Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Comparing what is happening in Arcadia today to what went down in Sierra Madre 11 years ago

Steve Lopez is a famed heavy hitter columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He has often been lauded for the excellence of his work, and has won some big time journalism awards. On the Pulitzer.org website Steve is described this way (link):

"Steve Lopez is a California native who has been an L.A. Times columnist since 2001. He has won more than a dozen national journalism awards for his reporting and column writing at seven newspapers and four news magazines, and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist for commentary: in 2012, for his columns on elder care, and in 2016, for his columns on income inequality in California."

Our guy Steve published a locally momentous column about Sierra Madre a little more than a decade ago. It was written during a time when developers were putting some heavy pressure on The Foothill Village to accommodate a very large and unpopular downtown mixed-use development project. The big money people behind it were using some very nasty tactics as an attempt to silence the people opposed to it.

More on that in a moment.

An anonymous Arcadia reader posted a comment the other day that impressed me a lot. So much so that I reposted it last Saturday as part of the regular daily entry. The reason being it reminded me of what had gone down in Sierra Madre a while back. Here is a small portion of it.

"Everyone keeps asking where the rational people are. Why aren’t they speaking up? I’m going to tell you why…. WE ARE AFRAIDWe are afraid of being bullied. We are afraid of community leaders coming after our kids. We are afraid of Kin Hui destroying our careers. We are afraid that OUR face will be the next meme shared maliciously on Facebook. We are afraid but it doesn’t mean we are not watching, listening and whispering. You might think we are cowards for not getting more involved but we have a lot on the line."

The use of the Internet and social media as ways to intimidate and silence those opposing predatory development is nothing new. And back when organizations such as the Building Industry Association, the California Association of Realtors, and the Arcadia Association of Realtors were coughing up $10's of thousands of dollars to try and force Sierra Madre to accommodate a fat wedge of bad and unwanted development downtown, some related websites had begun to pop up.

Rather contentious and unpleasant ones. Downtown Dirt.org, The Sierra Madre Cumquat, and another whose pornographic name I won't repeat here, arose from seemingly nowhere and started going after development opponents in rather unfortunate and at times salacious ways. They became the talk of the town. One even got some favorable coverage in the Pasadena Star News.

People began wondering who would be attacked next. The tactic worked, for a while.

This was when Steve Lopez showed up. Steve had been clued in on these happenings by friends from town, and in April of 2007 he published an LA Times column called "Sierra Madre Fears for its Treasure" (link). It was a fairly wide ranging effort, but he hit hard on the smear sites that many even now believe were generously enabled by developer money.

Here are a few key passages from Steve's column:

... it turns out that looks can be deceiving. Beneath its charming veneer, the town of 10,000 is in a dither over two development proposals: a 72-unit residential and commercial project and a 55-unit residential deal.

Old friends cross the street to avoid each other, the city manager fled town, bloggers are waging war with words and images that might be called homophobic and racist. Some people have reported mysteriously punctured tires. And a dead mole turned up splayed on the doorstep of a local newspaper publisher.

Measure V -- which would give citizens approval power on large developments -- is supported by, among others, Susan Henderson, a columnist for the Observer. In an apparent attempt at humor, an anonymous blogger who's adopted a pen name that can't run in a family newspaper, likened Henderson, who is black, to Aunt Jemima.

Another blogger, known as the Sierra Madre Cumquat, reported -- in one of the lamest stabs at satire I've seen in a while -- that Councilman Kurt Zimmerman had opened a bathhouse for young men, superimposing his photo over what looked like a gay orgy. The same website made up a story that pornographic images of Measure V supporter Faye Angus had been released on YouTube.

"It's so vile," said Angus, an author who has lived in Sierra Madre for nearly 50 years and speaks with a very proper Aussie accent. "I don't look at [the blogging], but there are people around town who monitor it and let me know."

When I told Angus that DowntownDirt.org didn't appear to be as satirical as other sites and instead seemed devoted to jabbing the Observer, she scoffed. DowntownDirt has a space devoted to "lively, spirited and civilized debate," on which a February entry by "Cumquat" asked "how long it's been" since Angus "had an orgasm."

Trust me, there were far worse. Pardon my French, but that site whose name cannot be named in a family setting had the unfortunate habit of acquiring head shots of development opponents and photoshopping them atop male genitalia. With commentary.

It would be my contention that a similar tactic is being employed today by certain individuals with pro-development websites in Arcadia. Those sites being The Voice of Arcadia, The Angry Arcadian, whatever Mark Hong calls his ridiculous Facebook page, and, in a more nuanced way, Singpoli financed The Hub. All are now at some level performing that role.

The people of Sierra Madre did prevail. Measure V went to a vote and won, despite the $180,000 raised by various developers and Arcadia Realtors to defeat it. Plans for that highly unpopular downtown development just dried up and blew away.

But this victory didn't come without a measure of pain. Pain inflicted via the Internet by an industry that sees small city residents as the enemy, and therefore a legitimate target for their cruelty.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

86 comments:

  1. Racial insensitivity training day for all 8,000 Starbucks coffee businesses, hurry, get your cup of expensive morning Joe and your free pee, before the doors close!

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  2. Will California republican candidates & incumbents take another beating in up coming primary elections Tuesday June 05, 2018... https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/06/us/califor...

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

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  4. Do you assume fourty thousands Asians in Arcadia are all developers? Arcadia is pretty balanced city. There are some developers for sure. But majority of us have nothing to do with development at all.

    We care about the city does automatically means we are developers, that has been totally wrong assumption. If you want to solve the problem from your heart, please don't do it in a racism way. No body take your threat or rumors.

    Voice of Arcadia has nothing to do with development at all. What you have been saying only makes things worse. Wake up, please.

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    1. I don't think anyone assumes all developers are Asians. Where'd you get that crazy bit of information?

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    2. 7:17, why the Hitler mustache on your post today? Why? Why do you feel that is helping to heal Arcadia? Racism is alive and well on VOA.
      What you are doing is only making things worse. Wake up, please.

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    3. 11:47 Hi, Mod, are you honest today? So sad you are being so irrational. Copying other people's words,breaking down other people's message to post,it is not professional way to be a mod. How would other people participate? How do you keep yourself neutral? That is a question on how to improve the community over all. Think about it please.

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    4. On your world a blog is not allowed to quote from another news source to make a point? I am not sure you understand what a blog is. Also, your confusion over being neutral. You make it sound like you think I owe you something. Trust me, I don't.

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    5. Thank you, VOA, for taking the Hitler post down. It’s very much appreciated, and I can’t than you enough. It went up as fast as it went down. It really doesn’t make you look good, or reputable, or someone with a moral compass, when you do things like that.

      Now, there are still posts on VOA with April and Tom mentioned, pig pictures around their photos and dogs and graphic eyes on Tom. Why? Why not just post it cleanly? You just might be taken more seriously to the few viewers who jump on over to see what you’re up to.

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    6. 7:17 How BIG is your house? If it is big and new, then you are supporting developers and ruining the city. Just as guilty.

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    7. It only takes one rotten developer to fund a campaign whose purpose it is to divide a city, pay for campaigns to make the candidate beholden, buy a puppet to become mayor and then threaten his opposition, and to besmirch the reputation of anyone who has the audacity to get in their way. Taking $$$ from developers creates a conflict of interest for council members. Lawful? Questionable but not ethical.

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    8. Deliberate skewing 2:29. It is not about a house being big and new. More accurately stated it is about size as a relationship to the lot and to the neighborhood. It is about having a reasonable FAR (floor area ratio). The constitution of Arcadia (General Plan) states that building is REQUIRED to relate to the neighborhood. Arcadia has instituted FARs that are not coherent to the General Plan. In order to maximize profits some developers are motivated to achiev the greediest profits in any way possible even if it splits a community, buys council members and casts doubts on the reputations of any who dare to speak in opposition. REASONABLE development is a net gain for Arcadia. Having an APPROPRIATELY scaled big new house does not make one guilty of anything except for improving the neighborhood in an harmonious and compatible manner. When comparing Arcadia to other comparable cities Arcadia's FAR is over the top. Way over.

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    9. On the pinned post of VOA, the Hitler mustache is still on the photo of Tom Beck in the Arcadia Weekly front page. .

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    10. 2:05 - If the VOA's Hitler post was taken down, it isn't down now. The picture is back up along with a diatribe that is well over the borderline insane.

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    11. Oh wow, how sad to hear it’s still up. I know that the VOA page “lost” a follower based on their numbers. Hooray for that person to unfollow!

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    12. All idiots ever have is idiocy.

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    13. 2:05 I didn't know what you were talking about. But I believe people have a freedom to express their feelings, especially when they were talking about some crimes related with public figures, even though I wouldn't do it that way. But I respect their rights.

      Do you respect that? I believe you did. I still remember some one talking about the Chinese concentration camp on this web blog not long a ago with all nasty words, full of hate. I don't see any of you to call a stop for it. Do you have any double standards?

      Please do it professionally and respect mutually. What we can do is to condemn any such childish behaviors without biases of which races or who they are, could you be with me on it?

      If so, we can ask both sides to start to remove all of those uncomfortable languages or pictures. Show us the proof during the process please.

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    14. 2:29 my house is fourty years old. Tom's house is twenty some years old and big, roughly eight thousand SF. According to your point, Tom is supported by developers. I am not. Is he guilty? Go to VOA to find out the truth. Why do you complain about VOA then, truth always hurt. Right?

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    15. I've been to VOA several times. I found it to be a strange mixture of idiocy and lies.

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    16. 6:39 - do you have a cite for the "Chinese concentration camps" comment. I don't recall ever seeing such a comment here, which has caused me to have doubts about your honesty.

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    17. VOA is a hate site.

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  5. No web site could ever be as bad as the Cumquat.
    Freedom of speech is important, the insensitivity from some and the personal slurs directed at others from any source, only exposes those behind the words as fools.

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  6. This is a tactic with one purpose only. To silence public debate through intimidation and humiliation. Those guilty need to be called out.

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  7. The publication of a paper in Sierra Madre named The Gazette was full of informative information on how to legally fight and deal with individuals supporting over development from the Association of Realitors and those in the building industry.

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    Replies
    1. The Gazette?

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    2. The Observer. It was later stolen.

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  8. Who says you can't make money sitting in the White House in 2018? https://www.sfgate.com/news/politics/article/China-approves-13-new-Ivanka-Trump-trademarks-in-12948527.php

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  9. Speaking of Bad actors in the White House 2017 - 2018, No U.S. president could ever be as bad as 'donald j trump' from freedom of speech with his insensitivity and personal slurs directed at others from fantasy sources, only exposes 'donald j trump' as a complete fool along with his yapping loyal followers.

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  10. It was awful here, and the lies were so thick, people would just give up trying to figure out what the truth was.
    For me, the map of the planned new downtown was proof enough.
    I see the anger and deceit now in Arcadia, and in the nation.

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  11. A trip down Memory Lane.

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  12. Unfortunately a lot of the development minded residents and influences are still alive and well in Sierra Madre.

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  13. If all developer's were like D.J. Trump the world would witness the greatest country on earth.

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    Replies
    1. Be sure to wipe up after you’re finished.

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  14. 9:25, good to see people have a sense of humor here.

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  15. D J has made us the greatest country to hate.

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  16. So true 9:16am A large majoriety of them sit on our commission's in Sierra Madre.

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    1. But not the planning commission. Or the city council.

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  17. I can certainly understand the posters fear. Luckily I am retired and do not have to protect my career, and my children and grandchildren are grown and live elsewhere, however I am afraid sometimes too. I am white and every single neighbor of mine is Chinese. I thought we were all friendly, but after attending a city council meeting I was shocked to see and hear all the hatred being spewed by Chinese speakers toward whites. I vowed never to subject myself to that again. I have only lived in Arcadia since 2003 and before that for 30 years in Hastings Ranch where again, both neighbors were Chinese. I am still friends with my former neighbors. They were born in China, but raised in Canada and the U.S. It seems the new immigrants have this hate for whites and Sho Tay is certainly fanning the flames, much like Trump and it is truly frightening. I now do not shop in Arcadia as I am uneasy. It is sad. To have a feud between two factions is not the American way. Sho and Trump make me sad and somewhat hopeless for our future.

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  18. The Voice of Arcadia Facebook page, the Angry Arcadian Facebook page, the Arcadia, California Facebook page, the posting of video clips of speakers at city council meetings with comments that accuse speakers of being racist merely because the speakers don’t agree with them, it’s all bullying. The Tattler exposes it and then is attacked and accused of being racist. Agree with those who want Sho Tay as the next mayor or else you are racist.

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  19. Could not have said it better myself 9:42. America is loosing the love thy neighbor and is loosing out to hate thy neighbor. So sad to watch this all unfold.

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    1. Not only do the hate and fear mongers hate their neighbor they appear to hate themselves.

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  20. Your heart is a mirror of yourself. You see hate because you are full of hate. Show your genuine love please.

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    1. Subservience is not love, it is cowardice.

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    2. We need logical informed thinkers. Use your head but guard your heart. One must see and acknowledge hate when it is the truth -whether we like it or not. Can't see the truth when your head is buried and your behind is exposed.

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  21. 9:39am only hate the haters.

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    1. Doesn't that make you a hater?

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  22. 10:10 You are right to the people who claimed they were scared and dare not fight at all. So cowardice. I could not trust single word from these people.

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    1. There are very good reasons to be afraid. Empathy, not scorn, is what is called for here.

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  23. I live in Arcadia and am confused about what is going on "out there" and the comparison to the peace and harmony among my neighbors. It does not add up. Who becomes mayor appears to be a defining point. Content of character, in a rational world, should be the defining qualification. Rumor has it that this time content of character may be put on the back shelf as appeasement rules. Sad. Arcadia can survive this but is in desperate need of proactive community building in order to bring the silent voices forward. My opinion is strong about the facts of what is tearing Arcadia apart but if it does not go my way this time I care enough about Arcadia to keep working for a solution.

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  24. 10:29am. Don't be so naive.

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  25. ABC cancels the Roseanne Show.
    The Loss of profits over inconsistency with "our values" has led to swift decisions.
    This is a good example of how the NFL should adress players kneeling during the National Anthem.
    Today Starbucks is having racial sensitivity training for 8,000 stores.

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    1. The Roseanne Show was canceled by ABC/Disney because of her racist Twitter rampage last night. It has nothing to do with the NFL.

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    2. NFL players support civil rights.

      Rosanne racist rant exploiting extremist anger for personal publicity.

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    3. Another one who admires Trump

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    4. 11:17 posts a lot; generally says nothing. #Sad

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  26. Voice of Arcadia is a hate page on Facebook created by Andy Chen. Andy’s latest creation (post) is putting a Hitler mustache on Tom Beck’s photo which appears in The Arcadia Weekly. Don’t worry, screenshot captured, because Andy is famous for taking stuff down.

    Who’s racist? It’s on the VOA’s side! Don’t be fooled by their tactics. They’re backed by developers and those who lack a moral compass.

    Will Arcadia ever be able to heal after all this?

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    1. Sierra Madre recovered. But some of the people who fought with such venom and lies did end up moving out of town. Some of the honest people left, too. It's a rough thing to go through.

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    2. The VOA's tactics cannot be allowed to prevail.

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    3. Chen is his own worst enemy.

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    4. Why are these crazy people taken seriously?

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    5. Voice of Arcadia just proved the Mod's point.

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  27. It's all about the money. If there wasn't a lot to be made, nobody would be doing this stuff.

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    1. 11:40 That speaks for yourself. I don't believe most of volunteers are for money at all.

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    2. Wasn't talking about volunteers, fool.

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  28. 11:34, thank you. Your words give hope that healing in Arcadia is possible. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Very, very sad.

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  29. 11:33am. Sure, what ever you say.

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  30. "SHOW ME THE MONEY" "SHOW ME THE MONEY"

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  31. I, also, am willing to to work hard to bail out Arcadia. The concern is I am not willing to go down with a sinking ship. The developer created hate and racism may have punched a hole too large to mend. I am open to try to build bridges but do not intend to go down with the Titanic either.

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  32. Steve Lopez, a great L.A. Times writer, is not available. And the L A Times is now lost as a venue.
    What other writer from what larger newspaper or magazine or television is available to ask to cover this story and call out these hate groups? I have made two contacts to freedom of the press groups which must first
    cover journalists in jail or murdered for speaking out. Please call editors with your requests. There must be
    other organizations to contact as well.

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  33. We miss you Steve Lopez, our family stopped the LA Times years ago.

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  34. What is it about Political power and illicit sex? Missouri Governor resigns.
    Google story yourself.

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    1. Fewer Republicans say moral leadership ‘very important’ for president: Gallup
      http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/389669-fewer-republicans-say-moral-leadership-very-important-for-president

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  35. Finally had a chance to look at the Angry Arcadian Page everyone is talking about on Facebook that is written by someone apparently Asian.

    Question for VOA.... Do you have anything to do with the Angry Arcadian page?
    If so, you said you want to help unite the community; explain how this reaches that goal?

    In addition to spewing pure racial hate with the goal of creating hate between two races, Angry Arcadian is bullying kids and educators (see post on April 29).

    How can anyone with children in Arcadia schools or with a morale compass support this type of rhetoric?

    The person who created this page should be kept far away from all children, what a creep.

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  36. Hopefully Angry Andy is being tracked by the Arcadia Police Department. Possibly mental.

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    1. They need to get the butterfly nets out of storage.

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    2. Stranger Danger.

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  37. Tonight Arcadia moves forward by nominating Mayor April Verlato.

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    1. Whoops, meant next Tuesday she becomes mayor.

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  38. Hey, what are the plans for the Howies property? Any updates?

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    1. The LLC investors will continue to eat their guts out. Year after year after year.

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    2. When an application for a new house lists an LLC as owners then Arcadia should, in the name of transparency, ask for a list of the investors. Otherwise how do we know if there is no conflict of interest with the Planning commission or the City Council. San Marion requires disclosure. No hidden finances please. Just bring this up and listen for hysterical squeals. If you have nothing to hide there is nothing to fear.

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  39. LLC investors? We were told that the owner was from London, he closed his Fresh & Easy markets but kept the Howies site.

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    Replies
    1. You talk to Nancy Walsh often?

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