Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Guide to How Kids Judge Your Halloween Candy

Mod: I'm trying to help you out here. This is important, and you need to pay attention.


Guide to How Kids Judge Your Halloween Candy (HowToBeADad.com link): Everyone has their varying candy preferences, but sizing up what’s been plopped into the bag is a pretty universal part of Halloween.

However grateful and well-mannered they are, it’s impossible for trick-or-treaters to avoid casting some judgement on the treat-giver-outers they encounter.

You see, parents don’t often let kids eat the entire bag in one sitting, so kids have to prioritize what they’ll eat first (or sneak-eat between houses, under the cover of darkness). Valuations need to be made for some potentially cutthroat trading later. And then there’s the parent tax, though this is usually easy since adults crave a lot of candy kids would rather use as a skipping stone than eat.

There’s a lot of complexity to it all. This is really serious stuff, man! I mean… for kids. (ehem) Heh.

You can’t really go wrong. If kids don’t like Smarties, they can always swap them with a friend that likes to chew on sidewalk chalk. Okay wait, maybe the Partypooper “treats” are a way to definitely go wrong. Just turn off your porch light and lock your door if you hate kids and tooth decay so much.

Have a Happy Halloween! And remember to tell your kids about a hundred times to remember to say “thank you.”

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Monday, October 30, 2017

Manafort, Gates surrender to Mueller, source says - Charged with 12 Counts including "Conspiracy Against the United States of America"


 

Manafort, Gates surrender to Mueller, source says (CNN link): Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump campaign official Rick Gates surrendered Monday to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Gates is a longtime business associate of Manafort, having worked together since the mid-2000s, and served as his deputy on the campaign.

Manafort arrived at the FBI's Washington field office Monday morning. He and Gates were indicted under seal on Friday, the source said. The two are being processed separately, according to a law enforcement official. They will later be transported to federal district court in Washington later Monday morning.

The indictments are expected to be unsealed later Monday. The extent of the charges was not immediately known.

CNN has reached out to lawyers for Manafort and Gates.

Manafort faces conspiracy, money laundering, false report charges (The Hill link): Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been charged with 12 counts including conspiracy against the United States, according to the office of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Manafort’s former business partner and protegĂ© Rick Gates, who was ousted from the pro-Trump group America First Policies in April, has also been charged. The charges are related to work done by Manafort and Gates on behalf of a pro-Kremlin political party in Ukraine, for which the government alleges they were paid tens of millions of dollars that they then laundered “in order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities.”

Manafort and Gates, “together with others, knowingly and intentionally conspired to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful governmental functions of a government agency, namely the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury,” prosecutors argued in a sprawling 31-page indictment unsealed on Monday morning.

The two have been charged with laundering tens of millions of dollars “through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts,” according to the indictment.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Snowflake-in-Chief: The biggest myth about Donald Trump is that he’s a tough guy

Mod: A pretty spot on opinion piece about the very small  man now occupying that big White House.

The biggest myth about Donald Trump is that he’s a tough guy (news.com.au link): WHAT a small, pitiful man Donald Trump is. The US President thinks he’s a real tough guy, presumably because he spent so many years pretending to fire people on reality TV.

But that is, and always has been, a lie. Trump’s supporters mistake his petty, spiteful aggression for strength, when it is in fact the exact opposite. His endless spats and Twitter tantrums reveal a man who is thin-skinned, self-obsessed and pathetically insecure. Trump, who has more power and responsibility than anyone else on the planet, wastes his days in the White House obsessing over pointless feuds and satisfying his compulsive need to whine about every perceived grievance.

Why? Because the only thing Trump truly cares about is making himself look good. No policy is more important than boosting his ego. No lie is too outrageous if it’s in service to his self-esteem.

Consider the depressingly stupid week-long spat over Trump’s condolence call to a fallen soldier’s widow.

A Democratic Congresswoman, who was present for the call, said Trump seemed to forget Sergeant La David Johnson’s name and told Sgt Johnson’s wife Myeshia he “knew what he was getting into when he signed up”.

Trump accused her of “totally fabricating” his words. “I did not say what she said,” he insisted, over and over again. Well, Ms Johnson herself later confirmed the Congresswoman’s account. So unless you’re prepared to impugn the motives of a grieving widow, it is clear that Trump was lying.

The phone call itself is not the problem here. We all occasionally stumble over our words or blurt out the wrong thing, and that’s without the immense pressure of speaking to a tearful spouse. Trump’s clumsiness during the call is entirely forgivable.

No, the problem is that the President of the United States would rather shamelessly lie about his conversation with a war widow than offer anything resembling an apology. This is what he should have said: “I’m sorry Ms Johnson was offended. That was never my intent. I honor her husband’s sacrifice and wish her the best as she grieves for him. The nation grieves with her.”

That would have ended the controversy, but of course, Trump was never going to say it. Even now he continues to imply that Ms Johnson is the one lying, despite a car full of witnesses contradicting him, because he is pathologically incapable of admitting to a mistake.

This isn’t the kind of arrogance you usually see in politics. If you want an example of an arrogant president, look at Barack Obama, who genuinely believed he could change the world by making a few pretty speeches.

Trump is different. His ego is gigantic, yes, but it’s also pathetically fragile. That is why he has such an overwhelming impulse to get back at anyone who criticises him.

At the start of October, you may recall, he came under fire for jetting off on a golf trip while the mayor of Puerto Rico’s biggest city, San Juan, pleaded for more help dealing with the devastating aftermath of two hurricanes.

“I will do what I never thought I was going to do — begging. Begging anyone that can hear us to save us from dying. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy,” Mayor Carmen Cruz said.

A normal person would have asked whether he really could do more, or at the very least, empathised with Ms Cruz over her desperate situation. But while she slept in a shelter because her house had been wrecked, and waded through floodwaters trying to help survivors, Trump mocked her from the comfort of his golf club in New Jersey.

“The mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” he said.

“Such poor leadership ability by the mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”

Puerto Rico is a US territory. So just to be clear, that was the President of the United States attacking American disaster victims for wanting his help.

In Trump’s mind, he was the victim. He always is. When his words offend a grieving widow, he’s the victim. When the media quotes him word-for-word and he doesn’t like how it sounds, he’s the victim.

When he fails to convince Congress to do what he wants, he’s the victim. This week he was attacking the Mueller investigation again, because when someone tries to find out why on earth he fired the FBI Director and lied about his motive, he’s the victim.

Maddening hypocrisy has always been at the core of Trump’s political brand. The guy who scammed poor Americans so he could live in a penthouse made of gold and marble somehow anointed himself the champion of the white working class.

Trump repeatedly whaled on Obama for taking too many golf trips when he should have been working, and has spent a quarter of his own days in office playing golf.

He accused the Clintons of being corrupt, and has used his presidency to funnel millions of dollars into his own businesses.

He constantly, shamelessly lies, and spent years spreading the ridiculous conspiracy theory that Obama was not an American citizen, but has the gall to label any facts that make him look bad “fake news”.

But no Trumpian hypocrisy is more infuriating than the people who called Obama a narcissist because he used the word “I” too much — yes, really, that was a thing — now fawning over a man whose defining character trait is a compulsive need to make everything about himself.

Trump’s fragile narcissism has corrupted his movement. There is only one condition for membership of the Trump personality cult — absolute loyalty. You must praise everything he says and does. If you criticise him, no matter how impeccably conservative your credentials, you’re labelled a leftist; a Republican in name only; a traitor.

Political and moral principles are sacrificed in service to the only thing that matters — Trump’s ego. It would be deliciously ironic if it weren’t so sad. Trump’s fans love to mock the “snowflakes” who are “triggered” by his juvenile insults and political incorrectness, yet somehow they remain blind to the thin-skinned snowflake in their midst.

Trump’s constant, unquenchable thirst for adulation isn’t tough, it is pathetic. A bigger man, and a better president, would have enough self-confidence and respect to ignore the petty fights and get on with his job.

And if, after ten months of Trump’s compulsive whining, you still believe he is as tough as he claims, you have not been paying attention.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Grand Jury has now approved first charges in Mueller investigation - First arrest could come Monday

Mod: Just in case you have been wondering why the Trumpies are suddenly dredging up ancient and baseless nonsense about Obama and the Clintons. They know some of Donald's pals are about to take a ride in the paddy wagon, and would really prefer that you look the other way.

First charges filed in Mueller investigation (CNN: link) A federal grand jury in Washington on Friday approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources briefed on the matter. The charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, the sources said. It is unclear what the charges are.

A spokesman for the special counsel's office declined to comment. Mueller was appointed in May to lead the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Under the regulations governing special counsel investigations, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has oversight over the Russia investigation, would have been made aware of any charges before they were taken before the grand jury for approval, according to people familiar with the matter.

On Friday, top lawyers who are helping to lead the Mueller probe, including veteran prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, were seen entering the court room at the DC federal court where the grand jury meets to hear testimony in the Russia investigation.

Reporters present saw a flurry of activity at the grand jury room, but officials made no announcements.

Shortly after President Donald Trump abruptly fired then-FBI Director James Comey, Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel. Mueller took the reins of a federal investigation that Comey first opened in July 2016 in the middle of the presidential campaign.

Mueller is authorized to investigate "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation," according to Rosenstein's order.

The special counsel's investigation has focused on potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as obstruction of justice by the President, who might have tried to impede the investigation. CNN reported that investigators are scrutinizing Trump and his associates' financial ties to Russia.

Mueller's team has also examined foreign lobbying conducted by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and others. His team has issued subpoenas for documents and testimony to a handful of figures, including some people close to Manafort, and others involved in the Trump Tower meeting between Russians and campaign officials.

Last year, the Comey-led investigation secured approval from the secret court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor the communications of Manafort, as well as former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, as part of the investigation into Russian meddling.

In addition to Mueller's probe, three committees on Capitol Hill are conducting their own investigations.

Impeachment ad triggers Trump meltdown as polls increasingly show Americans want him out (ShareblueMedia link): Donald Trump is very upset that philanthropist and activist Tom Steyer is running an ad calling for his impeachment, but recent polling shows Americans are already onboard.

Steyer purchased time for the ad on Trump’s favorite show, “Fox & Friends,” smack dab in the middle of programming on the right-wing propaganda network, Fox News. The gambit worked, and caught Trump’s attention as he spends his valuable time watching a television network dedicated to making him happy.

In response to the ad, Trump wrote, “Wacky & totally unhinged Tom Steyer, who has been fighting me and my Make America Great Again agenda from beginning, never wins elections!”

The ad is part of the “Need to Impeach” campaign, which cites three reasons to “stop Trump now”: Trump and his team’s continued lies about his interactions with Russia; Trump’s discussions about possibly pardoning himself, aides, and family; and the threat posed to national security by “refusing to stand up to Russia and engaging in brinkmanship with North Korea.”

Far from being a “wacky” idea, polling shows that it is an idea with strong support. Public Policy Polling recently asked voters to weigh in (link), and in October of 2017 they found that 48 percent support impeaching Trump, while 43 percent oppose. The group notes that is the “fifth month in a row we find voters in support of impeachment.”

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Friday, October 27, 2017

Poll: Majority of military officers view Trump unfavorably

Mod: Donald Trump  is a fearless chickenhawk who dodged military service during the Vietnam era, yet doesn't seem to have any problems sending others into harm's way now. He is not exactly beloved by today's armed forces. You are surprised?

Poll: Majority of military officers view Trump unfavorably (The Hill link): A majority of U.S. military officers have an unfavorable view of President Trump, according to a survey released this week by the Military Times. According to the poll, 53 percent of respondents said they hold an unfavorable opinion of the commander in chief, while about 31 percent said they view him favorably. Sixteen percent said they were neutral on the matter.

The findings come amid the controversy surrounding Trump's disputed call to the widow of a U.S. Army soldier killed in Niger earlier this month.

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who was with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson at the time of the call, alleged that Trump was insensitive in the conversation. The White House has denied that claim and has accused the congresswoman of politicizing the soldier's death.

Johnson was one of four soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4 while U.S. troops accompanied Nigerien soldiers on a routine patrol. The Pentagon has since launched an investigation into the attack and the circumstances surrounding it — particularly how Johnson became separated from the rest of the unit.

Ron Reagan: Trump is deeply damaged human being (The Hill link): The son of former President Ronald Reagan on Wednesday took aim at President Trump, questioning his fitness for office.

"Donald Trump is a deeply damaged human being," Ron Reagan said on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews." Reagan, a radio host and MSNBC contributor, went so far as to also call the commander in chief a "sociopathic, malignant narcissist." Reagan compared Trump to a stain in a carpet, arguing that the president must be removed.

"The Electoral College has sort of vomited this thing up and it landed in the Oval Office. And it needs to be removed. It's a stain. It's a big glob on the carpet there. It needs to be removed. And that means impeachment or the 25th Amendment. This man is a danger to the world," he continued.

Ally of Milo Yiannopoulos wins control of California College Republicans (Los Angeles Times link): In a closely divided election, a UC Irvine student who led an insurgency against establishment politics won a bitter battle Saturday for control of the California College Republicans, a triumph for provocative conservatism over a more moderate approach. Ariana Rowlands, an ally of right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, led a slate called Rebuild, which advocates aggressive actions in campus culture wars and taking on college administrators and liberals who try to suppress the conservative voice.

Her opponent, USC graduate Leesa Danzek, works for a centrist Republican state legislator, favors inclusion and encourages students to help GOP candidates with phone banking and electioneering. She headed the Thrive slate and had led the state organization, which supports about 70 campus chapters, over the last year.

Rowlands defeated Danzek, 88-64, in the first contested election in nearly a decade but the 14-member executive board ended up evenly split between the two sides. The divide between them reflects the national battle between GOP establishment insiders and insurgents inspired by Trump.

YouTube Trumpkin and Former Milo Intern Kills His Own Dad for Calling Him a Nazi (The Daily Beast link): It was a clear summer afternoon on July 14, on Samish Island—a small, idyllic community off the northwest coast of Washington state—where Lane, a balding, bearded, Donald Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist and prolific YouTuber and Redditor, known online as Seattle4Truth, lived with his parents.

Lane had spent that Friday morning as he did most mornings, on the Internet. This day, like the others, Lane read and retweeted posts celebrating the Second Amendment, bemoaning diversity, and spreading conspiracy theories that alleged Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta was involved in a child sex ring and DNC staffer Seth Rich had been murdered for leaking sensitive emails to WikiLeaks.

It was the end of a busy week during which he contributed to the Donald Trump subreddit, and over on The Ralph Retort, a fringe blog where he worked as a political editor, (unpaid, according to the site’s owner), he had celebrated the idea of a Kid Rock Senate run, claimed America was under threat of Sharia Law, and wondered whether CNN was “literally ISIS.”

Lane’s parents, Catherine and Charles Davis—Charles was known as Chuck to his friends—were used to their 33-year-old son’s outbursts. They had become so frequent that Charles had started recording the tirades on his phone. But that afternoon, they were tired of Lane’s screaming, wanted him to leave, and told him as much. Instead, Lane chased his parents around their home, spitting in his father’s face while screaming that he wasn’t threatening to kill them, but “pedophiles who were taking over the country.”

Minutes later, Catherine called 911. The audio recording is hard to hear. In it, Catherine is running and the portable phone she’s using breaks up. Catherine screams “He stabbed him!” before the connection is lost.

As the 73-year-old maritime lawyer and grandfather of two lay bleeding on the back deck, stabbed by his son in the chest and the back with a chef’s knife, Lane walked outside, dropped his weapon and stood with his hands in the air, waiting for police to arrive.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Possible Postcard Question: "Should the money raised through the sale of the Library property be used for water infrastructure and road repair, or moving the Library to the YAC?"

Card source, but hardly Hallmark
Mod: Trying to figure out yesterday where the Library Relocation postcard deal is going, I sent a hopeful email off to a frequent contributor to this site, Sierra Madre City Manager Gabe Engeland. It turned into a rich conversation, one where Gabe even conceded that past outreach efforts in town might not have been as non-partisan as had been promised. However, his faith in the one under consideration now remains rock solid. Despite the source of these postcard questions, who apparently began their work just last night.

The Tattler: Can this question be submitted for Library Relocation postcard consideration? Popular theme on the blog this morning. "Should the money raised through the sale of the Library property be used for water infrastructure and road repair, or moving the Library to the YAC?"

City Manager Gabe Engeland: I would say no. The purpose of selling the current library would be to fund the move to the YAC. The YAC location would need a retrofit, changes to the layout of the site, and potentially an expansion to accommodate library services. If the funds from a potential library sale were dedicated elsewhere, the library would not be able to relocate, as the YAC could not be altered to meet the needs of putting a library at that site.

The Tattler: Right. But isn't it a bit of an assumption to say the money realized through the sale of a public property must be used for that one purpose? Without objection? There are many other things in town that could stand an infusion of cash. It is the peoples' money, after all. They might want to buy new pipes instead.

City Manager Gabe Engeland: If the funds for the sale of the library at its current location were used elsewhere we would effectively be closing the library. If we sell the current location, and don't have the funds to move to a new location, the library would have no place to operate. This may inject revenue into our infrastructure, but it would come at the expense of the Library. It is not something I would recommend.

The Tattler: That is my point. You might be able to convince a lot of people that there is good money to be made in selling that property. But that does not mean people will automatically think the money raised needs to be spent on a different library facility. Some think a library is an antiquated idea, times and ways of communicating information have changed, and there might be far better things to do with the cash. The best way to keep a library in town is to not open that Pandora's Box. Just do the legally required repairs, which can easily be funded by selling the back lot.

City Manager Gabe Engeland: I agree the community needs to decide what types of services it wants from the Library. Further, selling the back lot, making necessary repairs, and leaving the library at its current location, remains a viable and attractive option. I'm positive this specific option will be addressed in the survey. I have heard a lot of feedback from residents on how they want the library to operate, as well as from people who believe the library should not be a priority, or at least a lower priority. I have not yet heard a compelling argument that the community would be better without the library entirely. With that said the idea of a modern library, focused on technology and learning events, versus a traditional library, focused on more static activities, will need to be decided by the community. Both are models commonly deployed in cities, and both can adequately serve their mission.

The Tattler: Here is another idea that made the blog today. What if a portion of the card were left blank so that people could share their thoughts beyond merely checking a box? I think people would be more likely to participate, and something good could come of it. There are a lot of smart people in Sierra Madre.

City Manager Gabe Engeland: The Library Board will be determining the specific questions to be placed on the survey. I believe their first meeting on this topic takes place tonight, but they will craft the questions over the next several weeks. One of the types of questions available to the Board are "open ended" responses, so what you are describing is an option. I agree, we have a lot of smart people here. We have received a ton of good feedback and suggestions on both sides of this issue.

The Tattler: Let's be honest. The purpose of the postcard is to create the impression of public participation, but without letting it get beyond the control of people who already have an agenda they are determined to drive home. That one of the most partisan groups of folks in town on this Library question are also the ones creating these questions and driving the process pretty much proves it. There is a difference between enabling and transparency. What is going on now is not transparency.

City Manager Gabe Engeland: I think this characterization is exceptionally cynical. The Library Board will determine the questions, but they have no control over the responses, and they are not driving the process. They also can't create questions which are leading or are intended to drive people to a specific, preferred response. The survey company will send out the postcards to randomly selected residents and will ensure the questions are asked in an unbiased manner. This company will have no stake in the outcome of the survey, but they will have a keen interest in ensuring the results are reliable, statistically significant, and their reputation as an independent, fair, and non-partisan firm remains intact. The City is not contracting with a public relations firm. The results will be statistically significant and will be demographically representative of Sierra Madre. In addition to this the questions asked will allow for a multitude of responses, as well as levels of support for different ideas or scenarios, to make sure people are able to register their opinions appropriately. I respect people have different opinions and beliefs, and to that end it's okay for people to argue about which outcomes are best for our city and which model of library services are needed in Sierra Madre. However, making an argument that an independent third company is acting in a partisan manner, or a statistically significant survey isn't transparent or public, does little to advance the discussion on the library that is currently taking place. I'm happy to keep the dialogue going as we have several acceptable options for the library moving forward.

The Tattler: There is a lot of cynicism about surveys because of the way they were used in the past. This is a familiar pattern. Third parties are hired for specific purposes. Fairness is not always the top priority.

City Manager Gabe Engeland: That's fair, and in that context, I understand the concern. The idea of the survey is to truly understand what the community desires and supports.  The community will make the decision, and I think a transparent and robust survey, completed by a 3rd party company, will provide good information. We have a lot of acceptable outcomes for the Library, I don't have an agenda to push. I just want to understand the options better.

Mod: So who exactly is this survey company that will keep the rolling pin warm should the Library Board start pressing their tainted love a little too eagerly? They are called the National Research Council Inc., or NRC. While they are headquartered out of Boulder Colorado, the NRC also has an international presence as well. I Googled them in as many different ways as possible, yet I could not access any easy dirt. Funny thing is, there are pages of articles about these guys, but they are almost all entirely written by themselves. The NRC is either as pure as the driven snow, or they have successfully suppressed their Internet critics. It is done, you know. Reputation Maintenance is a big on-line business these days. I did find this following article on a site called Governing. Here it peddles some familiar stereotypes about certain small city residents (link).


Mod: Then there is this disheartening passage:


Mod: It certainly does make you wonder who is going to receive those Library Relocation postcards, or how they know who is what. Maybe the city gives them that information? Remember, not everyone is going to get a postcard. And it might not only be about saving money. Despite what you've heard. 

You can see where we could be going with this project, right? Our pals at the NRC might be attempting to dig up what Richard Nixon used to lovingly refer to as the "silent majority." You know, the people who don't go to meetings, don't pass petitions, speak at public comment, or otherwise worry the wooly heads of the sleeping classes. If this is to be the kind of criteria that is going to be employed when the data retrieved from these selectively distributed postcards is culled and interpreted, then yes, the fix could very well be in. 

After all, the more you know, the less nice you must be. And yes, no postcard for you.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

My Humble Suggestion? Boycott The Library Postcard. Just Tear the Damned Thing Up.

Video link here.

Mod: Here is your assignment. Watch the "Library Survey" portion of last night's City Council meeting. It is probably the most ridiculously fraudulent thing that I have ever seen come out of Council Chambers in years. Or at least it is in my opinion.

The "Library Survey" portion of last night's City Council meeting starts at 18:15, just like it is pictured in the above screenshot. YouTube puts these things up instantly. You can watch it right now.

Two salient points that I will drop here:

1) No vote. You didn't get one. Far too hard to control I suspect. You cannot be trusted to vote in your own interest. The City Council knows so much more about what is good for you than you do.

2) The "Library Survey" postcard questions will be drawn up by the Board of Library Trustees. A group of folks that has already unanimously decided that in order to save the Library it must be bulldozed, the property beneath it sold and all of the books they claim to care so much about stashed in an athletic facility located near Heasley Field. Which, as you are probably aware, is a baseball field located next to a swimming pool.

And all at the cost of $3.9 million dollars.

You'd trust the Board of Library Trustees to author a completely unbiased postcard, right? The City Council does. And they certainly don't have any agenda, correct? Of course. After all, this is all being funded by you, so I'm sure they want to be fair.

You might not agree with me about boycotting the postcard. You might think that would allow the bad guys to win. And that is fine. You might even be right. You certainly are entitled to that opinion.

But first you have to watch the "Library Survey" portion of the City Council meeting. The video is available on YouTube and I posted the link above. You can easily scroll to 18:15 on that video and just watch the one portion of the meeting.

After you've watched the video then you can tell me I'm wrong. But you can't do that unless you have first seen it.

OK? That is all I ask.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The City of Sierra Madre Turns a Profit on its New City Manager

The last item on tonight's City Council meeting agenda has to do with refinancing all of that water bond debt we've been harping about here on The Tattler for the last few years. While the news isn't the best of all possible worlds, it is as good as could be hoped for at this point. None of the options were ideal, so you take what you can get and dream of better days.

You could look at this in a strictly business investment kind of way if you like. The City of Sierra Madre hired its new City Manager, Gabriel Engeland, at approximately $150,000 per year. His contract is for five years, which makes the cost of his employment around $750,000.00.

Now look at what he has saved the residents of the Foothill Village on all of that sadly misconceived water bond debt. The following comes from an Agenda Report succinctly titled "Consideration Of Resolution No. 17-55 Authorizing The Execution And Delivery Of An Installment Purchase Agreement, Escrow Agreement And Other Documents Related Thereto With Respect To The Refinancing Of The Water Revenue Refunding Bonds Series 1998A And Water Revenue Parity Bonds, Series 2003," which you can hopefully link to here if you so wish.


If you figure that the taxpayers of Sierra Madre invested $750,000 in a new City Manager, and in this one instances alone he has saved them $1,267,899.56, that comes to a total profit of over half a million dollars! Meaning he has more than paid his way, and in less than a year.

Not a bad rate of return so far.

Tonight's big deal City Council meeting topic is the Library

I posted about this one three times. I have run out of things to say. But The Tattler got quite a few comments on the topic from our readers. Here are some examples:

"If the library property is sold, the library shouldn't have dibs on the money. We have all sorts of things in town that need to be repaired (water pipes, for example) that should be dealt with before the library is expanded."

"The ballot question is very misleading. Moving the library to the YAC won't be funded by selling the current library property. It will be only partially funded. There still will need to be a tax increase -- probably more than if they just fix the current library. What's being sold as a free lunch is really a classic bait-and-switch con."

"A community input postcard is the safest way possible to create the illusion of consensus on a controversial issue like this one. The opportunities to express your opinion are strictly limited to a series of yes and no answers, and only City Hall gets to interpret what the results are."

"As we all know, you can frame the question in such a way as to get the desired answer. I don't trust the survey at all because of who may be creating the questions. Tattler is absolutely right here. A vote is better. You can include a statement from those in favor of moving the library and from those opposed to moving the library. That's the only way to understand how people truly feel about this issue."

"For those of you who posit that the YAC is just as walkable as the current library location, I wonder if you have ever walked there. The library is about half a mile from the center of town and the walk is mostly flat. The walk to the YAC is close to a mile and downhill -- which means the walk back is uphill. A one mile roundtrip on mostly flat ground is a very different walk than a two mile trip with elevation changes."

"Why not do the survey after the vote?"

Hopefully we'll see some similar insights from the commenting public this evening.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Monday, October 23, 2017

No Items Available: Has Anyone Seen the City Staff Reports for Tomorrow Night's City Council Meeting?


Mod: They seem to have gotten lost. Of course, it is not the first time this has happened. But this does seem to be occurring with more frequency as of late. Mistakes happen, of course. However, it is very odd behavior for a city that prides itself on its transparency.

On Saturday the Staff Reports for tomorrow evening's City Council get-together were available. It enabled me to write the following. Just don't try to use the link I put in there because for the moment the report it is supposed to take you to has vanished into thin air. Fortunately I preserved some screen shots.

Is the Fix In? Sierra Madre Library Demolition and Relocation Survey Issues


The agenda and staff reports for next Tuesday's City Council meeting are now available on the City of Sierra Madre website, and one of the items that really jumps out deals with whatever it is the city wants done with the Library. The other big deal involves wrapping up the refinancing of Sierra Madre's water bonds, which we are going to gamely try and tackle in the next couple of days.

Here is that Library question:


Listed as the fourth out of five agenda items, it is naturally rather succinct. After all, an agenda is only a list of the evening's events. When you turn to the actual staff report itself there is quite a bit more detail. Some of it troubling. With the subject line being "Information on Library Survey and Ballot Question for Residents," this report reads as follows (link).


Here is something that jumps out for me. A big concern for many would appear to be saving the Library building itself, along with not selling the property it stands on. Once that property is sold, it is gone forever. At $1.3 million, doing whatever repairs are necessary to salvage the Library building would seem to be the priority here. So why would it be necessary to spend "up to $3.9 million" for something called "adequate community space?"

Can "community space" really be considered an adequate reason for razing the Library and putting all of its books into the Youth Activities Center? Along with (if I am reading this not very clearly written staff report correctly) spending an additional $2 million dollars?

Repairing the building and creating community space are two very different things. And with two very different cost levels. How were they lumped in together like this?

As far as that resident survey goes, the questions remain who gets to write the postcard, and who gets to interpret the resulting information. Unlike with a vote, the actual power in this case goes to those who get to decide what the questions are going to be, and then determine what the gathered information means.

The line between finding out what residents really want on a matter as important as this, and push poll style marketing, is a thin one. In my opinion that line is robustly crossed here:


So why must that line now be considered crossed? Listed as an alternative choice, this staff report then identifies a possible ballot question. The ballot question proposal (which, as shown below, is absurdly slanted in my opinion), reveals that the Board of Library Trustees, which would craft and curate the postcard survey questions, already unanimously favors a demolition and relocation route.


The Library Board of Trustees has obviously already made up its mind, and unanimously wants to go with the demolition and relocation option. So can these unelected folks really be depended upon to put together postcard survey questions that will be both non-partisan and concerned only with finding out what the residents are thinking? And not pushing their own personal agendas?

And why is it so partisan a group gets to decide what these questions are going to be? Shouldn't that be something done by the City Council and staff? With input from the residents themselves perhaps?

Why is that important responsibility being shunted off elsewhere?

Based on this agenda report, it certainly does look like the fix is in.

Mod: Those at-risk Staff Reports were available when the above first appeared on Saturday. They disappeared shortly thereafter. I am certain there is no connection between the two events, and once made aware the city will have them back up and available in time for tomorrow night's meeting. I just wish this wouldn't happen as often as it has lately. It screws up my schedule.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Chafed Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer Thinks University of Florida Students Were Mean to Him

Mod: He truly is the darling of the alt-right. But when chanting University of Florida students shut down his speech there last week, Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer couldn't wail loudly enough about how mean they all were, even depriving him of his freedom of speech. That said, The Tattler would like to take a brief moment to inform poor Mr. Spencer that his mistreatment in Gainesville is minor when compared with the way Americans used to deal with Nazis. The picture below being a good example of that.


Thousands Of Protesters Show Up In Florida To Drown Out Richard Spencer’s Hate (Huffington Post link): Thousands of people turned out on Thursday at the University of Florida to protest an afternoon speech by a prominent white supremacist, making their message clear: Richard Spencer, and those like him, are not welcome.

Well before Spencer’s speech at a place that did not invite him, a mass of protesters was on hand to greet him. By the time Spencer took the stage at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, he was met by a small group of supporters and a larger group of activists.

Spencer was routinely shouted down as he praised President Donald Trump, expressed concern that the man accused of killing Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, this summer won’t get a fair trial, and defended his ideology. But mostly, Spencer complained to the crowd for heckling him and drowning out his remarks.

Mod: Richard probably wouldn't enjoy reading this next story, either.

Billionaire investor launches multi-million dollar campaign to impeach Trump: 'This president is mentally unstable' (The Independent link): Big money is pouring into the effort in impeach Donald Trump. Billionaire Democratic activist Tom Steyer is continuing his crusade against the president by funding a national campaign of television and digital advertisements calling for Mr. Trump's removal from office.

Video link here

The spot warns that Mr Trump has “brought us to the brink of nuclear war, obstructed justice at the FBI” and has “taken money from foreign governments and threatened to shut down news organizations” in violation of the constitution. It pushes viewers to sign a petition endorsing Mr Trump’s impeachment.

“People in Congress and his own administration know this president is a clear and present danger who is mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons. And they do nothing”, Mr Steyer says in the spot. “Join us and tell your Member of Congress that they have a moral responsibility to stop doing what’s political and start doing what’s right”.

A representative for Mr Steyer said the advertisements would be running in all 50 states. Without providing specific numbers, the representative said the effort included an “eight-figure” television ad buy and a “seven-figure” outlay for digital ads.

In seeking Mr Trump's impeachment, Mr Steyer is opening his wallet to support an outcome several Democratic members of Congress have publicly backed. Mr Steyer last week sent letters to every Democrat in of Congress, all 50 governors and thousands of mayors urging them to support impeachment.

Calling Mr Trump a “clear and present threat to the United States of America”, the letter also warns Democrats that they must be responsive to a restive liberal base and seeks to inject the impeachment conversation into upcoming midterm elections. Arguing that impeachment could be a viable outcome if Democrats retake Congress in 2018, it urges officeholders to “make clear where every Democrat stands on the issue of the highest import to the lives of every single American now, before those elections happen”.

While a growing number of Republican officials have openly broken with Mr Trump - including longtime ally Sen Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who warned of Mr Trump hurtling the country toward “World War III” - convincing a Republican-controlled Congress to remove a Republican president remains a long shot.

Mod: I wonder if any Mayors in our area received such a letter from Tom Steyer, and if this topic will be agendised soon for any local City Councils to consider. If you wish to sign the petition to impeach Trump click on this link. Here is a screenshot of the site.


sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Is the Fix In? Some Sierra Madre Library Demolition and Relocation Survey Issues


The agenda and staff reports for next Tuesday's City Council meeting are now available on the City of Sierra Madre website, and one of the items that really jumps out deals with whatever it is the city wants done with the Library. The other big deal involves wrapping up the refinancing of Sierra Madre's water bonds, which we are going to gamely try and tackle in the next couple of days.

Here is that Library question:


Listed as the fourth out of five agenda items, it is naturally rather succinct. After all, an agenda is only a list of the evening's events. When you turn to the actual staff report itself there is quite a bit more detail. Some of it troubling. With the subject line being "Information on Library Survey and Ballot Question for Residents," this report reads as follows (link).


Here is something that jumps out for me. A big concern for many would appear to be saving the Library building itself, along with not selling the property it stands on. Once that property is sold, it is gone forever. At $1.3 million, doing whatever repairs are necessary to salvage the Library building would seem to be the priority here. So why would it be necessary to spend "up to $3.9 million" for something called "adequate community space?"

Can "community space" really be considered an adequate reason for razing the Library and putting all of its books into the Youth Activities Center? Along with (if I am reading this not very clearly written staff report correctly) spending an additional $2 million dollars?

Repairing the building and creating community space are two very different things. And with two very different cost levels. How were they lumped in together like this?

As far as that resident survey goes, the questions remain who gets to write the postcard, and who gets to interpret the resulting information. Unlike with a vote, the real power in this case goes to those who get to decide what the questions are going to be, and then determine what the gathered information means.

The line between finding out what residents really want on a matter as important as this, and push poll style marketing, is a thin one. In my opinion that line is robustly crossed here:


So why must that line now be considered crossed? Listed as an alternative choice, this staff report then identifies a possible ballot question. The ballot question proposal (which, as shown below, is absurdly slanted in my opinion), reveals that the Board of Library Trustees, which would craft and curate the postcard survey questions, already unanimously favors a demolition and relocation route.


The Library Board of Trustees has obviously already made up its mind, and unanimously wants to go with the demolition and relocation option. So can these unelected folks really be depended upon to put together postcard survey questions that will be both non-partisan and concerned only with finding out what the residents are thinking? And not pushing their own personal agendas?

And why is it so partisan a group gets to decide what these questions are going to be? Shouldn't that be something done by the City Council and staff? With input from the residents themselves perhaps? 

Why is that important responsibility being shunted off elsewhere?

Based on this agenda report, it certainly does look like the fix is in.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Friday, October 20, 2017

Whatever Happened to a Second Public Forum and Ballot Initiative for the Sierra Madre Library?

Mod: That is what some folks have been asking about. Well, OK. Two that I know about. Three if you include me. I'm always up for another opportunity to bring up Sierra Madre's debt problems. But when I do have any questions these days I go right to the recently installed Sierra Madre City Manager, Gabriel "You can call me GabeEngeland. A guy who will actually answer Tattler questions, and in a quite forthright and open kind of way. It's a good thing he has a five year contract, right?  

SM Tattler: Any news on Library 2?

City Manager Engeland: Our library manager met with the firm who will do the drawings for the move last week.  I should get a report back this week and we can plot out a timeline from there. I'm not sure how long it will take for them to complete the drawings, but once we know we will get out a tentative schedule.

SM Tattler: I am beginning to believe the non-binding vote of the people on the question of the Library's various fates is a dead issue as far as the City Council goes. Am I wrong?

City Manager Engeland: At the last meeting the Council agreed to move forward with the survey.  Currently we are planning to survey 75% of the households in Sierra Madre, but we are working with the company to determine if we can survey 100% of the households. With regards to the non-binding vote Council asked us to bring back a draft of what the question would look like along with more information. They will decide if we are proceeding with a non-binding ballot initiative, in addition to the survey, at the meeting on Tuesday the 24th.

SM Tattler: Why go to the expense and bother of both a survey and a vote? Shouldn't the vote provide all the answers needed?

City Manager Engeland: The ballot question is a “yes or no” only and it is limited to one question.  The benefit is it goes to everyone, but the drawback is it provides no information on any other Library related topics. The survey is 5 questions which are much more in depth than the ballot.  The benefit is the amount of information provided, but the drawback is, currently, it doesn’t go to everyone (though it is statistically significant). I think there are good arguments that can be made for doing both.  Doing the “vote option” only will give us information on if people want to move the Library location or not, but won’t discuss library services in general. The Library Board will be drafting the questions to send out and there are areas outside of the move they have interest in.

Mod: Good and thoughtful answers that I, obviously, cannot agree with. Any such city survey, with 5 questions that have yet to be determined, will likely end up becoming a marketing tool used to push forward whatever agenda the City Council wants. It will give them the ability to tell you, the concerned resident, what you think. Meaning you will then be told that you think the Library property needs to be sold, the building itself razed, and all of those books moved inside the YAC. A vote, even a non-binding one, will take that power away from the City Council and give it to unpredictable you. No creative interpretations required. Trust me, it ain't gonna happen.

In Encinitas, former Sierra Madre Mayor Joe Mosca votes to put pot question on the ballot -Mod: Let's call it a Tale of Two Cities. Our interest in Encinitas originally stemmed from curiosity about the political career of a former Sierra Madre Mayor who somehow got himself appointed to the City Council there, and after only living in town for two years. But today all of that does give us a nice contrast with what's going down in The 'Dre. Especially regarding exactly what gets put on the ballot.

From poinsettias to pot? Voters to decide what grows in Encinitas (The San Diego Union Tribune link): Encinitas voters, instead of the City Council, will be the ones deciding whether to allow commercial marijuana growing operations on the city's few agriculturally zoned lands. And for now, until that likely November 2018 ballot measure, the city's current bans on marijuana will remain in place, the council decided late Wednesday night.

Cities across California have been grappling with the issue of marijuana regulations ever since voters approved the marijuana legalization initiative Proposition 64 last year. The intensity of the debate has only increased in recent months as the January 2018 state deadline for putting regulations in place approaches.

Mod: The final vote there was 4 to 1 to punt it to the voters. And which side did Councilmember Mosca come down on? Both, of course.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear, who held off on voicing a position in the past, and Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, who has supported commercial growing, agreed. "This is truly one of the most difficult issues I have faced since I have been on the council," Boerner Horvath said, adding that months ago she had thought that this wouldn't be the case.

Councilman Joe Mosca, who opposed the proposed ordinance, said he wouldn't "stand in the way" of putting the issue on the ballot, but said he felt marijuana growing businesses were not compatible with the city.

Mod: Rule of thumb about what gets on a city's ballot. If an issue is controversial, but if approved will bring significant revenue to that city? It's happening. And if a vote might possibly interfere with the acquisition of needed revenue, such as with the sale of the Sierra Madre Library property? No vote for you.

Mod: This next story is not very pretty.

Charred Body Found on Mt. Wilson (Pasadena Now link): Authorities are still trying to identify a male body found Wednesday night on Mt. Wilson as firefighters continue to attempt to control a smoldering wildfire. An Associated Press report Thursday, quoting a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeant, said the charred body has been recovered by the coroner’s office, which will try to make an identification.

The fire has so far burned about 50 acres of the Angeles National Forest and was 35 percent contained as of Wednesday night, the report said. An RMG News report meanwhile said family members were searching for a Sylmar teen who has been missing since Tuesday morning.

Matthew Huerta, the report said, left his home at around 4:30 to 5 a.m. to jog but has not returned since. Using the mobile Find My Friends app, his friends placed Huerta’s phone in the Mt. Wilson area about the same time the brush fire started early Tuesday in the area.

Mod: The foothills, though undoubtedly beautiful, are not without their sinister aspects. 

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Gold Star Mother Just Went Viral With An Open Letter To President Trump

A Gold Star Mother Just Went Viral With An Open Letter To President Trump (Verified Politics link)

America’s Gold Star Families have come out, but none more powerful than this letter from Gold Star Mother Candie Glisson.

Glisson lost a son ten years ago, Army Ranger Sgt. First Class Jason Alan Schumann, ten years ago and received very different treatment than Gold Star Families now receive from Trump.

Her courageous words speak for volumes and say everything about the heroes who bravely serve our country and the president who is disrespecting their service.

Her letter is below as shared by Common Defense PAC.

"My son was killed in Iraq. Here’s my message to Trump: 

On October 4th, 2017, four of our troops were killed in an ambush in Niger. For twelve long days, we didn’t hear a word from this Commander in Chief. Twelve days. Total silence. 

On Monday, he said he was “too busy” to pay respects to the Gold Star families (although he had plenty of time for golfing, sabotaging our health care, and trying to ban Muslims). Finally, last night, he called one of the grieving mothers. But instead of offering sympathy and remorse, he callously said that her son, SGT La David Johnson, “knew what he signed up for.” 

This is beyond the pale, even for Trump. When my son, SGT Jason Alan Schumann, was killed in Iraq 10 years ago, George W. Bush sent me a heartfelt letter. Now we have a president who degrades our fallen heroes, then calls their mourning families liars on Twitter. 

This goes so far beyond party politics. Trump is a dangerous liar. He fabricated the truth on national television by claiming no previous president ever reached out to Gold Star families. He tried to use fallen heroes to score political points. Now, after saying La David Johnson should’ve known better, Trump is accusing a Gold Star widow and a Gold Star mother of making the story up. 

When George W. Bush contacted me, he didn’t brag about it. He did so quietly. When Barack Obama met fallen soldiers at the airbase in Dover, he didn’t take to Twitter or turn it into a politicized photo-op. I may have disagreed with Bush, but at least he was respectful, humble, and dutiful. 

To say I’m sickened by Trump’s remarks would be an understatement. And I know, with certainty, that my son would be utterly disgusted too. Not just by Trump’s remarks this week, but by Trump’s entire platform of bigotry, hate, and divisiveness. That isn’t the kind of country he swore an oath to protect. That’s not the kind of country he fought and died for. 

Thank you, 
Candie Glisson 
Gold Star Mother

The post A Gold Star Mother Just Went Viral With An Open Letter To President Trump appeared first on Verified Politics.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Trump to widow of Sgt. La David Johnson: 'He knew what he signed up for'

Mod: As someone pointed out the other day, Donald Trump has the empathy of a cockroach. 

Trump to widow of Sgt. La David Johnson: 'He knew what he signed up for' (ABC News Miami link):  President Donald Trump told U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson's widow Tuesday that "he knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens, it hurts anyway," when he died serving in northwestern Africa, according to Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens.

"Yes, he said it," Wilson said. "It's so insensitive. He should have not have said that. He shouldn't have said it."

The president called about 4:45 p.m. and spoke to Johnson's pregnant widow, Myeshia Johnson, for about five minutes. She is a mother to Johnson's surviving 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. The conversation happened before Johnson's remains arrived at Miami International Airport on a commercial Delta Airlines flight.

A top advisor later told Local 10 News "The president's conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private."

Wilson watched as the widow, who is expecting their third baby in January, leaned over the U.S. flag that was draping Johnson's casket. Her pregnant belly was shaking against the casket as she sobbed uncontrollably. Their daughter stood next to her stoically. Their toddler waited in the arms of a relative.

There was silence.

Local politicians, police officers and firefighters lined up to honor Johnson for his service and for the efforts and discipline that got the former Walmart employee to defy all odds and become a 25-year-old member of the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Johnson, who participated in a mentorship program Wilson founded in 1993, died during a mission fighting alongside Green Berets. Islamic militants ambushed them on Oct. 4 with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. The team reportedly didn't have overhead armed air cover and was in unarmored pickup trucks. Reuters reported the lack of planning upset the French.

Trump didn't discuss any of the details of the ambush or say that the Pentagon was conducting an investigation. Instead, he focused on questions about whether or not he had offered his condolences to the families of the fallen.

"I will, at some point, during the period of time, call the parents and the families, because I have done that, traditionally," Trump said during a press conference last week.

Wilson criticized Trump for failing to acknowledge Johnson's death after he was left behind during the evacuation. It took nearly two days to find his body in the Republic of Niger's desert. Johnson's body made it to the U.S. on Oct. 7 when Trump was playing golf with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Amid the controversy, Trump later said President Barack Obama and other presidents didn't make calls to the relatives of all fallen servicemen and women. Aides for both President George W. Bush and Obama reacted on Twitter and in The Huffington Post, saying the president misspoke.

Trump later backpedaled the claim during an interview with NBC's Peter Alexander.

"President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told. All I can do, all I can do is ask my generals. Other presidents did not call. They’d write letters. And some presidents didn’t do anything," Trump said. "But I like the combination of, I like, when I can, the combination of a call and also a letter."

The Atlantic's David A. Graham believes Trump used the controversy to distract reporters. Despite the criticism, Trump continued the discussion on Fox News Radio when he raised doubt about whether or not Obama called his chief of staff, John Kelly, when Kelly's son died.

Graham said it was Trump's strategy to distract reporters from the important questions about the deadly ambush in Africa.

"The broader question, of what the soldiers who were killed were doing and what went wrong, remains unaddressed by the president, and Trump’s jab at other presidents may, unfortunately, help to keep it that way," Graham wrote.

After an emotional procession from Miami-Dade to Broward County, Johnson's remains were at a funeral home in Hollywood. There will be a public viewing from 4 to 8 p.m.  Friday and a funeral service from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, at the Christ The Rock Church at 11000 Stirling Road in Cooper City. The internment will be at the Hollywood Memorial Gardens, at 3001 N. 72 St.

According to officials with the Department of Defense, the other three victims of the attack were Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia.

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