said his Central Valley district — which includes Hanford, Fresno and Bakersfield — is the epicenter of the drinking-water problem.

“This is very, very important to my constituents,” he said after the rally, as some of them began chanting on the Capitol steps. “This is one of the most important things in my district.”

But water agencies say taxing drinking water sets a dangerous precedent and that the bill would turn them into state tax collectors. “Water is essential to life. Should we tax drinking water? We don’t think so,” said Cindy Tuck, a spokeswoman for the Association of California Water Agencies.

Mod: There you go, first state tax on water ever. You can finish reading this PSN article by clicking on the link I've provided above. Tax increases in California are often publicized by those pushing for them as life or world saving efforts designed to prevent very bad things from happening. Pretty much how you advocate for stuff like this in Cosmic Cali. What happens to that money once the tax is put into place being anyone's guess. Here is a link to the actual SB623/SCA 4 water tax increase legislation.


sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Polls Show Trump, The Least Popular President Ever, Is Seeing His Approval Rating Sink To An All-Time Low

Mod: The latest Gallup Poll numbers are in and things are not looking all that good for the Combover Caligula. Apparently Trump's wildly unhinged looniness is not a quality most people are looking for in a President.

Polls Show Trump, The Least Popular President Ever, Is Seeing His Approval Rating Sink To An All-Time Low (Newsweek link) President Donald Trump has never had a stellar approval rating, but things appear to be taking a turn for the worse for the former reality TV star. The latest survey released by Gallup this week pegged his approval rating at just 34 percent. That's tied for the lowest such figure to date for the 45th president. Gallup also found that 60 percent of respondents disapproved of the job Trump has done, which is just a single percentage point off his all-time high of 61 percent.

Other polling firms have found similarly dismal figures for Trump. The weighted average from data-centric website FiveThirtyEight—a tracker that aggregates surveys and adjusts for quality, recency, sample size and partisan lean—pegged his approval at just 37.2 percent Friday. That's just 0.6 percentage points higher than his all-time low in the tracker. Trump's disapproval, meanwhile, stood at 56.8 percent Friday, according to FiveThirtyEight.

No president in the history of modern polling had an approval rating so poor at this point in his tenure, according to FiveThirtyEight's tracker, though Gerald Ford was quite close. His approval rating was 37.4 percent on day 218 of his presidency, just 0.2 percentage points better than Trump's on Friday. It's worth noting that Ford's popularity plummeted after he pardoned his predecessor, Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace following the Watergate scandal. It was a widely condemned move at the time, but perceptions have since shifted and it is now largely seen as a brave decision that helped the country heal.

After briefly sinking into the high 30s earlier this month, Trump has at least pulled back into the low 40s in the Rasmussen Reports tracking survey, which is often criticized for being right-leaning. His approval in the Rasmussen survey stood at 42 percent Friday, while 56 percent disapproved.

Trump's popularity has plummeted for a host of reasons. There's the ongoing investigation into his ties to Russia, the failed Republican plan to gut Obamacare, his threats of nuclear war with North Korea and, most recently, Trump's insistence on equating Nazi marchers in Virginia to the people counterprotesting the event, even after a white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring many more.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Water Forum Post Mortem: Questions & Answers

Mod: Earlier this month City Hall held a rather passionate "water forum" at a packed the Hart Park House. Below is a list of the questions that were asked with the replies as supplied by the City Manager and others. Put into this format, it all seems pretty cut and dried. So do these answers seem accurate to you now?

QUESTION: Why do I still have brown water? ANSWER: Brown water has been significantly eliminated. For the past year and a half the City has been using local groundwater; we no longer take imported water directly into our pipes. The City now spreads imported water into our basins and allows it to infiltrate through the earth. However, in some areas where water stands for long periods of time it can still get discolored. An example would be cul-de-sacs. It's important that we are made aware when residents experience colored water so we can increase flushing in those areas.

QUESTION: What happens to all the water that is constantly running down the Canyon wash? ANSWER: The water you see flowing in the wash is primarily from natural springs via tunnels on each side of Sierra Madre Dam. The majority of water is captured at the Camillo Road diversion structure and piped to our settling basins. However, the amount of water that is captured in this manner is not significant when compared with the daily water needs for Sierra Madre.

QUESTION: If our aquifer levels recover, will there be no more fines? ANSWER: The Governor of California has created a regulatory division which will evaluate the drought on a year to year basis. Every year the State will give allocations to each and every water agency in the State. The allocation won’t be based on the amount of water available to an agency, but instead will be based upon how much water the State believes the agency should use. This may cause enhanced and/or new mandates from the State that local municipalities have to implement. The State will require efficient use of water regardless of how much water is available. At this point it is unclear how the State will mandate these efforts and if fines and penalties will be included in enforcement actions.

QUESTION: Are we currently in winter or summer target levels? ANSWER: The City currently reads meters 6 times per year for each water account (every 2 months.) The seasons were previously adjusted to match the meter reading, meaning winter runs from December 15th -June 15th for one side of town and November 15th to May 15th for the other side of town. Artificially extending the seasons was an effective way to read meters and enter data but does not make sense in practice or for water rate payers. Moving forward the City will only have summer conservation targets, meaning the lower (winter) conservation targets will be discontinued and meters will be read monthly.

QUESTION: Is Arcadia taking our water? ANSWER: When pumping restrictions were imposed on the basin, both Sierra Madre and Arcadia's pumping rights were reduced. Arcadia has a right to produce water from the East Raymond Basin just like Sierra Madre. Arcadia is pumping its legally adjudicated amount and no more.

QUESTION: Can we work with Arcadia to improve Sierra Madre's supply situation? ANSWER: Yes, we have been working with Arcadia to restore the East Raymond Basin, and will continue to do so.

QUESTION: Is the Water District treating Sierra Madre fairly? Do we pay more than other cities for our water? ANSWER: Sierra Madre pays $380 per acre foot from the San Gabriel Valley Water District. We do pay more than the other three cities because Sierra Madre receives treated water, whereas the other cities receive untreated or "raw" water. Sierra Madre receives a fair deal on imported water. Agencies importing from the larger Metropolitan Water District (MWD) directly are paying between $700-$1000 per acre foot for treated water.

QUESTION: How many gallons are in an acre foot? ANSWER: There are 325,851 gallons in an acre foot.

QUESTION: Are we still spreading MWD water? ANSWER: The City currently spreads 300 acre feet per month as of July 1st. Our goal is to spread 1000 acre feet per year and, at a minimum, enough to maintain ground water levels. Once we are able to spread 1000 acre feet we will evaluate groundwater levels to determine if additional spreading is necessary.

QUESTION: Why is there such a loss when we spread? ANSWER: There is not much water loss as a result of spreading. The City receives a "one for one” credit for spreading imported water. Our basin is confined and water put into the ground stays in our basin until it is pumped out.

QUESTION: Why are we putting water that has already been treated into the ground? ANSWER: Sierra Madre has limited access to replenishment water. The City utilizes our water district through MWD's upper feeder. Unfortunately it is treated water in the pipeline which does cost more. The City has determined that re-charging the aquifer with this water is much better than supplying the pre-treated water directly through the distribution system as the change in water chemistry adversely affects the City’s distribution system.

QUESTION: Are residents charged a premium on purchased water? Is the City making a profit? ANSWER: By "premium" you may be referring to the tier structure or penalties that are charged on your water bill. There is no "premium" or profit made on the water itself.

QUESTION: What about our pipes? Are the chemicals we put into the water causing more leaks? ANSWER: Imported water introduced into the water system in 2013 was treated with chloramines, which is a mixture of chlorine and ammonia. The water also had a slightly different chemistry which caused iron build-up inside the City’s pipes to precipitate causing red or brown water. Since December 2015 the City has not taken any imported water directly in the water system. Alternatively, the City decided to infiltrate the imported water into the aquifer where it is allowed to blend. The City then pumps this water out to treat it and place it in the distribution system. The City is not required to add fluoride because it is sufficiently naturally occurring. Currently, as required by the Health Department, the City only adds chlorine to the water.

QUESTION: Can we get handouts of this evening's slides? ANSWER: Yes, a copy of the presentation will be included as an attachment to this evening’s Questions and Answers Forum.

QUESTION: Why do Sierra Madre water customers pay more for their meter charge than other cities? ANSWER: It is true the meter connection charges in Sierra Madre are more than in our neighboring cities. The meter connection charges include customer-related and meter-related costs. Customer costs are uniform for all customers and include such costs as meter reading, billing, collecting and accounting, and fire protection for 449 public fire hydrants. Meter service costs include maintenance and capital costs associated with meters and a portion of the capacity related costs. Furthermore, the charges were derived from the last rate study using the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Meter Ratio in calculating the meter component as is industry practice. These costs are assigned based on meter size or equivalent meter capacity.

QUESTION: Did these penalties just go into effect? ANSWER: The penalties were approved by the City Council in May of 2016 and put into place on bills in October of 2016.

QUESTION: What percentage of the pipes needs to be replaced? ANSWER: We have identified the top 10 priority water mains to be replaced. The top 10 represent about 80% of the water loss we are experiencing. Three have been completed and we are increasing the pace of repairing the rest. Overall, 28% of the pipes in Sierra Madre need to be replaced in the very near future.

QUESTION: We are only paying the interest of the water bonds, why? ANSWER: In 2002 the City sold bonds to build water reservoirs. The reservoirs themselves operate very efficiently and have improved the City's water system. In addition to this the Federal Government provided $6 million in matching funds. However, the debt sold by the City to match the Federal funds was not structured effectively. This bond series is 30 years with 5% interest, and the first 15 years of payments are interest only. The City plans to restructure this debt and will bring a plan forward to the City Council in September of 2017.

QUESTION: I have lived in Sierra Madre for 35 years and in the same house for 21 years. I have never seen anybody read my meter. I think the readings are being estimated. ANSWER: The City reads every meter in town prior to sending a bill. If you have not witnessed someone reading your meter it is likely your water meter has been upgraded to radio-read or touch-read. These types of meters do not require employees to physically read the meter, but the information from the meters is still transmitted accurately.

QUESTION: What is the total cost of water operations? What are we doing to reduce this cost? ANSWER: Since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2018, City staff has reduced overall water operations by $150,000. Staff will also bring plans to the City Council to reduce operations an additional $150,000-$330,000 later this year.

QUESTION: Why is the UUT applied to the penalty portion of the bill? ANSWER: The City will no longer apply the UUT to penalties.

QUESTION: How are new home owners made aware of their conservation targets? ANSWER: New water customers are provided a “Welcome Packet” when they sign up for new water service. This packet includes the conservation target.

QUESTION: Why are the targets so random? ANSWER: Conservation targets are not random; they are based on actual water use for each property from November 2012 through October 2013. If the number of people in the house increases or decreases or occupancy changes from vacant to occupied, or if there is need for additional water based on changes to the lot, the conservation target can be appealed. Here is a link to the appeal form as well as water budget calculation information: http://www.cityofsierramadre.com/services/water/Appeal/

QUESTION: How can we increase supply, trap more water? ANSWER: Whenever it rains, the goal is to capture and infiltrate water for recharge. The City also has rights to water stored behind the Santa Anita Dam. The City works closely with Los Angeles County Flood Control to allow for this stored water to be delivered to our spreading. However, it is important to note that there are rules about allowing water to go downstream to allow for other jurisdictions to receive water for recharge as well.

QUESTION: Are there any State or Federal funds to apply to Sierra Madre for water? ANSWER: Staff is consistently reviewing County, State, and Federal programs that may provide financial assistance to address Sierra Madre’s water challenges. In fact, staff will be traveling to Washington DC in September in an ongoing effort to receive $10 million WERTA funding that has been held up for over a decade.

QUESTION: Can we subcontract the installation of the AMI meters? ANSWER: Each AMI meter costs approximately $300. The City is currently looking at options to install AMI meters to each resident that requests one. More information on this program will be made available in the near future.

QUESTION: What percent of water is used by commercial or non-residential uses? What percent of the overage are they? ANSWER: In May and June of 2017 commercial use of total water consumed was 6.65%. Commercial users comprised 4.7% of total utility accounts during this reading period.

Mod: All good now?

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Crime Manifesto on the Sierra Madre Facebook Page?

Mod: I am not quite sure what to make of this one. It comes to us from a Facebook page called "Sierra Madre, CA" which, I am sad to inform you, has blocked me for the crime of posting links to The Tattler there. It is a kind of "political sheep pen" for those clueless enough to still believe the town wrecking old dudes that ran Sierra Madre into the ground back in the 2000's are still the wisest of them all. Doug "Upside Down Water Bonds" Hayes apparently having the largest flapping lip there. Which makes finding the following there so puzzling. Aren't these the same pension pumpers that claimed Measure UUT would save everything, especially a Police Department they deemed virtually irreplaceable? Even though half of them had deserted their posts? So why all of this concern about crime now? Like I said, this was an extremely odd place to find something quite as clearly outspoken as what follows. Do check it out.

TAKING BACK OUR COMMUNITY PROGRAM UPDATE – MORE THAN A DOZEN AGENCIES HAVE SIGNED ON TO JOIN THE COALITION, AND OUR NUMBERS ARE GROWING!

Like Monrovia, many cities across our region are experiencing alarming increases in violent and property crimes that are affecting our town’s safety and overall quality of life. To address this issue, during the past few weeks, Monrovia has taken the lead in coordinating the development of the Taking Back Our Community Coalition, which is aimed at amplifying the message that AB 109, Proposition 47, and Proposition 57 have had an adverse and negative impact on public safety in California.

While we do agree that not all crimes should be punished with long prison sentences, the Taking Back Our Community program has been established to articulate in a unified voice that the increases in crime we have been seeing are attributable in part to State legislative changes.

The Taking Back Our Community Coalition is quickly growing to include many cities in our region, as the response to the initiative has been overwhelming and positive. To date, we have 13 agencies that have signed on in support of the program, including:

1. Alhambra
2. Claremont
3. Glendora
4. Arcadia
5. Covina
6. Duarte
7. La Canada Flintridge
8. Monrovia
9. Sierra Madre
10. Whittier
11. SGVCOG
12. Cal Chiefs
13. Association of Deputy District Attorneys

Furthermore, there are 14 other agencies in various stages of joining our coalition. Two of those cities (Temple City and Rosemead) have asked that Monrovia present the program to their respective city councils, and we have scheduled time to meet with both entities.

All members of the coalition will be required to pay the City of Monrovia $1,500 / year, and the funds raised will be used to coordinate the development of an overall public education and outreach campaign. We are working right now on developing new content, including an infographic video, a dedicated website, and a social media campaign. A marketing flyer that is circulating around to all cities in the SGV is included below for the City Council’s reference.

It should also be noted that Los Angeles County has also taken note of the issues that have occurred as a result of AB 109, Proposition 47, and Proposition 57, and this past week, the LA County Board of Supervisors passed an amended motion by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn to create a countywide Blue Ribbon Commission on Public Safety to explore potential reforms in response to State legislative changes that have negatively impacted public safety.

The motion passed with the support of Supervisors Kathryn Barger, Janice Hahn, and Hilda Solis (who requested several amendments to the motion). Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas abstained and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was absent. A copy of the resolution that was approved can be found by clicking on the following link: http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/bos/supdocs/116144.pdf.

Finally, we have also taken over a new web address (www.TakingBackOurCommunityCA.com), which now links to a page on Monrovia’s website, where individuals can learn more about the public safety issues at hand. We encourage you to visit our website, and as this initiative moves forward, we will be certain to keep everyone apprised of any new developments.

Mod: More news if we're ever able to find any. They don't make it easy.

Something mysterious has now occurred 

Mod: Around 5AM this morning I took the following screen shot from that "www.TakingBackOurCommunityCA.com" site linked above. This is what showed up.


Mod: As pointed out by an alert Tattler reader, that link now (8:15AM) takes us to this unsatisfying  result:


Mod: How baffling!

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 24, 2017

States listed with the most hate groups. Where does California rank?

Mod: The following article comes from the Sacramento Bee, so it is NoCal leaning in its coverage. But even then you are probably going to be surprised. And perhaps not.

States listed with most hate groups. Where does California rank? (Sacramento Bee link): California ranks No. 1 in the nation with 79 active hate groups, six of which operate in Sacramento area, according to a new report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups and extremists in the U.S.

The Southern Poverty Law Center report includes a detailed map of the 917 hate groups actively operating across the United States. Florida ranks second among states, with 63 active hate groups.

In the Sacramento area, the report cited six active hate groups: Golden State Skinheads, a racist skinhead group, the Traditionalist Worker Party, a white nationalist group, the Pacific Justice Institute and Verity Baptist Church, both anti-LGBT groups, and As-Sabiqun and European-American Evangelistic Crusades, general hate groups.

In June 2016, a rally by members of the Traditionalist Worker Party in the shadow of the state Capitol devolved into violence when members clashed with Antifa, or anti-fascist demonstrators. Ten people were injured, with at least five stabbed in the violent confrontation.

Mod: In California's defense it would make sense that the state with the highest population would also have the most hate groups. It is just a matter of numbers. On a per capita basis the ratio of hate groups to a general population is no real surprise. 1. Montana: 9.6 hate groups per 1 million residents, 2. Idaho: 7.1 per million, 3. Mississippi: 6.0 per million, 4. Tennessee: 5.7 per million, 5. Alabama: 5.6 per million, 6. Arkansas: 5.4 per million, 7. Kentucky: 5.2 per million, 8. Virginia: 4.6 per million, 9. Missouri: 3.9 per million, 10. Indiana: 3.9 per million.

Officials, residents brace for conflict in Berkeley as Aug. 27 rally approaches (Berkeleyside.com link): Berkeley’s Civic Center Park has hosted three far-right rallies already this year, so a planned demonstration on Sunday, Aug. 27 feels familiar.

But in the wake of a white nationalist march that turned tragic in Virginia, many residents and officials are on higher alert as the rally approaches. Dozens of residents are calling the city of Berkeley every day, suggesting ways officials can put an end to the event, said Councilwoman Sophie Hahn.

In the aftermath of the Charlottesville events, groups on both the far right and far left are imploring their peers to attend the upcoming protests. Billed as a “No to Marxism in America” protest, the rally is the second stop during the organizers’ “Free Speech Weekend,” which begins in San Francisco on Aug. 26. The main organizer of the Berkeley event is Amber Cummings, known as Based Tranny among her supporters. She is associated with groups that have held three other rallies in the same park.

Right-wing protesters — ranging from libertarian militia to white supremacists — first came to Berkeley on March 4 to protest the cancellation, on Feb. 1, of a planned talk by far-right icon Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley. Masked anti-fascist, or antifa, demonstrators, who believed Yiannopoulos planned to “out” undocumented students, flooded the campus, smashing property and hitting some people with sticks.

So groups on the right declared Berkeley ground zero in their fight for what they say is freedom of speech, returning on April 15 and April 27. At two of the rallies, they clashed with antifa counter-demonstrators, who were intent on denying the organizers a platform for what they consider hate speech, and violent fights broke out.

As was the case with the previous rallies, nobody has applied for a protest permit for Aug. 27, said Berkeley spokesman Matthai Chakko. He declined to provide details about the city’s plans to prepare for the rally.

“There are people who want conflict with each other. We don’t advertise all of our strategies because that would be giving a blueprint to people,” Chakko said. “We’ll prepare for any contingencies and possibilities.”

Mod: There you go. Party in the streets of Berkeley this weekend. As far as I know nothing has been planned for Kersting Court.

Virtually no one thinks Trump has discouraged white supremacists (CNN link): Yes, it's true President Donald Trump has now explicitly condemned white supremacy groups -- but virtually no one in the United States thinks his comments and behavior have actually discouraged any white supremacist groups.

A mere 3% of American voters in a new Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday say Trump's actions as president have discouraged white supremacists.

"I said everything. I hit him with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi. I got them all in there, let's say. KKK, we have KKK. I got them all," Trump said at a Phoenix rally Tuesday night, a reference to how he said he effectively called out hate groups by name.

Just more than a third of American voters (35%) say Trump hasn't had an impact on white supremacist groups, and six in 10 voters (59%) say he's encouraged them. A majority of that group says he's encouraged them deliberately rather than accidentally.

Mod: No word yet if the president will be in Berkeley this weekend. But he really should be. After all, Milo will be there.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Somebody Is Trying To Sell The Sierra Madre Tattler

Mod: Well, they're trying to sell the name at least. I wonder if they have had any takers? Or, perhaps I should say, suckers? I personally would not (and never have) spent a nickel for the handle of this blog. And, as the actual source of all the excitement I have had to wonder, does any potential buyer of so cherished a name realize that you would actually have to write something once in a while to be an authentic and for sure Sierra Madre Tattler?

It is a thankless and tiresome task much of the time. Sleep debt being a consequence. Though it can be fun once in a while, I will confess to that. There have been good days, and friends. Check it out:


The folks who would happily sell you a "sierramadretattler.com" website are the ubiquitous and moderately annoying Internet domain name meddlers Go Daddy.com. A marketplace that has garnered its creator many millions of dollars in profit in the intellectual property peddling game. To go to the page where they're selling The Tattler, link here. Be sure to bring your credit card, PayPal or ApplePay account.

Here are some other variations on the Sierra Madre Tattler theme that are now up for grabs. Some of them at quite reasonable prices.


For those who might be concerned by any of this, you needn't be. The only active Sierra Madre Tattler site in this imperfect old world is this one. It is located at sierramadretattler.blogspot.com, an Internet entity parked on a Google property called Blogger. Which I am quite content with.

The funny thing is, I don't even own that. I just kind of squat on it. I don't rent it because the Blogger service is free to anyone with some spare time and an axe to grind. All they want in return is the web traffic. Which is fine with me. Just as long as I can still get up early in the morning and annoy the people I am unhappy with, I'm pleased.

By the way, being under the wing of Google makes this site far less hackable than anything found on Go Daddy.com. A real benefit in these troubled times. Even China couldn't hack Google, try as they might. You will want to remember that if you happen to make a buy.

Link here for a story called "Malware-spreading drive-by attack relies on hacked GoDaddy accounts."

Remember, in the end all of this is just lights on a screen. That is all it has ever been. And someday those lights will go out because like all things on our lost little planet, this too will need to come to an end.

All ownership is temporary. Add that to your cart and proceed to check out.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Trump looked at the solar eclipse without glasses on

Mod: I'm telling you, he just refuses to listen. And what are we going to tell the kids? What if he starts running with scissors, too? Not that any of this should come as a surprise, though. His vision is pretty screwed up anyway.

Trump looked at the solar eclipse without glasses despite a shouted warning from an aide (Business Insider link): President Donald Trump took in the solar eclipse from the Truman Balcony of the White House on Monday, even briefly glancing at the sun directly despite a shouted warning from an aide.

Sporting eclipse glasses — for only part of the viewing — and standing alongside Melania Trump and their son, Barron, Trump viewed what was a partial eclipse in Washington, DC. It began at 1:17 p.m. ET, peaked at 2:42 p.m., and was set to end at 4:01 p.m., The Washington Post reported. The moon covered 81% of the sun at the eclipse's peak in Washington.

At one point, Trump did look up at the eclipse without wearing the glasses, which can cause eye damage. According to a White House pool report, one of Trump's aides shouted "Don't look!" when Trump came out and pointed at the sky.

Much of the nation focused on the event, the first total eclipse to cross the country in nearly a century. The path of totality, where the moon fully eclipsed the sun, stretched from Oregon to South Carolina, but much of the rest of the country could view at least a partial eclipse.

Ouch!

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Monday, August 21, 2017

Jim Bakker: Eclipse is God’s Punishment for Obama Years

Mod: While most believe that today's eclipse is due to a giant dragon eating the sun, you are about to know better. According to televangelist Jim Bakker it is God's retribution on the American people for electing Barack Obama.

Bakker: Eclipse is God’s Punishment for Obama Years (BizStandardNews.com link): Televangelist and survivalist Jim Bakker has blamed the impending lunar eclipse on President Barack Obama. “God came to me in a dream and said I should tell the world that I am plunging the world into darkness to remind people I’m still mad at the Obama years,” said Bakker on his online radio show.

Obama legalized witchcraft, sexual deviants getting married and schools started teaching transgenderism.”

Bakker said it would take eight years of Donald Trump for America to “get right with God.”

Bakker isn’t the only Evangelical Christian who is misinterpreting an astronomical phenomenon as a religious sign. Anne Graham Loetz, daughter of famed preacher Billy Graham, said the eclipse was a sign of impending doom. Franklin Graham, Loetz’s brother, has frequently accused President Barack Obama of being a Muslim.

“While no one can know for sure if judgment is coming on America, it does seem that God is signaling us about something. Time will tell what that something is,” said Loetz in a blog post.

Will 2017 solar eclipse cause secret planet 'Nibiru' to destroy Earth next month? (The Telegraph link): Certain theorists around the world are claiming that a planet will collide with Earth this September - and that the coming total solar eclipse will signal the apocalypse's beginning.

David Meade, author of 'Planet X – The 2017 Arrival', asserts the planet Nibiru (also known as Planet X) will crash into our own on 23 September 2017.

Although scientists deny the planet's existence, Meade is convinced he is right after finding bible passages to support his claims.

Earlier this year Meade asserted that Nibiru would crash into Earth in October, however he has now moved the date forward a few weeks.

The Great American Eclipse - the total solar eclipse which will enshroud parts of the US in complete darkness on 21 August - now apparently indicates the planet's arrival.

Where does this theory come from?

Despite a lack of evidence, David Meade - along with a number of other theorists - claim bible passages and the solar eclipse's existence support the idea that the end of times are nigh.

Meade told The Daily Star earlier this month: “The Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017, is a major - huge - harbinger.”

The theorist points to warnings in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, Chapter 13, verses nine to 10, which reads: "See, the Day of the Lord is coming – a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger – to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.

"The Stars of Heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising Sun will be darkened and the Moon will not give its light."

Mod: It's not like you weren't warned. Wear sunglasses. Or, even better yet, a helmet.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Arnold Schwarzenegger's message for President Trump and Neo-Nazis on Charlottesville violence

Link to video here.

'Whatabout' Those Other Historical Figures? Trump's Question Answered (NPR link):

"So this week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop? ... [Jefferson] was a major slave owner. Are we going to take down his statue?" — President Trump, Aug. 15, 2017

The president made this statement Tuesday while jabbing at reporters over a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where white nationalists protested the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

And he used one of his standard rhetorical techniques, "whataboutism."

While defending the protesters and claiming that they weren't all white supremacists, he changed the subject to attack others. "What about the alt-left?" he said, when asked about the white nationalist alt-right. ("Alt-left" is a term seemingly invented for whataboutism, making liberals seem like the moral equivalents of the "alt-right," whose members coined that term themselves.)

"Are we going to take down statues of George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?" Trump asked, given Washington's and Jefferson's slave ownership. He added, "You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?"

Well, let's take on those questions. The president is not the first person to ask.

Washington did own slaves — and does not get a pass for freeing them at the end of his life. Jefferson was a "major slave owner," too — and is even more to be criticized, because he understood that slavery was wrong, calling it a "moral depravity" and a "hideous blot."

Nor were they alone among our Founding Fathers: James Madison was a slave owner; even Benjamin Franklin owned two slaves before the practice was banned in Pennsylvania. Slavery was so deeply entrenched in the economy that it touched nearly everyone who lived before the Civil War, even those who did not own a slave.

This is an awkward reality for the keepers of memorials and historic sites. Keepers of the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home, have been forced to wrestle with the reality that he took Indian land, used enslaved laborers on multiple plantations and even personally chased escaped slaves. The Hermitage has responded by expanding displays showing the dark side of this historic figure, but it is not planning to tear down the house.

So "whatabout" them? Must they all go if Robert E. Lee goes?

Not necessarily, because they are not all the same.

Some figures stood for something larger. Washington guided the foundation of a country that eventually preserved freedom for all. Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence, in which a single phrase — "that all men are created equal" — became a hammer that later generations would use to help smash the chains of slavery.

It's possible to make a case for honoring such men, so long as we are also honest about their flaws. They were participants in a great experiment in self-government, which has expanded over time to embrace more and more people of all races, not to mention women, too.

So "whatabout" Lee? What did he stand for?

Lee, who is connected by marriage to the family of Washington, resigned from the Army to fight against his country, on the Confederate side in the Civil War.

Then and later, Confederate apologists dismissed the idea that they were fighting to defend slavery. They said they were fighting for "states' rights" or against Northern oppression. But conflict over slavery was what drove the fight for states' rights and divided the country for years before the war. The election of Abraham Lincoln, a president who was critical of slavery, triggered the rebellion.

And the Confederate vice president, Alexander H. Stephens, was more frank than others in stating the rebels' aims. In an 1861 speech, he declared that the "cornerstone" of the Confederacy was "that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition."

Other Confederates may have fought for different reasons; it is said that Lee went over to the rebel side because he could not bear to fight against his native Virginia. But Stephens' "cornerstone" speech accurately describes the larger cause that Lee willingly served and generally accepted: a drive to overturn the idea of equality, which Stephens called an "error." This cause was the reason that many Confederate statues were built in the era of Jim Crow segregation, from after Reconstruction to the civil rights movement starting in the 1950s. Aside from Southern "heritage" or "pride," many explicitly represented white supremacy.

There is still a case to be made for Lee as a brilliant general, who won battle after battle and kept his army together for years, even though it was massively outnumbered and undersupplied. He is a significant figure in the American story.

Ulysses S. Grant, the general who defeated him, gave the best epitaph of Lee, saying the Confederate general "had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought."

But let's be honest. In Charlottesville over the weekend, the "Unite the Right" protesters chanted "blood and soil"; others listened to Richard Spencer, who has called for an all-white homeland. Members of one group, Identity Evropa, "seem to revel in goading counter-protesters into violent clashes," according to a profile of a member on KQED. Counterprotesters were indeed goaded into clashes — and a car, allegedly driven by an Ohio man on the white-nationalist side, drove into them, killing a woman.

Is it remotely possible that Spencer and Identity Evropa and the driver of a Dodge Challenger came to defend the statue of Lee because of his skill in military tactics and strategy?

To have such defenders says a lot about the cause that Lee represented. To have the president of the United States compare Lee to Washington is simply, factually wrong.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Las Vegas Sun: Embraced by neofascists, Trump is the 1st un-American president

Mod: Best editorial yet on some of the latests events of Trump's very strange and quite bizarre 
presidency. Link here.

Embraced by neofascists, Trump is the 1st un-American president - As became clear Tuesday at Trump Tower, we now have a president who is loath to fight Nazis. The unimaginable has happened.

The leader of the nation that sacrificed more than 400,000 of its sons and daughters in a desperate fight to prevent global conquest by white supremacists in World War II once again blamed counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va., for helping cause the violence there over this past weekend.

Offered an opportunity to heal wounds that he caused by waiting two days to issue a rote condemnation of neo-Nazis for the horrific situation, President Donald Trump instead offered cover for them by echoing sentiments he expressed on Saturday via a statement that the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer raved about as being “really, really good.”

“OK, what about the alt-left that came charging them?” Trump said. “Excuse me. What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?”

With that, what might have seemed inconceivable at one time became reality. A U.S. president defended neofascist racists who swarmed into Charlottesville from elsewhere over counterprotesters, many of them residents of the community, who countered them by representing our nation’s cherished values of equality and inclusion.

Yes, the rally did draw members of Antifa, short for anti-fascists, a group that has occasionally used vandalism and acts of violence in opposition to neo-Nazis and other hate groups. And if activists from Antifa or any other group instigated any violence, they should be prosecuted.

However, there’s no question that the torch-bearing neo-Nazis, not counterprotesters from groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter, were overwhelmingly responsible for the tragedy, in which 32-year-old Heather Heyer died and 19 other people were injured when a 20-year-old man Nazi sympathizer and was fascinated with Nazi ideology drove his car into a group of counterprotesters. In addition, two state troopers died when the helicopter from which they were monitoring the situation crashed.

With his comments Tuesday, Trump showed clearly that his condemnations from Saturday and Monday — the latter of which he read woodenly from a teleprompter — were hollow. Trump knows that white supremacists are part of his base, and he’s not about to alienate them.

If you think that’s an overstatement, consider the response Trump received from white supremacist David Duke via Twitter: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.”

Disgusting. This is a president who routinely invoked the names of World War II generals on the campaign trail to appeal to pro-military voters, and he now is drawing praise from believers in the ideology that those same generals — along with those 400,000-plus service members who sacrificed their lives and 16 million-plus who served — risked all to oppose.

“Racism is evil,” he said Monday, “and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

Those words were true, and there was no need for Trump to do anything but continue to condemn the thugs who incited chaos and violence in Virginia.

Trump doesn’t get it. Americans fight Nazis and other fascists. Americans revile the existence of those groups’ ideology. Americans will wall off their demonstrations, marginalize them in society, oppose them relentlessly and condemn them unconditionally. Period.

It’s worth repeating: We now have a president who won’t do the same. He’ll attack the media with impunity, will vilify Muslims and will even besmirch members of his own administration and party, but he practically has to be cattle-prodded into putting white supremacists in their place.

There’s no rectifying this with an apology or another statement.

The president of the United States may be American by birth. But he’s clearly too cowardly to fight groups that Americans will not tolerate — neo-Nazis, the KKK and other white supremacists among them. That alone has made him the first un-American president, because this nation stands for fighting those hate groups, not coddling them.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Friday, August 18, 2017

Kersting Court Lowdown: Once Again Chelsea Plays Her Bagpipes Under The Watchful Eye Of The SMPD

video

You may recall that Sierra Madre's favorite bagpiper had been summarily ordered to cease and desist from her playing and vacate Kersting Court by the local gendarmes a few weeks ago. This was not well received in the community, and much unhappy commenting occurred not only here, but on certain Facebook sites as well.

After all, Sierra Madre is a place rightfully celebrated for its support of the arts.

That said, Chelsea was playing again yesterday, and the SMPD was out as well. But as far as we know the performance was allowed to take place without any unfortunate incidents.

The backstory is Chelsea was robbed a while back, and in order to get to Scotland where bagpipes are not only understood but revered as well, she has been busking downtown in hopes of raising some travel cash.

Here are a couple of photos commemorating yesterday's event.

As far as we know Chelsea was not arrested. At least not this time.

But please remember, if you hear something, say something. Hopefully nice.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sierra Madre Weekly: Carl Foote’s Body Discovered Near Jones Peak, Bailey Canyon, Sierra Madre

Mod: The Sierra Madre Weekly has come up with what looks to be the most comprehensive version of the many news stories covering the Carl Foote tragedy. To link to their website click here.

Carl Foote’s Body Discovered Near Jones Peak, Bailey Canyon, Sierra Madre - The Sierra Madre Police Department and the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team with the assistance of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue along with search teams from Altadena, San Dimas, Antelope Valley and Montrose concluded an exhaustive search for Carl Foote Saturday afternoon. Foote had been missing since Sunday Aug. 6.

Sierra Madre resident Carl Foote was reported missing by his wife on Sunday, Aug. 6 at approximately 6:30 p.m. Carl was last seen walking in the vicinity of Merrill and Highland Avenues at approximately 10:30 a.m.

Foote was a lifelong resident of Sierra Madre an avid walker, hiker and cyclist, and familiar with the trails in Sierra Madre and the surrounding vicinity. Officers investigating the incident soon learned that Carl’s personal belongings, cell phone, wallet, bicycles and vehicle were all left behind at his home in Sierra Madre. An initial Missing Person Flier was forwarded to surrounding police agencies in the San Gabriel Valley.

When Foote did not report to work on Monday Aug 7, Sierra Madre Police Department utilized their partners from the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue. The foothills of Sierra Madre were searched for Foote throughout the week. News travelled fast and community members, friends and family also helped with the search efforts.

Local church and community groups also formed and joined in the active search for Mr. Foote.

The Sierra Madre Police Dept. issued a press release Saturday night stating that “…at about 4:10PM this afternoon{ Saturday} a person matching the physical description and clothing of our missing person was located by search teams about one half mile, northeast of Jones Peak. The person has not been positively identified at this time.

The SMPD Is working in conjunction with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Division, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office in this ongoing investigation.”

Sources with knowledge of the investigation said this was indeed the body of Carl Foote.

Carl Foote, 59, was an active board member on the Foothill Unity Center, Monrovia.

Former Mayor of Monrovia and a Foothill Unity Board member Mary Ann Lutz posted the following on Facebook: “Our worst fears have come true. Carl Foote, my friend and fellow Foothill Unity Center Board Member is gone. Devastation is the best way to describe these events. My love and prayers to Carl’s wife and family! We never know what is in-store for us, make sure those around you know you love them.”

More on the Foothill Unity Center

Mod: Here is a link to the Foothill Unity Center. They describe themselves this way:

"What is Foothill Unity Center? Founded in 1980, Foothill Unity Center is the primary provider of food, case management/crisis help, and access to health care resources across eleven San Gabriel Valley cities in Los Angeles County, California. As the federally designated Community Action Agency for the Foothill Area, we operate two locations, in Monrovia and Pasadena, serving clients in Pasadena, Altadena, South Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Monrovia, Bradbury, Duarte, Azusa, Baldwin Park and Irwindale. 79% of our clients are at or below the National Poverty Level. The number of people served by the organization has more than tripled over the last five years, making community funding contributions and volunteer support more critical than ever."

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com