Sunday, January 22, 2012

Is John Stephens Dissing Sierra Madre?

There are several ways of disrespecting people and places. One is to name the names and disparage the targets with an assortment of critical observations and cutting remarks. Which is one of the common coins of journalism and politics. This has been going on ever since mankind first put chisel to stone in hopes of immortalizing their resentments in words. This was also a step up from clubbing your adversary about the head, which was the more prevalent form of conflict resolution at that time.

However, there are also more subtle ways of doing the deed, and one of them is to just write those you don't particularly care about completely out of whatever momentous topics you are covering. This can be done for a purpose, or just through a natural process of forgetting. The sting being that whoever has been forgotten will then understand just how little they really meant.

Perhaps you might recall the original editor of the Sierra Madre Patch, John Stephens. He was the founder of our hyperlocal (so-called) outlet of the vast Aol empire of Patches, running the place for about a year. Then one fine day he was plucked from this comparative obscurity and whisked off to a far grander stage in New York City, where he was ensconced as the "Trends Editor" for the Huffington Post. Which is also an Aol property, albeit one of far greater importance in this world of woe since it has exponentially more readers and actually turns a profit.

However, John's departure was apparently an imperfect joy for him. Despite the sunnier career prospects and, I suspect, better pay, John did claim to have some regrets. And he expressed them in the following passages of this October 28, 2011 Patch article entitled, "A Farewell to Sierra Madre" (click here).

While writing today's look back over the past year, noting both the successes and challenges I've had along the way, I'm met with a stark reminder not of any particular story, but of the personal connections I've made in my time editing this site.

Without your willingness to share your most personal stories, make introductions and invite me into your businesses and homes, none of this would have ever been possible. I am eternally grateful to every single resident of Sierra Madre for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful community.

So it is not without a considerable amount of sadness that I announce I will be leaving my post as editor of Sierra Madre Patch, effective Friday, Nov. 4. Recently, the call came from what I won't call greener, but certainly other pastures, and I will soon be packing my pen and recorder, bound for New York City where I have taken a new position as The Huffington Post's Trends Editor.

Looking out my window at the mountains above Sierra Madre Canyon, I can't help but reflect back on the last four years of my life spent covering this foothill village and the wonderful people who, like me, have been lucky enough to call it home. Then a deer walks by my front door - the same proud buck I see nearly every day - and I say to myself, "You're moving where?"

It goes on like that for a bit more.

So you'd think that at The Huffington Post its new Trends Editor would note this fondly remembered past as part of the short biography that accompanies his tag box (click here). Certainly Sierra Madre would figure prominently in a brief history of John's accomplishments, right? Well, apparently not. Far be it from my sunny self to be the bearer of melancholy news, but it appears that we are less than remembered.

John Stephens is the Trends Editor at The Huffington Post. He comes to New York by way of Los Angeles, where he worked in book publishing, as a freelance journalist and as the Managing Editor of a group of weekly newspapers in and around Pasadena.

Well, there you have it. No Sierra Madre, no Patch, no proud buck walking past the front door. Less than 3 months later and all of that has either been forgotten, or buried for being a little too embarrassingly trite for so cosmopolitan a venue.

Ain't that just the way.

Some great language we need to incorporate in the fight to save Measure V

There is just some wonderful stuff to be found in the article "One Bay Area Plan Called 'Social Engineering'" (click here), which can be found in a recent edition of a Bay Area publication known as The Independent News. Here are a few passages that excite and delight:

A group of individuals opposed to the "One Bay Area" plan demanded that the entire process be stopped and started over. One Bay Area would provide a framework for the development of the Bay Area over the next 25 years. MTC and ABAG are leading the effort.

Speakers tried to disrupt the meeting held last Wednesday in Dublin by waving signs and shouting. They called the plan an attempt at "social engineering by manipulating communities."

ABAG, which is the Bay Area equivalent of our equally delightful SCAG (still #1 in the ugly acronym category as far as I'm concerned), is trying to pull off the same SB 375 high density planning schemes we are currently being accosted with here. And just like we saw here last Thursday evening, people are not very happy about it.

Many called the process a sham because they said the public is left to make only minor decisions. "All of the most important decisions on this subject have all been made. They've been made by big developers and high-density growth advocacy groups. We were not at the table when all of those decisions were made," said Berkeley resident Doug Buckwald.

"A lot of this plan involves a loss of property rights," was a complaint voiced by more than one speaker. Others argued that the series of meetings were set up to achieve the results the leaders wanted to hear.

It looks like it is happening everywhere. Here is my favorite passage in the article. Check this out:

The opponents of the plan said they want to let the free market determine where and what type of housing would be built. One man stood up and shouted, "If we need stack and pack housing because there's a sufficient market for it, and people are willing to pay for it, it will get built without your intervention."

What a great way to phrase it. Stack and pack.

We certainly don't need any "stack and pack" development in Sierra Madre.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

44 comments:

  1. I'm sure Stevens is revelling in New York's stack and pack environment. God, I miss his insights and writing skills.

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  2. Maybe Patch is not respected at The Huffington Post. Even though they are the same company, maybe the people working there look down on it.

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  3. "Stack em and Pack em", an old military term that is now being used to describe what they want the people to live in, not nice :( ,, guess the Russian/American Military are at work up there also. Our little town has a saying we've been working on to fight the Stack and Pack army, "United we stand, Divided we fall" Keep up the good work Sierra Madre, you shall overcome.

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  4. Is it true he took Justin Chapman with him to be his assistant?

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  5. Maybe "Development Services" should be called "Pack and Stack Services" instead?

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  6. The only thing the big government/big development fascists are afraid of is "we, the people" uprising.

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  7. You can always read John's articles and tweets on the Huffington Post, 7:54.

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  8. They're advertising for 4th of July Committee volunteers on the Patch today. It looks like there are some openings.

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  9. So AOL brought up through the ranks someone who thought plagiarism was an acceptable cost of doing business....doesn't really bode well for the organization, does it?

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  10. The Huffington Post is an organization that made an incredible amount of money on the backs of unpaid journalists. I don't think ethics has much to do with it.

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  11. Stack and pack is the new imperialism. Since it's become tacky to invade another country and use it as you like, the people with those good old imperialistic impulses have turned on their own countries.

    Look at a map, pick a spot you want to jack up, and start wining and dining the local pols.

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  12. I think that the last group of people who invested heavily in the stack and pack plan here in Sierra Madre went on to have some regrets. They learned a little too late that City Hall cannot always deliver on its promises.

    How soon before Billy Shields and his partners pack up and get out?

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  13. I think the word is out at Huffington Post that Patch's days are numbered and you really don't want to advertise that you once worked there.

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  14. Losing Sierra Madre is really no skin off Mr. Shields and his bosses noses.
    They'll just take that packet of a project somewhere else.
    Wonder how they're doing with their units in Rolling Hills Estates?
    On the other hand, it's perfect public relations material for the Dirts, as in "See, Measure V stopped a wonderful new facility."

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  15. Sometimes I think the dirts are pretty much down to a handful of realtors. With Joe off and gone and Buchanan soon to follow, I don't see how they're going to keep their hold on the society clubs for much longer. Josh has some big shoes to fill, and when he tries it is going to look like he is sitting in a canoe.

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  16. I went to John's Huffington Post page via the link you provided and I see that he is tweeting about marijuana. I was not surprised to see that.

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  17. Thanks for posting about the ABAG/SCAG connection, Tattler.
    People in Sierra Madre need to be aware of this.
    Let's concentrate on saving/preserving Sierra Madre FIRST.
    The state of California? Sierra Madre can't save it. We can save Sierra Madre.

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  18. Chris Koeber's site has posted the new City Council Agenda.
    Read item #3. It details all of the CRA expenses. YIKES

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  19. That is a great service Chris is performing for this City. Thank you.

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  20. Thanks Chris for the great service.

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  21. I have nothing against the little plagurizer, Stephens, it is just with all the major talent in New York, they get a little scruffy looking writer like Stephens who knows nothing about New York or trends to handle The Patch trends site? Ouy Vey, that's fey!

    Stack and Pack, sounds like what is going to happen to all the redevelopment developers, if they persist.

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  22. 11:44 - I think the word came down from Aol corporate that any new hires for positions at The Huffington Post had to be made internally as a way of boosting morale at Patch.

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  23. Yikes is right 11:20. Do I see about $500,000 for city staff and professional services?

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  24. Who has to pay for that??

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  25. Why, I do believe we were one of John Stephens' youthful indiscretions.

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  26. the answer, 12:05 is - you do.

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  27. Get ready for a 25% UUT.

    "It's only a couple of dollars a week!" Josh "Nickle & Dime" Moran

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  28. Tammy Gates who left SM in 2004 for Yorba Linda and was dismissed from there in 2008 ostensibly for talking with a developer as to how to twart citizen's efforts to gather signatures for a sloe growth referendum should serve as a warning to Elaine Aguilar not to mess with Measure V!

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  29. If what we saw Thursday night was the best Elaine could come up with, then Measure V is safe.

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  30. I'd like to see them try to pull a fast one on Measure V so our attorney could subpoena all Elaine's e-mails and catch her making a Tammy deal with Mr. Billy Shields. Someone needs to contact the Yorba Linda group and find out what the project was. Maybe there is a web reference to this

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  31. Caution! The Planning Commission went into closed session on Thursday to discuss "anticipated litigation". But, they didn't stipulate why except for "anticipated litigation."

    Another closed session is on the agenda on Tuesday. This time it is really evident it is about either the "dwelling unit" or the Kensington Project, since it is the same subject -- "anticipated litigation."

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  32. Who cares what John Stevens says or does, I'm glad he's out. The new person seems to be more open minded.

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  33. Hey, good point 10:07am! You said "They're advertising for 4th of July Committee volunteers on the Patch today. It looks like there are some openings." Why don't some of the readers here get involved in what is happening in this town and make a positive contribution to our city! Come out from behind your "anonymous" persona and volunteer your time for our great city!

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  34. Don't be silly 4:20. One thing the city is never short of is a pending law suit. I figured it was McMansion Meaglia who was rattling his sabre. The people who have hired Mr. Shields haven't heard anyone on the city staff say "No" yet. In fact, they have probably been cooing for them.

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  35. Look at the agenda for the closed session. It is about ongoing litigation over the lawsuit brought on by two police officers that didn't lock their stuff up properly and Police Chief Diaz siad it was a public safety threat.

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  36. The Planning Commission playback is on TV 3.

    Did city hall really think they were going to get away with that clumsy effort?

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  37. The language of the conference call with council is worded odd...to discuss knowledge that is not yet known to the plaintiff(s)

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  38. The PC meeting comments - what a great bunch of speakers. Why would any developer in his right mind try to pull one over on the residents of this smart and cantankerous town? There are some men sitting in the front row looking more and more dour as the comments go on.

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  39. 5:38, LOOK AGAIN, there are two items for the closed session. One for the police officers, the other for anticipated litigation. They are trying to pull something over on us by meeting in secret.

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  40. You never do say much, Patrick. If you don't enjoy the blog, then don't read it. Lots of people do enjoy it. Freedom of choice, as they say. The article about Facebook mostly covered research done at a University. Am I not supposed to discuss it because you like Facebook?

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  41. Patrick obviously doesn't know how much the Tattlers do for Sierra Madre.

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  42. 4:45, bite your tongue. Most of the Tattler readers I know are volunteers. Including me.

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  43. Attn: Patrick Simcock
    I do not suggest ANY Tattlers get involved in the 4th of July committee until all those involved in the recuitment of the elephant last year resign. In fact I would suggest a boycott of the parade, until ALL those responsible for soiling the city of Sierra Madre's by giving money to support animal abuse.

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    Replies
    1. I wonder what Beavis and Butthead would make of Patrick's name.

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